March 9, 2011

Govt. to launch crack down on child begging

The China Daily:

The Ministry of Civil Affairs will cooperate with 18 government departments to crack down on child begging this year, Vice-Minister Dou Yupei told a news conference on Tuesday.

"Premier Wen Jiabao has urged the Ministry of Civil Affairs to submit advice to the State Council on helping children who are begging on the streets and are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation," Dou said.

"But the premier never criticized us for not responding positively to the anti-trafficking campaign launched on micro blogs."

Yu Jianrong, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the initiator of the campaign, in January called for netizens to take snapshots of children they saw begging in the street and of other children they thought might have been kidnapped.

"It's beautiful to be trusted"

Bookslut interviews Xinran:

I realize the reason I go back to China is because I can’t be cut off from my roots, from my country; I have to go back. I go for the connections with the people, to feel them, to share with them what they want, see, think. That sort of connection brings about transformation because your body becomes a bridge to those connections.

Sometimes my own life feels kind of futile, but I think that if I do this, write these stories, then these girls can have something of their moms. You can’t believe how much these girls give me… I give them something tiny -- maybe a piece of paper -- and they’re so happy … when I go back two years later, they still have the paper that they’ve been keeping as if it were a precious doll. I can’t forget these girls, I can’t let them go. They trust me, they trust me with their letters, their stories.

March 8, 2011

Literary dissent for 3.8 day

Sinopop translates an essay by revolutionary writer Ding Ling written for Women's Day, 1942:

I myself am a woman, and I therefore understand the failings of women better than most, but I also have a deeper understanding of their suffering. Women are incapable of transcending the age they live in, of being perfect, or being like iron. They are incapable of resisting all social temptations, or silent oppressions, each has a history of blood and tears, they have experienced great emotions—in elation as in depression, whether engaged in the lone battle of life or drawn into the humdrum stream of life. This is even truer of the female comrades who come to Yenan, and I therefore have much sympathy for those fallen women classified as criminals. What is more, I hope that men, especially those in positions of leadership, and women themselves will consider the mistakes women commit in their social context. It would be better if there were less empty theorizing and more talk about real problems, so that theory and practice are not divorced, and if each Communist Party member were more responsible for his own moral conduct.

March 4, 2011

Foreign journalists strictly warned; may lose work visas

VOA reports on a tense press conference where Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu told foreign reporters that not abiding by rules could mean the cancellation of their work visas:

In a tense news conference Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu accused some journalists of deliberately inciting trouble while covering pro-democracy protests.

She warned those journalists accused of flouting the rules could not be protected under Chinese media laws.

Jiang said, however, that journalists who respect the rules will have the protection of the law.

She said there is no law to protect those who journalists who create what she described as "disturbances".

Jiang spoke after Chinese police warned foreign journalists this week to obey new restrictions on covering rallies called by an on-line protest campaign, or risking having their work visas canceled.

The New York Times also has a report.

March 3, 2011

Zhao Wei: Getting away with murder

China Media Project:

While the arguable non-story of China’s “Jasmine protests” enjoys excited and widespread coverage internationally, boiling over into a tug-of-war over the very real harassment of foreign journalists in China, there is one potentially great big story missing from everyone’s agenda — the mysterious death of Chinese college student Zhao Wei (赵伟).

And yet, the chilling story of Zhao Wei, who was very possibly murdered by railway authorities on his way home to Inner Mongolia during the Spring Festival rush more than a month ago, goes to the very heart of the issues and anxieties that are of most immediate relevance to all Chinese, and could contribute to demands for change.

How can the government ensure safety of life and property for ordinary Chinese? How can Chinese find justice in a society where special interests can get away — possibly quite literally in this case — with murder?

March 2, 2011

A Conversation with Ou Ning

An interview with "artist, curator, writer, and director of the Shao Foundation, China’s cultural renaissance man Ou Ning [who] is also an acclaimed documentary filmmaker."

Lianghui: Unscheduled flying objects banned from Beijing

The China Daily :

Police and firefighters have raised their vigilance levels in the capital ahead of the impending annual conventions of the country's top legislature and top political advisory body.

Measures to safeguard the sessions include a ban on unscheduled flying objects near the city and scheduled non-stop police patrols and intensified checks on traffic hubs such as subway stations…

…Meanwhile, a local newspaper reported on Monday that Beijing police had imposed a ban on any flying activities for sports, entertainment or promotional purposes within a 200-km semi-diameter of Tian'anmen Square from March 2 to March 15.

The dangers of China's obsession with stability

Thoughts on the subject by Jiang Ping (江平), legal scholar and former president of the China University of Political Science and Law, translated by China Elections.

February 28, 2011

How I lived my life in the year 2010

China Digital Times provides a translation of Ran Yunfei's last post before his arrest.

Pride of ownership?

Jen Ambrose looks at some peculiarities of China's rental housing market:

I told him about our experience in Shenzhen with our apartment that sold while we were still living in it. It was then ans still is now hard for me to understand how our rent could be at least 3000 RMB less than the landlord's mortgage (we later learned an even higher number for the mortgage, like closer to 5000 RMB more. The selling price was more than US$250,000.

I could not grasp the disparity between rent and mortgage, nor the incentive to buy, and especially the incentive to buy multiple apartments as many people did (and still do). These weren't income properties but investment properties. It seemed the only money to be made is on future appreciation that would only come into being at resale.

The end of cheap denim

Malcolm Moore writes for the Telegraph about rising denim prices in China:

As a result, Mr Atkins, the Hong Kong-based denim expert, warns that high street fashion have may have to slow down in pace a little. The days of so-called "throwaway fashion", where stores could sell garments cheap enough to be worn for a just a few months and then discarded, could be over, he said.

"Companies should be very scared, as throwaway fashion is now dead," he claimed. "For years they wanted to get more and pay less. They have pillaged the system in China. But now they are going to suffer."

In a follow-up, he notes an additional factor: Chinese jeans labels are paying top dollar for much of the supply.

Multiple angles on Huntsman's stroll

Adam Cathcart invokes the name of Leighton Stuart and digs through the Huanqiu comment forums to read the implications of US Ambassador Huntsman's visit to the Wangfujing demonstrations last week.

Just another manic Sunday

Sunday in brief:

Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday took part in a hastily announced chat with netizens in which he talked about various problems in China. The chat was hastily announced, but not new: this is the third year running Wen has chatted to netizens in the lead up to the annual sessions of China's legislative bodies known as the liang hui.

There were no protesters in Wangfujing but plenty of cops and plenty of foreign journalists, some of whom got beaten up.

In Shanghai there seemed to be a crowd of citizens who had show up expecting something to happen and a few were bundled off by police.

The The Financial Times has published a comprehensive report of yesterday's events by Kathrin Hille and Patti Waldmeir.

February 27, 2011

February 26, 2011

A civil servant's notebook

Tania Branigan in The Guardian:

Money. Power. Even sex, albeit offstage. Wang Xiaofang's novels capture it all – in the dog-eat-dog world of Chinese bureaucracy. Personal ambition, political intrigue and detailed renderings of the country's land management system fuse in the unlikely literary phenomenon known as "officialdom fiction".

Wang is king of the genre, -– general secretary might be more apt – having sold 3m copies of catchily titled works such as Director of the Beijing Reception Office.

Stealing fossils and tomb robbing no longer get death penalty

The BBC:

China has removed 13 offences from the list of 68 crimes punishable by death.

But death penalty campaigners say the revision of the country's criminal code will not necessarily lead to a significant fall in the numbers of criminals executed.

The offences were all economic crimes for which the death penalty was rarely if ever applied.

They include tax fraud, the smuggling of cultural relics or precious metals, tomb robbing and stealing fossils.

February 25, 2011

How the 'Troublemaker' Won the Village Election

China Elections Blog translates an article from Window of the South:

Yin Hui, a popular petitioner for the residents of Nanyin village and a stubborn troublemaker for the local government and the Party-branch committee, was elected head of the Villager Committee of Nanyin, Jiangsu province in October 2010, earning more than 70% of the valid votes. However, the power transition process did not go as smoothly as he expected. Before Yin Hui took office, the Part-branch committee and the Villager Committee made a change to take back the decision-making power in Nanyin. Also, the accounting department remains independent from the newly elected village committee. Without financial support and the ability to control the village budget, Yin Hui is actually taking charge of an empty shell.

Amb. Huntsman: Undermining hopes for a more open China?

The China Youren blog has a post titled "Get out of Here, Your Excellency!":

I was very disappointed when I read this story about the US ambassador in Beijing taking part in the so-called “Jasmine” protests last Sunday. This is very bad news for Chinese supporters of democracy (yet again).

First of all, let’s be serious. The idea that the ambassador didn’t know what was going on is an insult to intelligence, his appearing on camera lying to a Chinese passer-by only makes things worse…

…Don’t American politicians understand that democracy can only win if it is seen as homegrown? What would happen if the French ambassador was seen joining a protest for, say, the health reform in the US, would this help further the Democrats’ agenda? Does this kind of action help the millions of real, anonymous Chinese who hope for a more open system? Certainly not.

February 24, 2011

Who's Using Who? Zhou Hao's Hall of Mirrors

Dan Edwards at Screening China looks at two documentaries by Guangzhou-based filmmaker Zhou Hao:

In this sense, Using adds little to previous films about the culture surrounding heroin, apart from revealing its existence in present-day China. The film's emotional nexus, however, lies elsewhere, in the knotty relationship between filmmaker Zhou Hao on the one hand, and Ah Long and his girlfriend Ah Jun on the other. The on-again off-again nature of their “friendship” is established straight after the film's introductory sequence, when inter-titles tell us police cleared out the derelict building shortly after Zhou Hao filmed there. Ah Long disappears for six months and Zhou Hao gives up hope of ever seeing him again – until Ah Long calls out of the blue and they are reunited over a meal.

The fable of donkey island and piggy island

Mary Ann O'Donnell introduces a fable about trade imbalance that appeared on the left-leaning Utopia BBS:

However, one day there was an earthquake on Piggy Island, which sank into the ocean. In short, Piggy Island disappeared. At this news, the Donkey King went crazy, worried that this mode of production had been upset. What were they to do?

The Donkey King asked his ministers. An especially smart Minister said, “Immediately block this news. Do not tell the people that Piggy Island has vanished. Donkey Island can continue producing grain as before. Then send the grain to the docks and have it shipped to where Piggy Island used to be.”