Archive for April, 2014

29/04/2014

Documents prove the truth can’t be buried[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn

Unearthed files provide new details of Japan’s occupation, report He Na and Dong Fangyu from Changchun.

Documents prove the truth can't be buried

Cruel life of miners under Japanese subjugation  In 1990, Zhao Yujie, a young teacher of Japanese at a high school, decided to fully exploit her linguistic skills by applying for a job at Jilin Provincial Archives.

Although she wasn’t aware of the fact, Zhao had applied at exactly the right time. The management of the archives was searching for Japanese speakers to help decipher a huge number of records, totaling about 100,000 documents, made by the Japanese and detailing the activities of the Imperial Army during the occupation of China.

Recently, 89 of the 100,000 files discovered in Changchun, the provincial capital, have been made available to the public for the first time. The documents were buried following Japan’s surrender in August 1945. At the time, Changchun, then called Hsingking, was the capital of the Japanese-controlled puppet state of Manchukuo, which covered most of Manchuria.

Eighty-seven of the files describe the activities of Kwantung Kempeitai, or military police corps, while the other two detail the work of the Manchukuo central bank. Because around 90 percent of the files were written in Japanese, the words, photos, audio material and blueprints provide clear descriptions of the behavior of the Japanese troops in the period 1931 to 1945.

The documents provide insights into Japan’s invasion, its battle plans and colonization strategies, and key episodes such as the Nanjing Massacre, the use of sex slaves, or “comfort women” as they were known, bacteriological experiments on prisoners and civilians, suppression of an anti-Japanese army in China’s Northeast, and the inhuman treatment of civilians, soldiers and Allied prisoners of War.

“As the largest batch of Japanese archives covering the period from 1931 to 1945 to be discovered so far, these files are of great historical value. They detail Japan’s cruelty to the people of the countries it occupied,” said Dong Hongmao, director of the Institute of Japanese History at the Jilin Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

via Documents prove the truth can’t be buried[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn.

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29/04/2014

China vs. the U.S.: It’s Just as Cheap to Make Goods in the U.S.A. – Businessweek

An entire generation of Americans has come of age laboring under the assumption that the U.S. can’t compete in the manufacturing arena with low-cost competitors such as China and Brazil. That may have been true a decade ago, but it’s no longer true today.

An employee of Rebecca Minkoff handbags at the Baikal manufacturing facility in New York.

I recently completed a review of manufacturing costs in the top 25 export economies with my colleagues Justin Rose and Michael Zinser. Our research shows that when the most important economic factors are considered—total labor costs, energy expenses, productivity growth, and currency exchange rates—Brazil is one of the highest-cost manufacturing nations in the world, Mexico is cheaper than China, China is virtually even with the U.S. (as are most of the traditionally “low-cost” countries of eastern Europe), and the low-cost leader in western Europe is none other than the country that launched the Industrial Revolution: the United Kingdom.

So throw away the old playbook. Welcome to the new era.

via China vs. the U.S.: It’s Just as Cheap to Make Goods in the U.S.A. – Businessweek.

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29/04/2014

In China, Another Argument for Peeing in Public – China Real Time Report – WSJ

While peeing in public may be frowned upon in many places, mainlanders apparently take a slightly more tolerant attitude to the practice. In Hong Kong, this cultural clash has led to a number of altercations after mainland parents let their children relieve themselves in the territory’s streets.

But at times, evacuating one’s bladder in public apparently can have its upside.

According to local media in the southwestern city of Chengdu (in Chinese), there is at least one young man who now believes that when the call of nature is heard, just go with the flow.

Xu Yuanguang was riding home from work on his motorcycle last week, the Chengdu Business News reports (in Chinese), when he felt a sudden urge. The 29-year-old shop employee pulled off the road on the outskirts of Chengdu and took  aim at a nearby pile of dirt.

After completing his task, he spotted a colorful object that had been uncovered by the sudden flow. Intrigued, he dug it out, only to find a terracotta figurine.

He and co-worker Yi Zhimin – who had been riding with him — reported the find to the local Bureau of Cultural Relics.

via In China, Another Argument for Peeing in Public – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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28/04/2014

Experts: Patent process needs update – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

Spiking demand for intellectual property services shows large room for growth

Experts: Patent process needs update

China’s patent mechanisms need to be upgraded with foreign expertise, amid a growing demand for international intellectual property services from domestic enterprises, experts said.

The number of patent applications, the demand for legal support, and intellectual property consultation in various sectors have soared in recent years, inspired by the central government’s call to develop intellectual property strategies.

But the development also poses challenges to the country’s immature patent services, they said.

The State Intellectual Property Office said China has 1,001 patent agencies and 8,861 professional practicing agents registered under the office. The entire patent agency industry generated income of more than 8.7 billion yuan ($1.4 billion), including application and managing fees, last year.

There is still room for the industry to thrive as lots of IP-related services have not yet been fully developed in China, said He Hua, the office’s deputy director.

“The skyrocketing demand in the patent application processing each year shows how big the industry is going to be, and the industry is far from realizing its potential,” He said at an IP symposium held by the All-China Patent Attorneys Association on Saturday.

China received 825,000 invention patent applications last year, a 26.3 percent increase year-on-year. The 2.38 million patent applications filed was the highest in the world for the third consecutive year, the office said earlier this month.

Chinese companies are paying more attention to international patents, with a rising awareness of their IP edge in the global market. The country received 22,924 international patent applications according to the Patent Cooperation Treaty in 2013, a 15 percent increase from 2012.

But of all the domestic and foreign patent applications filed last year, only 60 percent were processed through patent agencies, a 15 percent drop from 10 years ago.

Local agencies’ lack of knowledge of the international IP system and legal frameworks in overseas markets has forced major innovation companies to seek patents on their own.

Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei Technologies developed a 300-staff intellectual property rights department in 1995 and processed almost half the applications of its more than 30,000 international patents, said Cheng Xuxin, deputy director of Huawei’s IPR department.

via Experts: Patent process needs update – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

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28/04/2014

Labour unrest: Danger zone | The Economist

THE Pearl river delta in the southern province of Guangdong is no stranger to strikes, most of them small and quickly resolved. But a walk-out by workers at factories owned by a Taiwanese company, Yue Yuen, the world’s largest maker of branded sports shoes, including big names such as Nike and Reebok, has been remarkable for its scale and duration. It began on April 5th and has grown to involve tens of thousands of employees. On a sprawling industrial estate, angry workers watched by riot police rage about an issue few cared much about until recently: their pensions. For bosses and officials, this is a worrying sign of change.

The government has imposed a virtual news blackout on the unrest in the city of Dongguan, a place synonymous with the delta’s manufacturing heft (nearly 80% of its 8.3m people have moved there from other parts of China over the past three decades, or are the children of such migrants). Foreign journalists have been allowed onto Yue Yuen’s main estate in Gaobu township, a Dongguan suburb, but strikers complain that Chinese media are kept away. This contrasts with a relatively free rein given to Chinese reporters in 2010 to report on a large strike over pay by workers at a factory owned by Honda in Foshan, another delta city. That incident involved putting pressure on a Japanese company, an uncontroversial target for most Chinese. This latest, bigger strike (one of the largest in years involving a non-state enterprise in China) has touched a more sensitive government nerve.

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The workers accuse Yue Yuen of failing for years to make due contributions to their pensions, which are administered by the local government. Lax application of social-security laws is common, since local authorities do not want to drive away business. “The government is corrupt,” calls out one man among a group of strikers who have gathered near a row of factories. Such comments—directed at local officialdom, not Beijing—are almost as commonly heard as tirades against Yue Yuen itself. Workers fume at the heavy deployment of police, and the beating of some of the thousands of strikers who have been marching through nearby streets, most recently on April 18th (see picture).

Many employees say they are now too afraid to march again. Their protest has become a silent one: they clock in each morning, but then leave the factory and do no work, coming back to clock out when their shift is supposed to end. Workers say all 40,000 employees at Yue Yuen’s seven factories in Gaobu are on strike. A member of Gaobu’s Communist Party committee, Su Huiying, says 40% of them are at work and the rest are only on a “go-slow”. Her assertion appears unconvincing.

A Taiwanese manager at the company says “progress” is being made towards settling the strike. Yue Yuen has offered to make up social-security contributions that it has failed to pay; it has also agreed to start making full contributions from May 1st. But as they listen to repeated broadcasts of the company’s offer through loudspeakers, strikers respond with howls of derision. They also tear up copies of a letter from the government-backed trade union which is mediating in the dispute. The missive calls on workers to go back to work and acknowledge the company’s “sincerity”. “The unions aren’t like the ones in the West,” says one worker. “Here they just represent the government.”

Such anxieties about pension provision among a workforce in Guangdong mostly made up of young migrants may sound surprising. But they are becoming increasingly common as factories try to cope with a growing shortage of young workers from the countryside by retaining employees for longer. Many of Yue Yuen’s workers are in their 30s or even 40s, and many say they have been with the company for a decade or more. Geoffrey Crothall of the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin says this has been the largest strike in a non-state factory over social-security payments, but protests over such issues are becoming more common.

via Labour unrest: Danger zone | The Economist.

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26/04/2014

China’s Pollution Police Are Watching – Businessweek

At 7 a.m. on a recent March morning, Xu Xiaoshun hops behind the wheel and turns the key. His Chang’an Leopard truck puffs out some black smoke and shivers to life as Xu begins his daily gamble. Every morning, including weekends, he leaves the one-room apartment he shares with his wife, drives almost 10 kilometers (six miles) to a market, picks up construction materials, and delivers them to job sites in and around Hangzhou, a city of 8.8 million. Often, his route takes him through areas of the city where his truck is banned because of its dirty emissions. “This truck isn’t allowed on some roads,” Xu says as he steps on the gas. “But when an order comes, I must take a risk.”

China's Pollution Police Are Watching

As air pollution in China becomes a national crisis—only three of the 74 cities monitored last year had acceptable air quality, according to a March report from the Ministry of Environmental Protection—Hangzhou and other cities have declared war on dirty cars and trucks. High-emission vehicles such as Xu’s must display yellow stickers on their windshields. (Cleaner cars are marked with green ones.) In Hangzhou, yellow-tagged cars and trucks are banned from the city’s main areas from 6 a.m. to midnight.

About 13 percent of China’s 224 million vehicles had yellow labels as of 2012, but they accounted for more than half of carbon monoxide emissions and more than 80 percent of airborne particulates, government statistics show. Cities across the nation must meet a national goal of forcing all yellow-label vehicles off the roads by 2017. In Hengshui, one of China’s most polluted cities, officials have mandated a phaseout of diesel-powered vehicles more than nine years old, triggering grumblings from owners in online forums.

via China’s Pollution Police Are Watching – Businessweek.

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26/04/2014

Government Study Finds 60 Percent of China’s Groundwater Polluted – Businessweek

At 59.6 percent of sites monitored by the Chinese government, the groundwater quality was “very polluted” or “relatively polluted”—that is, unfit for drinking—in 2013, according to a study released on Tuesday by China’s Ministry of Land and Resources.

A polluted canal in Beijing

The government tested 4,778 sites in 203 cities. The study showed that China’s water quality had worsened somewhat from the previous year, when 57.4 percent of test sites were classified as polluted.

Groundwater supplies about a fifth of China’s total water consumption. In the water-short north and northwest of China, groundwater accounts for 50 percent to 80 percent of water usage.

via Government Study Finds 60 Percent of China’s Groundwater Polluted – Businessweek.

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26/04/2014

Beijing’s Struggle to Keep People in Their Place – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s Communist Party has a message for the country’s put-upon rural residents: Don’t come to us, we’ll come to you.

Earlier this week, Beijing announced new regulations banning citizens from petitioning outside their home provinces – essentially an effort to keep the country’s poor and disgruntled from bringing their grievances to the capital.

At the same time, the Party is insisting that more of its members meet people where they live, employing “pocket cadres” whose mission is to, as the People’s Daily put it, “go the last mile, [and] have a more direct relationship with the masses.”

Chinese leaders have tried to keep aggrieved rural residents in their place before, with little success. The effort to reach out to them through this new campaign appears to be an acknowledgement of past failures. But it also betrays a nostalgia for political ideas that seem out of step with some of the major realities of the moment.

The purpose of the “pocket cadre” campaign — which has been taking place primarily in China’s countryside — is two-fold:  to listen more to the complaints of residents in various regions “by going face-to-face, through home visits to hear their voices”; and to educate the masses about what the Party is already accomplishing on their behalf.

That way, Beijing believes, Party representative will be then “better able to do practical things for the people, problem-solving things.”

The “pocket” part of the strategy, according to Xinhua, refers to satchels that cadres carry on these missions to “collect suggestions from villagers” and to cart in needed items such as salt and medicine to outlying areas that residents have requested.

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These officials also often carry a “pocket-sized book”– which is “small in size, convenient to take along, and which can be used to commit to memory and allow Party members to convey current policies in a format that the masses can grasp easily.”

By making these treks into villages, the Party displays an interest in the daily lives of rural inhabitants, and pushes officials to play a role in resolving local disputes — while also pinpointing potential sources of discontent before they emerge.

The upside of this initiative is not inconsiderable. Rural residents appear to appreciate the concern shown by cadres, and have come to rely on both their visits and the appearance of “demand boxes“ that enable citizens to identify specific complaints but have them acted on locally.

Party representatives also have to be pleased that people who might otherwise petition higher levels for redress have a new avenue for seeking out officials to help solve their problems.

Finally, there’s the chance that this experiment, which is largely targeted on the Chinese countryside, could be employed elsewhere in the country, and provide a precursor for greater political dialogue in the society.

via Beijing’s Struggle to Keep People in Their Place – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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24/04/2014

China-Europe railway relaunches – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

A freight train on Wednesday began a journey from central China’s key city of Wuhan to Poland’s Lodz, restarting the Wuhan-Xijiang-Europe rail route after it was suspended for technical reasons.

Its 15-day journey will pass along the Silk Road economic belt through major cities in central and northwest China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus before arriving in the destination.

The rail trip is about one month quicker than the maritime alternative, and costs a fifth as much as air freight, according to the Wuhan Transport Committee.

“It will greatly improve the competitiveness of exports made in Wuhan and nearby regions,” said Yu Shiping, director of the committee.

He predicted that it will contribute to the realization of the Silk Road economic belt, the regional trade infrastructure proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The train is loaded with 41 40-foot containers holding goods valued at more than 12 million U.S. dollars.

Most of them are products made by Hon Hai/Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer, which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia in its plant in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province.

Although railway transport is costly compared to maritime transport, it is a superior option bearing in mind how wildly electronic products prices fluctuate. They are more sensitive to the time-cost in transportation, according to the Foxconn plant in Wuhan.

In a month, the export value of one consignment of electronic products might devalue by about two percent, about several tens of thousands of dollars.

via China-Europe railway relaunches – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

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24/04/2014

Disillusioned office workers: China’s losers | The Economist

ZHU GUANG, a 25-year-old product tester, projects casual cool in his red Adidas jacket and canvas shoes. He sports the shadowy wisps of a moustache and goatee, as if he has the ambition to grow a beard but not the ability. On paper he is one of the millions of up-and-coming winners of the Chinese economy: a university graduate, the only child of factory workers in Shanghai, working for Lenovo, one of China’s leading computer-makers.

Man wearing suit on escalator

But Mr Zhu considers himself a loser, not a winner. He earns 4,000 yuan ($650) a month after tax and says he feels like a faceless drone at work. He eats at the office canteen and goes home at night to a rented, 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) room in a shared flat, where he plays online games. He does not have a girlfriend or any prospect of finding one. “Lack of confidence”, he explains when asked why not. Like millions of others, he mockingly calls himself, in evocative modern street slang, a diaosi, the term for a loser that literally translates as “male pubic hair”. Figuratively it is a declaration of powerlessness in an economy where it is getting harder for the regular guy to succeed. Calling himself by this derisive nickname is a way of crying out, “like Gandhi”, says Mr Zhu, only partly in jest. “It is a quiet form of protest.”

via Disillusioned office workers: China’s losers | The Economist.

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