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.
AFP
Source – Straits Times print edition, published Aug 14, 2013

20130815-071012.jpg

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

The Fastest Changing Place On Earth (BBC) #RisingChina #Urbanisation

The BBC with a ground up close up of what it means to ride China’s irresistible wave of land reform.The China model has a lot of mouths and expectations to feed. Much of its interior still requires some work – turning 500 million more rural folk into city folk is a great task at hand.

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This World tells the story of White Horse Village, a tiny farming community deep in rural China. A decade ago, it became part of the biggest urbanisation project in human history, as the Chinese government decided to take half a billion farmers and turn them into city-dwelling consumers.

It is a project with a speed and scale unimaginable anywhere else on Earth. In just ten years, the Chinese Government plan to build thousands of new cities, a new road network to rival that of the USA and 300 of the world’s biggest dams.

Carrie Gracie follows the lives of three local people during this upheaval, filmed over the past six years.

Filed under: BBC, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, Infrastructure, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Reform, Resources, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Technology, The Chinese Identity, Youtube

The largest building in the world: New Century Global Center in Chengdu [GoChengdoo.com/Youtube] #RisingChina #SizeMatters

Because size matters; and indoor river rafting and beaches set new standards to boggle the mind… What has get rich quickly done to the frugality of the Chinese? Actually, probably nothing much to the function though the form may have changed- opulence has been a hallmark of Chinese civilisation and this looks set to continue. In a sense this is another demonstration why the Chinese need peaceful development – to fill these coffers.

Completed in April 2013, the New Century Global Center has 1,760,000 sqm indoor space.

When in Chengdu earlier this year, I had to go see with my own eyes. Despite the intense fog that channels through the winding river system there were moments where it briefly cleared, its stature was well… go see for yourself! It was out of the far extents of my peripheral vision standing at the carpark, and I had to backtrack a fair distance to get this shot.

Also – do check out the gallery below of  awesome under-construction photos.

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Portraits from the Chengdu Global Center: Constructing the world’s biggest building

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Grand playhouse capacity: 2,000
Theater capacity: 1,000
Concert hall capacity: 1,000
International conference center: 10,000 square meters
Showroom: 12,000 square meters
Contemporary art gallery: 30,000 square meters
Artificial beach: 5,000 square meters (400-meter “coastline”
World’s largest LED: 150m x 40m
River rafting: 500 meters
Lobby: 10,000 square meters and 65 meters tall
Number of on-site five-star hotels: 2
Total number of deluxe suites: 1,000
Central business tower: 720,000 square meters
Number of (“international famous brand”) elevators: 244
Number of parking spaces: 15,000

Figures available from – GoChengDoo.com

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Civil Engineering, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Resources, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, Trade

China’s 20 year plan to pay 8 trillion to urbanize 500 million people by 2034 [Next Big Future] #RisingChina #Urbanisation

For more on the macroeconomics agency of the Chinese State Council, go to the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China’s (中华人民共和国国家发展和改革委员会) English online presence.

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China’s 20 year plan to urbanize 500 million people by 2034
Posted by Brian Wang
Source – Big Next Future, published May 19, 2013

After extensive consultation, co-ordinated by the National Development and Reform Commission, the long-term plan for China’s urbanisation is being finalised. Behind all the complex issues is one fundamental question: how will it be paid for?

Here the ballpark costs of $400 billion per year are suggested to use increased taxes and temporarily increasing the budget deficit from 2% of GDP to 5% and redirecting funds from rural land acquisition.

The costs of urbanization could be reduced by leveraging the factory mass produced skyscraper technology of Broad Group. China’s Broad Group is building the Sky City One using factory mass production. It is to likely completed after 90 days of assembly late in 2013 and the projected cost for the building is RMB 4 billion (US$628 million). Sky City will boast 220 floors, 1 million square meters (11 million square feet) of floor space and 104 elevators, according to the preliminary plans. It will cost $63 per square foot and house 30000 people in 4500 apartments. Five hundred Skycities would cost $314 billion (and costs could go down by having the follow on buildings being learned to be built for less). They would house the 15 million people each year that are urbanized. They would also have all of the schools, offices, hospitals and other facilities that were needed.

Please click here to read the full article at Next Big Future

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Uncategorized

Throwing open the doors #GlobalTimes #China #MigrantWorkers #Hukou

In some ways, this is an example of China feeling for the stones to cross the river. The elite are aware it needed to improve its compact with the bedrock of the Chinese revolution, its resilient and often vocal rural peasants. They are after all, a massive part of China’s 180,000 or so mass incidents.

That they are given a direct and growing semblance of contribution toward policy making, is a step forward. How this is enhanced by the new leadership remains to be seen.

Hukou restrictions have become less of a barrier when moving around China for work. Its impact on the wider socio-economic net at popular host cities is also significant though. Access to quality healthcare, welfare is a matter of application; given limited trained human resources, not infrastructure nor intention. I learnt this from a well travelled migrant worker from Yunnan.

Together rapidly growing cities have the propensity to grow out of hand as I saw on my visits. The pollution generated by the sum total of all that growth, has generally not been well managed. Clean water is increasingly hard to find. To compound that, China’s empty forts of ghost cities will be filled soon enough. after all it only just passed the mark of 50% urbanisation. A positive however, is its pervasive use of solar power all around.

The rise of public opinion as agent for change cannot be understated. The alternative voice online is now a rather powerful force. The government is learning to respond. As its consciousness as the fourth estate takes hold, its increasingly self reflexive and critical domestic media, should not be overlooked either.

As China rises it may be rather important to keep an eye on how it rejuvenates itself internally. Standing up rather quickly from a long slumber, what it does to keep its internal qi healthily flowing will make all the difference in its ability to pull off the China Dream.

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Throwing open the doors
By Liu Linlin
Source – Global Times, published January 25, 2013

20130128-090359.jpg

Source – Global Times: Deputies to the Xi’an People’s Congress, Shaanxi Province, raise their hands Wednesday to approve the reports including the work report presented by the city government. Photo: CFP

Cheng Junrong has come a long way since his peers, mostly migrant workers, voted for him into the National People’s Congress (NPC) as a deputy five years ago. Over the last five years he has analyzed amendments to laws and proposals to various government agencies, but at the end of last year he retired, having reached the mandatory five-year limit.As a migrant worker, he has lived through the difficulties imposed by the household registration, or hukou system, and he’s witnessed what it’s like to receive unfair payments caused by problems with labor laws.

When he saw his suggestions included as amendments to the Labor Law, he was encouraged and handed over more proposals to improve the working conditions of migrant workers, one of the most disadvantaged groups in the country.

“The construction of modern society needs a huge amount of migrant labor. But if their welfare or payments can’t be settled, there will be huge crisis in the future,” Cheng said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Environment, Government & Policy, Green China, Human Rights, Influence, Infrastructure, Internet, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, People, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Social, Strategy, The Chinese Identity

Viewpoint: Fear and loneliness in China [BBC]

From 26% in 1990 to 51.3% urbanised by end 2011, but at what cost? A British sociologist known for researching the urban and housing policy sums up his field work on the fragmentation of collective community in China.

..[t]his way of life is disappearing, in the cities and in the countryside. For many in China isolation is a new experience brought on by economic transformation. In the neighbourhoods where I worked in Chongqing and Beijing, loneliness was spreading like pollution.

Gerard Lemos was a visiting professor at Chongqing Technology and Business University from 2006 to 2010 and author of The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People fear the Future. Whilst he makes many pertinent observations, his book has a rather polarizing title I must say. It is not in the method of academic inquiry to apply one’s results as self-assertive blanket, in this case, over the entire Chinese spectrum.

Perhaps this study also completely discounts the transition where community, like in many places in developing Asia, is shifting quickly, in other cases, augmented from public to virtual space. In a way, it really is a decade in, figuring out how to balance the two, in the midst of the reality of intense domestic and foreign competition.

An Op-Ed titled What Keeps the Chinese up at Night for the New York Times on his book can be found here.

Here’s a WSJ review of his book with a further interview here. Further check out reviews from  America: The National Catholic Weekly or the Financial Times here.

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Viewpoint: Fear and loneliness in China
by Gerard Lemos
Source – BBC, published October 16, 2012 

Source – Getty Images

What kind of society will China’s new leaders inherit? China has developed at unimaginable pace, lifting millions out of poverty. But as part of a series of viewpoints on challenges for China’s new leadership, Gerard Lemos, who conducted research in the mega-city of Chongqing, says it is easy to overlook its lonely underbelly.

An old man was hanging upside down in the public square. His feet in traditional cloth shoes were over the parallel bars from which he had suspended himself, for what were presumably his morning exercises. He was fully clothed and in a padded overcoat to combat the spring chill.

I saw this when visiting a factory community in Beijing in 2008. On the face of it, this was a peculiar act to perform in a public space, but people walked past taking no notice. In such traditional Chinese communities, this public square served as a communal living room; most of the people around are friends and neighbours. Not being surprised by the unusual behaviour of your neighbours is an aspect of intimate community life. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: BBC, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Environment, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), New Leadership, Peaceful Development, People, Politics, Pollution, Population, Poverty, Reform, Social, The Chinese Identity, , , , , , , , , ,

101 East – China: Broken Dreams [Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera ponders the problem of Chinese social equality in its rising ant tribe class. Running time: 24minutes.

Uniquely Chinese problem or problem with paradigms meeting? Just one generation of growing pains into this new paradigm shift from absolute monolithic collectivism to deliberative authoritarian capitalism, the cross-pollination is far from complete.

Especially so perhaps, when it has to mesh with embedded familial values and long-running notions of state in a hyper compressed time/space of just 30 years of modernisation, reform and breaking out of its Great Wall mentality. Only one generation into this new paradigm shift, China has accelerated into an immensely competitive environment domestically. Paying fees to attend job fairs, and competing with over 9 to 10 million peers for the college examinations yearly. There are explicit teething problems such as the antiquated Hukou (reform under way), but therein perhaps – lies implicit opportunity for a grand redesign.

Perhaps a more useful takeaway is – what will the rise of this ant tribe 蚁族 (click for New York Times report) amount to?

How will they evolve into a new muscle in China’s consciousness? Ant tribes could very well be the foundation for the nucleus of the future Chinese work force.

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101 East – China: Broken Dreams
by Fauziah Ibrahim
Source – Al Jazeera, published August 24, 2012

Many young Chinese are losing faith in China’s economic miracle. Even though the country is poised to overtake the US in the next decade as the world’s largest, fewer Chinese feel they share the prosperity. 101 East explores the disillusionment. Al Jazeera, August 24, 2012

Filed under: Al Jazeera, Ant Tribe, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Confucius, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Influence, Infrastructure, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), New Leadership, Peaceful Development, People, Politics, Population, Reform, Resources, Social, The Chinese Identity, Trade, , , , , , , ,

China’s tourism industry reaps golden harvest [Xinhua]

Xinhua: A peek into China’s domestic well-being.

Its Golden Week (黄金周) is a semi-annual 7-day national holiday, implemented in 2000. Designed so that three days of paid holidays are wrapped around surrounding weekends to boost its domestic tourism market and improve standard of living across the board, this measure underlies the importance the Chinese attribute to allowing people to make long-distance family visits.

That said however, China still boasts one of the lowest statutory minimum employment leave allowances in the world pegged to work experience- 5 working days (from 1 to 9 years seniority), 10 working days (from 10 to 19 years), 15 working days (from 20 years and beyond).

Australia where I am is generous in comparison with 4 weeks standard, plus 10 public holidays, and 5 weeks for shift-workers. Singapore where I was born saw 14 as a standard.

Underscoring this of outward symphony of movement of course, is its extensive and still-expanding affordable transport network boosting its arterial push outwards from the East coast. It’s not quite there yet (see China Golden Week Chaos on Global Voices), as the Chinese flock en-masse to favoured spots coveted in collective cultural memory – but at least this is an inside look at what China is doing, with a look at efficacy, in its desire for equitable wealth for this five-year plan.

Back in 1999 when it was first mooted, an estimated 28 million Chinese travelled. Eight years later in 2007, the number jumped five-fold to about 120 million. This year, thanks to the longest ever Golden Week due to the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday, the numbers are booming in this second half a semi-annual covenant between the central government and its populace. Interesting food for thought on what is largely perceived as an authoritarian top-down structure – allowing its 1.3 billion citizens to take two blocks of 7 days of continuous leave annually.

For a self-reflexive piece on the woes caused by such a huge volume of movement and in particular that long-lasting economic incentives remain absent to sustain the world’s second biggest economy, check out Holiday travel reveals weal and woe in China’s consumption(Xinhua, October 7, 2012).

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China’s tourism industry reaps golden harvest
No author indicated
Source – Xinhua, published October 7, 2012

Tourists visit the Confucius Temple in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, Oct. 1, 2012. China’s “Golden Week” holiday justified its title with a rise in tourism revenue, National Tourism Administration (NTA) statistics showed Sunday. The country’s 119 major scenic spots received a total of 34.25 million visitors during the eight-day holiday, up 20.96 percent from the corresponding period last year. Tourism income surged by nearly a quarter from 2011 to 1.77 billion yuan (278.39 million U.S. dollars), the NTA said. Photo – Xinhua, Wang Xin

Story Highlights –
• China’s 119 major scenic spots received a total of 34.25 million visitors during the eight-day holiday.
• Tourism income surged by nearly a quarter from 2011 to 1.77 billion yuan.
• Many scenic spots, including the Forbidden City, attracted record volumes of visitors.

BEIJING, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — China’s “Golden Week” holiday justified its title with a rise in tourism revenue, National Tourism Administration (NTA) statistics showed Sunday.

The country’s 119 major scenic spots received a total of 34.25 million visitors during the eight-day holiday, up 20.96 percent from the corresponding period last year. Tourism income surged by nearly a quarter from 2011 to 1.77 billion yuan (278.39 million U.S. dollars), the NTA said.

The administration said many scenic spots, including the Forbidden City, attracted record volumes of visitors during the longest-ever “Golden Week” bridging the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Influence, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Peaceful Development, People, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , , , , , ,

When Growth Outpaces Happiness [New York Times]

New York Times: Richard Easterlin weighs in on the China debate with twenty years of data. Is happiness in a rapidly developing socio-economic sphere such as China’s a moving goalpost? His research focuses on the relation of economic growth to happiness, happiness in the transition from socialism to capitalism and life cycle happiness amongst others. Will things get better with the current five-year plan set on spreading more equitable wealth as iron rice bowls, a feature of central planning are being phased out? Restructuring its SOEs for example, some still cumbersome relics from a past era is not going to be complete overnight.

Also – having spent time travelling through twelve different cities in China I’ve come to realise much of the problems lie in the local level of government – my ancestral city of Shantou, despite being one of the first to open up, for example seems in disarray compared to the farmers in a primary industry region I saw in Jiangsu province who live in multi-storied mansions across the board.

See the paper China’s life sastisfaction: 1990 to 2010 here with data collected from five survey organisations, with one of them Chinese as it studies the trend of subjective well-being (SWB) of the Chinese population in transit from socialism to capitalism.

More on Professor Easterlin here.

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When Growth Outpaces Happiness
By Richard A. Easterlin
Source – New York Times, published September 27, 2012

Source – New York Times, 2012

CHINA’s new leaders, who will be anointed next month at the Communist Party’s 18th National Congress in Beijing, might want to rethink the Faustian bargain their predecessors embraced some 20 years ago: namely, that social stability could be bought by rapid economic growth.

As the recent riots at a Foxconn factory in northern China demonstrate, growth alone, even at sustained, spectacular rates, has not produced the kind of life satisfaction crucial to a stable society — an experience that shows how critically important good jobs and a strong social safety net are to people’s happiness.

Starting in 1990, as China moved to a free-market economy, real per-capita consumption and gross domestic product doubled, then doubled again. Most households now have at least one color TV. Refrigerators and washing machines — rare before 1990 — are common in cities. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Environment, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), New York Times, People, Politics, Population, Poverty, Property, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, The Chinese Identity, , , , , , , , , ,

Foxconn Plant Closed After Riot, Company Says [New York Times]

Taiyuan,  Shaanxi province: On the back of a string of suicides beginning in 2010 that gave the Taiwanese-owned Foxconn (one of the largest employers of Chinese with more than 1.1 million of them on payroll) its public image and internal practices a beating, just as the iPhone 5 is launched. An unfortunate convergence of economic imperative and global production networks perhaps, as the free market demands a product that is priced right for a competitive worldwide market. In China it is the displaced migrant worker who facilitates SIRI being a part of affluent networked societies. There are 79,000 workers in the Taiyuan plant. After 2,000 workers rioted, state media reported 5,000 police were despatched to restore order.

Foxconn cited police as saying 40 people were taken to hospital and a number were arrested, while the state-run Xinhua news agency added that three people were in serious condition.

Source – 5,000 police sent to quell mass Foxconn brawl (ABC News Australia, September 25, 2012)

Authorities in the northern city of Taiyuan sent 5,000 police to restore order after what the plant’s Taiwanese owners Foxconn Technology Group said was a personal dispute in a dormitory that erupted into a mass brawl.

Foxconn China plant closed after 2,000 riot (Reuters, September 12, 2012)

When a major new product such as the iPhone 5 is heading to stores, even more stress is put on that fast-growing manufacturing chain. Apple sold 5 million iPhones over the weekend (up from 4 million for the first weekend of sales for the iPhone 4S), and could sell 10 times that amount by the end of the quarter that closes December 31. Meeting that demand has required an epic buildup of materials, infrastructure, and labor, all while satisfying Wall Street’s need for bigger, more historic profits.

Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn’s iPhone factories (CNet, September 25, 2012)

An English-language domestic report from Xinhua is also available here
40 Injured in Foxconn Brawl by NewsLook

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Foxconn Plant Closed After Riot, Company Says
By David Barboza and Keith Bradsher
Source – New York Times, published September 24, 2012

Workers cleaned up glass from the broken windows of a security room at an entrance of the Foxconn Technology plant in Taiyuan on Monday.
Source – New York Times, 2012.

SHANGHAI — Foxconn Technology, a major supplier to some of the world’s electronics giants, including Apple, said it had closed one of its large Chinese plants Monday after the police were called in to break up a fight among factory employees.

A spokesman said some people had been hurt and detained by the police after the disturbance escalated into a riot involving more than 1,000 workers late Sunday.

The company said the incident was confined to an employee dormitory and “no production facilities or equipment have been affected.” It said the cause of the disturbance was still under investigation. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Domestic Growth, Economics, Foxconn Suicides 2010, Greater China, Human Rights, Mapping Feelings, Media, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Modernisation, People, Poverty, Social, Taiwan, Technology, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S., , , , , , , , ,

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