A Superpower And An Emerging Rival: A Look Ahead At China (June 13, 2013, NPR)
U.S.-China relations have deteriorated in recent years, amid growing concerns about cybersecurity and human rights. As part of TOTN’s “Looking Ahead” series, The Economist’s China editor Rob Gifford talks about the future relations between the world’s two biggest economies.
GOVERNMENT / POLITICS / FOREIGN AFFAIRS
2 Relatives of Dissident Get Passports From China (June 7, 2013, The New York Times)
The mother and older brother of Chen Guangcheng, a prominent rights advocate who fled to the United States last year, were both granted Chinese passports on Friday, allowing them to start applying for visas to travel to the United States to see Mr. Chen.
Mao’s birthday: Party time (June 7, 2013, Analects)
There was a time, just a few months ago, when some analysts were speculating that new leaders preparing to take over in China wanted to abandon Mao. If it ever seemed likely then, it is looking far less so now. The new helmsman, Xi Jinping, has been showing no sign of squeamishness about the horrors of that era. Preparations are under way for big celebrations of Mao’s 120th birthday on December 26th. Mr Xi will likely use the occasion to pay fulsome homage.
China’s Xi more Maoist than reformer thus far (June 8, 2013, Los Angeles Times)
Many analysts still believe that Xi, leader of the Communist Party for seven months and president for fewer than 100 days, is at heart a reformer, and they predict that side of him will emerge after he is established in office. But so far, the reformist element of the Communist Party is bitterly disappointed.
Obama, Chinese president wrap up a sometimes contentious summit (June 8, 2013, The Los Angeles Times)
President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, wrapped up a summit at this sweltering California desert resort Saturday after nearly eight hours of talks over two days and a candle-lit dinner aimed at shaping what both leaders called a “new model” of future relations. The meetings grew contentious Saturday morning when Obama pushed Xi to do more to curb Chinese cyber attacks on U.S. businesses and infrastructure.
Liu Xiaobo brother-in-law jailed (June 8, 2013, The Guardian)
The detained wife of imprisoned Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo denounced the persecution of her family on Sunday as a Chinese court jailed her brother for 11 years. Liu Hui has denied the charges of fraud and activists say the case is a further example of retribution against the Liu family. His sister Liu Xia has been living under house arrest since her husband won the Nobel prize in October 2010.
Snowden in Hong Kong: The Legal Complications of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ (June 12, 2013, Time)
An arrest warrant for Edward Snowden is very likely on the way, bringing what looks to be a complex legal tussle to the courts of Hong Kong. The city of about 7 million is a Special Administrative Region, or SAR, of China, but boasts separate courts and a good deal of legal autonomy. Nevertheless, Washington and Hong Kong maintain an extradition treaty, and a U.S. Justice Department official revealed on Tuesday that charges — possibly treason or aiding the enemy — are “under discussion.” Snowden now seems at the mercy of China’s “one country, two systems” arrangement.
Beijing Reacts to Snowden Claims U.S. Hacked ‘Hundreds’ of Chinese Targets (June 13, 2013, Time)
After days of silence about the presence of a U.S. whistle-blower on Chinese soil — albeit in a territory governed separately from the rest of the country — the Chinese state media swung into action. “This is not the first time that U.S. government agencies’ wrongdoings have aroused widespread public concern,” opined the China Daily in an editorial. In a separate news article, the official state newspaper wrote that “analysts” believed the bombshells dropped in the Snowden affair are “certain to stain Washington’s overseas image and test developing Sino-U.S. ties.”
Chinese cartoonists have field day with NSA revelations (June 13, 2013, Christian Science Monitor)
A cartoon in the paper’s opinion section depicts a US emblem of freedom – The Statue of Liberty – trailed by a shadowy spy wearing headphones and carrying recording devices.
US leaker Snowden both boon and burden for China (June 13, 2013, BBC)
For China, Edward Snowden’s sudden arrival in Hong Kong and his explosive revelations about the extent of US cyber-spying activities around the world are both a boon and a burden, a potential propaganda and intelligence gift, but also a diplomatic dilemma.
China’s Modern Martyrs: From Mao to Now (June 13, 2013, Catholic World Report)
The untold story of the Communist destruction of the Our Lady of Consolation Trappist Abbey at Yangjiaping in 1947
China inside out (June 8, 2013, Sydney Morning Herald)
His time as correspondent at an end, John Garnaut reflects on what he has learnt and what is still to be learnt about the Middle Kingdom.
Sinica Podcast: What China is Getting Right (June 8, 2013, Pop-up Chinese)
Complain as we might about life in China, the last thirty-four years or so haven’t been all bad: we’ve seen three decades of roughly ten percent GDP growth, a whole lot of people eating a whole lot better than they did, and impressive progress improving life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy rates and more, not to mention a slew of prescient infrastructure investments in transportation and telecommunication networks.
Authorities: China Bus Fire That Killed 47 Was Arson-Suicide (June 8, 2013, NPR)
Police in China said Saturday that a suicidal man was responsible for a fire that swept through a commuter bus in the country’s eastern coastal city of Xiamen, killing 47 people including the arsonist and injuring dozens more. Authorities say 59-year-old Chen Shuizong left a suicide note at his home before setting the fire aboard the bus during Friday’s rush hour. The official Xinhua news agency says he was “unhappy and pessimistic about his life, and planned the arson to vent personal grievances.”
Watch: Philadelphia Orchestra performs for passengers on delayed flight from Beijing (June 8, 2013, Shanghaiist)
When several musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra found themselves delayed on the tarmac for three hours waiting for a flight from Beijing to Macau as part of the orchestra’s China tour, they decided to play some music to alleviate fellow passengers’ boredom. It was, as you can see above, beautiful.
Chinese parents left childless do battle against one-child policy (June 9, 2013, NBC News)
In a country that still has a weak social welfare system, losing a child devastates more than emotions. Parents in China rely on only children to take care of them in old age. At times the pressure to succeed can be unbearable for single children, as can the challenges for parents who lose their child.
No-Waste Lunch: China’s ‘Clean Your Plate’ Campaign (June 10, 2013, The World)
Cutting down on waste is a challenge in China, where ordering more than you can eat is seen as a status symbol among the newly wealthy. But a new grassroots “Clean Your Plate” campaign is gaining steam, and starting to change the way people think about leftovers. The World’s Mary Kay Magistad reports from Beijing in the latest installment of our “What’s for Lunch” series.
Soul-searching former Red Guard won praises on Weibo (June 11, 2013, Ministry of Tofu)
A former Red Guard made a written apology for his evils during the Cultural Revolution last week, the first of its kind in China. Liu Boqin, a man in his 60s, was a second-year student at Jinan No.1 Middle School (equivalent of eighth grade in the U.S.) at the start of the Cultural Revolution in eastern China’s Shandong province. His ‘Earnest Apology’ was published in the June issue of Yanhuang Chunqiu, a Chinese-language magazine.
Watch: Shenzhou 10 astronauts celebrate Dragon Boat Festival in space (June 12, 2013, Shanghaiist)
World’s oldest woman dies in China aged 127 (June 12, 2013, Shanghaiist)
Luo Meizhen, born in Guangxi in 1885, has died aged 127 years old. She was the world’s oldest woman, and may have been the oldest person ever to have lived. Though official documents said that Luo was born in 1885, international authorities, including Guinness World Records, never recognised her claim to be the oldest person ever to have lived. China did not have a reliable birth certification system at the end of the nineteenth century, and though Luo’s birth date was listed on her hukou and identity card, both where issued in recent decades.
Luo, who lived in a remote village in Guangxi province, had five children, one of whom she allegedly gave birth to aged 61.
China’s Nouveau Riche: Truth Exceeds Fiction (June 13, 2013, The Diplomat)
While these outlays of cash are staggering, what’s perhaps even more impressive is the speed with which mainland China’s new rich are playing catch up to the dynasties of wealth that have been built among the diaspora. Again, weddings are a good indicator. Some 10 million weddings take place each year in China, representing a total market of around $57 billion. While the vast majority are of course modest gatherings for family and close friends, some make headlines.
China’s rural nursing houses to get state funds (June 13, 2013, Xinhua)
The government will raise 3 billion yuan (488.3 million U.S. dollars) in lottery funds to support the construction of 100,000 rural nursing houses over the next three years. The nursing homes will be managed by local village committees, providing rural senior citizens with accommodation, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Thursday. “China has nearly 50 million rural senior citizens who are in need of physical and mental care,” Vice Minister of Civil Affairs Dou Yupei said during a televised conference.
EDUCATION / ARTS
Students at odds over perplexing gaokao essays (June 6, 2013, Global Times)
Some 9 million high school seniors sat through the first day of gaokao, or the national college entrance exams on Friday, scribbling down answers for the first test subject, Chinese Language – a popular conversation piece among the public due to the wide range of topics each province sets for the essay portion that closes out the exam paper. The written portion greatly influences the student’s final grade on the subject. But some of the topics, which have been described as “odd,” left many students confused over what kind of answers to provide. Students in Hunan Province were most perplexed by the two choices they were given Friday morning. The first topic was stated as, “It flies upward, and a voice asks if it is tired. It says ‘No’.” The second said, “A father is cutting articles out of a newspaper while his child embraces him and says, ‘I’m willing to accompany you just like this.’” “This is insane. Can somebody please tell me what these two topics are supposed to mean?” asked one Web user.
Sit For The Exam, Fight For The Rank (June 6, 2013, World of Chinese)
The imperial examination (科举 kējǔ), like the civil service examination nowadays, was designed to select the most outstanding candidates, in hope of recruiting them for the nation’s bureaucracy. Established in the 7th century during the Sui Dynasty, and then abolished in 1905 in the Qing Dynasty, the imperial examination has a history stretching back over 1300 years. During all of these years (except for some periods of interruption), the exams made a great contribution to promoting social mobility; being the major method for adult males to get hired by the government and realize their political aspirations. But at the same time, exams also brought about many problems, such as the rigid mindset of the intellectual.
China setting up first university campuses abroad (June 11, 2013, AP)
In the capital of tropical Laos, two dozen students who see their future in trade ties with neighboring China spent their school year attending Mandarin classes in a no-frills, rented room. It’s the start of China’s first, and almost certainly not its last, university campus abroad.
China’s Health Problems Starting To Mirror Those Of Developed Nations (June 6, 2013, Forbes)
China is often the subject of conversation, but the latest is how its citizens’ health – physical and mental – has changed over the last 20 years. Using newer, more comprehensive data to arrive at an overall picture, two new studies out in The Lancet give a revealing look at the major health burdens from 1990 to 2010. The bottom line is that the medical problems that affect the country have, on average, become more “modern” in the last 20 years. And dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is much more common than we thought.
6 a minute in China told they have cancer (June 11, 2013, Shanghai Daily)
Sixpeople are diagnosed with cancer every minute in China and young people and the elderly are most at risk, according to medical experts cited in a report in the bi-monthly China Comment journal. There are about 3.12 million new cases of cancer every year in China, and 2 million deaths, the report said. The age distribution of cancer patients and the rapid rise of lung, breast and colorectal cancers were of concern to doctors but 60 percent of cases could be avoided by following a healthy lifestyle, experts said. Cancers closely related to people’s lifestyles were rising quickly in China.
Do some harm (June 13, 2013, Aeon)
Traditional Chinese medicine is an odd, dangerous mix of sense and nonsense. Can it survive in modern China?
ECONOMICS / BUSINESS / TRADE
China Downturn ‘Most Drawn-Out’ Since 90s (June 9, 2013, CNBC)
The downturn in the world’s second largest economy, China, could be the most drawn-out since the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis, said research firm IHS, following a slew of weaker-than-expected economic data for May released over the weekend.
China: Employment Trouble Ahead (June 11, 2013, Business Week)
China’s economic headache just got a little worse. Along with rising local debt, plunging exports, and lackluster investment, add the specter of weak employment. “Hiring plans in China stand at their weakest level since 1Q 2010,” warned Manpower Group in a June 11 press release (PDF) for its quarterly China employment outlook survey. “Quarter-over-quarter, the Outlook declines by 4 percentage points and hiring plans are 6 percentage points weaker year-over-year,” the report says.
China to Allow Foreign Investors to Set Up Mainland Senior Care Institutions (June 13, 2013, China Briefing)
China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a circular to invite public opinions on the “Approving Measures for the Establishment of Senior Care Institutions” and the “Administrative Measures for Senior Care Institutions” on June 3. The two draft rules clarify the establishment conditions for the senior care institutions and explicitly allow foreign investors to set up such institutions in Mainland China.
Cash Crisis: Local Government Borrowing Spells Trouble for China’s Fiscal Health (June 13, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)
On June 10, the National Audit Office released the audit report on local government debts. It selected 36 administrative entities – 15 provinces, their capital cities, three municipal cities and one district from each municipal city – and audited their debts over the course of four months. The report offers a glimpse into the fiscal dilemma that many of China’s local authorities are facing.
ENVIRONMENT / SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY
China banks on desalination to help ease water woes (June 10, 2013, BBC)
Wang Yongxian’s village lies in the heart of a large region of north-eastern China that is growing more desperate for water every year. Millions are pouring into the capital, Beijing, and the neighbouring metropolis of Tianjin, leaving the provinces around those cities bone dry. This arid region is on a par globally with chronically dry countries like Syria and Jordan, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. China’s central government is hoping to ease the region’s water woes by turning to a resource right on their shores: salt water from the Bohai Sea.
Video: China launches manned space mission (June 11, 2013, BBC)
China has launched its latest Shenzhou manned space mission, carrying three astronauts on their journey to the orbiting Tiangong space lab. The crew includes China’s second female astronaut, Wang Yaping, who will beam the country’s first lesson from space to students on Earth.
Beijing, We Have a Space Program (June 12, 2013, Time)
The unmanned half of America’s space program, in short, is doing amazing things. But as China’s launch of a three-person spacecraft into earth orbit aboard a Long March 2-F rocket just made clear, our manned space program is not just limping along, it’s trailing behind even a comparative space race newbie.
FOOD / TRAVEL
River of the dammed (June 8, 2013, Sydney Morning Herald)
On a cruise from Chongqing to Shanghai, Anthony Dennis sizes up the mighty Yangtze river after its damming.
Video: Inner City Surfing, The Latest Urban Adventure Craze (June 10, 2013, Gadling)
Each fall on the Qiantang, the world’s largest tidal bore, “a wave that travels against the current,” flows upriver. This creates waves up to 27 feet high, traveling at nearly 25 miles per hour. Surfers need to be towed in by jet-ski to ride the “Silver Dragon,” as it’s known. Living in a land-locked place and thinking of taking up the sport? Watch this clip for inspiration (or a reality check).
Life on the Tibetan border [pics] (June 10, 2013, Matador Network)
I was traveling in China recently, and Tibet was always on my mind. Not having that kind of money to spend, I wondered: Is it really necessary to pay all that in order to access Tibetan culture? The answer is no, as many towns on the border with the Tibet Autonomous Region retain a strong Tibetan identity. Almost 90% of the populations in these border towns are Tibetan. On this trip, I decided to visit Shangri-La (Yunnan province), Daocheng, Litang, Ganzi, and Tagong (Sichuan province).
LANGUAGE / LANGUAGE LEARNING
What research can and cannot tell us about learning Chinese (June 6, 2013, Hacking Chinese)
It strikes me that many people don’t really know what to make of research results. Some overestimate the importance of research, others don’t care about research at all. Does science matter? Is research into language learning scientific? What (if anything) can science tell us about learning Chinese? Let’s look at the main problem with mainstream reporting of scientific findings.
Mandarin by the Numbers (June 8, 2013, Language Log)
As spectacularly demonstrated by this YouTube video, it is amazing how much one can say in Mandarin simply by punning with numbers alone.
The Best Book on Foreigners in China? (June 8, 2013, China Rhyming)
Got asked that question the other day in an interview so thought I’d share….it is, of course, Harold Acton’s Peonies and Ponies, which is long overdue a new reprint in case anyone with publishing power is reading this….
ARTICLES FOR RESEARCHERS
Che Jinguang: 1800 ~ 1861 (Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity)
Chinese Dreams: An Ideological Bulwark, Not a Framework for Sino-American Relations (June 7, 2013, China Brief)
Towards better health for people in China (June edition, The Lancet)
Today’s Lancet, our fourth China themed issue, provides a picture of the complex health issues facing China.
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