The Lion Awakes
Daily News, Culture & Current Affairs about China
Bosses battle it out for workers
Firms set up at stations to target travelling workers
CHONGQING/GUANGZHOU - Coastal and inland cities are fiercely competing to attract migrant workers as China's labor shortage spreads to less-developed central and western regions.
In Southwest China's Chongqing, many firms have set up booths at railway and bus stations to persuade workers to stay home instead of returning to the coast. Tens of millions of migrant laborers travel by train or bus during the Spring Festival break, which ends on Feb 17.
At the city's North Railway Station on Friday, about a dozen workers told China Daily that they will stay in their hometown if they can get similar wages.
A recruiter holds up a sign listing vacancies at a job fair for private enterprises in the city of Haining, Zhejiang province, on Friday.
Kaixin OpEd – There are two important messages in this article.
The first is the pressure the labour shortage must be putting on wages. This has to translate to hight prices for widgets produced in China.
The second is that, like most people, the workers would prefer to stay at home. For the last thirty years of so they have travelled to the city to obtain work. They have lived in very basic conditions far away from their home town and often far away from their families.
The world gorged itself on this cheap labour and eventually threw up … the GFC.
The workers now want to go home.
China is now focusing its immense wealth on rural China.
As conditions improve, both economic and social, the works will no longer have to leave their hometowns.
For China, this will probably result in the regionalisation of industry. If the workers wont come to the factory, then the factory will have to go the workers. Perhaps this is one of the reasons behind the massive spending on transport infrastructure, particularly rail.
See Kaixin's - ECONOMIC CHINA
Premier Wen seeks people's advise on govt work
BEIJING - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has invited a group of ordinary people from all walks of life to seek their opinions on drafts of a government work report and the country's economic and social development blueprint for the next five years.
The representatives, including a farmer, a migrant worker, a rural doctor and a community worker, were invited to Zhongnanhai, the central leadership compound in downtown Beijing, on January 25. Some details of the meeting were made public on Sunday.
At the meeting, Wen said, "Ordinary people are in the best place to evaluate government's work, and listening to public opinion will allow us to know how government policies are carried out at grass-roots level, and what difficulties people are facing."
China calls for unity on reform of UN SC
BEIJING - Members of the United Nations should arrive at a broad consensus on the reform of the UN Security Council, rather than let "premature plans" harm the reform process, Foreign Ministry said over the weekend.
"Experience has proven that presetting results for the reform or forcing premature reform plans will not only undermine the unity of UN member nations, but also harm the reform process, which will not be in line with any party's interests," said the ministry's spokesman Ma Zhaoxu on Saturday.
Earlier on the same day, India, Brazil, Germany and Japan - also known as the G4 nations - issued a joint statement stating that their proposal of enlarging the council was widely supported by UN member nations. The G4 insisted tangible results be achieved before the current session of the UN General Assembly ends in September.
Foreign M&As given oversight
Panel will review proposed overseas purchases of domestic companies
BEIJING - China will establish a ministerial panel to review foreign firms' attempts to buy or merge with domestic companies, laying the ground for the country's first formal process for scrutinizing the national-security questions that arise from international deals.
China's development benefits Southeast Asia
BEIJING - Experts called on Southeast Asian countries to pay more attention to the benefits that China's peaceful development brings to the region, while China should also understand the concerns of these countries about the nation's dynamic growth.
"It is not reasonable just to look at the impact that Chinese investment on Southeast Asian markets, more attention should be paid to its benefits," said Su Hao, director of the Center for Strategic and Conflict Management at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.
Su's remarks were in response to a report published last week in The Christian Science Monitor, in which concerns were raised from Southeast Asian countries that greater trade liberalization between China and ASEAN countries may put local businesses at a disadvantage.
"China's development is beneficial to both sides, because they are at different stages of economic development, thus making them more complementary than competitive," said Zheng Anguang, a researcher on Sino-ASEAN studies from Nanjing University.
With the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area Investment Agreement coming into force on Jan 1, 2010, it has become a popular trend for Chinese enterprises to build plants in ASEAN countries.
Harare, Beijing cement relations
HARARE, Zimbabwe - The profound traditional friendship between China and Zimbabwe has stood the test of time and international vicissitudes, said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi during his meeting with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday.
China appreciates the support provided by Zimbabwe on issues concerning its core interests and major concerns, said Yang. In recent years, there have been frequent high-level exchanges between the two sides. The cooperation projects with Zimbabwe under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation are being actively carried out. Yang stated that to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with African countries is an important component of China's foreign policy.
Yang noted that the three factions of the two political parties in Zimbabwe have been working in concert to promote economic and social development and made notable progress. China has consistently called for the resolution of the Zimbabwe issue through dialogue and negotiation and would continue to call on relevant countries to remove their sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Mugabe said that China is a sincere friend that treats Africa as an equal and is becoming more and more popular on the continent. He said he appreciated China's longstanding assistance to Zimbabwe's economic and social development.
'Livelihood issues' remain top concerns for Chinese
BEIJING - "Livelihood issues," including the social security system and affordable housing, remain the Chinese people's top concerns, as indicated in online polls prior to the country's annual parliamentary and political advisory sessions.
Many Chinese have voiced their complaints online in the hope that their voices could be heard by the country's top leaders, national lawmakers and political advisors who will gather in Beijing next month for the two sessions.
Among the 25 listed topics, "affordable housing" has become the issue receiving the most votes as of 11 am Saturday in a survey on xinhuanet.com, the website sponsored by Xinhua News Agency.
Fannie and Freddie debt, as SAFE as houses?
BEIJING - China's foreign exchange regulator has refuted media reports that the country may lose up to $450 billion by holding bonds of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the US mortgage giants.
The reports suggested that the US government might phase out the two companies. "The report is groundless," the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement published on its website on Friday, without referring to any specific media outlets.
The regulator said that it has been receiving regular payments of interest and principal on the bonds it holds in the two companies.
"Calculated in accordance with widely used indexes, from 2008 to 2010 the annual investment return on the debt was about 6 percent on average," the statement said.
China has never invested in the two companies' equities, and so it hasn't been affected by the decline in their stock prices, it added.
The administration reiterated that security is its top priority when making investments using the country's foreign reserves, and it has already taken appropriate measures to offset major potential risks.
Kaixin OpEd - See WSJ Article below
Head of IMF urges greater role for yuan
Dominique Strauss-Kahn wants reform of global monetary system
WASHINGTON - The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said on Thursday that the Chinese yuan should be given a greater role within a restructured international monetary system.
Strauss-Kahn, speaking at the IMF's headquarters in Washington DC, said that adding emerging market countries' currencies such as the yuan to a basket of currencies that the IMF administers would benefit the global system and create more stability.
He warned that without adjustments to the global monetary system the world could be sowing the seeds of the next crisis, pointing to widening economic imbalances, large and volatile capital flows, exchange rate pressures and rapidly growing excess reserves. Strauss-Kahn's remarks about the yuan do not mark a policy shift for the IMF, which has always urged more participation by China in the world economy, but it does expand on the organization's stance.
The timing of the statement was significant because it came ahead of next week's Paris meeting of finance chiefs from the Group of 20 (G20) developed and developing nations.
Strauss-Kahn said he also saw a greater role for the IMF's Special Drawing Right (SDR) as a unit of account, but said such a move would take time and a great deal of international cooperation to make it work.
The SDR is composed of the dollar, sterling, euro and yen.
Kaixin OpEd - One step ... One step ...
Yuan rate 'fluctuation possible'
BEIJING - The exchange rate against the US dollar is currently at an appropriate level but could fluctuate in the future, Yi Gang, vice-governor of the central bank and head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said on Sunday.
"In the future, as markets fluctuate and labor productivity changes, the rate will certainly show some fluctuation," he said at a seminar.
Last Thursday, the yuan's central parity rate rose to a record high of 6.5849 against the US dollar, after rising for three consecutive trading days, before declining to 6.5952 on Friday.
See Kaixin's - YUAN REVALUATION & INTERNATIONALISATION
Property tax rule pushing up cost of renting
SHANGHAI - The government's latest property rules are providing extra impetus for rent increases in many Chinese cities, according to a survey conducted by China Youth Daily.
In the survey, 81.6 percent of the 4,060 respondents interviewed said they "are suffering from the increase in rents". Among them, 34.8 percent said their quality of life has been "greatly affected by the increase".
See Kaixin's - CHINA REAL ESTATE
Railway official shunted to the side
BEIJING - The newly appointed Party chief of the Ministry of Railways, Sheng Guangzu, said the ongoing investigation into the activities of his predecessor shows the Party's resolve to punish corrupt officials and pursue clean governance.
See the NYT's below.
CCTV Fighting drought at village level VIDEO
Severe drought is affecting agricultural production in East China's Shandong province. Our reporter Shen Le went down to a parched village near Rizhao city to find out more about how people there are coping with the dry spell.
Growing wheat is the main livelihood for people living in Qianshanqian village.
Li Qiyun is a local farmer, he has come to the field to examine his wheat.
He tells me the drought is unprecedented.
China plans to dig over 1,000 wells to ease drought
China plans to dig more than a thousand wells in 8 major wheat-growing provinces. The Ministry of Land and Resources said the move was in response to the ongoing drought threatening the country's grain harvest.
CCTV Taipei Lantern Festival gets underway VIDEO
The Taipei Lantern Festival has kicked off with rabbit-themed beacons decorating the city, in celebration of the Lunar New Year. Crowds were hopping on the first day, with technology adding new twists to the showcase on Taiwan Island.
Hundreds of people braved the drizzle, to view the opening ceremony of the Taipei Lantern Festival.
CCTV Coastal firms upgrade manufacturing to cope with shortage of workers VIDEO
China's vast number of migrant workers - as many as 200 million - have begun heading back to the factories that line the country's east coast following the annual Spring Festival. But this year the shortage of workers has become even more acute as many of them are staying near their homes to seek job opportunities. As our reporter Guan Xin finds out, enterprises in coastal manufacturing cities are trying to upgrade their manufacturing to become less-labor intensive to cope with the shortage of workers.
Migrant workers, once largely ignored as merely the backs creating Chinese cities' ever expanding prosperity, are now being fought for by labor-hungry enterprises.
CCTV Phone interview: Future for Freddiemac & Fanniemae VIDEO
For more analysis on the matter, we are joined on the phone by Professor Xiang Songzuo, deputy director of the International Monetary Research Institution at Renmin University.
CCTV Beijing embraces second Snowfall VIDEO
Beijing's record period without snow is well and truly over. After clouds were seeded by related departments fresh snowfall has been seen across the Chinese capital for the second time in a week, and is getting increasingly heavier.
CCTV Public libraries open free of charge VIDEO
Public libraries in Shanghai have taken the initiative to open free of charge to the city's readers. Local authorities are also working to accelerate the program, and ensure that residents can enjoy all available services on a complimentary basis in the near future.
Water will define China's future
2011 in China began with a severe dry spell. However, the nation needs to fight not only against a year but a century of drought ahead.
This is now the third severely dry season in three years. Persistent drought now appears to be a common natural scenario. China's water usage per capita is merely 28 percent of the world's average level, whereas the nation is setting an ambitious goal to exceed the global average living standard during this century.
It can be predicted that China will have to contend with a developing yet thirsty civilization.
We cannot expect more precipitations to ease this reality. More and more Chinese citizens now want a modern life - equipped with modern bathrooms, washing machines or using the car wash. All these call for more water.
The 21st century will be the driest of China's history. Unfortunately, applicable drought combating experiences from other countries are limited. The Western civilization rose with abundant water resources. The US and Europe have plenty of water resource and arable land but still give resources over to gardening. Israel is quite successful in fighting against drought, but the experience from that small country is hardly replicable here.
China has to launch a large-scale water-saving movement. People should be well aware of water conservation and recycling practices. The entire nation should become a huge reservoir, for example, maximizing the usage of rainfall run-offs.
China should stand out as a pioneer in watercourse regulation. Ancient China once towered in this regard - as exemplified by the Dujiang Dam.
In recent decades, modern China diverted massive amounts of water from the south to the north. Other miracles in managing water will continue to emerge, and become a cultural legacy for future generations.
China also needs to sharpen its technology for seawater desalinization. Such technology now supports the major water usage in small booming Middle East countries. China should further develop this technology, and gradually apply it to serve densely populated cities.
Fresh water is essential for life, and China will witness an increasingly sensitive struggle between various interests all craving a limited water supply. The Chinese government must now gear up for this fight. China's rise needs to be irrigated by water, and the government should build indisputable expertise in water usage regulation.
Lagging behind the US in overall water storage, China faces huge challenges in creating a huge modern civilized state in the 21st century. Can China realize such a goal?
Each Chinese citizen is weighing on the decision when they turn on the tap.
See Kaixin's - GREEN CHINA
Africa can be a heartland for collaboration
It is now certain that Sudan will be split into two countries due to the referendum in southern Sudan. Political changes in Egypt are clear and others may occur across the region. Obviously, Africa and the Middle East have entered their most important political period in recent decades.
Twenty years ago, changes in Africa had little effect on China, but now the situation is different. Current Sino-African relations are already very "complex." China is the largest single investor in Africa and its trade volume to Africa has surpassed that of the United States, but China's impact on African politics, culture and military affairs is still weak.
China is not ready to interfere with African changes, nor does it have any real method of doing so. China now relies on local forces in Africa, including the power of the West, to protect its interests in Africa.
A series of changes in Africa have demonstrated the strong influence of the West. But at the same time, these changes have not caused embarrassment for China, implying that the much-touted competition between China and the West in the international arena is not as severe as imagined.
Sino-European or Sino-US competition in some regions is totally different from the confrontation between the United States, Europe and the Soviet Union in the past.
The independence of southern Sudan brings no more risk to China than to other countries with oil operations in the region. Some say the splitting of Sudan and the undermined Mubarak administration will influence China. However, China is incredibly large and even the disintegration of the Soviet Union did not greatly affect China.
The recent situation in North Africa indicates China and the West have room for cooperation there, so neither side should be blinkered.
A 30 Minute Current Affairs Programme on CCTV - 9 (In English) where current issues are discussed by experts from China and Internationally:
See Kaixin's - Tiger Mum - Amy Chua 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother'
International News Sources
The Wall Street Journal
Much Ado in China About Fannie and Freddie
Chinese regulators have issued a rare denial of a local media report that the country could lose up to $450 billion on its investment in securities issued by U.S. housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The denial was given prominent treatment by state media Friday evening, even appearing on the main evening news broadcast, a reflection of political sensitivity that surrounds Beijing’s foreign exchange reserves within China.
Kaixin OpEd – The somewhat patronising tone of this article is fairly typical of how many American’s, including those in power (political, financial, industrial), see China.
It is like a teenager who can’t quite get its head around the fact that the old man sitting on the bench feeding the pigeons might actually know thing or two.
If China loses on American bonds it will probably be because many of the bright young things in China who made decisions on such debt were indoctrinated (educated??) in American universities teaching economics, finance and the like.
China is evolving Economics Yi Ling Yi (101) for the 21st century.
America and China are joined at the hip on issues such as these, unwanted by both sides, but a reality none the less.
An institution in America is bankruptcy. It is an accepted norm and holds no fear or social stigma. It is deep in the mindset of Americas and founded on the sound idea that sometimes an idea does not work but that person/company should be given another chance. Henry Ford would agree.
That mindset was at the fore in 1972 when America defaulted on its international gold obligations and managed to wriggle into the biggest con game of all, the $US as the reserve currency un-governed by gold reserves.
Since then America has not need to declare bankruptcy, it just prints more dollars and fiddles with the exchange rate.
Oh, and puts pressure on satellite countries like Japan to allow their currency to rise.
Greenspan was the master at this, and Bernanke his acolyte is busy flying helicopters and banging the “Re-value the Yuan” drum like a banshee on speed.
So, America does not have to declare bankruptcy while the $US is the reserve currency.
Still, a rose, and all that. In this case, it is not a rose and certainly does not smell sweet.
Unless America continues to service the interest on the bonds and then pays them back in full, it is in effect declaring bankruptcy. (Actually, the looming inflation will effectively devalue the value of the bonds by the time they are due for payment).
Democracy and floating the Yuan are both designed to weaken China, politically, socially and economically.
If Kaixin can work that out, then the powers that be in Beijing have definitely worked it out.
See China Daily Article above
China on track to become top gold buyer
China’s gold imports are estimated to have more than doubled from a year ago in the run-up to Chinese new year, putting the country on track to overtake India as the world’s largest consumer of the precious metal.
The growth in demand is being attributed in part to Chinese families giving each other gifts of gold instead of traditional red envelopes filled with cash.
Kaixin OpEd - Plus fear of inflation as America spews out more and more counterfeit dollars.
East Asia Forum
Chinese investment in Mongolia: An uneasy courtship between Goliath and David
Author: Justin Li
The investment and trading relationships between China and Mongolia seems like a marriage made in heaven. Landlocked and poverty-stricken, Mongolia has an abundance of coal, copper and iron ore that China craves to feed its rapid industrialisation. Mongolia’s proximity to China, its largest customer, also offers it considerable cost advantages against other major commodities suppliers such as Australia and Brazil.
Sinophobia on the steppes
High dependence on China for trade and investment is causing an unprecedented wave of Sinophobia in Mongolia. This fear has been driven by geopolitical fear, historical legacy and sometimes open racism.
Justin Li is principal of the Institute of Chinese Economics and an associate of EAF.
Is China the Enemy?
To hear many commentators tell it, the rise of China presents the U.S. with a totally unprecedented array of challenges—from the military to unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft and currency manipulation.
Actually, neither these challenges or the sense of foreboding with which they’re being portrayed is new. The following was excerpted from a commentary titled “Is Japan the Enemy” written by James Fallows and originally appearing in the May 30, 1991 issue of The New York Review of Books. In the version below, the term “Japan” has been replaced with “China” and the name of Japan’s former prime minister replaced with that of President Hu Jintao.
The New York Times
Recruiting in China Pays Off for U.S. Colleges
Dozens of colleges and universities are seeing a surge in applications from students in a nation where the economy is booming.
China’s Railway Minister Loses Post in Corruption Inquiry
BEIJING — The railway minister of China, Liu Zhijun, has been removed from the top post in the ministry because he is being investigated for corruption ...
The inquiry raises questions about China’s deep investment in high-speed railways, a vast nationwide initiative ...
Researchers say cadmium and other sewage toxins have poisoned large amounts of a Chinese staple
As much as 10 percent of China's rice may be tainted by poisonous cadmium, a heavy metal discharged in mine and industrial sewage that makes its way into rice paddies, according to agricultural researchers at a major university.
Much of this poisoned rice is consumed by farm families or sold in areas of the nation's food market beyond the reach of government safety regulators.
Bankers are under pressure as savers shift money into investments and central bank regulators increase reserve requirements
Choosy savers and cautious monetary policymakers are pressuring Chinese bankers, forcing them to adjust to a new and much drier liquidity landscape.
See Kaixin's - ECONOMIC CHINA
Articles of interest from the week's news
Museum worships poet on 'Day of Humans'
A grand ceremony was held in the Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, to worship Du Fu (712-770AD), one of the greatest Chinese poets, on February 9 which was the seventh day in the first month of the lunar Chinese calendar.
Tofu culture in China
Tofu, or literally translated as bean curd, is a food of Chinese origin and known throughout the world. It is made from soy milk, water and a coagulant. The production of tofu from soy milk is similar to that of cheese from milk. It is made by coagulating soy milk, then pressing the resulting curds into blocks.
Tofu is said to originate in the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-AD 24). At the time, Liu An, the grandson of Emperor Liu Bang, was eager to learn the magical art of immortality, so he went deep into the mountain to refine immortal pills. He failed in his efforts to produce immortal elixirs; instead, he created pile of white and tender material with enticing fragrance after mixing the bean juice with gypsum. The brave local peasants tried to taste the product, only to find that it was delicious. And it was named “bean curd” or “tofu”. Liu An became an unexpected inventor of tofu, and his hometown, Shouxian county of Anhui province, has been dubbed the “hometown of tofu”.
Chinese New Year
The Year of the Rabbit
CCTV Ancient Peking Opera theater thrives VIDEO
Want to watch an old-style Peking Opera performance? Then the Chinese capital's ancient Zhengyici Theater might be a good place to check out. The facility boasts a history dating back 300 years, and has experienced the evanescence of social change, from the Qing Dynasty to modern times.
CCTV Temple fair attracts visitors in Taiwan VIDEO
Let's head to Taiwan Island, where an original Beijing Temple Fair is being held in the city of Taichung for the first time. For some local residents, a top item on their Spring Festival "to do" list, is getting a taste of the old style flavor on display.