News from China – Vol. 2 No. 2

    McDonald’s Corporation has asked the Chinese government for information about rumors that it might have to close its restaurant off Tienanman square. According to the rumors, which were reported by international media, the Chinese government planned to ask McDonald’s to close the restaurant to make way for a commercial and residential complex to be built by Hong Kong businessman Li Ka-Shing. McDonald’s says it will not move.
    The top ten countries sending international students to the U.S. are China (42,940 students), Japan (40,700), Taiwan (35,550), India (32,530), South Korea (25,920), Canada (19,190), Hong Kong (13,190), Malaysia (12,650), Indonesia (10,250), and Pakistan (8,120). More than 25% of the 420,000 international students in the U.S. are Chinese (includes students from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia). (Chronicle of Higher Education)
    China will overtake the U.S. as the world’s top investment destination by the end of this century and itself become an increasingly larger investor abroad, according to some international analysts. Edward Chen of the University of Hong Kong said China in 1993 attracted $26 billion in foreign direct investment, ranking second to the U.S. with $32 billion and accounting for one-third of all such investment in developing countries.
    (Orlando Sentinel)
    Diseases that have become part of everyday life in the West are now rapidly increasing in China. Newly-affluent city dwellers are replacing the traditional modest, rice-based meal with Western-style fast-food and lavish Chinese banquets. Expensive cigarettes and alcohol have become everyday status symbols. The result is an alarming increase in high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. One Chinese in nine suffers from high blood pressure. One million die from strokes each year. Sixty percent of men over 15 years old are smokers. More than one in ten people are heavy drinkers. (The Independent)
    The percentage of Chinese homes receiving foreign television broadcasts has increased – in Guangzhou, from 49 to 55 percent; in Beijing, from 9 to 13 percent. Last year the government made private ownership of satellite dishes illegal. But one Western diplomat told The New York Times: “The Chinese government has decided that it really can’t shut out satellite television entirely. We’re not talking about a few dissidents here. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese have now invested their life savings in these dishes, and there would be a nasty public uproar if the government really forced the dishes down.” (Pulse)
    United Airlines is negotiating to acquire a stake in China Southern airlines, according to David Solloway, United Airlines’ general manager for China, Hong Kong, and Macao. Solloway said that China Southern has welcomed the interest.
    (Orlando Sentinel)
    Two editorials in the People’s Daily have decried the rise in superstitious activity, including fengshui (geomancy),incense burning, building temples to worship different deities (such as the earth god, mountain god, and city god), and sales of “bank of Hell” notes, which are burned by relatives for deceased loved ones to use in the nether world. The newspaper printed letters to the editor, including one from a reader in Changsha who said that following development of the market economy a great change occurred in Chinese society. Some of those who have become rich, he said, have been unable to find spiritual satisfaction. They have asked, “What does man live for?” and have ended up believing in supernatural powers. (People’s Daily)
    MGM Grand has an exclusive six-month agreement to explore development of two entertainment-oriented resorts in Hainan, China’s largest free trade zone. The memorandum of understanding would allow MGM Grand to build two resorts in Hainan. There was no announcement on whether casino gambling would be included. (Orlando Sentinel)
    Visitors to the birthplace of Mao Zedong, a small village in Hunan Province called Shaoshan, are burning incense and fake money and kowtowing before a large statue of the leader that was erected in December 1993 to mark the centenary of his birth. Almost 500 such worshipers visited the site in less than one half-hour period. Ironically, Mao was a die-hard opponent of superstition throughout his life. (China Women’s News, China News and Church Report)
    China has adopted a bold blueprint for dramatically expanding the country’s telecommunications system to make it the third largest in the world by the year 2000. The government approved the start-up of Liantong Communications Company, which has the backing of three powerful government ministries (industry, power, and railways) and is also financed by some of the country’s largest and most influential government enterprises. It plans to set up mobile, satellite, and computer-integrated telecommunications networks. (China News and Church Report, China Daily, South China Morning Post.)
    Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien led a 300-member trade delegation to Beijing to meet with leaders and sign agreements on nuclear power and friendly aid. President and Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin told Chretien that the sheer size of the Canadian entourage demonstrated the “sound foundation and bright prospects” of bilateral ties. Among those in the trade mission were top executives from 250 Canadian companies. (Xinhua)
    According to the head of China’s State Environmental Protection Bureau (SEPB), the government is preparing legislation focusing on reducing industrial pollution rather than simply cleaning it up. SEPB will examine not only whether industrial waste is within legal concentration limits, but will also start considering the quantity of waste being produced. New measures will also improve coordination between government departments involved in enforcing environmental regulations. (South China Morning Post)
    Hong Kong’s Director of Education, Dominic Wong, caused a furor when he ordered removal of a short and neutral reference to the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident from textbooks on the grounds that history should be limited to events that took place more than 20 years ago. He later retracted the order in the face of a public outcry. (South China Morning Post)
    China held its first national AIDS conference in Beijing, signaling that it no longer considers AIDS to be just a “foreigner’s disease” but a serious public health issue in China. Officially, only 1,159 people have been infected, but health workers say the true figure could be 10 or even 100 times higher. China could “at a very conservative estimate” have 266,000 HIV cases by the year 2000, according to one Chinese professor. (South China Morning Post)
    The World Health Organization has described as “encouraging” tests of a traditional Chinese herbal medicine, artemisinin (qinghaosu) to cure malaria. It can reduce the mortality rate by up to five times. About 500 million people in the world still suffer from malaria. (South China Morning Post)
    China has shelved its controversial eugenics law, which would have legalized abortions of “inferior births.” However, some provinces such as Gansu have already sterilized more than 1,000 “congenitally retarded” people. (South China Morning Post)
    Wal-Mart and Hong Kong-based Ek Chor Distribution System have signed an agreement to open stores in China and Hong Kong. The joint venture will open stores in Shanghai and Shenzhen, similar to U.S. Wal-Mart discount stores and Sam’s Clubs. (Orlando Sentinel)
    Five bicycle makers dominate the National Light Industry Council’s annual list of the top 10 companies in China. Four major liquor distilleries also made the top ten; bottled spirits are attracting consumers’ expanding expendable income and spawning huge profits for distilleries. Other leading factories include an air conditioner plant and a soda-pop maker in Guangzhou and a cigarette factory in southern Yunan. (People’s Daily)
    Avenue, a glossy monthly magazine that documents New York’s high society, is publishing a Chinese edition. The first issue, published in October, contained stories in both Chinese and English on an Italian designer, golfing in Bali, and “power portraits” of multinational executives in China. Nearly every major international publisher is studying ways to enter the Chinese market. McGraw-Hill publishes a Chinese edition of Business Week. Forbes’ Chinese edition is published by Hong Kong’s Capital Communications. Walt Disney produces a monthly comic book in Chinese. (Wall Street Journal)
    New restaurants in Beijing, such as Lao San Jie, My Generation, and Black Earth, cater to the generation of Chinese youth who were sent to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. The restaurants are crowded with Chinese in their 40s who spent the Cultural Revolution working on farms in northern China. The walls are decorated with newspaper articles from the 1960s. One headline proclaims, “We want to go to the country to raise food ourselves.” One dish is called the “educated youths’ reunion platter.” (Washington Post)
    A Christian suspended from work in July by the Sino-American Beijing Jeep Corporation after he missed a month’s work while in political detention was allowed to resume work in August. The decision to reinstate Gao Feng, a 26-year-old production line worker who is affiliated with China’s unofficial house church movement, follows international condemnation of the corporation’s handling of the case. (NNI)
    According to U.S. News & World Report, Chinese authorities are concerned that “a new generation of well-educated, high-tech dissidents poses an increasing danger to the existing order.” Says Business Week, “An explosion of information technology … has allowed the Chinese to link up to the world with fax machines, telephone lines, satellite dishes, and personal computers. Thanks to market-oriented reforms, millions of Chinese can now decide where to work and live instead of being told.” The Wall Street Journal sees unrest as increasingly likely because working conditions are so bad in some areas, such as Guangdong. (Pulse)
    The number of divorces in China continues to rise steadily as wide-ranging economic reform has brought about changes in society and in people’s thinking. In 1993, 9.1 million couples married while 909,000 divorced. Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou had the highest rate of divorce in 1993. (China News Digest and China News and Church Report)
    More than 2,000 newspapers have begun publication in China in the last two years. Most reach specialized audiences, such as members of trade unions or employees of large manufacturers, but some are sold on the streets for general distribution. (Xinhua)
    Reacting to a flood of migrant workers, Beijing’s municipal authorities have imposed fees for those who want to live in the capital, starting November 1. The fee structure would charge companies doing business in Beijing $11,600 for each migrant worker hired to live in the city. Individuals covering the fees themselves pay half the corporate rate. (New China News Agency)
    China has 16 times more single men than single women, and the country’s “bachelor army” will grow as more men approach middle age without partners. Already, China’s ratio of newborn boys to girls is seriously tilted toward boys. Popularization of such techniques as ultrasound, which can determine a fetus’ sex and open the door to gender-based abortion, may skew it further.
    (China Information, Reuters)
    Young people in China are becoming increasingly materialistic, according to a report. In Beijing, the average high school student spends 227 RMB per month and owns 820 RMB of expensive consumer goods. (Wen Wei Bao)
    A hospital official in charge of “family planning” was executed for taking bribes for false certificates of sterilization. Yu Jianan, vice director of a rural hospital in Henan province, issued 448 phony certificates used as proof of sterilization.
    (China Youth Daily)
    The central government has approved the request of Guangdong Provincial Tourist Bureau to allow foreigners to make a three-day visa-free trip to the province. The new policy applies only to groups of ten or more foreigners going through travel agencies recognized by the Chinese government. It will go into effect first in Shenzhen, and if successful, in other parts of the province. (Ming Bao)
    Despite protests from the Chinese government, New Zealand has allowed 600 Chinese students to remain in New Zealand. They fear retribution if they return home. (South China Morning Post)
    A proposed law would require dog owners in Beijing to pay the equivalent of $700 a year to register each of their pets. The law would also banish dogs from Beijing’s streets between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (China Daily)

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