Wandering China

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

China uses pickle index to track migrant flows [Straits Times/AFP] #RisingChina #InternalMigrantFlows

榨菜 (Zha Cai) literally means pressed vegetables. The now ubiquitous pickle that hails from Sichuan is not only a popular dish amongst migrant workers in China – it’s quite the staple with many Chinese worldwide too.

Also, see

‘Pickle index’ measures changing tide of Chinese migrant workers (South China Morning Post, August 14, 2013)

Sceptical of often unreliable provincial statistical data, China’s chief economic engineers have turned to a large, radish-like mustard tuber to measure the country’s urbanisation rate.

Consumption patterns of the preserved vegetable, a staple dish of migrant workers, helped researchers track labourers’ movement within China, an unnamed staffer of the planning department of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) told the Economic Observer.

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China uses pickle index to track migrant flows.
Source – Straits Times print edition, published Aug 14, 2013


Filed under: AFP, Beijing Consensus, China Dream, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Food, Government & Policy, Infrastructure, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Modernisation, People, Population, Poverty, Reform, Social, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity

A cool idea in summer: Carving on watermelon to boost sales [People’s Daily Online] #RisingChina #StreetInnovation

Genius – Where words fail, artful watermelon carvings speak!

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Shen Dongbin shows cartoon figures carved on watermelons at his watermelon stall in northwest China's Lanzhou on July 4, 2013. Photo Source Photo - Xinhua

Shen Dongbin shows cartoon figures (includes Paul Frank as above, PSY, Doraemon) carved on watermelons at his watermelon stall in northwest China’s Lanzhou on July 4, 2013. Photo   – Xinhua

Source – People’s Daily Online, published July 5, 2013

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Source - weibo screen grab in Kotaku

Source – weibo screen grab in Kotaku

Source - weibo screen grab in Kotaku

Source – weibo screen grab in Kotaku

Source – These Are China’s Watermelon Kids (Kotaku, August 10, 2013)


Also, see The Chinese craze for ‘watermelon kids’ (Telegraph, August 10, 2013)


Filed under: Art, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Food, Mapping Feelings, People, People's Daily, Population, Public Diplomacy, Social, The Chinese Identity

China’s Expanding Life Spans—and Waistlines [Bloomberg] #RisingChina #Health #Urbanisation

Checking the rear view mirror of China’s rise: Urbanisation and public health concerns over the creeping obsolescence of physical activity in China’s time-compressed concrete jungles.

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China’s Expanding Life Spans—and Waistlines
By Christina Larson
Source – Bloomberg, published June 11, 2013

Photograph by Wang Zhide. ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images

Overweight students exercise in a gym during a weight-loss summer camp in Weifang of Shandong Province. Photograph by Wang Zhide. ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images

Over the past two decades, China’s population has grown richer, older, more urban—and fatter. From 1990 to 2010, public health authorities in China made significant progress in stemming several of the medical challenges common in poor countries, including reducing childhood mortality and rates of infectious diseases. However, China’s population now faces additional health pitfalls exacerbated by urban smog, more sedentary lifestyles, and the rise of KFC (YUM) and cheap fast food.

In short, China’s public-health challenges now look more like America’s, for better and worse. That was a main finding of researchers at the Chinese Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Peking Union Medical College, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which published a collaborative paper on public health in China in the June 8 issue of the British medical journal the Lancet. Their findings draw upon data in the World Health Organization’s 2010 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study.

From 1970 to 2010, the average life span for men in China climbed 12.5 years (to age 72.9). The average lifespan for women climbed 15.5 years (to age 79). A major factor behind these gains has been a steep drop in childhood mortality, due in part to improved neonatal and maternal care. In 1970, 100.6 children out of a thousand died in China before they reached age 5; by 2010, that number had dropped to 12.9 deaths per thousand. (Meanwhile, even as people are living longer, fewer are being born: The average number of children born to each woman in China dropped from 4.77 to 1.64 over those 40 years.) The result is a quickly graying country.

Please click here to read the full article at Bloomberg.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Bloomberg, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Finance, Food, Government & Policy, Health, Ideology, Infrastructure, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Peaceful Development, Population, Poverty, Reform, Resources, Social, The Chinese Identity, Trade

8 things about independent Chinese travelers [Affinity China] #RisingChina #OutboundTourism

Affinity China offers a first-hand account that can also be seen as eight resets to update one’s view of the Chine outbound upper crust. As the author states, her time studying in the US was helpful in more than one way during her travels in Europe.

More about Affinity here.

Cue expiring 20th century sepia-toned postcard-themed notions of Chinese travelers?

Bottomline – despite its steady climb the yuan at today’s rates, is still 5-6 yuan to a greenback. It is not hard to quickly extrapolate where Chinese outbound tourists stand in the Chinese food chain. Especially so if they have the means to flaunt it with the Euro.

The luxury market in a way is at the tip of China’s spear to send feelers experimenting with the best the world has to offer. In a positive light, Where they travel, there is a more synergistic transfer of wealth to host country where common language grows to common cultural respect. Over time the good ones too will enculturate the rest of the Chinese demographic.

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8 things you should know about independent Chinese travelers
Source – China Luxury Network, published month n.d, 2013

Tell us how much we are saving when we shop in your store.
Everyone already knows by now that Chinese travelers love shopping for luxury goods when they travel overseas. Everyone also knows by now that this is because retail prices of luxury goods in mainland China are much higher than Europe and North America. Many of my friends from China travel overseas just to shop. They often complain about the complexity and the long wait at the airport to receive tax returns and all the research they have to do on prices in each different market on the globe before they go shop.

It would be a really effective sales tactic if the brand’s sales representatives saved them the trouble of researching and let them learn how smart a purchase they would have made on items in the store – how much lower the prices are, how the styles are exclusive in your store vs. the counterparts in China. Keep the fact sheet handy for the big spenders. I understand that from a global brand perspective this is probably not a standard sales training tactic on how to sell to Chinese travelers, but the fact is they are already going to great lengths to do this research themselves before they walk into your store. From a customer experience perspective, being greeted by friendly sales staff overseas who can share exactly how much the Chinese travelers would be saving by shopping in their store would help generate more short term sales and help create a long term affinity for the brand.

Do you offer a global warranty and customer service in China for products we buy overseas?
If you present yourself as a global brand in China, you need to ensure your customer service is global too. It really becomes an uncomfortable dilemma for the Chinese traveler when they have to choose between a better priced item that is 20% lower overseas but comes with no warranty once they bring it back home or buying the higher priced item in China with a 2-year standard warranty. Again, from a customer standpoint we don’t understand why there should be a difference. Your brand is a global brand to us and therefore the warranty and service you offer should be too. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Advertising, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Entertainment, Europe, Finance, Food, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Internet, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, Nationalism, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Population, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, U.S.

China’s Shuanghui to buy US pork producer for $4.7bn [BBC] #RisingChina #FoodSupply

Henan-based Shuanghui Group 双汇集团 in the works to buy the world’s biggest producer of pork to feed the world’s biggest consumer of the meat.

Also –
China’s Shanghai river pig toll nears 6,000 (BBC, March 13, 2013)

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China’s Shuanghui to buy US pork producer for $4.7bn
Source – BBC, published May 30, 2013

China’s Shuanghui International plans to buy US pork producer Smithfield Foods for $4.7bn (£3.1bn) to meet the country’s rising demand for meat.

Shuanghui, which is China’s biggest pork producer, is offering to pay for the company in cash.

The deal, if approved, will be the largest takeover of a US company by a Chinese rival.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: BBC, Beijing Consensus, Bird Flu, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Finance, Food, Health, Influence, International Relations, Modernisation, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Resources, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S.

You Get What You Pay For’: The Hidden Price of Food from China [Spiegel Online] #China #Food

The sleeper has to awake on this one.

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‘You Get What You Pay For’: The Hidden Price of Food from China
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
Source – Der Spiegel, published October 17, 2012

In recent years, China has become a major food supplier to Europe. But the low-cost goods are grown in an environment rife with pesticides and antibiotics, disproportionately cited for contamination and subject to an inspection regime full of holes. A recent norovirus outbreak in Germany has only heightened worries.


Qufu, the city in China’s southwestern Shandong Province where Confucius was born, isn’t exactly an attractive place. But its fields are as good as gold. A few weeks ago, a shipment of strawberries left those fields bound for Germany.

The air above the cities of the Chinese heartland is blackened with smog, as trucks barrel along freshly paved roads carrying loads of coal from the mines or iron girders from the region’s smelters. Fields stretch to the horizon, producing food to feed the world’s most populous country.
The chili pepper and cotton harvests have just ended, the rice harvest begins in two weeks, and garlic will be ready in April. Thousands of female farm workers are kneeling in the fields planting the next crop of a particularly profitable plant in the international food business.

“Garlic is eaten everywhere,” says Wu Xiuqin, 30, the sales director at an agricultural business called “Success.” “We sell garlic all over the world, and increasingly to Germany.” The going price of a ton of white garlic is currently $1,200 (€920). The Germans, says Wu, insist on “pure white” product, and they want the garlic individually packaged.

Please click here to read rest of the article at its source.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Corruption, Domestic Growth, Economics, Food, Germany, Government & Policy, Health, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade

Let’s wage war on tainted food [China Daily]

Implosion? If this gets out of hand, then perhaps China’s strategic mistake is not in its foreign policy but in failing to prevent its citizens from getting poisoned by ‘gutter oil’. A recent crackdown in Zhejiang, Shandong and Henan discovered more than a hundred tonnes of ‘re-used’ ‘gutter oil’ seized. Looking deeper, what kind of socio-economic pressures that are causing a situation where ‘substandard cooking oil recycled from waste illegally collected from restaurant gutters or sewage drains’ becomes used for making a living?

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Let’s wage war on tainted food
by Chen Weihua
Source – China Daily, published September 19, 2011

From New York to Baghdad to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, terror is often associated with bombs, whether they are tied to a human body or implanted in a laser-guided missile.

In China, the kind of fear people feel is much more subtle and much less bloody. It occurs when people shop in wet markets and grocery stores or eat in restaurants or at food stands.

The recent police crackdown on the “gutter oil” ring in Zhejiang, Shandong and Henan provinces is just the latest reminder of such fear. More than 100 tons of “gutter oil” was seized and 32 people were arrested. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: China Daily, Chinese Model, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Disaster, Domestic Growth, Economics, Food, Health, Infrastructure, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, People, Population, Resources, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Toxic milk powder scandal hits China – again [AsiaOne]

This is reading like a very vicious cycle China is getting herself into.

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Toxic milk powder scandal hits China – again
Source – AsiaOne, published July 10, 2010

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese authorities seized 64 tonnes of milk powder and products laced with the same deadly toxic additive that sparked an uproar in 2008, officials and state media said, underscoring the persistence of food safety breaches.

Samples of milk powder found in northwest China’s Gansu and Qinghai provinces had levels of the chemical melamine up to 500 times the permitted limit, and suspected tainted powder also turned up in the country’s northeast, said a report from the Xinhua news agency on Friday.

As well seizing 38 tonnes of milk powder found with 500 times the limit, police in Qinghai seized 26 tonnes of dairy powder with lower amounts of melamine and 12 tonnes of finished products, an official in the Qinghai quality watchdog told Reuters. He would not give his name and did not specify the products. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: AsiaOne, Corruption, Culture, Disaster, Domestic Growth, Food, Reuters

Toxic chives poison nine in China [AsiaOne]

What good the prize of progress when this continues to happen? This is sad news.

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Toxic chives poison nine in China
Source – AsiaOne, published April 12, 2010

BEIJING – Authorities in China have destroyed nearly two tonnes of pesticide-tainted chives after nine people were poisoned by eating food containing the toxic herb, state media said Monday.

The tainted chives are the latest scare in China’s notoriously unsafe food industry following the discovery of pesticide-tainted string beans and cooking oil made from recycled food waste in recent weeks.

Inspections of more than 2,000 batches of chives at vegetable wholesale markets in the eastern city of of Qingdao found 1.9 tonnes contained excessive levels of organic phosphorus, a highly toxic pesticide, the China Daily said.

Nine people complained of headaches, nausea and diarrhoea after eating dishes containing the toxic herb at the same restaurant in the coastal city, the paper said, citing local health authorities.

The victims are seeking compensation from the food vendor, it said.

“I bought a box of fried eggs with chives for three yuan (40 cents) last Wednesday. I was not thinking about the chives at all. Instead I wondered if I was having some heart problems,” a woman was quoted as saying.

Local authorities vowed to improve supervision and inspection of chives sold in Qingdao.

Last month, the food safety watchdog issued a 2010 plan calling on all levels of government to step up inspections at every link in the food production chain, including the edible oil and dairy industries.

The order for inspections came after press reports said up to one-tenth of Chinese cooking oil supplies were illegally made from recycled food waste containing cancer-causing agents.

China has launched high-profile crackdowns in the past, but problems with product quality continue to emerge.

In 2008, the nation’s dairy sector was rocked by a tainted milk scandal that the government said resulted in the deaths of six babies and made 300,000 others ill.

Filed under: AsiaOne, Environment, Food

Disposable containers are ‘cancer in boxes’ [China Daily]

Profiteering against their own seems to be a hallmark of Chinese domestic problems today, even if it kills – it is disappointing. Melamine in milk, and now unsafe disposable dishware. If there is one thing that it shows – capitalism can be a bad medicine for some inherently negative dimensions of the Chinese mentality.

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Disposable containers are ‘cancer in boxes’
Source – China Daily, published 26 March 2010

People eat food out of disposable containers in a market in Haikou, Hainan province. HUANG YIMING / CHINA DAILY

BEIJING – Next time you say the word da bao (box it) at a restaurant, be aware, you could end up with a life-threatening disease. At least, that’s what an expert in food packaging claims.

According to Dong Jinshi, vice-president of the Hong Kong-based International Food Packaging Association (IFPA), about half of the disposable dishware used in the country are unsafe, with excessive amounts of chemicals that can cause cancer.

The situation in big cities is better, he said, adding that about 30 percent of disposable dishware found in Beijing is substandard.

Dong said his figures are based on a nine-year research project conducted by his association, in addition to some documents from the country’s top quality watchdog – the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

According to an IFPA report released this month, the Chinese use 15 billion disposable food boxes – either made of foam, plastic or paper pulp – each year.

The latest case of unsafe disposable dishware Dong’s team detected was on March 3. The researchers visited two famous restaurants – the 170-year-old Laobian dumpling restaurant and the Dong Laishun restaurant – in Beijing and requested some disposable dishware.

The samples were then sent to the Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis, where tests indicated that the boxes contained excessive amounts of minerals, such as talcum powder and ceresin wax, which contains a substance that can cause cancer.

Zhang Zhisheng, a lawyer from the Beijing Zhongyin Law Firm, confirmed Dong and his team had filed a lawsuit against the two restaurants at the Haidian district people’s court, accusing them of selling poisonous foods.

“This will be the first case in which the newly issued Food Safety Law will come into play in consumer rights protection, Zhang said.

He added: “Consumers might not be willing to go to court for something cheaper than 1 yuan, which partly resulted in the manufacturers’ weak legal consciousness.”

Dong said the situation in small cities and rural areas may be worse, since laws and regulations are not as well implemented as they are in bigger cities.

“The situation in small cities and rural areas in the northeast and northwest regions could be the worst,” he said.

Dong also said that less than 10 percent of the disposable dishware sold in the market is made of paper pulp, which is generally safer but more expensive. The foam and plastic boxes each take about 45 percent of the market share.

China has banned the sale and use of disposable dishware made of foam, as it is more likely to be made of plastic wastes.

As for the plastic boxes, Dong said a large number of them are actually made in small plants that do not have production licenses.

The high profit margin drives the illegal business, he said, adding that the wholesale price for an ordinary disposable food box is at least 0.15 yuan, whereas a low-quality one costs half that.

However, food experts said the management of disposable dishware is in the hands of at least three government departments, which makes it hard to effectively spot violations.

According to existing laws and regulations, the production of disposable dishware is the responsibility of quality control authorities, but when the products enter the market, the industry and commerce authority takes over.

It then becomes the health department’s responsibility to supervise restaurants that hand out such products.

Filed under: China Daily, Environment, Food

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