News From China – Vol. 3 No. 1

    China has mapped out one of the world’s largest railway projects, expected to be completed in the next five years. The mid-term goal is to bridge the northeastern provinces with the southeastern metropolis of Shanghai by building a short cut across Bohai Bay. A ferry route capable of carrying trains nearly 90 nautical miles across Bohai Sea will link the coastal city of Dalian in northeastern Liaoning Province to the coast of Shandong Province. The new railway will primarily transport cargo, but a passenger service is also being considered. (Hong Kong Standard)
    Following Shanghai and Beijing, Guangdong Province has introduced a work permit system to regulate the millions of migrant workers from other regions who come to work in the booming province. Nearly 10 million laborers from other provinces come to work in Guangdong every year, putting pressure on social order, public security, and administration. Labor departments in the province will issue work permits to migrant workers to curb unauthorized hiring. The province also set up a labor information network connected with other provinces to make better use of labor in relation to supply and demand. (Xinhua)
    Massive investments are being pumped into rural industries in western China from the prosperous coast in order to narrow income gaps between rich and poor regions. About 1,000 rural industries in the impoverished central and western provinces would make up the core of the “East-West Rural Enterprise Cooperation Projects” during a “critical period of expansion” from 1995 to 2000, according to Agriculture Minister Liu Jiang. (China Daily)
    A female doctor told reporters from Eastern Express that doctors regularly take aborted babies home to eat as dietary supplements. She gave ten aborted babies, the size of an adult thumb, to the reporters, who pretended to be ill. The reporters learned that some hospitals and clinics, such as the Shenzhen Health Center of Women and Children, provide unborn babies free of charge, while others sell them. (CNCR)
    The United Nations reports that by 2025, Chinese population will exceed 1.5 billion. The growth rate of old people is the world’s highest. Within the next 20 years, 20 percent of the entire population of China will be over 65. Currently 10 percent are over 60. The burden of supporting the older generation is made worse by the “one-child” policy. (Far East Broadcasting Company)
    There are an estimated 500,000 autistic children in China. The government has set up a two-year study project to prepare special-needs education. (Singtao Yatpo)
    Taiwan’s Cabinet approved revisions to rules governing visits by mainland Chinese with relatives on the island. The new rules allow parents, spouses, and children, as well as former Taiwanese now living on the mainland, to apply to visit relatives and to increase the frequency of visits from one a year to twice annually. The new rules also ease the conditions for elderly as well as seriously ill mainlanders to be accompanied by their children or nurses. (South China Morning Post)
    Delegates from Tibet’s government-in-exile, visiting the United States last May, say the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, has asked them to study the American tradition of church-state separation with a view to leaving him out of governing a future autonomous Tibet. Although he has publicly vowed to continue his push for Tibetan liberation, the Dalai Lama believes his country’s future depends on his stepping to the political sidelines once it gains self-determination. (Religion News Service)
    Chinese officials are involved in a lucrative trade selling kidneys and other organs of executed prisoners, according to allegations made by a U.S. senator. “Any person in the world needing an organ transplant can catch a plane to China, present $30,000 in cash, and receive a new organ within hours,” charged Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States has not come up with any evidence the allegations are accurate.
    World business leaders see the U.S., Japan, China, and Germany as the most competitive economies in the year 2030. The Geneva-based World Economic Forum and the Lausanne International Institute for Management Development said that was the outcome of a joint survey of some 1,500 leading executives around the world. This year China dropped to third place, reflecting a view that many companies are concerned about the country’s lack of strong management potential, according to the survey’s sponsors. (Reuters)
    Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, which has a plant in China, said that the Chinese government demanded the company fine its female employees for exceeding the one-child-per-family limit. When Pfizer refused, the government rescinded its demand. (Puebla)
    China’s five-millennia tradition of peasant agriculture is withering slowly. Last year’s grain crop fell by 2.5 percent, while imports grew by 34 percent. As more and more farmers head to the cities and farmland is lost to industry, the level of imports continues to increase. Today China has 20 percent of the world’s people but just 6.7 percent of its arable land. By the year 2030, China may need to import 90 million tons of food annually, or half the current world export total. (Pulse)
    A newly released report from the U.S. Department of State documents the world human rights situation for 1994. “There continued to be widespread and well-documented human rights abuses in China,” the report noted, “in violation of internationally accepted norms, stemming both from the authorities’ intolerance of dissent and the inadequacy of legal safeguards for freedom of speech, association, and religion.”
  • “The repression of religious freedom in China today is worse than it has been since the revolution,” says Brother Andrew, founder of the Holland-based Open Doors, a Christian ministry that has smuggled Bibles into closed countries for 40 years. “Today parents are forbidden to tell their children about Christ. House churches are outlawed. Members meticulously hand-copy portions from the only Bible they have. Leaders are imprisoned, even martyred.” (NNI, Open Doors)
    Beijing has issued a nationwide warning against the revival of “feudalistic clans,” which are undermining the authority of the communist party in the countryside. Clan organizations, which were supposed to have been wiped out in the 1950s, have become the centers of power in counties with low income and education levels, according to internal circulars issued by government security units. Rural cadres say clan activities have siphoned off badly needed funds for agriculture and education. One clan in central China boasts more than 30,000 members from three generations. (South China Morning Post)
    More than 200 members of the New York business community attended a conference to promote the theory that the American business community can play a critical role in expanding human rights in China and Vietnam. Among the businesses represented were Texaco, Pfizer, Domino’s Pizza, Metropolitan Life Insurance, Coudert Bothers, Merrill Lynch, Westvaco Corporation, Unilever, and ICCI Telecom. According to Nina Shea, president of the Puebla Institute, which co-sponsored the event, “The conference first highlighted the various forms of religious and democratic persecution – from daily repression of Christians to slave labor in prison camps providing products to American businesses – then offered suggestions for positive courses of action.” (Puebla)
    International drug syndicates have formed underground networks in Guangdong to smuggle and trade drugs, according to Zhu Senlin, governor of the province. Drug taking is spreading through Guangdong, leaving school students addicted in its wake, Zhu warned. Authorities sent 11 task forces to various cities to promote an anti-drug campaign. Guangzhou police arrested 212 people suspected of drug trafficking on the first day of the campaign. (South China Morning Post, Wen Wei Po)
    Shanghai’s offensive against corrupt police officers and judges brought a 580-percent rise in convictions last year. Of the 380 cases, 91 involved high-ranking police officers or judicial officials at division level or above, a 310-percent increase over 1993. Communist Party officials, including 24 division chiefs and five bureau directors, accounted for 33 percent of those tried. (UPI)
    Shanghai’s construction and environmental protection sectors have caught the interest of many foreign companies, which are cooperating with the city to sponsor an exhibition. The 1995 International Construction, Building Materials, and Environmental Exhibition is scheduled to be held in Shanghai, China’s largest economic center. (Xinhua)
    Beijing has introduced new policies to encourage foreign companies to invest in priority industries in the capital. According to Sun Tongyue, deputy director of the Municipal Planning Commission, foreign companies are being encouraged to invest in industries such as municipal construction, transportation, energy, and environmental protection. Among the incentives are tax reductions and auctions of state-owned land. (Xinhua)
    A 12-year-old boy from southern China astonished witnesses and set a new record by reciting from memory the value of pi to 4,000 places. Zhang Zhuo needed 25 minutes, 30 seconds to recall the mathematical constant with an error rate that experts put at just 0.2 percent. Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and has the approximate value of 3.14159; the exact value cannot be computed. Zhang’s recitation in Chengdu, Sichuan, was witnessed by scores of psychologists, officials, and reporters. (Xinhua, Reuter)
    Amway Asia Pacific Ltd. has begun marketing cleaning products to China’s 1.2 billion consumers. The company, a division of one of the U.S.‘s largest corporations, anticipated $35 million in net sales to the Chinese in the fiscal year that ended August 31. The products are not sold in stores but through private citizens who act as distributors. (Orlando Sentinel)
    State security officials in Beijing have uncovered an electronics company illegally selling bugging devices. A foreign businessman was supplying the devices to the company for sale in shops, violating the State Security Law. (Beijing Daily)
    Rumors continue to circulate regarding a possible Disney park in Asia. “I think Disney cannot avoid the potential of the Far East,” said Chris Miles, a theme-park planner with C.T. Hsu International Inc. in Orlando, Florida, home of Disney World. Many observers point to China as the most compelling market for a new Disney theme park. Miles predicted that if Disney ever opens a theme park in China, it would feature something very different from its existing theme parks, perhaps incorporating Chinese fables and using a denser development scheme to create the closeness that Chinese are accustomed to in public places. Disney officials won’t discuss their plans for theme-park development in Asia, except to acknowledge that the region is attractive. The company has opened “Mickey’s Corner” merchandise displays at some 80 department stores and other retail outlets in China. (Orlando Sentinel)
    Asian governments, including China’s, can expect increased strife among workers, predicted Business Week. “Growing worker awareness also poses a threat to political elites,” the magazine said. “In many cases, labor and democracy movements are indistinguishable.” Asian workers, traditionally seen as “cheap labor,” are starting to assert their rights for more money, better work areas, and freer societies, the magazine said. (Business Week, Pulse)
    What will happen following the death of Deng Xiaoping? Chinese dissident journalist Liu Bin-yan, living in exile at Princeton University since 1989, predicts the first turmoil will not be political or military but social. “At present the most difficult problem facing the regime is inflation, which is caused primarily by the deficits of state-owned enterprises,” Liu writes. “Simply to close those enterprises would generate millions of unemployed. The fear of another Tiananmen-type movement, this one composed of workers, has for several years now prevented the regime from taking such a drastic step.” (New Perspectives Quarterly, Los Angeles Times Syndicate)
    “We must pay more attention to the importance of combatting corruption, a matter of life and death for our nation,” said Premier Li Peng, in a speech to the national legislature at the Great Hall of the People. “We should oppose money-worship, ultra-individualism, and decadent lifestyles.” (Associated Press)
    A Chinese-American journalist in New York posed as a worker to infiltrate a garment shop in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City. The shop was one of many “sweatshops” in the city that do not abide by U.S. labor laws, hiring illegal immigrants at low wages for long hours of work in dangerous conditions. Jane H. Lii, a reporter for The New York Times, worked 84 hours in seven days, and was promised that she would be paid in three weeks — $54.24, or 65 cents an hour. (By law, minimum wage in the U.S. is $4.25.) The sweatshop was managed by a Chinese immigrant woman. “When you have an education and speak the language, you can afford to be choosy,” one Chinese worker told Lii. “But for people like us, there aren’t that many alternatives. We have to compromise. If we don’t like what we do, we stay home and starve. (New York Times)
    Scientists in Taiwan have developed the world’s first computer that can listen to Chinese and then type out the appropriate characters. The computer, called Golden Mandarin Number Three, is able to write Chinese at the rate of three characters a second as it listens to a person talk. For longer passages, it records the entire speech and then begins writing after a time-lag of 20 seconds. For shorter passages of 30 or so characters, it writes with a time-lag of less than three seconds. It can produce approximately 13,000 characters.
    According to U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service statistics for 1993, China ranks sixth in the number of citizens who filed asylum applications in the U.S., with a total of 14,433 applications filed. Of those, only 245, or 1.69 percent, were granted asylum. This compares with 89.9 percent for citizens of the Soviet Union, which headed the list in 1993. Other leaders included Vietnam (86.6 percent), Laos (93.4), Cuba (50.5), and Somalia (40.2).
    While China has a low rate of alcohol drinking in comparison with other countries, that rate has gone up sharply in recent years. In 1993, each Chinese consumed 3.4 quarts of pure alcohol, compared with 7.2 in the United States. The people of Luxembourg have the world’s highest rate, at 13.3 quarts per person. Thailand had one of the lowest rates — 0.3 quarts per person. (New York Times)
    Approximately 1,000 scientists, university students, Christian pastors, and workers met in Hong Kong recently for a “Back to Genesis” seminar. Dr. Duane Gish and Dr. John Morris lectured on the mass of scientific evidence that supports creation and disproves evolution. (ICR)
    Ren cai hui liu, or the “return flow of human talent,” is a new phenomenon in the U.S. For years, the best and brightest of Asia flocked to the U.S. to pursue advanced degrees and jobs on the cutting edge of business, science, and technology. But with the recession of the past four years and the development of high-technology industries in Asia rivaling the best of the West, a small but significant number of Asian-born professionals, from aerospace engineers in Los Angeles to financial analysts on Wall Street, have begun moving home. Many of those returning to Asia retain their American citizenship or green cards as a way of keeping their global options open. (New York Times)
    Asian governments are giving increasing numbers of their citizens access to the “information superhighway.” In China, some 500 computers are linked to the Internet; Hong Kong, 15,000; Singapore, 8,000, and Thailand 3,000. “For authoritarian governments, it’s going to be a losing game to try to control this,” said Anthony Rutkowski of the Virginia-based Internet Society. A Singaporean government official commented, “The choice is, either we master the technology, or it will master us.” (Pulse)
    Blood for transfusions is so scarce in China that there is now a “blood mafia,” according to Tianjin Evening News. “Vampire gangs” kidnap people, forcibly bleed them several times a week, and then sell the blood to local hospitals. In other instances, the poor, sick, and drug addicts sell their blood either to unscrupulous middlemen known as xue tou (blood heads) or to equally corrupt health workers who operate the blood-donating centers. In many cases, the blood is contaminated with infectious diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis. (Tianjin Evening News)
  • China leads the world in fighting polio, with the number of cases falling from 5,000 (1990) to 653 (1993). (South China Morning Post)
  • More than 830,000 Chinese workers and technicians have been sent abroad over the past 15 years to work on engineering projects. (CATW)
  • China has approximately 150 million illiterate and semi-literate people above the age of 15. (Wen Hui Bao)
  • More than 10 percent of the population of Beijing, Shanghai, Lianoning and Tibet are divorced. (Singtao Yatpo)
  • Approximately 15 million air-conditioners are now in use in China. (Economic Daily)
  • 120 million people – or 10 percent of the population – are infected with hepatitis B. More than 300,000 die annually from the disease. (Ming Pao)
  • Within five years, 270 million Chinese are expected to be unemployed. (Far East Broadcasting Company)
  • Chinese authorities plan to open an Interpol office in Zhuhai. (Hong Kong Standard)
  • Inflation and housing are the top two concerns of Beijing and Shanghai residents. (Hong Kong China News Agency)
  • According to U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service statistics for 1993, China ranks sixth in the number of citizens who filed asylum applications in the U.S., with a total of 14,433 applications filed. Of those, only 245, or 1.69 percent, were granted asylum. This compares with 89.9 percent for citizens of the Soviet Union, which headed the list in 1993. Other leaders included Vietnam (86.6 percent), Laos (93.4), Cuba (50.5), and Somalia (40.2).

Your comments are welcome

Use Textile help to style your comments

Suggested products


The Silent Scream

Ronald Reagan changed his view as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

Read more