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Is it the end of the One-Child Policy?

10 Mar

China’s one-child policy is infamous the world-over. It’s divided the country, created countless social difficulties, and brought into question China’s human rights record once again. And yet it has survived for over 30 years, preventing the birth of an estimated 400 million children. Experts have increasingly made know their concerns with the continuation of the policy, and their hopes that the recent alterations made may be a sign that further reform is in sight, possibly even resulting in the end of the policy altogether.

The policy was established in 1979, following concerns regarding the speed of population growth, and the scarcity of resources it was causing. Previous Chinese governments had encouraged couples to have large families as a means of increasing the labour force, but by 1950 the rate of population change was 1.9% each year, and 1970 saw an average 6 children born to every Chinese woman. Considering that a growth rate of just 3% would’ve caused the population to double in less than 24 years, it was clear that such high rates of fertility and population growth were unsustainable – something needed to be done.

Whether a policy as drastic as that established was necessary has been much discussed, yet it certainly worked. Enforced by the ‘National Population and Family Planning Commission of China’, it became an aggressive effort to improve standards of living and the economy through population control, rewarding those that followed the rules and harshly sanctioning those that didn’t. Current rewards for good behaviour include a “Certificate of Honour for Single-Child Parents”, and benefits such as loans, social assistance, and other assistance depending on the family’s socio-economic status. Those who don’t comply on the other hand are subject to penalties including fines (ranging from half the local average household income to more than 10 times that level), confiscation of belongings, and administrative sanctions for government employees. Even the “excess” children themselves may be sanctioned, with restricted access to health care and education.

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The policy has certainly made a visible impact on society. Prior to the policy’s introduction, a typical Chinese home contained a sprawling family of many generations, whereas now the average household contains a husband, wife and only-child. The fertility rate has been falling since 1979, and currently hovers around 1.8 on average, but in areas such as Beijing and Shanghai is as low as 0.7. The rate of population growth has also fallen, now standing at 0.7%. Furthermore, contraceptive rates are now unusually high in China, as high as 89% for married women, much higher than the 59% average for other developing countries.

Although the policy has therefore had the desired effect, there has been constant concern surrounding it, internally and globally. Claims that women have been forced/coerced into abortions and in some cases sterilisation by family planning clinics, has attracted horror from the worldwide community, as well as accusations of human and reproductive right issues. There have also been accusations of female infanticide and discrimination against women, due to family planning policies and the traditional preference of males in society, reinforced by the economic restrictions placed upon women by poor governmental policies affecting the labour force, and the small amount of old-age support from the state, creating a need for a child that can earn enough money to support parents when they are no longer able to work. This has meant large numbers of female babies have ended up homeless or in orphanages, and in some cases, murdered. It was reported in 2000 that 90% of aborted foetuses were female, and in rural parts of the country, infant mortality rates were as much as 27% higher for girls than boys, often due to neglect.

Faced by such disturbing figures, it is unsurprising that alterations to the policy have been made throughout its 30 years of existence, particularly in the past decade. The NPFFPC have launched a campaign named ‘Girl Care’ in rural regions, and have made it illegal to discriminate against women who give birth to baby girls, as well as prohibiting ultrasounds to determine gender and sex-selective abortions after an ultrasound. There are also some new exceptions to the one-child rule, whereby couples are able to apply for a permit to have more children. Couples are allowed up to three children if they are an ethnic minority, and any couple whose child is disabled or killed in an accident may be allowed to have a second child.  Also, couples can now apply to have a second child if their first is a girl, or if one of the parents are only children themselves. This new alteration was introduced only last year, and now means that a 1/3rd of couples can apply for a second-child permit.

But are these changes too little too late? China’s population may be rising more slowly now, but it still has a huge total population of 1.3 billion, and it faces difficult challenges. The birth rate is falling, creating an ageing population who are unsupported due to the limited people of working age. It is estimated that around 194 million Chinese over the age of 60 have no or too few children to care for them. This has been caused by the smaller workforce comprised of singleton children, who are unable to financially support two ageing parents. Such filial support is necessary due to China’s lack of social welfare system. The second big problem in China is the large gender imbalance that has existed for some years, with reports saying that men now outnumber women by more than 60 million, forcing them into a lifetime of bachelorhood.

With these implications considered, what is the future for China’s one-child policy? The alterations made in recent years aim to ease the strain of the gender imbalance and ageing population that have been created. For example, the 2013 policy allowing couples where either parent is an only-child to have two children, is expected to create a minor population boost of about 1 to 2 million additional children born every year. This has been viewed by many as opening the door to further reform, with a senior family planning official saying China may in the future allow every couple to have two children. Experts say it is not a question of if, but when. Currently, the impact of such a change is being researched by the NPFFPC, with Ma Xu, head of research within the organisation, saying that the population would increase by an estimated 10 million every year if such a policy was introduced. For a long time experts and officials have been lobbying for this alteration, with some seeing it as a step towards ending birth control policies entirely, and side-stepping the demographic timebomb that lies ahead if China continues on its path of population control.

Sources:

Managing Population Change, BBC Bitesize http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/geography/population/managing_population_rev3.shtml [Last Accessed: 07/03/2014]

Branigan, T. (2013) China’s one-child policy’s human cost fuels calls for reform. Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/16/china-one-child-policy-calls-reform [Last Accessed: 07/03/2014]

Brangian, T. (2014) China may opt for ‘two children’ policy in future, says senior official. Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/04/china-may-opt-two-children-policy [Last Accessed: 07/03/2014]

Trimarchi, M. (2008) What is China’s One Child Policy? Howstuffworks.com http://people.howstuffworks.com/one-child-policy4.htm  [Last Accessed: 07/03/2014]

Mainland Mistresses, Hong Kong Children

10 Mar

When Hong Kong’s sovereignty passed to Chinese hands in 1997 it was accompanied by Article 24(3) of the Basic Law (Hong Kong SAR’s constitution) stating that ‘persons of Chinese nationality born outside of Hong Kong of Hong Kong permanent residents would be counted as Hong Kong permanent residents’. This was intended to coax back skilled workers who emigrated to foreign countries before the handover and thus benefit Hong Kong’s economy. However, the article also granted legitimate residency to a less desirable group of people: the children of mainland Chinese ‘concubines’ to Hong Kong businessmen.

The term ‘concubine’ is somewhat vague and archaic. The Cantonese term is ‘baau yih naai’ (or Mandarin er nai, 二奶) which translates as baau, keep (owning a set of services through monetary payment) and yih naai or er nai as second wife. Whilst the practice is not widespread, it is prevalent enough in Southern China to influence the creation of ‘concubine villages’ where many local women are bought apartments by their male Hong Kong benefactors. The practice is partially cultural; some Hong Kong men believed the act of supporting a ‘mainland wife’ was indicative of his superior economic status. Whether casual or formal, short or long-term, these relationships propagated children born of mainland Chinese mothers and Hong Kong nationals. When Hong Kong SAR returned to Chinese hands and Article 24(3) was put in place, these women saw an opportunity to migrate and start a new life within the SAR.

These children and their parents were regarded with animosity by Hong Kong citizens who saw them as a drain on social welfare and detrimental to the SAR’s economy. They were also seen as a threat to social harmony; violence and disunity was seen as a possible outcome of mainland wives meeting with the legal wives of their benefactors. Various NGOs and communities of ‘elites’ (academics, officials etc) spoke out against the inclusion of these children under the Basic Law. The government itself took fast action to prevent emigration to Hong Kong by these children and their mothers after the handover. Their existence was seen as a threat and a problem.

The practice of keeping a ‘second wife’ has been recognised as not just detrimental to Hong Kong but also to China. The practice is not dissimilar to prostitution: money and monetary support is provided to a woman in exchange for willing sexual relations. However, a steadfast solution has yet to be found in order to discourage such couplings. One solution would be to make the practice of taking a ‘second wife’ illegal on the mainland, but this has several implications. Firstly, such a law would increase state intrusion into private affairs. Secondly, laws on the mainland and in Hong Kong SAR are different from one another. The law would have to be synonymous in both the mainland and in the SAR. Thirdly, there is skepticism as to whether making such relationships illegal will truly eradicate them. Another solution is to take a different approach and sever the problem at it’s root. Why do these women willingly enter these arrangements? Many have little schooling and few skills. As a result of their lack of employability they turn to other modes of income. It has been speculated that in tandem with new laws, social reform to better educate and train women from poor circumstances and backgrounds would, in time, reduce the practice of ‘second wives’ and thus improve China-Hong Kong relations.

Lee, E., (2003) Gender and Change in Hong Kong : Globalization, Postcolonialism and Chinese Patriarchy, Vancouver: UBC Press.

http://www.scmp.com/article/386089/hk-men-farewell-their-concubines

http://www.echinacities.com/china-media/All-Aboard-the-Concubine-Express-A-Look-Inside-Shenzhens-Mistress-Villages

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/14/world/dongguan-journal-for-hong-kong-men-mistresses-on-the-mainland.html

New strategy for a leading power?

6 Mar

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China consists of the leading number of internet users in the world with a staggering 600 million users online. Just last week, China set up a new committee that were to establish a sensible cyber strategy for China, and at the head of this committee is the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. Speaking at this committee meeting, Xi Jinping said that “Internet security and informatisation is a major strategic issue concerning a country’s security and development as well as people’s life and work” (Panda, 2014). Xi Jinping continued to state that he want to build China into a cyber power.

What is hard to believe is that Xi Jinping had to address this issue. China are already one of the leading ‘cyber powers’, and are certainly at the forefront of issues in the cyber realm. China, it is believed, are behind a huge amount of cyber attacks, and because of the problem of attribution in cyber space, it is hard to fully credit the attacks to them. It is also believed that many of these attacks are state-sponsored.There was a report released last year by security firm Mandiant, and this exposed a cyber unit operating for the People’s Liberation Army, essentially workers for the state .

Relations between the US and China were uneasy last year because of disputes arising from this area of concern, China’s conduct in the cyber realm. This issue was later resolved and the two are now apparently working together to prevent further cyber attacks (Inocencio, 2013).

What is safe to say is that with this new committee in place, and with the president at the helm, China are only reiterating their intentions in cyber space and they are showing their “national commitment to developing a robust cyber capacity” (Panda, 2014).

References:

http://thediplomat.com/2014/03/xi-jinping-china-should-become-a-cyber-power/

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/11/business/us-china-relations-new-chapter

https://www.mandiant.com/blog/mandiant-exposes-apt1-chinas-cyber-espionage-units-releases-3000-indicators/

Have You Heard the Good News?: The Evolution of Religious Freedom in China

28 Feb

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China’s stance on religious freedom is notoriously regarded as unjust. However, the Regulations on Religious Affairs (RRA) implemented in 2005 has seen the rise of a remarkably open and empowering attitude in regard to religious activities. Though once regarded as a threat to the Communist regime in China, religion has slowly become an acceptable form of civil society and state control over religious autonomy has been weakened (Tong, 2010).

During Mao’s era religious freedom was curtailed. In a time of reform and modernisation for China, religion was seen as both ‘foreign cultural imperialism’ in the case of Christianity. A line was drawn between religious ‘organisations’ and ‘religion’ itself wherein the CCP sought to increase control over the ‘organisational’ aspect of religious activity. Native religions were also placed under scrutiny; the Mao regime accused Buddhism and Taoism of ‘feudalism’ which contradicted China’s goal of modernisation (Leung, 2005). During the 50’s ‘religious freedom’ was given a party-wide definition. In 1958 Li Weihan interpreted ‘religious freedom’ as a right to belief or not to believe in religion and to be a part of any sect of your choosing. However, he explained that this definition of religious freedom was implemented to encourage people to cast aside religion (Li, 1958l, cited in Leung, 2005). This definition was not revised until 1982, under Deng’s era.

During the Cultural Revolution religious communities suffered heavily. Religious property rights were essentially nullified as churches, temples and other religious sites were occupied and in many cases destroyed. An estimated 8000 Buddhist temples were lost during these years and many religious practitioners and leaders were persecuted (Leung, 2005).

Before the reform period, the state’s policies regarding religion were constrictive and emphasised state control and state-given legitimacy. Religious communities were required to have state permission to practice and were required to perform religious activities in specially assigned areas, thus outlawing home-based activities. This also outlawed wearing religious garments in public, such as that worn by the clergy. Religious communities were also required to be supportive of the CCP. Often the CCP assigned religious leaders who were party cadres in order to quell any anti-party sentiment (Leung, 2005).

In 1982 ‘Document 19’ was issued under Deng’s reform period. It was born of the recognition that by increasing religious rights China could improve its international image and attract more foreign trade. Deng also wanted to break with the legacy of the Cultural Revolution and gain more co-operation for modernisation from non-communist intellectuals and religious leaders. However, the Document was not without its failings. It was not widely obeyed and, although it stated that religious property would be returned to the religious communities to which it belonged, this was not always followed through. The Document also stated that religious communities would be self-sufficient and yet government ministries encouraged Christian churches to seek foreign aid thus undermining this requirement. Religious communities also lacked the ability to communicate well with branches of government as the Document did not rectify the appointment of party cadres as religious leaders. The cadres were patriotic to the CCP (which was within the government’s interests) but they often lacked the skills and training required for good leadership and communication (Leung, 2005). In short, Document 19 was a step in the direction of religious freedom but it was still far from a mirror of how liberal society would define ‘freedom’.

The 90’s saw a reduction of trust in religious communities. Concern arose that the ‘underground’ movement of ‘illegal’ (that is, not state-approved) religious communities threatened state stability. This notion is not a new one; religious uprisings are significant in China’s ancient history (the yellow and red turban rebellions) and more recent history (White Lotus and Taiping rebellions) (Chung et all, 2006). The Party was also concerned with foreign support for these ‘illegal’ movements, particularly Catholicism and the Dalai Lama in Tibet. Document 19 was acknowledged as insufficient in managing religious activity – yet despite feelings of hostility, Jiang knew that if the CCP cracked down on religious freedom it would be detrimental to international support and finance. The terms ‘Rule by Law’ and ‘Accommodation’ entered the fight for religious freedom. ‘Rule by Law’ required religious activities to be regulated and to ‘accommodate’ socialist ideology, not oppose it. This decision was justified by defining religious activity within the realm of ‘public affairs’ and therefore subject to state regulation (Leung, 2005).

However, in 2001 the Politburo and State Council met together for the National Religious Work Meeting and came to the conclusion that religion could be a ‘stabilising force’ in Chinese society. Waning socialist ideology and disillusionment are partially responsible for this decision; by approving of specific religions and granting more autonomy, the CCP hoped to curtail the attraction of ‘new religions’ and cults which could harbour anti-party sentiment. China was also trying to address its international image regarding human rights violations. Another influence is the Sino-centric religious scholarship which had been emerging since the beginning of the reform period (Leung, 2005).

As aforementioned, native religion also suffered under Mao’s regime and had to be resurrected during the reform period. One such success story is Nanputuo temple in Fujian province. Though now a thriving religious hub and tourist site, the temple had to be rebuilt almost from scratch after the Cultural Revolution. New clergy had to be trained to replace those who were persecuted and the temple, abiding by state rules, had to become entirely self-sufficient. More than three decades on it has been completely rebuilt, is entirely self-sufficient and has around 600 clergymen. It is one of many success stories that show how religious communities have recovered and grown despite tough state regulations (Ashiwa and Wank, 2006).

In 2005 the RRA was implemented to grant more autonomy to religious communities and reduce state control of religious activities. This is part of a wider goal to increase CCP transparency, improve communication between government and society, promote civil society and improve China’s image in the international community. The RRA grants better legal and administrative rights to religious communities and grants permission to practice religious activities outside of the designated areas. It also encourages religious philanthropy and has helped to establish the role of religious communities in civil society. The RRA also readdresses the accusation of religion as a ‘threat’ by allowing the print and circulation of religious literature, including recruitment pamphlets. It has been greeted with mixed feelings in the wider international community as rather than religious ‘freedom’ it awards ‘management’, but compared to China’s history of restrictive religious regulation there is no denying that it will help China on the road to modernisation and cohesion within the international community (Tong, 2010).

Resources:

Ashiwa, Y., Wank, D., 2006. The Politics of a Reviving Buddhist Temple: State, Association, and Religion in Southeast China. The Journal of Asian Studies, [e-journal], 65 (2), pp. 337-359. Available through: J-Stor website <http://www.jstor.org> [Accessed 27th February 2014].

Chung, J., Lai, H., Xia, M., 2006. Mounting Challenges to Governance in China: Surveying Collective Protesters, Religious Sects and Criminal Organisations. The China Journal, [e-journal], 56, pp. 1-31. Available through: J-Stor website <http://www.jstor.org> [Accessed 27th February 2014].

Leung, B., 2005. China’s Religious Freedom Policy: The Art of Managing Religious Activity. The China Quarterly, [e-journal], 184, pp.894-913. Available through: J-Stor website <http://www.jstor.org> [Accessed 27th February 2014].

Tong, J., 2010. The New Religious Policy in China: Catching Up With Systemic Reforms. Asian Survey, [e-journal], 50 (5), pp. 859-887. Available through: J-Stor website <http://www.jstor.org> [Accessed 27th February 2014].

The Socio-Economic Basis of Organised Crime in China

21 Feb

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Recently Liu Han, a Chinese business tycoon and ranked amongst the wealthiest people in China, made the BBC (Chinese Regional) news due to his charge of ‘murder, intentional injury and organising a mafia-style gang’. Around a year ago personal interest and curiosity prompted me to read into the nature and problems of organised crime in East Asia, particularly in regard to Japan and China where my interests primarily lie. As I read this article my curiosity was yet again piqued: how great a threat is organised crime in China and what are its footholds?

Perhaps due to the influence of popular culture our traditional view of organised crime is of a ‘Godfather-esque’, Cosa Nostra styled family hierarchy of criminals. Truthfully, organised crime is a very difficult phenomenon to describe. Simple, generalised terms do no justice to the complex range of criminal activity which falls under the umbrella term of ‘organised crime’ – anything from street hooliganism to formal syndicates. Chinese criminal code from 1979 failed to cover any definition of organised crime; it was not until 1997 that the criminal code adopted a definition which matches the UN Organized Crime Convention definition. Put simply, it covers a group of three or more persons who, over an extended period of time, organise themselves in order to commit crimes for personal gain.

Prof. An Chen of the University of Singapore offers three ‘types’ of organised crime present in China. Type one concerns criminal means for legal businesses, type two only illegal business, and type three describes street gangs.
In regard to Liu Han’s arrest, there are certain correlations with the description of his identity and his charges that match with Chen’s definition of ‘type one’ organised crime. As head of a mining conglomerate he owned a legal business which generates revenue. Chen suggests that type one legal businesses survive and prosper due to illegal methods of coercion including blackmail, racketeering and violence. He explains that they operate in a legal ‘grey area’ of coercion which technically avoids breaking any laws. Type one organisations are usually formal and may uphold a set of ‘rules’ to keep members in line and retain loyalty.

Chen links the origins and cause of organised crime to Chinese economic reform and a loss of social control. He explains that during Mao’s period China had strong social control and a communist regime that despised the use of material incentive. The dominant value during this period was not money but political power. A great deal of organised crime was stamped out during this period.
The post 1979 economic reforms re-introduced consumerism thus reigniting the attraction that money and material incentives hold for the populace. However, the market reforms failed to protect the market from being manipulated via illegal and underhanded means; organised crime was not only given the incentive to take off but it was also given an environment within which to flourish. Formal, coercive organised crime relies on the existence of a normative market and the possibility for corruption which comes from an increased interest in material incentives (for example, bribes of money).

Rather than an overt ‘lack’ of social control it is perhaps fairer to say that the means of social control in China are undermined by the free market economy. There are cracks in the system which can be exploited by those with criminal intentions. Political corruption is one of the more serious issues; over the last twenty-thirty years the prevalence of state management in economic and judiciary affairs at a local level has granted a niche for coercion and official corruption.

Although ‘Anti-Crime’ campaigns have been issued to combat these problems, they are but short term solutions. They fail to tackle the issue at the root cause and fail to deter organised crime in the long term. More extensive socioeconomic reforms must be made in order to make a more efficient ‘crackdown’ on the growing problem of organised crime.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-26271590 (BBC Article)
Chen, A. (2005) ‘Secret Societies and Organized Crime in Contemporary China’, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 39, No 1, pp. 77-107. (Available on J-STOR)
https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/organized-crime/index.html (UN definition of organised crime)
Lo, S. (2009) The Politics of Cross-Border Crime in Greater China, New York: M.E. Sharpe.

China: Strategic Softening?

17 Feb

A clear sight over the past two decades has been Chinese economic growth and the threat it poses to existing world order, especially US global dominance. However, what we see emerging is China taking on new approaches to increase its global presence; in the form of soft power. ‘Though debates mainly revolve around economic and military aspects of China’s increasing power, its soft power components are considered to be an integral part of its influence.’ (RT, 04/02/14)

On January 1st 2014, ‘President Xi Jinping vowed to promote China’s cultural soft power by disseminating modern Chinese values and showing the charm of Chinese culture to world.’ (China Daily) However, we see this promotion of the Chinese brand even prior to Xi’s quest which begun earlier this year. The Beijing Olympic Games were ‘considered to be very important in the sense of public diplomacy, with the intention of creating the image of a “nice country”.’ (RT, 04/02/14) The government spent 42 million on the games more than London and almost double that of Athens, showing despite wishing to promote peaceful global relations and harmonious Chinese values there seems to be a sense of strategy behind these soft power moves. What a development in soft power enables is a new frontier of competition with the United States and the hold it is has throughout the world, despite its declining economic position, due to its cultural hegemony.

Just a couple of days ago a Chinese film won the best picture award at the Berlin film festival, cinema a traditionally US and European stronghold, now an avenue China wishes to use to develop a cultural presence throughout the world. This aim was also reflected in Xi’s earlier speech in which he ‘called for efforts to promote advanced socialist culture, deepen reform in the cultural system, and enhance peoples cultural creativity.’ (China Daily, 01/01/14) We see further challenge to US worldwide cultural dominance through the reforms the Chinese government has taken with education, and the their expansion worldwide, particularly with the promotion of foreign students studying in China. In 1992 China had only 13,000 foreign students in its universities, as of 2006 it had 162,700, although still far off the United States large amount of foreign intake it displays a determination to bring in individuals and display the Chinese character, as well as expanding Chinese beliefs and values beyond their own borders. The influx has mainly come from surrounding countries and ‘what is important (to take on) is the fact that previously the US was the most favourite direction for southeastern Asian youth, but now there is a remarkable shift towards Chinese education.’ (RT, 04/02/14) Much like most areas of Chinese development and challenge, the US still pulls rank. However the fast paced nature of growth China has taken makes us pose the question, ‘for how much longer?’

The expansion of Chinese soft power lies right on our doorsteps as well, the Chinese New Year celebrations in Trafalgar square are some of the biggest in Europe, attracting almost half a million international visitors. This endorsement of a holiday whose principles vary so much from our own western values and the magnitude the festival has taken outside of China ‘are a reminder of how growing popularity and expanding international recognition of Chinese culture and traditions demonstrate the progress of China’s soft power.’ (RT,04/02/14)

Read more:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26211896

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2014-01/01/content_17208354.htm

http://rt.com/op-edge/growing-chinese-soft-power

Dreams Mirroring Reality?

10 Feb

What research would suggest is that as the Chinese dream surfaces in many citizens lives the American dream, or rather its original roots, seem to be withering in the face of economic and state instability. Their base aims differ, with the original American dream of the 1930s sourcing as the want for financial independence and home ownership whilst the Chinese dream takes a much more collective stance, the dream of the continued prosperity of the Chinese state which in turn allows for the citizens dreams to become a reality.

The piece by Time magazines Dan Kadlec about the changing nature of the American dream highlights how the wants of younger generations are changing as the ‘attainable’ wants of the American dream become unobtainable to more and more generations. The generation he aptly names ‘the millennials’ now puts emphasis on wanting to be able to travel and not find themselves working for ‘the man’. ‘In a new poll, 38% of Millennials say travel is part of the American Dream, exceeding the 28% who name secure retirement…Meanwhile, 26% of Millennials cite self-employment as part of the dream.’ (Kadlec, 2014) However, in contrast, having discovered a blog by a young Chinese citizen expressing what the Chinese dream is and how it has become a reality for him we see more emphasis on ideals that mirror a younger American dream, ‘I began to dream the same things as other peers: a comfortable home, my own car and a spacious apartment.’ (ALittleBoat, 2013)

As American citizens remove themselves from the state approved wants for a happy life, the Chinese seem to be seeking them. These actions of increased and decreased reliability on the average dream prescriptions by the state can be seen to mirror the economic turns of both states individually. As America has seen stagnation and decline throughout the past decade seeing high unemployment and home foreclosures, China has seen a thriving economy which is allowing for social reforms where societal dreams no longer seem unobtainable much as what happened in 1930s America.

Interpreting this rise and decline in state dreams and what they reference can show a trust or mistrust in the state which can be further analysed in the context of the current ‘Rise of China’ and the nature global politics is taking on in light of ‘America’s decline’. Kadlec (2014) suggests the change in the American dream ‘points up how different the landscape is for young adults today, and the growing level of frustration that has emerged since the recession. A true American Dream has to feel attainable, and many Millennials aren’t feeling they can attain much more than a day-to-day lifestyle that suits them.’ Contrast this to the complete faith the young Chinese man shows in China’s prosperity  and his linking of it to his happiness and we see perhaps an integral, if not small part, of why we may be seeing such a power transition take place in global politics, ‘whatever I believe, most of my dreams will come true sooner or later only if my motherland keep advancing with current pace.’

-Taler Kelly

Read more: Millennials Put Their Surprising Stamp on the American Dream | TIME.com http://business.time.com/2014/02/06/millennials-put-their-surprising-stamp-on-the-american-dream/#ixzz2suauiRl6

Read more: http://blog.chinadaily.com.cn/blog-728189-8558.html

Filial Piety in China

6 May

Filial piety is the concept of respecting you parents and elders and has been a core element of Confucianism in China for thousands of years. Respecting this concept usually meant that the elderly would live out their old age with the care of children and grandchildren.  Conflict between the modernisation of China as well as the respecting of traditions however has been particularly prevalent in this area. The population of elderly within china (60 and over) is the largest in the world and has reached an estimated 128 million, equivalent to one in every ten people. This is estimated to reach around 400 million people by 2050. Every year approximately 3 million people retire in China yet only 15% of these have a form of pension. For the rest there is no national social security system so family is the only option. The conflict with modernisation occurs however as increased migration of younger generations and longer working hours has led to issues of neglect and abandonment of the elderly. The outsourcing of care to nursing homes has been seen as a form of combating this issue, yet due to the magnitude of this issue estimates now presume there are only ten nursing home beds for every thousand elderly people who need them in China. 

New government propaganda and laws have aimed to tackle this issue by utilising the notion of filial piety and have stated it is one of the core values in creating a ‘harmonious society’. Programmes and awards ceremonies such as the Chinese Filial piety Awards Ceremony held annually attempt to emphasise the importance. New employment laws also attempt to address the issue, for instance government employees in Changyuan County in Henan Province have to illustrate good care for their parents as well as working hard if they wish to earn a promotion. Critics claim however that the filial piety scheme is only a cover for the government failing to take public responsibility for the care of china’s elderly populations. They claim that to uphold the tradition of filial piety the government needs to found a national social security programme to care for the elderly.

http://chineseculture.about.com/library/weekly/aa060400a.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MkBk0rU8Ec

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-20038082

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6538243.stm

Made in China: One Briton’s adventures in Beijing

5 May

An interesting article on a British newsreader’s life in China:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2318421/Made-China-One-Britons-adventures-Beijing.html

China’s Own Facebook?

3 May

It has been approximately 4 years since Facebook was officially banned in China in 2009. Interestingly enough, Instagram, despite being own by Facebook, access is permitted in China. Whether it may be a stepping stone for China to grant Facebook access is not to say entirely impossibly.  The Facebook ban was a result of  what is know as ‘The Great Firewall’, implemented by the Chinese government to micro-manage the flow of information among social media sites. 700 people are employed to monitor postings (/”tweets”) should anything go array. Alternatively, perhaps China will come up with its own social networking site. Technology in China has considerably developed beyond mere copying, making very real innovative creations a thing of the present and near future. For China, to create its own ‘Apple’ or ‘Microsoft’ may still be a stretch but mini applications are not too far off. The closest China has to Facebook is Renren, which operated under the scrutiny of the government. According to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries last December, Renren was found to have ranked third in terms of the highest number of unique visitors, behind Sina’s Weibo and Tencent’s pengyou.com. WeChat, an instant-message app and Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog have approximately 300million and 500 million users respectively. Early Internet companies such as Alibaba may have used western companies such as EBay as models but it is no imitation of the foreign set up. Arguably, local applications and creations have a home ground advantage in the sense that they know what Chinese culture and society is like.

An increasing number of American TV celebrities have tapped into the China market. Ironically, their fame and recognition is known amongst the Chinese audience via pirated online websites. Without Facebook or Twitter to connect with their Chinese audience, it is no surprise that TV stars like Nina Dobrev and Wentworth Miller have taken to using Weibo as a form of social media campaign, as have branding companies. Taking note of a recent report by Motion Picture Association of America, according to which China has surpassed Japan as the second-largest box office market in the world, it could likely be in celebrities’ best interests to gain a popularity in the nation which would hopefully result in higher chances of being cast in films.

Dubbed as a new outreach, not only did Robert Downey Jr. visit China for the first time to promote the third IronMan film, the leading actor even set up a Weibo account, despite not having a twitter account which is essentially Weibo’s Western counterpart. Alibaba, the biggest e-commerce group in China, having bought an 18% stake in Weibo, indicates that the future for the fast-growing social media sector in China is rather bright.  Hence, despite it seeming like China is cut off from the world without facebook, perhaps the country does not need it and the public can be satisfied with their own version of the Western networking site. This can be further construed based on the attention received from other nations outside of China.

Sources: 

Alibaba buys stake in China’s Twitter-type Weibo service. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22348308

China’s Parallel Online Universe. http://thediplomat.com/2011/12/27/china%E2%80%99s-parallel-online-universe/?all=true

How Piracy and Weibo help Western TV stars break out in China. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/03/us-piracy-weibo-idUSBRE94204U20130503

Next Facebook May Be Chinese as Sites Innovative, Not Copy. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-29/next-facebook-may-be-chinese-as-sites-innovate-not-copy-1-.html

Renren Slumps to Loss as China Slowdown Damps Online Ads. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-11/renren-slumps-to-loss-as-china-slowdown-damps-online-ads.html

Why “IronMan” Robert Downey Jr. is on Sina Weibo but not Twitter: http://qz.com/81249/why-iron-man-robert-downey-jr-is-on-sina-weibo-but-not-twitter/