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‘Man vs. Wild’ fan trapped in desert during expedition

The man surnamed Xue in hospital

A 19-year-old man from Jiangsu province got trapped in the Taklamakan Desert during an expedition after losing his way and running out of water, but was saved by a rescue team in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, CCTV.com reported on Aug. 3.

A rescue team composed of over 10 members from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and local medical staff headed to the scene to save the man as soon as the corps received the phone call for help.

When the rescue team reached the man they found he was suffering from dehydration, myasthenia, increased heart rate, and unconsciousness.

Fortunately, the man’s life is out of danger after treatment. He said that he embarked on the adventure alone out of curiosity after watching the British survival television series “Man vs. Wild”.

Experts say one must be well-prepared and master certain medical knowledge, professional skills, and relevant experience ahead of a wild adventure.

China, Germany eye greater collaboration in Africa

A Nigerian man works in a China-invested enterprise in Nigeria. Photo: CFP

Helen Hai felt encouraged when she heard German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remarks during the G20 Hamburg Summit that there’s a big potential for China and Germany to cooperate in third-country markets, especially in Africa.

Hai, CEO of the Made in Africa initiative and adviser to the governments of Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Senegal on investment promotion and industrialization, has been advancing the idea of trilateral cooperation among China, Europe and Africa since 2013.

“It is inevitable for China, Germany and Africa to finally resort to collaboration to address some of their current challenges,” Hai told the Global Times.

To her, the collaboration will kill three birds with one stone – help Africa get out of poverty and achieve stability, meet the demands of economic transformation and industrial upgrade of China, and help resolve the refugee crisis in Germany.

In May, top commerce officers from the two countries inaugurated the Sino-German Center for Sustainable Development in Beijing. The center aims to promote bilateral economic cooperation in African countries, leveraging China’s rich experience of infrastructure investment in Africa and German know-how in the field of vocational training, environment and energy technology.

“China and Germany are cooperating in third-country markets such as Rwanda and Angola,” Merkel told reporters during the closing media briefing of the summit. “Though the cooperation is still at a nascent stage, it has great potential.”

Major player

According to a recent report by McKinsey Africa, China’s engagement with Africa has enjoyed an unparalleled development in the past decade, with trade growing at around 20 percent annually and 10,000 Chinese firms operating in Africa, said a Deutsche Welle report in late June.

Chinese enterprises made more than $750 million of non-financial direct investment in African countries in the first quarter of 2017, up 64 percent year-on-year, Chinese commerce ministry spokesperson Sun Jiwei said in May, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Matthew Tsamenyi, executive director of the Africa program at the China Europe International Business School, believes that although Europe and the US have over the past decades been the most influential partners in Africa in terms of trade, investment and aid, China has established a huge presence on the scene as an equally influential player.

“Over the past two decades, China has surpassed a number of Western countries to become a major player on the continent,” Tsamenyi told the Global Times.

He added that China has provided a lot of funding to infrastructure projects in Africa, which forms the foundation for the continent’s industrialization and economic development.

China has been the largest investor in African infrastructure for years. According to Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa 2015, the latest annual report released by the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa, the total funding for African infrastructure reached $83.5 billion in 2015, of which $20.9 billion came from China.

“The biggest gain for Africa in all of this is that besides the Western powers, it now has a powerful alternative market and collaborator and thus a bigger bargaining power during trade and other development negotiations,” said Tsamenyi.

Powerful combination

At its Hangzhou summit in 2016, the G20 announced the Initiative on Supporting Industrialization in Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the first of its kind. As the host of the summit, China encouraged the world’s biggest economies to support the industrialization of Africa, and endorse it as the solution for development challenges in the region.

The Hamburg summit continued the G20’s engagement with Africa. The agenda focused on the Compact with Africa initiative, which is aimed at promoting private sector investment, supporting infrastructure development and achieving greater employment in Africa.

It is widely believed that the collaboration between China and Germany is a powerful combination that can give full play to their respective advantages – China’s rich experience of investing in African infrastructure and Germany’s high-level industrial technology.

“Two of the biggest requirements for successful investments in Africa are the security of law and a capable infrastructure on land and water. Hence, technology and infrastructure are the key areas for collaboration [between China and Germany in a third market],” Joachim Pfeiffer, Member of Parliament and the economic and energy policy spokesperson for Germany’s ruling CDU party, wrote in an e-mail to the Global Times.

Dong Bin, chairman of committee of the Sino-European Entrepreneurs Summit, believes that Germany prefers to collaborate with China compared to other countries, because there is a strong complementarity between the two countries as they have different levels of technological and industrial development.

“When it comes to collaboration in investment and business, complementarity is a very important factor. Compared with other influential players in Africa such as European countries and the US, apparently China has a higher level of complementarity with Germany,” Dong told the Global Times.

To Tsamenyi, it is important that big powers do not see themselves as competitors when it comes to dealing with developing economies like those in Africa.

“For Germany and China, such cooperation will be beneficial to both countries as they can leverage on their individual comparative advantage,” he said. “Overall, developing economies [in Africa] will benefit more from such cooperation than dealing with individual countries separately.”

Land of opportunity

Hai began her investment in Africa in 2011, when she opened a shoe factory in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. She hired thousands of local workers; and within six months, her factory’s export volume to Europe and North America doubled.

Hai believes Africa has ushered in the golden period of development and will become the next manufacturing hub for the global market.

“As China gradually turns from labor-intensive to capital-intensive economy, it will create a surplus of 85 million jobs. The volume of the vacant jobs is too big to be digested by small labor markets like Southeast Asia, while Africa, with its huge working age population, is an ideal place to take over those jobs,” said Hai, who established the largest shoe manufacturing plant in sub-Saharan Africa and set up a garment export factory in Rwanda in record time.

“It is also a golden opportunity for a developed country like Germany and a growing economy like China to join the trend and reshape the international industry chain,” she told the Global Times.

Tsamenyi believes Germany’s approach in Africa is significantly different from that of China, and Germany should adjust its African strategy, from seeing it as a continent that needs aid to a continent that needs investment to promote private sector development.

“German companies can partner with Chinese companies to target strategic sectors of the African economy for investment. German companies can benefit from this approach in terms of access to the African market,” he said.

“From my observation, Chinese companies are not afraid of investing in any part of Africa and German companies have to realize this as well to take advantage of the opportunities on the continent. After all, Africa has some of the fastest growing economies in the world and German companies do not have presence in some of these economies.”

B&R initiative

China’s Belt and Road initiative is widely seen as a good platform to improve the infrastructure of Africa and thus promote the overall development of the continent.

Germany was among the first countries to publicly support the initiative, and join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

“This initiative could be an important step toward strengthening and shaping globalization. A good and capable infrastructure between Asia, Africa and Europe is a win-win situation for everyone and is certainly a big help to enable business potential for Sino-German collaborations,”Pfeiffer told the Global Times.

When it was announced, the initiative raised concerns due to the possible lack of guarantees on transparency, sustainability and tendering process, but China’s resolution to promote the program has gradually earned it the trust and support from around the world. Recently, the AIIB won the top-notch credit ratings from Moody’s and Fitch Ratings, both among the world’s top three credit rating institutions.

“It is important to note that while the Western countries, especially the US, has generally shunned away from endorsing the Belt and Road initiative, Germany has backed China’s bid to lead this global infrastructure revolution. This open display of support for China by Germany in the face of obvious dissatisfaction by other Western nations surely has diplomatic implications in deepening the bilateral cooperation between the two countries,”said Tsamenyi.

“As such this improved relationship will culminate in further commitment and collaboration on achieving the objectives of the Sino-German cooperation in Africa.”

Source: Global Times

Eccentric student a litmus test for Chinese society’s tolerance for performance art

Urban management officers dismantle Ge’s street sign on July 13. Photo: CFP

Ge Yulu Photo: Central Academy of Fine Arts

It was one of the few roads in Beijing named after a person. It was also one of the most short-lived names that a road has ever had.

The street was “Geyu Lu,” a four-kilometer stretch near an affluent neighborhood in Beijing’s Chaoyang district. It’s also the name of Ge Yulu, a 27-year-old art student hailing from Hubei Province who successfully fooled Baidu and Google maps and Chinese road authorities into naming a road after him by sticking fake street signs on unnamed streets in Beijing.

Ge, whose name coincidentally ends with the character “lu,” which means “street” in Chinese, carried out the project as part of his thesis as a graduate student at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. The street sign project garnered him overnight fame after it was documented on Zhihu, a major Chinese Q&A website. It also infuriated China’s road authorities, who dismantled his fake road sign only four days after the post went viral.

In an interview with a campus publication, the young artist said he had hoped to explore “gaps in governance” through the project. But in China, where public performance art is rare, Ge’s creative and sometimes defiant artworks sparked heated discussions online. Many people said they couldn’t understand how a violation of public order could be called art. But others admired his imagination, boldness and humor, some even going so far as to call him a genius.

Fooling Apple and Baidu

Although Ge’s street sign project earned him overnight fame, the project really started four years earlier, when Ge, freshly graduated from the Hubei Institute of Fine Arts, arrived in the capital.

“I had just arrived in Beijing, hadn’t yet been admitted to the grad school at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and was living in one of those urban villages. One day, I was checking online maps and found that the main road in the village didn’t have a name. I thought, can I call it Geyu Lu? Geyu Lu might be able to … become a reality in the nooks of the ignorance of human governance. This is the basic idea behind the work,” Ge told the campus publication.

He then printed out dozens of road signs and checked online maps to see if there were any unnamed roads nearby whenever he went somewhere. If there was, he’d bring a street sign and stick it there, Ge told Everyday People, an online magazine.

Some of these blue street signs, a simple version of Beijing’s official street signs, would be immediately torn down by chengguan, or urban management officers, and some would survive a few days. Ge said he never even bothered to check their fate until one day in 2014, when Ge’s friend spotted a street called Geyu Lu while checking locations in a food delivery app. Ge’s scheme had worked.

The map service that included Ge’s road was AutoNavi, a Chinese mapping and navigation services provider which also provides Chinese mapping data for Apple Maps. In 2015, other mapping services such as Baidu Maps and Google Maps followed suit, and even Beijing’s road authorities used the name Geyu Lu when they installed street lamps on the road.

After his road was “recognized,” Ge studied the design of Beijing’s official street signs and made something more authentic-looking using materials bought on taobao.com. In a small “christening” ceremony, he erected the new street sign on the road, which he recorded in a video.

“I don’t want to own a road. I just want to provide a space full of imagination. No matter what the real world is like, we can always discover fun in a boring city and create a space of our own,” Ge told the media.

Fame and controversy

The road was little known in the three years of its existence, until a post on Zhihu, documenting his project, went viral. So far, the post has been viewed over 11 million times, given 18,000 upvotes and received over 1,400 comments.

Before him, only three people had had the honor of having roads named after them in Beijing, and all of them are war heroes from over half a century ago, according to Chinese media. They include Zhang Zizhong, a Chinese general and martyr who died in the Anti-Japanese War in 1940.

Many netizens marveled at Ge’s humor, creativity and the significance behind his artwork. Bai Yansong, a famous media personality, commented, “As a young art student, Ge Yulu’s performance art … provided convenience for people on the street when they needed to, say, have food delivered. Now that the sign has been dismantled, regulators should also reflect on their inaction. Are there any other unnamed roads like this one?”

“Ge is such an interesting person. Very few students who have taken Chinese education can have the same imagination as he has,” said netizen called Xiong Puchi.

If the street sign project sounds more like a clever gimmick, Ge’s other experimental artworks, which became known to the public after he shot to fame, are more political and even defiant in nature. In one video installation called “Stare,” Ge erected scaffolding around several surveillance cameras on the streets of Beijing and climbed up them to stare into the lenses hung high up on the poles.

“Usually, surveillance cameras are there to monitor us. Can I monitor them too? Here I want to question the right to surveillance,” he told CCTV about the purpose of the artwork.

But along with his fame came controversy.

On July 13, four days after the Zhihu post, local authorities dismantled the street sign that Ge made, and replaced it with an official sign ten days later. According to the authorities, the road’s official name is Number 1 Baiziwan South Road.

Many questioned his art. “Blocking surveillance cameras, changing road signs, I don’t understand how this vandalism can be called art,” one netizen commented.

Ge was also punished for a disciplinary violation at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, according to documents revealed online. Neither the school nor Ge explained the reason for the punishment, but some alumni told the media that it was because Ge placed a fake penis on top of the university’s flag post in one of his video installations.

Ge said he is sorry for his lack of consideration when carrying out some of his projects. “Whether Geyu Lu is a mistake or art, I’m only 27 and I won’t stop here… ‘Geyu Lu’ is only a part of Ge Yulu, not all of him,” he said.

Source: Global Times

Black community in China counters myth about their ability to withstand heat wave

Residents in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province enter a subway station during morning rush hour. Photo: CFP

The dog days of summer are here in China and like every summer, the roasting temperatures have been the subject of many a news item. But recently some of the comments about the heat have been criticized for having a racial tinge.

A July 13 photo posted on popular social networking site Sina Weibo shows an elderly black man resting under an umbrella in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square after apparently suffering from heatstroke. Another photo, posted about a day later, shows Cameroonian footballer Stephane Mbia’s shocked face at seeing the deep tan he got after training in the sun with the Chinese Super League.

The footballer’s photo was posted by his Chinese teammate Ding Haifeng along with the temperature that day, 42.5 C. Ding posted the photo with the accompanying comment, “We must have hired a fake African,” seemingly in jest. One person commented that Mbia must have had his skin “scraped” to get the image to look that way.

Other posts include “African student gets heatstroke on the way to lunch in Ningbo,” and “African lad cries over Chongqing heat wave,” suggesting that Africans should be able to withstand heat. The posts have been widely reposted and shared by Chinese netizens as funny.

However, members of the black community in China have responded both on Weibo and in private WeChat groups, saying that such comments are not funny and reflect ignorance toward black people. The color of one’s skin is based on the amount of melanin in one’s skin, not the weather in their home country.

Lack of exposure

Njeri Kamau, a master’s student from Kenya who resides in Tianjin, said she was offended when she read some of the comments under the photos. She is studying how to teach Chinese as a second language and is a member of a number of Chinese and African WeChat groups, which is where she first came across the photo of the black man in Tiananmen Square.

“When I saw him, I felt bad for him because I understand what he is feeling. It is very hot here in Tianjin compared to weather back home,” she said.

Kamau said that Chinese know nothing about why Africans are black. “They think it is because of the heat. They think we can withstand a lot of heat, which is not true. I get asked every time I get into a cab. I’d be like, ‘Oh it is very hot’ and the driver would be like, ‘I thought you are used to heat.'”

Figures show that the temperatures in Africa vary according to the country and proximity to the equator, though a lot of Chinese associate hot temperatures to the continent in general.

Rhianna Aaron from the US, an educational consultant who has been living in Beijing for four years, said the “jokes” by Chinese netizens were almost expected.

“I could not read it, but my instinct, right or wrong, was that perhaps the comments were somehow saying, ‘Oh why is he acting like it is hot. This is China, not Africa. Isn’t it hot in Africa? How is it that a black man can be afraid of the sun or comments along that line,” she said. “When I did see an English explanation of the article it was pretty much in line with what I thought, and I didn’t really find it funny. But it did not perturb me too much because that is kind of the norm that I have seen in China when it comes to black people or ‘insights’ about the black community.”

After the news of “black people getting heatstroke” went viral, some Chinese experts tried to correct people’s misunderstanding of this issue.

Zhu Huadong, a doctor with the Peking Union Medical College Hospital, said that heatstroke can happen anywhere and to anyone, especially during the early stage of summer when people haven’t adapted to the heat.

“There are no accurate statistics proving that the body’s ability to cope with heat varies among different races,” he said at a seminar on summer heat prevention held by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on July 20.

Color consciousness

The Chinese society appears to have a preference for fairer skin, where Chinese who are darker are seen as poor and less refined because their dark skin is associated with working in the fields and perhaps being less educated. Chinese woman are especially affected by such thinking and the value placed on fair skin has created a huge demand for skin whitening products for women. There is a Chinese saying that white skin can hide many flaws.

Zhihu.com, China’s most popular question-and-answer website, has a number of threads like “Do Chinese people discriminate against black people?” and “Why Chinese discriminate against black people?” each followed by dozens or hundreds of comments.

Many of the posts acknowledge that discrimination against black or darker skinned people exists, while others doubt that Chinese dislike any particular racial group, arguing that discrimination is common even among Chinese from different provinces.

Some researchers have tried to explain it by resorting to history.

An article published on blackpast.org, a US-based online encyclopedia of African American and other black people, tried to explain the origins of the stereotypes of black people in China through the 7th century “African slavery in China.” The website speaks of a commercial relationship between Africa and China and of Arab traders bringing African slaves to China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). According to the site, it was during this period that “the first Chinese cultural perception of African people developed.”

“These ‘dark-skinned’ people were known as Kunlun. They were described as lower class, ignorant, scary, and dangerous. Although there were far more enslaved Chinese, some wealthy Chinese preferred the exotic Kunlun slaves,” the article said, noting that the perceptions of the Kunlun grew more complex over time with them being perceived as anything from “strong and mysterious to frightening.”

‘Black is beautiful’

While some members of the black community say that stereotypes of black people are the order of the day, others say change is possible, and that every black person can affect change by being examples of other truths.

“I definitely think it is up to all of us to educate each other,” said Aaron.

She recently started a T-Shirt line called hei shi mei in Chinese, meaning black is beautiful, which is her “grassroots” campaign to combat ignorance.

“I made the hei shi mei shirts to run a minor grassroots campaign to educate people that black is beautiful. Black is not always bad. We are not drug dealers. We are not here to commit crimes … Just all these negative stereotypes. I want people to know and understand black is beautiful. Black is positive. Black is good.”

Hu John, an American who lives in Shanghai, and runs a series on the black experience in China called Black Doc, agrees.

“I don’t want us to take the approach to open every closed mind because that is stressful,” he said. “I prefer us to work with the ones who have shown some curiosity by approaching us – had the boldness to approach you and take a photo. Then if we are able to sit down and eat with them, then they kind of answer the questions they have always had.”

Hu said he has had Chinese friends defend his character to other Chinese.

“In my (immediate lived) community and my Chinese friends that I talk to, the perception of black people has changed because they see me as a living example, as a good person,” he said.

Huang Aiqiong, a high-school teacher from Guangdong, said her perception of black people has changed considerably after she got black friends.

“I only knew them from foreign movies and TV series, in which they are distinguished from the white people. In these shows, white people always have an important position. They work as a CEO. The women are beautiful, but for the black people, they live miserably, and they do not get a good pay,” she said.

“After making friends with black people. I learned that some of them are well educated. They are also quite considerate. My friends are not like the stereotype in the movies you know: wild, stubborn.”

Going forward though, some members of the black community think it would ease a lot of tensions if Web users would first put themselves in the shoes of others before they post images and comments on Weibo.

“It can be summed up in do unto other as you would have them do unto you,” said Aaron. “Everybody knows that they [the Chinese] don’t like to be made fun of or ridiculed or teased for the things that they can’t control, their genetics. So, just in the same way that Chinese don’t enjoy being made fun of for how they look, the same goes for blacks.”

Source: Global Times

Former herders fight desertification by farming trees in Inner Mongolia

Clockwise from top left: Shi Shengcai herds sheep while riding a motorcycle. Photo: CFP

Three deserts dot the Alxa League, a prefecture-level administration in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The moving sand dunes had almost joined the three deserts, until the local government began to fight desertification by curbing overgrazing and planting vegetation.

On a typical afternoon, Shi Shengcai rides a motorcycle to count his sheep grazing on the vast grassland. The scorching sun beats down on the slowly encroaching dunes.

“I’ve been living here for more than 40 years. When I was young, the sand dunes were 1,000 meters away from my home, but now they are 500 meters closer,” Shi said.

Shi works 1,443 hectares of grassland, where he raises more than 300 head of sheep and seven donkeys. In a move to protect the environment, the local government capped the number of sheep Shi can raise at 350, and began incentivizing herders to shift to planting trees.

Shi and his family set aside 133 hectares of land to plant saxaul trees, a shrub-like tree that does well in arid climates, after learning of the success of their neighbor, Pan Jinze.

Pan’s land is only half that of the Shi family, however, he has been planting trees for years. Pan first stopped herding to plant trees as early as 2001, but a rare flood wiped out his saplings and left him with nothing.

In 2010 Pan restarted planting saxaul trees with the help of government subsidies. Now he grows 200 hectares of saxaul trees, which also makes it possible to grow other plants with medicinal value. With the added profits, plus a 1,600 yuan ($238) per hectare government subsidy, Pan earns more than he did from herding.

To cover the vast areas, Pan must hire others to tend the plants. Nian Xiuhua and her sister Nian Xiufang from Gansu Province have been watering Pan’s plants since March. The saxaul trees need to be watered three times a year. Water is fetched from a small spring, the only one in more than 700 hectares of land.

The sisters each make 150 yuan a day from watering or 200 yuan a day from planting trees. They start before dawn and finish late, and take a long lunch break to avoid working in the hottest time of the day.

Nian Xiuhua’s salary goes to her daughter, who is attending college in Lanzhou.

Water wagons pump water from a spring deep in the desert. Photo: CFP

A small saxaul tree is watered as part of the efforts to reverse desertification in the area. Photo: CFP

Source:Global Times

Proposed plan for Filipino household helpers to work in China could boost ties, say experts

Filipino workers sit outside in Central, Hong Kong in June. Photo: CFP

Officials have yet to verify widespread media reports of a plan that would allow Filipino maids and other domestic workers to be employed legally in Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai for higher salaries.

But Chinese experts welcome such a move, claiming it would help curb the existing and often chaotic illegal labor market for Filipino household service workers (HSWs) in China while deepening bilateral ties between Beijing and Manila.

Five cities would pilot the proposed plan, including Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, to hire Filipino HSWs, Dominador Say, deputy head of the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) told The Philippine Star on July 30.

Monthly salaries would be around 13,000 yuan ($1,932), Say told the Star, adding a Chinese delegation would go to the Philippines to continue talks on the plan in September.

However, Li Lingxiao, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, told the Global Times on July 31 it was not aware of the plan.

Say later insisted to the South China Morning Post that China is mulling the employment scheme, but called the 13,000 yuan figure incorrect.

Such a proposal should come as no surprise, said Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, because it is meeting market demand.

“Filipino HSWs would fill a gap in China’s domestic services market, where domestic workers are in short supply,” Zhu told the Global Times on Thursday.

While market forces will most likely keep salaries to around the domestic monthly average (between 6,000 and 8,000 yuan), the plan will help shore up bilateral ties between Beijing and Manila following the South China Sea dispute in the past, Zhu added.

Perks to work

Filipino HSWs, known as feiyong in Chinese, have long been sought out in Hong Kong for their work ethic and professionalism.

However, the majority are working illegally.

According to the Yangtze Evening Post on August 2, almost all HSWs initially enter China on a tourist visa, then overstay and work without the legal permits.

“Most would love to come to work in the Chinese mainland, because they think China’s economy is growing fast,” a Philippine national identifying only as “Diwan” told the paper.

Diwan had worked as a HSW in Hong Kong for 11 years before moving to Beijing in 2008 and opening a household services training center.

“Some would try their luck in China even without getting a job first, because they think they can make a fortune here,” she added.

Monthly salaries start between 6,000 and 8,000 yuan for inexperienced workers and can reach as high as 15,000 yuan, Diwan said.

Dirty deals

As HSWs increasingly become an affordable option for Chinese families, high demand has resulted in a black market plagued with intermediaries and agents.

“Favorite Employment Co,” a WeChat account that claims to be a Beijing-based agency, targets Chinese companies seeking to hire Filipino HSWs.

The agency updates the account almost every month with profiles of workers waiting in the Philippines for hire. According to their latest update, five workers, aged from 23 to 43, are now available.

Profile photos and video resumes include education backgrounds and employment history.

Most have college degrees and overseas work experience in cities and regions such as Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong.

“You should first ask your company to provide a work permit before you make any reservation,” a company employee told the Global Times reporter posing as a prospective employer on Thursday.

The minimum is a two-year contract with a 7,800-yuan fee upon signing, the employee said.

Li Sheng, another agent, told the Global Times he charges a 25,000 yuan commission for any hires to cover tourist visa fees, while the HSW stands to make 7,500 yuan a month.

According to Professor Zhu, legalizing the industry would do much to eliminate risk.

“Before HSW employment is legalized, the market will be chaotic with no standard rates, while the interests of both Philippine workers and their Chinese employers will remain unprotected,” Zhu said.

“Chinese authorities would provide oversight of the market to vet out shady or fraudulent agents,” Zhu added.

Source: Global Times

Financial risk can’t be ignored amid restructuring

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

Since mid-2016, the importance of risk prevention has gained frequent mention at meetings at various levels in China. The recently concluded National Financial Work Conference, held only once every five years, clearly stated that the nation needs to guard against financial risks.

It’s envisioned that risk prevention will remain a key issue in China in the years to come and there won’t be a regulatory shift until there are signs that the financial risks confronting the country have been fundamentally neutralized. Among the most-watched risks are housing bubbles, the local government debt problem, high financial leverage and woes concerning Internet finance.

First, the risk of a property bubble is the biggest “gray rhino” facing China. Home prices have soared in recent years and people have used leverage to buy homes, even as mortgage rates went up, causing huge bubbles in the housing market. Statistics show that household debt as a percentage of GDP hit 45 percent at the end of 2016, 1.6 times the level five years earlier and three times the level 10 years earlier. The rapid rise of the ratio can be explained simply by the fact that growth in disposable income didn’t keep up with higher home prices.

Fortunately the government has stepped up property curbs since last October and moved toward a fundamental mechanism of long-term regulation of the housing market that both suits the country and complies with market rules.

Second, the local government debt risk is seen as a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the Chinese economy. In recent years, frequent violations of the borrowing and collateral rules by local governments have been uncovered and the scale of local government debt has surged. There is also a vast amount of hidden debt accumulated by local government financing vehicles, unregulated public-private projects and government investment funds.

Local government debt, as such, represents a huge threat to fiscal stability. The twice-a-decade financial meeting clearly said that the country will curb additions to government debt and hold officials responsible for life if they fail to do so. It was by far the harshest regulatory statement on the local government debt issue, and it also showed how serious the problem has become.

Third, financial leverage has increased. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, China’s overall debt-to-GDP ratio – as well as the debt held by households, non-financial companies, financial institutions and government departments as a portion of GDP – has been on an upward trajectory. In comparison, the US, Europe, Japan and other developed economies have largely undergone deleveraging.

It’s especially noteworthy that there have been several rounds of drastic swings in China’s capital markets since the second half of 2015. In all these cases, the “culprit” is believed to have been the use of leverage such as margin lending and a form of equity leverage financing known as umbrella trusts.

Further, small and medium-sized Chinese banks have in recent years expanded their assets at an annualized rate exceeding 30 percent. In addition, the tendency of many in the asset management sector to keep capital in the financial system and out of the real economy is being facilitated by the use of leverage.

It’s thus understandable that after the annual two sessions earlier this year, many government bodies including the central bank, the regulatory agencies that oversee the banking, securities and insurance sectors, the Ministry of Finance, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce have all moved to toughen oversight, primarily over financial leverage.

Fourth, Internet finance is a double-edged sword when it comes to risk. It boosts competition in the financial markets, increases the efficiency of capital allocation, reduces the cost of financial services and explores the boundaries of financial services. The Internet finance sector has gained tremendous popularity in China since 2013.

However, there is still a large void in the country’s legal, regulatory and policy framework that has yet to put Internet finance under effective scrutiny. The sector remains in a stage of untamed growth, with varied problems such as illegal online fundraising, technological failures, information leaks, online fraud and peer-to-peer lending firms whose bosses abscond with investors’ money.

Given that Internet finance has grown to be a new source of risk facing China, it is expected that the industry will experience some hard times in years to come.

A vibrant financial sector can invigorate the economy and a stable one can steady it. China is undergoing a critical economic restructuring and the importance of preventing financial risks and ensuring financial stability can’t be overemphasized. Regulators and policymakers must seek a balance between financial regulation and development and also between financial reform and innovation. Risk prevention and regulatory tightening are more than just words on paper; they call for craftsmanship, professionalism and the art of wisdom.

The author is a research fellow at the International Monetary Institute (IMI) of Renmin University of China.

Source: Global Times

China urges nations not to neglect six-party talks as UN Security

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks after voting on a US-drafted resolution imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea, at UN Headquarters in New York, on Saturday. The resolution imposes a ban on exports aimed at depriving Pyongyang of $1 billion in annual revenue. Photo: AFP

China stressed Sunday that sanctions on North Korea and the resumption of six-party talks are both important and should not be neglected, following the unanimous approval by the UN Security Council on Saturday of a sanctions resolution on the North Korea on its most recent missile tests.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday called on North Korea, the US and South Korea to exercise restraint and make the right choices, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

They should be accountable to their people and regional peace in making such choices, Wang noted. He made the remarks during his meeting with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho on the sidelines of foreign ministers’ meetings in the Philippines.

Wang also told Ri that North Korea should stay calm on the UN new resolution, and avoid conducting further nuclear or missile tests.

The UN Security Council on Saturday, unanimously approved Resolution 2371 which imposed new sanctions on North Korea for ignoring previous resolutions and its recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests, Xinhua reported.

The resolution would ban North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It would also prohibit countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad, ban new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures, Reuters reported.

“It usually takes more time for the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution, but this time the UN Security Council reached the agreement in just a week. And the sanctions are much stricter, which proves that the international community shares a higher consensus than before in opposing nuclear proliferation in the peninsula,” said Wang Junsheng, a research fellow on East Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Both sanctions against North Korean nuclear and missile programs and resumption of six-party talks are important, and neither should be neglected, Wang said on Sunday.

He added there are two major components in the resolution – one, to respond to North Korea’s constant missile tests, which have violated UN Security Council resolutions, to effectively check North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs, and two, to restart six-party talks.

The most difficult part in restarting six-party talks is building a supervisory mechanism under the UN Security Council, Lü Chao, a Korea expert at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

While the six-party talks failed to achieve a peaceful solution, both North Korea and the US have violated the agreement, Lü said.

The six-party talks, which involve North Korea, South Korea, the US, China, Russia and Japan, started in Beijing in August 2003, but have stalled since December 2008.

North Korea dropped out of the talks in April 2009.

Source: Global Times

China, ASEAN approve sea code

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is surrounded by journalists at the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and its dialogue partners, in Manila, Philippines on Sunday. Photo: AP

The approval of the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea marks an important achievement for China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in jointly managing their differences and easing tensions in the disputed waters, Chinese experts said.

Foreign ministers from ASEAN and China approved the framework, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday.

The framework, which was negotiated by China and ASEAN, will help both sides move forward in negotiating an effective code of conduct, the Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday, quoting Robespierre Bolivar, Philippine foreign affairs department spokesman.

Bolivar had earlier said the framework is one of the major outcome documents of the week-long ASEAN ministerial meetings that began on Saturday.

Compared to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed in 2002, the framework’s approval is a substantial step toward making the declaration binding, Zhu Feng, an international relations professor at Nanjing University, told the Global Times, adding that this is an important achievement of China and ASEAN in the last 15 years.

The framework was agreed upon in May during a senior officials’ meeting on the implementation of the DOC in Guiyang, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province. Under the agreement, all parties are obliged to reach a final COC to build a South China Sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

Code’s significance

However, some overseas media have raised questions about the COC’s practical significance, quoting experts as saying that the non-legally binding document would be a political agreement much like the DOC, and is not a breakthrough between China and ASEAN on South China Sea disputes.

“The COC was a pivotal milestone for further talks on South China Sea disputes. In the future, how to turn it into a binding international law will be discussed,” Zhu said.

What’s more important is that the COC highlights the significance and feasibility of China’s “dual-track approach,” which means that South China Sea disputes should be addressed through negotiations and consultations among the countries directly concerned, and China and ASEAN countries should work together to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, Zhu added.

Echoing Zhu, Zhang Yuquan, an expert on South China Sea studies at the School of International Relations of Sun Yat-sen University, said ties between China and the Philippines have improved in recent years, which have laid the foundation for the COC’s approval. “This is a huge step forward and its practical significance will surface in the near future.”

However, Southeast Asian foreign ministers failed to issue a communiqué at the end of Saturday’s meeting. Bolivar gave no reason for the delay and said the statement would instead be released at the end of a series of regional events hosted by Manila in the next few days, Reuters reported.

Zhang said that South China Sea disputes are very complicated, and involve several interest groups. Therefore, it is difficult to arrive at a consensus on how to refer to the disputes. But Zhang added he remains optimistic about the upcoming communiqué as Southeast Asian countries have realized that resorting to outside forces does no good to regional peace and development.

Since 2016, the related parties have agreed to set up a senior diplomat hotline to cope with maritime emergencies and apply the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea in the South China Sea, which would help cement trust and avoid unexpected issues.

Meantime, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is traveling to the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia from Sunday to Thursday, Reuters reported. Tillerson will participate in meetings in Manila and discuss the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maritime security, and counterterrorism.”

“It is a good reminder to the US that its interests cannot replace other countries’ interests nor can it manipulate others. The approval will remind the US that it should view South China Sea issues from a practical perspective,” Zhu said.

Source: Global Times

Inner Mongolia thrives under Xi’s leadership

Photo taken on Aug. 1, 2017 shows the Inner Mongolia Museum in Hohhot, capital of north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. This group of photos taken by drones shows landmarks of the city, reflecting the development of the city in recent years. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In local language, Hohhot means the “Blue City”. It is the political, economic and cultural center of the region. (Xinhua/Lian Zhen)

As the grassland is in its most beautiful season, China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is set to embrace its 70th founding anniversary.

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, the CPC Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, has always been concerned about life on the grand grassland.

Over the past five years, with a clear guideline on the development of the northern border region and driving force of President Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, the Party has united the people of Inner Mongolia in keeping their industries on the rise, ensuring a better environment, and leading better lives.

Pointing out the way forward

In Hohhot, the regional capital of Inner Mongolia, the sun burns hot high in the sky. An air of festivity precedes the anniversary with colored flags and banners along the streets.

It has been a history of glory. On May 1, 1947, in the midst of the War of Liberation, the people of Inner Mongolia established the autonomous government of the region, which marked the founding of the country’s first ever ethnic autonomous region at the provincial level under the leadership of the CPC.

In the northern part of China, connecting eight provincial regions, bordering Russia and Mongolia, and home to 55 ethnic groups, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region occupies a strategically crucial position.

The past 70 years have seen the grassland evolve from a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society to a region of prosperity with modern cities and vigorous pastures.

Ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2014, braving severe cold, Xi visited Inner Mongolia and inspected posts along the border, attended the traditional Nadam Fair and visited enterprises and communities, greeting local Party members, cadres, children in welfare houses and needy workers.

Based on his examination into the unique economic conditions and history of the region, Xi put forward a set of ideas on the long-term development of Inner Mongolia.

“I hope that cadres and people from all ethnic groups in Inner Mongolia can protect the border of the country and the spiritual home for the ethnic groups in the region,” Xi said, stressing the importance for them to have a broader vision in terms of development.

“I also hope that all of you uphold equality and unity to look after and help each other, join forces to guard the border and lead better lives,” he continued.

President Xi noted that Inner Mongolia should be a shield of ecological security for north China, as well as a shield of safety and stability for the northern border. It should also become the bridgehead for the country to open up northward.

The ecological conditions of the region make a big difference not only to the people here, but to the ecological security of north China and the entire country.

With the advantage in opening up along the border, Inner Mongolia should push forward reforms, boost the border economy, and improve cooperation mechanisms with Russia and Mongolia, Xi added.

Courtesy of the Belt and Road Initiative, goods transported and cross-border visits via the region have increased significantly from the early years of the country’s reform and opening up policy. Manzhouli, a major land port in the north of Inner Mongolia, is now the port with the most routes of the China-Europe railway.

Restructuring economy and better livelihood

The industrial development of Inner Mongolia used to rely too much on resource exploitation. The ratio of industries related to coal in the city of Erdos once almost reached 60 percent.

President Xi stressed economic restructuring during his tour of the region in 2014 and put forward a series of solutions.

According to Xi, the region should combine adjustment of development modes with optimizing the industrial structure.

The adjustment should also be combined with energy saving and emission reduction, as well as the comprehensive deepening of the reform and opening up policy, Xi said.

Sticking to Xi’s instructions, Inner Mongolia has since made significant progress in industrial restructuring. The proportion of coal-related industries dropped to 22 percent in 2016, compared with 34 percent five years ago.

Promoting ecological improvement

With the economic achievements Inner Mongolia has scored over the years, Xi has also kept the ecological improvement in his mind.

During his visit to the region in 2014, Xi pointed out two methods for ecological protection — firstly major ecological restoration projects, such as the sandstorm source control program and return of marginal farmland to forest and grazing land to grassland; and secondly the speeding up of institution building concerning ecological protection.

Since then, Inner Mongolia’s ecological protection has been on a fast track, with more efforts in desert control, grassland protection and water and soil preservation.

To better protect the Hulun Lake area, more funds arrived, more legislation was enacted and limitations on fishing were imposed.

To date, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has 182 nature reserves and 43 national forest parks.

Numbers speak for themselves

Inner Mongolia has made great strides since the 18th CPC National Congress, and the numbers speak for themselves.

The industrial structure is no longer over-reliant on coal, and is instead supported by various industries. Tourism saw an annual increase of over 20 percent on average, driving the economy to grow by an average of 7.9 percent each year from 2013 to 2016.

A total of 1.41 million people have been lifted out of poverty over the past five years, and basic medical insurance covers 98 percent of people from both urban and rural areas.

The urbanization rate of Inner Mongolia has surpassed 60 percent, with the total length of highways across the region reaching 190,000 kilometers.

Source: Global Times