Friday, March 30, 2007

China Bloggers: Let's go to Chongqing!

I really want to write something about Zhou Shuguang, a blogger from Hunan.

From QianTu's WeBlog, I learnt about Zhou's blog. Zhou seems to be an ordinary blogger who works very hard in his blog. He has a strong motivation. As he said, he stopped writing blog for a few days and travelled from Loudi city to Chongqing quietly. He wanted to cover the story of Wu Ping and Yang Wu, "The Strongest Nail Household in China". He also took a lot of pictures.

His reports give us a strong feeling about that place. He wrote down most what he saw. He met a lot of evictees all over the country, from Shanghai, Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Xian, etc. The wanted media to cover their stories. In the Jiulongbo district, there are also a lot of media workers and foreigners. All people suffering demoliton and relocation came to this place, like a "Festival of Eviction".

Zhou's writing is not very professional. But he emphasizes the process. He compares different versions from different people. He is very reflexive. He argues that Wu Ping and Yang Wu should not be called "nail house". This is stigmatization by government. He suggests "Household of Fighting for Civil Rights" (Weiquan Hu)

It is so exciting and lively. Zhou's each entry could attract hundreds of comments. There are also many people around the "nail house". Yet I am afraid that this scene (or movement?) on internet or in reality would be repressed by government. But Li Datong (former editor of "Bingdian" of China Youth Daily) is right. The more the government controlled the news, the more difficulties in controlling it has. I hope this media and social spectacle could last longer.

Zhou is an honest guy. He told readers that he did it not only for social justice. He wants to be famous. I like his honesty. He is not like some Hong Kong so-called "professional journalists". They become TV stars but still hide their lust for fame and money by pretending to be professional. Our citizen reporter Zhou Shuguang honestly loves fame and justice as well.

I've just came across one more blogger who covers the story in Chongqing. His/her name is hidecloud. He clarifies some misconception of the nail household. For example, this couple is not greedy at all. What they need is their legal right.

Photo from Zhou Shuguang

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cheap Labor and Fast Food

Over the past few years, there are many controversies over the foreign owned fast food restaurants such as KFC and McDonald's in China. Recently, some part-time workers accuse them of unfair treatment including offering low wage, requiring long work hours, unequal agreement, and refusing to give workers labour contract.

New Express (Xin Kuaibao), a Guangzhou based newspaper, yesterday covered a two-month labor survey on the foreign owned fast food companies such as KFC and McDonald's in its four full pages. According to the research, the labor conditions of them violate some Chinese law. There are a lot of problems remaining to be solved.

The part-time workers' salary of KFC is 4.7 yuan (US$0.6) per hour. Pizza Hut is 5.8 yuan (US$0.72). The wage level of McDonald's is the lowest, only 4 yuan (US$0.5) per hour. With this hourly salary, the worker could not even afford to buy a medium-sized cup of coke.

However, according to Guangzhou's first standard for part-time worker, the minimum hourly wage is 7.5 yuan (US$0.93). In other words, the wage of all these foreign owned restaurants is lower than it.

Apart from low wage, overtime is another general problem. According to regulations, a part-time worker could work for an employer longer than 5 hours on average each day. If the working hour exceeds this standard, the employer has to hire him/her as full-time worker and take related responsibilities for him/her.

The survey found that there are a lot of overtime part-time workers in these foreign owned restaurants. Some even work longer than 10 hours each day. They work like full-time workers and the shop owners also allow and encourage them to do so.

It also noted that after most part-time workers, who are university students, sign agreement contract with the employers, they could not obtain it on time. Some even could not get a copy of it. The managers of some restaurants revise the contract without notifying the workers.

Source: Hong Kong Economic Journal 2007.3.29

Photo: Xie Xian he Luobote

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What will Beijing look like in 2008?

Notes: The following is Wang Xiaofeng's sarcastic comments on the Olympic Games hosted by Beijing.

... ... What will Beijing look like in 2008? She will definitely be very beautiful.

1. Half of non-Beijing Chinese will leave this city and then we invite the same number of foreigners to Beijing. In a short period of time, it will become a cosmopolitan.

2. The streets of Beijing become totally spotless. The real and fake flowers make an interesting scene. Decorations are everywhere. The city is full of happiness.

3.There will be no traffic jam. All roads are cleared. The traffic station will fail to get any information about traffic congestion.

4.All people behave orderly in public space. They are considerate and polite.

5. Bus passengers give seat to each other so frequently that bus could not start on time.

6. No more loud voice is heard in restaurants and pubs. People speak gently and greet to each other.

7. The sky of Beijing is peculiarly blue.

8. All stadiums are full houses. Even the qualifying match of women ping pong between Senegal and Burundi has audience supporting them.

9. The rule-violation and crime rates go down to zero.

10. All newspapers are full of news about the Olympic Games. No social news.

Photo: richard76uk

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Tsang's strategy after election

After the “fake” election, how different people read it might be a more interesting topic than the election itself.

Let's see the editorial of Hong Kong Economic Journal, a representative of rightists who supports free economy. The author of the editorial had criticized Leung Ka Kit a lot. But he/she is also dissatisfied with Donald Tsang. He/she argues that Tsang is not simply elected by the eight hundred people, but also has the support of public opinion. In the past two years' “probation”, Tsang attempted to win people's support but has enabled populism. Tsang supports minimum wage law and fair competition. It would damage the business environment and free economy. He demonstrates his true color of politician by promising tax reduction.

I can imagine that the rightists and some businessmen would try their best to repress Tsang's so-called “populism” (I personally don't agree with the usage of “populism” here).

Besides, Cheung Bing Leung's comment is noteworthy. This former democrat and current member of Executive Committee criticized Leung's overemphasis on universal suffrage. Leung shows his position as a political opponent but confuses “rule and govern” with “monitor”. It results in failing to convince people of democrats' ability to be in power.

Cheung advises the democrats to think more thoroughly: To be an opposition or to be a “government-in-waiting” who is ready to be in power.

The biggest function of Cheung Bing Leung is to offer favor to democrats or further divide and conquer them. Yet, Tsang is too stingy. Now the only news I heard about it is that one or two democrats would be recruited into the Executive Committee. In consideration of the case of Cheung, I don't believe that this would do anything about “power”. If Tsang really wanted to urge democrats to get ready for power, he should at least offer one or two places of bureau director! Pacifying needs some cost.

Let's see how Tsang will do his job of pacifying the oppositions. Yet I am quite sure that there are more challenges facing the democratic movement groups. They might get less and less friends and come across with enemies everywhere.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Jilin University is crying for help from whom?

Zhao Mu

Jilin university is in financial crisis. It cried for help a few days ago.

A few days ago, the finance office of the Jilin University put up a notice on campus internet: “Notice: A consultative conference on the solution to the financial difficulties of the Jilin University ”

Although this notice is on campus website and “collecting proposals of financial solution” targeting all teachers and students, all people know that the Jilin University's revelation of its embarrassing problems will certainly become a nationwide topic when the notions about higher education institutions' bankruptcy has been circulated widely and hotly debated. And all know who could save these universities who are so indebted that they could not afford to pay interest.

How much money has the Jilin University borrowed crazily from bank? What did they spend the money on?

Let's take a look at the information provided by this notice: “Since 2005, the Jilin University has paid loan interest as high as 150 million to 170 million each year. The university increasingly suffers from expenditure over revenue. The debt is mainly used in two areas. The first one is infrastructure. Another one is salary. We have increased salary to the high level.”

From the annual interest payment as high as 150 million to 170 million yuan, one can estimate the huge amount of loan (it is estimated 3 billion yuan). The crazy loan is for infrastructure and raising salary.

This year, in the National People’s Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Zhou Ji, Minister of Education, responded to the notion of “Bankruptcy of Higher Education Institution” by saying “far away from reality”. He asserted that Chinese universities would not become the “next state-owned enterprise”.

I can understand why Zhou Ji felt so confident in China universities although he failed to provide any convincing reason to argue against the notion of the bankruptcy of China universities. About half year ago when this notion firstly came out, I thought so. But Zhou said that China higher education institutions are not “next state-owned enterprise”. I don't think it is so accurate. From my perspective, the status of China higher education institutions is much higher than general state-owned enterprises. They are “special state-owned enterprises” that should be carefully protected.

Recently, as more and more experts said, according to a strict financial standard, a lot of China universities are bankrupt. The Jilin University revealed its own scandal. It seems to support this viewpoint. Yet, if you think carefully, even though the Jilin University, the most famous university in Jilin province, could not afford the annual interest of 100 million yuan, what could you do to it? Are the banks, who went so crazy that they lent such a huge amount of money to the Jilin University, really brave enough to force the university to apply for bankruptcy through legal procedure? Would the court close down this university and liquidate its asset? Would the banks sell the campus by auction to get back their huge amount of money?

Ah... ah. I can prove to Minister of Education Zhou Ji and the supporters of “bankruptcy” theory that this possibility does not exist at all. And I strongly believe that our great state-owned bank will write off most debts of colleges. Despite without complete statistics, this huge debt already reaches as high as 400 billion yuan.

Now the Jilin University cries for help. Our great state-owned banks have certainly heard that. The leaders of our great state-owned banks have certainly heard that too. If there is no way to force the Jilin University to repay its debt, what should be done? Just cry for help.
In fact, allowing our state-owned banks to write off the debts is not totally unreasonable.

We have known it as early as the year of 2000. The World Health Organization ranked its members according to their ability to mobilize and distribute resources for public health. China was ranked as the 188 th. Among the 191 members, China was ranked as four to the last. China's expenditure in education is even lower than Uganda.

If the state-owned banks write off the debts of these colleges, the excessive loan to so many universities is a correction to the extremely constrained budget. At least, the government enormously increases the per capita investment in “higher education”. This is barely a contribution.

I certainly believe that even though “all Jilin University students and teachers” racked their brain, they could not come up with any solution to this “nearly bankrupt” Jilin University. But I also believe that there is no need for this university to be anxious about its financial crisis.

Be relaxed. Somebody will come to this baby. No matter whether our Chinese taxpayers care about it, they need to pay the debt for this university. The Jilin University is not the only one.

Interestingly, according to the news article about the Jilin University's disclosure of its scandals, a young teacher (Jilin?) said that the Jilin University's confession on its embarrassment is such a “brave” act.

Such a “brave” act.


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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mao on Demolition and Relocation (November 15, 1956)

Note: I read it from Qian Tu's WeBlog. Mao is always quoted for critique of Chinese government.

A few years ago, there was an airport to be built in a place of Henan province. No resettlement was granted to the peasants and the government did not negotiate with and explained clearly to them. But it attempted to evict the people forcefully. As the peasants of that village said, if you used a stick to topple down the bird nest to the earth, the birds would voice out. You Deng Xiaoping also has a “nest” (home). If I destroyed your “nest”, would you voice out? The people of that place set up three defense lines. The first one was children. The second one was women. The third one was male and young people. Those sent to there to survey was forced away. The peasants won the battle. Later on, the government explained to the peasants clearly and made arrangements for them. They moved their homes and the airport was built finally.

There are many incidents like this. Now there are some cadres who seem to rule the country and are no longer scared of anything. They believe that they could bully everyone and everywhere they want. The people oppose them by throwing stones to them and beating them with hoe. The cadres deserve it. I welcome it. Sometimes, only fighting could solve the problem. The Communist Party should learn its lesson.

Student and workers took to the streets. Our comrades should see anything like this as good thing. There are more than one hundred students going to Beijing for petition. The train with students on board was stopped at the station of Guangyuan, Sichuan province. Another group of students on the train was also stopped in Loyang. My opinion is that rally and protest are allowed according to constitution. I suggest we revise our constitution by adding freedom of strike. Workers' strike should be allowed. This is good for the government and managers to solve their conflicts with the people. Conflict or contradiction is not a big deal. The world is full of contradictions. Democratic revolution has solved the contradictions with imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic red tap. Now, in terms of ownership, our contradictions with national capitalism and petty production are basically solved. But some other contradictions come out. New contradictions happen. There are a few hundred thousand cadres above the level of county and the destiny of this country is in their hands. If you do something wrong and do not work hard, workers, peasant and students have the right to disagree with them.

We should be alert to it. Do not allow bureaucratic red tape to breed. Do not become an aristocratic stratum alienated from the people. The people have reasons to get rid of whoever commits the mistake of bureaucratic red tape, whoever refuses to solve people's problems, whoever scolds and represses the people and whoever refuses to correct their own mistakes. It is good to get rid of this kind of cadres. They should be got rid of.

(Selected Works of Mao Zhedong, Vol 5. People's Publishing, 1st edition, April, 1977, pp. 313-329)


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Friday, March 23, 2007

Demolition and Relocation

The photo of a Chongqing's "nail household" (釘子戶, a person or a family who refuses to move out during urban demolition and relocation) has circulated on internet for a while. I'm sure many people are stunned by this urban spectacle unique to contemporary China.

I feels neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the Property Law (Wuquan fa, 物權法). While some old leftists are worried about the public ownership as the foundation of socialist system challenged by this law, I suggest them show more care about the ordinary people's private property destroyed by the collusion of government and big capital. Many district governments of Chinese cities continue to demolish people's home in the name of "public interest". With or without this law, this brutal process will continue. All in all this is not simply a legal issue.

Now this "Chongqing nail household" turnes into a standstill. Hu Guo guessed that the high-ranking officials would settle down this issue in private. Now the developer is not able to remove him violently because he is under the spotlight of media. But the government would not support him publicly because this nail household might set an example for residents in the future.

Today Wang Xiaofeng made the association of urban demolition and relocation with sina blog. Some famous bloggers, such as Shu kewen, are "relocated" to sina without their consent. Sina wants to use these celebrities to promote its internet services. Wang asked: Could we sue Sina with the newly enacted Property Law?

Photo: Down in the Blue

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Zhao Xiao: China imbalance

... ... The most crucial task for government to do is to explore the ultimate reasons for various phenomena and then fix the fundamental problems rather than treating symptom but not the disease. Government report spent a lot of space to talk about “Problems of Peasant, Village and Agriculture” . It also talked much about how government should help the disadvantaged groups. But the origin of these problems is the excessive power of government and insufficient civil rights. The disadvantaged people's power is the least. So the most important job is to strengthen civil rights and change the power structure rather than to improve people's livelihood. As Amartya Sen said, granting more freedom to people implies better development. It is not necessary to implement “secondary distribution” for actualizing so-called "equality of distribution".

From this perspective, I appreciate very much the report's evaluations such as “There are some weakness and insufficiency of government works” and “There are problems of government's building”. They are so rare and honest compared to the previous government reports. I particularly admire that the report mentioned that “develop democracy and strengthen legal system. This is the demands coming out of socialist system. To build a harmonious society, the most important is to strengthen democracy and legal system, and promote social justice.” This notion accurately captures the core problem of all facing contemporary China. China's problem lies on the fact that political reform lags behind economic institutional reform. This dis-equilibrium is the original problem leading to a lot of imbalances.

For example, why are there disequilibriums of consumption, investment and foreign trade in China? On the surface, it seems to be a macro-economic problem. However, there are political factors. The Government Work Report (2006) mentioned that during “The Tenth Five-year Plan”, GDP increased by 57.3%, city resident's average income increased by 58.3%, rural villager's net income increased by 29.2% and government revenue skyrocketed by 1.36 times. Obviously, government revenue growth is much higher than GDP growth and resident's growth. The increase in people's income also lags far behind GDP growth and government's financial income growth (This year's report further admitted this over-growth of financial revenue). Obviously, because of excessive growth of government's power and “coercive revenue”, distribution of national wealth is unequal. The insufficiency of residents' consumption leads to weak domestic demand. That is why Chinese enterprises resort to foreign trade to look for a better market.

The ordinary people could not afford medical fees, school fees, and high price of apartment. People put the blame on market failure. The reality is that government's supply of housing, education and medical services (market oriented and public) is not enough. What lies behind is the insufficiency of public pressure on government power. The underdevelopment of civil rights leads to insufficient supply of public good and services.

Among the disadvantaged group, peasant is the poorest because they are far away from power centre. If peasant has the same power as urban resident, would the “Problems of Peasant, Village and Agriculture” be so serious? Therefore, if you say peasant is too poor, I would say that peasant is lacking power. If you suggest reduction of tax for peasant, I suggest grant more power of self-government to peasant.

Unequal distribution of power leads to the “zero-sum game” in which the gain of some people results in some people's loss. This causes social disharmony. Recently, the Special Topic Team of Public Policy Research Centre, Chinese Association of Economic Institutional Reform, calculated the price difference between the two systems (market and non-market). The results show that there is no difference between the present and the past. In 2004, considering the effect of public power, the price difference is as high as 4.7 billion yuan, about 1.5 times the annual revenue. The land price difference is 528.5 billion yuan. The monopoly rent sought by monopoly industry is 212.5 billion yuan. The loss of national asset is 71.549 billion yuan. The rent caused by corruption is 20 billion yuan. According to this estimation, the total of rent caused by government monopoly and corruption reaches 832.549 billion yuan, about 5.2% of GDP and 55.1% of the annual revenue of the central government.

Without the disgusting new system of two prices, China’s gini coefficient is 0.3797 in 2004. Because of corruption and restriction, China’s gini coefficient is going up to 0.465, the warning line of wealth gap according to international standard. Although China’s marketization seems to be speeding up, the space for rent seeking caused by government power is becoming bigger and bigger. All these show that the fundamental of all disequilibrium is power inequality. Without political reform, reform itself is skewed. The steps of economic and political reforms are incoherent. The combination of marketization and traditional political institution fail to enable China to march forward in a health way.

... ...

Excerpt from source: 趙曉<失衡的中國

Photo: sheilaz413

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A story about Hong Kong police and March 18 rally

Notes: This is a small story told by a participant of the rally on March 18. I keep him/her anonymous. On March 18, a group of people called "Local Action" launched a campaign for preserving our homes from government's and developers' bulldozers. They also advocated "People's Planning". This group has been formed since after the government demolished the Star Ferry Pier by the end of last year.

Local Action joined the mass rally on March 18. It inserted the issue of community into the mainstream opposition. Please forgive my laziness. I didn't participate in the preparation. The
number of the emails circulated among activists is so huge that I could not be able to read all of
them. I just marked this event on my planner and roughly knew that we would leave the "licensed" (police's non-rejection notice) rally of Civil Front of Human Rights. Local action attempts to make a difference in local issue.

Holding the colorful and eye-catching banner designed by Kith and students, we set off from the
Victoria Park. I believe it is the most well designed and prepared banner in Hong Kong's history of rally. Feeling happy, I walked in the front of the rally. Local Action is a loose alliance emerging
out of the struggle of "Star Ferry Pier". It is hardly called organization. Membership is not stable but we are all kind and active people despite difference in action style. But more or less we agree that "local" is the way out. Although I'm not a devoted activist, I am a concerned participant. I brought water and food for friends, held microphone, and played different roles if necessary. I also bought and used needle and threat to repair the "Hundred Families' Blanket" torn by over-stretching.

We told the public about our decision to leave the mainstream rally before. Shadowed by the evil laws, we walked into the Wanchai Market and tried to draw public attention to the stalls about to be cleared by The Zenith which will be occupied by owners soon and the Blue House which will be discussed by the Planning Board on Friday. Of course, we also went to the emptied Lei Tung Street. We were escorted by uniform police officers and stalked by a lot of plainclothesmen. We are ordinary citizens holding a "Hundred Families' Blanket". Some of us were walking with their children and some were elderly. I had the habit of carrying cutter in my pencase. In order to show my innocence, I kept it at home when I left. I don't understand what I, as a citizen, was afraid of?

Surrounded by police, we had walked for three hours and arrived at the Queen's Pier. There was a concert with singing and dancing. It was similiar to the activities of foreign domestic helpers on Sunday, except having a loudspeaker. I felt tired. I leaned towards W's shoulder and sat down. Feeling the sea wind, I listened to Chan Mit's recitation and He Li's singing. I wanted to go home to have dinner. I left the people and walked towards the bus stop. There were two men coming to me.

"Miss, I'm police. I have reasonable doubt that you had just joined an illegal assembly. I want to write down your ID information for record," said one of the police officers.

"Ha! Holding banner and dancing are subject to penalty? Why didn't you ask for my ID in the crowd? Now there are so few people. You come to ask for it? Why are you so stingy?" said I.

"Why don't you write down all people's ID?" said W.

"We already have their records," said a police.

I don't know if I am able to get access to my file in police station according to the Privacy Bill. Perhaps, I would find out the photos me and W in the pier taken by "Ah Sir" (police officer)! Now I realize that the so-called "evil law" is just stingy. Walking back to the crowd who were about to leave, two officers from Police Laison Office came out to negotiate. Two plainclothes still insisted on checking my ID at the very beginning. Later on, more people came together and we left in chaos. The two laison officers told us that those two plainclothesmen came from the "Central Crime Unit". My friend MD laughed, "He is not even taller than my chest! What qualifies him to ask for my ID?" To honest, this is the first time for me to be threatened by police. My intuition is not to show my ID. I thought that if they really had to arrest us, what I could do is to refuse to cooperate. YW was attentive. She wrote down our names in order to inform each other of the situation. In less than one minute conversation, you know that you are already identified by the police. I already felt terrified and furious for a whole night. For cracking down minority movement, this kind of psychological pressure is already very successful.

This reminds me of what I learnt from the Buddhist lesson this morning: "No Fear and terror". What a realm one could reach! It also reminds me of those people who are willing to act as human shield not for self interest. They are really Buddha in the human world!

Photo: psychosteria

Guangzhou University City

Another Megaproject in China! Guangzhou University City! Last Saturday and Sunday, I visited there with my colleague and students.

Zhang Dejiang, the Secretrary of Guangdong Province Party Committee, decided to launch this project in 2001. He was not happy about the ratio of university students and university in Guangdong was below the national average despite its huge wealth. He felt compelled to turn Guangdong into a "Big Cultural Province"(文化大省). The construction of the Phase I began in 2003 and finished in 2004. A very typical way of building city in China. The provincial government invested 30 billion yuan. Now ten higher education institution have already came in and it accomodate about 150,000 students.

Yet this project, covering a total area of 17 square kilometre, is also a part of the new wave of "Enclosure" in China. The site was an isolated island in Panyu, the southern part of Guangzhou metropolitan area. The indigenous inhabitants were peasant and fishermen. The provincial government expropriated their land and demolished their homes. A big conflict over demolition and compensation was caused a few years ago. Now there are only four villages left. You still can see some traces of people struggle there, including the banners, posters and their ancestral halls.

The government boasted of its planning idea of "learning community" which integrates all universities together and enables them to share public facilities. But it turns out that it's more like an industrial district of higher education than a community. The city is separated by circular roads and universities occupied their own turf without much connections with others. The scale of this city is so big that walking between different institutions is not quite feasible and sometimes bicycle does not work very well. The transportation within the campus is also not enough.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

I don’t like “315 Night Show”

I don’t like CCTV’s “315 Night Show” (A night show promoting the message of cracking down on fake products). The reason is the same as I don’t like “Spring Festival Show”.

As I remember, in 1991, it is the first time CCTV launched “315 Night Show”. I was stunned… … I was stunned because I felt terrified. How could there be so many bad guys in such a “good socialist” society? I could not accept this reality. I was taught that socialism is good and capitalism is bad. But how could that kind of ugly phenomenon happened in our country?

Each year, I sit in front of TV set to watch this show. I open my eyes to look at those malicious businessmen. If I got a gun, I would kill them all. But after three years of watching in a row, I have lost interest in this program. CCTV gradually turns this program into a normal show misleading consumers to believe that they could be able to know about the fake and bad quality products on this day. Ironically, I can see that the more this program becomes influential, the more fake and bad quality products come out. In other words, this show fails to make any positive effect. Of course, a TV station, despite influential, could not have the same effect as legal system. In China, a country in which legal system could not take any effect, how could a TV station do that? Only on this day, CCTV feels determined to play the role of the upright official Justice Bao (包青天) to hold up its fodder chopper to decapitate “Chen Shimei” (a villain killed by Bao). In the rest of the 364 days, we don’t know where the Justice Bao is?

… …

The “315 Night Show” is so influential because it involves many products consumed by a lot of people. Their qualities are also about life and death. Another reason is that only on this day does Justice Bao come out. Ordinary people are excited to see. It caters to Chinese long lasting psychology of seeking “Justice Bao”. They usually neglect building up awareness of legal rights. When problems happen, they expect a Justice Bao standing out. After I see this show deteriorating to “Weekly Quality Report” in “Focus”, I find it more and more boring. If “Zhangmi Paiyou” (a body slimming product) is bad quality product, why CCTV didn’t release the news to the public until that day? We also see some bad quality products advertising on CCTV. On the one hand, it condemns the fake products; on the other hand, it helps promote them. It is Janus-faced.

I hate the “315 Night Show” because I am worried that it becomes a backdoor deal, like the “Weekly Quality Report” in “Focus”. I have observed it for a long time. Apart from the topics selected by the seniors, they usually select topics like “picking up a persimmon” – choosing the soft one. For example, there is an incident happening in a remote area, CCTV would send a crew at a high cost to cover the story and release it to the public. They target those local cities or medium/small-sized enterprises. The scandalous events of provincial cities are rarely seen. Why? Many small places and enterprises don’t follow the rules. It is not that difficult to target on them. And they don’t have strong connection with the central government. Without high-ranking officials’ backup and money, CCTV does not need to be afraid of them. “Focus” could gain the reputation of justice and “speaking the truth”. Damn it! Bullying kids is not justice at all. After this kind of program comes out, there is a new rule of game. If you want to expose something, some people are sent to settle it down. A new round of corruption might happen because there are some interest groups there and they have to settle it down in private. At the very beginning, the “Weekly Quality Report” is exciting. But it changes gradually. Now like “Focus”, it becomes a game of interest and connection. This is the typical “justice corruption”.
… …
I really hope that one day, the “315 Night Show” and “Weekly Quality Report” fail to continue. It would mean that the system of regulating and monitoring fake and bad quality products becomes mature and effective. That is the day when the legal system could work. As long as these programs have stories and are popular, I am still worried about buying.

Source: I don't like 315 Night Show

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Too Many "Super Girls"?

In recent years, idol-inspired shows have become very popular in China. After "Super Girl", a singing contest lasting for 5 months, attracted nationwide audience in 2005, more and more media capitalize on this TV genre to make huge profit from commercial and SMS services. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued new rules restricting the length of this kind of program to a maximum of two and half year.

CCTV and some officials had criticized "Super Girl" as bad taste and having bad effect on people. Leung Wendao, a famous critic, asks why government officials always believe that they are smarter than ordinary people. A modern government should not act as a "baby-sitter". He suggests that media regulation focus on the people who might get hurt by media (such as sexual or racial discrimination) rather than the media message itself.

It is heard that more restriction would be imposed on TV industry. For example, some officials have been unhappy about too many TV show hosts from Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Photo: S/L

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

University student and regional disparity

According to an investigation of the working condition of 14,000 white collar workers in Beijing, 52% of respondents answer “always work overtime” and only 4% answer “rarely work overtime”. 73% are not paid for overtime by their employers who violate labor law stipulating it as 150% of the basic salary. Some argue that there is an oversupply of university degree holders.

In 1998, only 1.084 million people were admitted to university. There were 2.158 million university students. Since 1999, there has been a rapid expansion of university enrollment. From 2004-2006, the intake increases from 4 million to 5.3 million. In 2006, about 1.24 million university graduates failed to get a job. In 2006, of a total of 4.13 million university graduates, 66.10% earned 1000-2000 yuan monthly.

Yet the expansion of tertiary education sector is not the main cause for the gloomy labor market. In the national population, the number of university students and graduates is not that high, only about the sixtieth in the world.

According to a survey conducted by the National Statistics Bureau, half of the university graduates receive an income lower than their expected salary. Among them, 60% refuse to look for jobs in remote area and medium and small size cities. As Li Zhi Jie and Hu Feng argue, there is a three-tier structure in China: Formal sector of large cities, informal sector and rural village. The gap between them is huge and increasing.

Sun Li Ping, a sociologist at Tsinghua University, argues that since the 1990s, resource and opportunities have been highly concentrated in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Regional disparity becomes so serious that a university graduate might feel hopeless in the less developed region. That is why many people squeeze into the developed areas.

Photo: scribeoflight

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"Academic Killer" in China?

Even in peace period, there are occasional voices of slaughter. Bad-tempered people love killing. A member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), who works in the highest academic institute, suggested the National Committee of the Chinese People's Representatives enact "Law on Traitors' Speech". He argued that some scholars, in the name of academic research, distorted history, justified the invasion of China by the Eight Powers' Alliance Army, and particularly defended the Japanese invastion of China. So legal measures and heavy punishment are needed.

I have been working in the field of modern history for years. I have never crossed any "line". I have never heard that anyone in this field has done something like this. There are some Japanese scholars doing so. Yet, China's law could not punish them. The purpose of this CPPCC member is to target some scholars in China he hates. The crime they committed might be that their research did not follow the tone set by him.

Is there any need to set a tone for academic research? Under this tone, all people are supposed to conduct research in a very limited framework. Anybody out of it is classified as traitor subject to academic critique and legal punishment. Some people really want to take out these "traitors". I believe no scholar would agree with this measure. However, this CPPCC member, with the title of researcher and professor from the highest academic institute, rolled up his sleeves and spoke out his ideas loudly. Probably some scholars should be renamed as "academic punisher".

Historical research should be based on evidence. Traditional historians compared themselves to experienced official judge. In today's words, she/he acts like a judge who bases all of his remarks on evidence. If she/he does not agree with others' reasoning or argument, she/he needs to refute it with evidence even though she/he really wants to comment. Otherwise, this would become abuse, personal attack, and political labelling. Such kind of labelling, no matter how many people echo and how high is the volume, is doomed to be failure. In fact, this CPPCC member is no longer able to act like those in "Cultural Revolution". At that time he would have brought the scholars he hated to the people's meeting, and then put a tall hat on his/her head, stroke him/her down and stepped on his/her body. Now he needs to resort to law beside using abusive language. However, there is no law punishing academic research. That is why he came up with the suggestion of "Law on Traitor's Speech".

The history of imperialist invasion of China is an objective fact which had happened in the past. But one needs to study this fact seriously. With every piece of details, one tries to figure out the original picture of history. One has to explore the reasons and historical background objectively. We should not just criticize imperialism and condemn the crime without further investigation. Like the study of the massacre of Jews by Israelis, our study should go into every detail such as the profile of each victim. Setting a tone to criticize was not, is not and will not be qualified as a research. Academic research should at least allow people to speak out rather than labelling or even bringing people to the court. Research should not be conducted like this.

I wish this member not be an "academic killer" and his highest academic institute not be an "academic court". Otherwise, there is hope for China's academy.

The name of that member is Yu Quanyu (喻權域).



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Yongzhou riot

This morning I heard from TV news that there was a riot in the ancient city of Yongzhou, Hunan province. This was casued by a bus fare increase of more than 30%. An extra fee was levied on people who carry bulky items. More than 20,000 people joined the riot and burned some police cars. It happened two days ago. But the official censorship worked so well that I got no information from any mainland websites or blogs. The only only source is from anti-communist media and a handful of foreign media.

A huge number of riot police has already been stationed there and no entry to the city is allowed. The local officials confirmed that some participants were arrested and detained but no death. Yet there is a rumour that a student was killed.

A few days ago, a mainland intellectual said that she missed the era of "big poster". Now even a "small poster" is not allowed. This remark might surprise a lot of people who see the rapid development of internet in China. Yet if you go to visit blogcn, you can understand what she meant. All entries about this incident were already deleted. Now not many politically controversial issues and discussions are seen on the most popular blog-hosting websites.

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