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Barry’s Gleanings: China -“A Job in Hand”

Based on the latest United Nations estimates, China has a total population of 1,387,380,040 (the U.S. 326,131,191) as of Wednesday, May 10, 2017.  Thus, China needs to deal with challenges such as employment for over a billion more people than we have in the U.S.

Chinese-college-students

Chinese college students

According to “A Job in Hand” in Beijing Review, Vol. 60, China continues measures to create employment throughout the country.

A Job in Hand
By Lan Xinzhen | NO. 17 APRIL 27, 2017

As China’s college graduates swarm to all kinds of employment fairs in this job-seeking season, the government is set to give them a leg up. A guideline on employment promotion recently released by the State Council, China’s cabinet, lays out measures for creating diversified job opportunities for college graduates. The document also details steps to be taken to boost job creation in all sectors of society.

Employment is vital to people’s livelihoods and forms the foundation for economic growth and social stability. Therefore, employment and unemployment rates are important indicators for gauging a country’s economy.

The unemployment rate in 31 major Chinese cities stands at the low level of around 5 percent, according to surveys of the National Bureau of Statistics. A review of statistics from 100 cities conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) shows the number of new jobs increased 7.8 percent and the number of applicants grew 2.1 percent in the first quarter over the same period last year. The figures show that China’s job market remained stable, as the increase of new positions surpassed the rise in applicants.

However, in spite of this stability, challenges are not to be underestimated. First, around 7.95 million college graduates will enter the job market this year, an increase of some 300,000 year on year. Ensuring employment for the record number of graduates is an issue the government faces [my emphasis].

Second, workers laid off from sectors with overcapacity—such as the iron, steel and coal industries—require resettlement. Last year, resettlement was carried out smoothly, with 726,000 workers from these industries being reemployed. The government faces daunting challenges this year, as more workers will have to find new jobs as a result of the furthering of supply-side reform, which focuses on cutting overcapacity, destocking, deleveraging, reducing corporate costs and improving weak links. Only when laid-off workers are properly resettled can this crucial reform be considered successful.

Another challenge is to guarantee employment for surplus labor from rural areas. In the past, surplus rural labor was primarily employed in export-oriented factories in the coastal areas of east and south China. However, many migrant workers lost their jobs as a large number of export-oriented enterprises closed down due to sluggish demand for exports in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008.

The government has introduced a series of measures to meet these challenges and will continue to launch new initiatives to address the issues.

For instance, given that non-profit organizations are becoming increasingly attractive for college graduates, the government will grant them incentive policies equal to those enjoyed by enterprises, including tax reduction and exemption and social insurance subsidies. It also provides job-hunting allowances to college graduates from impoverished families. Where conditions permit, the government encourages the setting up of foundations, with the support of local government finance and private investors, to provide funding for college graduates seeking employment or starting their own businesses.

The government also subsidizes enterprises that resettle laid-off workers within their organization. It grants tax relief to enterprises that take on laid-off workers. Those who start their own businesses will be given priority to set up shop in business start-up incubators, where they will enjoy favorable tax and financing policies. Finally, as part of its public welfare program, the government will provide job opportunities to workers who have difficulty finding new work.

For surplus rural labor, the government encourages them to go back to their hometowns to make a new start. There have been many successful cases of migrant workers, having accumulated capital and acquired skills and knowledge in larger cities, returning to their hometowns to start their own businesses. In this year’s annual survey of 500 villages in China conducted by the MHRSS, the number of migrant workers working away from their hometowns was 279,000 at the end of the first quarter, down 2.1 percent year on year, while those employed in local non-agricultural sectors totaled 60,000, up 7.1 percent year on year.

These measures taken by the government conform to China’s national conditions and will have positive effects in promoting employment. With these measures in place, it is believed that China’s unemployment rate will continue to stay at a low level this year, in spite of mounting challenges.

Copyedited by Chris Surtees

Comments to lanxinzhen@bjreview.com 

http://www.bjreview.com/Opinion/201704/t20170424_800094497.html

chinese-college-students-job-fair-nanjing-1-copy

College job fair in Nanjing, China

Population figures: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/china-population/

Aloha, Barry (& Renée)

 

 

 

Images: http://www.china-mike.com/facts-about-china/facts-chinese-education/

Angola Update: The Not So Good News

A few months ago,  our “Barry’s Gleaning” post reported good news about Angola and the building going on there to create good housing for those who had been living in slums near the capital city of Luanda.  The source was the China Daily, a Nov. 17, 2014 article, “Changing the face of real estate in Angola” by Li Jing in the business section.  What the Chinese have accomplished in Angola was presented in glowing terms.

The China Daily article notes:

“With its abundance of resources that include crude oil, diamonds and gold, the southern African nation has seen scores of China’s State-owned enterprises and private companies enter its borders hoping for an economic opportunity.

In 2008, CITIC Construction Co, a State-owned enterprise and one of the largest construction companies in the world, joined the nation’s reconstruction efforts.  [See the CITIC website:<http://www.cici.citic.com/iwcm/cici/en/ns:LHQ6MTc1LGY6NDM5LGM6LHA6LGE6LG06/channel.vsml]

‘We are an active and responsible player in the country’s post-war reconstruction process,’ says Liu Guigen, president of the African regional division of CITIC Construction . . .

That year, the company won a bid to build housing in Kilamba Kiaxi, one of the capital city of Luanda’s six urban districts that is located 30 kilometers from downtown. . . .

Last year, the $10 billion project was completed with a total of 20,000 residential homes, 200 retail stores, 24 kindergartens, nine primary schools and eight middle schools. CITIC claims 90 percent of the homes are already occupied.”

That article sounds wonderful and a win-win situation for the Chinese company and the people of Angola.

However,  we’ve found another view that emphasizes the importance of questioning all your sources and not being too sure about what you read.

Travel writer Paul Theroux has quite damning things to say about the Chinese builders in his book The Last Train to Zona Verde:

The Last Train to Zona Verde - The Guardian describes the book as

The Last Train to Zona Verde

In a book review for The Guardian, Robin McKie says The Last Train to Zona Verde is “uncompromising and unsettling.”  <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jun/01/train-zone-verde-theroux-review>  This accurately describes Theroux’s  look at the Chinese in Angola:

“The first Chinese workers to arrive in Angola were criminals, prisoners of the Chinese justice system–thieves, rapists, dissidents, deserters, and worse, an echo of the earliest immigration from Portugal.  . . . The first workers the Chinese sent were convicts shipped in chains, to work off their sentences in forced labor.  Angola, having begun as a penal colony of the Portuguese, became just recently a penal colony for the Chinese.  These Chinese convicts were the labor force for China-Angola development projects–the ugly oversized pastel buildings, the coastal roads, the dredging of the del-water port of Lobito–and after they had served their sentences, the agreement was that they would remain in Angola.  Presumably, like the Portuguese degredados, they would elevate themselves to the bourgeoisie or a higher class of parvenu.

Possibly, again like the Portuguese convicts, the Chinese would become the loudest racists, and for the same reason. ‘The inferiority complex of the uneducated criminal settler population contributed to a virulent form of white racism among the Portuguese, which affected all classes from top to bottom,’ the political historian Lawrence Henderson wrote of the early settlers.  The Portuguese convicts became the most brutal employers and the laziest farmers, and a sizable number turned furiously respectable, in the way atoning whores become sermonizing and pitiless nuns.

After the first wave of Chinese convicts (‘We started seeing them around 2006, a man in Luanda was later to tell me), more shiploads of semiskilled Chinese workers arrived.  As with the early Portuguese convicts, they were all men.  Then, a few years later, women were allowed to work in Angola”  (282-283).

. . . “Some Africa watchers and Western economists have observed that the Chinese presence in Africa–a sudden intrusion–is salutary and will result in greater development and more opportunities for Africans. Seeing Chinese digging into Africa, isolated in their enterprises, offhand with Africans to the point of rudeness and deaf to any suggestion that they moderate their self-serving ways, I tend to regard this positive view as a crock.  My own feeling is that like the other adventurers in Africa, the Chinese are exploiters.  They have no compact or agreement or involvement with the African people; third is an alliance with the dictators and bureaucrats whom they pay off and allow to govern abusively–a conspiracy.

Theirs is a racket like those of all the previous colonizers, and it will end badly–maybe worse, because the Chinese are tenacious, richer, and for them there is no going back and no surrender.  As they walked into Tibet and took over (with not a voice of protest raised by anyone in the West), they are walking into the continent and, outspending any other adventurer, subverting Africans, with a mission to plunder” (265).

*****

Theroux’s view is a good reminder to question everything.  Is the China Daily’s glowing view correct or Theroux’s point of view?  Obviously, we need more than those two accounts.

Have you been there?  What do you know?

Aloha, Renée

Glimpses of Old City Dali, Yunnan Province, China

Barry and I traveled to Dali, Yunnan Province, home of many Chinese ethnic minorities; we found sunny blue skies, friendly colorful people, and interesting history.   Because we liked it so much, we got stuck there, staying longer than we had intended.

Sunset over the mountains outside Dali.  The tree is loaded with clementines.

Sunset over the mountains outside Dali. The tree in the neighboring yard is loaded with clementines.

We awoke to see snow on the mountain tops and warm sunshine.

Snow on the mountains, but warm temperatures in Dali.

Snow on the mountains, but warm temperatures in Dali.

The food was varied and good.

Our new friend Nature helped us find the Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant where we ate many times.

Our new friend Nature helped us find a vegetarian restaurant where we ate many times.

The Lovely Lotus Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant was a favorite.

We liked the selections - and the friendly staff.

We liked the selections – and the friendly staff.

Our friendly Muslim noodle man.

Our friendly Muslim noodle man.

Yummy!

Yummy freshly made noodles!

Restaurants of all kinds.

Restaurants of all kinds.

We loved walking the narrow streets of the Old City Dali.

Old City Dali

Old City Dali

The streets teemed with life.

The streets teem with life.

Catholics, Christians, and Buddhists have centers in Old City Dali.

Dali Christian Church

Dali Christian Church

Although this site is now strictly a cultural site, we heard chanting from other buildings, and the Buddhists provide free daily meals to those in need.

We went to the Three-Pagodas  one afternoon – and stayed so long that we had to climb over a fence in order to leave 🙂

Although this site is now strictly a cultural destination, we heard chanting from other buildings in Dali and learned  that the Buddhist community provides a  free daily meal to those in need.

A temple to Confucius.

A temple to Confucius.

The opening of a Belgium waffle shop involved chanted blessings (and free cigarettes and tea).

The opening of a Belgium waffle shop involved chanted blessings (and free cigarettes and tea).

The Dali residents dress in a variety of ways.

Some women in ethnic dress, some in modern clothes

Some women wear ethnic dress, some  modern clothes.

Colorful foreigners too.

Colorful foreigners are here too.

Old City Dali pedestrian street.

Old City Dali pedestrian street.

Many shopping choices line the Old City Dali streets.

Shopping choices.

Shopping choices

Farmers bring their produce to sell in the streets.

Farmers bring their produce to sell in the streets.

Beautiful vegetables.

Beautiful vegetables.

Peanuts, scarves?

Peanuts and scarves

Shoe repair shop on the street.

Shoe repair shop on the street.

Hair braiding/threading  shop.

Hair braiding/threading shop.

Dali is known for its beautiful stone.

Dali is known for its beautiful stone.

Shops in colorful, historic buildings.

Shops in colorful, historic buildings.

Stylish women's dresses.

Stylish women’s dresses.

Beautiful choices.

Beautiful choices.

Cafés, coffee bars, and restaurants line the walking streets.

Cafés too.

Cafés 

Varied restaurant experiences.

Varied restaurant experiences.

A good place for an afternoon coffee.

A good place for an afternoon coffee.

Cool doorways –

Old City Dali

Old City Dali

Some entrances are humble.

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Stately entrances

Some have stately entrances.

Some entrances are new.

Some entrances are more modern.

White walls, black tiles

White walls, black tiles

Walls of color too.

Walls of color too.

Beautiful gates and doors in Old City Dali.

Beautiful gates and doors in Old City Dali.

Some gates are hundreds of years old.

Some gates reflect ancient styles.

Beautiful windows too.

Beautiful windows.

Old stone walls.

Old stone walls.

Old City Dali gates:

Old City Dali gate.

Old City Dali gate.

North Gate

North Gate

Local women outside an Old City Dali gate.

Local women outside an Old City Dali gate.

Old City Dali offers entertainment of many types.

Games on the street.

Games on the street.

With the name Johnny Hawaii, we had to go see this "Paper Presentation".

Because his  name is Jonny Hawaii, we had to go see this “18th Performance with Paper Reading.”

Would Jonny Hawaii do a dramatic reading?  I was hopeful his presentation would  be in English.

Jonny in the foreground; Rachel read.

Jonny in the foreground; Rachel reading.

We were warned that Jonny’s  presentation would be loud.

Many of us held our ears because of the screeching that accompanied Jonny's performance.

Many of us held our ears because of the screeching that accompanied Jonny’s symbolic performance.

Innovative Education in Old City Dali:

We discovered “The Living School” when we met Joy, a teacher, and his students selling challa bread one afternoon in Dali.  Fourteen Dali families have joined together to “homeschool” their children.  Instead of the traditional Chinese school of long hours of memorization, these children study academics in the morning and then develop their own passions (music, art, crafts) during the afternoons.  The school   encourages innovation and hands-on learning.  The students learn to cook and garden and make mud bricks and develop new skills.

Lunch with The Living School students and Joy.

Lunch with The Living School students and Joy.

The school also invites  Couch Surfers to stay at the school and share their experiences.  One  evening I saw a program presented  by Eurate & Sam who have been traveling for 2 1/2 years – by bicycle! Coming overland from the Basque region of Spain, they are on their way to  New Zealand – and they have had many adventures.

Sam & Eunate, Couch Surfers, who have been bicycling from Basque region in Spain toward New Zealand.

Sam & Eunate explain how they handled the laws of Iraq that don’t permit touching between men and women.

Sam showing the bicycle route from Spain to Dali, China.

Sam showing the bicycle route from Spain to Dali, China.

The Living School kids, their teachers, and Eunate.

The Living School kids, their teachers, and Eunate.

Eunate says all you need to travel is a smile.  She says money causes trouble, so she and Sam have traded work for places to stay and food wherever they have gone.  I love their spirits and sense of adventure.

Joy and his students singing a thank you song for Sam & Eunate's presentation.

Joy and his students singing a thank you to Sam & Eunate.

Barry and I loved our stay in Old City Dali.  Our Dragonfly Hostel with its friendly staff, comfortable rooms, rooftop garden, and reading/music room became our home in Dali.

Our Dragonfly Hostel room.

A Dragonfly Hostel room.

Old City Dali - a mingling of the traditional and the new.

Old City Dali – a mingling of the traditional and the new.

Zaì jiàn, Renée

Sunday in the Park: Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park

The parks in China brim with life.  One Sunday, Barry and I found ourselves in Green Lake Park in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.

People play music of various kinds throughout the park.

Several guitarists played

Some guitarists play alone.

Some guitarists played together.

Some guitarists play  together.

Some groups had a variety of instruments.

Some groups have a variety of instruments.

Some sang.

Some sing.

Some played jazz in groups.

Some play jazz in groups.

Some played alone.

Some play alone.

A lone horn.

A lone horn.

Many listened to the music.

Many listen to the music.

some do martial arts moves

Some do martial arts moves.

Under a blue sky and warm sun, many enjoyed being in Green Lake Park.

Under a blue sky and warm sun, many enjoy being in Green Lake Park.

Some people stroll the paths.

Some people stroll the paths.

Some run.

Some run.

Some bring their pets.

Some bring their pets.

Some come by bicycle.

Some come by bicycle.

Some chat with friends.

Some chat with friends.

Some come to dance.

Some come to dance.

Some come to watch.

Some come to watch.

Some offer things for children.

Some offer things for children.

Some offer treats to eat.

Some offer treats to eat.

Some offer yummy treats -and then run across the street with the hot coals when the police came.  And then they returned five minutes later!

Some grill meats -and then run across the street with the hot coals when the police come. And then they return five minutes later!

Some enjoy the flowers.

Some enjoy the flowers.

 

Welcome to Green Lake in Kunming.  There is something for everyone  especially on Sundays.

Welcome to Green Lake in Kunming, where there is something for everyone —  especially on Sundays.

Zaì jiàn, Renée

Yulong River Bamboo Rafting, Yangshou, China

A great way to spend a few hours near Yangshou, Yunnan Province, China,  is to take a bamboo raft down the Yulong River.  That is what Barry and I did one overcast but mild November afternoon.

Bamboo raft embarcation

Bamboo raft embarcation

 

Karsts along the Yulong River

Karsts along the Yulong River

A cloudy afternoon on the Yulong River

A cloudy afternoon on the Yulong River

Reflections on the Yulong River

Reflections on the Yulong River

Quiet and fantastic karats

Quiet and fantastic karats

Our bamboo raft guide

Our bamboo raft guide

Clouds and karsts

Clouds and karsts

One karst more beautiful than the next

One karst more beautiful than the next

Ducks on the Yulong River

Ducks on the Yulong River

Bikers along the bank of the Yulong River

Bikers along the bank of the Yulong River

Clean water

Clean water

Going over a little rapid

Going over a little rapid

Occasionally, we saw some construction along the banks of the Yulong.

Occasionally, we saw some construction along the banks of the Yulong.

 

The construction didn't really interfere with the views.

The construction didn’t really interfere with the views.

We heard and saw birds along the river.

We heard and saw birds along the river.

Barry and a huge karst.

Barry and a huge karst.

Another rapids drop

Another rapids drop

Clear water all along our bamboo raft trip.

Clear water all along our bamboo raft trip.

Bananas and orchid trees along the banks of the Yulong.

Bananas and orchid trees along the banks of the Yulong.

Bananas and orchid trees along the banks of the Yulong.

Bananas and orchid trees along the banks of the Yulong.

Other rafters ahead

Other rafters ahead.

The karats vary in form and size.

The karats vary in form and size.

Along the banks, a couple set up for their wedding photos.

Along the banks, a couple set up for their wedding photos.

Fellow rafters

Fellow rafters

You can see why rock climbing is popular here.

You can see why rock climbing is popular here.

Captured "working" cormorants.

Captured “working” cormorants on the banks of the Yulong.

The fisherman and his cormorants.

The fisherman and his cormorants.

This rafter brought her bike on the along.

This rafter brought her bike on the along.

A camel and two monkeys waited on the bank for photo opportunities.

A camel and two monkeys waited on the bank for photo opportunities.

Barry and I had a great, relaxing afternoon on the Yulong River.  You would like it here too.

Aloha &  Zaì jiàn, Renée

Marriage Update: China

“A famous Chinese saying goes, ‘All the land under heaven belongs to the emperor and everyone is his servant.” China has the longest continuous civilization on Earth, so in the Shanghai Museum, for instance, you can see pottery from the 5th century B.C.

Grey pottery jar with incised rope pattern - Songze Culture - 3800-3200 B.C. at the Shanghai Museum

Grey pottery jar with incised rope pattern – Songze Culture – 3800-3200 B.C. at the Shanghai Museum

However, until the 20 century, much of that civilization was based on a feudal system. The Chinese have lived for centuries having to follow what their leaders have said to do.

But now, the Chinese central government is placing a priority on “the rule of law.”   It’s a challenging process in part because of Chinese customs and traditions. Some laws have already benefitted the general population in China.

In 1949, for instance, the Chinese Communists outlawed and stopped the 1,000 year old brutal practice of foot binding.  According to the Wūzhèn Museum, “Starting when the child was five, the girl’s feet were broken at the arch, their toes fractured and folded over toes to heels.  The broken feet were bound tightly so the feet would remain in a tight small shape.  It usually took three years to remold the feet into a shape and size that many males of the time admired” – the “perfect” three-inch lotus foot.   About two billion girls (estimates vary) suffered this fate – but no more.

"The perfect" shoe size"

“The perfect” shoe size”

Photo from: http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_full_width/hash/2a/33/2a33d7119ce520b6b031581493060da2.jpg

Another traditional practice that shows how much the Chinese are changing is reported in a Shanghai Daily “ News Feature, “An arduous journey toward the rule of law.” During the feudal society, common people “had no right to choose their spouse. This situation didn’t change until 1950, when the New Marriage Law was enacted as China’s first basic law after liberation. It banned marriage by proxy and stipulated both parties should agree to the marriage.

P1030732

This couple on a street in Kunming, Yunnan Provence, China are very likely to have had an arranged marriage.  Have they been happy together?

Did they come to love each other?

Did they come to love each other?

Did they just accept their fate?

About 90 percent of marriages were arranged in 1950 and this declined to 10 percent seven years after the law as passed” (15 Nov. 2014, p.10).

That may be true, but arranged marriages are still happening and not just among the poorest people in China. One of our favorite Zhejiang Agricultural and Forestry University students who has graduated and has been doing a LED light business in Dubei just came back to China in October to get married to a girl selected by his parents. He did not seem thrilled. But he feels he owes his parents much, and they wanted to see him settled. So even some successful, educated young Chinese are still entering into arranged marriages.

When the topic came up in one of my oral English classes in China, students had a range of opinions. Some said they would marry for love someone they met; others said they would consider their parents’ suggestion. One 19-year-old student said he would marry whomever his parents selected, “Because I am a good boy.” It’s not likely that anyone raised in the West would say such a thing. If Barry and I selected someone for our son, I’m sure that John would just laugh.

A young couple in Green Lake Park, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

A young couple in Green Lake Park, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

There’s much evidence that many young Chinese do not rely on their parents to find them a suitable spouse. According to Hu Min’s, “216 weddings from singles event,” “ More than 200 couples who met through the city’s largest matchmaking event have gone on to tie the knot, according to organizers.

Almost 200,000 singles have attended five massive gatherings since November, 2011, the Shanghai Matchmaking Association said this week” (Shanghai Daily, 15 Nov. 2014, Metro 4).

What will influence these young people in Dali?

What will influence the marriage choice of these young people in Dali?

But another China Daily story notes, “A 30-year-old man in Cangnan county took drugs on Singles’ Day and called police to take him away because he believed that staying in a detention house was preferable to being bothered by his parents about not having a girlfriend. The man’s parents are always telling him to get married soon” (11/13/14 p. 4).

In contrast, I got an e-mail recently from another past English class student, Kris. He says, “ I had a great 4-year college education in ZAFU . . . and I also met my girlfriend in college. She is still enrolled postgraduate. We are going to get married after her graduation.”

Such reports show that times times are changing in China. The “Rule of Law” is likely to bring many benefits and changes to what was once a feudal society.

In the future, what will life be like for this Chinese girl who lives in Dali, Yunnan Province?

In the future, what will life be like for this Chinese girl who lives in Dali, Yunnan Province?

Zaì jiàn, Renée

Barry’s Gleanings: Angola

Angola large color map

http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/africa/lgcolor/aocolor.htm

One reason we like to travel is we see the daily news from different perspectives than we find at home in the U.S.  The China English language CCTV, for instance, has a daily news report from Africa – of mainly good news – not just Ebola, HIV, war, and strife.  An example is a Nov. 17, 2014, news article, “Changing the face of real estate in Angola,” by Li Jing in the business section of the China Daily.
“Since Angola’s civil war ended in 2002, Africa’s second-biggest oil producer has surged economically, with a 5.1 percent growth rate in 2013.

The government has invested heavily to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, in an effort dubbed by the leaders as ‘national reconstruction.’ Construction of new roads, railways, schools and hospitals has cost tens of billions of dollars.

With its abundance of resources that include crude oil, diamonds and gold, the southern African nation has seen scores of China’s State-owned enterprises and private companies enter its borders hoping for an economic opportunity.

In 2008, CITIC Construction Co, a State-owned enterprise and one of the largest construction companies in the world, joined the nation’s reconstruction efforts.

‘We are an active and responsible player in the country’s post-war reconstruction process,’ says Liu Guigen, president of the African regional division of CITIC Construction . . .

That year, the company won a bid to build housing in Kilamba Kiaxi, one of the capital city of Luanda’s six urban districts that is located 30 kilometers from downtown. . . .

Last year, the $10 billion project was completed with a total of 20,000 residential homes, 200 retail stores, 24 kindergartens, nine primary schools and eight middle schools. CITIC claims 90 percent of the homes are already occupied.

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos hailed the satellite city project as a model for the country’s post-war reconstruction.

CITIC Construction, which was tasked with mapping out the satellite city’s overall development strategy, worked with about 40 other enterprises from China to install water, sewage and electricity systems.

The companies then set up a 300-strong team to train Angolans on maintenance and security work for the neighborhoods. . . .

Backed by the success in Kilamba Kiaxi, the company is now working with other Angolan city governments to build similar housing projects. It is also exploring opportunities in the nation’s farming sector to help reduce Angola’s dependence on food imports to feed its population of 18 million.

‘Angola has so much fertile land, but it is also a large food importer,’ Liu says. . . .
The company has also invested heavily in the country’s school system.

In May 2014, the CITIC BN Vocational School was founded in Luanda to provide free vocational training for impoverished city youths from ages of 16 to 25. The students can learn skills in electrical and mechanical engineering and will eventually be recruited by the Chinese company after graduation. . . .

Since 1999, when China encouraged its State-owned companies to invest overseas, CITIC Construction has conducted almost 95 percent of its work abroad. It says that 60 percent of its business is in the African market.

‘We are confident that we will expand projects across Africa in 2016,’ Liu says.
CITIC Construction plans to kick off new projects in Kenya and Cameroon at the end of this year” (p. 14).

It’s wonderful to know that good things are happening in Africa.

Aloha & Zaì jiàn, Barry & Renée

China’s Two-Child Policy?

Children in Yangzhou, China

Children in Yangshou, China

“Every two years a cohort of infants roughly equal to the population of Canada crawls on to the world stage. . .

‘I know people in the West don’t like our one-child policy,’ smiles Mei Yu, a university-graduated bureaucrat who works for the central government. ‘But our resources are limited and I understand it: we shouldn’t be thinking about what’s best for us, but what’s best for society,’ notes an article in the Toronto Star.

With a population of 1.3 billion, China is still the most populous country.  But it has significantly fewer citizens because of its one-child policy. “Since its introduction in the late 1970s, the nation’s family planning regulations have resulted in an estimated 400 million of fewer births” (Shanghai Daily, 6 Nov. 2014, A3). The 2014 total population of the U.S., by the way, is just over 319 million!

“Song Shuli, a spokesman for the family planning commission, said that managing birth rates has been a key issue in China for generations.

‘As the world’s most populous country, population control is a long-term challenge as it is closely linked with sustainable development,’ he said” in “Applications to have 2nd child fall short of forecast” by Cai Wenjun (Shanghai Daily, 6 Nov. 2014, A3).

After-school pick-up, Yangshou, China

After-school pick-up, Yangshou, China

In 1979, the Chinese government recognizing its uncontrolled birth rate caused many problems imposed what we in the West often see as the draconian one-child policy.  But over the years, the policy has been relaxed.  Minorities could have more children.  Also if the first child was a girl, farmers could wait for four years and have another child.

If couples did have more children without permission, penalties were imposed.  Some penalties were more harsh than others: both partners would lose their jobs, forced abortions, the unapproved child would not be allowed to go to school or later get a regular job, high fines, and more.  Mickey, a student of mine from ZAFU is now about 24.  He was an unapproved 2nd child.  Although his parents were farmers, they hadn’t waited the four years after his sister had been born to have another child.  When he was born, Mickey told me with a smile, the government took all his family’s furniture.  He said that his family didn’t really care because he was a boy!

Having a boy has been essential because until the last few years, the Chinese have had no pensions or any Social Security system.  And the basic rule for retirement in China has been 45 years old for factory workers; for professionals, it’s 55 for women and 60 for men.  The retired parents have had to have a boy to provide for them.  This fact is likely the reason we have darling Chinese girls who have been adopted in the West.

However today, family responsibility has placed a huge burden on the young Chinese males.  Not only does he have to buy a condo before he can get married, he has to provide for his parents, grandparents, and if he is kind and able for his wife’s family as well.  The Chinese government has realized the one-child policy causes problems too and has been adjusting its rules.

Besides fewer people in this already crowded country, another result of the one-child policy is that every child I’ve seen here in China seems wanted and loved. (Well, except for the Western dad I heard yelling at his kid and a Chinese mom unhappy over her daughter’s grades grumbling at her cute and well-dressed but crying 10-year-old).  Parks are filled with cheerful, often stylishly dressed children and doting parents and grandparents – who may be accused of being too attentive but never of being neglectful.  Each child I’ve seen is treated as a treasure.  Limiting each family to one child means that child has the attention and the resources of the whole family!  Each child is born into a two-parent family that wants and can care for the child.

A girl and her parents in Guilin, China

A girl and her parents in Guilin, China

Chinese friends say my view of all treasured children is too rosy.  They think many Chinese children are neglected because they are left in the villages in the care of their grandparents (many in their 40s & 50s) while the parents are away in the city working long hours.  The children have the constant attention of two loving adults and other extended family and are in the countryside and can go outside and play in a basically unpolluted environment.  Hummm – and that is neglect!   One of my students, “Molly” – a second girl in her family — did say that when she was an infant, her mom had to take her to work since her grandmother refused to take care of her – because she was a girl.  Molly said she did love her grandmother and understood.  I wish we had just such complaints about neglect in the U.S.

Mom, grandpa, grandma, and child in Kunming, China

Mom, grandpa, grandma, and child in Kunming, China

Kunming, China

A treasured girl in Kunming, China

But even with the “reduced population” in China, competition is intense for everything: schools, jobs, housing, health care, transportation, clean water, safe food, and resources of all kinds.

Waiting for a bus in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Waiting for a bus in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Kunming, China - crowds everywhere

Kunming, China – crowds everywhere

Sunday in Green Lake Park, Kunming, Yuannan

Sunday in Green Lake Park, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

In the evolution of the family planning laws, a few years ago some Chinese provinces allowed a second child if each partner in the marriage was an only child.  In November 2013, some Chinese provinces started allowing couples in which one spouse was a single child to apply to have a second child.

However, according to the article, “Application to have 2nd child fall short of forecast,” by Cai Wenjun, “Of the 11 million couples now eligible to have a second child, just 6 percent, or about 700,000 have registered applications and 620,000 of them got a permit, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said” (Shanghai Daily, 6 Nov, 2014, A3).

A happy Chinese girl

A happy Chinese girl

In a China Daily article, “Fewer couples want second child,” Shan Juan quotes Lu Jiehua, a professor of demography at Peking University.  Lu says, “The lower-than-expected number of applications might reflect a changing perception of reproduction, particularly in urban settings, among those with a high education level. . . .

The latest relaxation [of the one-child policy] aims to address a rapidly aging society and to maintain a sustainable labor supply, Lu said.

In reality, childbirth for some is more of an economic issue.

Liu Yulin and his wife, both in their early 30s, are still trying to decide whether to have a second child.

‘My first is a boy.  I don’t think I can afford to have another boy, for whom I have to buy housing, ‘ said Liu . . .

Guilin Airport

Guilin Airport – treasured boy

The couple are white-collar workers in Beijing, where quality education and housing remain expensive “ (30 Oct. 2014, p. 1).

For instance, “In Shanghai, 8,000 couples applied to have a second child between March – when the city adopted the new regulations—and June.  The rule change made an extra 400,000 couples eligible to extend their families,” noted Cai Wenjun (Shanghai Daily, 6 Nov, 2014, A3).

A boy and his family are expected to provide a condo for the young couple before a young woman (and her family) will even consider accepting a marriage proposal.

The Chinese I’ve talked to say the average monthly salary for a college-educated guy is now around the equivalent of $666 U.S. a month (4,000 yuan) in Shanghai.  A two-bedroom condo in Shanghai in a good, but not the very best neighborhood, is over a million U.S. (6,000,000 yuan)!   To get a loan, buyers must be able to make a down payment of 30%!  To be able to buy real estate like that is impossible for a young guy.  He has to rely on his family.

A boy and his dad, Mu Shan, Yunnan Province, China.  The boy will rely on his parents for many years to come.

A boy and his dad, Mu Shan, Yunnan Province, China. The boy will rely on his parents for many years to come.

If two boys are in a family, their parents would have to be very wealthy in order to provide for them both.

Guilin boys

Guilin boys

However another factor besides economics may be involved.  In a Toronto Star article,  “A child is born in China, 18 million times a year,” Bill Schiller and Liang Lili note, “As with so many categories of human development, China has come a long way in a short time in the science of childbirth.

Not long ago, giving birth in this country was dangerous. As recently as 1996 almost 25 of every 1,000 newborns died in the process.

Today, that figure [of infant mortality] is down to 8.3, according to government data. The comparable number for the U.S. is 4 — and for Canada, just 3.  While China might not be on a par with the West yet, this is a huge gain for the country. The Lancet, the British medical journal, recently wrote, “Other countries can learn from China’s substantial progress” (Published on Sun Dec 11 2011.  http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2011/12/11/a_child_is_born_in_china_18_million_times_a_year.html)

“Lu said that a careful analysis of new births next year under the new policy is required to assist future decision-making, primarily when to introduce a comprehensive two-child policy”  (Shan, China Daily, 30 Oct. 2014, p. 1).

The issue is complex and many sided.  What’s worrisome (at least to me) about the two-child policy is if one child is a girl and the other a boy, will most of the family’s resources go for the boy?  In China, men usually get paid more than women for the same job.  Traditionally, the men are expected to earn most of the money.  In a more than one-child family, will the family use its money to give the boy the best figuring a girl will just get married and be taken care of by the husband?

SHNU students

SHNU students

Many of my students here in China these last four years have been lovely girls whose parents have put all their resources into that one child to help her get as much education and training as possible.  We just met a young Chinese woman whose parents gave her the money to open a boutique hotel near Dali.   Will that change now that the second child could be a boy?  Even Mao said, “Women hold up half the sky.”  He also rewarded women for having many children.  During Mao’s leadership, China’s population grew from around 550 to over 900 million (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao_Zedong).   All those children born without restraint is a major reason China has such a big population now.

Waiting for another bus in Kunming, China

Waiting for another bus in Kunming, China

In the future, shouldn’t every child have the best opportunities his or her parents can provide?  Could governments help shape guidelines?  What is best for a family? What is best for society?  What is best for each child?  What can actually be sustainable population growth? The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission is making that consideration and so are Chinese couples.

But what about the rest of us on Earth?  What is sustainable population growth?  Could we too have guidelines to help insure that each child in the future is wanted and can have good opportunities?  Perhaps we too could be considering a sustainable population growth so that each child in the world can actually have hope of a good future.

The children of the future need us to make good decisions now.

The children of the future need us to make good decisions now.

Aloha &  Zaì Jiàn, Renée

A bicycle made for three.  Mu Shan Village, Yunnan Province, China

A bicycle made for three. Mu Shan Village, Yunnan Province, China.  How many can fit on your bicycle?

 

 

Yangshou: Karsts and Cormorants

Barry and I are traveling again in China and have come to Yangshou, near Guilin, an area of fantastic topographical limestone karsts, the subject of many paintings since ancient times.

P1030624

From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Karsts  – a karst http://img.tfd.com/m/sound.swf (kärst) is defined as 

n.  An area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns.

Here, the karats rise up from the land in fantastic shapes.

Besides the karats, today we saw our first cormorants.  I’d see photos of these huge birds that fishermen use to catch fish.  The fisherman usually goes out at night with a lantern to lure the fish toward the surface.  He tethers the cormorant’s leg and ties off its throat, so the bird can neither fly away nor swallow the fish he’s dived in for and caught.  Fishing with cormorants must be slow and unreliable – and in November, it would be cold at night.

On this November afternoon, Barry and I came across the birds and their keeper relaxing at the edge of the Li River in Yangshou.

A "fisherman" and his comerants in Yangshou

A “fisherman” and his cormorants in Yangshou.  Notice his sign says 3 yuan.

This fisherman charges for photos.  He took a look at Barry and me and, sizing us up, charged us 5 yuan (75cent U.S.).  We laughed and gave him the money.

P1030619

 

We think this “modern” business person cormorant fisherman is doing well although his birds would likely prefer to be flying and diving on their own.

Zaì jiàn, Renée

Sages and Students: Shared Words

SHNU students taking their final essay exam. Front to back: Max, Chloe, Cici, Melody, Lily, Woody

SHNU students taking their final essay exam. Front to back on right: Max, Chloe, Cici, Melody, Lily, Woody                        In  left row: Holiday, Maevis

My Shanghai Normal University English writing class students shared both quotations that inspire them and their own words of wisdom during their final exam.   The selections reflect a bit about these lovely 20-year-old Chinese students and their values.

Zoe quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”

Teemo quoted Brioso, Brioso, “Hut! Two, three, four. Big targets are the best – there’s more to aim at.”

“God helps those who help themselves,” Black noted Benjamin Franklin’s quotation in his essay about his failing the college entrance exam the first time he tried (when all his friends passed). Black studied another whole year and tried again . . . and he is now a very good student at SHNU!   Black’s experience has taught him, “Everyone is the master of his or her fate . . . [and] Although the reality is cruel, we should keep our dreams and aspirations.”

Iverson in front, July behind

Right – front to back: Iverson, Jerry, Sarah, Grace,  Jenny & Zoe  Left – Roxanne, Mandy, Vicky, Candy, Seven, Claire

Woody quotes the Chinese proverb, “Where there is life, there is hope.”   She also says, “Your heart decides whether you are beautiful, not the face.” Her mom told her, “Failure is the mother of success.”

Iverson quoted Shakespeare, “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”

Candy says, “I learn experiences from the school life. I get happiness from my family. The world I come from is easy and satisfying.” [University life for the students can be quite different from the anguish most Chinese students experience in trying to get into a college. And because Candy is female, she does not have the societal and family pressure to get the high-paying position necessary for the males]

Charlotte cited Albert Einstein, “Try not to become a man of success but rather, try to become a man of value.”

“Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul,” Seven noted this General Douglas MacArthur quotation.

Hilary quoted Confucius, “Better to light one candle than curse the darkness.”

Maevis  wrote about who inspires her: “Because of Chris Paul, the great NBA basketball player, I’ve tried my best to learn English well since middle school. No matter spoken English or written English, I knew it’s a unique way for me to communicate with him . . . so I should learn English well. Therefore, I am very grateful for his spiritual encouragement although he doesn’t know me. In brief, the reason I could be admitted to SHNU was because of Chris Paul!”

Tom quoted John Ruskin, “Living without an aim is like sailing without a compass.”

“Goals determine what you are going to be,” said Roxanne quoting Julius Erving.

Henry quoted Scarlett, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Max shared, “All men’s gains are the fruit of venturing” – Herodotus, Greek historian

She also quoted Muhammad Ali,  “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

Jackson, Frank, Tom, Henry, July, Dorophy, Peter, Black

Jackson, Frank, Tom, Henry, July, Dorophy, Peter, Black, & Troy

Frank noted, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted” – John Lennon.

In an essay, July shared something that might be considered negative about his family, which is rarely ever done in China – at least not in my experience of being a teacher for a few hundred Chinese university students. Unlike many of us Americans who seem eager to carry on about our dysfunctional families or how hard we have had to work on our own to be our great independent selves, Chinese students often express gratitude for their families and their feelings of responsibility toward their much loved parents. Even in his essay about his “Chinese Tiger Mom,” July in the end expresses gratitude.

July wrote, “When I was two, my mother decided I should play piano. My mother made me practice three hours every day . . . sometimes four or five hours. I didn’t like the black and white thing. I wanted to play games and be with my friends. . . . If I refused or didn’t play well, she would hit my hand.  So I was afraid of her and I hated her sometimes in my early life . . . My life from 2 to 14 was black. . . . Finally, music suddenly became my favorite thing. . . . I now can teach children and perform for money. I love piano, singing, and music. . . At last, I can’t say a [bad] word about my mother.”

As you may understand from this quick glimpse, I really enjoy teaching and learning from my SHNU students.  My contribution is a Chinese proverb, “He who has health, has hope.  And he who has hope, has everything.”

I’ll end this selection with words from Claire and Abraham Lincoln.   Claire advises, “If you exert yourself now, you will have fewer regrets later.” Claire too failed her first college entrance exam because she had “idled away precious time,” but she is now one of the best students. Claire learned, “The past can’t be changed, but it can be fixed.”  She quotes Abraham Lincoln: “I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.”

Hope you are all moving forward.

Zaì jiàn, Renée

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