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China’s Post-90s Generation Optimistic About Country’s Future

Posted: 10/23/2014 9:05 am

Two Chinese teenagers

Chinese born in the 1990s are more optimistic about the country’s political and economic future than those born in the 1950s to 1980s, claims a Fudan University Study. Oddly, however, the study also reports that those born in the 1990s showed the least amount of interest in issues related to justice and social equality.

Data collected over eight months and involving surveys of 1,800 online users was compiled into a report titled “Chinese Online Mentality Report”. Researchers studied users’ Weibo posts over a two year period and categorized them under headings such as social issues, social emotions, group identity, online behavior and social ideology, according to project leader, Dr. Gui Yong, a researcher with the University’s communications and state governance center.

The study found that 76.7 percent of post-90s online users were optimistic about the country’s political future, while 85.7 percent were confident about China’s economic prospects. By comparison, only 70.6 percent of post-80s online users said they were cautiously optimistic about the country’s political future.

The post-90s generation showed the lowest levels of negative emotion toward social inequality, social injustice, and issues related to officials, the rich, and technocrats. Not surprisingly, their posts included far fewer mentions of government and media Weibo accounts.

Again, perhaps not surprising, surfing the net and entertainment were at the top of the post-90s’ radar: 95.2 percent of the group used Weibo to record their life events; 92.8 percent like to express themselves emotionally on Weibo; and 92 percent use Weibo for fun, scoring the highest among the five generations.

People born in the 1960s approached social media fundamentally differently. They expressed disdain with the younger generation’s reliance upon social media to express themselves when it came to social issues. Predictably, those born in the 1960s (that used Weibo) dedicated most of their posts to public opinion leaders, government accounts and media accounts.

Those born in the 1970s dedicated the majority of their posts to housing prices, household registration, food, income, and employment. And while not terribly insightful, the study found that those born in the 1950s dedicated the majority of their posts to issues related to social security.

Photos: CNN; Reuters 


Canadian Expats Given Right to Vote in Canadian Federal Elections

Posted: 05/6/2014 6:08 pm


After having lost the right to vote when living abroad for over five years, expat Canadians are now able to vote in federal elections, reports the Toronto Star.

In striking down the law, Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Penny ruled the section of the Canada Election Act that barred long-time expatriates from voting as “unconstitutional”. Penny wrote in his decision that “This is not the lawmakers’ decision to make — the Charter makes this decision for us,” and noted that citizenship is the fundamental requirement for voting, not residency.

Finally—a reason to care about Canada that isn’t related to hockey. But with the next federal election tentatively slated for October 19, 2015, how familiar are you with the current political climate of Canada?

Currently, the Conservatives enjoy a majority government with Stephen Harper as PM after several failed minority governments, but they and the New Democratic Party have slipped in the polls as the Liberals have gained popularity.

So as a brief re-introduction to Canadian politics, here is the very least you should know about the leaders of the top federal parties in Canada as told from another expat who knows nothing about Canadian politics:

stephen harper

Stephen Harper,
leader of the Federal Conservative Party, current Prime Minister of Canada:
His French has likely improved. it couldn’t have gotten any worse.

thomas mulcair

Thomas Mulcair,
leader of the federal New Democratic Party:
He’s not Jack Layton.

justin trudeau

Justin Trudeau (on the right),
leader of the federal Liberal Party:
Son of Pierre, he’s likely the only chance Canada has at having a Prime Minister who can date a movie star. An American movie star.

The Bloc Quebecois is currently without leader, and the Green Party is, well, the Green Party.

Now that you’re up to date, political conservatives can continue to be upset at voters like us from overseas. Olivia Chow had previously fanned controversy after appealing to voters in Hong Kong eligible to vote in the Toronto municipal election to help her defeat the “shame” that is Rob Ford.

Be sure to vote.

Photo: adrianbribassi, Breaking News,  HuffPo, Winnepig Free Press


Mayor of Dongguan: “I Had No Idea Prostitution Was Such a Big Problem”

Posted: 04/10/2014 11:30 am

As parents, we try to protect our children from harm and indulge ourselves in thinking that we can preserve their innocence for just a bit longer. The world is a harsh den of vice and men, and it always will be

Yuan Baocheng, mayor of Dongguan, has now unflinchingly come into his own as a man who can see the world for what it is during a interview on the CCTV show News 1 + 1. With the gates to the garden of paradise firmly shut behind him, Yuan spoke to the media for the first time about the crackdown back in February in which he expressed his bewilderment that prostitution was such a huge problem in the town under his jurisdiction.

“But to be frank, we didn’t expect a problem as serious or widespread as the TV report showed,” Yuan stated as reported by Global Times, visibly showing his dissatisfaction that the world does not live up to his expectations. But before Yuan could express how the fine people of Dongguan have let him down, Yuan stated that his government had been “incompetent handling prostitution”.

Launched a day after a CCTV news report that exposed the city’s extensive vice trade, the crackdown would put 200,000 sex workers out of work as they fled the city in droves. The crackdown caused a huge hit to the local economy, of which Yuan stated that hotels, entertainment, bath and massage venues generated 8.3 billion yuan, or 1.5 percent of the city’s total GDP.

“The 8.3 billion yuan is not all from prostitution, drugs and gambling,” he would add, though he didn’t invoke his realization of how big a “problem” prostitution is for the local GDP, rumored to have been worth 50 billion yuan, or 10% of the city’s GDP.

Yuan was adamant that the city government had never turned a blind eye to the illegal trade. Instead, certain lower-tiered officials had secretly consented to the matter. This would include the sacking of Yan Xiaokang, deputy mayor of Dongguan and head of the police force, as well as the investigation of 36 police officers.

When confronted with the prospect of a resilient local sex trade that will continue to flourish three months from now, Yuan was steel-willed as he clung to his innocence:

“Three months from now, we will have adopted measures that no one would have expected. I can fundamentally make the determination now that whatever cases we find, we will investigate.” 

One can only hope for the day when Yuan will not be able to find anymore instances of vice in Dongguan, thereby proving that no such problem even exists. Hopefully, parental supervision will be strict and Yuan won’t be contacted by prostitutes using WeChat or watch documentaries about the notorious Dongguan sex trade.

Photo: iqilu



Hong Kong movie star begins his new role in Guangdong politics

Posted: 01/16/2014 7:00 am

There aren’t many delegates to the Chinese government’s top political advisory body that leave hordes of journalists feeling starstruck, but it’s not every day that an international movie star enters Chinese politics. Comedian, director, actor and martial artist Stephen Chow came to Guangzhou Tuesday to mark the beginning of his five-year tenure on the Guangdong provincial committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Nandu Daily reports.

Suited and booted and with his hair a distinguished grey, Chow told reporters: “I feel there are a lot of things I need to learn…it doesn’t matter how old I am. There are still a lot of gaps in my knowledge.”

Highlights of the conference will include a proposal to merge Shenzhen, Dongguan and Huizhou into a supercity and a suggestion to make the school years shorter. Although the conference is an important event in the Chinese political calendar, many of these ideas never come to fruition, such as last year’s call for caning to be introduced for petty criminals.

Chow at the conference, image courtesy of Sina Weibo

Some delegates asked to have their photo taken with Chow, which may not be the height of professionalism and sobriety. But it is an improvement on last year’s episode of sleeping on the job.

The delegates are selected from 34 groups in different fields including politics, commerce and industry, academia, youth and women’s representatives, sports, education, the arts, science, social studies, healthcare, agriculture, social welfare, religion, minorities and special invited delegates. Chow was invited a year ago as part of a special field of Hong Kong and Macau delegates, Want China Times reported at the time.

Other figures from showbiz to enter Chinese politics include director Zhang Yimou and actress Gong Li, who were appointees on the national level of the CCPCC, according to Hollywood Reporter. Although not known as a man to wear his politics on his sleeve, Chow surprised many in 2012 when he called a press conference to endorse the candidacy of Henry Tang Ying-yen in Hong Kong’s Chief Executive elections. However, whatever his political convictions are, they’re unlikely to be as controversial as those of fellow martial artist Jackie Chan.


Guangdong CPC Chief Wang Yang out, Hu Chunhua in

Posted: 12/18/2012 6:14 pm

Wang Yang is officially out as the Communist head of Guangdong Province, Xinhua is reporting this evening.

The news agency posted a short story just before 6pm tonight:

Hu Chunhua has been appointed secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Guangdong provincial Committee, replacing Wang Yang, the CPC Central Committee announced Tuesday.

Wang Jun will replace Hu to serve as secretary of the CPC Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regional Committee, according to the announcement.

Wang Yang leaves a legacy behind in Guangdong, including launching the “Happy Guangdong” campaign.  He also tried to re-position the province from manufacturing to the service economy.

There are rumours circulating online that he will be promoted to a Vice Premier position in Beijing early next year.  Wang recently accompanied Xi Jinping on his tour of Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Zhuhai.



China flirts with political reform with Hengqin Island project

Posted: 08/8/2011 11:17 am

Hengqin Island

Shenzhen is where China’s market reforms began, and the PRD also looks to be where the Central Government is flirting with political reform.

We previously reported that plans to develop the Qianhai area in Shenzhen into a special zone that would potentially feature a Hong Kong-style independent judiciary and enhanced freedoms have been shelved, but a second plan in neighbouring Zhuhai has been given the go-ahead.

Hengqin Island is a 106-square-kilometre island that sits right next to Macao. Last year, the State Council named it the country’s third new strategic zone, after Pudong in Shanghai and Binhai in Tianjin. But Hengqin is even more daring, as it will feature a changed legal system on parts of the island and zero duties and tariffs on imported goods, as long as they are not sent elsewhere in the Mainland. In some cases, people traveling from Macao to Hengqin will also be exempt from customs formalities.

Not much is happening on the island at the moment, but that could change soon, according to this report from Macao which cites the South China Morning Post:

The blueprint announced by the Zhuhai authorities includes a massive gas terminal and gas-engine generator projects and a huge ocean-themed entertainment centre.

Most controversially it will include a branch of the Macau University.

A Zhuhai official said students and staff would be able to access the university through a special tunnel without needing to go through immigration checkpoints.

“Because the new campus will be operated according to Macau laws, both the university and we expect to make it a self-contained area that is separated from other parts of the island,” Niu Jing, deputy director of Hengqin’s administrative committee, was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post newspaper.

It remains unclear if Macau police would have access to the campus on Chinese territory.

Zhuhai authorities say they want to see the island generate 56 billion yuan (US$8bn, £4.9bn) in annual GDP by 2020.

Currently the island of 106 square km is described as bleak, largely empty, generating just 128 million last year.

The population is expected to increase to 120,000 by 2015 and 280,000 by 2020.

Having the university and the land upon which it sits governed by Macao law is precedent-setting for the Mainland. A similar plan in Shenzhen, in which part of the city would be governed by Hong Kong laws, was shelved after Shenzhen officials got cold feet.

This development is interesting on a number of levels. First, it is an indication that the Central Government is indeed looking at ways of introducing political and legal reforms. As is their wont, the cadres in Zhongnanhai will go slow and ensure they don’t lose control of the process. Finding an isolated piece of land, like Hengqin Island, and going slow with the process likely makes them feel a bit more comfortable.

Secondly, on my own humble observation, it seems working with Macao is safer than having Hong Kong run a similar project in Shenzhen. Unlike the Hong Kong SAR, Macao quickly embraced the motherland upon its return in 1999. It has a much more cooperative government and less politically active population. Macao has traditionally worked well with the Central Government, while Hong Kong is much more adversarial, making Macao a safer choice.

The tax policies on Hengqin will also go much farther than in the other two strategic zones, according to China Briefing:

Overseas goods shipped to the island – except for consumer products for day-to-day life, goods for commercial property development projects, and other goods that cannot enjoy free duties according to related regulations – will enjoy import duty exemption, but will still be subject to tariffs if they are destined for other parts of Mainland China. However, duty-free entry of goods does not mean boundaryless entry of people. Visitors from Hong Kong, Macau and foreign countries will still have to complete customs formalities, related reports emphasize.

In addition to import duty exemption, commodity trading among enterprises based on Hengqin Island is also exempt from value-added tax and consumption tax payment. It is even hoped that some eligible local enterprises will be allowed to pay corporate income tax at a lower rate of 15 percent.

Compared to most of China’s bonded areas, where a similar customs system and tax policies are practiced, Hengqin is going to be more consumer-friendly. While regular bonded areas are usually set up for manufacturers, Hengqin will allow the construction of commercial living and consuming facilities and develop commercial retail businesses. There will be shopping malls built up where people can spend their money, said Fang Zhou, assistant chief research officer of the Hong Kong-based One Country Two Systems Research Institute.

We do not want to overstate the importance of Hengqin to China’s development, as this remains a plan on an isolated island far in the south of China. Like many plans and ideas in China, it may not come to fruition. But the fact that this project has been given approval by the Central Government and includes small but radical changes to taxation and laws could be a harbinger for things to come… if it’s successful.

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