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Colours of the Grainbow

Flavour of the month

Rice. It’s synonymous with the word for “food” in a dozen Asian countries, including China, where “chi fan le ma?” – “have you eaten (rice) yet?” is equivalent to asking someone how their day has been. The staple food of over half the world’s population, it is the predominant source of dietary energy in 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific, and much of Africa and South America.

First domesticated as long as 13,000 years ago in China’s Pearl River Delta, rice is one of the planet’s most diverse grains, and, in multiple forms, rules the Chinese dinner table from the tropical beaches of Hainan all the way to the frigid tundra of Heilongjiang. The International Rice Research Initiative, in partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has identified the exact genetic makeup of more than 3,000 distinct varieties of rice.

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About China Report

The Belt and Road forum held in Beijing in May heralds China's strategy of globalisation 2.0. How much China has invested in the BRI? How can other countries along the routes join in and benefit from the opportunities? (p.20-25) Technologically China has often been perceived as playing the catch-up game. Not in Artificial Intelligence, which the country's tech giants are spearheading with some success. (p. 34-43) A migrant worker has taken the country by storm in her Dickensian essay about her hard life in modern Beijing. (p.52-55)