Posts tagged ‘Liaoning’


A horror confronted | The Economist

HUANG YANLAI was 74 when he first raped 11-year-old Xiao Yu.

He threatened her with a bamboo-harvesting knife while she was out gathering snails in the fields for her grandmother in Nan village, Guangxi province, in China’s south-west. Over the following two years, Xiao Yu (a nickname meaning Light Rain) was raped more than 50 times, her hands tied and a cloth stuffed in her mouth. She was a left-behind child, entrusted to relatives while her parents worked in distant cities. Her father returned home once a year. Told that his daughter was in trouble, he asked her what was wrong but she was too frightened to tell him. So he beat her up.

Her abusers bribed her to keep quiet, giving her about 10 yuan (about $1.50) each time they raped her, threatening that “if this gets out, it will be you who loses face, not us.” They were right. When Xiao Yu finally confided to her grandmother and went to the police, the villagers called her a prostitute and drove her out of town.

Xiao Yu’s story came to national attention after it was reported by state media. At the end of May it formed part of a study released by the Girls’ Protection Foundation, a charity in Beijing founded to increase awareness of child sexual abuse, a crime officials preferred not to discuss openly until recently. The study said there had been 968 cases of sexual abuse of children reported in the media between 2013 and 2015, involving 1,790 victims. Wang Dawei of the People’s Public Security University said that, for every case that was reported, at least seven were not. That would imply China had 12,000 victims of child sexual abuse during that period. “I have never seen this many child sexual-assault cases, ever,” ran one online reaction. “Why is it such things were hardly heard of five years ago,” asked another, “and now seem all over the media?”

China is no exception; it is no longer taboo to discuss the problem. In 2015 Fang Xiangming of China Agricultural University, in a report for the World Health Organisation (WHO), estimated, using local studies, that 9.5% of Chinese girls and 8% of boys had suffered some form of sexual abuse by adults, ranging from unwanted contact to rape. For boys the rate is as high as the global norm, for girls it is slightly less so. Because of the country’s size, however, the absolute numbers are staggering. Perhaps 25m people under 18 are victims of abuse.Chinese pride themselves on the protectiveness of their families. That children suffer even an average level of abuse is a surprise to many. But, as everywhere, children hide their experience. In 2014 Lijia Zhang, a journalist, wrote a first-hand account in the New York Times of sexual abuse at her school in the city of Nanjing in the 1970s. She said it never occurred to her and other victims to report the teacher. “We didn’t even know the term sexual abuse.” Even in Hong Kong, where sex is more openly discussed, a study of university students found that 60% of male victims and 68% of female ones surveyed since 2002 had not told anyone about their abuse. These rates of non-disclosure are considerably higher than in the West. Mr Fang, the author of the study for the WHO, says that if Chinese girls were more open, then the true rate of female sexual abuse might turn out to be as high as elsewhere, just as it is for boys.

In any country, child sexual abuse is hard to measure. China has never conducted a nationwide survey, though it is talking about holding one in the next couple of years. There are many provincial or citywide studies. But as in other countries, researchers use different measures and standards. And there are no studies of abuse over time, so it is hard to detect trends. Even so, there are reasons to believe that children are at growing risk.

First, China has huge numbers of “left-behind” children, like Xiao Yu. According to the All-China Women’s Federation, an official body, and UNICEF, the UN agency for children, 61m people below the age of 17 have been left in rural areas while one or both parents migrate for work. Over 30m boys and girls, some as young as four, live in state boarding schools in villages, far from parents and often away from grandparents or guardians. (A growing number of rural children whose parents are still at home have to board, because of the closure of many small schools in the countryside as village populations shrink.) Another 36m children have migrated with their families to cities, but their parents are often too busy to look after them properly.

Time for new thinking

About 10m left-behind children see their parents only once a year and otherwise rely on the occasional phone call. “Every time my mother called, she would tell me to study hard and listen to my teachers,” said one victim of sexual assault by a mathematics teacher at a school in You county, in the central province of Hunan. “I could not bring myself to tell her over the phone what was happening.”

How much abuse is inflicted on left-behind children is not known. Researchers complain that schools with large numbers of them often refuse to allow sexual-abuse surveys. But given their vulnerability, left-behind children are likely to be victims of such abuse more frequently—possibly much more so—than average.

Another risk factor is a mixture of ignorance, shame and legal uncertainty that makes it very difficult for children to defend themselves. Fei Yunxia works for the Girls’ Protection Foundation, the NGO that released the recent study of abuse cases. She travels to schools, giving sex-education classes. “No one tells these students about their bodies or how to protect themselves from harm,” she told Xinhua, a government news agency. Sex education in China is rare and never touches on abuse. The NGO says that 40% of 4,700 secondary-school pupils polled in 2015, when asked what was meant by their “private parts”, said they did not know. When cases are reported to the authorities, little is done, either because of legal loopholes, or because officials refuse to recognise the problem, or because they cover up for colleagues.

It does not help that China’s statute of limitations is only two years. Wang Yi of Renmin University says this is too short for cases involving child sexual abuse: victims often remain silent for years. There is no national register of sex offenders, though Cixi, a city in Zhejiang province, aroused controversy in June when it said it would publish “personal information” about major sex criminals after their release to let the public monitor them (some commentators worried about an invasion of privacy).

The lack of well-developed sex-crime laws means victims are often failed by the justice system. In Liaoning province eight school girls aged between 12 and 17 were kidnapped, stripped, beaten, and forced to watch and wait their turn while men who had paid $270 per visit raped them repeatedly in hotel rooms. The men were charged with having “sex with under-aged prostitutes”, a charge that shamed the victims into silence. The law that allowed child-rape victims to be classified as prostitutes was scrapped in 2015. But a women’s legal-counselling centre in Beijing, which had led a campaign against it, was itself closed earlier this year as part of a crackdown on civil society launched by China’s president, Xi Jinping. No wonder that, as a lawyer in the You county case put it, “silence is the preferred solution.”

A shift in moral assumptions about sex presents another challenge. China is in the middle of a sexual revolution. Sex before marriage is more common. The age of first sexual experience is dropping. Most researchers into child abuse think there may be a link between such changes and sexual violence against children, if only because the revolution in mores seems to go hand in hand with changes to the traditional child-rearing system that, through intense surveillance, may limit abuse.

Ye Haiyan, challenging abuse

When a country confronts the problem of child abuse it typically goes through three stages, argues David Finkelhor of the University of New Hampshire. First the public and media become alert to the problem. This is happening. With the help of social media, and thanks to a greater willingness to speak out on social matters, campaigners have begun to organise. Ye Haiyan (pictured), known online as “Hooligan Sparrow”, helped arouse public awareness with her protests in 2013 against the rape of six girls aged between 11 and 14 by their school principal. In the next stage the government becomes concerned and starts to tighten laws. Then the police, social workers and public prosecutors begin to deal with problems on the ground. China is moving into this third stage.

Make them safer

Since early this decade, prosecutors and police have been spelling out how cases of abuse should be handled, from the collection of evidence to support for victims and procedures for separating a child from his or her parents. At the end of 2015 China adopted its first domestic-violence law. It says that preventing this is the “joint responsibility of the state, society and every family”. All this, says Ron Pouwels, UNICEF’s head of child protection in China, means that “China gets it and is determined to do something about it.”

But much more work is needed. For example, there are very few social workers. The government has set a target of 250,000 properly qualified ones by the end of 2020. But only 30,000 take up such jobs each year. Crucially, Mr Xi needs to reverse his campaign against civil society and his efforts to stifle media debate. Further improving public awareness of the problem will need the help of NGOs and a freer press (free, for example, to point out that abusers are often people in authority—Ms Ye, the activist, was harassed by officials for trying to do so). Over the past 30 years, China has enhanced the life prospects of millions of children by providing them with better education and health care. Now it is time to protect them from sexual violence, too.

Source: A horror confronted | The Economist


It’s official: China building second aircraft carrier as concern mounts over claims to South China Sea | South China Morning Post

China on Thursday confirmed it is building a second aircraft carrier, as its neighbours worry about Beijing’s new assertiveness to claims in the South China Sea.

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning cruises for a test on the sea. Photo: AP

Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the carrier had been designed in China and was being built in the port of Dalian in Liaoning province. The construction drew on experiences from the country’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, bought from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China.

Source: It’s official: China building second aircraft carrier as concern mounts over claims to South China Sea | South China Morning Post


China Wastes 35 Million Metric Tons of Grain a Year—Enough to Feed 200 Million – Businessweek

Chinese officials like to point out that their country has less than 10 percent of the world’s arable land but has to feed a fifth of the world’s population. So you would think that China obsessively ensures there is no wastage in its agriculture sector. You would be wrong.

A farmer harvests rice in Xizhou county, China

Every year China wastes at least 35 million metric tons of grain through subpar storage, during transportation by truck, rail, and boat, and through excessive processing, said a Chinese official earlier this week. “The losses can feed 200 million people for a year, which is shameful,” said Chen Yuzhong, an official with the State Administration of Grain, reported China Daily today.

In particular, 27.5 million tons is lost through improper storage and transportation, while another 7.5 million tons is destroyed during processing, he said. Excessive processing that leads to waste happens as companies polish rice two or three times, according to Wang Lirong, a quality engineer in the State Administration of Grain.

via China Wastes 35 Million Metric Tons of Grain a Year—Enough to Feed 200 Million – Businessweek.


Drought in Northeast China Is the Worst in 63 Years – Businessweek

Southern China is a rice-growing region, while the northeast is the country’s wheat and corn-growing “bread basket.” This summer the northern province of Liaoning is suffering the worst drought in 63 years, according to the local meteorological bureau: The province has seen the lowest precipitation since the government began keeping records in 1951. The dry summer threatens immediate drinking water supplies and autumn harvests.

A farmer stands at the bottom of the Zhifang Reservoir, near Dengfeng, China

The agricultural research service Shanghai JC Intelligence predicts that China’s corn yields may drop 1.5 percent this year, which could drive up domestic corn prices and compel farmers to use alternative grains for animal feed.

(China also imports from the U.S., but since last fall, Chinese inspectors have rejected an increasing number of shipments found to contain unapproved genetically modified organisms (GMO) varieties.)

Other regions have also suffered under the drought, including the northern provinces of Inner Mongolia and Jilin, and central Henan province. In Inner Mongolia, 300,000 people have faced drinking-water shortages, according to state-run Xinhua newswire. More than 270,000cattle have also gone without water. Xinhua reported economic losses to the poor northwestern province total $37 million so far.

Harvests of soybean and barley may also be hurt by the drought, as well as livestock health.

via Drought in Northeast China Is the Worst in 63 Years – Businessweek.


Growth Not Good Enough: Chinese City Changes the Rules – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Fast growth is no longer the fast track on the official career path.  At least that’s what the city of Shenyang is trying to tell its Communist Party cadres.

According to the People’s Daily, the Shenyang government is changing its rating system for officials, lowering the scores for economic development and GDP growth while adding points for “reform and innovation” and  environmental protection (in Chinese).

Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province and the largest city in northeastern China, used to be the home of the nation’s iron and steel industry and was best known for its forest of smokestacks and chimneys. Now the city is hoping to reduce its dependence on heavy industry and erase its reputation for soot and smog.

The newspaper said that “food and drug safety” and “public health and safety” will be added to improving people’s livelihood, increasing employment and ensuring housing security in the calculations of which officials get promoted – and which fall behind.

An official at the municipal government confirmed that the change had been made though he was unable to provide further details on the actual scoring system.

China’s Communist Party chief Xi Jinping said in November last year that China could no longer “choose its heroes according to economic growth records alone.” Improvements in daily life, social progress, environmental protection and other indicators all had to be taken into account, he added.

Premier Li Keqiang, speaking at the annual session of parliament in March, also tried to address mounting public concerns over the pollution that has accompanied economic growth by saying that China was no longer chasing fast growth at any price. He said employment was now the government’s top concern.

Chen Haibo, mayor of Shenyang, has echoed those sentiments.

“The threshold for environmental protection will be much higher this year,” he said at a meeting of the local legislature early this year.

The mayor also noted that Shenyang’s economic growth target would be 9% this year – its lowest level in over a decade. Last year, growth in Shenyang came in at 10%, down from 11% the previous year, according to the provincial government’s official news site.

China has some of the best environmental laws on the planet, but the rewards for breaking them have long outweighed the penalties. If Shenyang follows through, and other cities follow suit, it could be very good news for China’s environment.

via Growth Not Good Enough: Chinese City Changes the Rules – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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U.S., Chinese warships narrowly avoid collision in South China Sea | Reuters

A U.S. guided missile cruiser operating in international waters in the South China Sea was forced to take evasive action last week to avoid a collision with a Chinese warship maneuvering nearby, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement on Friday.

A helicopter hovers over the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens in the northern Gulf March 12, 2003. REUTERS/Paul Hanna

The incident came as the USS Cowpens was operating near China\’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and at a time of heightened tensions in the region following Beijing\’s declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone farther north in the East China Sea, a U.S. defense official said.

Another Chinese warship maneuvered near the Cowpens in the incident on December 5, and the Cowpens was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision, the Pacific Fleet said in its statement.

via U.S., Chinese warships narrowly avoid collision in South China Sea | Reuters.


Chinese Rage at the Pension System – Businessweek

This public-sector / private pension imbalance is similar to that in the UK!

“When a Beijing professor recently suggested pushing back the age at which retirees get their pensions, China’s bloggers let loose. “You’re indeed completely without conscience, a mouth filled with poison and cruelty, your heart that of a beast,” wrote one blogger from Shenyang, in Liaoning province, on the online portal, according to ChinaSMACK, a website that translates Chinese Internet content. “The clamor to postpone the retirement age is getting louder, a raging fire burns in my heart,” wrote another from Jiangxi province. “Tsinghua University truly has raised a bunch of garbage professors,” wrote a blogger from Guangdong, referring to Yang Yansui, director of Tsinghua’s employment and social security institute, who raised the idea.

The heated responses reflect the crisis faced by China’s pension system. A shrinking workforce must support more than 200 million retirees. The government has moved in the last few years to add farmers, the unemployed, and migrant workers to its pension rolls, which now cover more than four-fifths of those registered in cities and 43 percent of rural Chinese.

1.6:1—Expected ratio in 2050 of working-age people supporting 1 retiree, down from 4.9 to 1 today

When top officials gather in Beijing on Nov. 9 to map out the next set of reforms, solving the pension crisis could well be high on their list. Last year for the first time, the working-age population—those 15 to 59 years old—declined, falling by 3.5 million to 937.3 million. People older than 60 make up 13 percent of the population. By 2050 that number will rise to 34 percent, estimates the World Bank. Today an average 4.9 Chinese of working age support one retiree. That ratio could fall to 1.6 by 2050, estimates Robert Pozen, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School.”

via Chinese Rage at the Pension System – Businessweek.


China, Japan, and India’s Asian Arms Race

BusinessWeek: “China and Japan managed to get past the Aug. 15 anniversary of the Japanese surrender in World War II without incident. For weeks leading up to the date, the question was, will he or won’t he? Will Shinzo Abe, the conservative prime minister who last year infuriated the Chinese by visiting the Yasukini Shrine in Tokyo, which commemorates Japan’s war dead—including war criminals from World War II—go to the shrine on the anniversary?

Japan's 19,500-ton Izumo helicopter carrier is launched in Yokohama on Aug. 6

Abe has enough on his agenda without provoking another crisis with China, so he decided to stay clear. Three members of his cabinet did go to Yasukini, part of a group of 100 members of Japan’s parliament who prayed at the shrine. While Abe wasn’t one of them, the prime minister did make a gesture to his nationalist supporters, sending a cash offering to the shrine.

Another day, another crisis in the ongoing saga of the dispute between the two Asian powers over uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea. Today, China’s official China Central Television reported the People’s Liberation Army had started 10 days of live-fire military exercises in the waters near the islands, which Japan calls the Senkaku and the Chinese call the Diaoyu. In a highly symbolic move, one ship taking part in the exercises is the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier.

The Liaoning is part of a three-way arms race involving the naval forces of China, Japan, and the other big Asian power, India. With China embroiled in territorial disputes with both Japan and India, all three countries are coming out with bigger and better warships to make sure they hold their own in the region.

For Japan, the big news is a 19,500-ton helicopter carrier called the Izumo, which the government unveiled on Aug. 6. It’s the third such warship in Japan’s self-defense force and the biggest Japanese-made military vessel since the end of World War II. That’s big for Japan but still small compared with U.S. aircraft carriers, which displace 97,000 tons when fully loaded.

Still, the Chinese are not happy about the Izumo’s launch. The helicopter carrier is a “symbol of Japan’s strong wish to return to its time as a military power,” the Global Times wrote the next day.

India, meanwhile, has launched its first aircraft carrier, unveiled on Monday. That’s a challenge to China, the Global Times editorialized. “China should speed up its construction of domestic aircraft carriers,” it said. “The earlier China establishes its own aircraft carrier capabilities, the earlier it will gain the strategic initiative.”

India has tripled military spending over the past 10 years and in February announced more spending, with a 14 percent increase in defense outlays. The border dispute between India and China isn’t as hot as the one between Japan and China, but it involves much more land: India says China is occupying 38,000 square kilometers of Indian territory in Jummu and Kashmir (the much-disputed region in the north of India that is also claimed by Pakistan). China says India is occupying 90,000 square kilometers of Chinese territory in Arunachal Pradesh (a state in northeastern India near Bhutan and Tibet).””

via China, Japan, and India’s Asian Arms Race – Businessweek.


Austerity threatens to take gloss off China’s national games

I wonder if the government’s austerity drive and the anti-corruption drive is contributing to the slow down in spending and exacerbating the slowdown in the economy?

FT: “Fireworks are out and frugality is in at China’s national games after the organising committee rushed to comply with edicts requiring officials across the country to tighten their belts as the economy slows.

A football match is held inside the Shenyang Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, one of the five football venues of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, in Shenyang...A football match is held inside the Shenyang Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, one of the five football venues of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning province August 1, 2007. Picture taken August 1, 2007. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA) - RTR1SG8T

The austere sporting championships, which start at the end of August in the northeastern province of Liaoning, will contrast with China’s lavish spending on major events from the Beijing Olympics in 2008 to the world expo in Shanghai in 2010 when the economy was growing at a double-digit pace.

Now, with growth dipping towards 7.5 per cent and Xi Jinping, the new president, railing against ostentatious displays of wealth, the organisers of the Liaoning games – China’s national equivalent of the Olympics – have gone out of their way to highlight their cost-saving measures.

The funding for the games, held every four years and the largest national sporting event in the country, has been cut by 78 per cent from the original budget to Rmb800m ($130m), with fewer new competition venues and less spending on entertainment than initially planned, they announced.

The opening ceremonies will be held during the day to reduce the need for lighting, the first time since 1987 that they have not been at night. The organisers also vowed not to use fireworks, departing with the tradition of bombastic pyrotechnic displays at the start of Chinese sporting events.

“For the opening and closing ceremonies, stadium construction, the torch relay and all other segments of the national games, we strive to create, hopefully, a fresh fashion of organising big events in a thrifty manner,” said He Min, deputy director of the organising committee.

Along with cancelling a series of conferences and exhibitions on the sidelines of the games, the number of invited foreign guests has also been reduced by half. Those foreigners who do make the guest list will have to endure relative privation. There will be “neither welcome banquets nor souvenirs for them”, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The shift to austerity falls in line with a tone set by Mr Xi since his first days in office late last year as head of the Communist party. He banned flower displays at official events and ordered that banquets should be pared back, demanding that government spending should be less wasteful.

These demands have intensified in recent months as the Chinese economy has slowed and after Mr Xi launched a new campaign against “hedonism and extravagance” among other ills.

The finance ministry this week ordered all units of the central government to reduce general expenditures such as car purchases and overseas travel.”

via Austerity threatens to take gloss off China’s national games –


China plans world’s longest sea tunnel at $42 billion

Reuters: “China will invest 260 billion yuan, or about $42 billion, to revive a long-stalled plan to build the world’s longest undersea tunnel across the Bohai Strait linking the country’s eastern and northeastern regions, state media said on Thursday.

The 123-km (76.4-mile) tunnel will run from the port city of Dalian in northeastern Liaoning province to Yantai city in eastern Shandong, the China Economic Net website said.

The report did not say when the project will be completed.

China announced plans in 1994 to build the tunnel, at a cost of $10 billion, and set to be completed before 2010. But more than 20 years on, the project remains stuck in the planning stage, the website said, without elaborating.

At the time, state media said the tunnel would shorten the travelling distance between the two regions by 620 miles.

The costs could be recouped in 12 years, said Wang Mengshu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who estimated annual revenues from the tunnel at around 20 billion yuan, the website said. “Freight is very profitable,” Wang said.”

via China plans world’s longest sea tunnel at $42 billion -report | Reuters.

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