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Inequality in China

30 Apr

Since China’s economic and social reforms that have occurred from 1978 onwards, and have allowed China to a more market-based economy, the Nation has been recognised for its achievements in reducing the level of absolute poverty within its borders. If the Chinese Government’s official statistics are to be used, a rapid decline from 30% of the rural population in 1978, to just 5% of the rural population by the end of 1998, were considered to be living in poverty.

However, internationally recognised statistics, such as those provided by the World Bank, show a different story. Although there is evidence of decline in absolute poverty, the World Bank estimated the percentage of rural persons living in poverty was closer to 11.5% than the state statistics of 5% (11.5% represents approximately 106 million people). And in 2001 it was argued that 1 in 5 of the world’s total poor lived within China. Income inequalities between Western and Eastern regions within China have grown dramatically, whilst simultaneously there has been a sharp increase in the income gap between those living in rural areas, and those living in the urban centres. It is estimated that urban incomes are as high as three times that of rural incomes, thus showing the extreme income gap and inequalities between rural and urban persons. In 2010 the rural income per capita average stood at 5,900 yuan ($898), whilst the capita disposable income of urban residents stood at 19,100 yuan ($2,900).

In 2010, China’s Gini co-efficient stood at 0.47 (a value of 0 suggests complete or total equality, whilst a value of 1 suggests complete or total inequality). This figure shows that, in terms of inequality, China has now surpassed the US (a society considered to be highly unequal based on ethnic and class determinants) as a highly unequal society. A figure of 0.4 is considered to be a warning sign of massive inequality to the international community, and the rise of inequality shown within the Gini co-efficient Index throughout the 2000’s has sparked international concern. 

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The table above shows the level of ownership of commodities and technologies per 100 households, and shows that households living in rural areas are significantly less likely to be able to afford commodities such as computers and refrigerators, and are more likely to use unsafe and unhealthy modes of transport such as motorcycles. Although such measures cannot demonstrate the levels of persons living in absolute poverty, or provide accurate and generalizable statistics, they can provide a powerful image about the levels of social inequality found between rural and urban households.

China’s previous government attempted to begin strong measures to correct this trend by increasing investment in rural areas, especially in infrastructure, irrigation, education and health. In November 2011 the government redefined the level at which people living rural areas are categorised as ‘poor’. Previous to this move, people in rural areas had only been defined as ‘poor’ if they were living on below 55 cents a day; however following November 2011 persons living on a $1 or less a day are now officially considered and recognised as poor. This measurement of poverty whereby persons are defined as ‘poor’ when they live of $1 a day is an internationally recognised measure of poverty and therefore allows statistics within China to be internationally comparable. The hope was that this re-definition would allow for hundreds of thousands of Chinese people to access welfare and other state benefits such as subsidies, job training, employment opportunities, discounted loans and the promise of government funded rural infrastructure programs. Previous Chinese President Hu Jintao stated he wanted to create a ‘harmonious society’ within China, and to achieve this Mr Hu established a number of large-scale development projects into some of China’s most poverty stricken rural districts. In November 2011 Mr Hu announced by 2020 no persons within China would have the need to worry about food or clothing, and that rural access to education, housing and basic medical will be ensured for all. The trend discussed here, of the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, was considered a priority of Mr Hu and trend that must be reversed.

16 months later, at the opening of the National People’s Congress in March 2013, where the current president Xi Jinping took over from Hu Jintao, the report produced by Mr Wen (whose work report traditionally begins the new session of parliament) focused upon the increased wellbeing of Chinese citizens. The social issues that have arisen from the vast economic development seen within China were acknowledged within the report, and sustainable economic development was placed as a focal point for the strategy of the new leadership. However despite the optimistic messages of increased well-being, the focal point is still economic development. China under Xi Jinping will continue to pursue rapid economic growth, it will continue to build its giant cities and continue to shift tens of millions of persons from the countryside to the towns and therefore, somewhat overlooking the major social and environmental issues such strategies have posed for China thus far.

The authority of the Chinese government is increasingly questioned in the eyes of many Chinese citizens, and without focussing on the severe social inequality that has arisen from the rapid economic growth, urbanisation and economic reforms, the voice of the rural (which is China still contributes a majority share of the population) may become more negative, thus further undermining the Nationalist Party rule. The challenge for Xi Jinping will be to ensure the growth of Chinese economy, whilst at the same time ensuring the levels of current social and environmental issues are addressed and improved. The question is, with a continued focus on the urbanisation of China by the government and the continuous opening up of the Chinese Market, how realistically can this be done? One could argue that unless China moves away from its current attitude of growth, growth, growth the inequality faced by millions of it citizens will continue to be a secondary, and somewhat hind sighted concern for its government.

 

Sources:

Chen, S., and Ravallion, M., (2004) “How have the world’s poorest fared since the early 1980s?” The World Bank Economic Observer, 19(2), 141–169.

China increase rural poverty limit to $1 a day – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-15956299

Inequality in China: Rural poverty persists as urban wealth balloons – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13945072

Rural Poverty in China – http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/country/home/tags/china

Wen Jiabao ‘well-being’ vow as China parliament opens- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21652640

What does the future hold for China? – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21666152

Zhang, Y., and Wan, G., (2006) The Impacts of growth and inequality on rural poverty in China – http://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/63309/1/517989778.pdf

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Effects of the One Child Policy

26 Apr

In the 1970’s, following the drastic population increase that occurred in China from the 1950’s onwards, the Chinese Government introduced policies to reduce the fertility rates. During the decade the Government encouraged marriage later in life, longer gaps between the births of children and fewer children born into each family, a set of policies known as wanxi shao (later, longer and fewer). These measures however did little to show a dramatic decrease in the fertility rates within the country and so, in 1979, the One Child Policy was introduced. The policy restricted couples living in urban areas to have only one child.

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In 2007 Zhang Weiqing, minister in charge of the National Population and Family Planning Commission stated that “because China has worked hard over the last 30 years, we have 400 million fewer people”. The birth of these 400 million people would have had profound social and economic effects on the country, and may have significantly reduced the level of economic growth that has occurred in China. A report by the UN in 2010 on world contraceptive use has shown that China has one of the highest contraceptive prevalence rates in the world at 84.6 [this prevalence rate is significantly higher than many developed countries, including the UK and the USA].

 

However, although China may have prevented the birth of up to 400 million people, and the resultant added social and economic strains, the One Child Policy has come at a heavy price.  Amartya Sen, a highly influential Indian Economist and Philosopher, argues that coercive birth control policies are ‘unacceptable because they deny a basic human freedom and because they generate harmful side-effects’. He states that the One Child Policy has in particular increased son preference. A report by the World Bank has shown that between 1980 and 2000 there were 22 million more boys than girls born in the country. Not only will this have significant effects on future levels of marriage and fertility, it has also been argued in popular media that this has led to a ‘geopolitical time bomb’. An increased number of males, it is argued, will destabilise China via increased levels of crime, as most violent crimes are committed by young men, and may lead to China adopting a more aggressive stance in World Politics.

The Policy has also led to a skewed population within the country, with an aging population becoming more and more apparent. Aging populations have significant social and economic effects on countries, and with China’s fertility rate being predicted to be as low as 1.5 [a 2.1 fertility rate is needed in China in order for sustainability] the long term effects of the One-Child policy are likely to have detrimental effects, both socially, politically and economically on the future of China.

 

 

The introduction of the policy has, as Amartya Sen argued, also led to restrictions on Human Rights. Not only has the right to choose whether or not to reproduce been removed from men and women, in many cases there have been reports of forced abortions and sterilisations of women. In June 2012 the world was shocked and appalled by images released of a woman lying next to the foetus she had been forced to abort under the one-child policy. The mother, Feng Jianmei, had been seven months’ pregnant. In 2011 a woman died on an operating table after being forced into an abortion at 6 months. Such incidences have been reported across China since the introduction of the policy, and have led to international critique over the extreme measures used by Chinese officials to keep the fertility rate low.

The policy has often been critiqued due to the extreme nature of the policy. Although the Government did, throughout the 1970’s, support a number of fertility reducing schemes, the introduction of the One-Child Policy was done so without much concern for other, less controversial methods. Sen argues that low fertility regimes can be achieved by improving the position of women, as has been proven in the southern Indian States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and therefore the birth control policy found in China, which does little to improve the position of women within society can be argued to be a dramatic action- the Chinese Government did little to improve the status of women before enforcing a law that would reduce women’s rights.

With concerns over China’s aging population, the ‘geopolitical time bomb’ of an increased male population, and international concern over the infringement of Human rights, how long can the Chinese Government realistically hope to retain the One-Child Policy?

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 

China’s One Child Policy Impact Analysed: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20976432

 

Arrests over China’s baby death in one-child policy row: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21359962

 

United Nations World Contraceptive Use: http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wcu2010/Main.html

 

Chinese Abortion Death due to Birth Quote Enforcement, Family Claims: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/21/chinese-abortion-death-birth-quota-claims

 

Has China’s one child policy worked?: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7000931.stm

 

Ebenstein, A and Sharygin, E (n.d.) “The Consequences of the ‘Missing Girls’ in China” World Bank [online] source: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/4508/wber_23_3_399.pdf?sequence=1

 

Corbridge, Stuart (2002) “Development as Freedom: The Spaces of Amartya Sen”

Progress in Development Studies 2(3):183-217 

Is the West partly to blame for China’s Environmental mess?

19 Apr

 Western countries, including the UK and the US, are often more than happy to blame issues with the environment on the industrialising BRICs and NICs; especially on China. It is no secret that China has some of the worst environmental issues in the world; it is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, contributing to almost quarter of all emissions. Between 2000 and 2011 alone the countries greenhouse emissions rose by 171%, with 70% of the world emission rises in 2011 coming from China. However to what extent can China be fully blamed for this?

Obviously it cannot be denied that the Chinese Government and people need to do more to protect their environment, not just for domestic health, economic and wellbeing issues, but also for the sustainability of the whole planet. However, the West must surely take a degree of blame for China’s environmental mess.

The West has outsourced a significant number of its manufacturing jobs to China, due to the cheap labour that can be found, thus reducing the price of consumer goods for the West, in turn benefiting the Western economy. However, with the outsourcing of manufacturing comes the outsourcing of environmental issues. Manufacturing is a dirty, energy consuming, polluting yet unavoidable process and business, and as such by outsourcing the West has managed to relocate the environmental strains of manufacturing onto someone else i.e. China, and then has subsequently pointed the blame towards those the West transferred the strain to [China].

On top of this, the West has, for a number of years, encouraged the ‘modernisation’ of developing countries to follow the ethnocentric model that allowed for Western Europe and North America to become ‘developed’. This model involved mass industrialisation, such as the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain, which came at a huge environmental cost. Stories of the smog’s found in London, Manchester and Sheffield are well known when discussing the living conditions during the period of Britain’s industrialisation, and therefore can the West really expect similar to not occur in China? If the West expects China to follow its path to ‘greatness’ through the industrialisation process the West itself went through,  it is then contradictory to expect it to be done without any environmental strain.

However, in today’s age, with a strain on the earth’s natural resources, can China realistically expect follow a similar pattern, whereby industrialisation and development occurs at the expense of the environment? Or should China attempt to undergo its development process from an environmentally friendly stand point, thus creating sustainability and reduced environmental impact.

 

Sources:

Sharipo, J (2012) China’s Environmental Challenges, Polity Press, Cambridge.

White Collar Invasion: developed country policies leading to environmental degradation in South: www.cddc.vt.edu/knownet/whitecollar-paper.doc

Industrial Revolutions and Environmental Problems: www.cas.uio.no/Publications/Seminar/Confluence_Kasa.pdf

China’s Unsustainable Environment

19 Apr

China’s extensive economic growth over the past 30 years has had a significant impact on the Environment and have led to huge environmental challenges for the country; however the decisions of the Chinese Communist Party, National Government and the Chinese People do not just effect the well-being and health of China, but have a direct impact on the future of the rest of the planet. Environmental issues are not constrained to borders, and China’s air and water pollution, resource exploitation and consumption all have a profound effect on both neighbouring and distant countries.

The World Bank has found that 20, out of the 30 most polluted cities in the World are located within Chinese borders. It is argued that this urban pollution is primarily because of heavy coal use within the industrial cities, however as China’s environmental issues are unquestionably linked to political structures, rapid and vast economic growth and an intense phase of globalisation, to what extent can China’s unprecedented growth be termed sustainable? And can China realistically, in such an environmentally unstable period, continue to grow with little regard for the environment?

The term ‘sustainable development’ was first used in 1987 in a report called ‘Our Common Future’ by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development. The term is defined in most cases as meeting the needs of present generations with endangering the ability of future generations to do the same. With huge growth within China the question ‘can Chinese people alive today pursue healthy and meaningful lives without stealing resources from their children or from vulnerable populations within the country and abroad?’(Sharipo, 2012) needs to be assessed.

It seems very difficult to argue that the development of China can be coined ‘sustainable’. The mass air and water pollution that occurs within the country is having significant effects on the region – as stated, environmental issues are not constrained by Nation State boundaries, and therefore the air and water pollution from China’s industries and urban centres is not only posing issues for present and future generations within China, it is also posing a threat for the future of neighbouring countries. China’s exploitation of resources across the globe, such as the mining and deforestation in Africa to support the Chinese industrial growth, is also posing significant issues for population outside the Chinese domestic borders. The environmental degradation is especially affecting vulnerable populations, as those at the bottom are more likely to be directly affected by environmental issues.

Therefore China’s environmental issues need to be considered two-fold. The industrialisation of China is leading to mass air and water pollution within the country and within neighbouring countries, whilst the exploitation of natural resources from distant countries to support this industrialisation is having significant environmental, health and wellbeing effects on vulnerable populations elsewhere. As a result of such negative effects, China’s growth cannot be termed ‘sustainable’. The issues posed by the environmental effects are already beginning to show an economic side effect, with 3% of GDP within China lost due to environmental pollution in 2004 alone, whilst negative health effects within the country as result of pollution are well documented.

Can China expect to keep up such a rate of growth without regard for the environment? And can the future generations of China expect to have the ability to meet their needs with so many resources already being destroyed?

 

References:

Sharipo, J (2012) China’s Environmental Challenge. Polity Press, Cambridge.

The Telegraph (21/01/2013) ‘Chinese Leaders ‘have failed to shield environment from economic growth’ source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9815006/Chinese-leaders-have-failed-to-shield-environment-from-economic-growth.html

WCED (1987) Our Common Future. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 

China’s Controversial Dams

9 Apr

The Mekong River, known as the Lancang in China, courses through the heart of inland South-East Asia; beginning on the Tibetan Plateau the river runs through the Chinese Yunnan Province, before continuing downstream into Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. With over 60 million people living directly off the river and its tributaries, whether it be for food, water, transportation or other general aspects of daily life, the river has a significant impact upon people’s lives.

However despite the significant impact of the river on human life, the Chinese Government has, over the past couple of decades, built an increasing number of dams that threaten to pose serious issues for the river ecosystem, which in turn will pose serious threats for the lives of those dependent upon the Mekong River. And it did so without consultation with its downstream neighbours, and without assessment on the impacts on the rivers ecosystem and dependent people.

Following the construction of the controversial dams upstream in China, Cambodian people are concerned about the drying up of lakes (fed from the river tributaries) and the impact this will have the fish – the country’s main source of protein; whilst in Vietnam, residents of the Vietnamese Delta are worried about not having enough water to support agriculture and other basic livelihoods. In 2010 downstream countries experienced the lowest water levels in 50 years, however despite claims from neighbouring and affected countries, the Chinese Government refused to concede that the hydrological dams built upstream had anything to do with such water scarcity downstream.

However it is not just people downstream that have been affected by the building of the dams. Within China communities that were forced to be resettled as a result of the Manwan and Dachaoshan dams have experienced a lack of compensation, severe issues with food securities and a noted increase in risk of disease. With 8 dams either built or currently under construction, and a plan to build more in the upcoming years, what environmental risks is China willing to gamble? Can China really expect to continue building dams, attempting to harness nature, without taking into account the significant ecological threats it is creating for present and future generations, both within China and elsewhere?

 

 

Sources:

Mekong/Lancang River – http://www.internationalrivers.org/campaigns/mekong-lancang-river

China rejects Mekong dam criticism- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8603112.stm 

Sharipo, J (2012) China’s Environmental Challenges. Polity Press, Cambridge. 

China’s economy

14 Mar

Since the reforms beginning in the late 1970’s, China’s opening up of its market to foreign investors has been a source of economic change and international praise. In 2012, China’s gross domestic product made up 12% of the Worlds GDP, and the country was responsible for 6% of all world outputs. However, following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which saw a global downturn in the levels of economic growth, the Chinese economy has suffered. However, despite the global downturn in economic productivity, the Chinese economy continued to grow at unprecedented rates; In 2010 the target GDP growth was 10.3% and in 2011 it was 9.2%. However in 2012 the predicted and targeted GDP growth for the country fell to 7.5%, and in the second quarter, although higher than the target, the Chinese economy had a growth of only 7.6% (the lowest in 8 years). Economist Nouriel Roubini argued that this slow down in economic growth, although still significantly higher than that of the America and Great Britain, will have serious effects on the Chinese economy. “China needs to maintain at least a 9 percent growth rate just to handle its growing labor force and move farmers to the urban sector. China may be in for a hard landing,” Roubini writes.

Michael Schuman, writing for TIME magazine has argued that the problems China is facing can be seen in a number of ways across the country “Wind farms have been erected but not connected to the electricity grid. Hundreds of solar cell makers will likely go under. Shopping malls get built where no one shops”. Schuman argues that, in order for China not to fall into an economic recession that would not only challenge the country but will have adverse effects throughout the world economy, newly appointed president Xi Jinping, will have to introduce economic reforms that are as fundamentally important as those undertaken by Deng Xiaoping in the 1970’s. According to Schuman the ‘state-led, investment-driven growth model is running on empty’, and the economy instead needs to become more market-driven and better balanced, with an effective rule of law established. Schuman creates a list of reforms, he argues are needed to be pushed through by Mr Xi, in order to prevent an economic crisis occurring within the World’s (present) fastest growing economy:

  • Scale back on State Enterprises
  • Encourage the country’s consumers
  • Develop a real financial sector
  • Strengthen the rule of law

Whether you agree with Schuman’s suggested reforms or not, depends upon your view of the relationship between the state, the market and the economy. What is important here is that work must be done by the Chinese Government, led by XI Jingping, in order to pre-empt and reduce any severe economic downturns within the country’s economy, to ensure the continued growth to support not just China’s domestic market, but also the worlds.

Sources:

China targets 7.5% GDP growth- http://www.china.org.cn/business/2013-03/05/content_28130136.htm

China’s economic growth slows to 7.6% – http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/13/china-economic-growth-slows-gdp

Can China’s New Leader Prevent an Economic Crisis? – http://business.time.com/2012/11/07/can-chinas-new-leader-prevent-an-economic-crisis/

National People’s Congress opens – What promises are made?

7 Mar

On the 5th of March, “China’s Premier Wen Jiabao promised stable growth, anti-corruption efforts and better welfare provision as he opened an annual session of parliament”.

Economic and Social issues topped Wen Jiabao’s final work report that was released earlier this week. The report comes as the National People’s congress, which contains around 3000 delegates from across China, gathers to see the final stage of the countries once-in-a-decade leadership change, where Communist Party chief Xi Jinping will become president.

The report set a target GDP growth of 7.5% (unchanged from that of 2012), with the promise to create more than 9 million new urban jobs across the Nation. In 2010 the target GDP growth was 10.3% and in 2011 it was 9.2%; the 2012 reduction to 7.5% was the first reduction in the GDP target for 8 years as a result of the Financial Crisis, this year’s target growth however remained lower in order to allow for leeway for economic restructuring. “In light of comprehensive considerations, we deem it necessary and appropriate to set this year’s target for economic growth at about 7.5%, a goal that we will have to work hard to attain,” reads the report. In the second quarter of last year, China’s growth fell to 7.6%, which although within China’s target, dampened hopes about the recovery of China following from the Financial crisis.

“We must maintain a proper level of economic growth in order to provide necessary conditions for creating jobs and improving people’s wellbeing and to create a stable environment for changing the growth model and restructure the economy. We must ensure that economic growth is in accord with the potential economic growth rate,” says the report. In order to create a healthy economic development, economic restructuring aimed at improving the quality and performance has featured heavily in Wen Jiabao’s final work report.

The long term strategy to economic development has also aimed at increasing the wellbeing of China’s population. The report notes that the dramatic changes that have occurred in the Chinese economy have led to an increase in social issues, and that “We must make ensuring and improving people’s well-being the starting point and goal of all the government’s work, give entire priority to it, and strive to strengthen social development”.  A focus was placed upon the pension provision for the poor and the completion of 4.7 million subsidised urban homes with the aim to start construction on another 6.3 million within the year. This was discussed whilst also examining the severe environmental issues posed as a result of economic development; “The state of the ecological environment affects the level of the people’s well-being and also posterity and the future of our nation.”

On top of this, the report reiterated the focus of Mr Xi’s speech after he was formally appointed to lead the Communist Party in November – anti corruption. Mr Wen called for better checks on political power and a strengthened integrity within the political powers. “We should ensure that the powers of policy making, implementation and oversight both constrain each other and function in concert,” he said. In early January Mr Xi promised he would battle both “tigers” and “flies”, indicating that officials at all ranks were under scrutiny, and the re-iterance of anti-corruption within Mr Wen’s report, is evidence of the continued promise within the new government to fight against corruption.

With positive well-being, anti-corruption, environmentally sustainable issues examined and addressed within the report, plus the promise of economic restructuring, could 2013 see a positive change in Chinese society? Or are the calls in the report too optimistic for a country suffering from continued economic downturn, social inequality and environmental degradation?

China’s Missing Girls: The Hidden Effects

5 Mar

Between 1980 and 2000 it is estimated that 22 million more boys than girls were born in China; and in 2008 in was estimated that there were as many as 120 boys to 100 girls. This has occurred as a direct result of the one child policy that was introduced into the country in 1979. As parents living in urban areas were legally only able to have one child, and the role of males within Chinese society is seen to be of significantly higher status, the prospect of not having a son led to an increase in numbers of sex-selective abortions. However, when looking at China’s history it can be seen there are several negative effects associated with female infanticide. In the 18th Century, during the Qing Dynasty, governments responded to the rising sex rations, which occurred as a result of female infanticide, by encouraging young men to colonize Taiwan. Later in the 19th century, female infanticide as a result of poor economic conditions, led to social unease when the unbalanced cohorts matured and eventually resulted in a rebellion against the Qing Dynasty.

 

The uneven gender ratio that is found within China, it has been argued, is likely to have significant effects; not only is it expected to lead to increased levels of crime which will undermine the Chinese Governments rule, but it is also likely to affect the way in which China’s political relations with the rest of the world are played out. In short, the infanticide of females as a result of the one-child policy is a ‘geopolitical time bomb’. However the sex ratio can also have a significant impact on individual males. 10.4% of males born between 1980 and 2000 are expected not to marry; in turn this is likely to reduce the economic success of males, and may reduce the levels of care available to them in later years, as they will be without children to support them as they become elderly.

 

It is also argued that with such drastic sex ratios, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS within China is likely to increase dramatically, as the level of ‘risky heterosexual sex’, particularly via commercial sex, is also likely to increase.  Current statistics show that up to 1 million women have a primary income from commercial sex, whilst another 10 million women are estimated to receive a percentage of income from such practices. It is also argued that many of the women involved in the trade of commercial sex have been illegally trafficked, and forced into prostitution, with many women coming from North Korea.

Studies have shown that young Chinese men are more likely to partake in commercial sex than their US counterparts, and in 2000 it was shown that in the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Yunnan HIV rates amongst prostitutes were as high as 11%.

 

As a result of this growth in commercial sex, and subsequent increase in sexually transmitted diseases, it has been argued that “China’s imbalanced sex ratios have created a population of young, poor, unmarried men of low education who appear to have increased risk of HIV infections.” Although work is increasingly being carried out by the Chinese Government to promote safe sex and reduce the prevalence of HIV infection, if changes to the sex ratio do not occur, the problem is likely to not only be persistent but also worsen over time.

 

Effects such as the increase in HIV/AIDS and sex commercialisation tend to be overlooked when examining unbalanced gender ratios. Effects such as the decrease in child bearing women, and aging male population and the ‘geopolitical time bomb’ are often discussed in relation to the issues of female infanticide. However by overlooking issues such as the increased prevalence of ‘risky heterosexual activity’ through commercial sex, and the illegal trafficking of women to support this increase, the scope of the social and economic consequences of the sex ratio in China will be underestimated.

 

Sources:

Ebenstein, A and Sharygin, E (n.d.) “The Consequences of the ‘Missing Girls’ in China” World Bank [online] source: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/4508/wber_23_3_399.pdf?sequence=1

 

With One Child Policy; China’s missing girls: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jan/27/with-1-child-policy-china-missing-girls/?page=all

Ansley,C. and Banister,J. (1994) “Five Decades of Missing Females in China.” Demography 31(3):459–79.

The Great Firewall

20 Feb

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Hundreds of Millions of people in China use the Internet every day, however the content of what they can see, post, and do is monitored closely by the authorities. The Great Firewall has been used to describe the level of control the communist Chinese Government has upon the internet within its borders. Duncan Clark, a chairman of BDA China, a consultancy firm in Beijing stated in a report to the BBC that “It’s a question of control – and the Chinese authorities like to keep close control of web content”.

The Chinese Government have long been interested in keeping information from the West out, and domestic information in and resultantly the Firewall has been used to block mainly Western sites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. However the Firewall is also used to stop individuals or groups posting information about the government – a form of control by the communist authorities, used to reduce questions of leadership. A website forum administrator, who wished to be kept anonymous in a BBC report stated “If you say anything against the government we’ve got to delete it, no exception, because it’s a forum, it’s a public place. If the government finds anything against them in the forum, that will jeopardise the company.” The level of control the Chinese Government has over the internet has been queried from the international community, and yet despite this international unease, from December 2012 the rules have become even stricter. The new leadership have enforced rules that mean every internet user within China must identify themselves fully with service providers. Not only does this show that the Chinese Government views the internet as a threat, but it also can be used to further argue that the ‘Great Firewall’ is used by the Government to limit freedom of speech within the domestic Chinese population.

However despite the Governments ever growing fear and control over the use of the internet, the internet has been increasingly used within China, not only to access Western sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but to also highlight social and political issues within the country via micro-blogging sites. The internet has been used as an orchestrator to organise mass protests, such as the anti-Japan protests in September 2012 and has, in recent months, exposed a number of corrupt Government officials. With ‘cracks’ in the Firewall and the constant spread of telecommunications as a result of Globalisation, to what extent, and for how long, can the Chinese Government exercise complete control over internet activity within its borders?

 

Sources:

China approves tighter rules on internet access – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20857480

The Great Firewall of China – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/4587622.stm

Cracks in the Wall: Will China’s Great Firewall Backfire?- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17910953

State Secrets in China – http://hrichina.org/sites/default/files/oldsite/PDFs/State-Secrets-Report/HRIC_StateSecrets-Report.pdf

China Confirms Leadership Chang – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-20321603

Anti-Japan Protests erupt in dozens of Chinese cities in disputed islands row. Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9545254/Anti-Japan-protests-erupt-in-dozens-of-Chinese-cities-in-disputed-islands-row.html

State Owned Enterprises During the Reform.

17 Feb

After three decades of reform within China, State Ownership of Enterprise remains an important player in the Chinese Industrial sector. Chinese industry has grown at unprecedented rates over the last 30 years, and has affected not only China, but also the rest of the world. This growth, it is argued, is a direct result of the privatisation of industries that has occurred within China since 1979, however despite mass privatisation, the role of Chinese SEO’s in both the domestic and international market is significantly important.

During the quarter of a century of reform and change that has occurred within China, the nature of SEO’s has been constantly evolving. In 1980, SEO’s accounted for 76% of gross industrial output, during the years of reform undergone with mass privatisation however this number fell. Despite this fall in numbers, in 2004 38% of industrial output was still produced by firms classified under ‘State-Owned Enterprises’ thus illustrating the continued importance of SEO’s within the Chinese industry.

Between 1979 and 1992 China’s SEO’s were ‘objects of experiment in market socialism’. In this period the state owned enterprises moved their focus away from targets and plans and instead focused upon markets and profitability. This therefore allowed the SEO’s to respond to market forces of demand and supply, thus increasing competition and growth. During this period the financing of enterprises also underwent change, from state controlled government grants, to bank loans with a repayable interest in the hope to produce increased capital. Competition for jobs was also increased during the time period, with contracts decreased from ‘life time’ to short-term contracts of 5 years. This it was argued would increase competition between managers, and would improve work force potential.

In 1994 the adoption of the Company Law and the policy ‘grasping the large and letting go of the small’ in 1997, was seen to be a ‘turning point’ for the role of the state and the state sector. By ‘letting go of the small’, loss making enterprises were able to be removed by lower-level governments. Between 1995 and 2000 almost 82% of small- and medium-sized SOE’s were restructured, which in most cases involved a process of privatisation. In contrast to this enterprises which were viewed as significantly important to the government were put under supervision of the State Asset Supervision and Administration Commission. These industries included electricity, military industry, petroleum and telecommunications.  Those large firms that were not deemed significantly important to the State were not privatised completely, but instead a number of shares were sold off to investors, whilst the government retained the majority share and thus majority control.

What is interesting to note about the changes in SEO’s is that despite a reduction, particularly in small-sized firms, the role of SEO’s in China’s economic and industrial growth is difficult to question. Although it can be argued that FDI, export-orientated industries and the growth of the private sector have together been accountable for a significant percentage of China’s growth, many of China’s largest and leading companies are still state controlled, therefore showing the importance of SEO’s. Although further privatisation in inevitable, for the next decade or so it can be argued that China’s SEO’s are still going to play and important and central role in China’s industry and economy.

 

References:

Jefferson, GH and Singh, I. (1998) Enterprise reform in China: Ownership, Transition and Performance. Oxford University Press, New York.

Jefferson, GH., Rawski, TG and Zhang, Y. (2008) “Productivity Growth and Convergence across China’s Industrial Economy” Journal of Chinese Economics and Business Studies, 6, pp 121-140.

Weiye, L and Putterman, L (2008) “Reforming China’s SEO’s: An Overview” Comparative Economics Studies 50, pp 353-380.