China’s Stick People – the rural urban divide

December 25, 2012

I’m always looking for information about China, and I learned something new from The Economist’s May 6, 2010 issue. Click the link to read the entire piece or read this summary. I bought the magazine.

China has two classes—rural and urban.  The urban people have prospered for the last thirty years as China built a middle class.  Most rural Chinese have not been able to benefit from the booming economy and are getting restless.

Rural land outside China’s cities usually belongs to collectives. When Mao won China, the Communists divided the land among villages—not individuals. Individuals do not hold title to farmland and cannot sell land that no one owns.

China saw what was happening in India when farmers sold their plots to developers.  Rural people in India flocked to the cities and built sprawling slums. To avoid that, the Chinese government created a system to keep rural people on their farms.  Another motivation was fear of another famine like the one that struck China from 1959 to 1961 killing millions from starvation. If farmers left the fields for a better lifestyle in cities, that nightmare might return.

An experiment was tried in rural areas outside Chongqing to see if the land can be divided among individuals while increasing food production. Since the government still hasn’t figured out how to make the transition smoothly, don’t expect rural land reforms to happen quickly.

Read about China’s middle class expanding

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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On Crime in China – (Viewed as Single Page)

August 2, 2011

This guest post and first-hand expose by Tom Carter first appeared on May 1, 2010 as On Crime in China – Part 1 (a five part series).

Perhaps the single most reassuring fact about travel in the People’s Republic of China is its remarkably low crime rate.

The Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the principal authority of domestic criminal procedures, regularly reports a year-on-year decline in violent crime, while common property infringement incidents such as theft, fraud and robbery, which account for no more than 80 percent of all cases, rise annual by as little as 1
percent.

Cosmopolitan cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, which annually attract tens of millions of overseas visitors on business or holiday, applaud themselves for providing public order and relatively safe-city streets where one can walk at just about any hour in relative safety.

But all is not necessarily quiet on the home front.

In an uncharacteristically candid public admission, the MPS once reported a pandemic of illicit drug trafficking in China led by an increasing number of foreign crime syndicates, reportedly from the African regimes of Nigeria and Liberia and triads from neighboring Asian countries.

Moreover, violent crime on the southern shore is notoriously rampant in Guangdong, making it the only province in China‘s mainland to arm police with guns.

Nor is this to say that Westerners are entirely exempt from either being the victim of, or committing, more serious crimes.

I found myself in several situations while traveling extensively throughout China. I fondly remember the street gang that confronted me in a darkened alley in Inner Mongolia, or facing off with a pickpocket in a crowded Qianmen hutong in Beijing with a baying crowd of onlookers taking great delight in watching a 196cm waiguoren vigilante.

Then there was that time in Chongqing. Not exactly heralded as a top tourist destination, the interior municipality of Chongqing, located on the rusty banks of the Yangtze River, uncannily resembles a lawless early-century port-of-call of maritime merchants, hardened dock laborers and waterfront brothels.

An overnight stay in a small hotel on the outskirts of China’s largest, and hottest, city, turned into a midnight brawl after a polite request on my part to ask three obviously drunk men loitering in the hallway to settle down, was met with a hostile response.

A push on their part led to a not gentle shove on mine, sending one of the men flying back into his two friends.

The next few moments were a feral blur, and for a short time, I laudably held my own. But six bare fists can infallibly do more damage than two can.

The tough guys retreated into the night, leaving me breathless and battered.

The police arrived thereafter and took me to the Public Security Bureau to get a statement.

It was determined that the hotel security guards failed to serve their purpose, and it was also found that the hotel did not follow strict municipal protocol in copying the three perpetrators’ identification cards before accommodating them, which would have assisted the police in their investigation.

This meant that it was my right under Chinese law to demand an immediate financial settlement from the hotel proprietor—for my troubles, you see—though it hardly made up for the bang-up job those inebriated gentlemen did on me.

To be sure, the aforementioned incident is an isolated one, with a great majority of expatriates being lucky, or not, to see so much action during their stay in China (“I was overcharged!” seems to be the leading complaint).

With only one police officer for every thousand residents in a population of 1.3 billion, and more than 40 percent of mainland precincts having fewer than five officers, compounded with a general lack of funding, resources or state-of-the-art technology, China’s police ought to be commended for maintaining an impressively low national crime rate.

Let there be no mistake: Xinhua News Agency has reported that total criminal prosecutions in China increased by more than 10 percent in 2009, and public security cases increased by about 20 percent.

However, compared to hyper-violent icons of the Wild West such as Los Angeles and New York, it is no wonder that China is witnessing an increasing number of foreigners residing in its gleaming municipalities.

China remains one of the statistically safest countries to visit, and the rest of the world would do well to take notice.

__________________

Travel photographer Tom Carter is the author of CHINA: Portrait of a People, a 600-page book of photography from the 33 provinces of China, available on Amazon.com!

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Global Censorship and Corruption

September 21, 2010

Gordon Ross at Global Geopolitics & Political Economy reports that in spite of “overwhelming obstacles” in China, a few courageous reporters are exposing official corruption and criminal behavior and it is dangerous.

Why doesn’t Ross’s piece mention that there are crime fighters in China like Bo Xilai, who may be China’s number one crime fighter?

Bo’s much-publicized crackdown on gangsters in Chongqing resulted in the arrest and conviction of thousands of gangsters, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Source: The Diplomat.com

How about crime and corruption in America?  UCLA Professor of Public Affairs Mark Kleiman is “angry about having too much crime and an intolerable number of people behind bars.”

The United States is home to five percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, yet, says Kleiman, our high incarceration rate isn’t making us safer. Source: Reason.com

Threats and fear or reprisals and lawsuits in the U.S. have put witnesses, police, reporters and whistle blowers in danger.

For example, Serpico, the true story of an honest New York cop who blew the whistle on rampant corruption in the force only to have his comrades turn on him.

Being a witness in the United States can also be dangerous, which is why the U.S. Government has the United States Federal Witness Protection Program.

Due to many of the same problems China faces today, America also has the U.S. Department of Labor Whistleblower Protection Program.

Then Serendipity says that censorship exists to some extent in all modern countries, including the U.S.A., the U.K., Germany, France, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

Crime and corruption is a global problem and is not exclusive to China.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Anger, Oppression, and Courage

May 12, 2010

In the West, it is common to air public or private corruption so the world sees. In China, it is best not to talk about embarrassing problems publicly. Unfortunately, this practice allows individuals in public office to spend lavishly.

When China considers reforms that go against cultural habits, the government moves cautiously and studies the results. Why experiment with change at all?  Because the people show courage and demand changes and this noise cannot be ignored for long.

In Chongqing, an experiment in rural land reform is taking place designed to lift economic oppression from the backs of the rural poor so they benefit from the growing economy. This is the only province where rural land reforms are being tested on a provincial scale. If this works, these reforms may spread to other provinces calming rural anger.

Baimiao, a Sichuan township, is experimenting with financial transparency that has been termed “Naked Government.” So far, results look promising.  For China to combat political corruption, financial transparency is necessary.

In another test, a Cultural Revolution museum in Shantou (Guangdong district) is a message that history is a warning not to make the same mistakes twice. The museum gets about 1,000 visitors a day.

The size of each experiment may signal the importance of each. One covers a province. Two are only in towns. The first experiment took place soon after Mao died. That test was an open market leading to China’s ever changing, booming economy. Maybe these latest tests, if successful, will lead to similar results.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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China’s Stick People

May 11, 2010

I’m always looking for information about China, and I hit gold with the May 8 The Economist. Click the link to read the entire piece or read this summary. I bought the magazine.

China has two classes—rural and urban.  The urban people have prospered for the last thirty years as China built a middle class.  Most rural Chinese have not been able to benefit from the booming economy and are getting restless.

Rural China

Rural land outside China’s cities belongs to collectives. When Mao won China, the Communists divided the land among villages—not individuals. Individuals do not hold title to farmland and cannot sell land that no one owns.

China saw what was happening in India when farmers sold their plots to developers.  Rural people in India flocked to the cities and built sprawling slums. To avoid that, the Chinese government created a system to keep rural people on their farms.  Another motivation was fear of another famine like the one that struck China from 1959 to 1961 killing millions from starvation. If farmers left the fields for a better lifestyle in cities, that nightmare might return.

Currently, an experiment is being tried in rural areas outside Chongqing to see if the land can be divided among individuals while increasing food production. Since the government still hasn’t figured out how to make the transition smoothly, don’t expect rural land reforms to happen quickly.

Discover China’s middle class expanding

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

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On Crime in China (Part 3 of 5)

May 1, 2010

A guest post by Tom Carter, a first-hand expose

Then there was that time in Chongqing. Not exactly heralded as a top tourist destination, the interior municipality of Chongqing, located on the rusty banks of the Yangtze River, uncannily resembles a lawless early-century port-of-call of maritime merchants, hardened dock laborers and waterfront brothels.

An overnight stay in a small hotel on the outskirts of China’s largest, and hottest, city, turned into a midnight brawl after a polite request on my part to ask three obviously drunk men loitering in the hallway to settle down, was met with a hostile response.

A push on their part led to a not gentle shove on mine, sending one of the men flying back into his two friends. The next few moments were a feral blur, and for a short time I laudably held my own. But six bare fists can infallibly do more damage than two. The tough guys retreated into the night, leaving me breathless and battered.

Go to On Crime in China – Part 4 or return to Part 2

 View as Single Page

__________________

Travel photographer Tom Carter is the author of CHINA: Portrait of a People, a 600-page book of photography from the 33 provinces of China, available on Amazon.com!

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


2012 – Changing the Guard

March 8, 2010

The fifth generation of Communist leadership in China will take charge in 2012, as the fourth generation steps down.  Retirement from public office is mandatory at 67.

Who are these people? There are two factions (recognized by the Western media) competing for leadership of the country.

One faction is the Gang of Princelings whose parents were powerful members of the Communist Party. The other faction comes from those that climbed the ranks from China’s Youth League. This year’s session of the National People’s Congress marks the unofficial start of the campaign season for 2012 when most of the current leadership will retire.

One rival is Wang Yang, once a member of the Communist Youth League. Wang has talked about having new, capital-intensive industries replace the old, labor-intensive industries in Guangdong.

One princiling has been in the spotlight recently. He has achieved celebrity status in China because he was successful fighting organized crime in Chongqing, a city with a population that is more than thirty million.  His name is Bo Xilai, one of the princelings, and his father was one of China’s eight Communist Immortals.

Bo Xilai

In China, family history is important and always has been. The Chinese look at the history of the family, the father, the mother and believe that will show them who the child will be and if that man or woman can be trusted.

See Family Connections

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


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