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Canadian Governor-general visits Guangzhou

Posted: 10/25/2013 11:00 am

The governor-general gives his speech at the forum, image courtesy of Nanfang Daily

Canada, despite its independence from the UK, retains Queen Elizabeth as its sovereign. But while the Queen can’t be in Canada personally, she has a representative in the Canadian capital to carry out her business.  That person is Governor-General David Johnston, who happens to be in Guangzhou.  He gave a speech on innovation in life science while attending a forum with academics from China and Canada at Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-Sen University, Nanfang Daily reports.

A plaque was also unveiled to commemorate a new joint life sciences lab between University of Alberta and Sun Yat-sen University.

Here is a taste of what he said:

I have spent all of my career deeply immersed in university life—first as a student, then as a professor, dean and, finally, president. Universities were my professional home right up until the day I became Canada’s Governor General. So as a university man at heart, I’m thrilled to be standing here among so many colleagues at one of the world’s great centres of learning.

We are all academics. We are students, teachers, researchers, administrators and executives who share a citizenship that transcends boundaries of culture, ethnicity and nation. Ours is a citizenship based on a collective understanding that we hold firmly and cherish deeply.

You can read a full transcript here.

The governor general is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. The office has its roots in the 16th and 17th century colonial governors of New France and British North America, and thus is the oldest continuous institution in Canada.


Guangdongers getting fatter, blood pressure rates rising

Posted: 10/9/2013 7:00 am

Who knew such a day existed, but yesterday was National High Blood Pressure Day. To mark the occasion, it was revealed that one in five adults in Guangdong suffers from high blood pressure. This came a day after it was revealed that 40% of men and 30% of women in the province are overweight.

Guangzhou Daily reported that half of those suffering from high blood pressure are not even aware of their problem.

According to the paper, the four cornerstones of avoiding high blood pressure are a healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol or cigarettes, and psychological health. Evidently, a large number of people are unable to adhere to these, because the National Centre for Disease Control published a report claiming that 33.5% of adults in the country suffer from high blood pressure.

In this province, excessive consumption of salt appears to be exacerbating the problem.

A significant number of people in the province also suffer from being overweight or obese. According to statistics revealed by Sun Yat-sen University’s Institute of Public Health and the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Nutrition, 37.65% of men are overweight and 11.85% are obese. The statistics for women are not much better, as 27.9% are overweight and 8.76% are obese.

This is a considerable increase from 10 years ago. Qin Jian of the provincial CPPCC has suggested that 2014 be the year in which a healthy diet is promoted across the province as the problem could get out of hand, particularly in urban areas.


In Guangzhou, now you can commute by ferry

Posted: 09/30/2013 1:00 pm

Mayor Chen Jianhua was in attendance at Jinshazhou yesterday as Guangzhou launched trial operations of eight new lines in its ferry transport system, a system known locally as the “sea bus”, Xinkuaibao reports. Chen said he hopes Guangzhou will become the ferry capital of the world and this will take the pressure off the other transportation systems in the city.

A hovercraft takes off from Jinshazhou, image courtesy of Nanfang Daily

The new lines are as follows:

S1 Red line: Jinshazhou – Shiweitang – Huangsha – Xidi (50 mins)

S2 Blue line: Fangcun – Xidi – Tianzi – Sun Yat-sen Memorial Museum – Sun Yat-sen University

S3 Green line: Ruyifang – Tanwei – Shiweitang

S4 Purple line: Xidi – Aozhou – Haichuang

S5 Yellow line: Yuzhu – Huangpu Military Academy – Xinzhou – Shenjing

S6 Brown line: Huangsha – Fangcun – Yongxing Street

S11 Dark green line: Huangsha – Sun Yat-sen Memorial Museum – Canton Tower

S12 Dark red line: Changzhou – Yuzhu – Haixinsha

At this stage, the times and frequency of the services vary so passengers need to check the timetables on the day. On the dark green line, seats in the cabin with no air conditioning cost 1 yuan. The most expensive ferry tickets cost 10 yuan.

Ticket prices on existing services will remain unchanged.


Children of migrant workers not getting enough time with families

Posted: 05/31/2013 7:00 am

International Children’s Day falls tomorrow, but most migrant children in Guangdong Province will not get the present they really need – more time with their parents.

According to research done by the Women’s Federation of Guangdong and the Institute of Family Education in Guangdong, migrant workers in the province often have to sacrifice spending time with their family just to stay afloat financially, Guangzhou Daily reports.

A study of 2,500 children of migrant workers showed that as much as one third spent only 7 hours a week with their parents. There were even some that got less than an hour.

Guangdong boasts the largest number of migrant children in the country with 4 million. Seventy-five percent have below average income. Sixty percent of the parents have no education beyond junior high school. Most work in the service industry, manufacturing or have small businesses.

The problems A Li faces are typical of such families. She told a social worker from Jingtai Family Service Centre in Baiyun District that she came with her husband to do business in Guangzhou. After she gave birth to their son Dongdong 5 years ago, they left him to be raised by his grandparents in their native Hunan Province.

Because business has been getting better, they brought Dongdong to live with them in Guangzhou a month ago. Dongdong has been acting strangely, screaming for no apparent reason and pulling at his hair and clothes while crying, but A Li and her husband are too busy with work to give him the attention he needs.

The social worker found that Dongdong suffers from anxiety disorder and needs regular psychological counselling.

Guo Li, Associate professor of public health at Sun Yat-sen University and director of the Institute of Family Education says migrant families should work with social workers to help their children overcome psychological and behavioural problems. Guo also stressed that it is important that children establish strong relationships with their parents at ages 0-3.

Zhou Youying of the Women and Children’s Federation of Guangdong believes the key to dealing with children of migrants is to eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on urban and rural identities, advocate social equality, and respect children’s rights. Zhou also emphasised the importance of allowing migrant families to have access to education, medical care and social security.


Round-up: Images of chaos caused on local campuses by storms and floods

Posted: 05/22/2013 5:40 pm

The newly windowless classroom on the campus of Jinan University

In recent days, Sina Weibo has been flooded (pun intended) with images of the chaos caused on the province’s campuses by the storms that have killed at least 34 people in Guangdong over the past week.

One of the most striking images was that of room 612 at Jinan University after the window had been blown clean off while students were taking class. This went big on Sina Weibo under the theme of “Putting your life on the line for lessons.”

University Road in Shantou

It is not the only campus to have been turned into Venice by the floods. University Road in Shantou was also under water, causing traffic chaos.

Sun Yat Sen University saw trees collapse and streets flooded. Even corridors and classrooms were soaked by the storm. One popular meme on Sina Weibo was that on May 20, a day that is supposed to symbolise love (as the date sounds similar to “I love you” in Chinese) students could gaze over the see, or feel like they were in Venice.

Sun Yat Sen University, courtesy of Sina Weibo

Tech-savvy youngsters took to Sina Weibo to post images of flooding at South China Normal University, South China Agricultural University, South China University of Technology, and other campuses. You can see some examples here.


Report on Guangzhou youth suggests changing attitudes to work and marriage

Posted: 05/7/2013 10:00 am

Sun Yat Sen Institute of Administrative Research released its Guangzhou Youth Development Status Research Report on Sunday and there were some interesting findings. Entering the civil service is no longer the ideal job for the majority of youth, and only 28% of people aged 18-35 are opposed to the idea of a naked marriage, which is defined as a marriage between two people who don’t have a house, a car and sometimes even a ring, Guangzhou Daily reports.

The people questioned in the survey came from a wide range of backgrounds, careers and marital statuses. 4,315 of them filled out questionnaires and 135 gave in-depth interviews.

One theme that repeatedly cropped up was that of pressure. 70.3% of people said they were under pressure but they could handle it, while 9.2 % said they needed somebody to help them overcome their pressure and 7.1% said they were overwhelmed with it.

Courtesy of Guangzhou Daily

One of the biggest sources of pressure was to get married before they are too old. According to psychologist Yu Huihui, the group under the most pressure is students studying for master’s degrees, as they are at the age at which they are expected to marry and their employment prospects are actually no better than most undergraduates.

In terms of careers, 24% want to own their own business and 22% want to work for a foreign company. Only 18% wanted to work in the civil service, which strikes an interesting contrast to attitudes popularly held in China’s recent history as well as its ancient history.

30% are in favor of naked marriages, 32% are open to the idea of naked marriages, 28% are opposed and 10% are firmly opposed. This contrasts with a 2010 survey in which 70% of women said a naked marriage is not practical.


Researchers in Guangzhou find that Viagra may help prevent cancer

Posted: 04/25/2013 7:00 am

Researchers at Sun Yat Sen University have found that Viagara can help prevent cancer and can work well with other anti-cancer drugs, Guangzhou Daily reports.

The research team, led by Professor Fu Liwu and working alongside St. John’s University in the United States, found after 19 years of research that a number of drugs can enhance up to 90% of cancer-fighting cells and these drugs include anti-impotence drugs sildenafil and tetrandine.

Research and development will continue in collaboration with a university in Sichuan.

This finding, made by the university which has campuses in Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Zhongshan, is not the first of its kind.

In 2010, lab tests on cells and mice found that when Viagara was combined with powerful chemotherapy it not only reduced the size of tumors but also protected the heart at the same time. In 2011, Viagara was also found to help fight skin cancer.


Sun Yat-sen University wants to stimulate masturbation discussion with new contest

Posted: 04/3/2013 2:00 pm

It’s not everyday a public, sexual-themed competition is held by a prestigious university in China, which makes the one being organized by Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen university quite notable.

Pei Yuxin, sociology professor at the university and organizer of the contest, wants to bring the topic of masturbation out of the shadows and into the open. She’s asking for people to submit videos, songs, poems, plays, or anything else dealing with masturbation, which is traditionally a taboo subject in China. The best submission wins RMB10,000.

Pei Yuxin (from SCMP)

Amy Li from the South China Morning Post reports the competition is meant to be serious:

This isn’t a porn competition, according to Pei Yuxin, organiser and sociology professor at Guangzhou’s renowned Sun Yat-sen university. Instead,  the “New Media Contest on Masturbation” is a  serious project, which aims to  tap into the imagination of its research subjects.

“If people do it, they should also feel free to talk about it, said Pei and her fellow researchers, who have abandoned more traditional methods like surveys which they found “restrictive.”

“We’d like to learn how people think about masturbation by encouraging them to talk about the topic, and share their experience in creative ways,”reads a poster for the contest published on Weibo. 

With creativity listed as a major criteria, the poster also noted that all submissions “should be able to pass internet censorship and be proper material to circulate online.”

A senior scholar at Sun Yat-sen university, Pei said she had initially conducted discussions about masturbation in classrooms.

“Compared with 10 years ago, students are more willing to talk about it now, ” Pei said during an interview with a Guangzhou newspaper, “They discussed more details and asked bolder questions.”

Apparently 14 individuals and groups have signed up so far, and some submissions have already been received. The whole competition is being funded by the Ford Foundation, with cash prizes for second, third, and fourth place finishes as well.

If you’re interested in participating, you can email [email protected]


Time’s up on Lanzhou mayor after GZ students catch him with pricey watches

Posted: 12/10/2012 1:00 pm

A media-friendly mayor in the Chinese city of Lanzhou photographed with a collection of luxury watches has caught the attention of two Guangzhou student super-sleuths and the party’s corruption watchdog.

Every time the mayor appeared in a photo, the students noticed he was wearing a different, expensive watch.  As the mayor was photographed frequently, the students began posting the pics to Weibo. Their actions have since become known as “名表门” (expensive watch-gate).

One of the eagle-eyed amateur detectives Zhong Guoqing, from Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University, wrote to authorities to get answers.

Now, the party’s anti-graft watchdog in Gansu is taking a closer look at allegations that mayor Yuan Zhanting is wearing watches money just couldn’t buy on his paltry government salary.

The photos have become a hit online, and sparked a number of inquiries by government officials and the media.  It is another example of China’s netizen activism, which has been increasing of late.

This story echoes a similar case when of Yang Dacai, then a senior safety official in Xi’an, was found to also have amassed an unhealthy collection of high-end watches. He was later fired.

As for the mayor of Lanzhou, time has caught up with him.

Guilty or not, it’s another embarrassment to the party, which is trying to stamp out corruption.

(Story via: Shanghaiist)


University student becomes celebrity for marrying and having kids early

Posted: 07/16/2012 8:00 am

In many countries, such as the United States, getting married before graduating from college is fairly common. However, it is not common in China. The trajectory of life for most Chinese is finish school, then start working, then get married, then have babies.

But there are exceptions to every rule. A student at Sun Yat-sen University, Zeng Peilun, attended her graduation ceremony with her baby and husband, becoming a minor celebrity, according to Guangzhou Daily. After falling in love in her sophomore year and getting married in her junior year, Zeng would have graduated this year, but she had to put her studies on hold to give birth to her son.

“Why not marry while the flame is brightest,” she said. Zeng says marrying her husband, 18 years her senior, was an easy decision. She says her parents are very open-minded and supportive, allowing her to make whichever decisions make her happy. Talking about becoming a mother, Zeng said she finds it hard but worthwhile, “I appreciate my mother even more now.”

As for the gossip she is facing, as a student of media studies, Zeng says she understands and can handle it.

Many graduates even expressed envy toward Zeng: “We can’t judge this young mother, there’s no right or wrong, there’s only what’s good for the person making the choice. Let’s bless this courageous beautiful young mother”, said a former classmate.

According to China’s Marriage Law of 1980, the age at which Chinese can legally marry is 20 for women and 22 for men. Chinese women tend to be under severe pressure to marry before 30. Those who don’t are labelled leftover women.

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