Archive for ‘Social & cultural’

29/07/2014

Police shoot dead dozens of attackers during mob violence in Xinjiang | South China Morning Post

Police in Xinjiang shot dead dozens of knife-wielding attackers on Monday morning after they staged assaults on two towns in the westerly Xinjiang region, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday, citing local police.

china_xinjiang_explosion_tok101_43157649.jpg

Describing the incident as a “premeditated terror attack,” the official Xinhua news agency said a gang armed with knives attacked a police station and government offices in Elixku, a township in Kashgar prefecture, and then some of them moved on to nearby Huangdi Township, attacking civilians and smashing vehicles as they passed.

Dozens of civilians were killed or injured in the attack before police responded by shooting dead dozens of attackers, official media reported.

Citing local police, Xinhua said dozens of civilians of both Uygur and Han ethnicities were killed or injured, while police officers at the scene shot dead dozens of members of the mob.

Over 30 cars were vandalised, some of which were set on fire, the report said.

Earlier this month, the regional capital Urumqi marked the fifth anniversary of the 2009 riot that left 197 people dead and about 17,000 others injured, mostly Han Chinese.

The turbulent region has since seen a series of violent incidents that have left many people dead or injured, including last May’s bombing of a market in Urumqi that left dozens dead and prompted a clampdown by authorities.

In the immediate wake of that bombing, which came just weeks after a blast at an Urumqi rail station left three dead, China launched one-year “anti-terror” campaign in Xinjiang in which hundreds of suspects have been arrested and large amounts of explosives and explosive devices have been seized, according to local media.

On June 17, authorities executed 13 people and sentencing three others to death for their role in terror attacks and related crimes in Xinjiang, including an attack on government facilities and police stations in the oasis city of Turpan on June 26 last year that left 24 police officers and civilians dead.

China’s heavy-handed approach has drawn concerns that many of the region’s Uygurs, including vocal critics and people linked to the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement, have been arrested and indefinitely detained without trial, while others have disappeared without trace.

Uygurs in Xinjiang and those in self-exile abroad have long complained that discrimination and restrictions on religion, such as a ban on taking children to mosques, are fuelling anger at the Han Chinese majority.

via Police shoot dead dozens of attackers during mob violence in Xinjiang | South China Morning Post.

29/07/2014

In Delhi, an unintended consequence of free parking: violent deaths

Rajender Bhatia was sitting in his ground floor apartment in central Delhi on Sunday morning when his neighbour turned up. Kartik, who lived on the second floor of the same building, had come to pick a bone with Bhatia about the parking situation around their building. The argument quickly escalated and, according to the police, a couple of other men also joined the fracas that turned into a proper scuffle.

Then suddenly the 55-year-old Bhatia collapsed, prompting the others to run away and his family to take him to the hospital. The doctors there declared Bhatia dead on arrival and a case was registered against Kartik and the other men, who have since been arrested and booked with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Bhatia, unfortunately, is not the first to have died in an argument over parking in Delhi: there have been seven other violent incidents related to it this year alone. And, considering the state of parking in the capital, it’s unlikely Bhatia’s case will be the last.

Police records suggest that 15 people have died in the capital over parking-related issues in the past five years, with many more incidents of violent clashes. Other than the capital’s generally high stress levels, which have given it the reputation of being particularly prone to violence and spats, the huge number of cars being added to the roads combined with limited space is mainly what is behind this unique category of crimes. It isn’t uncommon to see car tires being slashed or a parked car being keyed by angry residents who see it as a way to complain about parking.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

29/07/2014

Why India’s family planning program is unhappy with parents

It’s not just politicians resisting sex education, but parents as well, according to Mahinder Watsa, former president of the Family Planning Association of India, which turned 65 last week.

Watsa, perhaps better known today for his newspaper column dispensing often wry advice on sex, was also the first to push for the inclusion of sex education in the FPAI’s programmes in the late 1970s.

“You need to have special classes for parents,” he said. “Parents should be the ones who should be involved deeply, but they pass the job on to teachers.” But teachers, he said, do not take an active part in sex education for fear of being criticised by both parents and politicians.

This fear might partly stem from the pronouncements of political leaders. In the latest instance, last month, health minister Harsh Vardhan, a qualified doctor, advocated the Gandhian route to birth control through abstinence and yoga and said that sex education in its current form should not be taught in schools. He later clarified that he was only against graphical representation of what he termed “vulgarity”.

But his remarks have yet again underlined the political class’s confused and often misguided approach to sex education.

In contrast, over the years, the focus of the FPAI, which was founded in 1949, has expanded from issues of fertility and controlling the number of children a healthy family should have to the rights of young people in accessing information and knowledge about their sexuality.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

28/07/2014

Beijing gets tough on party officials who go private | The Times

China’s intensifying anti-corruption campaign has turned its guns on the people who link government and business, forcing nearly 230 senior Communist party officials to quit the company directorships they hold on the side.

China’s president Xi Jinping

The draconian orders, which have also affected tens of thousands of more junior officials moonlighting for corporate China, are said to have unleashed a mass “exodus” of independent directors from listed Chinese companies in recent months.

The government has promised there will be more to come. China’s state news agency warned that the authorities were planning another “detailed directive” that analysts believe would attempt to tighten further the restrictions on the roles officials can play in the private sector.

The rules are expected to crack down on the activities of retired officials: as the rules stand, they are able to take on company directorships if those positions do not relate to their former specialities as civil servants.

Sources believe that the new directives will broaden the terms of the ban in a way that could affect foreign companies in the mining, energy, banking and pharmaceutical sectors.

The same burst of anti-corruption propaganda also invited the public to “blow the whistle on violations”.

The crackdown began last autumn with a ban on senior government and party officials from working for outside companies. Although a few resignations followed that ban, the real purge did not begin until scores of listed companies were subjected to an inspection a few months later.

That inspection, according to Chinese state media, identified 229 officials at the ministerial or provincial level who were working for outside companies and 40,700 junior officials with a source of company income outside their civil servant salaries.

About 300 Chinese companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges have apparently been affected by the shakedown, losing the officials they specifically hired to build relationships with Beijing and bring the companies closer to the government.

The central role of those relationships within Chinese business has been laid bare over the past two years as details have emerged of the fabulous wealth amassed by the families of senior officials.

Also exposed has been the extent to which western companies operating in China have been convinced that their success can only be guaranteed by hiring either former officials or people with exceptionally strong personal links to the central and provincial governments.

via Beijing gets tough on party officials who go private | The Times.

28/07/2014

Improving health care: Congratulations! Inoculations! | The Economist

FANS of the China model frequently say that, for all the disadvantages of a one-party state, there are also benefits. Enforcing basic health care is one—and by no means a small one. Last year China’s mortality rate for children under five years old was just one-fifth the rate it was in 1991, down from 61 deaths per 1,000 live births to 12. The maternal mortality rate has also dropped substantially—by 71%—since 1991. In 1992, one in ten Chinese children under five contracted hepatitis B. Today fewer than one in 100 of them carry the disease.

China’s advances have not gone unnoticed. Last month a group of four international bodies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank, said China was one of ten countries to have made exceptional progress in reducing infant and maternal mortality (see chart). Not all of the ten—which included Egypt, Peru, Bangladesh and Vietnam—are one-party states.

China’s improvement lies in two basic, connected areas: better care at birth and countrywide immunisation. Since 2000 the government has offered subsidies to mothers who give birth in hospitals, thereby reducing health dangers from complications—especially the risk of neonatal tetanus. The scheme also brought hard-to-reach people and groups into contact with the health-care system.

From 2001 to 2007, the share of births that took place in hospitals rose by 46%, making it easier to give a hepatitis B vaccine immediately. China now has one of the highest usage rates of the birth dose of the vaccine in the world: 96% of Chinese babies receive it on their first day of life. In 2012 the WHO commended China for a “remarkable” public-health achievement. That year it declared China free of maternal and neonatal tetanus.

Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director-general, this month said that China’s regulatory system for vaccines had passed the WHO’s evaluation with outstanding results. Dr Chan says she has “full confidence” in the safety of vaccines made in China. Last year the WHO approved one for the first time for use by UNICEF. (That has not dispelled suspicions within China itself, however, about the safety of Chinese vaccines.) China and the WHO claim that about 95% of children are vaccinated for measles, rubella and polio. In 2008 the government added eight new vaccines, including hepatitis A and meningitis, to its national programme. All are administered to children free of charge. Just as important has been the mobilisation of a network of health-care workers, at provincial, county and township levels.

via Improving health care: Congratulations! Inoculations! | The Economist.

25/07/2014

What Happened to India’s Girls? A New U.N. Report On Sex Selection Offers Some Answers – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s census data consistently shows two things: the country’s inexorably expanding population and its deep preference for sons over daughters.

A new United Nations study takes a deep look at how parents keep choosing boys over girls, despite laws that seek to block the use of ultrasounds and other pre-natal tests to determine the sex of an unborn child.

India’ child sex ratio – the number of girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 — has deteriorated sharply over the past 20 years, dropping to 918 in 2011 from 945 in 1991.

India’s sex gap “demonstrates that the economic and social progress in the country has had minimum bearing on the status of women and daughters in our society,” said Lakshmi Puri, an Indian who is a U.N. assistant secretary general.

Here are five significant takeaways from the U.N. study, written by Mary E. John, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Centre for Women’s Development Studies.

Improvements in the Overall Sex Ratio are More Nuanced Than You Think

Since 1991, the number of women per 1,000 men has been rising, though it remains far below normal. In 1991, there were 927 women for every 1,000 men. In 2011, the year of the most recent census, that number had risen to 943. The U.N. study argues that much of the improvement isn’t because fewer girls are being born and surviving into adulthood. In India, in the past, women had a shorter life expectancy than men – unlike the situation in most of the rest of the world. That has changed. Indian women now outlive men, in part because of lifestyle changes and “diseases that take a greater toll on” men.

via What Happened to India’s Girls? A New U.N. Report On Sex Selection Offers Some Answers – India Real Time – WSJ.

23/07/2014

China’s Next Great Water Project Uproots More Than 330,000 – Businessweek

China’s track record for forced relocations that accompany large infrastructure projects is dismal. Many of the 1.3 million people relocated during the construction of Three Gorges Dam in the 1990s and early 2000s were moved from ancestral villages and farmland, where they could profitably grow crops, to newly (often shoddily) built apartments, with no job training or employment help. The result: vanished earnings and increased social dislocation.

A child standing next to his family's possessions as residents in central China's Henan province make way for the South-to-North Water Diversion Project in 2010

So far, it appears that the relocation of more than 330,000 people during the ongoing construction of the South-to-North Water Transfer Project is somewhat better planned, although still deeply flawed. Beijing News looked at the fate of approximately 70,000 people relocated from homes in Hubei Province for the construction of the middle leg of the project, which aims to redirect water from China’s lush south to its arid north. The local government seems to be more aware of the importance of protecting migrants’ livelihoods, but that awareness hasn’t yielded simple solutions.

“It isn’t easy to tell people they must leave their homes,” Gufang Yan, a staffer at the Nanzhang Bureau of Immigration, told the newspaper. “Nobody gave us information about how to find a job; we did not know anything about recruitment,” said a man named Chen Yan, who was relocated for the project four years ago. He eventually managed to find work near his new home repairing cars, and he learned on the job.

via China’s Next Great Water Project Uproots More Than 330,000 – Businessweek.

22/07/2014

China food scandal spreads, drags in Starbucks, Burger King and McNuggets in Japan | Reuters

The latest food scandal in China is spreading fast, dragging in U.S. coffee chain Starbucks, Burger King Worldwide Inc and others, as well as McDonald’s products as far away as Japan.

The logo of a Starbucks coffee shop is seen in New York June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

McDonald’s Corp and KFC’s parent Yum Brands Inc apologized to Chinese customers on Monday after it emerged that Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, a unit of U.S.-based OSI Group LLC, had supplied expired meat to the two chains.

On Tuesday, Starbucks said some of its cafes previously sold products containing chicken originally sourced from Shanghai Husi, a firm that was shut down on Sunday by local regulators after a TV report showed staff using expired meat and picking up meat from the floor to add to the mix.

A Tokyo-based spokesman at McDonald’s Holdings Co (Japan) Ltd said the company had sourced about a fifth of its Chicken McNuggets from Shanghai Husi and had halted sales of the product on Monday. Alternative supplies of chicken have been found in Thailand and China, he added. The company’s shares briefly fell as much as 1.4 percent to a 15-month low before closing down 0.4 percent.

China’s food watchdog said it ordered regional offices to carry out spot checks on all firms which had used Shanghai Husi products, and would inspect all of parent OSI’s sites around China to see if enough has been done to ensure food safety. It said the case could be handed over to the police.

The regulator’s Shanghai branch said in a statement on Tuesday it had demanded production, quality control and sales records from OSI. It added it already ordered McDonald’s to seal over 4,500 boxes of suspected meat products and Yum’s Pizza Hut to seal over 500 boxes of beef.

Fast-food chain Burger King and Dicos, China’s third-ranked fast food chain owned by Ting Hsin International, said they would remove Shanghai Husi food products from their outlets. Pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc said on its Weibo blog that it had taken down all meat products supplied by Shanghai Husi and cut ties with the supplier.

via China food scandal spreads, drags in Starbucks, Burger King and McNuggets in Japan | Reuters.

21/07/2014

To No End: Why China’s Corruption Crackdown Won’t Be Stopping Soon – China Real Time Report – WSJ

One major question hovering over China’s anti-corruption campaign – already the longest the country has ever seen — is when it’s going to wind down.

According to anti-corruption czar Wang Qishan, who briefed fellow officials on the campaign last week (in Chinese), it won’t be any time soon.

And the major reason for that may well be that Beijing hasn’t yet figured out how to end it.

Wang laid out the anti-corruption strategy in unusual detail during these meetings, supplying a road map that outlined where the campaign had been and where it’s now headed (in Chinese).

Beijing’s anti-graft crusade isn’t just a one-off initiative, but an extended battle which began last year, taking down, as President Xi promised, both high-ranking “tigers” and lower-level “flies.”

And it’s accelerating.  According to an analysis that appeared on the website of the People’s Daily earlier this month, from January to May this year, Wang’s inspection teams disciplined 62,953 people, an increase of 34.7% over the same period the previous year (in Chinese).

In his briefing last week, Wang conceded that the campaign didn’t start all that well.  Indeed, in the early stages of the campaign, Wang said, the sense among his inspection teams was that corruption was buried so deep within China’s political marrow that it couldn’t be defeated, only deterred from growing.  Party officials were only too comfortable with political business as usual, where bribes and personal connections overrode considerations of actual talent when it came to selecting and promoting cadres.

“Some localities and departments, as well as some party organizations saw the pursuit of honest government as not their main responsibility,” Wang said, adding that the only option at that point was to “not allow corrupt elements to gain a foothold” in the few institutions where corruption was not already omnipresent.

The tide turned, he said, when cadres were finally given political cover by Beijing to report on their comrades engaging in corruption, especially those selling access to government officials and offering bribes for promotion.  That routine had become worrisome to Beijing because unqualified and immoral officials were becoming policy-makers.

Moreover, Wang argued, by focusing on specific areas known to be rife with graft—such as land development and real estate projects, mining rights, and public welfare funds—inspectors showed skeptics and potential targets that this campaign was a serious effort to rollback misconduct.

So what’s next?

That’s the tricky part.  Punishing corruption is one thing; preventing its reemergence could be a far-greater problem.  As one Chinese analyst admitted despondently in the pages of the People’s Daily (in Chinese), unless the system is thoroughly reformed, there’s a good chance that “the rot will come back.”

Continuing to press hard against corruption seems to make sense if Beijing’s expanding fight against graft is finally starting to show success and developing the party’s legitimacy as a problem-solver on issues that matter to the masses. But there’s also concern about just how much longer the campaign can be maintained when, as the analysis above notes, there is “a danger of overdoing something, leaving some people in a constant state of anxiety.”

Fear is evidently freezing some officials from becoming more actively engaged in supporting Xi’s call for changes in how the government operates—a passivity that has led to complaints in the Party media (in Chinese).

And there’s a greater danger:  That this effort to tear down corruption is simply dealing with the existing problems and not doing anything about building a new way of decision-making.

As a leading Chinese commentator on the current leadership’s policies put it in the same People’s Daily essay, the real need is “to create a good political environment, allowing officials to devote oneself, heart and soul, to do things, and not focus on the small circle of relationships one has with one’s superiors, doing always what one is told to do.”

That’s an attractive vision, but one that would require a major restructuring of politics in China.

via To No End: Why China’s Corruption Crackdown Won’t Be Stopping Soon – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

17/07/2014

Ex-Mongolia party officer gets life imprisonment for taking millions in bribes | South China Morning Post

A mainland regional official was sentenced to life imprisonment today for bribe-taking, a court said, the first high-ranking bureaucrat to be jailed in the corruption crackdown overseen by President Xi Jinping.

afp_emblem_wangsuyi-0717-1.jpg

Wang Suyi, 53, was last year removed from his post as chief of the Communist party’s United Front Work Department in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, an agency that liaises between the ruling organisation and non-communist groups.

He was convicted of bribery and sentenced to life in prison by the First Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing, the court said on its official account on Weibo.

He was charged with taking more than 10.73 million yuan (HK$13.5 million) in bribes between 2005 and last year in exchange for securing business deals for companies and promotions for individuals, earlier local media reports said.

Wang was the first official to face criminal trial among the 40 of vice-ministerial or higher rank investigated since China’s once-in-a-decade power transition in 2012 that anointed Xi as chief of the ruling Communist Party, according to the reports.

The South China Morning Post previously quoted a senior editor with a regional party newspaper as saying that Wang’s mistresses accused him of taking 100 million yuan in bribes, and of nepotism involving about 30 relatives.

Xi took office as president last year and has vowed to root out corrupt officials, warning that graft could destroy the ruling party.

Corruption causes widespread public anger in China and the drive has been widely touted.

At least 10 mainland provinces have launched investigations to track down so-called “naked officials”, those whose relatives have moved abroad, and the party is increasingly punishing members on charges of “adultery”, as it tries to clean up cadres’ reputation for corruption and womanising.

But critics say no systemic reforms have been introduced to combat it, while citizen activists calling for such measures have been jailed on public order offences.

via Ex-Mongolia party officer gets life imprisonment for taking millions in bribes | South China Morning Post.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 486 other followers