China Urban

‘…an urban research agenda cannot ignore the debate about China’s modernity but should not be reduced to it. We wish, instead, to encourage research that investigates urban practices, experiences, mentalities and ideologies both within an urban context and outside of it.’

Chinese apparel dealer banned from selling Wen Jiabao series T shirt

VANCL, a popular Chinese online apparel retailer, was chided in April for using Chinese leader’s image promoting its clothing products. According to a Xinhua article, the Beijing Bureau of Commerce and Industry decided that the website’s use of national leader’s image constitutes violation of China’s advertisement law, which bans allusion to government agency or official. Aside using Premier Wen Jiabao’s image in its website advertisement, VANCL’s T shirts features front print of Wen’s quotes including ‘仰望星空 脚踏实地’ on its T-shirts.

References:

  • 新华: 凡客滥用国家领导人做广告被查(图) (2012-4-27)

Discrimination against non-Beijingers in city’s health insurance system

Does Beijing have to fend off outsiders scamming their way into the city’s social insurance system? Caijing reports that a man was told that municipal insurance would not cover treatment for a malignant tumor because he did not hold a Beijing household registration, despite having paid into the system for two years. The reason given, he says, was to guard against outsiders trying to take advantage of the city’s generous insurance system. A notice issued in 2004 by the Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security lists six categories of medical conditions that are not covered for out-of-towners; a Caijing reporter contacted the Bureau and was told that this was only intended to exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions for non-Beijingers. However, the Bureau contact also said that applicants without Beijing household registration are reviewed more thoroughly than locals.

References:

  • 财经网: 北京市人保局否认“外地人参保受歧视”:审核项目会多些 (2012-04-13)
  • 北京市劳动和社会保障局 : 关于基本医疗保险参保范围等有关问题的通知 (2004-12-16)

Global Times on Fang Lizhi’s death

Global Times published an op-ed following the death of Fang Lizhi, Chinese astrophysicist, dissident who had been in exile in the US since 1990.

The article, which talks about Fang and other dissidents ‘对抗者’, argues that the purpose that the West provides refuge to some Chinese elites is to influence Chinese politics and achieve their designs over China. Using the Dalai Lama as an example, the article contends that such policies are destined to be in vain as the dissidents, who are themselves insignificant and often ‘tragic characters’, have no effect on ‘the course of history’.

References:

  • 环球时报: 社评:顺历史而行,个人力量才能激活 (2012-4-25)

Xinshao County celebrates for being ‘Very Poor’

Not everyone wants to be rich, but rarely would anyone go to great lengths to celebrate being poor. But here in China, poverty can be a cause of pride too. A picture that has been circulating online shows that in Xinshao County, Hunan, the local authorities ‘warmly congratulate’ themselves for being qualified to be a ‘very poor region’ using an outdoor LED message display.

A local government official said: ‘[The messege] is understandable from the perspective of Xinshao, because it means that the central government would provide much help to us’.

References:

  • 网易: 网曝湖南新邵庆祝被纳入特困区 (2012-01-30)

Urban Chinese now outnumber rural residents

Xinhua:

China’s urban population outnumbers rural for first time

The number of people living in China’s cities for the first time exceeded those living in the country’s rural areas as of the end of 2011, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Tuesday.

The number of urban dwellers increased by twenty-one million to hit 690.79 million as of the end of 2011, accounting for 51.27 percent of the country’s total population, the NBS said.

Meanwhile, the rural population fell by 14.56 million to 656.56 million as of the end of 2011, the NBS noted.

The nation’s total population increased by 6.44 million over the past year to 1.34 billion, it said.

The number of people between the ages of fifteen and sixty-four stood at about one billion, or 74.4 percent of the nation’s total. The amount was down 0.1 percentage points from that of the previous year, the NBS said.

References:

  • Sohu / 北青网: 统计局:中国城镇人口首次超农村 占51.27% (2012-01-18)
  • 南方都市报: 城市人口超过农村,城市该怎样让生活更美好? (2012-01-18 )
  • 和讯: 2011年中国出生人口性别比下降 城镇人口首超50% (2012-01-18)

 

Online sale of train tickets accused of discrimination against migrant workers

Every year before the Spring Festival, hundreds of millions of people, most of whom are migrant workers from villages and working in cities, start to make the journey back to their homes. This annual exodus, known as chunyun 春运, literally ‘the spring movement’, strains transport capacity and leads to a lot of anxiety and complaints associated with obtaining train tickets.

This year, in order to facilitate purchase of tickets and curb ticket scalping, the Ministry of Railway launched a website to enable passengers to buy tickets online. But not every one is pleased.

In an letter addressed to Minister of Railway, a migrant worker named Huang Qinghong in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province stated that the he queued four mornings in a row, only to be informed by the ticket office that all tickets were already sold out and suggested he try the website. Huang said while the new method benefited the white-collars who knew how to use computers, it exacerbated the situation for migrant workers who have neither the time nor the skill to go online.

The letter was published by a local newspaper before it was widely circulated on the Internet and debated with some people sympathetic, while the others believing that the inability to use a computer is nobody’s fault but Huang’s own and he would be better off spending the time learning how to use the Internet instead of whining.

Though the letter didn’t shut down the ticket selling website, Huang has got himself so much attention that a newspaper decided to give Huang a free air ticket for him to travel back to his home in Sichuan province.

References:

  • 猫扑: 一个农民工 写给铁道部的一封信 (2012-1-4)
  • 现代金报: 当地媒体帮助下 黄庆红有了回家的飞机票 (2012-1-6)

The ugly Chinese middle class

A sizable politically aware and morally sound middle class is often seen as the hallmark of mature Western democracies, leading many Chinese people to believe that a middle class is needed to promote China’s social and political progress. This is not a view held by many of the members of the neo-Maoist Utopia website.

The writer of the attached article from Utopia dismisses such beliefs as wishful thinking. He contends that the concept of ‘middle class’ is somwhow lost in translation as in China, in defining middle class, the emphasis is more on wealth than on education and the political views that they hold. The affluent urban people that are often referred to as ‘middle class’ are frequently proven to be as morally decadent and politically complacent as others.

The writer contends that when their interest are touched, the so-called Chinese middle class are fast to turn against democracy, the rule of law or any other values that are associated with them. In addition, the Chinese middle class are also the main force of China’s new immigration trend. A bunch of foreign passport holders can hardly be counted on in China’s political reform.

References:

  • 乌有之乡: ‘中产阶级社会’梦想的黯淡 (2012-1-28)