Friday, October 27, 2006

Chinese shame

Traffic in most big Chinese cities is chaotic. Cars often occupy the bicycle lane for avoiding traffic jam and threatens the safety of bike users. Has anyone thought of acting as traffic police?

A few days ago in Beijing a foreign lady blocked cars from entering the bicycle lane and directed them to move back to car lane. One of the drivers cursed her and even threatened to hurt her. But she insisted and the drivers moved their cars back to the car lane. A blogger took some photos of this incident and posted a story on his/her blog. It was then covered by Nanfang Daily.

The media coverage shocked Chinese people's nationalist nerve. It aroused internet users' criticism of that driver and appreciation of the lady's civic quality and courage. Many felt ashamed of "the low quality of Chinese people's civic morality". They argued that incredibly high economic growth has not brought out any improvement in civic morality for Chinese people such as queuing, complying with traffic law, and giving seats to people in need on public transport. Instead, Chinese people, who earn more and more money, care less and less about civic morality. More and more encounters between China and foreign countries results in more exposure of misbehavior of Chinese people to the world.

Hope this small incident could help us improve our civic quality.

Photo: scribeoflight

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

China: a battleground for retailing giant

After Wal-Mart withdraws from the markets of Korea and Europe, it expands its outlets in China by acquiring Trust-Mart, one of the biggest retailers recently. Wal-Mart plans to hire 150,000 more people within 5 years.

Trust-Mart, a Taiwanese owned retailer, has 99 outlets. After Wal-Mart spent US$1 billion to acquire it, this retailing giant almost triples its number of outlet from 60 to 159 in China. Wal-Mart, like its rivals such as Carrefour, is going to eat up more and more shares of this highly fragmented and competitive market. It is estimated that the top 100 retailers take over only 10.5% of the retailing market. Only 20% of the retailing industry is "organized". Many multinationals see China as a market with great potentials, particularly considering the increasing middle class and their purchasing power.

Yet many doubt if the competition between domestic retailers and foreign companies is fair enough. Since the year of 2002, Zhang Hongwei, vice President of National Association of Industry and Commerce, has complained about the "super-national treatment" enjoyed by foreign retailers. Although some may argue that Zhang has vested interest, his criticism is not unfounded.

Many local governments offer favorable terms to global players such as Wal-Mart because more big brandnames help boost the property market. They could usually get land or rent subsidies from local government one way or another. That is why more than half top international retailers are already running business in China.

Signature Campaign for Citizen Radio Bandwidth

Hong Kong government's Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) and police officers had raided Citizen Radio again recently (October 13). As Hong Kong government refuses to grant radio broadcasting license to civic organizations, in order to participate in public broadcasting, the organizers of Citizen Radio have to go underground and take the risk of violating the unreasonable laws. The police has confisticated all their equipment and arrested the organizers. It is a repressive action against freedom of speech. We strongly urge Hong Kong government to open radio bandwidth to the public and return the right of broadcasting to the people.

With a population of seven millions, Hong Kong only has two privately owned radio stations. Compared to most cities all over the world, the number of Hong Kong radio broadcasters is incredibly low. The local society have been demanding more licenses of radio broadcast for years. But the government refuses to change its policy and practice. Citizen Radio submitted an application for license at the end of 2005 but has not gotten any reply from the authority.

Citizen media has been promoted and encouraged by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Global citizens have been in pursuit of more open media markets. Following the policy of cultural diversity, governments of many countries issued licenses to community groups and ethnic associatons to run independent radio stations. But Hong Kong government have been maintaining the laws and institutions inherited from the colonial authority. It seriously violates international principles and goes against social and historical progress. It is a shame on this international city.

We call for Hong Kong government to revise the outdated regulations of broadcasting as soon as possible, to open radio bandwidth to the public and to return freedom to the people.

Hong Kong In-media

You are welcome to sign this statement by visit here and send it to Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau (Hong Kong SAR Government).

For enquiry, please contact us at 852-2147-0788.

(P.S this statement is translated from the Chinese version at, you can directly submit signatures at the comment section there as well.)
Previous report:Hong Kong Police Raid Citizen Radio
A report on the raid in August.