Friday, May 27, 2011

Unnatural Selection: Or In Australian "GimmeABreak"

Gender Imbalance: How Does it really stack up?

  For anyone who falls across my pages either here or on Twitter I think I owe you an insight into who I am.

Not for purposes of self aggrandisement or ego but more like apologising in advance.

Firstly, I do not consider myself a scholar or a journalist. Whilst I am university qualified in the Humanities and as such have had my fair amount of exposure to research, I do not consider myself "Scientific".  In fact the only thing I really know about maths is how to spell it!

Notwithstanding that, I do attempt to verify sources and obtain some alternative views before committing finger to keyboard. Basic Class 101 stuff.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, I am Australian. "Why is that of importance?" I hear you ask yourself from your position in the clouds of the Internet.

Well Australians have a peculiar outlook on life.

It can be best summed up by an Aussie slang saying, to wit:

"She'll be right mate"

Loosely translated it means "don't worry it will all turn out OK in the end"

(Mostly used when the boss gets on your back over a deadline your response would be: a bemused look on your face and a  "She'll be right mate" response.)

It is a very laid back attitude and highly beneficial for your blood pressure.

However (and there must always be an "however")  there are some things that make you want to "DoYaBlock" (Aus sl,)

I have two regarding my "China Gazing". One is Tienanmen Square and the other is the west's preoccupation with , and in most cases misunderstanding, of China's Population Policy, erroneously referred to as the "One Child Policy".

Unlike Tienanmen Square where the Internet spikes around June 4 each year the "OCP" is constantly a topic everywhere you look..

I subscribe to Twilert which sends me a digest of Twitter topics daily. One that I subscribe to is  on "OCP" Without fail ,day in day out, 365 days a year there are way over 100 references to China's "OCP".

Today I was pointed to the link shown here. Again one of the great bogymen of "OCP": "gender imbalance".

"It won't be right mate the world's gunna end" Is the cry of twitterers and articles published by some influential and leading agenda setters.

Harking back to my intro about not being a scholar or a mathematician I do possess, hopefully, some ability to assess an issue,.Let's look then at some thought starters on Gender Imbalance:

According to CIA World fact Book The sex ratio at birth in 2010 for China was 114 males per 100 females. By way of comparison the world average was 107, Australia was 106 and the U.S. was 105. Conclusion, ergo, there is an imbalance. However new born babies and their gender balance do not have social impacts. Babies also die. China has a very high infant mortality rate. many live births do not make adulthood.

Where gender imbalance can come into play as a social factor  is when surviving babies reach adulthood in the 15-64 year age bracket. This is the important employment and  sexually active and  procreative period in a man's life.

Again according to CIA World Fact Book the sex ratio of people in the 15-64 age bracket is 106/100 for China, 103 for Australia and 100 for the U.S.

The bolter, therefore, has certainly come back to the field.

As, in the linked to article, some in the west feel that this gender imbalance will have very dire social consequences. They literally must drool over the very thought of gangs of lonely, testosterone fueled Chinese men raping and pillaging their way across the country. Men, congregating on street corners planning crime without the missus being there to control them (idle hands make for the devils work! cry the commentators).

Men befuddled by psychological trauma of not having a "cheese and kisses" (Aus sl,) to go home to!

Let me get serious for a moment. I know many men that for whatever reason have not married or are no longer married and not one of them is other than normal never having been driven to sexual assault and crime.

More telling against this commentary, so often pushed, is that there is in China a huge Mingong or migrant worker population numbering up to 200 million, mostly men in the prime of their life. Separated from wives and local girlfriends. Of course they, for many reasons, probably figure in crime statistics above the average but there is no epidemic of attributable crime relating to their spousal status.

These are just throw away thought starters.

I am not here to write a treatise on China's Population Policy that is for minds far greater than mine. But I just wish we in the west did not sensationalise things for the sake of attention grabbing headlines. Now on to Tienanmen Square.......

Unnatural Selection: Chinese and Indian Sex Ratios Are a Time Bomb - Council on Foreign Relations

The "Uygur Question" : A proposed model for resolution

The "Uygur Question" needs resolution. It needs resolution for a variety of reasons.

It is undoubted, despite PRC protestations to the contrary, that the human rights of the Uygur people of Xinjiang are being violated.

There are unlawful detentions, there are sham trials and there are even executions. Religious freedom, whilst far from being trampled, is compromised. Freedom of speech is non existent, fear is pervasive.

The Uygur's unique culture is being eroded at a rapid rate whether as intentional consequence of PRC policy or not.

The "Uygur Question" needs resolution from the Han Chinese perspective too.

The "Uygur Question" is a constant thorn in it's side domestically and internationally. It drains resources and manpower. It invokes fear, real or otherwise, in it's citizenry as well as within the organs of power. It presents a strategic problem that the Han can do without.

The loss of the Uygur culture will be a loss to the world as well. It will be of no less importance than then the disappearing Amazon rainforests, or Panda habitats or tiger populations, or the many other issues that takes the world's attentions.

Not reaching a solution will see the total destruction of a unique culture that goes back some 2,000 years, the culture of the roots of a tree that has spread it's branches throughout the world and impacted upon it so greatly.

These are a people that once ruled a great and mighty empire at the crossroads of great civilisations. The mighty Mongol Khans held them in great esteem and adopted many of their cultural elements, which they then took with them throughout the known world. The Uygur culture is a time capsule.

A solution can be found.

The solution, I believe, can be found in the acronym LACIM.


The Uygur must raise from it's ranks a leadership group that can crystallise realistic objectives, unify the Uygur people in the attainment of same and be able to negotiate and facilitate change at the highest of levels.

This leadership group and the process of identification and funding must be supported and facilitated by the People's Republic and the international community. Without freedom and support it is unlikely that people of the right calibre will step forward given the PRC's history on dissent and dissidents.

The criteria for membership of this group is that they must be

- young
- intelligent and educated
- worldly and modern
- understanding of the needs of the Uygur peoples and other cultures in Xinjiang
- cognisant of the culture and psychology of the Han
- acceptable by higher Han society and government
- acceptable by the greater world

Paradoxically that class of Uygur that is often derided by their fellows, the Han educated, so called "Sinofied Uygurs", provide the best criteria fit.

Many Uygur children are selected by the PRC for special education within the mainstream Han education system. Many are taken to school in Beijing and educated through to university standard, many go on to post graduate study. They are young, well educated, more in touch with the modern world obviously fluent in Chinese and generally in English. They have lived the Han culture and value system and as such they are not only able to successfully negotiate with the Han but will have very real credibility with the greater world generally.

There are also academics, artists, etc away from China who have world experience without any political allegiances that also will fit the criteria.

The Uygur in diaspora who run "Uygur Organisations" from the comfort of Europe or the United States have no role to play in this leadership group. Like the post Tzarist Russian emigre class they can offer little and in fact will be a major hindrance to the process if they continue with what the PRC see as "China Bashing".

Quite frankly such organisations have done little to further the Uygur cause and with each successive day away from Xinjiang the increasingly less relevant they become. They do not, however, have to be totally cut out of the equation and can, through their myriad of international contacts, provide support and encouragement to this new group and the process they must undertake, however, this will require quite a considerable "sea change" in their posture.

Nor either can the supporters of Pan Turkic or Pan Islamic ideologies play any role. Their ideologies are completely the antithesis to the process that needs to be undertaken. It goes without saying that militant elements of any persuasion need not apply.

Acceptance: Uygur

The new Uygur leadership must sell "acceptance" to the reality that there will be no "Free Eastern Turkestan" or that Xinjiang will become a part of a Pan Turkic or Islamic state or confederation. Not only must the Uygur people "accept" but they must also be seen to "accept" and support the dropping of any claims to independence. This is of vital importance to the process.

They also must accept the fact of the current demographic situation and that this can not be undone.

People's Republic

The PRC must accept the Uygur as an ethnically and cultural diverse peoples and different to the Han Chinese. That, attempts at forced "Sinofication" or cultural assimilation will not only fail and possibly result in bloodshed and that it is not the result that, in the longer term, will be in the best national interests of the PRC.

Further, they must accept that in the long term, if a non peaceful resolution of the "Uygur Question" can not be found, then that will adversely effect China's standing in the eyes of the world and impact negatively on all of it's international relations.

The "War on Terror" has provided a temporary mask for the "Uygur Question" but this will not always be so.

The PRC given it's "New China" policy can actually gain international kudos by it's mature handling of the "Uygur Question" and preserve for future generations a culture that has been so historically important to the Chinese Nation.


For the process to commence, let alone succeed, there must be a demonstrative willingness and desire by both parties, Uygur and Chinese, for it's success. This will require both parties providing "concessions" to prove the bona fide’s of their intentions. Mandatory concessions would have to include

Uygur Concessions

- An international demonstration by the Uygur that they formally, renounce any claims of Uygur or Islamic sovereignty over Xinjiang. Examples could be by way of Plebiscite or referenda.

- Similar demonstrations that they renounce all Pan Turkic and/or Pan Islamic ambitions for themselves and the region.

- Publicly disassociate themselves from any organisation that promotes such ideologies

- Demonstrate that they are willing to accept the current demographic make up of Xinjiang and they will not request redress. Further that they will work within it for the good of all Xinjiang's people and China generally.

- Demonstrate that they accept that the Chinese language is the main language of Xinjiang in terms at least of higher education, trade, government and employment.

- Acceptance of PRC population policies and acknowledge that despite whatever policies and programmes are put in place that the Han will eventually become by far the dominant ethnic group in Xinjiang.

- Renounce all claims as to financial or material redress, a la the Inuit and the Australian aboriginal scenarios, other than as set out below. That is no land rights claims or claims for compensation.

- All Uygur diaspora organisations to review their agendas in support of the process or else publicly be disassociated by the Uygur of Xinjiang.

- Concede that Uygurs who have committed criminal or terrorists acts must be made available for judgment by duly constituted courts within the state framework.

- That the Uygur, as part of their willingness to recognise the realities of the current and future demographic situation, offer that the word "Uygur" be omitted from the title of the region

PRC Concessions

- An international demonstration that it accepts the concept of multi culturalism within the Chinese state and particularly as it concerns the Turkic people of Xinjiang. This could be by way of official government statement.

- Announce that all policies and legislation currently implemented in Xinjiang will be reviewed by an independent body for purposes of determining the "Sinofication" effect inherent in them and, for them to be amended accordingly.

- Announce a moratorium, for a period to be negotiated, on Han migration to Xinjiang. This moratorium is to remain in effect until other elements of this process have born fruit. Put simply, no Han Chinese can "immigrate" to Xinjiang within the period of the moratorium. Economic, social and employment needs to be met by contract workers or by way of "working visa" arrangements similar to any nation state or by exception through negotiation with the Uygur leadership.

- Implement workable "Affirmative Action Policies" to raise the quality of the Uygur to a level to allow them to compete equally with the Han for employment and business opportunities in all sectors of the economy, including the Public service, and to ensure non discrimination. This will be a determining factor as to the to the length of the moratorium on Han immigration.

- Be willing to negotiate long term "Flood controls" on Han immigration to the region and actively encourage the return of Uygurs now in diaspora.

- Announce the setting up of Minorities Cultural Trusts eg Uygur Cultural Trust. These trusts are to be the beneficiaries of a set percentage of Xinjiang GDP. The purpose of the trusts to be worked out as to the minutiae but include at least

- A trust similar to the National Trust of England for the preservation of culturally unique buildings, infrastructure and areas of historical and cultural importance. This could include legislation similar to "Sacred Site" legislation in Australia which allows the Aborigines control over access and usage of these areas. For example areas of Kashgar or Turpan could be set aside for the Uygur whereby they have the right to manage business and residential usage.

- Sub Committee for the setting up and management of cultural education system to complement and provide for eventual integration into the Han System

- Sub Committees to govern all other aspects of Uygur and minorities culture eg performing and graphic arts.

- Reconstitute the government system so that it can be fully representative of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang in line with the original "Autonomous" regional model that was so noble in theory and intent but did not work in practice.

- Allow and provide infrastructure for the minorities to educate their children in a manner that will ensure an cultural grounding whilst preparing the child for full integration into the Han System by late primary or early secondary levels.

- Announce amnesty for political dissidents and provide a facility for the peaceable re integration of non- violent dissident groups and individuals without fear of retribution.

Repeal or renounce any legislation or policies limiting or denying freedom of religion, speech and association.


- Realistic time tables to be negotiated
- Regular evaluations of progress
- Dispute mechanisms agreed to
- Requests for international support both moral and material (eg Foreign training scholarships etc)
- Community consultation, involvement and ownership of the process.


- The whole process, for reasons of transparency and dispute resolution, must be oversighted by an independent international body agreed to by both parties.


There can be a solution to the "Uygur Question" that is win/win for both the Uygur and the Chinese.
Additionally, a peaceful resolution can be an important component of the success or otherwise of China's quest for international integration and acceptance.

The process is by no means an easy one or one that can be implemented successful overnight.

The concessions recommended are not inconsiderable, and, will require enormous goodwill, foresight, political will and courage. As well intensive analysis and planning and a great deal of "marketing" will be required.

But the result will far outweigh the cost and it's achievement does not destroy or unduly compromise the basic wants and needs of each party or their long term goals. Yes, there are what appears to be impossible requests for concessions, but if closely analysed they are but small relative to the possible positive outcomes. Of course the party die hards and the Uygur nationalist organisations will need some heavy convincing.

The summary points of the hoped outcome are:

- The Chinese will be assured that Xinjiang will not become an area of political turbulence and even armed insurgency and, as such, can divert resources to the continued opening up of this strategically and economically vital area. China's national integrity is assured and even bolstered

- International kudos will flow to the PRC with contingent goodwill. One thorn will be removed from their side.

- Success will greatly lessen the hopes and aspirations of Central Asian terrorist or Islamic fundamentalist groups thus adding to the stability of the region.

- International pressure over Taiwan will decrease as the Chinese can demonstrate to the world their reasonableness.

- The Uygur will have sufficient control over their cultural and religious integrity and political future to maintain their cultural integrity far into the future.

- The Uygur can be raised, through affirmative action programmes, to more fully and equitably participate in the share of the economic benefits of the region thus lessening a major element of potential unrest and increasing economic results for Xinjiang.

- The Uygur, not being a small part of the population, have an important economic role to play. By effectively making them partners in Xinjiang's economic results through indexing funding to the GDP the area is assured of their participation.

- An economic boom will ultimately ensue, particularly with regards to tourism, which though growing is very much untapped at present.

- The Uygur if they are supportive as a result of these initiatives are the perfect conduits (as they have been for 2,000 years) for trade to and from the Central Asian Republics.

- Fear and violence will be eradicated among the citizens of Xinjiang.

The Uygur Question can be solved it just needs the political will.

(This a re-post of my article first published by January 7, 2004 and given the events of 2009 in Urumqi of no less relevance despite it's age)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Xi Jinping: Can A Princeling Become King

A Look at likely Contenders for leadership of the Chinese Communist Party

Xi Jinping: An Heir Apparent?
Autumn 2011 marks the time for China's fifth generation of leaders to be selected and anointed.

The question on every one's lips is who will be the top leadership contenders for the positions of president and prime minister of China the ascendant.

Whoever is chosen has a very hard act to follow. The current president Hu Jintao and his prime minister Wen Jaibao have enjoyed considerable success during their tenure at the helm.

In the period of their stewardship China has risen to be the second most powerful economy in the world and is poised within the next 15 years to take the number one mantle from the United States.

Personally, Hu and Jaibao enjoy unprecedented popularity both internationally and domestically. They are seen as moderates, facilitators of dramatic change and have done so with very little antagonism.

One person  touted as an odds on favorite for the position of President is Xi Jinping the 57 year old (soon to be 58 as of June 1) current Vice President.

Xi Jinping is Beijing born and the son of Communist veteran Xi Zhongxun, himself a former vice president. Xi Jinping married the famous Chinese folk singer Peng Liyuan in 1987, his second marriage and has a daughter Xi Mingze who currently studies at Harvard University in the United States.

Xi Jinping is dubbed one of China's "princelings" also referred to as the Crown Prince Party, children of renowned communist leaders who were involved with Mao in the revolution. Xi Jinping's father, Xi Zhongxun, was harshly treated by Mao during the "Cultural revolution" prior to his full reconciliation with the CCP.

Another notable "Princeling" is Bo Xilai Secretary of the CCP as well as many more in government, education and industry.

The "Princelings" are noted for their criticism of China's current path, particularly it's road down capitalism, and it's lack of attention to military matters. Their tendency is to be pro Marxist with Xi Linping having a doctorate in Marxism (as well as his obligatory Engineers degree).

This tendency towards a more Marxist ideological platform for China is one thing that may stand against Xi Jinping if he harbours ambitions for the top job. He has, however, been praised for his hard line against corruption.

The second thing that may count against him is that he is very light on foreign affairs exposure and experience. His three major grand tours have been restricted to South America, Belgium ,Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, and Japan, Cambodia, Myanmar and South Korea. All of which occurred in 2009. This itinerary would point to an emphasis on economic relations rather than full blown diplomacy.

It is during his visit to Mexico where he created a little furore when he was caught, off camera admittedly, saying:

"There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us [China]."

Hardly something that you would wish to see on your curriculum vitae for China's top job.

My feel is that Xi Linping has not the credentials for the top job certainly he is not nearly as well credentialed as Hu Jintao was when he took leadership. His foreign affairs credentials are weak and his gaffe in Mexico, whilst probably on the lips of all Chinese diplomats and politicians, may be inexcusable in it being uttered publicly and shows some naivety on his part.

Lastly the tag of "princeling" and it's negative connotations, certainly in the west, and the fact that their ideas differ ideological from the highly successful Hu and Wen combinations must certainly come to play in the final outcome of what looks to be an exciting time in China's history.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ai Wei Wei: Maybe the Chinese are Right?

Ai Wei Wei
Ai Wei Wei was arrested and the Western Press screamed "Human Rights Violation" "Censorship" "Trumped Up Charges"

But what if the charges to be brought against Wei Wei are founded?

Will we all skulk away and forget we opened our mouths or will we attempt to protect our dignity and claim "Miscarriage of Justice" and hope that it all goes quietly away?

I for one think that Wei Wei is probably guilty. I think that with his high international profile and with the taste of the good life, that he may have thought that he was above the law or smart enough to evade detection.

I believe that such a high profile person would not have been detained at this point in time unless the Chinese officials have fairly strong grounds for their actions.

I do not believe that they would attract so much attention to themselves given the West's obsession with "Freedom of Speech" unless they were pretty sure that the charges and the case will pass some very intense scrutiny.

"Jasmine Revolution"?  I do not think so. The Chinese have the so called "Jasmine Revolution" well under control from their point of view, if it ever existed at all.

Plain human greed and pride? More than likely.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

China's Mingong: Plight of China's Migrant Workers

They say you can spot a Mingong a mile away. Dirty, disheveled from the day's exertion, careblown and exhausted with a plaintive look.

The Mingong, or as is better known in the west as China's vast army of migrant workers is the faceless fuel of the most rapidly growing economy in the world.

Unheralded and unloved by his fellow citizens he works long hours for low pay, if, he gets any at all. He toils generally in the most dirtiest, the most dangerous and the most unwanted of occupations far away from his home town, families and friends. He lives, most times, in crowded, unsanitary conditions, living on meagre provisions and dreaming of his once a year spring soujourn to his home town , a  home coming described by some as one of the great movements of people in the world.

But the Mingong is the backbone of China's meteoric economic rise, so, why then does the world and his own country treat him with such disdain? As if his human rights, his dreams and his aspirations are meaningless. Why is he so visibly invisible?

Who then is this Mingong? This "Migrant" in his own land?

Estimates are that there are 150 million Migrant Workers in China. The number is expected to reach in excess of 200 million by 2012 and pass 300 million by 2025. They are citizens of China but have moved typically from rural areas such as Sichuan, Hunan, Henan, Anhui and Jiangxi Provinces where employment opportunities are drying up to the cities and regions of stupendous economic growth in the east.

Typically they move for economic reasons: greater emploment opportunities, higher pay, but some, though not many, for the excitement of seeing the bright lights of a more vibrant China.

Like most migrants in history they tend to gravitate to employment that is unwanted by the locals.  Usually dirty work, low paid and dangerous. Jobs in coal mining, construction and lower level service industries such as China's expanding food industry.

In these occupations they are looked down upon and derided by locals. They are "The peasants who want to be workers"

Why Is Their Plight a Human Rights Issue?

Yes the migrant worker chooses to leave his home, he voluntarily goes to seek greater rewards to send home to provide for his family.

That in itself is good, it is aspirational, it is what most people all over the world do, strive to better themselves. It is, however, how he is treated by employees and the Government and the results of this treatment that makes it a Human Rights Issue,

Worker/ Employee Relations

The Mingong is looked down upon and they are treated as nothing better, in a lot of instances, then an expendable resource. They are contracted at low rates of pay which generally includes sub-standard, crowded and unsanitary accommodation and food, which their employees deduct from their pay sometimes at outrageous cost. Having little protection by unions or government they can sometimes go unpaid for months, if they get paid at all.

They have none or little access to pension and health insurance. According to a study by Feng, Zuo and Ruan (2002) only 14 per cent had health insurance and 10 per cent had pension plans.

Due to their status and occupation work safety is a major issue. They lack basic and proper Occupational Health and Safety protection. In 2005, for example, there were 100,000 occupational related deaths in China and obviosly countless work related injuries and illnesses. The Mingong, the Chinese Migrant worker, would appear very noticebaly in these statistics if they have even been quantified.

Worker/ State Relations

Unfortunately wherever there is money there is motive for greed and avarice. This is universal. However, we in the west are protected from the excesses of this human nature flaw by strong Political governance and the support of the likes of Unions and pressure groups. This is not so in China. In China the system is the Minjongs greatest enemy.

This stems from a government policy known as the The Hukou System  (the government household registration system)

     "The Hukou system was established in the 1950s. It registers every person at a specific place (usually their place of birth), and requires all changes in residence to be registered with and
approved by both the government of the place of origin and that of the destination.

This policy became even more restrictive when the Chinese government introduced the food stamp system, and provided low-priced rationing of foods to each individual residing in his or her place of residence.

There were two main consequences resulting from implementing these policies. First, it became almost impossible for an individual to move from one place of residence to another. Second, the division between rural farmers and urban city dwellers became wider, with rural farmers lagging behind in economic and social resources."  (Zhao, YH, 2000)

In China, social welfare benefits are  tied a persons residence status within the Hukou system. Therefore, migrant workers are largely excluded from social security and medical benefits in the urban cities because they are not official residents of those cities.

They also have restrictions placed on their ability to get independent living arrangements, housing and rental subsidies and child health and education, thus, family re-unions are nigh impossible.

The Hukou system and it's inherint weaknesses and discrimiation is well known to the Chinese government but, for whatever reason, they choose to ignore it, always saying that reviews are ongoing. Why? This is hard to explain as the Mingong is vital and indispensable to China's economic growth.

There is no doubt in my mind that the  Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is fearful as to the ramifications of changes to the Hukou System. At the moment they have control to a great degree over population movements.

"Yes feel free to come to Shanghai to work on some project but when it is finished see you later, go back from whence you came. And, while your at it, leave your family at home. It is easier for us that way"


The plight of the Mingong is a real time Human Rights tragedy that is grossly ignored, particularly by so called Human Rights Activists in the west, not to mention obviously the Chinese government. The effects of their treatment cover all areas of human decency and individual and social stability and have unimaginable and unquantifiable repercussions.

Families are rent, children are denied proper parenting. The loneliness of the Mijong must be be palatable, insufferable. What effect on crime, mental and physical health?

These people are the front line soldiers of China's Economic "miracle" but what soldiers that have been to war for their country are so badly treated in-service and upon completion of their "tour of duty"

Let us get over the "One Child Policy", the constant over exposure of censorship issues. This is not an intellectual rights issue of who can say what and when, but real human suffering and misery.

When next you use your iPAD think about it.

Further reading suggested:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

China: Family Planning Policy

One Child Policy

Aka "One Child Policy"

How good does "One Child Policy" sound in a headline? Much better than "Family Planning Policy". Much more sinister don't you think?

Well western media has been touting around the "One Child Policy" headline this week with regards to reports out of China that authorities have busted a child trafficking ring made up of low level government officials.

Using their positions they have gained access to unwanted children or have bullied couples into giving up their children, all under the auspices of the "One Child Policy".

Western media have used, once again, the "One Child Policy" bogeyman to get a little bit of extra attention to a news item.

I obviously have no problems with the media highlighting child trafficking, whenever and wherever it happens. It is a disgraceful, world wide problem, that needs government and media attention to stamp it completely and utterly out.

What I do have a problem with is that highly respected media outlets after all this time, since the Population Policy was promulgated, allow this misrepresentation for the sake of  sensationalism.

Let's have a look at some aspects of China's Family Planning Policy (aka in the west "One Child Policy)

  • Only 39% of China's population is affected under this policy. Ethnic minorities, such as the Uyghur people of Xinjiang, are exempted. So are rural populations. As well there are many other exemptions such as where a first child is born with significant disabilities.
  • You can have as many children as you like in China. You are only disincentivised against it through fines, loss of education, medical and welfare privileges for subsequent children. If you got enough money have ten.
  • China has several districts where it is trialing a policy promoting only two children families. Significantly these areas show the same fertility rates or less than the others.
  • According to one survey 76% of Chinese support having only one child.
  • It has been said that the policy has brought about some two to three hundred million less births since it's implementation. It has been argued, however, that this is just as much the result of a burgeoning and aspirational middle class more interested in spending it's money on homes, cars and consumer goods.
Family Planning Policy in China was put in place with some very clear objectives namely:
  1. Reduce demand on natural resources
  2. Steady the labour rate
  3. Reduce unemployment
  4. Reduce labour exploitation
  5. And, in achieving the above, maintain social stability.
To these ends the policy has been a success without a terrible lot of social upheaval.

Of course there have been instances of officials abuse of the intent of the policy. Has there been forced abortions? I would say yes. Child trafficking? Yes. Forced sterilisations? Again yes.But these have been at a very lower government level by corrupt or over zealous party officials looking to impress the "Higher Ups".

With China's Population Policy are we witnessing a Human Rights Violation? I do not think so. So let the western media stop sensationalising the issue. Report on abuse yes, but do it in a constructive way to provide encouragement for China to address any problems that implementation of the policy throws up.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Deadliest Catch: China Coal Mining


The Chinese Coal Mining Industry is by far the most deadliest industry in the world for it's workforce.

In 2008 there were officially 3,215 deaths reported by Chinese government. This is  the "official" figure, human rights and industry analysts put this figure far higher, some suggesting upwards of  10,000 deaths, on average, annually.

Fatalities peaked in 2003 with 6,434 official deaths or, 4 per 1 million tons mined. This has reduced considerably to 2008 where the fatality rate was 1.18 per million. Whilst the  total and death rate has reduced considerably it has to be compared with the U.S. where since 2000 the death rate per million tons has been between .012 and .04 per million tons.

Why then is coal mining more dangerous than being a combat soldier?

The Chinese coal industry is the largest producer of coal in the world, far outstripping it's two largest competitors, the U.S. and Australia.

In 2009  the China's Coal industry produced officially 2.9 billion short tons of coal, three times that of the U.S., the world's next largest producer. It did so out of an estimated 15,000 mines employing, according to the International Energy Agency,  2,657,230 Chinese workers. Unlike Australia, for example, the most common mine operation is underground.

Even at this phenomenal production rate China can not meet domestic demand, considered to be around 3 billion tone per annum and thus forces it to dig deeply to fuel the second largest and the fastest growing economy in the world, one that  is abnormally dependent, for such a  large economy, on fossil energy fuel.

Industry Makeup

The industry consists of four types of mines namely:
  • National Strategic Mines (NSM's) Nationally run companies numbering some 268 and accounting for 51% of production.
  • Provincial National Mines (PNM's)  owned by provincial governments  numbering some 4,000 mines and producing 13% of production.
  • Township Mines (TM's) numbering 12,000 approximately and owned by local governments and private organisations.
  • Illegal operations statistics unknown.
Fatalities for NSM's in 2008 numbered 454 at a rate of .3 equivalent to that of the U.S. These mines are modern, well managed and resourced.

Fatalities for PNM's were 401 in the same year at a rate of 1.04 and at TM's the fatalities numbered 2360 at a rate of 2.15. These latter mines are at the very lower level being usually small operations, poorly equipped and lacking good management and governmental oversight.

 It is TM's  and illegal mining operations that commentators believe that accidents and fatality data has historically been considerably understated or not reported to Central authorities at all.

Since early last decade there has been much international scrutiny of the safety of Chinese Coal Mines. This has led to a crackdown by the Chinese central government on TM's and illegal mines and some 50,000 have been closed down in that period with greater scrutiny of those remaining. It is this crackdown that is mostly responsible for the fatality rate diminishing.

It is unlikely, in the medium term, that despite the Central Governments crackdowns, that the fatality rate will decrease at the rate it has over the last decade.

Corruption is rampant, especially at the lower levels of the industry, and demand exceeds supply. This provides for a deadly synergy that even the most well intentioned Government would be hard pressed to overcome.

The Chinese government has made considerable progress in mine workers safety in the last decade. It has, however, a very long way to go and one wonders that with the continued rapid industrial development, the style of mining operations required to extract the coal and the demand /supply equation that any further quantum leaps will be long tmes off.

Further Reading: China's Conundrum: Implication of Fatality Staistics of Chinese Coal Mines Thomas Rauch

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aging Population and Gender Imbalance: China’s One-Child Policy

One Child Policy

China Releases First Census Results In Ten Years

China last month released it's first census data in ten years and some of the key results are:

  • Total Population:1,370,536,875
  • Annual growth rate: 0.57 percent in the decade to 2010
  • Aging Population: Aged 60 or more accounting for 13.26 percent, 2.93 percentage points higher than in 2000.
  • Rapid urbanization: 49.7 percent live in urban areas 36.09 percent in 2000
  • Gender Imbalance: 105.20 males for every 100 females
  • Improved Education Outcome: People with a university education is 8,930 per 100,000, 2.5 times more than in 2000

The key results confirm several things concerning the demographic makeup of China that have concerned observers  over the last decade, namely that China's so called "one child" policy is working successfully in reducing the rate of population growth but has potentially serious ramifications for China's future makeup.

Before expanding on that I would like to point out some serious misunderstandings of China's "One Child Policy" which are held in some quarters in the west.

China does have a "One Child policy", that is, it has put in place programmes that provides disincentives to Chinese couples from having more than one child. Many who think the policy forces abortions upon couples are totally wrong. To achieve success of the policy the government, for example, will not enroll other than the first child  into the residence registration system. This causes Chinese families great difficulty for schooling, medical and many other issues if they have more than one child. Even this does not apply for all Chinese residents as there are exemptions from this for rural residents and people of  the ethnic minorities.

Nonetheless the Chinese historically and culturally place great importance on male children, they are the "dynasty makers". As well, they are the Chinese form of superannuation as male children, unlike females, are culturally expected to take care of there parents financially in old age. As a result there is gender "engineering" occurring by way of selective abortions and the practice, still rife, of concealing female births and abandoning the child.

Therefore, whilst the policy is achieving it's goals of reducing population growth, the downside is the ageing of the population, with all the attendant problems, and the potentially serious problems of gender imbalance as it relates to psychological and criminal issues. 

Thus there has been much discussion internally in China as to how the balance can be better struck. Senior government ministers including the premier have alluded to fine tuning being required but still firmly stand by the primary objective of the policy, that is, the reduction in the rate of population increase to promote sustainability and social stability in the long term.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Stephen's Letter Awards

My Cloudiverse consists of my

  • Blogger Blog Stephen's Letter where I concern myself mostly with issues relating to China, such as, human rights, politics, Government, mining workers rights and conditions and my special interest the Uyghur people of Xinjiang.
  • My Facebook page DoYaBlock which is a start up local area environment group looking for people to "adopt" a small block of land and, on a regular basis that suits their lifestyle, clean it up. Do Ya Block is actually Australian slang meaning to get mad and go off the handle abut something. In this instance you DoYaBlock over rubbish and litter.
  • My Twitter offerings to be stumbled upon with the search  @DoYaBlock. Here I have a more eclectic outlook following news, both concerning topics looked at with Stephen's Letter and general breaking news. As well I follow some celebrities and influential people from the worlds of sports, politics,entertainment and the arts. Of course any fair dinkum twitterer (not commercial concerns) mad enough to follow me get followed right back because we can not tell a story unless we have a listener. This is where I mix business with pleasure so to speak. I can be deadly serious one minute and  totally stupid the next.
As I roam the endless Cloudiverse, like some Clouds Don Quiote, I come across things that I absolutely love, some things I like and some things I really get mad at.

A lot of places have the "Like" "Don't like" button or the "Star" "Unstar" one. Terminology is  varied and terms number as many as the stars in the Cloudiverse.

But I don't like them! So I am going to commence my own  award system (as only self aggrandising/delusional people are want to do)

I am implementing a three stage award system as follows

  • The #StephenAward. An award bestowed upon personal tweeters, bloggers, or message leavers. This award recognises excellence in the field of tweetering, messaging or blogging and it is the most prestigious award on offer.
  • The #DYBAward. This award is the be bestowed upon any tweet, message or post where I like what is being said or pointed too. Whilst not as prestigious as the #StephenAward it is not to be scoffed at.
  • The #Doyablock. This disaward, if you may, is bestowed upon something or someone, some post, message or tweet that we absolutely hate and detest. It is a call to arms if you see it posted on a retweey or a comment..
There, then, are my awards to be implemented immediately.

Feel free to take it upon yourself to award them as well.

 As you roll over the verdant hills of knowledge and information beneath the almighty Clouds there is an award to be given...... somewhere...some time.....

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Dead

News today that has shaken the world: Osama Bin Laden has been killed by US forces in Pakistan.

President Obama announced from the White House that US Special forces have, on his orders, attacked a compound in the town of Abbatabad some 150 kilometres from Islamabad.

Following a fire fight in which Bin Laden was apparently killed with a bullet wound to the head, U.S forces secured his body and reportedly has shipped it to a U.S. base in Afghanistan.

Obama praised the American people and the military for the almost ten year struggle to find and inflict justice on the mastermind of the "9/11" terrorist attacks on the United States.

General celebrations appear to be spontaneously happening around the world with social network site Twitter going almost into overload as tens of thousands of "Tweets" hit it's website.

It is a hard thing to say, and personally morally hard to accept, but many people, myself included, are truly happy over this event and one has to congratulate the Free World for it's resolve to achieve this outcome albeit at an enormous cost.

I wish that I could not say that I am "happy" over anyone's death but I am relieved that he is dead.