EARLY JUNE EACH year in China is gaokao 高考 season, when millions of hopeful pupils enrol in the university entrance examinations. In 2014, 9.4 million students competed for almost seven million places, a high number indeed, although not all places are equal. China’s leading universities only admit the highest scoring candidates. Lower marks leave many with the choice between a mediocre higher education in China and, if they can afford it, an expensive degree in an overseas university.
Forum: Capital Flight
IN 2014, FOR THE first time the Chinese outnumbered all other foreign buyers of real estate in the United States, including Arabs and Russians. They tripled their investment in European property, snapped up several billion dollar projects in the UK and were reported to be driving Australia’s overheated property market, where house prices grew ten percent across the country in the year to 30 June and fifteen percent in Sydney.
On 25 February 2014, the concentration of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, reached 400 micrograms per cubic metre of air in Beijing, hazardous by the standards of both the American Environmental Protection Agency and China’s own air quality index system. That same smoggy day, President Xi Jinping made an unannounced visit to a lane off the popular tourist street of Nanluoguxiang in the captial, talking with the people who lived there. The news report on his visit was subtitled ‘breathing the same air and sharing the common fate’同呼吸,共命运.