Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Why $106b (SGD) isn’t enough to keep China stable [Straits Times]

Perceptive piece that points out China’s annual expenditure on maintaining cohesiveness (read stability necessary for economic development) has been increasing at a rate faster than its growing armed forces. With 90,000 recorded ‘mass incidents’ and growing, China needs to pay attention inwardly to keep its people orderly.

“…the budgetary allotment for social stability went up by 16 per cent last year compared with 14.9 per cent for defence. The increases this year are 8.9per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively, which translate into 514 billion yuan and 516.6 billion yuan.

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Why $106b isn’t enough to keep China stable
To stem social unrest, Beijing should learn to watch less, listen more
By Ching Cheong, Senior Writer
Source – Straits Times, published June 11, 2010

WHAT price social stability? For China, it is spending 514 billion yuan (S$106 billion) this year to maintain cohesion in society. This amount is nearly 9 per cent more than that spent last year.

Beijing has upped this expenditure annually in recent years but so has the number of incidents of social unrest and other conflicts.

To break out of this vicious circle, China needs to change tack, according to a report by the Tsinghua University Social Development Programme released in April.

The report suggests that the Chinese government should revamp the political system to give more room for expression to those disenfranchised by the country’s rapid economic development.

The report is perhaps the first public acknowledgement that setting aside bigger sums of money for the purpose of maintaining social stability has not been effective.

The huge sum is spent solely on maintaining a security apparatus to keep people under surveillance and discourage travel to Beijing to lodge complaints.

Tellingly, none of this money to maintain social stability is earmarked for income distribution efforts – suggesting that for China, cohesion is viewed more as an issue of monitoring and suppressing dissent than one of proactive measures to bridge social inequalities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed under: Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Foxconn Suicides 2010, Honda Strike in Foshan 2010, Human Rights, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Nationalism, Politics, Population, Social, Straits Times

$36m home could be S’pore’s most expensive: Chinese national buys 99-year Sentosa Cove bungalow, complete with berth for yacht [Straits Times]

China’s economic growth has allowed the Chinese to stamp their mark around the world, it is evident in Melbourne where I am and has become a hot potato in the news. This article highlights how a Chinese buyer now owns what is possibly, Singapore’s most expensive property.

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$36m home could be S’pore’s most expensive
Chinese national buys 99-year Sentosa Cove bungalow, complete with berth for yacht
By Irene Tham
Source – Straits Times, published June 13, 2010

The two-and-a-half-storey bungalow faces a waterway, with a berth for a yacht. It also has a private pool. The house was first sold by its developer Ho Bee in April 2007 for $18.1 million. -- BT FILE PHOTO

A Chinese national is believed to have set the record price for a bungalow here, forking out a handsome $36 million for a luxury home in Sentosa Cove.

The property in Paradise Island was sold last month in the resale market at $2,403 per sq ft (psf), based on latest Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) caveat records.

The house has a land area of 14,983 sq ft and a built-up area of about 17,000 sq ft.

It is probably the most expensive bungalow in Sentosa Cove in terms of the total amount paid and its per sq ft price, going by URA’s caveat records.

At $2,403 per sq ft, it is also possibly the most expensive bungalow in Singapore, property agents say.

Mr Steven Tan, OrangeTee executive director (residential), pointed out that it is also on a 99-year leasehold tenure, unlike many bungalows in prime areas in mainland Singapore like Nassim Hill and the Holland area, which are freehold.

In May last year, China-born action star Jet Li paid $19.8 million for a 22,723 sq ft good class bungalow in Bukit Timah. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Culture, Economics, Influence, International Relations, Nationalism, Straits Times

Elderly population continues to grow [China Daily]

Elderly population continues to grow
by Jia Xu
Source – China Daily, published June 13, 2010

The population of people over 60 years old reached 167.14 million, a 4.53 percent increase from last year as figure shows in a report from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, people.com.cn reported Friday.

The number of people over 65 years old increased 3.22 percent, to 113.09 million.

Along with the growing elderly population, caring centers and welfare agencies for the elderly are also growing fast. There are 40,250 social welfare companies and 38,060 elder-care agencies, increases of 7.1 percent and 9.1 percent respectively from last year.

Filed under: China Daily, Population

It’s time to let pay rise [Straits Times]

Two key points can be garnered from this piece by the Straits Times’s China chief. They are salient and what is clear is that the everyday Chinese person’s innate desire for practicality and survivability is still strong and present. Looking back at Chinese civilization it seems the Chinese nature to revolt, so many dynasties have come and gone as proof. That aspect of the Chinese psyche must be taken into consideration when building an idea of the Chinese model, rising China can be as great a ‘threat’ to themselves, as they are to the outside world –

1.) Observers believe that China may be reaching the so-called Lewis turning point, at which surplus labour thins while demand remains strong, pushing up wages.

2.) ‘I think Asian bosses – from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong – are more familiar with a business model that profits from exploiting workers to the fullest and suppressing wages as much as possible,’ Li Baomin, Henan University.

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It’s time to let pay rise
China may be reaching turning point of shrinking labour vs rising demand
By Peh Shing Huei, China Bureau Chief
Source – Straits Times, published June 12, 2010

BEIJING: Two workers went into their company’s trade union office and told the chairman: ‘We are going to strike.’ Hours later, machines stopped and nearly 600 workers did not turn up for work the next day.

In the next two months, more factories – all Japanese except for a Korean one – were paralysed, with 18 enterprises seeing more than 20,000 workers walk off the assembly lines in demand for higher pay and an end to unreasonable labour practices.

That was in north-eastern Liaoning province’s Dalian city in 2005, a period of labour unrest with striking similarities to the current wave of industrial action in southern China.

More importantly, as labour expert Feng Chen pointed out in his paper in the China Quarterly in March this year, all the Dalian employers gave in, raising wages and scrapping unreasonable rules.

Similar responses have been seen now in southern China, with Honda giving a 24 per cent pay hike after strikes and Foxconn increasing salaries by about 100 per cent after a series of strange suicides among its workers.

It is clear that wages of workers in China have been going up and the trend is likely to continue. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Foxconn Suicides 2010, Greater China, Honda Strike in Foshan 2010, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Politics, Population, Social, Straits Times

Kind manager ‘the most important thing’ [Straits Times]

Kind manager ‘the most important thing’
Workers’ Diary
Source – Straits Times, published June 12, 2010

Ms Dai Nana, a toy factory worker in Shenzhen. Photo: ST

DESPITE the recent media accounts of Dickensian work and living conditions in some of China’s factories, Ms Dai Nana, who assembles toys in Shenzhen, finds dormitory life to be quite agreeable – even fun.

‘There are seven other girls in my dormitory, and we are chatting and laughing every night before bedtime, just as it was in school,’ she told The Straits Times.

And to add icing to the cake, the factory this year installed showering facilities in every dormitory for sharing by its eight occupants. So she no longer has to walk to a common bath in a nearby building.

The 19-year-old arrived in the southern city a year ago to begin work at the Hong Kong-owned toy factory, which produces rubber toys for entertainment giants such as Disney and fast-food restaurants like KFC.

‘The manager is kind to us, which, to me, is the most important thing,’ she said.

Her monthly salary of 1,500 yuan (S$310) is about right for an eight-hour day, six-day week. She keeps just 500 yuan for herself and sends the rest to her parents. It helps that her favourite leisure activity – window shopping – costs her nothing.

And while the job is low-skill and provides little training or personal development, Ms Dai is hopeful about her career, saying: ‘I have been watching our workshop managers carefully to see how they work because I want to be a manager in the future.’

THE STRAITS TIMES CHINA BUREAU

Filed under: Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Foxconn Suicides 2010, Human Rights, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Straits Times

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