- UNIVERSITY STUDENTS MUST PAY
In two years, the State Education Commission (SEC) will require students at all 1,065 Chinese universities to begin paying an annual fee of RMB 1000-1500 (approximately $120-180) depending on their exam scores. The government will continue to pay the majority of the current yearly costs of $1,000-1,200. The move is expected to help China’s colleges out of a serious cash shortage. The number of university students has tripled since 1978 to 2.5 million, and funding from the government has not kept pace. The SEC also announced that college graduates will have more freedom to select their own jobs by the year 2000, although the state will still retain overall responsibility for assigning jobs. The government plans to set up a network of employment centers around the country. (CNCR)
- AT&T INCREASES INVESTMENT IN CHINA
AT&T Corp. said it plans to invest another $150 million in China by 1996 and to double its 1,000-strong work force within three years. The telephone giant recently signed contracts worth $150 million to supply equipment and services to southern Guangdong Province, the first part of a five-year $500 million agreement announced last fall. China plans to add 12 million to 15 million lines of capacity in 1994 and is expected to quicken the pace, AT&T Chairman Robert Allen said following a weeklong trip to China.
- SOCIAL UPHEAVAL LEADS TO PROBLEMS
After a massacre by a deranged gunman in Beijing in which more than 30 people were wounded, a Western diplomat said, “Social upheaval is leading to this crime wave.” A government official commented, “The security situation in many rural areas is chaotic. Crimes committed by gangs in the cities and towns are serious, and the populace does not feel safe.”
- MUSLIM EXPANSION IN XINJIANG
China’s government has pacified some Muslims in Xinjiang Province by subsidizing mosques and clerical salaries. In the last 20 years, 2,500 mosques have been built or repaired in Kashgar, home to 9,500 mosques, or about half of the province’s total. About 62 percent of Xinjiang’s 16 million people are Muslims. (Wall Street Journal, Pulse)
- TOP COUNTRY
A group of the world’s largest companies recently voted China the top country for foreign investment. Nine out of ten firms, however, said possible political instability is a major deterrent to long-term investment. (South China Morning Post Weekly)
- MODERNIZING CHINA’S AIR FORCE
U.S. government officials have recently concluded that China and Israel are collaborating to develop and produce an improved fighter plane for the Chinese Air Force. Comparable to an American F-16, the new jet will be based on the “Lavi,” a model that the U.S. once planned to help Israel build, but dropped because of mounting costs. The Chinese plane will incorporate extensive technological innovations derived from the Lavi project. China and Israel have already finished work on a prototype, and production will probably begin soon at a plant in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, according to U.S. officials. The plane’s deployment is seen as a major step in Beijing’s effort to modernize its air force. Some observers predict it could mean trouble for China’s long-standing rival, Taiwan. (Los Angeles Times)
- LAUNCH FAILURE PLAGUES CHINESE SATELLITE PROGRAM
A telecommunications satellite that would have revolutionized Asia’s television market broke into several huge pieces a minute after liftoff in late January, according to the Xinhua new agency. Chinese state television briefly broadcast live the liftoff of the Long March No. 2 rocket carrying the Apstar-2 satellite from the launch center in Xichang in southwest Sichuan Province. The satellite would have enabled broadcasters to reach two-thirds of the world’s population. The failure was the second serious blow to China’s satellite program. Last fall, a communications satellite failed to go into operation because of a fuel leak, according to People’s Daily. The leak on board the Dong Fang Hong No. 3 satellite caused it to run out of fuel. (Xinhua, People’s Daily)
- MTV’S GLOBAL REACH
Already in 250 million homes, MTV plans to start broadcasting in Mandarin in China. By the end of last year, MTV Asia delivered local programming to 18 countries in Asia. The new expansion will put MTV in more than 500 million homes. MTV already covers Japan, Europe, Brazil, and several Spanish-speaking countries. “Kids on the streets in Tokyo have more in common with the kids on the streets in London than they do with their parents,” says MTV’s owner, Sumner Redstone. “We’re catching these kids at a stage in life when all kids are essentially the same, when they virtually have to rebel from their parents.” (Pulse)
- CHANGE COMING TO CHINA?
“Change in China will be both explosive and erratic,” predicted Carol Lee Hamrin, senior U.S. research specialist on China at the U.S. Department of State and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. “Change in the political system is inevitable. In fact, it’s been dangerously delayed by Deng Xiaoping’s longevity.” China’s Asian neighbors, who are pouring billions into the mainland, worry about an explosion of inflation, joblessness, and social upheaval if things go badly. “China is at a critical stage,” says Peter Bottelier of the World Bank’s Beijing office. “What happens is important for China and, almost by definition now, the rest of the world.” (Pulse)
- U.S. PLANNED TO STRIKE CHINA
U.S. military commanders planned nuclear strikes against China in 1954 to protect South Korea and French-ruled Indochina from aggression, according to documents released last December. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff formulated their plans in a previously classified April 17, 1954, memorandum titled “Analysis of Possible Courses of Actions in Korea.” The memo was written 10 months after a June 26, 1953, truce brought an uneasy halt to the 1950-1953 Korean War in which Chinese and Soviet-backed North Korean forces invaded the south. Warren Cohen, an expert on U.S.-Chinese relations at the University of Maryland, said the Joint Chiefs’ memo showed that the U.S. military did not want to fight another Korean-style limited war.
- CHINESE COMPANIES BUILD PLANES FOR U.S. CORPORATION
Chinese aircraft manufacturers are expected to make 20 planes for the U.S. aerospace company McDonnell Douglas Corp. by the end of the century. Four Chinese firms will collaborate on the MD-90-30, according to the China National Aviation Industry Corp. The Chengdu Aircraft Co. will make the nose, boarding gate, service gate, and stairs. (Xinhua News Agency)
- DECLARING WAR ON PIRACY
Jason S. Berman, chief executive officer of the Recording Industry of America, showed pirated compact discs during talks with Chinese officials in Beijing on intellectual property rights. Pirated discs and tapes are those that are illegally copied. Berman bought the pirated discs for $1.50 each, far below the normal price. He said the piracy of U.S. goods in China is costing American companies millions of dollars in lost trade.
- BUSINESS DELEGATION TOURS U.S.
A six-person delegation from the China State Planning Commission visited eight cities in the U.S. in January to explore new markets. The Commission, which approves all major economic projects in the U.S., studied the American economy looking for ways to promote business between the two countries, according to Hejin Bai, deputy secretary general of the Commission.
- INCREASED FINES FOR WORKER EXPLOITATION
China has introduced tougher fines for employers who exploit their workers or force them to work overtime in order to survive in the stiffer competitive environment spawned by reforms. A code accompanying China’s first labor law allows employers to be fined $12 for each extra hour an employee is forced to work. They face a $6,000 fine if industrial safety or hygiene installations are found below standard. (China Daily)
- 1994 FIGURES UP
The Chinese economy remained “buoyant” in 1994, according to The Economist. Industrial output was up by 5.9 percent in November and by 28.1 percent throughout 1994. (Economist)
- DISPLACED PEOPLE
The Three Gorges Dam, a project of Premier Li Peng, costs $35 billion and will displace 1.3 million people. Observers have expressed serious doubts that the dam will effectively control flooding on the Yangtze River. (Far Eastern Economic Review)
- DISNEY IN CHINA?
Walt Disney Co. denied reports that the entertainment company is planning to build a theme park in China and said no negotiations are under way. The denial comes in the face of reports by Japan’s Nikkei news service that Chinese officials visited Disney headquarters in California last year to discuss the project. The Nikkei report detailed Disney’s plans for a Chinese theme park proposed for Guilin. Nikkei quoted Disney officials saying it could be completed by 1998 and would require an investment of $2 billion. The Nikkei report said negotiations with local authorities are almost complete but the company is waiting for clearance from the central government. It added that the site would occupy more than four square miles and would include an airport. (Orlando Sentinel)
- DENG’S DAUGHTER WRITES BOOK
Xiao Rong, daughter of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, has written a book, My Father Deng Xiao-ping. She was recently in the U.S. promoting sales of the book. (Time)
- BABY GIRLS KILLED
The modern technology of ultrasound, which can determine the sex of a baby in the womb, is being used indirectly to kill many baby girls in China. Many families want only boys, and each year millions of women undergo abortions to kill baby girls. When abortion fails, infant girls are sometimes abandoned to die. Some observers fear a massive shortage of wives for a hundred million Chinese men within the next few years. Abortion is also unsafe for women. A Chinese physician who opposes abortion for medical reasons said, “The government is injuring millions of women this way.” (Sing Tao Jih Pao, Rutherford Institute)
- LAW TO “IMPROVE” BABIES
The Chinese legislature has passed a controversial new law to control marriage and births. It was originally proposed in 1993 and caused widespread international criticism and comparison to policies pursued by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. The new law aims to prevent those with serious mental disabilities or contagious diseases from marrying or having children, and states that “abnormal” fetuses and those carrying hereditary diseases should be aborted. Xinhua commented that China has more than 10 million disabled people “whose births could have been prevented if such a law had been in effect when their parents were marrying or having children.” (CNCR)
- TOBACCO ADS BANNED
Beijing has announced a broad ban on cigarette advertising, which will affect television, radio, newspapers, magazine, and cinema. International tobacco companies say they can still make money in this lucrative market by sponsoring special events and broadcasts. Marlboro, for example, sponsors the 12 teams of China’s national soccer league as well as music programs on radio and TV. Britain’s B.A.T Industries, whose 555 brand cigarette is perhaps the best-known foreign brand in China, sponsors sporting events such as the Hong Kong-to-Beijing Motor Rally and also gives money to schools through an education foundation. The ban, which was to go into effect in February, also requires tobacco companies to put health warnings on advertisements. An estimated 500,000 people a year die of smoking-related illness in China, and the Chinese Academy for Preventive Medicine estimates health costs related to smoking were $3.3 billion in 1989. China’s 300 million smokers consume 1.8 trillion cigarettes a year. (Wall Street Journal)
- EXPEDITION CROSSES GOBI DESERT
A German expedition team has become the first to ever cross the center of the Gobi Desert. Previous teams have gone only to the edge of the desert. Leader Bruno Baumann said the 15-member team encountered sand mountains as high as 1,320 feet. The 21-day expedition, which cost $35,000, included five other Europeans, four Chinese guides, five camel drivers, and 30 camels.
- POPULATION GROWING FASTER THAN EXPECTED
China’s population was predicted to reach 1.2 billion by the end of last year, earlier than expected. By 2000, it may top 1.3 billion, with 1 billion in rural and farming areas. By then, the number of unemployed or not fully employed could reach 20%. (Ming Pao)
- CRIMINAL GANGS
Chinese authorities broke up more than 150,000 criminal gangs during 1993, and will soon target organized crime with national anti-Triad laws. (South China Morning Post Weekly)
- EXHIBIT OF CHINESE TREASURES TOURS UNITED STATES
“Imperial Tombs of China,” a massive exhibition featuring 250 artifacts spanning 24 centuries of China’s history, will debut in April in Memphis, Tennessee. The treasures will then tour U.S. cities including Provo, Utah; Portland, Oregon, and Denver, Colorado. Other cities, including Orlando, Florida, are currently negotiating to have the exhibition displayed at their museums. Among the artifacts in the exhibition are a crown fitted with 100 jewels and 2,000 pearls, a burial shroud made of 2,000 pieces of jade, and a complete throne room from a palace. Approximately 65 percent of the exhibition’s pieces are rated by the Chinese government as national treasures.
- MORALS RESEARCH INSTITUTE
The first research institute devoted to issues of morality and culture has been set up in Beijing. The Beijing Eastern Morality Research Institute, which is headquartered at the Beijing Youth Politics College, will explore how to educate the nation’s youth in traditional Chinese morality. (Ming Pao)
- GLOBAL PARTY, SOBER THOUGHTS
Even as the West revels in the spread of market economics worldwide, some geopolitical analysts see trouble ahead. Vast job dislocations, including in China, threaten stability and economic growth. Environmental stresses are expected to become acute in China, India, and southeast Asia. In China, for example, the city of Tianjin is sinking 2.5 meters a year as its groundwater is depleted. Due to smog, Benxi is invisible to satellite cameras. (Pulse)
- YEAR OF REFORM
1995 is the year of state-enterprise reform in China. The designation is intended, among other goals, to stop inflation, which is China’s biggest economic and social worry. “We are not going to waste scarce resources on the production of useless goods,” said Wang Youwei, deputy mayor of Dalian, after sending home 50,000 workers because production at their factories was suspended. The Economist predicts 1995 will also “be the year of trouble in the state sector.” (Economist)
- DIVORCE INCREASES
In 1993, a record 909,000 couples in China obtained divorces — three times more than in 1991. (CATW)
- DANGEROUS GROWTH?
China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew nearly 12 percent in 1994 to $509 billion. According to Time, the economy has become dangerously overheated, despite admission by Marxist stalwarts that economic liberalization has saved China from the fate of the defunct Soviet bloc. (Time)
- LOTS OF CHICKEN
Kentucky Fried Chicken, which opened its first restaurant in China in 1987, believes that China will be one of its 10 largest markets within ten years. In 20 years, it could be the largest market. The company currently operates in 71 countries. (Rutherford Institute)