Archive for ‘Social & cultural’

21/03/2015

BBC News – India arrests hundreds over Bihar school cheating

About 300 people have been arrested in the Indian state of Bihar, authorities say, after reports emerged of blatant cheating in school exams.

Indians climb the wall of a building to help students appearing in an examination in Hajipur, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar

Parents and friends of students were photographed climbing school walls to pass on answers.

Many of those arrested were parents. At least 750 students have been expelled.

An estimated 1.4m students are taking their school leaving exams in Bihar alone – tests seen as crucial for their chances of a successful career.

The authorities have clearly been embarrassed by the cheating, the BBC’s Jill McGivering says, with the episode prompting ridicule on social media.

Students were seen copying answers from smuggled-in note sheets, and police posted outside test centres were even seen being bribed to look the other way.

via BBC News – India arrests hundreds over Bihar school cheating.

21/03/2015

China’s Coming Education Crisis – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Yao Xinyu, founder of a popular software hosting service called GitCafe, opted not to attend college because he felt he could do a better job teaching himself what he needed to be successful in the real world.

His parents disapproved but he stuck to his guns, studied on his own and built the successful startup after attracting 3 million yuan in capital from Greenwood Asset Management in late 2013. The 24-year old doesn’t see much chance that colleges in China will change to better meet the shifting needs of China’s economy, he said, since demand is high, their business model is profitable and there’s little incentive to adapt.

“I just decided I knew how to develop my own career,” he added.

One the knottiest problems China faces as its economy slows is a mismatch between people’s education levels and the needs of an economy increasingly reliant on technology and innovation, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development said Friday in a report on China.

China’s productivity is decelerating and it’s important to reverse this “worrisome” trend given the nation’s rapidly aging population and the related prospect of slower rates of savings and investment, the Paris-based organization said.

“The knowledge taught and skills nurtured at school do not sufficiently match labor market needs,” it said. “Workplace training-based vocational education arrangements are woefully inadequate.”

While China has aggressively stepped up its spending on research, this isn’t translating sufficiently into innovation, the 34-member OECD said. China’s spending on research and development hit 2% of gross domestic product in 2013, which is above the European Union average, and has set a target of 2.5% of GDP by 2020. But innovation remains weak as measured by international patenting and trademark registration, the report said. “And the bulk of university research is not relevant for business,” the OECD said.

Many of China’s past gains in productivity were related to capital, but the country’s future focus should be on the economic benefits of better trained workers, said Angel Gurria, secretary general of the Paris-based group. “Productivity, productivity, productivity, it’s not a choice, it’s a must,” he said. “Without it, China’s not going to be able to continue growing at this cruising speed.”

China has targeted economic growth of 7% this year, a reduction from last year’s 7.4% which was its slowest pace in nearly a quarter century.

via China’s Coming Education Crisis – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

04/03/2015

Shaolin Monks Put Payment Down on First Foreign Temple – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s Shaolin Temple, known for its legendary martial arts, wants to replicate its ancient ways Down Under – and it is prepared to pay up to support its vision.

Abbot Shi Yongxin handed over a check of more than 4 million Australian dollars ($3.13 million) to Joanna Gash, mayor of Shoalhaven, in southeast Australia, clearing the outstanding payment on the sale of a slot of land, according to a statement posted on the coastal city government’s website late last month. The payment is part of an expected US$300 million investment in Australia to open a temple there, the Shaolin Temple’s first outside China.

The deal marks the latest move by Mr. Shi – sometimes called the CEO Monk in China – to extend and commercialize the legend of the ancient Chinese temple. The Shaolin brand, which is managed by the Shaolin Intangible Assets Management Co. Ltd., has set up more than 40 cultural institutions around the globe, Xinhua said.

Mr. Shi himself is a member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a national political advisory group that is currently holding its once-a-year meeting in Beijing.

Mr. Shi told the official Xinhua News Agency that the construction of a Shaolin culture center has been kicked off in New South Wales of Australia and will likely be completed next year, Xinhua reported on Tuesday. A preliminary blueprint includes a Buddhist temple, a Kung Fu school, a medical center, a golf course as well as a resort hotel.

via Shaolin Monks Put Payment Down on First Foreign Temple – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

27/02/2015

China bans ivory imports ahead of royal visit: Xinhua | Reuters

China has announced a one-year ban on the import of African ivory carvings ahead of next week’s visit by Britain’s Prince William, a strong critic of the ivory trade.

China will halt approval for imports until late February next year, newsagency Xinhua reported on Thursday, citing the State Forestry Administration, which regulates the trade. The ban will affect carvings acquired after 1975, it added.

Prince William has previously been critical of China over its consumption of ivory, while animal rights groups say the country’s growing appetite for the contraband material has fueled a surge in poaching in Africa.

“The move is to protect African elephants, and the one-year timeframe is designed to assess the effects,” Xinhua said.

China crushed 6.2 metric tonnes (6.83 tons) of confiscated ivory early last year in its first such public destruction of any part of its stockpile. However, the country still ranks as the world’s biggest end-market for poached ivory according to conservation body the World Wildlife Fund.

China signed a pact banning global trade in ivory in 1981, but it got an exemption in 2008 to buy 62 tonnes of ivory from several African nations. It releases a portion of that stockpile each year to government-licensed ivory carving factories.

via China bans ivory imports ahead of royal visit: Xinhua | Reuters.

25/02/2015

Big national birthrate rise signals new peak|chinadaily.com.cn

Change to family planning policy likely to result in 1m extra babies each year

Big national birthrate rise signals new peak

A new peak in births is likely to occur as a result of the relaxing of the family planning policy and could continue for several years, according to experts.

They estimate that the number of babies born annually will rise by more than 1 million from current levels, bringing the total number of births each year close to that recorded during the last peak.

Last year, 16.87 million babies were born in China, 470,000 more than in 2013, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

“This is a dramatic increase compared with previous years,” Yuan Xin, a professor of population studies at Nankai University in Tianjin, said.

The number of births declined steadily between 1999, when more than 18 million babies were born, and 2006.

Since then, the number of births has remained stable at less than 16.4 million, according to the bureau.

The big increase in the number of births last year was caused by a series of moves to relax the family planning restrictions, Yuan said.

Since late 2013, 29 of the 31 provincial regions on the mainland have enacted policies that allow couples to have a second baby if either partner is a single child, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

About 1.07 million such couples had registered with the authorities to have a second child by the end of last year, the commission said.

via Big national birthrate rise signals new peak[1]|chinadaily.com.cn.

20/02/2015

Top China cotton producer resists reforms in restive Xinjiang | Reuters

China’s top cotton producer, a quasi-military body formed 60 years ago to settle the far west Xinjiang area, is resisting a government policy that could force it to cut output in an industry employing hundreds of thousands in the restive region.

Farmers stack cotton at a cotton purchase station in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in this November 3, 2010 file picture. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Beijing has pledged to end a costly stockpiling program that has artificially inflated cotton prices and in Xinjiang helped underpin an influx of Han Chinese workers, creating friction in an area home to the Muslim Uighur people.

Reluctant to accept the current weak market price, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) has asked the government to buy part of its crop and store it in state reserves, said two trade sources with knowledge of the issue.

XPCC, also known as the army corps, or ‘bingtuan’, has become a sort of state within a state and gained a dominant role in industries such as cotton, where it employs about 200,000 mainly Han Chinese on some of Xinjiang’s best land.

“Cotton is intimately associated with land usage, ownership, employment and Han in-migration. It’s all tied up,” said Tom Cliff, a scholar at the Australian National University.

Beijing has promised subsidies to help cushion the impact of ending stockpiling, but the total amount is unclear and with the local cotton price plunging any threat to the industry could be a fresh source of competition for jobs.

via Top China cotton producer resists reforms in restive Xinjiang | Reuters.

20/02/2015

In Tibet, two celebrations coincide – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

The streets are more crowed and business is booming in Lhasa at the approach of Losar, Tibetan New Year, which coincides this year with the traditional Chinese Spring Festival.

In Tibet, two celebrations coincide

This year, New Year falls on the same day, Thursday, in both traditions. Losar dates to about 100 BC, the time of the ninth king of Tibet, Pude Gungyal. The celebration runs as long as 15 days.

Although the heavy snow that fell in Lhasa two days ago has not melted yet, residents are gearing up for the festival. Many of the hot shopping spots, such as the Ramoche Road and the Barkhor Shopping Mall, are packed with customers.

“My business is much better than last year. With the New Year festivals together, I had more shoppers,” said Basang Lhamo, a stall owner in the Barkhor market.

“I did not have time to prepare for my own Losar,” said the 38-year-old, adding that she will close her business on Tuesday, one day before New Year’s Eve.

As hordes of shoppers prepared for the festival, some bus drivers find it difficult to avoid traffic jams. “Ahead of Losar, with buses and streets crowded with people, it is hard to keep the bus moving smoothly,” said Nyima Tsering, a driver in Lhasa.

Karma Sonam, 43, a restaurant owner in the city, said his business has boomed this month. “My restaurant has been so full that my wife and our staff don’t have time for lunch most of the time,” he said. His family will travel to Xigaze for the festival, and he will give the staff a 15-day holiday.

Sonam Droma is a Tibetan woman who married a Han. They plan to spend the festival on the grassland. “It is more fun to embrace Losar in a remote grassland, as we enjoy the evening bonfire dancing and singing,” Sonam Droma, 27, said. “It is happier on the grassland.”

via In Tibet, two celebrations coincide – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

20/02/2015

Don’t Wear Pig T-Shirts in Dubai: Xinhua’s Official Online Guide for Chinese Tourists – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s numerous fans of the novel “Cloud Atlas” will be familiar with author David Mitchell’s adage: There ain’t no journey what don’t you change you some.

As many in the world’s most populous country pack their bags this week and leave on jet planes for horizons far, authorities here are hoping that Chinese travelers, too, will transform – specifically by becoming more mannerly international travelers.

After a series of embarrassing recent incidents, China’s state-run media Xinhua recently did its part to help citizens discern good behavior from bad by publishing an online guide to overseas etiquette. “Who wants to be labeled uncivilized by foreigners?” asks the Xinhua article, published a few days ahead of this year’s Spring Festival Holiday.

To avoid that, the piece offers advice to travelers, including items tailored to specific destinations.

Doing Dubai? Don’t talk about pigs. And don’t wear items of clothing that have images of pigs on them. (Thanks for the fashion tip Xinhua.)

On Safari in Kenya? Please, get permission before posing and saying “cheese!” next to Masai warriors. And keep your hands off that ivory.

The same applies to coral: It belongs in Fiji and not on auntie’s shelf in Fujian province.

Vacationers from the People’s Republic have acquired a reputation for being unruly at times, and have lately made global headlines by attacking flight attendants, fighting in airplane aisles and opening emergency doors in non-emergency situations. Recent incidents have led China to consider establishing an air-passenger blacklist that would ban travelers who continually misbehave.

A relative newcomer to overseas vacations, China has been quick to catch the travel bug. According to the China National Tourism Administration, more than 100 million Chinese ventured abroad in the eleven month period ending November last year. By contrast, in 1998 that number was just 8.4 million. In a recent report, Hong Kong brokerage CLSA said it expects the total number of Chinese outbound travelers to hit 200 million in 2020.

via Don’t Wear Pig T-Shirts in Dubai: Xinhua’s Official Online Guide for Chinese Tourists – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

16/02/2015

China to prosecute former top parliament body official for graft | Reuters

China will prosecute a former vice-chairman of China’s top parliamentary advisory body for graft, including taking bribes and selling “ranks and titles”, the government said on Monday, the latest senior figure to fall in a deepening anti-corruption campaign.

Su Rong attends a group discussion during the National People's Congress in Beijing March 6, 2012.  REUTERS/Stringer

Su Rong had been one of the 23 vice-chairmen of the largely ceremonial but high-profile Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference until authorities began an investigation last year.

Su abused his power over personnel appointments and the operation of unidentified companies and took “an enormous amount of bribes”, said the ruling Communist Party’s graft-fighting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

He “abused his power and caused great losses to state assets”, it said in a statement, without providing details.

“As a senior party official, Su Rong disregarded the party’s political rules … wantonly sold ranks and titles, led the official ranks astray and damaged the atmosphere in society,” the statement said.

His influence was “abominable” and he had been officially stripped of his title and expelled from the party, it said.

Details of Su’s case have been handed to judicial authorities, it said, and he will face prosecution in court.

Su previously served as Communist Party boss for the poor inland provinces of Jiangxi and Gansu.

Chinese media ha

via China to prosecute former top parliament body official for graft | Reuters.

14/02/2015

Military corruption: Rank and vile | The Economist

SO EXTENSIVE was the stash of jade, gold and cash found in the basement of General Xu Caihou’s mansion in Beijing that at least ten lorries were needed to haul it away, according to the Chinese press last October. Given General Xu’s recent retirement as the highest ranking uniformed officer in the armed forces, this was astonishing news. General Xu, the media said, had accepted “extremely large” bribes, for which he now faces trial. It will be the first of such an exalted military figure since the Communist Party came to power in 1949.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA)—as the Chinese army, navy and air force are collectively known—has not fought a war for 35 years. But the world’s largest fighting force is now engaged in a fierce battle at home against corrosion within its ranks.

Xi Jinping, China’s president (pictured, pointing), has taken his sweeping anti-corruption campaign into the heart of the PLA, seemingly unafraid to show that a hallowed institution is also deeply flawed. In January the PLA took the unprecedented step of revealing that 15 generals and another senior officer were under investigation or awaiting trial. It said it would launch a stringent review of recruitment, promotions, procurements and all of its financial dealings in order to root out corruption.

One reason Mr Xi is keen to clean up the army is to ensure that it remains a bulwark of party rule. The PLA is the party’s armed wing—its soldiers swear allegiance to it rather than the people or the country. All officers are party members and each company is commanded jointly by an officer in charge of military affairs and another whose job it is to ensure troops toe the party line. Mr Xi has repeatedly stressed the party’s “absolute leadership” over the PLA. His definition of a “strong army” puts “obedience to the party’s commands” before “capability of winning wars”.

via Military corruption: Rank and vile | The Economist.

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