Archive for ‘Social & cultural’

25/11/2014

China considers tougher tobacco controls: Xinhua | Reuters

China, the world’s biggest tobacco market, is considering a draft regulation that would ban indoor smoking, limit outdoor smoking and end tobacco advertising, the state-run Xinhua news agency has reported.

Girls stand next to a ''No Smoking'' sign at a park downtown Shanghai April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The draft, published by the legislative affairs office of the State Council, or cabinet, and open for public consultation, included plans to curtail smoking scenes in films and TV shows, Xinhua said in a report published late on Monday.

China faces a smoking-related health crisis, with more than 300 million smokers and hundreds of millions more exposed to second-hand smoke each year. However, cigarettes are part of China’s social fabric and advocates of tougher smoking regulations have faced difficulty pushing through controls.

The government’s heavy dependence on tobacco taxes has been a major impediment to anti-smoking efforts. Last year, the tobacco industry contributed more than 816 billion yuan ($131.70 billion) to government coffers, an annual rise of nearly 14 percent.

Sources told Reuters in September that intense lobbying by the powerful state tobacco monopoly had resulted in the weakening of controversial legislation that had meant to introduce a complete advertising ban.

The draft regulation would ban indoor smoking in public places and outdoor spaces in kindergartens, schools, colleges, women’s and children’s hospitals and in fitness venues, Xinhua said. The draft also prohibits selling cigarettes to minors through vending machines.

It urged civil servants, teachers and medical staff to take the lead in tobacco control, saying teachers and medical workers would not be allowed to smoke in front of students or patients.

via China considers tougher tobacco controls: Xinhua | Reuters.

24/11/2014

China’s rich want to send children abroad for education – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

An overwhelming majority of China’s richest people are likely to send their children abroad for education, the United States and the United Kingdom being their first choices, according to a Hurun Report on education.

China's rich want to send children abroad for education

A Chinese student at the 2014 International Education Exhibition in Beijing on October 25, 2014. [Photo/IC]

The report said that some 80 percent of the country’s rich people have plans to send children abroad, the highest ratio in the world. By contrast, Japan has less than 1 percent and Germany has less than 10 percent of its rich people having such plans, said the report.

The rich people are most likely to send their children to the United States and the United Kingdom while other countries such as Australia, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Singapore, France and Germany attract most of the rest.

The report also found that the students tend to get younger. The average age of the millionaires’ children is 16 years old when they were sent abroad.

Rupert Hoogewerf, publisher of the report, said ten years ago, Chinese rich people could only send their children to Canada and Australia because large number of Chinese people there. “Now, the Chinese rich people have a much broader social network, as a result of which they can find trusted people anywhere in the world and can rest assured sending children to any country.”

“Long time overseas study of these students can definitely do good to the globalization of China’s economy,” said Rupert.

via China’s rich want to send children abroad for education – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

21/11/2014

How Indians and Chinese Study in the U.S. Shows Degrees of Development – China Real Time Report – WSJ

A record number of international students—close to 900,000 scholars–studied at U.S. colleges and universities last year and more than four out of ten of them were from India or China.

How the best and brightest from China and India choose their expensive American degrees demonstrates the differing levels of development between the world’s only billion-person economies.

Chinese students tend to choose undergraduate courses focused on business, while Indians opt for short graduate programs in more technical subjects like science and math.

A report from the Institute of International Education published this week has the figures. China continued to be the biggest exporter of students to the United States by far. It had more than 274,000 students stateside, which was a 17% increase from the previous year.

India was a distant second but still had more than 102,000 college and university students to America. That was a 6% increase from the year before, and the first rise in the number of students from the subcontinent in five years.

Back in the school year which ended in June 2010, China passed India as the biggest source of foreign freshman in the U.S.—a title India had held for years. China has been adding to that lead ever since.

China’s rise to the top—it had 200,000 more students last year to the U.S. than it did just eight years earlier—reflects the growing incomes and increasing globalization of the country’s citizens, analysts say.

Chinese students were much more likely to go to the states for undergraduate studies than Indian students. Only around 12% of Indians that study in the U.S. were there for undergraduate studies during the past school year, compared to 40% of Chinese students, the IIE study showed.

It makes sense, said Akhil Daswani, chief operating officer of OnCourse Vantage, an education consulting company in India, an undergraduate degree is a luxury few Indians can afford.

“If you are going to spend $250,000 over four years you have to have a considerable amount of disposable income,” Mr. Daswani said. “Undergraduate schools are marketing heavily (in China). It is the first place they want to go because they are getting so much business.”

When they go for an international degree, Indians prefer to get more bang for their rupee, they tend to go for two-year graduate courses that lead to high-paying jobs.

Close to 80% of Indian students in the U.S. last year were aiming to get technical degrees in science, technology, engineering or math, the study showed. That figure for China was 42%. Chinese students, meanwhile, leaned more towards business degrees. Around 28% of Chinese students were studying business compared to 12% of Indian students.

via How Indians and Chinese Study in the U.S. Shows Degrees of Development – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

20/11/2014

India Worst Slave Country, Says Global Slavery Index – India Real Time – WSJ

More than 14 million people in India are estimated to live in modern slavery, according to a new index on global slavery that ranks the country first out of 167 countries based on the number of people subject to abuse such as forced labor, servitude or sexual exploitation.

The other countries with the highest numbers of people in modern slavery are China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand. Together with India they account for 71% of the estimated 35.8 million people in modern slavery, says the 2014 Global Slavery Index, a report produced by global human rights organization the Walk Free Foundation. It defines modern slavery as “one person possessing or controlling another person in such a way as to significantly deprive that person of their individual liberty.”

Modern slavery in Asia, particularly in countries such as India and Pakistan, often includes entire families who are enslaved through bonded labor in construction, agriculture, brick making, garment factories and manufacturing.

In India, lower castes and tribes, religious minorities, and migrant workers are disproportionately affected by modern slavery the Indian section of the report says.

In 2014, the Ministry of Home Affairs launched the ‘anti-trafficking portal’, which includes  information on criminal justice statistics, anti-trafficking police units, government and law enforcement training, the anti-trafficking legislation, and reporting mechanisms, including the ChildLine hotline number.

India has also improved law enforcement efforts by establishing 215 anti-human trafficking units across the country to investigate human trafficking cases.

Legislation on its own though is not enough to ensure success of a criminal justice response to modern slavery, according to the report.

via India Worst Slave Country, Says Global Slavery Index – India Real Time – WSJ.

19/11/2014

China’s Aging Migrant Workers – Businessweek

China’s migrant worker population is getting bigger and older and includes more families living together, a government report released today shows.

A Chinese migrant worker labors at the construction site of a real estate project in Jiujiang city, east Chinas Jiangxi province on March 3, 2014.

With 245 million migrant workers as of the end of 2013, China’s liudong renkou, or floating population, now amounts to one-sixth of all Chinese. That’s up from 236 million  a year earlier, says the study, released on Nov. 18 by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

With China’s entire population aging, it’s no surprise that its migrants are getting older, too. The report says that the average age of migrant workers has gone from 33.1 years old in 2011 to 33.7 at the end of last year. And they are more likely to move with their families: The number of migrant worker parents bringing their children with them (6- to 15-year-olds) has risen to 62.5 percent, up 5.2 percentage points from 2011.

That’s good news. China has 61 million “left-behind children”, the offspring of migrant workers who are separated from their parents and still living in the countryside, according to some estimates. They make up more than one in five of all youth in China and often suffer from psychological problems, including juvenile delinquency, and are prone to high rates of dropping out of school.

The jump in children accompanying their worker parents may suggest that life for migrant families may be slowly starting to improve. China’s leaders have made urbanization a top goal and aim to lift the proportion of people living in cities from just over 53.7 percent now to 60 percent by 2020.

To encourage that, China’s economic planners announced last November that they will start to allow migrants to get more access to urban benefits including pensions, health care, and crucially education for their children. Progress on the complicated and expensive reforms, however, has been limited.

via China’s Aging Migrant Workers – Businessweek.

19/11/2014

‘Exceptionally Low’ Female Labor Participation Holding Back India’s Economy – India Real Time – WSJ

Women’s empowerment hasn’t featured prominently so far in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s program for economic revival. It probably should, according to the latest overview of the Indian economy by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The report, released Wednesday by the Paris-based club of rich nations, suggests that enlarging economic opportunities for women could be a new “growth engine” for India, accelerating GDP growth by around two percentage points each year. India has narrowed the gender gap in health and education, the report says. But Indian women still lag far behind men when it comes to participation in both the formal and informal economies.

Just a third of working-age women in India were employed or looking for a job in 2010, a lower share by some distance than in Brazil (around 65%), China (75%), Indonesia (55%) or South Africa (45%). The figure for Indian men was over 80%.

More strikingly, female labor participation in India has actually fallen over the last decade: According to Indian-government data, the working-age populations of both men and women increased by around 100 million between 2000 and 2012. But the number of women employed or seeking employment only grew by 7 million over that period, whereas the number of men in those categories expanded by 70 million. Just a quarter of the increase in the number of women outside the labor force was accounted for by more women staying in school.

Indian women who do work don’t have great jobs, the OECD report shows. More than a third are unpaid helpers, as opposed to just 11% of working men. Women are also overrepresented in low-productivity agriculture and traditional, small-scale manufacturing. Only 6% of employed women get formal benefits like pensions or maternity leave. There aren’t many female entrepreneurs. (The report notes, though, that there aren’t many entrepreneurs in India, period, relative to other countries at the same stage of development.)

Illiterate women are more likely to be in the labor force than better-educated women, though participation is higher among high-school graduates. The relationship between female participation and income is similar: The richer a woman’s household is, the less likely she is to work.

Those patterns suggest “exceptionally low” female labor participation isn’t fully explained by simple measures of worker productivity.

On a 2012 OECD index of social obstacles to gender equality, India scores poorly relative to other large developing countries. Families’ preference for sons is stronger. Violence against women is more common. Women’s access to credit, land and property is more restricted. Marriage and inheritance laws favor men more.

Other social norms matter, too. As men’s incomes have risen over the last decade, their wives may prefer housework to a low-paying job, the report suggests. One study cited by the report finds that a family’s social status is considered higher if the woman stays at home.

via ‘Exceptionally Low’ Female Labor Participation Holding Back India’s Economy – India Real Time – WSJ.

05/11/2014

Poetry of a Former Foxconn Worker in China Evokes Images of Factory Life – Businessweek

Before he took his life in late September, 24-year-old Xu Lizhi was a regular contributor of poetry to Foxconn People, the internal newspaper at his sprawling factory complex in Shenzhen. Only after he died did his writing find a wider audience, as factory friends collected his poems for publication in the Shenzhen News.

Safety netting posted around a building in Foxconn City in Shenzhen, China

Like millions of other young Chinese, Xu left his home in rural Guangdong province in 2010 to find work in the big city; he had been working intermittently on Foxconn (2317:TT)’s electronics assembly line for four years.

Following a series of 14 suicides in 2010, the Taiwanese manufacturing giant installed safety nets to prevent workers from jumping off dormitory roofs at its Shenzhen plant. It tried to improve life for its workers: The company raised basic wages and installed basketball courts and Olympic-size swimming pools for recreation. Worker suicides declined but did not disappear.

Xu’s poetry gives voice to the alienation he and many others of his generation feel on the assembly line: “I swallowed a moon made of iron/ They refer to it as a nail/ I swallowed this industrial sewage, these unemployment documents/ Youth stooped at machines die before their time/ I swallowed the hustle and the destitution/ Swallowed pedestrian bridges, life covered in rust / I can’t swallow any more/ All that I’ve swallowed is now gushing out of my throat/ Unfurling on the land of my ancestors/ Into a disgraceful poem.”

A frequent theme is how he felt the monotony of factory life sapping away “the last graveyard of our youth.” In one poem, Xu wrote: “With no time for expression, emotion crumbles into dust/ They have stomachs forged of iron/ Full of thick acid, sulfuric and nitric/ Industry captures their tears before they have the chance to fall.”

Xu also described the desolate conditions of his rented room: “A space of ten square meters/ Cramped and damp, no sunlight all year/ Here I eat, sleep, sh–, and think/ Cough, get headaches, grow old, get sick but still fail to die/ Under the dull yellow light again I stare blankly, chuckling like an idiot.”

via Poetry of a Former Foxconn Worker in China Evokes Images of Factory Life – Businessweek.

04/11/2014

Ebola crisis highlights China’s philanthropic shortfall – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

China has contributed over $120 million to fight the spread of the Ebola virus, but its billionaire tycoons – it has more than anywhere outside the United States – have, publicly at least, donated little to the cause, underscoring an immature culture of philanthropy in the world’s second-biggest economy.

Ebola crisis highlights China's philanthropic shortfall

As the ranks of China’s wealthy and the success of its corporations grow, donating to good causes has yet to take off in a significant way. China sits towards the bottom of the list of countries where people give money to charity, volunteer or help a stranger, according to The World Giving Index, compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation.

China rushes help to Ebola-hit countries

Donations to charities totalled 98.9 billion yuan ($16.1 billion) in 2013, according to Chinese government data, recovering from two straight years of declines. For comparison, Americans gave more than $335 billion, according to the National Philanthropic Trust website.

Many big Chinese companies have invested in Africa – China is Africa’s leading trading partner – and several operate in West Africa, where Ebola has been at its most lethal, killing close to 5,000 people. These include construction, infrastructure and telecoms firms such as Huawei Technology Co Ltd, China Henan International Cooperation Group and China Communications Construction Co Ltd.

A Huawei spokeswoman said Africa was an important market, but declined to comment on philanthropy or specific ventures in Ebola-hit countries. China Henan and China Communications Construction did not respond to requests for comment.

The World Food Programme (WFP) last month called on Chinese firms and tycoons to donate more to fighting Ebola.

“No one’s been willing to do anything big yet,” said Brett Rierson, the WFP’s China representative.

via Ebola crisis highlights China’s philanthropic shortfall – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

03/11/2014

Religious Tension Escalates in North India Ahead of Muharram – India Real Time – WSJ

As Muslims across India prepare to observe the holy day of Ashura in the Islamic month of Muharram on Tuesday, religious tension between Hindus and Muslims is on the rise in some parts of northern India.

Shiite Muslims, who traditionally hold processions on the 10th day of Muharram to mourn the death of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, have been forbidden from passing through certain Hindu neighborhoods in New Delhi.

According to Zafarul Islam Khan, head of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella organization of Muslim groups based in Delhi, in the Bawana neighborhood of northwest Delhi, a “maha panchayat,” an unelected village council, on Sunday decided that Muslim processions should be banned in public spaces, particularly those with majority Hindu populations.

Heads of nearby villages dominated by the Hindu Jat caste also attended this meeting to affirm their opposition to the public processions, Mr. Khan says members of the Muslim community told him. Members of the village council could not be reached for comment.

Muslims have, in turn, agreed to restrict their processions to a Muslim-dominated residential colony instead of the main market of Bawana, according to a report in the Times of India.

During the Ashura march — also referred to as Muharram — many Muslims weep and inflict wounds on themselves in an expression of grief for the martyrdom of Hussein, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.

“The Muslims themselves have decided not to take their processions to Hindu areas,” said Mr. Khan, adding, “this is happening for the first time.”

After communal violence broke out in New Delhi following celebrations for the Hindu festivals of Dussehra and Diwali last month, the atmosphere in neighborhoods with mixed Hindu and Muslim populations is still tense, according to a Times of India report.

In the eastern neighborhood of Trilokpuri in the capital, tension over the construction of a platform for Hindu gatherings close to a mosque led to low intensity violence for several days, culminating in three days of riots that ended Oct. 26.

There is an ongoing conflict over public space, said Mr. Khan, which leads to small incidents of communal tension across the country.

“In my childhood, everyone took part in the [Muharram] processions,” he said, adding that increasing polarization between Hindus and Muslims have turned festivals into a point of communal tension.

Processions for Muharram often begin a few days before the 10th day, which falls on Tuesday this year. On Sunday, authorities imposed curfew-like restrictions in most parts of Srinagar, the Muslim-majority summer capital of the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, to prevent religious processions of Shiite Muslims on the eighth day of Muharram, according to a report in Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency.

via Religious Tension Escalates in North India Ahead of Muharram – India Real Time – WSJ.

30/10/2014

180 economic fugitives back in China to face trial[1]|chinadaily.com.cn

Authorities in China have succeeded in getting extradited or persuading 180 economic fugitives to return to China and face trial since launching a campaign called “Fox Hunt” in July.

180 economic fugitives back in China to face trial

US, Canada, Australia top spots for fugitive Chinese officials

Australia to help in returning fugitives

The number of the fugitives being repatriated during the first 100 days of the “Fox Hunt” is more than that of the whole year of 2013. The returned suspects include many alleged corrupt officials who fled to more than 40 countries and regions, including the US, Canada, Australia and Southeast Asian nations.

Among the fugitives, 104 were hunted down by the police and 76 were persuaded to return. Forty four are suspected to be involved with ill-gotten assets over 10 million yuan ($1.6 million).

China’s Public Security Ministry initiated a six-month operation called “Fox Hunt” to target economic fugitives, especially corrupt officials, who fled abroad with their illicit assets. A special unit was set up by the ministry to oversee the operation. It comprises experienced police officers from the Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau and local public security departments.

According to the ministry, some corrupt Chinese officials have fled to the US, Canada, Australia and Southeast Asian countries in recent years, transferring assets worth many billions of dollars overseas through money laundering and underground sources.

Police in Australia and China recently pledged to cooperate on the extradition of Chinese economic fugitives, including many corrupt officials, in an effort to tackle the difficulties over the return of suspects due to a lack of bilateral extradition treaties.

Four of China’s top governmental departments released a statement this month urging fugitive economic criminals to surrender themselves to justice.

The announcement is another move to reinforce the “Fox Hunt 2014″ campaign.

via 180 economic fugitives back in China to face trial[1]|chinadaily.com.cn.

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