December 27, 2012

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Chen Guangcheng: 'When people overcome fear, change is inevitable' (December 21, 2012, The Guardian)

Exiled Chinese dissident and self-taught lawyer has become a potent symbol of resilience and empowerment

Chinese Officials Find Misbehavior Now Carries Cost (December 25, 2012, The New York Times)

These have been especially nerve-racking times for Chinese officials who cheat, steal and bribe. Since the local bureaucrat, Lei Zhengfu, became an unwilling celebrity here, a succession of others has been publicly exposed. And despite the usual cries of innocence, most have been removed from office while party investigators sort through their bedrooms and bank accounts. In the weeks since the Communist Party elevated a new slate of top leaders, the state media, often fed by freelance vigilantes, have been serving up a head-spinning collection of scandals.

Chinese Scholars Demand Communist Leaders Relax Their Grip (December 26, 2012, Bloomberg)

A group of Chinese intellectuals wrote a letter demanding the Communist Party end Internet censorship and ease its grip on the courts, according to a copy posted on the blog of one of the signatories. The letter, signed by 71 people and posted on the blog of Peking University law professor Zhang Qianfan, calls for the party to end its oversight of government personnel decisions, leave court decisions to judges and lawyers, and allow people to speak and assemble freely. The document comes as the Communist Partys new leaders, including General Secretary Xi Jinping, have demanded some reforms including a crackdown on corruption and a halt to extravagance by government officials. In December, Xi made a speech urging the party to behave within the scope of the Constitution and take the lead in observing the law, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Dec. 14. I dont think society should simply wait passively for whatever comes up but we should express our ideas and try to build a social consensus, Zhang, who helped draft the letter, said in a phone interview. Now is a good time to do something new and if we miss such a chance then our social problems will become more serious.

Heirs of Maos Comrades Rise as New Capitalist Nobility (December 26, 2012, Bloomberg)

The Immortals also sowed the seeds of one of the biggest challenges to the Partys authority. They entrusted some of the key assets of the state to their children, many of whom became wealthy. It was the beginning of a new elite class, now known as princelings. This is fueling public anger over unequal accumulation of wealth, unfair access to opportunity and exploitation of privilegeall at odds with the original aims of the communist revolution. To reveal the scale and origins of this red aristocracy, Bloomberg News traced the fortunes of 103 people, the Immortals direct descendants and their spouses. The result is a detailed look at one part of Chinas elite and how its members reaped benefits from the countrys boom.

Will 2013 Bring War Over the Diaoyu Islands? (December 27, 2012, China Digital Times)

While China and Japan have run patrol ships around the Diaoyus over the past few months, tensions escalated earlier this month when Japan scrambled fighter jets after it alleged that a Chinese surveillance plane violated its airspace above the territory.


Video: What is Christmas and Who is Jesus? (December 24, 2012, Chinese Church Voices)

In 2008, members of the English fellowship of Haidian Christian Church in Beijing did a series of man on the street interviews, asking people what they knew about Christmas and Jesus. The video was then used in their Christmas program at the church. Christmas may be popular in China, but most people still dont have any idea what it is really all about.


For the Holidays, Hong Kong Decks Its Skyscrapers in Lights (December 24, 2012, The New York Times)

But this time of year, the spectacle ratchets up several notches. Out come vast, multicolored, complex designs that span many floors and make the Rockefeller Center in New York and Oxford Street in London pale by comparison. Frolicking reindeer, bobble-hatted snowmen, enormous Christmas trees adorn dozens of buildings, sometimes to startling effect.

China May Require Web Users to Register Real Names, Xinhua Says (December 24, 2012, Bloomberg)

China, the worlds largest Internet market by users, may require by law that Web users provide their real identities when signing contracts with Internet service providers, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress, which has the power to enact law, will this week decide on proposed legislation that would require Web users to register their real names to gain fixed-line and mobile Internet access, the news agency reported yesterday. The proposed legislation, once approved, would be the second China has passed on Internet management since 2000, when it passed a law on Web security maintenance, Xinhua said.

Christmas Eve in Beijing (December 24, 2012, The China Story)

Its Christmas Eve in Beijing, and while the Christian holiday is not officially acknowledged by the atheistic party-state that rules China, it is celebrated by increasing numbers of Chinese people. Like Halloween and Valentines Day, Christmas is heavily promoted by malls, restaurants, bars and nightclubs; its another excuse to go out and consume (an activity endorsed, coincidentally, by the Communist Partys economic platform).

Young Chinese embrace Christmas for differing reasons (December 25, 2012, Xinhua)

On Christmas Eve Chinese youngsters embrace the festival like Westerners but not for the religious reasons or for family reunion. Young people have found their "Chinese way" to celebrate the traditional Western festival. For them, Christmas is more like an excuse to have a break from their busy lives.

Video: Hundreds arrested in China's child trafficking raids (December 25, 2012, BBC)

Chinese authorities say they have rescued 89 children and arrested hundreds of suspects following a crackdown on trafficking rings across the country. Child trafficking is prolific in China because of its one-child policy and a high demand for baby boys.

Video: Aquarium bursts in shopping centre in Shanghai (December 27, 2012, BBC)

Sixteen people have been hurt after an aquarium burst at a shopping mall in Shanghai.The thirty-three tonne tank which housed sharks, turtles and fish shattered without warning at the city's Orient shopping centre on 18 December. The explosion destroyed a nearby cosmetics counter where one worker had to be pulled to safety. The tank was installed just two years ago but investigators say a combination of low temperatures and weak materials caused the catastrophic collapse. Three lemon sharks and dozens of turtles and small fish were killed in the incident.


China has 260 mln chronic disease patients: white paper (December 26, 2012, Xinhua)

China currently has about 260 million people who have been diagnosed to have contracted chronic diseases, and these diseases have caused 85 percent of total deaths in the country, a white paper said Wednesday. Moreover, the diseases have incurred 70 percent of the country's total medical costs, according to the white paper titled "Medical and Health Services in China," which was released by the Information Office of the State Council, or China's Cabinet. To address the problem, China has promoted the integration of prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.


Chongqing lifts exam ban for migrant workers' children (December 21, 2012, The Global Times)

Chongqing is the latest metropolis to ease the household restriction on migrants attending gaokao, following Heilongjiang, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shandong and other provinces. Outside the pilot regions, the exam restriction is still in place, although children of migrant workers can take the nine-year compulsory education (from elementary to high schools) without household restrictions. Thousands of migrant employees working in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, are keeping their fingers crossed for the ban to be lifted before the coming exam season in July, so their children can take the test with their peers in the cities. There are nearly 20 million rural children aged under 14 nationwide, who have left home with their parents to cities.

China Takes Chilling Look at Security in Its Schools (December 23, 2012, The New York Times)

The attackers first young target, a girl with a pink backpack, falls at the school gates as she tries to race away. She gets up, but stumbles again inside the gates as the man slashes at her with a meat cleaver. Two minutes later, dozens of students race out of the gates as the man rampages through the school, eventually wounding 23 children. Perhaps most shocking is what the video of the attack 10 days ago shows about the schools first line of defense: several children waving broomsticks try to block the mans progress. Minutes later, local adults who had rushed into the building, also wielding brooms, chase the man from the school.

Chinese Driver Runs Down Students (December 25, 2012, The New York Times)

A man angry over a court ruling in the case of his daughters murder used his car to run down a group of high school students in northern China, causing 13 to be hospitalized with injuries, the local government and the state news media reported on Tuesday. It was the second major attack on students in China in less than two weeks.


13 Chinese Companies Going Global In 2013 (December 21, 2012, The China Tracker)

While some of the names appearing on the top 13 for 2013 are well on their way to becoming househould names, a few of the others may come as a surprise

The Silk Railroad of China-Europe Trade (December 20, 2012, Bloomberg)

Multinationals operating in China have been setting up factories deep in the interior in search of affordable labor. The drawback: These plants can be more than a thousand kilometers (621 miles) from the coast. For companies exporting to Europestill one of the largest markets for Chinese goodsshipping by air from Chongqing or other inland cities is too expensive. Trucking or carrying goods by train to the ports of Shanghai or Shenzhens Yantian and then shipping them to Western Europe can take 40 days.

China To Keep Locks On Housing Bubble (December 26, 2012, Forbes)

Chinas housing authority reaffirmed its commitment Tuesday to keep a lid on the countrys red hot housing market. The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said it will continue with policies design to prevent over-investment from real estate investors next year. The government introduced a series of restrictions to control house purchases in several cities this year, requiring higher down payments and bringing in property taxes for the first time.

First Question For Doing Business In China: Is It Legal? (December 26, 2012, China Law Blog)

A couple weeks back, I co-moderated a Doing Business in China seminar at which two lawyers speakers went through the steps for forming a China WFOE. My two-cent contribution was on the need to make sure that what you are planning on doing in China is legal, and to do that before anything else. I then proceeded to tell (maybe for the hundredth time) of a company that called me many years ago to retain my law firm to handle their China WFOE formation.


Apple provides ladder to climb the Great Firewall (December 23, 2012, Shanghaiist)

China's recent VPN crackdown isn't only limited to your laptop. The Great Firewall has long been blocking searches for some VPN apps on Apple's App Store. But Apple, not to be out-gunned, have just switched connections to the App Store to the HTTPS protocol, a secure connection that is not simple to selectively filter. It's not clear how long the secure connection has been available.

China opens world's longest high-speed railway line (December 26, 2012, The Guardian)

It used to take the best part of 24 hours to travel by train from Beijing to the southern boomtown of Guangzhou. But as of Wednesday, when the world's longest high-speed rail line opened for business, the 1,428-mile journey has been cut to a mere eight hours. The trains travel at an average speed of 186mph, passing through five provinces as they tear through the countryside.

China to add 100 mln 3G subscribers next year (December 27, 2012, Xinhua)

China will add an estimated 100 million new 3G subscribers in 2013, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The number of broadband Internet users will increase by 25 million, Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, said at the ministry's annual meeting on Thursday. Next year, the telecommunications industry targets an 8-percent increase in main business revenue. The software and information technology service industry's revenue will grow by around 25 percent.


Chinese snow sculptors brave cold to carve new records (December 26, 2012, BBC)

In China, snow sculptors are suffering more than most for their art. They are braving temperatures of -30 Celsius for hundreds of hours to carve out stunning masterpieces as part of a festival in the country's north east.

The Tulou of Fujian Province: Life in the Round (December 27, 2012, Life on Nanchang Lu)

Sitting incongruously amongst nearby apartment blocks in Yongding County, Fujian Province, these ancient houses sit squatly on the landscape like a cluster of recently landed earthen UFOs. There are more than 30,000 tulou or rammed earth houses in Fujian and neighbouring southern Jiangxi Province, completely unique to this corner of China, and to the Hakka and Minnan people who built them hundreds of years ago when they settled in the region.


How Long Does it Take to Learn Chinese? (October 9, 2012, Outside-In)

Since Ive been in China for 28 years, and speak Chinese reasonably well, I am often asked 2 questions (by foreigners), neither of which have easy answers. One is are you fluent? My response is usually fluent enough to get myself into and out of trouble. The second question is even harder: how long did it take you to learn Chinese? Its a tough question, because it assumes that the words learn and Chinese are easily defined. Unfortunately they are not.


Profiles of new PSC leaders (Xinhua)


The Relationship between Religious Legislation and Civil Society (Pacific Institute for Social Sciences)My basic viewpoint regarding religious affairs and religious legislation in China is as follows. In order to resolve conflicts between the state regulation of religious affairs and the churchs struggle for existence and development, the state should regard the church as a common member of the civil society and should not regard it as an enemy to the building of a harmonious society. It should avoid using executive power to squeeze the living space of the church and consequently cause the church to remain underground or to over-react in an attempt to survive. Religious legislation should follow the spirit of deliberative democracy and demonstrate communicative rationality between the state and church, so that church can have a say in the drafting of such legislation. Otherwise, they will resist the law, thus rendering it ineffective.


For the Holidays, Hong Kong Decks Its Skyscrapers in Lights (December 24, 2012, The New York Times)

But this time of year, the spectacle ratchets up several notches. Out come vast, multicolored, complex designs that span many floors and make the Rockefeller Center in New York and Oxford Street in London pale by comparison. Frolicking reindeer, bobble-hatted snowmen, enormous Christmas trees adorn dozens of buildings, sometimes to startling effect.

Coffee Shop Chains in China (December 24, 2012, Lets Eat China)

Young Chinese now spend their Saturday afternoons pinned to their Macbooks, iPads or iPhones or oftentimes all three whilst sipping frappuccinos.

5 Essential Apps for Living in China (December 27, 2012, Chengdu Living)

Ive tried and tested hundreds of apps which which make life in Chengdu easier, and these are the cream of the crop. My essential China apps. Most of these are universal apps that work for both iPhone and iPad, and theyre all free.


Chinas Vanishing WorldsA photographic essay on the disappearance of cultural spaces and traditions in rural China

Image credit: Nights in Hong Kong, by Trey Ratcliff, via Flickr

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