All 8 entries tagged China
November 13, 2007
Demonstrations were held outside Chinese embassies in 12 cities around the world to mark the 12th year of detention of Burma’s pro-democracy leader and Nobel peace laureate – Aung San Suu Kyi.
Students, immigrants and refugees from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) joined the demonstration backed by scores of campaigners representing a range of NGOs, including Amnesty International, as well as students and other members of the society sympathetic to the cause.
The demonstration in London was held on Great Portland Street. The Chinese diplomatic mission in London did not issue an official comment in relation to the protest.
September 27, 2007
One of the reasons China is finding it extremely difficult to issue an official statement on the current events in Burma owes to China’s own unfortunate history with peaceful demonstrations and mismanagement of such crises. Words are difficult for official Beijing right now. People who find themselves advising others on courses of action usually lead by example. China’s example in 1989 should not be followed or repeated. If China were to officially state its position as against military actions and brutality, it would somewhat clash with what it preached, exercised and never apologised for. Moreover, China craves stability. Feeling like a big brother in the region, it hates little headaches and particularly changes in the structure of the otherwise familiar region. What would happen to the trade that was going so well between Chinese businesses and the Burmese forests? How would China tackle the change? What if Burma was to succeed in establishing a democratic society? Does that mean it’ll get under the umbrella of the West and review its relations with China? Will China lose its control over Burma? Will this finally tip off the balance of powers in the Asia-Pacific? All these questions have to be answered before an official statement can be issued. Of course, China’s statement is unlikely to decide the future of Burma, but there’s a procedure to follow and right now the world is waiting for an statement to come out of China.
August 12, 2007
Beijing is employing an unprecedented number of volunteers to support the Game. There is a number of jobs that are paid, mostly highly skilled; but the majority relies on the good will of the people. Some jobs are considered more prestigious than other, some are more fun to do, some involve more responsibilities and etc. And then there are jobs that are so shite that you have to pay to get done: cleaning, garbage collection, merchandise stocking and etc. These jobs are as essential to the Games as the translators, the team managers, the accommodation bookers and the like. It’s a bizarre situation, where the top and the bottom have to be paid and the middle ones are the ones who are not good enough or bad enough to be paid. This situation is echoed in real life employment and I’m one of the middle ones…
August 11, 2007
There’s little time left before the 2008 Olympics finally arrive in Beijing, but what will happen after it? Will there be an anti-climax? Will there be a backlash? Will there be billions of unpaid debts? Farmers who have abandoned their heritage and their lands to come to the city and build for the Olympics; children that have been left to care for by the elderly and the neighbours while the parents are trying to make a little profit off this pompous event; even greater gap between the rich and the poor who were offered little compensation for their lost homes. China is putting on a great propaganda campaign for itself ahead of the Games, but what will come after the Games is what will tell the true story of China’s development.
August 09, 2007
It comes as a surprise to me that media reports haven’t looked closer into the Chinese products scares, conveniently pointing at corruption in Chinese government and content with that serving as the only reason.
The problem with the quality of Chinese goods is by no means new. Russians have developed a nasty dislike for the Chinese people working on Russian markets precisely because of the quality of Chinese products that have been sold in Russia. Made in China has long become a synonym to “fake”, “forged” and “poor quality”.
It is important to go back to the basics and remember why anyone wanted Chinese products in the first place: because of all the cheap labour. But that is all there is. So, if a product does not involve much labour, and is in any way costly because of the nominal costs of the materials, then China, as a manufacturer, can’t compete. Pet food, toothpaste – all involve ingredients that are costly to produce. They also involve standard health and safety checks that should be performed before the product is released. Those checks also form part of the bill.
One of the core issues the Chinese manufacturers have with their foreign counterparts is that in an effort to reduce the cost of production, the company that orders the goods has unreasonably high expectations of how cheap they can buy the products for. In order to fulfill that expectation, some Chinese manufacturers, performing under great pressure of competition, are forced to accept agreements and sign contracts that lead to the manufacturer promising to produce certain goods at inconceivably low prices. This almost inevitably leads to forging materials, replacing parts and generally cutting down on the cost of production at the expense of quality and safety. Any self-respecting big company with a good reputation can afford to reject a business offer that the manufacturer deems impossible to make. It is, therefore, the smaller, struggling provincial factories that agree to take up unreasonable requests and end up producing goods that are faulty or do not match the quality.
So here’s the other end of the stick: quality issues arise not only as a result of corruption in standard setting bodies and are rarely only down to the responsibility of the manufacturer. Nike, H&M, Adidas, just to name a few, also have their factories set up in China and also employ and benefit greatly from the notorious cheap Chinese labour. If the ordering company is not willing to pay for all the quality checks, for better quality materials and other essential parts of production, then whatever safety issues occur on a latter stage would be the responsibility of both parties.
It is crucial to correctly identify the potential of the Chinese manufacturers and not to overestimate it. When safety scares occur, it may seem easy and straightforward to put all the blame on the manufacturers, but there is a cause and effect relationship between the foreign companies not willing to pay for all the necessary quality checks and the subsequent failure of the product to meet the standards.
I am a fond lover of the Chinese central news. During my current visit to Beijing I noticed something rather interesting. For the first time in decades the word party is giving way in popularity to another word, “Olympics”. To say that the upcoming Olympics are doing wonders in Beijing is to say nothing. I don’t think there’s ever been such precedent in history that measures in its scale to the efforts the Chinese are putting into this Game. The marketing of the event is much like the marketing of The Simpsons movie, except this one has been going on since Beijing was voted to host the 2008 Olympics.
Starting tomorrow, the Beijing transport authorities will be introducing a testing regime that involves rescheduling the office hours of large companies and offices to try and regulate morning traffic and shortage of public transport. The reported ‘clear sky days’ are nearing 260 days per year (out of the 365)! And this is at a time when major news channels are pessimistically announcing that 7 out of 10 heavily polluted cities in the world are in China. My point is, the Olympics is everywhere now and China, Beijing is transforming before the eyes.
February 08, 2007
Every year during the Chinese Spring Festival the migrant workers flooding Beijing and other big cities in China go back to their home places to visit their relatives, usually the elderly and the children they’d left behind in order to find better paid jobs in big cities. Every year since 2002 the China railway system has put a 20% surplus on the outbound tickets from Beijing, leeching off the poor migrant workers. The public debate on the issue hasn’t resulted in any positive change. Despite the consumers insisting on keeping the tariffs levelled throughout the year, the China Rail has used one excuse repeatedly to fend off the criticism on its actions: the state-owned company claims to be using the price change to balance the unmanageable flow of travellers during that period. However, throughout the years of “management though price” the flow of travellers has see an increase in spite of the plans of the China Rail.
Today, however, the China Rail has suddenly announced its plan for “no mark-up for the Spring travel”, which has come as a big, albeit delayed surprise for the potential travellers. The 20% mark up may not come up to a great sum of money, but for some migrant workers whose labour is valued at 25 yuan* per day (a little under £2) the difference in price may as well be the difference between them seeing their children back at home for the Chinese New Year or not.
The change marks a significant victory not only for the travellers, but for the society as a joint force against a state monopoly. It is the second transport-related improvement Beijing has seen since the beginning of 2007. Beijing has one of the most comprehensive, accessible and far-reaching public transport systems in the country. Starting 1 January the prices for travelling on buses and trolley buses have been cut down by 60%** and 20% (depending on the transport company running the routes). Students enjoy 80% discount, elderly and some disabled passengers travel for free.
While accommodating 25% of the world’s population, China’s railway system only accounts for 6% of the world’s railway coverage. Scholars on transport development argue that the reason China’s railway system is so underdeveloped is because it is state-owned and monopolised. Some argue that the China Rail only did the right thing and the consumers only regained their right to fair pricing and protection against monopolies. The China Rail is expected to handle over 1,590,000 passengers this Spring festival travelling from Beijing (up from 1,470,000 in 2006) and a fixed price will hardly be the single contributor to the growth.
*One British Pound equals about 15 Chinese Yuan
**The minimum fixed price for bus travels is set at 1 yuan; the average bus trips, now discounted, cost 0.4 yuan, approximately 2 British pence
There’s a ‘special’ website for online dating that provides services only for men aged over 24 with a university degree or higher and women aged over 20 with a special training certificate or higher educational backgrounds. It’s called the dating website for the white-collars.
China is one country where there are more males than females. It is also one of the countries in the world where sexism is a part of the culture, deep-rooted and not going anywhere far anytime soon. One of the prime examples of that: there are several exceptions to the One Child Policy planning: if your first child is disabled you are allowed to have a second shot; alternatively, if your first child is a girl, you are allowed to have another child and pray it’ll be a boy. This has been practiced in the more rural areas of China, where boys are potential manpower in the fields and girls are only useful if they are pretty and can be married to a rich person in the future. In the more urbanised areas there is a common belief that girls/women with PhDs will have a very hard time finding a husband. Women with the single virtue to bend over backwards to accommodate their husbands are the ‘best-selling’ ones.
China is known for its ability to domesticate everything it imports, be it material goods, tools or ideologies. Perhaps China is yet to domesticate the wave of individualism spread with the expansion of globalisation.