All entries for Thursday 08 February 2007
February 08, 2007
1. According to Gore’s wonderfully compelling documentary the Inconvenient Truth, polar bears are drowning because they don’t have sufficient solid ice to rest on. The terrifying animation of a polar bear drowning in a vast sea with no where to land convinced me to start taking actions.
2. Remember that saying about what one needs to do in life: plant a tree, build a house and raise a child? Apparently planting just one tree is no longer enough. According to the Principal Voices, we need to plant 80 trees each to make up for all that carbon-dioxide emission we produce during our lifetime.
And maybe two people could come together and raise one responsible citizen of the world and thus reduce the quantity and improve the quality of each and every citizen in the world, but that’s according to me, not the Principle Voices, yet I have faith it is somewhat related to the global warming.
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.