Friday, April 1, 2011

Beijing easing its one-child policy

Some couples won't be fined for having a second child The policy is also blamed for the country's skewed sex ratio, given Chinese families' preference for sons. The male-female ratio at birth is about 119 males to 100 females. BEIJING: Married couples in Beijing will be allowed to have a second child without having to pay a huge fine under new population guidelines.In a move seen as a small first step towards a gradual easing of China's strict family planning policy, couples who come from one- child families will be fined only if:

  1. The mother is under 28 years old when she has the second child;

  2. and The child is born before the older sibling turns four.

Previously, a Beijing couple flouting any one of the two conditions would have had to pay a sum amounting to 20 per cent of their annual income.Not all couples, however, will be exempted. For example, in cases where one spouse or both spouses do not come from one- child families, the couple will be discouraged from having a second child.

China's family planning policy limits urban couples to one child and rural couples to two, and officials have said there are no plans to relax the policy nationwide.The policy has been credited with curbing the country's population growth in the past 30 years. However, it has also created new problems such as gender imbalance and a rapidly growing proportion of elderly Chinese.The policy is also blamed for the country's skewed sex ratio, given Chinese families' preference for sons. The male-female ratio at birth is about 119 males to 100 females.

Of particular concern are low birth rates in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, where couples are deterred by the high cost of raising a child.Despite growing calls for China to loosen its one-child policy, the official position is that there are no plans to change it any time soon. But some people such as Professor Mu Guanzong do not think that the more relaxed guidelines go far enough.

Prof Mu, an expert in population research at Peking University, said the new rules for Beijing were an improvement but were not enough to correct China's population imbalances or raise fertility rates.Prof Mu called instead for a relaxation of the family planning policy throughout China and for every couple to be allowed to have two children.The country's current average fertility rate is between 1.4 and 1.8, but its replacement fertility rate - which is the number of children a woman needs to bear for a population to sustain itself - is 2.1, according to Prof Mu. Former university professor Yang Zhizhu, who was fired from his post last year because he and his wife had a second child and refused to pay a fine of more than 240,000 yuan (S$46,200), saw little reason to praise the latest changes.

Making couples pay huge fines for having a second child is in itself legally unjust, he told China Daily on Wednesday.Meanwhile, other cities are considering relaxing the policy.Guangzhou Daily reported early last month that the southern Chinese province of Guangdong would be seeking the central government's approval to allow couples to have a second child.

Mr Wang Yuqing, deputy director of the Committee for Population, Resources and Environment under the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said China may adjust its family planning policy in the next few years.He noted that birth rates in major Chinese cities have been falling over the years and that the number of working adults has begun to decrease since 2009. A gradual relaxation of the policy, allowing couples to have a second child, will not lead to a sudden jump in population, Mr Wang said.


Questions for thought:

1) would this rectification to the one child policy be effective?

Friday, March 18, 2011

J2 Home Based Learning Exercise

Source A Over the three decades of reform and opening-up, China has evolved its own growth mode that aims to achieve development through scientific approaches based upon China's national conditions and the international situation, analysts said. The essence of such a growth mode is to seek a balance between development, stability, equity and clean environment. China has greatly enhanced its overall national strength and "turned out to be an economic giant" through three decades of development, said Prof. Arnold van Zyl, vice president of SouthAfrica's Stellenbosch University. The fact that China has maintained an annual GDP growth of over 9 percent over the last 20 years proves that the nation has found a way of sustainable development, the Colombian ambassador to China, Guillermo Ricardo Velez said. Meanwhile, the country has also managed to create a friendly international environment for its swift development, he added. While sparing no efforts in advancing economic growth, China has also attached great importance to the sustainability of its development and is striving to achieve harmony between man and nature. China's endeavor to enhance environmental protection, energy-saving and gas emission-cut and build a resource-conserving society is of great significance to the world, said Klaus Toepfer, former chief of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore also said at the 2008 Poznanclimate summit that China has mobilized a national effort to introduce CO2 reduction initiatives, and has already begun the largest treeplanting programme the world has ever seen. China's rapid development is attributed to its stable social and political environment, whereas its national stability stems from the Chinese government's efforts to establish a harmonious society.

Adapted from “Commentary : China’s Scientific Development Works to Counter Economic Downturn” in Xinhua on March 8, 2009 Source B As Davis and Henderson (2003) observed, “(u)rbanisation and economic development go hand in-hand as a country moves from a rural-agricultural base to an urban-industrial base”. As a result, infrastructure development has become a fundamental driving force in China’s recent growth.

However, the large scale rural-urban migration also poses enormous challenges for the government. Many small cities and towns are now emerging, sprawling over previously arable land and reducing the amount of this scarce resource available (at 0.095 hectares per capita, China’s level of arable land is already less than half the world average). The absolute decline in the quantity of arable land, coupled with lower growth rates among township and village enterprises (TVEs) since the 1990s, has put further pressure on rural employment and thereby strengthened the ‘push’ forces for urbanization. The growing number of jobless and landless peasants presents a major concern for social stability, demanding firm measures to protect peasants’ rights effectively in economic transition. Those who do migrate into urban areas are often poorly paid and cannot enjoy the privileges that urban residents enjoy, such as state-subsidised unemployment and retirement benefits, schooling and medical care. This is largely because urban governments often view migrant workers as ‘belonging’ to their place of origin. This attitude and the lack of institutional support pose various social and political problems for migrant workers in urban areas, such as general discrimination, constraints on jobs, legal vulnerabilities (lack of social protection) , lack of access to services, and vulnerability to crimes.

Adapted from “Rapid Urbanisation and Implications for Growth” by Ligang Song and ShengYu Answer all the following questions. (a) With reference to Source A, explain the advantages of the China’s development model.

(b) To what extent are Sources B and A useful in showing that “China’s economic rise is too rapid for the country to cope”?

Please Email answer to my Email Address

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Dating Surplus for Chinese Women

Marina Adshade on December 31, 2010, 10:00 AM

A while back, we talked about why it is that so many educated women in urban centers can’t find a man (Sexless in The City). In countries like China, where there is a huge surplus of men, finding a partner shouldn’t be difficult for women. I thought I would post a letter I received this week from Niko Bell who tells me that for Chinese women finding a man is not as easy as we might think:

Hi Marina,
I liked your article. I hope we really do see the movement on the ground that you give the policy credit for. Given that men outnumber women in China by a reasonable margin, you would think that women would have an easy time picking out mates. Not always the case, many of my friends tell me.
According to projections by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, this year will see 23 million more Chinese men of marriageable age than women. The fault mostly lies with gender-specific abortions in a culture that still values male babies over female. This era should be a great time to be a Chinese woman, with lots of potential partners to choose from. As it turns out, however, some women are still ending up lonely. To understand why, there are a few things that you need to know about finding a mate in China.
First, wealth matters. Many Chinese women place high value on a husband with money and stability. In a now famous moment from a Chinese dating show, a female contestant rejected a suitor with the iconic line, "I would rather cry in the back of a BMW than laugh on the back of a bicycle."
Second, men have to marry downwards. It is humiliating for a Chinese man to be married to a woman with a higher or even equal income. Instead, men prefer to marry women slightly below them on the social ladder.

Third, the Chinese social strata are distinct and significant. For the first time this year, words like "Jia man" and "Yi woman" became officially recognized words in the Chinese lexicon. Jia men and women are rich businesspeople and professionals. Yi's are middle class people with stable jobs. Then come Bing's, lower class city folk and relatively well off country folk. Then come Ding's, poor country folk or factory workers - the lowest of the low. As we learned above, Jia men prefer Yi women, Yi men prefer Bing women, and Bing men prefer Ding women.
Life is good for Ding women. If they are attractive enough, they have a good chance of marrying upwards into Bing families in the city. The poor Ding men, especially in the country where the gender divide is most evident, are left in a bind. Their own women are disappearing, and marrying upwards would be a humiliation. Even if a Ding man got over his pride, it would be hard for him to find a Bing woman who would take him over all the available Bing and Yi men. Of those 23 million bachelors, most of them will be found here, among poor men in the countryside.
There is one other group, however, that finds itself left out of this game of social musical chairs: Jia women. Jia men are usually rich enough to afford a stay at home wife, which is preferable, so they take their pick of Yi women. Yi men may need money a little more, but not enough to suffer the humiliation of a wife with a higher income. Thus, the poor Jia woman finds herself unable to find a mate by virtue of her high income.

There is little chance of convincing any of these left over men and women to get together. If, however, you are a successful man looking for a career oriented woman, or a woman looking for an old fashioned life in the rice fields, you know where to go.


Niko Bell studies Journalism at the University of King's College. He first travelled to China on a whim in 2006, and has since gone back three times to teach, travel, study, and enter reality TV shows. He is now taking a year away from Halifax to study Mandarin at the University of Nanjing. Niko also writes for the Dalhousie Gazette.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Hi guys,

A follow up on what we were discussing during our 8 minutes in China.

"China's massive annual migration begins "

Straits Times Singapore Jan 19, 2011

SHANGHAI - THE world's biggest annual migration of people began in China on Wednesday as millions of travellers boarded trains and buses across the country to journey home for the Lunar New Year celebrations.

The Ministry of Transport said the number of separate passenger trips on the country's trains, planes, boats and buses is expected to reach 2.556 billion - 11.6 per cent more than last year, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Although the week-long holiday, also known as the Spring Festival, officially begins on Feb 3, demand for tickets is so high many travel weeks in advance. The festival travel season is expected to end on Feb 27.Most of the passengers are migrant workers who travel home to see their families only once a year for the country's most important holiday. The number of passenger trips has risen steeply from 1.66 billion a decade ago, Xinhua said.

'Sound economic growth is the reason for the increase. Higher incomes and better transport facilities make it easier for people to travel,' Mr Xu Guangjian, deputy dean of Renmin University's School of Public Administration in Beijing, was quoted as saying.

An average of 2,265 trains per day will carry holiday travellers over the period, deputy railway minister Wang Zhiguo said, adding nearly 300 additional trains were enlisted to carry a record 230 million passengers expected over the peak period, state media reported. -- AFP

Some questions that came to mind:
  1. Since it's still 2 weeks before CNY, with so many people going home, who is going to work?
  2. Can the Chinese Economy afford the shut down??if so why?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Bribery? It's a piece of mooncake
'Tis the season of giving in China, and the fancy boxes may contain more than delectable treats
By Grace Ng, China Correspondent

A Beijing department store is selling mooncakes made of gold ahead of the Mid-Autumn Festival. They are as big as the real thing and come in 30 designs. -- PHOTO: CHINA FOTO PRESS

BEIJING: Families in China celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival today even as the government continues its struggle to contain the unsavoury side of the industry.

The multibillion-dollar sector has been infused with extravagance, scams and corruption in the past decade.

As mooncake sales this year jumped 50 per cent from last year to hit 14 billion yuan (S$2.8 billion), the authorities are worried that the festival has become just an excuse for bribery.

The fancy boxes have been known to contain more than just pastry. Gold bars, designer watches, fine wine and even gold Buddha statuettes have all been found packed next to the mooncakes.

In July, Beijing issued rules to improve pricing and quality and to force mooncake makers to cut down on packaging.

The government has been trying to control the industry since 2004, when it arrested officials who took advantage of the festival to accept and offer bribes.

But excessive mooncake-giving persists, with shops taking their businesses to the less-policed cyberworld. They thrive as mooncakes are no longer just for consumption.

This is especially the case for corporate bodies, both local and foreign, which see the festival as the most important season of giving in China.

Mr Sheng Tao, 46, a Beijing-based manager, said his firm spent 16,000 yuan on 160 boxes of mooncakes for clients.

'We need to do this every year to build business guanxi (connections),' he said. 'It's hard to say whether giving mooncakes amounts to corruption or wastage. But, right now, it's difficult to find any better way of expressing goodwill than through mooncakes.'

The problem goes beyond corruption. Since last week, Beijing's traffic jams have dragged on for hours as companies rushed to make the deliveries.

And 'fake' mooncakes have appeared: pastries purportedly made by top chefs were actually baked by others, and mooncakes boasting expensive ingredients such as ginseng, bird's nest and foie gras were just flavoured artificially.

But things are not likely to get better as younger Chinese are enthusiastic about splurging on this tradition.

Some 55 per cent of 5,000 executives surveyed by recruitment agency said they will spend 200 yuan to 1,000 yuan on mooncakes this year.

Ms Li Cuiping, 22, said: 'Mid-Autumn Festival is sort of like China's Christmas. Without the nice wrapping paper and goodies, it wouldn't feel the same.'

Additional reporting by Lina Miao

  1. Why is the practise of giving mooncake so important in China?
  2. How does this article show that "guanxi" is still a very relevant concept in Chinese society today?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yet Another Article on PLA

Loveless Chinese troops banned from online dating
By ANITA CHANG, Associated Press Writer Anita Chang, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jun 30, 4:54 am ET

BEIJING – What will the lonely hearts of the People's Liberation Army do now?

Rigid restrictions on Internet usage imposed this month on the 2.3 million-strong Chinese armed services are sure to cramp the already lackluster social lives of the predominantly young, male force. Online dating was given the boot, along with blogs, personal websites and visits to Internet cafes.

It may seem harsh and out of touch, particularly for troops posted in remote regions of China who have little contact with the civilian world. But military experts said restraints are necessary to avoid comprising security for a Chinese military that prizes secrecy.

"Some soldiers leaked military secrets when chatting online, for instance, giving away troop locations. Certainly a large amount of secrets were revealed this way and the regulation has just blocked the hole," said Ni Lexiong, a military expert at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

Plus, Ni said, "matchmaking for soldiers can be conducted in more serious ways, such as through introductions from families, friends, or their work units."

China is just the latest country to wrestle with the sticky issue of Internet freedoms for its military, trying to find a balance between the demands of Web-savvy troops, who as civilians were used to sharing personal details online, and the need to maintain security.

After years of back and forth, the U.S. Department of Defense now promotes use of social media by everyone from privates on the front line to generals at the Pentagon as a way of spreading its message. For example, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, has 20,000 followers on Twitter.

Most other countries fall somewhere in between.

"Cyberspace has been a gray area. This is a tricky issue because it straddles both personal and professional space," said Ho Shu Huang, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University.

"The military is a reflection of society and how it responds will be a result of that. So in more closed societies, it's easier for the military to say, 'Don't do anything. Don't talk online. That's that,'" he said.

Countries such as Britain and Israel allow troops to post personal information online, as long as it does not compromise military operations. The open approach has not always worked for Israel.
The Israeli military scrapped a raid on a West Bank village earlier this year after a soldier revealed the time and location of the operation on his Facebook page. In 2008, a soldier attached to an elite Israeli intelligence unit was sentenced to 19 days in jail after uploading a photograph taken on his base to Facebook.

The Chinese Internet prohibitions are a brief part of lengthy internal affairs regulations issued by the Communist Party's Central Military Affairs Commission.

"Seeking marriage partners, jobs or making friends through the public media is not permitted. Going online in local Internet cafes is not permitted," the regulation states. "Opening websites, home pages, blogs and message forums on the Internet is not permitted."

It was not clear if troops would be completely cut off from social networking sites. The regulations do not apply to civilians serving in military research and training academies.
It's also not known how authorities in China plan to enforce the restrictions. The regulations, posted on the Ministry of National Defense's website, did not say how troops would be punished for transgressions. Phones rang unanswered at the ministry's information office and questions submitted by fax were not answered.

Yet the prohibitions seem out of step in a wired society with 400 million overwhelmingly young Internet users in a country hurtling toward prosperity and global power.

"(The policy) is regressive in its understanding of technology, regressive in generational attitudes and regressive in transparency and attitudes we have of leading powers in the 21st century," said Peter Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution.

Chinese social networking sites and instant messaging programs are wildly popular. Young Chinese office workers chat online with friends throughout the work day. Internet cafes in small towns are packed with youngsters playing games. Ni, the Chinese military affairs expert, said in the past soldiers had been allowed to visit Internet cafes in plainclothes and some had become addicted to the pastime.

The stipulation that troops cannot "make friends through the public media" is likely to be unpopular. In recent decades, rank-and-file soldiers often drawn from poorer rural families and until recent years paid miserably have found it hard to find spouses.

A blog apparently written by a paramilitary soldier which has not been updated since the new rules took effect on June 15 features a poem titled "We Are Still Single."

The Internet has been a boon, with a proliferation of unregulated online dating sites targeting military men.

The Chinese military now plans to attack that problem the way it did decades ago, when it arranged socials between military units and civilian work outfits with heavily female work forces such as textile factories. A report on a military news website said the Xigaze Military District in central Tibet is working with the local government and women's federation to help troops find partners.

Ho, the researcher in Singapore, said the restrictions are meant to prevent people from getting an inside look at the military. He said security lapses don't usually involve highly classified information, but rather small details that intelligence agents can use to piece together a larger picture about an operation or a unit.

"Most intelligence is based on really, really mundane stuff. History is replete with examples: the color of the sand, the types of uniforms they're wearing, the kinds of vehicles being deployed, the number of people and what they're wearing, whether they have facial hair, stuff like that," he said. "That's what militaries are concerned about, people piecing bits and pieces together."
Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.

Monday, April 19, 2010

War games show PLA navy's strength

The Straits Times Singapore
Apr 19, 2010
Impressive exercises send clear message to region that China unafraid to test its reach

HONG KONG: Chinese navy warships have been conducting war games unprecedented in their reach and scope, South China Morning Post said yesterday.

Over the weekend, the East Sea Fleet - with its crack Sovremenny class destroyers, frigates and submarines - was exercising south-east of Japan's strategic offshore islands, the Hong Kong-based newspaper reported, citing various sources.

The fleet steamed through the so-called First Island Chain - the United States-dominated stronghold that links Japan to Taiwan and the Philippines - and is practising anti-submarine warfare manoeuvres.

The ships moved out through the Miyako Strait just days after a North Sea Fleet flotilla sailed in the other direction on its return from a 'confrontation exercise' deep in the disputed South China Sea, said the Post.

That flotilla, comprising destroyers, frigates and auxiliary ships and air cover, sailed some 19 days and covered 6,000 nautical miles, including the Bashi Strait between the Philippines and Taiwan.

They stopped at a Chinese base and early warning radar station at the Spratly Islands' Fiery Cross reef, the site of a past sea battle between Chinese and Vietnamese ships.

Recently, too, the Nanjing and Guangzhou military regions have been running extensive long-range exercises with command planes, bombers and attack aircraft. The manoeuvres have featured stealth and night flying, radar-jamming electronic warfare and multiple mid-air refuellings, as well as simulated bombing raids in the South China Sea.

'We've never seen anything on this scale before - they are finally showing us they can put it all together,' said one Asian defence attache monitoring the developments.

'These types of manoeuvres require extensive command and control capabilities, linking various assets in conflict situations - it is all about communication and flexibility.'

Another noted that while People's Liberation Army (PLA) ships had moved through the island chain in the past, the Chinese navy had never mounted such coordinated action involving both ships and submarines.

Likewise, multiple mid-air refuellings of J-10, JH-7 and J-8 fighter planes from long-range tanker planes had not been seen before.

The exercises are of broader strategic and diplomatic importance, the Post said, as they show China is unafraid to assert its rights of free passage to move beyond foreign naval bases that could contain it, such as the American base on the Japanese island of Okinawa. The island sits on the Miyako Strait.

Two submarines and eight vessels were spotted earlier this month about 140 km south-west of Okinawa, the first time Japan has confirmed the presence of Chinese submarines and such a large number of vessels in the area.

Japanese defence officials acknowledged that China had not violated international law with its recent movements; China said its ships were only training.

Mr Gary Li, a PLA specialist at the London-based Institute of International and Strategic Studies, said: 'We've seen annual exercises at this time, but nothing at all like this.

'It must send a very clear message to the region that it should be prepared to see a China unafraid to really test its reach and move into new areas.'

But the PLA navy's operations in the area of the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea have also alarmed Vietnam.

Vietnam, like China, claims all the islands as its own. Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines claim parts of the Spratlys chain.

Vietnam has been particularly active, exploring a new military relationship with the US while also purchasing six Kilo class submarines from Russia.

And Japan is boosting its intelligence resources devoted to China's growing military, which it considers the top national security concern, the business daily Nikkei reported yesterday.

The defence ministry-affiliated National Institute for Defence Studies has established a task force of six researchers to examine China's national security strategy, the daily said.

It will study the strategic thinking guiding the PLA, the purpose of its recent military buildup and its relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, the daily added.

Questions to Ponder:
Doesn't this resonate with what we were discussing in class last friday?

  1. How do you think China's neighbours feel about the intensity of the PLA military exercises?

  2. What are the implications of a militarily ready China or a China who is on the verge of engaging in a "limited war"?

  3. What does this say about the diplomacy stance of the Chinese?