Archive for ‘Social & cultural’

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.

10/02/2015

Derrière Diplomacy: Chinese Consumers Swamp Japanese Toilet Stores – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Call it backdoor diplomacy. In what might be called a sign of easing tensions between China and Japan, Chinese shoppers have been flocking to their island neighbor in droves to snap up toilet seats.

Lest one should be inclined to pooh-pooh, these are not commodes of your grandmother’s variety. They aren’t even the simple single-stream sprays, which are to the bidet world what Neanderthals are to human evolution.

These bidet toilet seats are masterpieces of Japanese creativity and consideration, featuring warm water options, heated seats and the ability to kill germs and unwanted odors. News segments on the shopping frenzy shown on Chinese state television showed a Japanese store manager bemused by herds of Chinese tour groups who take just one afternoon to clean out, so to speak, his entire store. Price per bidet? Just 2,000 yuan ($320) a pop.

The Japanese have long been among the world’s finest purveyors of bidet sprays. In Japan, bidets have, if anything, an excess of features. China Real Time stayed in a Tokyo hotel last year that included a remote control, as if the designer believed its user could have been located somewhere beyond the immediate vicinity of the spray.

This being a Sino-Japan matter, even toilet seats carry political meaning. Perhaps in keeping with warmer bilateral ties, some of the commentary took a friendly tone.

via Derrière Diplomacy: Chinese Consumers Swamp Japanese Toilet Stores – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

06/02/2015

Top Chinese Company Bosses Try to Atone After Bribery Allegations – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Acts of contrition allow disciples of the Roman Catholic Church to atone for their sins. Something similar may be saving souls in China’s Communist Party.

Mobile phone company China Unicom acknowledged findings published Thursday by the party’s official anti-graft agency that salacious acts of corruption gushed from its corporate suite, including abuse of power and bribery with sex as the currency.

Similar allegations have toppled government officials and corporate executives across China in the past two years, reflecting President Xi Jinping’s pledge that the party faithful will “remain resolute in wiping out corruption and show zero tolerance for it.”

Yet no one appears to be facing public reprimand at Unicom and a clutch of other state-run companies and government bureaus that the party this week accused of party discipline problems.

It’s unclear whether the fact no one is being publicly fingered for the problems atop key state-run companies suggests the party is satisfied the public shaming is enough punishment or whether it’s lightening its approach to violations. But what’s clear is the officials running the businesses have spent time in the party’s version of a confessional booth

The fresh allegations against powerful state-run organizations were published late Thursday by the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which it said were the result of a round of investigations that began in November. Similar probes of state-run companies and government bureaus have continued regularly since Mr. Xi rose to power at the 18th Party Congress in late 2012. The commission last month said that an inspection of all top state-owned enterprises will be among its priorities for this year.

In addition to catalogue of problems at Unicom, the inspections found top officials at coal giant China Shenhua Energy Co. abused market power to gain “black gold,” leaders of China State Shipbuilding Corp. did illegal business and relatives of top cadres engaged in similar malfeasance at carmaker Dongfang Motor Corp. As well, the inspectors said they unearthed buying and selling of positions at power generator China Huadian Corp., as well as poor controls that caused loss of state secrets. The inspectors likewise cited discipline failings at state broadcaster China Radio International.

The anti-graft agency’s statements on each organization quoted their Communist Party leaders, including Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing, expressing contrition about failings at their groups and pledging to rectify the problems. The statements about the individual companies each include photos of top company officers in boardrooms discussing the findings and meeting with employees to address the problems. The statements quote officials pledging to honor Mr. Xi’s principles of party discipline.

via Top Chinese Company Bosses Try to Atone After Bribery Allegations – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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