Looking back at a year of mixed blessings

Updated: 2014-01-13 08:02

(China Daily)

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It would be hard to find any year in the past three decades in China that lacked really big news. Yet, it might not be stretching the truth to see 2013 as an especially crucial 12 months.

The new central government took over the reigns of power in March, and the much-anticipated Third Plenary Session, which laid out the blueprint for reform in the coming decade, was held in November. Indeed, the meeting was so important that this newspaper, and other media, provided extensive coverage, and it will almost certainly become a staple of books about Chinese history.

There was plenty of other news of course, but memories fade quickly.

Do you remember the fire at a poultry processing plant in Jilin province that killed 120 people, or the earthquake in Sichuan province that claimed 196 lives?

Do you know how many Chinese police officers lost their lives in 2013?

What about the veteran Kuomintang soldiers, who finally received their medals after a wait of more than 60 years?

Do you remember how children of different nationalities shared the same classroom on the border with Myanmar, or the joy and sorrow felt by the crew of the Peace Ark, the Chinese hospital ship?

Also, while you will have undoubtedly read about the airborne pollution that plagued the residents of many cities, what about the rising number of female pioneers who are breaking traditional stereotypes and fighting for better sex lives, an issue that's not as visible but is no less important.

They were among the leading characters in our stories in 2013.

Compared with such key events as the Third Plenum, perhaps these stories will be regarded as mere footnotes in an age of reforms. We are halfway between the Western New Year and Chinese Spring Festival, and our review of 2013 zooms in on these "footnotes" - hopefully, the stories highlighted here will provide a high-resolution picture of a changing China.

From days of unrelenting smog to the dismantling of the re-education through work system, our reporters reflect on their top stories during the past 12 months.


Pride and despair

Although Spring Festival is drawing near, the workers and their families at Baoyuanfeng Poultry Processing Firm in Dehui, Jilin province, are not in the mood to celebrate.

More than six months have passed since a deadly fire swept though the slaughterhouse in Dehui, killing 120 people and injuring more than 70. It was one of China's worst industrial disasters of recent years.

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