"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
Apologies, still under the weather, just links today:
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
China’s Economic Data Show Weakest Start Since 2009 – Bloomberg Food prices increased 6 percent in February from a year earlier, down from 10.5 percent in the holiday month in January 2012, government data show. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a March 6 report that Xi’s campaign may reduce restaurant and food spending enough to lower inflation by close to 1 percentage point, with the caveat that its estimates are “highly uncertain.” Even with the “negative impact” from the crackdown, “we remain positive about the secular consumption trend given rising household income” and an aging population, said Chang Jian, China economist at Barclays Plc in Hong Kong. At the same time, the “soft” industrial output data show “China’s growth recovery is still not on a solid footing,” she said.
China unveils restructuring to boost efficiency, fight corruption | Reuters China unveiled a government restructuring plan on Sunday, cutting cabinet-level entities by two and dissolving its powerful Railways Ministry, as the country’s new leaders look to boost efficiency and combat corruption.
Meet China’s New Foreign-Policy Team – By Willy Lam | Foreign Policy but none on politburo// While the new appointments won’t be formally announced by the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, until mid-March, two senior party sources in Beijing have confirmed promotions for veteran diplomats Yang Jiechi, Wang Yi, and Cui Tiankai. Together, the appointments suggest that China wants to improve the optics of its relationship with the United States, if not the substance.
China: Christian Missionaries Target Tibetan Buddhists for Conversion | TIME.com Tibet is one of the most coveted locations for nondenominational American and Korean Christian groups angling for mass conversion. Most are fundamentalist Christians who prioritize preaching and winning converts over the charitable works traditionally performed by mainstream missionaries. The more radical evangelists believe in the biblical notion of the “Great Commission” — that Jesus can only return when preaching in every tongue and to every tribe and nation on earth is complete. On websites like the U.S.-based Joshua Project, ethnic minorities are seen as “the unfinished task.” Of these, “Tibet has long been one of the greatest challenges,” reads a summary. “In 1892 Hudson Taylor said: ‘To make converts in Tibet is similar to going into a cave and trying to rob a lioness of her cubs.’”
汪洋：中国制度是自豪的根本_多维新闻网 probably not encouraging for those who still hope wang yang is a “liberal reformer”?//【多维新闻】近日，中国政治局委员汪洋在参加安徽代表团讨论时发言表示，“这五年能够取得这样的成绩，是我们制度和道路的优势进一步显现，我觉得这是让我们可以从根本上感到自豪的东西。”汪洋还认为，制度是西方担忧中国发展的原因。不过汪洋也表示，“我现在是下岗职工，没职务，所以现在也不能表什么态，只能说感谢岗前培训，将来在工作中贯彻我刚才讲的原则，能办的快办，不能办的坚决不办。”
Backed by Profit-hungry Investors, New Approach to Farming Takes Root – Caixin PE firms are betting organic produce grows on Chinese consumers concerned by food scandals…Most of Beijing’s organic produce is grown on farms in Xiaotangshan, a northern suburb of Beijing. Lin Jian, who runs his own organic farm near the town, visited some of the farms a year ago and what he saw unsettled him. “Empty pesticide bags were littered all over the fields,” he said. He pointed out that skirting rules on organic foods was easy when it cost only 20,000 yuan to be certified by an authorized agency, a step that allowed companies to identify their products as organ
China: Beyond The Miracle | Zero Hedge full report available for download// The Beyond the Miracle series – written by Barclays Yiping Huang, Jian Chang and Steven Lingxiu Yang and launched in September 2011 – carefully analyzes the transition that China is undergoing from various perspectives, and also discusses the economic and financial market implications. It argues that China will successfully make the transition from ‘economic miracle’ to normal development in the next decade (Chapter 1). But there is an important caveat: China must embark on a multi-pronged set of reforms if the country is to move to a slower, more sustainable growth rate that deemphasizes trade, construction and investment and instead places a greater weight on consumer spending as a source of growth.
1,200 dead pigs floating in Shanghai River points to heavy water pollution | Ministry of Tofu 豆腐部 We don’t know yet if the polluted water has killed too many pigs, or too many dead pigs have polluted the water, but the sight of over 1,200 bodies of domesticated pigs floating with tons of garbage and flotsam in Songjiang River, which has the city of Shanghai downsteam and has been its 20 million residents’ source of drinking water, is beyond disgusting.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
China’s new loans drop in Feb – Xinhua | English.news.cnIt said the country’s social financing, a measure of funds raised by entities in the real economy, amounted to 1.07 trillion yuan in February, up 22.8 billion yuan from the same period last year. By the end of February, the broad measure of money supply (M2), which covers cash in circulation and all deposits, increased 15.2 percent year on year to 99.86 trillion yuan, the statement said. The increase was down 0.7 percentage point month on month, but 2.2 percentage points higher year on year.
Independent directors and China | China Accounting Blog | Paul Gillis These recent developments ought to have every independent director of a company with significant Chinese operations asking themselves and the company some tough questions. Here are a few of those questions:
温州拟规范民间借贷 年息上限48%引争议 Wenzhou to regulate underground loans, set upper bound of annual interest rate at 48%// 日前，据媒体道称，温州地方拟定了一份 《浙江省温州民间融资管理条例(草案)》(以下简称《草案》)，旨在保护年息不高于48%的民间借贷。同时，有消息称此草案有望于年底通过。
Beijing sees second-hand housing sales surge amid new rules – Xinhua | English.news.cn In the week since stricter measures were rolled out to tame China’s property market, 9,400 units of second-hand homes were sold in Beijing, local authorities said Saturday. The figure marked a 140.5-percent week-on-week increase and a 279.5-percent increase from the period of Feb. 2-8, according to statistics published on the website of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.
供需失衡：“人扎堆”“钱扎堆”催生楼市躁动 深度报道——经济参考网 近年来，中国房地产市场一直在轮回，面对高企的房价，中央政府从未停止对房地产市场调控的脚步。在调控高压下，部分楼市依然出现“价量齐升”的躁动。究竟是什么支撑着房地产市场，是什么促使房价不断走高？《经济参考报》记者走访北京、上海、杭州、太原等城市了解到，虽然全国有600多个城市，但真正能称之为市场有活跃度的大约仅有70个，而这70个中仅有北上广深及部分重点城市房地产市场表现强劲。在少数城市“屡调屡涨”怪象的背后是“人扎堆”、“钱扎堆”热捧起来的市场。
China Focus: Inflation hits 10-month high in Feb – Xinhua | English.news.cn Due to rising food prices during the Spring Festival season, China’s annual consumer inflation rebounded to a 10-month high of 3.2 percent in February, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Saturday. On a month-on-month basis, February’s consumer price index (CPI) gained 1.1 percent from the previous month, according to an NBS statement. Food prices, which account for nearly one-third of the weighting in China’s CPI, remained a key driver of inflation in February, as the Spring Festival season, which fell within that month, pushed up demand. The statement said food prices jumped 6 percent last month from the same period last year, pushing the CPI up by 1.98 percentage points.
Analysis: Meat prices add to China’s inflation, policy risks | Reuters Diners looking for some beef hotpot on a chilly evening in Beijing pay more per pound than their counterparts in Boston, a discrepancy that shows the challenges China faces in reviving growth as inflation pressures make an untimely return.
Chinese retail sales slow sharply in Jan-Feb – Xinhua | English.news.cn Growth in China’s retail sales slowed sharply in the first two months of the year, partly due to the government’s frugality campaign. Retail sales grew 12.3 percent year on year to 3.78 trillion yuan (602.1 billion U.S. dollars) in the first two months of the year, a sharp decline from the 15.2-percent rise in December, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Saturday. The growth was also much lower than the 14.5-percent target the government expects for 2013. The catering sector reported 403 billion yuan in revenues, up 8.4 percent year on year but down 6.7 percentage points from the growth rate in December, the NBS data showed. Notably, retail sales by businesses above a designated size was the only item in the table to log negative growth, down 3.3 percent year on year, partly as a result of central government’s anti-extravagance drive during the period. Upscale restaurants in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Ningbo saw revenues fall by 35, 20 and 30 percent, respectively, year on year in January, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyan said at a press conference last month.
Chinese Bank Stocks Look Attractive – Barrons.com Despite the rally, Chinese banking stocks trade at about 1.2 times book, or roughly seven times current-year earnings. Dividend yields in many cases run 5% or more. In light of expectations of 8% GDP growth, that seems pretty cheap, particularly since the big banks aren’t as exposed to housing issues as some think. Mortgages make up about 16% of total loans for major banks in China. Loans to developers comprise another 7% and loans to construction companies 3%. “The quality of mortgage loans in China is much stronger than that of loans to developers and construction firms,” says Victor Wang, analyst for Macquarie Securities in Hong Kong. For most banks, the loan-to-value ratio for property borrowing is very low—often 50% or lower, he notes. “People are putting down a big chunk of the value up front, like 50% or more,” he says.
Could a China Housing Bubble Derail Global Economy?–CNBC missed this crazy exchange between Peter Navarro & Ann Lee on CNBC about China housing from 2.:15 on. think both foolish
POLITICS AND LAW
Highlights of China’s cabinet reshuffle and government function transformation – Xinhua | English.news.cn—have not seen this part mentioned in any of the western coverage so far…a very big deal if they actually implement this// establish a unified real estate registry regime to protect the security of property transactions and effectively protect the legal rights of property owners, while setting up a unified social credit code system based on resident ID card numbers and codes for organizations and institutions.
人民日报-行政体制改革如何深化（听·代表委员议国是） government restructuring in charts, page one of today’s People’s Daily
China Unveils Rail Ministry Breakup to Curb Corruption – Bloomberg The Ministry of Railways will be split into two, according to a report signed by Premier Wen Jiabao delivered to the National People’s Congress in Beijing yesterday. Some functions will be put into a State Railway Administration under the Ministry of Transportation. A new company, China Railway Corp., will take over commercial operations, according to the plan.
China Plans to Elevate Food, Drug Regulator to Ensure Safety – Bloomberg The new body will be responsible for overseeing the safety and effectiveness of food and drugs produced, distributed and consumed in China, according to a plan handed out to reporters at a meeting of the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature, in Beijing today. A new health and family planning commission announced today will assess food safety risks and formulate safety standards, while the agriculture ministry will be in charge of the quality of farm products.
State Council reorganises health and family planning roles in name of efficiency | South China Morning Post The functions of the Health Ministry and some of those of the Population and Family Planning Commission will be merged and a new food and drug safety regulator with ministerial-level status formed, the State Council has announced. The rest of the work of the commission – on population policy and strategy – is to be taken on by the chief economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission.
Unrest in Tibet: The views of a Marxist demon | The Economist “This life…now service at least in the field of Tibetan struggle, now already end,” he told The Economist in a reception room at his residence in the town of Dharamsala in the Himalayan foothills. This would be a disappointment to many of the Tibetans who queue up to see him. At the age of 77, and in hearty spirits, the Dalai Lama gives the impression of being as keenly interested in, and painfully aware of, conditions in Tibet as he ever was. He insists that he is now—and will be for the rest of his life—engaged in promoting “human values”, “religious harmony” and a dialogue between Buddhism and modern science.
Beijing district gov’t sued over house expropriation – Xinhua | English.news.cn The Xicheng District government decided to expropriate three buildings and their attached bungalows in Sanlihe residential area on Aug. 9, 2012. The plaintiff, surnamed Yue, owns an apartment that was expropriated. She is suing because she thinks the decision is illegal. On behalf of the local government, Wang Shaofeng, head of the Xicheng District, appeared in an open trial at the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court, where he answered questions from the plaintiff’s lawyers.
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
China Bolsters Maritime Law Enforcement Amid Island Disputes – Bloomberg The State Oceanic Administration will take over responsibility for safeguarding China’s maritime rights and interests, a task currently spread across several ministries, according to a report signed by Premier Wen Jiabao and delivered to the annual session of the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature, in Beijing today. Tensions between China and its neighbors have raised concern that competing territorial claims will disrupt economic relations in the region. The conflict with Japan over islands in the East China Sea, in an area that may hold enough oil to keep China running for 45 years, has damaged a $340 billion trade relationship between Asia’s two biggest economies.
Noda told MSDF to stay away / Vessels instructed to avoid Chinese Navy ships near Senkakus： DAILY YOMIURI Liberal Democratic Party member Koichi Hagiuda asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during Thursday’s House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting whether he thought the Noda administration had given too much consideration to China with this decision. Abe replied that he had been told the former government ordered the MSDF to impose restrictions on monitoring of Chinese ships. “For fear of additional friction, [the Noda administration] excessively restricted the MSDF’s activities when patrolling the sea. Right after the inauguration of the current administration, we fundamentally reviewed the policy of the former government,” Abe said.
国家测绘局：会派人赴钓鱼岛建测量标志_资讯频道_凤凰网 China to send surveyors to the Diaoyu islands? so says an official of the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation (NASG)// 京华时报讯（记者商西）昨天，全国政协委员、国家测绘局副局长李明德表示，今后会选择适当时机派出测量队员，并在钓鱼岛上建测量标志，将钓鱼岛及附属岛屿“看得更清”。 李明德介绍，去年9月出版发行的钓鱼岛及其附属岛屿地图，就是利用航空航天手段实测的。“把钓鱼岛的三维起伏情况全部判断出来了，包括附属岛屿的地名也已经命名过了”，李明德介绍，当前的钓鱼岛地图信息主要来自无人机或卫星，今后并非要重新测绘钓鱼岛，而是要测得更准，把周围的附属岛屿都测出来。
A Player, but No Superpower – By Andrew S. Erickson and Adam P. Liff | Foreign Policy Despite its progress in modernizing and some remarkable new hardware, the PLA’s war-fighting capabilities still significantly trail those of the U.S. military. They may get trapped there, even though a growing number of influential actors have called for China to expand its military horizons. The likelihood that the PLA will get trapped in its region — with respect to high-end war-fighting capabilities — will increase if Beijing’s growing military power and assertiveness lead its neighbors to further accelerate their own counterbalancing. China’s geographical, economic, and (in some cases) technological advantages do not transfer to capabilities that would allow it to engage in high-intensity combat beyond the country’s immediate periphery. In other words, China can stir up the Near Seas, but can’t make tsunamis beyond that.
U.S., China Take Part in Pakistan Naval Drills | Defense News | defensenews.com The United States and China began naval drills in the Arabian Sea with Pakistan and other countries on Thursday, the Pakistani navy said, in a show of strength against terrorism and piracy. The AMAN-13 exercise involves ships from 13 countries and observers from 20 others and comes two weeks after China took control of a strategic Pakistani Arabian Sea port from Singapore’s PSA International.
China: New leaders, same assertive foreign policy – CNN.com That is not to say that Beijing is necessarily looking for external troubles, as it remains preoccupied with maintaining the momentum of economic development and preventing domestic problems from erupting into potentially destabilizing unrest. But unfortunately, there is little appetite in Beijing for blunting the edge of China’s “reactively assertive” foreign policy. If anything, opinions are going the other way. As Fu Ying, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, put it: When facing provocations, the Chinese public “hopes that China will be even more assertive.” If there is any perceived slight, no matter how minor, expect China to pounce.
China Calls for Global Hacking Rules – NYTimes.com The remarks, by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, were China’s highest-level response yet to intensifying reports that the Chinese military may be engaging in cyberespionage. “Anyone who tries to fabricate or piece together a sensational story to serve a political motive will not be able to blacken the name of others nor whitewash themselves,” he said.
军工板块市值增长空间大 surprised not much western media coverage of how well chinese military industrial stocks have been doing of late…lots of money to be made by some from the changing security environment in asia// 国防军工板块是今年A股市场的大热门，板块整体涨幅遥遥领先，不少个股广受追捧。军工板块上涨的背后指挥棒是核心军工企业订单的增加、企业资产的优化配置和政策红利的不断释放。这是由我国当前的发展阶段和所处内外部环境决定的，也是军工企业自身发展规律作用的结果。我们认为，经过近十年的大规模投入，中国的军工产业已经逐步走出传统阴影，正面临千载难逢的快速发展期。
China, Russia clamp down on internet, says US–Reuters and how many of those technologies are developed and sold by US and/or Israeli firms?// China and Russia are buying increasingly powerful surveillance technologies to intercept communications and try to take control of the internet, a senior US official has said. Alec Ross, the US secretary of state’s senior adviser for innovation, said on Thursday that new players such as Thailand and Ukraine would determine the future shape of the internet by deciding whether to open up globally or operate more closed national “intranets”
HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN
Taiwan’s Massive, Mega-Powerful Radar System Is Finally Operational | Danger Room | Wired.com This 105-foot system is about as advanced as early-warning radar arrays get. Known as PAVE PAWS, for Phased Array Warning System, the slopes of the building shown above are huge antennas built into the facade. Unlike a mechanical antenna, you don’t have to physically aim a phased-array early warning system, as its “beam steering” is done electronically. The system creates a 240-degree virtual eye, allowing Taiwan to see deep into China, and even into Japan and North Korea. Only a handful of countries — the U.S., Russia, maybe China itself — have this kind of early-warning system. It’s very, very valuable to Taiwan. Constructed on the top of a mountain in the country’s north, the Raytheon-built system cost approximately $1.4 billion. Purchasing the system from the United States stretches back to the Clinton administration, with lots of setbacks along the way. Taiwan was so freaked out last year when PAVE PAWS popped up on Apple Maps that it prevailed upon Apple to obscure the image of the system.
TECH AND MEDIA
马化腾谈微信国际化：微信在美面临多个对手 竞争需按天计算_财经频道_一财网 Tencent’s Pony Ma talks about internationalization of WeChat// “成或不成，（腾讯）这辈子就这一个机会了。”显然，他将腾讯的国际化押宝在微信上。
盛大文学高层震荡 网络文学界面临洗牌_财经频道_一财网 中国的网络文学界看来很快就将经历一次大洗牌。
Hollywood landmark reels in China brand|chinadaily.com.cn Chinese films may soon have their premieres on the world’s busiest red carpet. TCL, a major TV and mobile phone maker, has completed a 10-year deal with the owners of the Chinese Theater, the historic Hollywood landmark that now hosts weekly premieres. The theater, previously known as Mann’s Chinese Theater, has been renamed TCL Chinese Theater.
Report: Samsung tops China’s smartphone market after sales tripled in 2012, Nokia falls to 7th – The Next Web We know that Android is dominating China’s smartphone market — accounting for an estimated 86 percent share of devices in Q4 2012 — and now Samsung, the leading seller of phones based on the Google-owned operating system, has ridden that wave to become China’s top smartphone maker for the first time, according to a new report. Figures released this weekend from Strategy Analytics — published via the Yonhap — suggest that the Korean electronics giant saw smartphone sales in China nearly triple during 2012.
Skype’s Been Hijacked in China, and Microsoft Is O.K. With It – Businessweek Since then, Knockel, a bearded, yoga-practicing son of a retired U.S. Air Force officer, has repeatedly beaten the ever-changing encryption that cloaks Skype’s Chinese service. This has allowed him to compile for the first time the thousands of terms—such as “Amnesty International” and “Tiananmen”—that prompt Skype in China to intercept typed messages and send copies to its computer servers in the country. Some messages are blocked altogether. The lists—which are the subject of a presentation Knockel will make on Friday, March 8, at Boston University, as well as a paper he’s writing with researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab—shed light on the monitoring of Internet communications in China. Skype’s videophone-and-texting service there, with nearly 96 million users, is known as TOM-Skype, a joint venture formed in 2005 with majority owner Tom Online, a Chinese wireless Internet company.
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
Will We Ever See Another Four Great Inventions from China? | design mind While the macro-economic view of China’s innovation is well covered, the point of view of the Chinese consumer is less known. The following are some of the more common characteristics that Chinese consumers give when asked to define innovation, based on frog’s design research interviews and consumer insights survey.
Left in the Dark: Beard Marriages in China-Caijing According to ‘Lives of the Chinese Tongqi Today’, a 2012 survey by researcher Xing Fei (pictured above), the number of ‘beards’ is around 12 million. ‘[The figure] is based on [Shanghai University sexologist] Professor Liu Dalin’s estimate of the Chinese homosexual population – 30 million, which is very conservative – and [Barry and Martin Prize winner] Zhang Beichuan’s theory that 80 percent of gays in China are married.’
In a Changing China, New Matchmaking Markets – NYTimes.comOver the last year, I tracked the progress of two matchmaking efforts at the opposite extremes of wealth. Together, they help illuminate the forces reshaping marriage in China. In one case, Ms. Yu’s migrant son reluctantly agreed to allow his aging mother to make the search for his future wife her all-consuming mission. In the other, Ms. Yang’s richest client at Diamond Love deployed dozens of love hunters to find the most exquisite fair-skinned beauty in the land, even as he fretted about being conned by a bai jin nu, or gold digger.
FluentU – The Fun Way to Chinese Fluency teaches you Chinese while you watch chinese videos. Interesting idea
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH
China’s ragtag shale army a long way from revolution | Reuters China’s plans to unlock what could be the world’s biggest shale gas reserves risk running further off track after 16 firms awarded exploration rights in the latest auction lacked one core skill – not one has drilled a gas well before. Beijing is hoping shale gas can transform the country in the same way as the U.S. boom, though to date there has been little commercial production and a target of producing 6.5 billion cubic meters of gas by 2015 in the world’s biggest energy consumer looks out of reach, according to industry experts.
New rules may ease China pollution, won’t solve steel overcapacity | Reuters China’s environment ministry has said it will impose “special emissions restrictions” from next month on major industries from steel and petrochemicals to cement, non-ferrous metals and coal-fired power. Environmental inspections have already started in big steel producing regions. But when it comes to steel, it’s more than just pollution. Many in the industry hope the curbs will help tackle overproduction, slash the number of privately-owned mills and boost the market share of state-owned giants
In China, public anger over secrecy on environment | Reuters Microbloggers, state media and even delegates to this week’s session of the National People’s Congress, the largely rubber-stamp parliament, were already critical of the government for poor air and water quality. Now they are also expressing disquiet over the scarcity of information about the environment available to them. For incoming President Xi Jinping, who formally takes over towards the end of the parliament session, the two-pronged challenge is to find the balance between growth and further degradation of the environment, and also to decide whether to level with citizens just how bad the problem is.
FOOD AND TRAVEL
For Chinese, Maldives Boycott Goes Beyond Instant Noodles – NYTimes.com my friends who went to the Maldives over Chinese New Year posted lots of pictures of all the great seafood they were eating// Call it, perhaps, a storm in a kettle: A report that an upscale hotel in the Maldives removed kettles from the rooms of travelers from China to stop Chinese guests from cooking instant noodles in their rooms and not dining in hotel restaurant facilities has incited an online uproar here amid allegations of discrimination. According to an account of the incident, posted on March 1 on the popular Chinese online forum Tianya and the Web site of a travel company, and quickly reposted to microblogs, a quip circulating among top management at the Beach House Iruveli also had Chinese guests designated as “CN” – not for China, but for “cup noodle,” Zhao Jianke and half a dozen other former employees wrote.
China to wrap up Tibet railway extension line – Xinhua | English.news.cn“Hopefully, the Lhasa-Xigaze rail line will be completed at the end of this year or the beginning of 2014,” Losang Jamcan said in a group discussion of the government work report at the parliament’s annual session, which opened in Beijing Tuesday. He said the completion of the project would facilitate the development of an ecological tourism zone that covers Lhasa, Xigaze and Nyingchi cities.
Ambitious roadmap for city’s south – People’s Daily Online After the Beijing government decided to boost the development of the capital’s southern sections in 2010, the area has turned into a bustling center of commerce and high-tech and educational institutes. Having ended their reliance on low-end industries such as cement factories and small coal mines, southern Beijing now has a high concentration of bio-medical industry bases and scientific research institutes.The southern area spans five districts — Fengtai, Fangshan, Daxing and the southern parts of Xicheng and Dongcheng districts, accounting for 20.5 percent of the city’s area. More than 4.6 million people lived in these areas by the end of 2008.