Status of Chinese People

About China and Chinese people's living condition

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    1. A China More Just, Gao Zhisheng
    2.Officially Sanctioned Crime in China, He Qinglian
    Will the Boat Sink the Water? Chen Guidi, Wu Chuntao
    Losing the New China, Ethan Gutmann
    Nine Commentaries on The Communist Party, the Epochtimes
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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘income’ Category

China’s Rich Have $1.1 Trillion in Hidden Income, Study Finds

Posted by Author on August 16, 2010

By Bloomberg News – Aug 11, 2010 –

China’s households hide as much as 9.3 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) of income that is not reported in official figures, with 80 percent accrued by the wealthiest people, a study showed.

The money, much of it likely “illegal or quasi-illegal,” equates to about 30 percent of China’s gross domestic product, the study, conducted for Credit Suisse AG and published last week by the China Reform Foundation, found. The average urban disposable household income in China is 32,154 yuan, or 90 percent more than official figures, according to the report.

Most of that extra cash is going to the wealthiest families. The top 10 percent of China’s households take in 139,000 yuan a year, more than triple the official figures, according to the Credit Suisse report. In contrast, the bottom 10 percent earns 5,350 yuan, or 13 percent more. The top 20 percent of households account for 81.3 percent of total hidden income, according to the study, written by Wang Xiaolu of the Beijing-based foundation.

The findings indicate China’s wealth gap between rich and poor, already one of the world’s highest, is even wider than official figures show. Reducing income disparities is a top goal of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, who want to stave off riots, strikes and other social unrest that might threaten the six-decade rule of the Communist Party.

The “grey income” comes from many sources, including gifts to officials at weddings, profits from land transfers, kickbacks from construction projects, and payoffs from state monopolies such as the tobacco industry, the study said.

‘Crony Capitalism’

“Once government power is united with capital, the free competition of the market economy begins to be replaced by a monopoly of crony capitalism, leading to disparity in income and property distribution, lower economic efficiency and acute social conflicts,” Wang wrote in his report’s conclusion.

The study, compiled in 2009, is based on interviews with families in more than 4,000 urban households in 64 cities and 19 provinces, and uses 2008 data. …...(more details from The Bloomberg)

Posted in China, corruption, Economy, GDP, income, Law, Life, News, Official, People, Social, World | Comments Off on China’s Rich Have $1.1 Trillion in Hidden Income, Study Finds

9-day strike at all 4 Honda China factories– Labor Unrest May Signal New Phase in China Economy

Posted by Author on June 1, 2010

By KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times, May 29, 2010 –

FOSHAN, China — Add another entry to the list of worries for the global economy and financial markets: labor unrest in China.

Rapidly rising industrial wages are beginning to allow China’s workers to share in their country’s rising prosperity. The question is whether these gains can be maintained and even increased without disrupting supply lines to companies around the world, and without discouraging much future investment by Chinese and global companies alike.

The biggest eye-opener for multinationals in China recently has been a nine-day-old strike at a sprawling Honda transmission factory here in Foshan, about 100 miles northwest of Hong Kong.

The strike, which has forced Honda to suspend production at all four of its joint venture assembly plants in China, has shown that Chinese authorities are willing to tolerate work stoppages at least temporarily, even at high-tech operations on which many other factories depend.

Chinese policy makers are trying to let wages rise to create the foundations of an economy driven by domestic demand, without derailing the export machine that has produced the world’s strongest economic growth over the last three decades.

Even before the strike, manufacturers and buyers of low-cost products were already actively seeking alternatives to China, like Vietnam and Cambodia, said Richard Vuylsteke, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

“They’re looking very seriously, and we’re seeing that in apparel and footwear,” he said. “A lot of our members are seeing appreciating wages.”

Honda has been making increasingly generous offers — or perhaps desperate offers — to settle the strike. The company has already offered increases in total compensation of close to 50 percent, according to crumpled-up copies of the offer provided by striking workers.

Roughly half of the 1,900 workers are recent hires from high schools and vocational schools who are paid training rates of just 900 renminbi, or $132, a month, pay slips showed. More experienced workers at the three-year-old factory earn up to 1,500 renminbi, or $220, a month.

Honda’s offer would raise total compensation for trainees to $202 a month, including benefits like a new food allowance; older workers would get slightly smaller raises. The strikers rejected the offer because nearly half of the raises consisted of increases in benefits that might be revoked later. The strikers are demanding an extra 800 renminbi a month, or $117, all in cash.

Takayuki Fujii, a Beijing-based spokesman for Honda, said Saturday evening that negotiations were continuing, but he declined to provide details……. (more detals from The New York Times)

Posted in Asia, Business, China, Company, Economy, income, Investment, Life, News, People, Protest, Social, Trade, Worker, World | Comments Off on 9-day strike at all 4 Honda China factories– Labor Unrest May Signal New Phase in China Economy

China Labor Shortage a Long-term Challenge for IT Companies

Posted by Author on February 26, 2010

by  Mark Hachman, PC Magzine, Feb. 26, 2010-

A growing labor shortage
in China may affect the prices of LCDs and products that depend on them, an analyst warned on Thursday.

On Thursday, David Hsieh, the vice president of DisplaySearch covering the Greater China market, said that this week, a labor shortage “erupted” in China, with shortages of between 15 to 20 percent seen by assemblers.

Following the end of the Chinese New Year festival, a number of migrant workers in southern and eastern China have simply refused to come back to work. Reports have put the labor shortage at about a million people, leaving analysts and major media struggling to explain the unexpected shortages.

Whatever the reason, Asian OEMs are either worried or have become directly affected by the shortages. Asustek has reportedly slowed its outsourcing, while Lite-On employees are being forced to work overtime to meet demand.

DisplaySearch, which focuses on the display industry, warned that the labor shortages would have a negative effect on the LCD industry, forcing prices upwards if productivity slowed.

“Before the Chinese New Year holidays, some component makers and consumer electronics assembly houses in China mentioned labor shortages,” Hsieh wrote. “Many of them are working through the holidays in order to meet the strong demand for export and domestic goods.”

Why have workers abandoned their technology jobs? Hsieh postulated that it is because workers have simply become bored with assembling PCs, and have shifted either to service industries or have moved home to rural China with their families, accepting a lower standard of living, but also lower costs.

“The labor shortage has tightened the supply chain and will cause labor costs to go up,” Hsieh wrote. “This is definitely not a short-term phenomenon, but a big long-term challenge for companies that with labor-intensive jobs in China. China is changing from a world factory to a world market, and now workers consider assembling notebook PCs all day a boring and low-paid job.

“Another result of the labor shortage is that it makes inventory control difficult, Hsieh added. “LCD monitor brands are giving the same demand forecast in the Q2 slow season as in Q1 because they cannot get enough supply right now. The labor shortage is diffusing the panel shortage issue and adding more risk by building panel inventories. When PC and TV demand in China is strong enough to reshape the LCD industry, the unprecedented transformation from cheap labor to higher cost will have a deep impact worldwide.”

PC Magzine

Posted in China, income, Life, News, People, Social, Technology, World | Comments Off on China Labor Shortage a Long-term Challenge for IT Companies

3000 Teachers’ Protest in South China Suppressed

Posted by Author on December 17, 2008

By Wen Zhen, NTDTV Via The Epochtimes, Dec 16, 2008 –

Teachers gather outside the Shaodong County government building asking for their back wages. (The Epochtimes)

Teachers gather outside the Shaodong County government building asking for their back wages. (The Epochtimes)

More than 4000 teachers in Shaodong County, Hunan Province held a sit-in protest in front of the County government offices on December 1, to complain that the teachers have not been paid their performance wages for the past two years.

The County government replied by threatening to fire the teachers or to relocate them to remote areas. The deputy County Party Chief who was in a passing car which hit one of the teachers, said that it would not matter if some teachers were crushed to death.

Chinese ‘Teachers’ Law’ Favors the Teachers

According to Chinese “Teachers’ Law” and the Law of Compulsory Education,” teachers’ average salaries should not be less than the income of civil servants. However, the teachers of Shaodong County, Hunan Province have not received their performance wage since 2007. Without the performance pay, a County’s civil servant salary at the same level is three times what the teachers receive.

Many teachers in Shaodong had already appealed to the Department of Education and County Party Committee by letters or in person. These teachers hoped the government could uphold the law and issue the missing performance wages. However, as of December 1, the local government had not given the teachers a clear answer.

Seeing no other option, on December 1, over 3,000 teachers protested in front of government building.

Some of the protesting teachers had books in their hands, and some were holding lunch boxes and eating lunch. No one shouted slogans or held banners.

Most schools in the towns and villages cancelled classes……. (more details from The Epochtimes)

Posted in China, Education, Hunan, income, Life, News, People, Social, South China, World | Comments Off on 3000 Teachers’ Protest in South China Suppressed

Industrial protests spread to China’s commercial capital Shanghai

Posted by Author on December 11, 2008

By Channel News Asia’s China Correspondent Glenda Chong, Singapore, 10 December 2008 –

SHANGHAI: Recession-related worker unrest in China has spread to the country’s commercial capital.

Workers at a factory of Taiwan-owned, Singapore-listed Huan Hsin Holdings have refused to work since Monday due to salary issues.

Shanghai Yihsin Industry Company, which has six plants in Shanghai, is a wholly-owned unit of Huan Hsin Holdings.

Hundreds of factory workers maintained a peaceful protest outside the Yihsin factory in Shanghai’s south-western suburb of Minhang for the third straight day.

A worker said: “We rarely have any orders now. The workshops are all closed. We were told that we would be transferred to other factories. Our factory will be closed soon.”

The factory reportedly employs about 2,000 workers who are demanding for compensation, severance pay and legal benefits due to them.

Under labour laws enacted last year, employers in China have to pay workers a whole host of compensation allowances.

These include a so-called “high temperature” fee of no less than US$1.50 a day if they work in indoor temperatures of higher than 33 degrees Celsius. Those working the graveyard shift for 12 hours must also get an extra 60 US cents allowance.

The protesting workers said they have only been paid their basic salary of about US$140.

“We want our high temperature fees and night shift compensation. If they give us, we will go wherever they post us. It is just this simple,” one said.

Another added: “We will continue doing this. They should give us what is due. We don’t ask for extra.”

According to some workers, they were told in September that they would be paid, but have yet to see the money. They also said they have been threatened since they began their protest.

One of the factory workers showed footage recorded on her mobile phone, showing a scuffle with police. She also told Channel NewsAsia that some of her colleagues had been beaten up by gangsters on Monday.

The company’s secretary said they are dealing with the situation. A company spokesman also said production at the factory has not been suspended.

The electronics component company manufactures for Siemens, Sony and Lucent Technologies. Parent company Huan Hsin reported that net profits fell 86 per cent in the third quarter of this year to about US$500,000.

Channel News Asia

Posted in Business, China, Company, East China, Economy, income, Life, News, People, shanghai, Social, Women, Worker, World | Comments Off on Industrial protests spread to China’s commercial capital Shanghai

Hundreds of workers riot in south China over unemployment: report

Posted by Author on November 27, 2008

AFP, Nov. 26, 2008-

— Hundreds of laid off workers rioted in southern China amid a dispute over severance pay, smashing offices of a toy factory and clashing with police, state press said Wednesday.

The unrest in Guangdong province, the heartland of China’s export-oriented light industry, is the latest in a series of protests that have flared across the country amid rising unemployment linked to the global economic crisis.

The riot occurred Tuesday night in Dongguan, one of Guangdong’s major export hubs, after as many as 2,000 workers gathered to protest over their severance pay, the Guangzhou Daily reported.

“(Rioters) smashed one police vehicle and four police patrol cars… fought with security guards… and entered factory offices breaking windows and destroying equipment,” the paper said.

Five people were injured in the violence, it said, with the report also published on a news website run by the government. There were no reports of arrests.

The riot occurred at the Kaida Toy Factory, a company owned by a Hong Kong firm in Dongguan’s Zhongtang township that is in the process of laying off workers, according to the Guangzhou Daily.

The report said that up to 500 workers rioted, while 1,500 others “looked on.”…… (more details from AFP)

Posted in China, Economy, employment, Guangdong, Incident, income, Law, Life, News, People, Protest, Riot, SE China, Social, Worker, World | Comments Off on Hundreds of workers riot in south China over unemployment: report

Central China Hit by Taxi Driver Strikes

Posted by Author on November 26, 2008

Radio Free Asia, Nov. 25, 2008-

HONG KONG—Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hubei are scrambling to mediate a strike by taxi drivers, the latest in a string of industrial disputes to sweep China amid the global financial crisis.

Hundreds of taxi drivers entered the second day of a strike in Suizhou city over increased business costs.

“There is a new municipal government rule which requires each driver to pay a fee of 4,000 yuan (about U.S. $500),” a cab driver surnamed Zhang said.

Failure to do so by the end of the year would result in the confiscation of taxi licenses, she added.

Suizhou taxi drivers say they are currently making only about 100 yuan (U.S.$12) a day, and the new charge will virtually wipe out any profit. Talks between the drivers and city traffic management last week failed to reach a resolution.

Few taxis were visible on the streets of Suizhou Tuesday, as hundreds of taxi drivers gathered at the city’s railway station to petition the government. Drivers say one of their number was detained by the authorities……. (more details from Radio Free Asia)

Posted in Business, Central China, China, Economy, Hubei, Incident, income, Life, News, People, Protest, Social, World | Comments Off on Central China Hit by Taxi Driver Strikes

Villagers block a major China international container port

Posted by Author on November 3, 2008

Radio Free Asia, 2008-10-31-

HONG KONG—Hundreds of residents of island villages in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang are staging a sit-in at the construction site of a planned U.S. $160 million international container terminal in a bid to win compensation for lost access to the shore.

The protesters, who say they make a living from the beach by collecting shellfish and launching their fishing boats there, are from Zhuangyuanao village, Dongtou island, near the eastern coastal city of Wenzhou.

“We have been here since Oct. 20,” a resident at the protest scene surnamed Zhuang said.

“They have surrounded us on all sides, and now we have no way to make a living. We are staying here until we get some compensation from them. Right now there are 500 to 600 people here,” he said.

The Dongtou islanders, who were displaying placards showing how long the sit-in had gone on, vowed to remain at the site until the government sends representatives to talk to them.

Another protester said: “We will stay here until the government sorts this problem out. But they haven’t responded to us yet, nor have they sent anyone to talk to us.”

The protesters are sitting in on land intended for use in the construction of the planned 1.096 billion yuan (U.S. $160 million) Zhuangyuanao Deepwater Port.

Phases I, II, and III of the project were planned in 2004 on a total area of 4,570 mu (761 hectares) of land and shoreline adjacent to Zhuangyuanao and other villages.

The villagers say they first began to demand compensation from the government in 2006, but the authorities said that shoreline is public land, and that no compensation was required.

Source of income

But the villagers said their homes are right on the beach, which is an important source of income for them and a space where they can work.

Calls to deputy Communist Party secretary Dong of Dongtou county were cut off Wednesday when the person who answered hung up.

The village Party branch secretary said: “I don’t know.” Pressed further, he hung up.

Work began in 2005 on the Zhuangyuanao Deepwater Port, which local officials hope will transform Wenzhou from a river port to a fully competitive seaport.

The Phase I project alone has a planned annual capacity of 200,000 containers and 700,000 tonnes of bulk cargo.

Radio Free Asia

Posted in China, East China, Economy, Incident, income, Investment, Life, News, People, Protest, Rural, Social, World, Zhejiang | Comments Off on Villagers block a major China international container port

China: Laid-off Workers From State-owned Enterprises Given 235 Yuan A Month to Live On

Posted by Author on July 30, 2008

China Labour Bulletin, Hong Kong, Jul 25, 2008-

At the turn of the century, the Chongqing municipal government embarked on an ambitious programme to restructure all its state-owned textile enterprises. Tens of thousands of workers were laid-off with the stated aim of improving efficiency. At the Chongqing No. 1 Cotton Mill, management pressured workers into signing “voluntary” redundancy agreements. Most refused and around 3,000 workers were laid off against their will.

The then Prime Minister Zhu Rongji promised laid-off workers they would be retrained and given at least three new job offers over the next three years. However, workers laid off from the Chongqing No. 1 Cotton Mill claimed they never received training or job offers and that they’d had to rely on a monthly living allowance of just 235 yuan, which, despite soaring food prices, had never increased.

The laid-off workers repeatedly petitioned the municipal and provincial governments, and filed lawsuits in the courts. However, their petitions were unsuccessful and their lawsuits were not accepted.

In February 2008, CLB Director Han Dongfang talked to two workers, Mr. Zhang and Mr. Pan, laid off from the Chongqing No. 1 Cotton Mill in 2003, as well as a former supervisor at the mill, Mr. Wang.

Pan, who was 59 years old at the time of the interview, had worked for 38 years. He claimed that formally retired workers in Chongqing would normally get at least 1,500 yuan per month in retirement benefits. “This subsidy is very unfair,” he said. “We’ve worked for decades, yet our monthly living allowance has never gone up.”

“When workers in government departments get laid off, they continue to get their salary until retirement. But we were not treated like this by our bosses. They did not care; they dumped us on the scrapheap, giving us a pitiful subsidy of 200 yuan to 300 yuan per month.”

Zhang had worked for 34 years when he was laid off in 2003. He claimed that if he had been formally retired, he would get about 1,300 per month.

Despite the mass lay-offs between 2000 and 2003, Wang, the former supervisor, said economic efficiency at the mill did not improve. Indeed, he said: “The more they laid off workers the worse it got, until the company finally went bankrupt in July 2006.”

Selling off state assets

Pan said the factory bosses were not interested in improving efficiency, but simply in lining their own pockets. The company’s assets were sold off to private businesses with no accounting made public, and with none of the proceeds going to the laid-off workers, as required by law.

Prior to being laid off, Pan and a group of co-workers appealed to management to keep their jobs or at least be given a better severance package, but they were met with indifference: “They didn’t care. They told us we could either quit or we could get castrated.”

After being laid off in 2003, Zhang, Pan and their colleagues applied for numerous different jobs, but were always unsuccessful, being told they were too old.

Zhang and hundreds of colleagues repeatedly petitioned the municipal and provincial governments. Zhang and his older colleagues demanded decent retirement benefits, while their younger colleagues sought re-employment. “We said it was not legal, it was unfair. But they didn’t solve our problems.”

Petitions and lawsuits

During the course of their petitions, some of the workers’ leaders were detained. They were sentenced to 15 days administrative detention, but were released after just one day when the workers protested. “We wouldn’t take it lying down. We sought out the government. One, two hundred of us rose up and appealed. Then they released our representatives.”

Despite their intense petitioning, the laid-off workers have still not seen a rise in their living allowance. “Prices have gone up,” Zhang said. “The government doesn’t care. We need to rely on relatives and friends to make ends meet.”

Zhang said pork prices had risen by 100 percent and oil prices had increased by nearly 80 percent over the last two years. “I have a child at university. Tuition and living expenses there come to 15,000 a year,” he said.

Zhang had already incurred debts of 20,000 yuan, and even though he would be eligible for a pension the following year at the age of 60, he had not been able to keep up with his pension contributions and was thus disqualified from receiving a full pension.

Zhang said he and his colleagues refused to give up and had now broadened their campaign to include other factories: “We have to fight for our rights. If we don’t fight for what is lawfully ours, the government won’t simply give it to us. It’s not just our factory anymore. Now, we’re liaising with several textile mills. If everyone is united and cooperates, then we can finally gain our lawful rights.”

Zhang vowed that he would fight for the rights of laid-off workers in Chongqing until the day he died: “The government wants to grind us down. But so long as breath lasts, we laid-off workers won’t give up. We already have nothing, so what is there to fear?”

Zhang said that the workers had tried on several occasions to hire a lawyer to fight on their behalf. Many lawyers were not willing to confront government officials, while the one lawyer who did take on their case saw the lawsuit rejected by the court. Eventually Zhang accepted Han Dongfang’s offer of pro bono legal assistance and the case has now been taken up as part of China Labour Bulletin’s Labour Rights Litigation Project.

Original report from China Labour Bulletin

Posted in China, Chongqing, Economy, income, Law, Life, News, People, Social, SW China, Worker, World | Comments Off on China: Laid-off Workers From State-owned Enterprises Given 235 Yuan A Month to Live On

Activist Details Labor Abuses Against Chinese Teachers

Posted by Author on January 17, 2008

By Sean Cavanagh, Education Week News, MD, Jan. 16, 2008-

Washington– As China’s economy surges, many of the workers powering that growth are coping with low wages, scarce legal protections, and poor on-the-job conditions—not just in the nation’s mines and factories, but also in its classrooms, a leading labor advocate contends.

Han Dongfang, who took part in the Tiananmen Square protests and now directs a Chinese labor-rights organization, detailed those concerns about the rights of educators and other workers at a Washington event this week, which coincided with the release of a pair of reports on labor conditions in China.

The reports describe growing concerns about labor abuses that advocates say have occurred with burgeoning privatization in the Asian nation, in both state-owned and newly emergent private industries.

Many teachers, particularly in rural areas, work for little pay and with few resources, and with no opportunity to improve their working conditions through organized labor, Mr. Han said.

China’s changing economy “plays a huge role,” Mr. Segal said. There’s been “a dismantling of the social-welfare net.”

There “are no bargaining rights at all,” he told reporters in Washington Jan.15. “Not only are teachers left behind, children are left behind.”

Mr. Han took part in the 1989 public protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, which were violently suppressed by the Chinese authorities. As a result of his activism, he says, he was later imprisoned for a period of nearly two years. He directs the China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based labor-rights group founded in 1994.

His appearance was arranged with help from the Albert Shanker Institute, a Washington nonprofit established by the American Federation of Teachers and named in honor of its late president. He spoke at the National Press Club about the release of two new reports: “A Cry for Justice: the Voices of Chinese Workers,” published by the institute, and “Speaking Out: The Workers’ Movement in China,”Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader issued by Mr. Han’s organization.

The reports include the accounts of workers in factories, coal mines, oilfields, and other industries who were interviewed by Mr. Han, institute officials said. From Hong Kong, Mr. Han conducts interviews with workers and peasants in China on a radio program, Radio Free Asia.

Teachers’ Unions Banned

China’s government has made a major push in recent years to expand access to education to rural and underserved populations, such as migrant families pouring into cities in search of work. It has also sought to replace the rote, test-dominated instruction in its schools, which serve an estimated 230 million K-12 students, with lessons that promote creativity and problem-solving.

Despite those pledges from the government, teachers in many areas of China, particularly rural and remote areas, have low wages—in some cases, the equivalent of about $12 U.S. per month, according to one of the reports. Since the economic reforms of the 1980s, the central Communist government in Beijing transferred more authority over education to local governments. But that transformation has spawned other problems, namely corruption, the Shanker Insitute report maintains.

“Teachers have traditionally enjoyed great respect in Chinese society because they belong to a revered group—the intelligentsia,” the institute’s report, “A Cry for Justice,” says. “Yet their elite social status hasn’t brought them economic rewards.”

Teachers in some parts of China have responded with public protests and strikes, the report says, and some have sought to organize teachers’ unions. But the government squelched many of those efforts, it says.

The Chinese government has over the years approved job protections for workers in various professions, including teaching, according to Mr. Han and information from his organization. But there is often no way to enforce those protections for workers because government officials ignore the violations, he said.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment about the reports or Mr. Han’s conclusions.

While it is sometimes difficult to gauge the exact motivations behind public demonstrations in China, there have been credible institute reports that the number has increased in recent years, with workplace conditions acting as a likely spark, said Adam Segal, a senior fellow in China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York City.

Mr. Segal agreed with the report’s finding that free-market forces have contributed to instability, as workers have moved from state-controlled jobs to those with fewer government protections. The needs of China’s new industries, and the massive migration of workers, including teachers, from the countryside into cities have fueled those conditions, he added.

For teachers, “the issue is going to be pay and whether they’re being paid” at all, he said.

Original report from Education Week

Posted in Asia, China, Economy, Education, employment, Human Rights, income, Life, News, People, Politics, Rural, Social, World | Comments Off on Activist Details Labor Abuses Against Chinese Teachers

Harsh life for China’s hill farmers

Posted by Author on December 16, 2007

BBC News, Dec. 15, 2007-

As China prepares for the 2008 Olympics, we hear a lot about the economic boom which has transformed the big cities. But BBC Business presenter Peter Day discovers that for villagers, life has not changed that much.

The farmer Ma Yu Bao is an old man.

He and his wife have seen many winters in their cave-like home carved out of a hill in the Ningxia autonomous Hui region in the middle of China.

But this coming winter will be one of the worst in his scattered settlement of Go Jong, or “Deep Ditch” village.

For the past two years, there have been no spring rains in these dry hills, mainly populated by members of a Muslim minority.

Twice in succession, the harvests have failed.

No wheat, no maize, just a handful of sheep for the Ma family to live on, plus help from relatives and a government welfare payment of 200 yuan (£13) a month which only the very poorest are eligible for.

“Life is very hard,” say the Mas, in a fatalistic way.

But their little farmyard looks out on one of the wonders of the world: a mountain landscape that is breathtakingly, picture-book China.

Their cave in the hillside is carved out of loess, the silt dumped by the desert winds over vast areas of the country to a depth of hundreds of feet.

The dry crumbly loess is shaped by occasional rains into fantastic gorges and spectacular cliffs.

And the ingenious Chinese, always short of farmland, have spent generations slicing terraces out of the fragile mountains by hand, making tier above tier of land cultivable to the very top of the hills.

Farmable, maybe, but not very productive in these arid conditions.

Two vicious droughts are merely the latest nasty reminder of the hardship of life in the hills, so far away from the new luxury in China’s booming cities……. (more details from BBC News)

Posted in Asia, China, Economy, Food, housing, income, Life, News, Ningxia, NW China, People, Rural, World | 1 Comment »

China: 500 Laid-off Bank Employees Arrested For Protest in Beijing

Posted by Author on September 4, 2007

By Gu Qinger, Epoch Times Staff, Sep 03, 2007-special police and 100 policemen show up to arrest 500 former employees

On August 28 and 29th, former employees of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) gathered outside ICBC’s Headquarters in Beijing to protest being laid-off. At least 1,000 former staff visited the scene within the two days.

(photo: More than 50 special police and 100 policemen show up to arrest 500 former employees./The Epoch Times)

According to an eyewitness, Mr. Wang, on the second day of the protest, approximatelyArrests 800 employees of the ICBC participated in a sitting protest. Most of them came from the northeastern provinces such as Heilongjiang and Henan. Around 8am, the police arrived and took up guard positions around the protesters.

Mr. Wang said, “At 10:30 am, the special police started to arrest people. As they did so, ten police cars and four buses arrived at the scene. More than 500 protestors were violently arrested and sent to Majialuo appellant escorting center. Some of them escaped, and the others were released after 8 pm.”

(photo: At the scene of the arrests, August 29th./The Epoch Times)

Many protestors tried to explain to the police. The police responded, “It’s useless to tell us. Go, just go and get in the bus. The State financial institutions need to be protected.”

A former employee from Heilongjiang province yelled, “What kind of country is this? Bank jobs are good jobs, so they used the reform to remove the senior staff so that they can fill the positions with their friends and families. The whole country is corrupt, and even more so is the bank. The president of the bank would earn more than a million a year while the bank is in so much debt. This country is finished.”

Another former female employee continued, “ICBC is the largest State-owned bank, and also the most corrupt. An employee working in the credit loans department could easily make a million a year, and use that to bribe the president. That’s why the higher ranking staffs’ relatives all work there.”

Employees were originally promised 8,000 yuan (approximately US$ 1,038) in compensation for their job termination. In the end, they were only paid one quarter of that, and both pension and medical insurances were also cut off.

Since last year, there have been many laid-off ICBC employees from all over the mainland, visiting the Beijing Headquarters. Once there, they demand that full compensation be paid, and many say that they will not stop protesting until it is resolved.

– Original report from the Epochtimes : 500 Laid-off Bank Employees Arrested

Posted in Beijing, China, corruption, employment, Incident, income, Law, Life, News, Protest, Social, World | Comments Off on China: 500 Laid-off Bank Employees Arrested For Protest in Beijing

Chinese Still See Themselves As “slaves”

Posted by Author on August 21, 2007

By Richard Spencer, Telegraph, UK, 21/08/2007-

Beijing- China’s national anthem promises its people “will no longer be slaves”.

But a list of new slang expressions compiled by its Ministry of Education suggests the country’s economic reforms have simply multiplied the ways its people can fall into serfdom.

Among the most popular phrases used by the country’s growing middle class are an expanding variety of equivalents to the English “wage slave”.

The most common is “house slave”, meaning someone who struggles to pay off the mortgage. But there are also “car slaves” who, unlike lucky government cadres, have to pay all their own petrol, servicing, and road toll fees.

More specialised versions are “grave slaves” who have bought expensive funeral plots in advance, and “feast slaves” whose jobs mean their lives are an endless round of banquets, weddings, funerals, and other social events requiring the cash gifts, or “red envelopes” expected on such occasions.

Chinese is especially suited to slang and abbreviations, partly to make up for the impossibility of acronyms in a character-based language.

Its favourite clichés all take the form of four characters in a row, while talk is often littered with apparently meaningless phrases. Beijing University, or Beijing Daxue in Mandarin, is known to all simply as Bei Da, or North Big.

The ministry list, which also includes popular new names such as character versions of “Lucy” and “Jenny”, dwells on the influence of English, and points out the contrast to the days of the Cultural Revolution when patriotic names such as “Lianjun”, or Unite the Army, “Wei Dong”, Protect Mao Zedong, and “Aiguo”, Love the Country, were all the rage.

One popular new Chinglish phrase is “ding chong jia ting”, meaning double income couples with a pet instead of children.

Ding is used simply because it sounds like the western acronym Dink – double income no kids.

Judging by what the ministry took to be popular slang, however, the country has not moved on entirely from traditional political correctness.

It said Olympic slogans had already passed into common usage, as had “ba rong ba chi”, or eight honours, eight disgraces.

This list of virtues and vices, such as “Honour the Motherland, Do not Dishonour the Motherland”, was published to great fanfare by President Hu Jintao last year.

But some would say that the latter is now mostly used ironically, as in “What became of the ba rong ba chi?”, when some new scandal involving Communist Party officials is revealed.

Particularly curious is the ministry’s claim that youngsters refer to homosexuals as “duan bei”, or Brokebacks, after the Oscar-winning film Brokeback Mountain.

Maybe it is just being optimistic. The Chinese government has always been reluctant to discuss the most common slang term for gay men, a usage which has dramatically altered the way party officials talk about each other.

That term is “tongzhi”, which used to be translated as “comrade”.

– Original report from Telegraph: Chinese still see themselves as slaves

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Income Gap, Inequality Rising In China : ADB

Posted by Author on August 8, 2007

AFP via Yahoo News, August 8, 2007-

BEIJING (AFP) – Inequality in China is worsening as the rich are getting richer much faster than the poor, the Asian Development Bank said Wednesday, despite government efforts to narrow the gap.

China has become one of the seven most unequal countries in Asia, with the level being close to that in Latin American economies, according to the bank’s report, ‘Key Indicators 2007 Inequality in Asia’ launched in Beijing.

“The poor have benefited less from growth than the rich,” said the ADB’s chief economist Ifzal Ali, warning that sharp inequality may lead to a decline in social cohesion.

Juzhong Zhuang, assistant chief economist of the bank, said that corruption, made possible by government officials’ privileged access to resources and information, was one of the key reasons for widening inequality in China.

“The government has quite a big role in allocating resources (and) some individuals and companies are manipulators of certain resources or sectors, or they have special contacts or exclusive information,” he said.

Hoping to curb rising social unrest, China has made narrowing the wealth gap a key target in its development plan running to 2010, with policies such as subsidies and low-interest loans being directed to farmers and the poor.

But Ali said that huge differences remain in terms of access to public services such as health care and education.

Efforts should be taken to prevent legal, political and economic institutions from being captured by the few so that social tensions could be reduced, he said.

“If we can ensure an even playing field and the starting gate is the same for all, (the) possibility of upward mobility for people will take a lot off the frustration that is now … associated with the growth process,” said Ali.

“This upward mobility, the prospects for it, would in my view alleviate some of the acute problems of social tensions that we now witness in different parts of Asia.”

– Report from Yahoo News : Inequality rising in China despite efforts to narrow income gap: ADB

Posted in Asia, China, City resident, corruption, Economy, Family, income, Life, News, People, Rural, Social, World | Comments Off on Income Gap, Inequality Rising In China : ADB

Official Chinese Wage Figures Belie Reality

Posted by Author on July 31, 2007

By Olivia Chung, Asia Times, Jul 31, 2007-

HONG KONG – China’s recent report of a 12% average annual boost in employee wages from 2002 to 2006 has sparked fierce Internet debate and commentary, with many netizens questioning the accuracy of the figures.

According to the Chinese media, both the total income and average wage for employees recorded double-digit growth between 2002 and 2006. The growth rates are higher than the same rates of the country’s gross domestic product and per capita GDP during those years.

The average annual GDP growth in 2002-06 was 10.3%, while per capita GDP growth was 9.2% due to the population increase. The total wages for employees in China reached 2.34 trillion yuan in 2006 from 1.32 trillion yuan (US$309 million) in 2002 (minus inflation), according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The average annual wage of an employee reached 21,001 yuan in 2006, up 70% by real terms from 12,422 yuan in 2002, after deducting price hikes.

While the NBS undoubtedly thought that Chinese wage earners would cheer the figures, many saw the official statistics as “misleading” – a polite word for “distorted”. Some netizens posted views on mainland chat sites to vent their anger and to point out that the figures distorted the fact that their pay increases did not catch up with price hikes – hence their income, in real terms, has dropped.

“Property prices are rising, consumer prices and stocks are rising too, but definitely not wages! In fact, who are these employees? Whose wages are rising?” said a netizen.

“Before my pay raise, I could buy 120 kilograms of pork with my monthly salary. After I got a pay increment half a year ago, now I can only buy 90kg of pork! So who says [our incomes] are rising?” said another netizen.

“The employee wages are based on the calculations by the civil servants? How come the wages for private enterprise employees are not included? Most of the employees in enterprises earn slightly more than 1,000 yuan [a month]; it would be great if they really earned what the statistics calculated,” said a third.

“Increased wages only happen among senior white-collar employees, but never for public citizens. Considering inflation, how can we live with the salary that we are earning?” said another.

In case some think the anonymous Internet postings did not have weight, a recent survey by the state-owned People’s Tribune magazine is more (and official) proof that people are dissatisfied with their salaries.

The phone survey conducted by the magazine polled about 1,000 people last month, and 96.5% of the respondents said they were not satisfied with their salaries.

Social critic Tong Dahuan called the government figures “false and misleading” and added that apart from what he called “three new mountains” – poor social-security, public-health and education systems – on people’s backs, the sharp recent increases in pork, grain and egg prices have put additional pressure on China’s working and middle class.

“The false or misleading figures provided … can’t bring comfort to people amid concerns over rising inflation,” Tong said. “On the contrary, the figures actually might distort any efforts by Chinese authorities to help relieve people’s burdens,” he said, adding that figures provided by global organizations – such the World Bank – serve as more reliable sources of information. (…… more details from Asia Times report)

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“Grey Income” Report: 55 Times Difference Between The Rich and Poor in China

Posted by Author on June 15, 2007

Chinascope, 6/13/2007-

On June 11, Wang Xiaolu, the Vice Director of the National Economic Research Institute of the China Reform Foundation, released a report about “grey income,” the income that is never officially reported. He found that the urban population has and estimated “4.4 trillion Yuan (0.55 trillion $US) of grey income that is not accounted for in China’s national statistics.” [1]

This is the conclusion of the report called, “National Income Distribution Status and Grey Income.” Wang’s research team finished a family income and expense survey on more than 2,000 residents in dozens of cities and counties between 2005 and 2006.

The report generated a lot of interest. For example, the night the Tengxun Network reprinted the article online, it was veiwed 20,000 times and received comments from 4,000 people.

Part of the reason for the interest is the extent to which the targets of the survey differed from those sampled by the National Statistic Bureau (NSB) in that, in this survey, they are relatives and friends of researchers. Wang believed that a survey on this special pool of population generates more reliable estimates.

The survey showed that, “In 2005, the per capita income of the families with the highest 10% of income was 97,000 yuan, 3 times the figure published by NSB (less than 29,000 yuan).” “The estimated urban and rural residents total income amounts to 12.7 trillion yuan (1.6 trillion $US). The grey income that is not accounted for in the NSB statistics of national urban residents is 4.4 trillion yuan (0.55 trillion $US), about 24% of China’s GDP. The per capita income of the families in the top 10% highest income families is 55 times higher than the per capita income of the families in the lowest 10%, while the NSB statistics show the difference to be 21 times.”

Wang defines “grey income” as illegal income, income that is questionable by social moral values, and other income that comes from unknown sources.

One interesting phenomenon that the survey found was that 70% of the high income families declined to reveal their real income.

The research team attempted to verify the reliability of the income data using the value of the resident’s automobiles, their housing, foreign travel, and bank deposits. The verification supported the estimates for the highest income families.

Wang believed that the grey income may be the result of loopholes in the administration of fiscal allocation, according to the State Auditing Administration,

This report is based on “Urban Residents’ Grey Income Totals 4 trillion Yuan” from the 21st Century Business Herald on June 11, 2007.


[1] 21st Century Business Herald (21世纪经济报道), June 11, 2007

– original report from Chinascope: China Reform Foundation Report: Urban Resident’s “Grey Income” as High as 4 Trillion Yuan

Posted in China, City resident, Economy, Family, income, Life, News, People, Report, Rural, Social, World | Comments Off on “Grey Income” Report: 55 Times Difference Between The Rich and Poor in China

Half of China’s Communist Officials Believe in Banned Fortune Telling

Posted by Author on June 12, 2007

Reuters, Jun 12, 2007-

BEIJING (Reuters) – More than half of China’s local officials believe in fortune telling and other superstitions banned among Communist Party members, media said on Tuesday.

According to a survey of officials at township level, more than 52 percent believed in reading faces and stars, predicting dreams and “qiu qian” — casting lots at a temple to tell their fortune, the Democracy and Law newspaper said.

“When officials face great pressure at work, but cannot find a way to let it out and have nothing else to turn to, they turn to superstition,” the newspaper cited a political researcher, Cheng Ping, who conducted the survey, as saying.

Concerns about losing their jobs and power, and also worries among corrupt officials about being caught also prompted more believers of superstition, Cheng said.

One senior official moved his ancestor’s tombs thousands of miles to the foot of the famed Tian Shan mountain in the north-western region of Xinjiang in an attempt to improve his career prospects, Chinese media reported last month.

“Public officials, especially Communist Party ones, should have a scientific perspective and believe in Communism, not superstition,” Cheng said.

China is now Communist in name only after three decades of market reforms which along with breakneck growth have brought income disparities, widespread corruption and an ideological vacuum.

– original report from Reuters: Half of China’s local officials superstitious

Posted in China, Chinese Culture, Communist Party, corruption, Culture, Economy, income, Law, Life, News, Official, People, Politics, Social, Spiritual | Comments Off on Half of China’s Communist Officials Believe in Banned Fortune Telling

China Protesters Block Railway Lines

Posted by Author on March 23, 2007

BBC News, 22 March 2007-

Hundreds of demonstrators blocked key railway lines in eastern China in protest at threats to their benefits, state media has reported.

More than 200 protesters, and several hundred onlookers, descended on two lines near Guixi in Jiangxi province.

They were protesting at planned zoning changes in Guixi which could impact on income and benefits, the reports said.

Protests, particularly in rural China, have become increasingly common as the gap between rich and poor has widened.

Many of the protests have been linked to land seizures and corruption among local officials.

Some 20,000 people clashed with police in central Hunan province last week after protesting at an attempt by a bus company to double the price of tickets.

Reports that one person had died were denied by the authorities.

Popular route

In the latest incident, protesters arrived at the railway station in Guixi shortly before noon on Wednesday, the state news agency Xinhua said.

They blocked two railway lines, including a heavily-used track that links Shanghai in the east to Kunming, the capital of south-western Yunnan province.

The protest went on for at least four hours before it was broken up by police and officials who had been called to the scene, the reports said.

The protesters were voicing their anger at a plan to place parts of Guixi under the control of a different district, which would have an impact on benefits.

“They worried that the re-division would affect their salaries and welfare,” the Xinhua report said.

original report from BBC

Posted in China, Economy, Incident, income, Jiangxi, Law, Life, News, People, Politics, Protest, Rural, SE China, Social, South China, transport | 4 Comments »

World Bank Warning on China Inequality Between Rich and Poor

Posted by Author on March 21, 2007

Radio Australia, 21/03/2007-

The World Bank says the Chinese Government faces a tough battle to close the widening gap between rich and poor.

The Bank’s Country Director for China, David Dollar, has told Radio Australia’s Asia Pacific program the new measures to improve rural incomes are having some impact.

“Inequality has risen quite sharply in China,” he said.

“I think it’s likely to continue to rise over the next few years.

“But according to the government statistics, civil unrest increased up to about 2005, but in 2006 there was actually a reduction in the number of incidents around the country.

“So I think the Government is doing things to address this.”

The World Bank estimates it will take five years for the economy to slow from its current 10.7 per cent rate of growth to the new government target of e8 per cent.

 – original report

Posted in China, Economy, Family, income, Life, News, People, Rural, Social | 2 Comments »

Is the Price For China’s Economic Boom Too High?

Posted by Author on March 6, 2007

EuroNews.Net, 6 March 2007-

For the last four years, China’s rapid rate of growth has been dramatic. In 2006 GDP was running at an impressive 10,7% – but is the economy in danger of running out of control to the detriment of both human and natural resources? Two decades of change from a command to a more capitalistic-style economy have created new problems, particularly unemployment.

Currently 84 million people living in the cities are without work, while in the countryside it is 100 million. Each year more than 1.4 million people with degrees and other qualifications are entering the jobs market but with little prospect of finding employment.

Now 40% of the country’s wealth is in the hands of a mere 10% of the population. The discrepancy between the incomes of the rich and poor has widened and is now greater than even in firmly entrenched capitalist countries such as the US.

Statistically speaking the UN uses the so-called Gini coefficient to see if the rich-poor inequality gap is becoming a problem.

For China it stands at 0.46, well above the internationally recognised warning line of 0.4. And it is the countryside which is being hardest hit. The nationwide economic boom is firmly centred on the cities and has failed to drive out poverty in the rural areas

China’s Communist Party says it has 23.7 million members claiming state benefit and 800 million others with no means to pay for medical care. It also says that since 2006 the party has increasingly had to pick up the tab for educating the rural young as the compulsory 9 years of schooling is not free.

And strain on the country’s social cohesion is also beginning to show. In 2005 there were 84,000 protests, two thirds of them down to land being illegally expropriated from the local peasants. Lastly, if it is not the economy undermining the rural population it is numerous environmental catastrophes. Water, or lack of it, due to increased industrial use and pollution, have caused river beds to dry up. The question is, has China’s countryside paid too high a price for urban economic development?

original report from EuroNews

China: The Human Cost of the Economic ‘Miracle’, Amnesty International, 03/01/2007

Posted in China, City resident, Economy, employment, Health, income, Life, News, People, Rural, Social, Worker | Comments Off on Is the Price For China’s Economic Boom Too High?

Book to read: The Coming China Wars

Posted by Author on March 2, 2007

Name of the book: Coming China Wars, The: Where They Will Be Fought and How They Can Be Won
Author: Peter Navarro.
Published by: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
ISBN-10: 0-13-228128-7;
ISBN-13: 978-0-13-228128-7;
Published: Oct 19, 2006; Copyright 2007;
Dimensions 6×9;
Pages: 288;
Edition: 1st.

Book Description

China’s breakneck industrialization is placing it on a collision course with the entire world. Tomorrow’s China Wars will be fought over everything from decent jobs, livable wages, and leading-edge technologies to strategic resources such as oil, copper, and steel…even food, water, and air.

In The Coming China Wars, best-selling author Peter Navarro previews all these potential conflicts—and reveals the urgent, radical decisions that must be made to avoid catastrophe.

You’ll learn how China’s thirst for oil is driving nuclear proliferation in Iran, genocide in the Sudan, even Japan’s remilitarization. You’ll discover China’s shocking role in the drug trade and how its reborn flesh trade may help trigger tomorrow’s worst AIDS crisis.

Navarro also reveals how China has become the world’s most ruthless imperialist…how it is promoting global environmental disaster… and, perhaps most terrifying of all, how this nuclear superpower and pirate nation may be spiraling toward internal chaos.

The threat is real. We all must come to understand it and then act! Start here and now by arming yourself with the information and insights of The Coming China Wars.

The “China Price”: Conquering the world’s export markets

The real story behind China’s “weapons of mass production”

China versus U.S.: The “blood for oil” flashpoints

The coming U.S./China showdown over oil

Pirate Nation: China’s state-sanctioned thievery

How China’s counterfeit drugs and products can literally kill you

Triggering tomorrow’s worst AIDS crisis

China’s 21st century flesh trade: The seeds of a global health disaster


“Peter Navarro has captured the breadth of areas where China and the United States have fundamental conflicts of business, economic and strategic interests. He puts this into a global context demonstrating where China’s current development course can lead to conflict. His recommendations for nations to coalesce to respond to the challenges posed by China are practical. This book should be in the hands of every businessperson, economist and policy-maker.”
–Dr. Larry M. Wortzel, Chairman, US-China Economic and Security Review Commission

“The Coming China Wars is a gripping, fact-filled account of the dark side of China’s rise that will be of interest to anyone interested in this complex and fascinating country. Navarro makes no pretense toward searching for the middle ground in the China debate. He issues a call to arms for China and the rest of the world to act now to address the country’s mounting problems–pollution, public health, intellectual property piracy, resource scarcity and more–or risk both serious instability within China and military conflict between China and other major powers.”
– Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

“What Al Gore does for climate change, Peter Navarro does for China. This book will hit you right between the eyes. A gargantuan wake-up call.”
– Stuart L. Hart, S.C. Johnson Chair of Sustainable Global Enterprise, Cornell University, Author of “Capitalism at the Crossroads”

“This is a well researched and illuminating book and is a necessary counter to a large body of opinion that posits an inevitable and even peaceful rise of China and chooses to ignore most of the author’s message.”
– Richard Fisher, Vice President, International Assessment and Strategy Center

original report from

Posted in AIDS, books, China, Climate, Economy, employment, Environment, Health, Human Rights, income, Law, Life, News, Opinion, People, Politics, Rural, Social, sweatshop, Trade, Worker, World | Comments Off on Book to read: The Coming China Wars

Shenzhen: Vivid Display of China Economy, Pollution and Social ills

Posted by Author on February 11, 2007

By Craig Simons, INTERNATIONAL STAFF of, Texas,  Sunday, February 11, 2007-

SHENZHEN, China — Nowhere else is China’s breathtaking economic growth on display as vividly as in this southern metropolis. It even has a name: “Shenzhen speed,” a remarkable rural-to-urban transformation.

Three decades ago, this area was mostly dirt roads and rice paddies. Farmers eked a living from the fertile crescent of land at the end of the Pearl River and gazed longingly across a barbed wire border at Hong Kong, then a British colony.

Today, Shenzhen is one of China’s largest cities, with a population pushing 18 million — almost twice the population of Los Angeles County — and a landscape of skyscrapers, luxury apartments and shopping malls.

Hundreds of square miles of fields have been drained and covered with factories that churn out a significant portion of the world’s products, from computers to clothing and toys. The city has averaged an annual economic growth of 28 percent since 1980, the fastest in China.

But Shenzhen speed also represents China’s dilemma. The fast profits have come with problems. On many days, the air is thick with smog. The number of cars has nearly doubled since 2003, and streets lock into snarls of exasperated motorists. Violent crime and the incidence of HIV/AIDS has surged.

Experts see the city as a test case for whether China will be able to solve problems ranging from massive pollution to growing labor disputes.

At a park in the city center, 55-year-old Peng Li remembered that when she moved to the city in 1987, “it was always clear.”

“But now . . . well, now you can see what’s happened,” she said, sweeping a hand across the polluted gray skyline.

Other residents complain that lack of social welfare has created a society where poorer citizens are left out.

Some 13 million migrant laborers work in Shenzhen’s factories and produce almost all of the city’s wealth, but they have almost no access to public services, including reduced-cost health care and schooling, said Liu Kaiming, director of Shenzhen’s Institute of Contemporary Observation.

“The system has created a huge group of people who are treated as second-class citizens,” he said.

In 1980, China’s leader, Deng Xiaoping, declared Shenzhen a special economic zone, one of four cities allowed to carry out communist China’s first capitalist changes.

Changes followed rapidly as companies began to pay for work done rather than for time worked and, for the first time, to link salaries with performance, both of which “vastly increased productivity,” said Yang Yaolin, director of the city’s history museum.

An indication of Shenzhen speed is on display at a museum. An exhibition preserves a typical home from the early 1980s that today is considered a relic. A poster of Mao Zedong hangs on a wall, a sewing machine sits beside a manual typewriter, and a hot plate rests on a counter next to a flimsy bed.

Looking at the room, 73-year-old Wu Yanda, a retired factory manager who now lives in a “European-style villa,” recalled that when he moved to Shenzhen in 1987, such lodgings were “quite luxurious.”

“Today, it’s ancient history,” he said. “Most people have a lot more.”

But not everyone is basking in the new prosperity.

The combination of low pay, grueling work and discrimination has led to increasing labor unrest.

Shenzhen accounted for 15 percent of China’s court-adjudicated labor disputes last year, and the number of migrant workers seeking jobs in the city has fallen in recent years as they chose to look elsewhere, Liu said.

The change has forced companies to raise salaries by as much as 20 percent, a shift that could lead factories to relocate, he said, adding that “if the situation doesn’t improve, companies will not be able to find enough workers and the economy will have to slow down.”

With urban ills growing across China, cities are looking at Shenzhen for lessons on how to deal with the problems and avert an economic slowdown.

“Because development has been the most rapid in Shenzhen, the problems are the most extreme here,” said Huang Donghe, editor of the Shenzhen Youth Magazine. “But every Chinese city faces the same problems.”

City government plans to tackle the problems include attracting better-paying high-tech manufacturers while forcing heavily polluting firms to clean up or move further inland and improving access to health care and education for migrant workers, said Yang Lixun, a Shenzhen-based government sociologist.

Last year, the government set up a fund to compensate workers left unpaid when companies close. The city also has announced plans to greatly expand the city’s subway system by 2010, build more parks and increase recycling programs.

“In the 1980s and ’90s, Shenzhen developed by attracting low-value manufacturing that stressed high consumption and allowed high levels of pollution,” Yang said. “But now we realize there are problems with that development strategy.”

There is little evidence that the initiatives are working so far, Liu said. He noted that workers continue to have very little access to public services, and pollution and traffic seems to have gotten worse in recent months.

“In China, the most important thing is not to listen to what government officials say but to see if they actually do anything,” he said. “So far, they haven’t done much.”

Zong Qi, a 22-year-old college graduate who moved to Shenzhen from China’s inland Hunan province last year, attests to the difficulties migrants face. Over six months in the city he has changed jobs “more than seven times,” twice because an employer refused to pay him.

“It’s very easy to be tricked and it’s hard to find a boss who cares for workers,” he said between trying to sell postcards to passers-by at the park, a job he had started a week before and that, at most, could earn him the equivalent of $100 a month.

Loneliness is also acute. Since Liu Gang, 32, arrived in Shenzhen nine years ago from China’s central Sichuan province, he has been home to see his wife and daughter “only a few times,” because he wants to save what little money he makes.

“It’s the price migrant workers pay,” he said. “We need the work but we can’t afford to bring our families.”

Experts blame disillusionment and a lack of family ties for a local crime wave.

While Shenzhen does not publish crime data, the Southern Metropolitan News newspaper reported that in just one of the city’s six districts, there were 18,000 robberies in 2004, more than eight times the number reported that year in all of Shanghai.

Partly because of the transient community, the virus that causes AIDS is also spreading quickly, and hotels routinely distribute pamphlets about how to protect against sexual diseases, Huang said.

Like most Chinese cities, Shenzhen does not publish data on the number of residents infected with HIV/AIDS. ( )

original report from, In China, ‘Shenzhen speed’ comes with bumps

Posted in AIDS, China, City resident, Economy, employment, Environment, Family, Guangdong, Health, Human Rights, income, Law, Life, News, People, pollution, Rural, SE China, Shenzhen, Social, Worker | 1 Comment »

China: Education – No.1 Expense for Chinese Households

Posted by Author on January 23, 2007

The Epoch Times, Jan 21, 2007-

CHINA—According to the Beijing Youth Daily , China Youth & Children Research Center (CYCRC) reported that university tuition is 25 times higher now than it was 18 years ago. The percentage increase is almost 10 times higher than salary increases for urban residents during the same time period.

Expenses for children’s’ education exceeds that of retirement and housing costs and has become the No.1 expense for Chinese households.

The report was published on January 10, 2007. Currently, university fees in China range from 5,000 to 10,000 yuan (approximately US$641 to $1,282) per annum, which is 25 times higher than it was in 1989. Personal income of urban residents increased only 2.3 fold.

Twenty years ago the average fee for higher education went from zero to 200 yuan (approximately US$25) per annum. By 1995 it was 800 yuan (approximately US$102) per annum, and by 2005 it was 5000 yaun (approximately US$641).

Adding housing and living expenses, an average university student will spend 40,000 yuan (approximately US$5,129) in four years. However, China doesn’t have a student loan system, which would allow students to borrow money from the government and pay it back after they start working.

A researcher from CYCRC said that “saving for their education” is the top motivation for Chinese people now.

The Chinese government isn’t allocating enough funds for education and thus the people are carrying the burden of obtaining an education.

In certain regards, the increase in tuition is already interfering with people’s daily living standards. Many households are suffering because they are paying university expenses.

Sun Jiye, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said, “The most difficult thing for a family is for the children to go to college. Most people qualify for admission but just can’t afford to pay the fees. A family’s income from an entire year isn’t enough for a child’s college tuition. With just one person attending college the whole family can fall into poverty.”

Students in other countries usually pay about 15 percent of the actual costs. In China, the student share is about 44 percent. The decrease in governmental funding in education in recent years has made it difficult for Chinese students.

Education departments in China were recently accused of illegally charging over 1.7 billion yuan (US$200 million) in fees. The Department of Education said that they have not adjusted the standard college fees since 2000; -“however, it is very difficult to estimate the cost of educating students since there are so many factors involved.”

Obtaining a university education has become a top concern for the Chinese people in recent years. The book The Fading University analyses the ability of people to obtain a university education in the 1930s compared with now.

In the 1930s, national universities charged 22 to 40 silver yuan per annum, normal colleges were free, private universities charged 45 to 120 silver yuan per annum, and church universities charged 160 silver yuan.

Back then, an average worker earned 264 silver yuan per year. Hence in the 30s, a student from an average family could afford to go to an elite school, such as Beijing University or Tsinghua University.

In 2005, an average university student spent 10,000 yuan (approximately US$1,282) per year. A farmer from a village makes 2,936 yuan (approximately US$376) per year. It would take 13 years to pay for a college education, assuming he doesn’t spend the money elsewhere.

original report from  The Epoch Times

Posted in China, City resident, Economy, Education, Family, income, Life, News, People, Rural, Social | 1 Comment »

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