Tag Archives: China

Malaysian plane crash MH370

26 Mar

The recent plane crash that occurred over the South-Indian ocean on its way to Malaysia had many passengers on board, many of which were Chinese. The plane crashed only a few weeks ago and since a huge enquiry into where it actually went down has begun. Using complicated remote sensing methods, experts were able to narrow the crash down to a small section over the South-Indian ocean and have since been searching it for any wreckage or evidence of the plane. The Chinese government have reacted angrily to the way Malaysian authorities dealt with the crash, saying that more could have been done in a shorter space of time to identify exactly what happened. Whilst this has been happened, family members of the passengers have been accusing Malaysian officials of withholding information relating to the crash which is very serious in itself. The current situation is that we are waiting for news of recovered wreckage of the plans and families of the passengers have been told by Malaysian authorities to assume that there were no survivors, which has once again prompted more uproar

                                                      By Joss Woodhead

 

References:

– http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26492748 

Improved relations between China and the USA

20 Mar

Michelle Obama has recently begun her week long ‘non-political’ trip to China that will stop off in Beijing and Chengdu. She has decided to focus her trip on “the power and importance of education”  and will write a blog on this subject.

The reason as to why this visit is so interesting is because it comes as such a crucial time in regards to relations between the two countries with issues such as Crimea and China’s relationship with North Korea being at the top of the agenda. Although it has been claimed by The White House that this trip is not political, it is believed that the purpose is to prove that relations between the two countries are not just through leaders and are through the people also, as supported by a statement put out by the deputy national security advise for security communications, Ben Rhodes. This trip will hopefully improve relations between the two countries so that disputes over major and minor issues can end

                                                                                                                                                               By Joss Woodhead

 

References

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26659826

Water Insecurity in China

11 Mar

The availability of water aids nations in the production of food, products, energy and of course the survival of the population. Water is a vital part of our lives, it is also a vital part of geopolitics in South-East Asia. Water insecurity is a prevalent issue in most countries around the world, 80% of the worlds population live in areas where a supply of fresh water is not secure (Black, R, 2014).With Chinas population currently sitting at 1.3bn the issue of water security is an increasingly worrying problem for the Chinese government. Historical records have shown that as a country develops the per capita use of water starts to increase, this is certainly the case in China and many other developing countries such as the BRICs (Dilley, M and Hikisch, D, 2014). A damaging effect of Chinas rapid industrialisation is the pollution that rivers like the Yellow River have experienced. Factories line the river banks discarding waste products into the already heavily polluted river. Water is scarce is Chinas northern provinces, this has prompted the construction of the South-North transfer project which aims to transport water from the water rich south to the water scarce north. There are many solutions to the water insecurity problems that China has but the question is are they willing to sacrifice their agricultural and industrial production to create a more water secure nation. A prominent issue tightly linked to this problem is rapid population growth and the expansion of the Chinese middle class.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has data that shows water demand split into three categories: agriculture, industry and domestic. Agriculture shares 65% of total water use in China, industry requiring 23% and domestic a small 12% (FAO, 2014). Many people would assume that Chinas industrial use of water would greatly exceed what it is currently because of the prevalence of the manufacturing industry. The inefficiency of irrigation in much of the agricultural land in China means that less than half of this 65% actually reaches the crops. This could have far reaching implications for China in the future. With the ever growing population the demand for food will inevitably rise, not only in China but throughout the world. This means the agricultural production will have to be stepped up and if irrigation systems are not made more efficient then a lot of precious water will be wasted. The incredible agricultural demand for water in China could result in policies and regulations to restrict domestic water use, such as water rationing and hose pipes bans. The government has involved TNCs such as Wal-Mart Stores who have pledged to cut their water use in half at more than 155 outlets in China over 2 years (Wal-Mart Stores, 2014). This is a step in the right direction as industrial water use has the second largest share of water in China. Reductions in industrial water use could mean there’s more water for agricultural or domestic use. Another issue that has the potential to affect Chinas water security is the middle class of China, that in recent years has grown at a rapid pace. The growing middle class poses a problem because they will increase their water use. The use of washing machines and changes in their diets will substantially increase water demand. Additionally, this new middle class will demand more consumer products which means industrial production will increase which in turn will require more water.

A technical solution to water insecurity that is experienced in the dry outer regions of the country is transfer projects such as the South-North transfer project which by 2050 plans to transfer water through an Eastern, Western and Central route (International Rivers, 2014). This project will increase the water security of regions in the outer provinces of the country that are largely agriculture orientated. This is an effective long term solution that increases the water security of regions that would otherwise experience water insecurity. It has the potential to bring prosperity into the out provinces with the supposed increased water availability.

Transboundary rivers are a worldwide issue when it comes to water security. Conflicts and disputes have been seen in the middle east between countries such as Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Israel. The Himalayas are known as the “water tower of Asia”, the mountain range supplies vast amounts of water every year from snow and ice melt. The water from this flows into the surrounding rivers such as the Brahmaputra which is shared by China, India and Bangladesh (Climate Himalaya, 2014) In order to increase their water security China is in the process of building the Zangmu Dam in Tibet which will act as hydroelectric power station and is a supply of water to surrounding areas. India and Bangladesh who are downstream from the dam have spoken out against the dam stating that the flow will be affected. China have reassured them that this is not the case. A similar situation has arisen on the Mekong River which is another transboundary river that runs through 5 ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) states. China and the countries that the Mekong runs through have all dammed different parts of the river which disrupts the flow of water in these countries. As you can see water insecurity has far reaching political elements which demonstrate the concerns of water insecurity in areas such as South-East Asia.

A major contributory factor that affects Chinas water security is the pollution of water bodies in the country. Mass industrialisation and rapid industrial growth has resulted in water pollution on a nationwide scale. Some rivers in China are declared unsafe for drinking, using on crops and using in industry because it is so dirty and dangerous. More than 4.35bn tonnes of waste water was dumped into the Yellow River in 2005, this is 88m tonnes more than the previous year (Xinhua News Agency, 2014). In addition to the pollution, the river is experiencing a dramatic decrease in water flow. The Yellow River supplies water to 155m people and 15% of Chinas farmland. This demonstrates the dependence on the Yellow River as a supply of water. In November 2006 in Lanzhou in Chinas Gansu province, the Yellow River turned red with an unidentified pollutant coming out of a sewage pipe. Contaminations like this show the complete disregard for water supplies in China. This is one of many cases were toxic liquids have been discharged into rivers from where drinking water is extracted. A recent study has shown that 66% of the water in the Yellow River is unsafe to drink (Xinhua News Agency, 2014). This statistic shows the true extent of how pollution in Chinas major rivers is affecting water security. Water will become so polluted with toxic chemicals and waste that it’ll be useless for everything. This will result in China using water in other areas, such as the Brahmaputra and Mekong and other transboundary rivers.

Water insecurity is obviously a problem in China. It’s caused by over-extraction as a result of exponential population growth and consequential increases in water demand. The inefficiency of irrigation systems cause a lot of water to be wasted which could be used elsewhere. China also experiences political problems with transboundary water ways, in the future this could cause serious conflict and disagreements when water becomes scarce in South-East Asia. The best way to secure a water secure future would be to mediate with the countries in ASEAN and shareholders of transboundary waterways to decide of ownership, a second way would be to impose restrictions on industrial zones which prevent the pollution of major waterways such as the Yellow River.

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.

one-child-china_2511010b

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]

Asian Economic Slowdown; the Shape of Things to Come?

10 Mar

A slight turn in the economic markets of South-East Asia has begged the question of China of whether this is the start of an era of economic slow down, or in fact the beginning of a new era of reform policies based in moulding a domestic consumer based economy.

‘(On Monday, 10/03/14) Both Hong Kong’s Hang Sang Index and the Shanghai Composite fell by 2% while Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 1%.’ (BBC) This downturn, spread throughout the entire region, is feared to be indicative of perhaps a slow down for China, the fear that surely the prosperity of the past three decades couldn’t last. With such strong interlinking trade partnerships and diplomatic relations in the region being developed through the likes of ASEAN, perhaps any struggle within China is now guaranteed to leave the region hardest hit over the entire global economic system.

However, the links and dependency China has developed globally can be seen in the reaction to this economic fall, ‘China said exports plunged 18.1%.’ (BBC, 10/03/14) This is a display of the outward dependency China’s growth has been formed upon and how easily it can be taken away, hence why efforts within China have been strategically focussed on creating a domestic consumer based economy that can make use of the huge population and provide long term growth.

Perhaps we will see more slow downs and upsets as the CCP attempts to implement very difficult reforms to ensure the longevity of their economy. We can see the domestic led focus on the economy when the Chinese finance minister discussed the aim of 7.5% GDP growth in 2014, yet still highlighted that missing this target or bypassing was not the main aim, rather job creation was at the centre of the Party’s thoughts (BBC, 10/03/14). Clearly the strong growth, although wanting to be maintained is not the primary focus during this reform period, rather satisfying the citizens through job creation and hopefully leading to the eventuality of returned strong growth at the hand of domestic consumers is the end goal.

Read more of the Monday downturn here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26510500

China’s missing women

8 Mar

China’s traditional and cultural son preference has been well documented. Infanticide and sex-selective abortion, although illegal in China, became a major problem after the introduction of the one-child policy. Many would-be parents made efforts to ensure they had a son as their only child which has resulted in skewed sex-ratios at birth and a major surplus of young men.

In China there is reportedly 35 million ‘missing’ women, and consequently tens of millions of men who face slim prospects of ever finding a wife (Branigan, 2011a). This problem is even more severe in poor or isolated rural areas where there are few unattached women (Branigan, 2011b). Many men therefore face strong likelihoods of growing old with no wives or children to support and care for them. Young Chinese women have more choice of potential husbands and therefore these women are less likely to choose poor men who are unable to provide for them, leaving this group of men unmarried.

Despite being a major problem for Chinese men, it could help to improve women’s status. Yound unmarried Chinese women are now more desirable which could help raise their status within society. On the other hand it could actually lead to increased gender inequalities as women could become viewed as more of a valuable material good, rather than as human beings.

References

Branigan, T. (2011a), China’s great gender crisis, [Guardian online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/02/chinas-great-gender-crisis [Accessed: 08/03/2014]

Branigan, T. (2011b), China’s village of bachelors: no wives in sight in remote settlement, [Guardian online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/sep/02/china-village-of-bachelors [Accessed: 08/03/2014]

US and China: The Future of Relations?

4 Mar

This small BBC article focuses on how the US initially outlined the attacks in Kunming as “a horrific, senseless act of violence”. (BBC,2014) Yet now, in light of the Chinese media reaction to this statement and them not deeming it a ‘terrorist’ attack, they have declared it an act of terrorism. Although a minor scuffle, I think the exchange draws on a much more contentious debate in International Relations; the way in which the two powers will engage in light of China’s rising power.

There are two main competing paths about which way the United States will react to the rising power and obviously we already have examples of engagement between the two to draw on.

Will it act cooperatively or competitively? Neo-realists like Mearsheimer would suggest that the US should expect China to act in an aggressive, competitive manner as they will what to ensure their own security in international relations, and he believes this is achieved by securing the most power, thus America should respond in the same manner. Neo liberal institutionalists would believe that America has little to worry about so long as they integrate China in to the standing systems of international governance which create interdependency and cooperation between nations, thus informing America to act in a cooperative manner. This example here would see America acting in quite a cooperative manner, it has angered the Chinese and thus wishes to put right.

However if we analyse further this may be because America simply has no other choice. The United States is in a position where China holds the largest amount of off shore dollars and treasury bonds as well as being highly indebted to them. Whilst China has the largest surplus in its current account, America’s has the largest debt. Chinese prosperity may be having the effect of thus far deciding American foreign policy towards it for them as the United States has more to lose through acting competitively than it has to gain. It would seem the hegemonic power the United States has been so happy to manipulate in the past is waring away in light of a developing competitor. The United States may see itself as having to act cooperatively so as to ensure China doesn’t feel threatened in a way so as to act competitively, which thus far it hasn’t, out of fear of the global ramifications.

Full article:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-26414018

Unrest in China

4 Mar

In order to thrive whilst the economic crisis hit the rest of the world, the Chinese government injected a multi-billion pound stimulus into its economy. However, this investment is purely debt-fuelled and because of this, it is highly unsustainable. The primary aim of this package was to retain China’s growth at 10% and with its growth only decreasing to 8%, it can certainly be classified as a success.

Recently, a massacre took place in Kunming at a train station when Muslim separatists attacked a group of Chinese public and killed 29 whilst injuring a further 130. The attack took place at 9pm on Saturday and police shot dead three male and one female suspect with a further female suspect being captured. The violent attack was described as been ‘organised and premeditated’ and with violent pictures circulating around the internet so soon after the attack, it has without doubt sent shockwaves across China and the rest of the world.

This attack demonstrates the ethnic separation and hostility around the country, and particularly in the different regions of China. This problem has been occurring for many years throughout China and has been attempted to be combatted through various aggressive economic development and tighter controls. Since 2009, the security budget has quadrupled to $1billion and restrictions on religious areas have increased. They appear to have chosen this strategy as opposed to simply trusting the general population which means although security has greatly increased, hostility has also increased as the ethnic minorities feel segregated.

Further examples of these ethnic attacks have been present in recent times when 16 border police officers were killed in an attack just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the following year nearly 200 people died when Uighurs assaulted the Han Chinese in revenge attacks. The Chinese government views these incidents as proof that there is a sophisticated and lengthy terrorist network whose aim is to wreak havoc in eastern Asian provinces. This may be true but it seems difficult to associate a few attacks with a generalised plan that may or may not even be in place and many view it as a diversion tactic by the Chinese government.

It is believed that the recent attack that took place in Kunming is not a result of the attackers gaining plans and tactical ideas from overseas due to the limited contact these militants have with foreign groups overseas. It has also been widely suggested that the aforementioned stimulus package injected by the Chinese government has backfired and that the policies that have been enforced to increase incomes have actually created dissatisfaction amongst the population. This huge increase in development since the economic crisis of 2008 has caused much friction across China and what with the constant demolitions as a result of changing environments, this only worsens the tensions between different ethnic communities as it is their old towns that are being demolished.

These ethnic minorities strongly believe that they have not benefitted from the stimulus package/economic growth at all and that the jobs are going to the indigenous Chinese population and as a result of this, this pressured situation is only growing worse. If this state of affairs continues for the foreseeable future, as looks likely, the Chinese government may have to bring in more stringent measures to deal with this yet must be careful as any policies that appear to directly target ethnic minorities may cause further disruption.

            By Joss Woodhead

 

References:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/02/china-development-ethnic-tensions

China’s Greatest Threat to Development Lies Within.

4 Mar

Despite China’s prosperous growth over the past three decades many onlookers suggest they still have many boundaries to overcome. Some place emphasis on their role in global politics and governance as a key threat to their future success, however I will explore the threats that reside within China’s own borders, and how these could be the most important factors to their continued success. Moving forward Anka Lee suggests that, “the build up of internal pressure, coupled with the inability of developed economies to sustain China’s export-oriented economy, means that efforts to rebalance-internally and, in the process, externally- must take place.” (2013)

As a result of the economic downturn in the west China’s own economy began to suffer because of its export-led foundations. Zheng Xinli explains that what became apparent because of this was that, “fiscal reform (will be) the main force to shift the investment oriented growth pattern into a consumption-driven one.” (Chen, 2014) Reform to the economic system is imperative in China to move away from its outwards dependency and rather utilise its mass population to create a consumer driven economy. These reforms are hugely important to continued success, because its external dependency allows actions throughout the world to destabilise itself, Bijian (2005) outlines why it is even worse for China to face any issues, “(as) China has a population of 1.3 billion. Any small difficulty in its economic or social development, spread over this vast group, could become a huge problem.” The gravity of the situation is felt by China’s leaders and has seen them adopt policies to allow for transition in the economy, Li Keqiang explains how they will, “adjust the economic structure (to) help enhance sustainability of growth, accelerate the shift from a policy driven economy to a domestically oriented one, and prevent wild economic fluctuations.” (2012)

Thus, motivating the large population and modernising the country are implicit to creating the consumer-led economy that is so vital to ensuring long term prosperity. This is already being pursued, “about 10 million Chinese migrate to urban areas each year in an orderly and protected way, they provide Chinese cities with new productivity and new markets and help end the backwardness of rural areas.” (Bijian, 2005) This move is important as related statistics show that urban residents spent 3.6 times more than rural dwellers in 2010 (Keqiang, 2012) displaying why urbanisation is implicit to overcoming future economic threats through the creation of a large consumer base. They still have a long way to go, with such a large population it makes development of this type of economy that much more difficult, in 2010 China’s consumption ratio was 47.4% whilst the US was 87.7%, the EU was 80.7% and Japan was at 78.6%, these are the figures China needs to push for to remove that dependency on foreign consumers.

On top of this need to modernise the population comes the sustainability threat it creates through doing this. As modernisation and development takes place and more move into large cities, environmental issues present themselves which also could hinder the future success of China, “China has paid a heavy environmental price for three decades of economic growth.” (Bloomberg, 2013) Firstly, “the scarcity of natural resources available to support such a huge population, especially energy, raw materials and water-is increasingly an obstacle.” (Bijian, 2005) This over time threatens the ability to continue the level of development they are currently working at, however on top of this is the environmental degradation aspect that is associated with their current development path. “In Beijing, air pollution levels (have) rose to 20 times the recommended limit by the WHO…over a million Chinese citizens die of air pollution per year.” (Klabin, 2013) These extraordinary numbers display the harmful nature that is attached to the unsustainable mechanics of China’s development, more environmentally sound methods need to be pursued alongside rapid development if the country is to not find instability created through its methods of progression.

This potential instability sources with the large population who’re becoming angered over pollution and who will become antagonised should economic prosperity falter, presenting another point of how Chinese success hinges on satisfying the citizens, primarily so they do not become disenchanted with the government; the CCP’s largest fear. What is happening is that the opening up of China’s economy has allowed for other ideas to filter through the censorship and as a consequence more people are outspoken about issues they find with the system and the government. “Between 2006 and 2010 the number of mass incidents doubled to at least 180,000…increased use of mobile phones and the internet has allowed protesters to show their anger more effectively.” (Bloomberg, 2013) This displays how modernisation and development may in fact also be causing negative effects to the durability of the current system despite them having created mass economic growth and wealth uplift. This may present a huge issue to stability with the government in the future potentially having to manage serious governmental reforms in light of further citizen mobilisation and awareness.

The final internal issue i’m going to discuss is with regard to the ageing population of China. “At the end of 2011, when the total Chinese population reached 1.34 billion, 13.7% of the population were 60 or over, that’s 185 million people…the UN considers a population to be ageing when 7% of its population is aged 65 or over.” (BBC, 2012) Although a portrayal of how successful development is allowing people to live longer because of better living standards and access to health care there are economic and social consequences of such age. As a developing country China may not be able to take the burden this brings with it, “a huge fiscal deficit due to soaring pension expenses and increased medical costs.” (BBC,2012) On top of this the labour force is affected, and this is key to continued economic growth thus the ageing population also has the potential to hinder economic sustainability. Professor Cai Fang “estimates that the rapid decrease of labour force will lower China’s annual growth rate by 1.5% points from 2012 to 2015, and decrease a further percentage point during the period from 2016-2020.” (BBC, 2012) This shows the huge ramifications the likes of the one child policy and modernisation, which can trigger families into having less children, may have caused for the country and its future stability and success.

China and its government have a long task ahead of them to achieve developed country status and many hurdles stand in its way of getting there. It will take long term policy making and a sustainability focus to all policies that will allow them to hopefully continue their success however it will be a tumultuous journey that is far from ease.

References

BBC News. (2012) Ageing China: Changes and Challenges. BBC. Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19630110>

Bijian, Zheng. (2005) China’s “Peaceful Rise” to Great-Power Status. Foreign Affairs. Available at: <http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/61015/zheng-bijian/chinas-peaceful-rise-to-great-power-status> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Bloomberg News. (2013) Chinese Anger Over Pollution Becomes Main Cause of Social Unrest. Bloomberg. Available at: <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-06/pollution-passes-land-grievances-as-main-spark-of-china-protests.html> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Haass, Richard N. (2011) China’s Greatest Threat Is Internal. Council on Foreign Relations. Available at: <http://www.cfr.org/china/chinas-greatest-threat-internal/p26930> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Keqiang, Li. (2012) China Deepens Strategy of Domestic Demand Expansion in the Course of Reform and Opening Up. China.org.cn Available at: <http://www.china.org.cn/china/2012-03/04/content_24801231.htm> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Klabin, Roy. (2013) The Biggest Risk to the Environment? China’s Population. PolicyMic. Available at: <http://www.policymic.com/articles/53181/the-biggest-risk-to-the-environment-china-s-population> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Lee, Anka. (2013) Taking a Different View on China’s Rise. Truman National Security Project. Available at: <http://trumanproject.org/in-the-news/the-diplomat-taking-a-different-view-on-chinas-rise/> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Chinese Education

3 Mar

 

The latest Programme for International Assessment (Pisa) results were released at the end of 2013. Pisa compares maths reading and science scores across the world. China topped the list across the board whilst the UK languished in 26th place below France, Ireland and many other European countries. The results for China however are misleading as the results actually relate to Shanghai rather than the country as a whole and therefore exclude rural schools and children (Sedghi et al, 2013). Despite this, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that even the poorest Chinese children are, on average, ahead of the best students in the UK (Paton, 2014). This shocking finding asks major questions of the UK educational system, but is there anything that can be copied from China to improve education here?

 

Jenkins (2014) describes Chinese schools as “communist drill halls, factories of pressure, discipline and childhood misery”. Whilst good at getting high scores, this form of education with long hours and strict rules is unlikely to be used by the UK government. In contrast many Chinese parents are actually looking to the West to see how the education their children receive can be improved (Kaiman, 2014). In China education is built up towards the gaokao, a nine-hour college admission test. The pressure of this test has led to a significant number of youth suicides (Kaiman, 2014). Some parents want to see the pressures of this test reduced and a new more creative educational experience put in place where the children are no longer fed the answers, but instead are encouraged to find things out themselves (Kaiman, 2014). Whether or not changes are made will depend on the Chinese Government but as China tops the tables (albeit unreliably) this change is unlikely to occur.

 

Jenkins, S. (2014), For Britain’s pupils, maths is even more pointless than Latin, [The Guardian online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/18/maths-more-pointless-than-latin-british-pupils-china [Accessed: 03/03/2014]

 

Kaiman, J. (2014), Nine-hour tests and lots of pressure: welcome to the Chinese school system, [The Guardian online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/22/china-education-exams-parents-rebel [Accessed: 03/03/2014]

 

Paton, G. (2014), China’s poorest beat our best pupils, [The Telegraph online] Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10645090/Chinas-poorest-beat-our-best-pupils.html [Accessed: 03/03/2014]

 

Sedghi, A. Arnett, G. and Chalabi, M.  (2013), Pisa 2012 results: which country does best at reading, maths and science?, [The Guardian online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/dec/03/pisa-results-country-best-reading-maths-science [Accessed: 03/03/2014]