Many foreign teachers in China don’t have teaching certificates: industry insiders

A new market for preschool English instruction is emerging in China and showing great growth potential, but many foreign teachers recruited by the training schools are unqualified.

Guo Xiaolin, a young girl less than three years old in Beijing, signed up for two English classes per week, with one of the classes lasting eight hours. The girl’s mother said she wants to foster her interest in learning English at an early age.

About 70 percent of Chinese children start to learn English before age five, according to a report about English learning among Chinese youths.

More and more Chinese parents, like Guo’s mother, are looking for ways to give their kids a head start in school.

However, a major problem for training schools is that many of their foreign teachers are not qualified. They are not certified in an internationally recognized English teaching and testing program, but still get jobs due to the sheer demand for native-English speakers.

An industry insider who preferred not to disclose his name said many foreign teachers at English training schools are not professional teachers. Many of them came to China to travel and then decided to stay as a part-time teacher.

The phenomenon results in high turnover rates for foreign teachers and influences the quality of the education. “It’s not rare to see students attend a class and one or two months later discover their teacher is gone and another foreigner has taken over the job,” an insider pointed out.

Bai Chen, a middle-level manager at a training school in Beijing, said over 20 foreign teachers he had worked with applied for the job merely to get a competitive salary. “Their resumes showed they were experienced, but it turned out they weren’t when asked to give a class,” Bai said.

“The fact is that some foreign teachers are not well-educated and a lot of them didn’t receive higher education in their home countries. Under such circumstances, it’s hard to imagine how well they could teach the students,” Bai added.

Another person in charge of teaching at a training school in Beijing expressed similar concerns. He said some foreign teachers speak with strong accents and some lack teaching skills.

The person suggests that Chinese parents become less obsessed with foreign teachers and focus more on the learning abilities of their children. Some foreign teachers have high teaching skills, because they have passed rigorous hiring standards and attained teaching certificates, he also admitted.

Smart! Pet duck can clean its own face

It’s common for people to keep dogs and cats, but pet ducks are rarely seen. A couple in Harbin, northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province was seen walking their pet duck at the city square on August 15. The scene attracted a number of passers-by.

According to the 70-year-old man surnamed Shan, the duck is named Yaya. It seems the smart bird understands his instructions. When Shan said “hug”, it stopped walking and waited for him. It was even more amazing that the duck dipped its head into water when Shan told it to clean its face.

Shan explained that the duck was bought 9 years ago by his grandson and they have since kept it as companion. Most of the time it remains in the cage at home. It is a “vegetarian” that eats whatever Shan and his wife offer.

The couple used to travel to warmer southern China in winter, but they have stayed home for most of the last 9 years because of Yaya. Every time they take a walk with the duck, many people gather to greet them. As a result, they have made many friends because of the bird.

“Yaya has brought joy not only to us, but also to people who see it; and that makes us happy,” Shan said.

Postpartum care centers emerge after two-child policy

Postpartum care centers, an emerging industry in China, are now experiencing rapid expansion thanks to the country’s comprehensive implementation of the universal two-child policy as well as a the current baby boom among couples born during 1980s and 1990s.

The services of these postpartum care centers are generally divided into two – one for mothers and the other for babies. Prices normally range from approximately 20,000 to hundreds of thousands of RMB. However, the big price gap does not suggest a sharp difference in service content.

These postpartum care centers, though charging high prices, are still in great demand in many Chinese cities. However, as an emerging industry, they have not yet been systematically regulated and monitored by the authorities.

A large proportion of postpartum care centers are registered as household management companies, an investigation by found. But the operations of business places where food and accommodation are provided for puerperae do not obviously fall into the category of household management.

An insider said related departments should establish monitoring systems for the industry.

“As an emerging market, it has bright prospects,” said obstetrician, Liu Yanpin, from a hospital in Dongguan, southern China’s Guangdong province. But she added that related departments must enhance supervision of the industry, especially fire safety and sanitation.

Many postpartum care center owners have been bragging about their medical background, food served, postnatal recovery or baby care services. A postpartum care center in Shenzhen claimed all of its employees once worked in medical institutions. “Our staff have all been certificated as nurses,” it said.

However, Shenzhen Municipality Health and Family Planning Commission responded by stating that postpartum care centers are not medical establishments, and are not under the commission’s supervision.

According to a postpartum care center in Zhuhai, the emergence of the industry in fact originated from social demand. With the implementation of the two-child policy, many couples have decided to have a second child.

Now supply on the market is falling short of demand, and over 60 percent of customers are planning to have their second child. Some customers have to make appointment at least half a year in advance of their due date of delivery.

China should prepare counteractions against US 301 investigation: expert

China should prepare counter actions against the U.S. initiation of “Section 301” investigation, said a Chinese expert. The country could also resort to WTO dispute settlement mechanisms, since the section is still subject to the law, the expert added.

On Aug. 18 local time, the U.S. officially started an investigation of China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, seeking to determine whether acts, policies, and practices of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce.

It is the first time for the U.S. to announce such investigation against China on its intellectual property practices, and also the first time for U.S. President Donald Trump to officially adopt a tough trade policy against China.

The investigation could negatively impact Chinese technology industries, such as those involved in communication equipment and integrated circuits. Experts believe that the rarely used Section is nothing but the first shot of a trade war meant to increase America’s bargaining power in future economic and political negotiations.

According to Yang Chen, senior partner of the Beijing-based law firm JT&N, the investigation is unlikely to see any immediate results. The investigation will take up to a year and involve negotiations with Beijing and public hearings.

“There won’t be a big impact on Chinese enterprises during the investigation phase, since the investigation focuses more on China’s macro policies and intellectual property laws,” Yang said, adding that the future influence is hard to tell, because the U.S. government has not yet taken clear action.

To reach agreement through negotiations or imposing sanctions on China are two possible outcomes of the investigation, said Liang Guoyong, Economic Affairs Officer at the Investment and Enterprise Division of the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

He said the sanctions might be implemented under the framework of WTO rules, so the investigation is indeed a competition between the two countries under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.

It is noteworthy that the investigation, nominally carried out to probe China’s intellectual property practices, does not focus too much on the protection of intellectual property rights. Instead, it focuses on technology transfer, unfair restriction of imports, and the theft of U.S. business secrets.

In Yang’s opinion, the main objective is to protect American business secrets for national security reasons and to prevent China from gaining technology dominance.

Many Chinese experts have urged the Chinese government to respond to the investigation. In addition, China should rely on the WTO dispute settlement mechanism to seek an appropriate solution under the multilateral framework if the U.S. side imposes sanctions that violate WTO rules.

Investors in Chinese IP adaptations turning to patriotic and realistic stories

Online fantasy literature has probably been the hottest source of TV and film adaptations in China in recent years. However, with the recent success of more realistic and patriotic fare such as anti-graft TV series In the Name of People and military action flick Wolf Warrior 2, currently the highest-earning film ever in China, that trend may be changing.

On Friday, renowned Chinese IP agency and bookseller the Xiron Group announced that in addition to its usual investments into popular fantasy and romance adaptations, it was investing 100 million yuan ($15 million) into a project that will work to adapt 10 mainstream literature works into films or TV series.

Main-themed projects

The 10 works include Tebie Youzhong (Especially Bold), a novel about a group of young soldiers in China’s Special Forces written by Dong Qun, one of Wolf Warrior 2’s screenwriters; popular online novel Xingzhe Xuanzang (The Traveler Xuanzang), a fictional story by librarian-turned-author Chang Ru based on the real life Tang Dynasty (618-907) Buddhist monk Xuanzang; and Zhongguangcun Biji (Notes on Zhongguancun), a non-fiction work award-winning Chinese writer Ning Ken wrote based on interviews with the first generation of entrepreneurs who helped make Zhongguancun in Beijing – China’s answer to Silicon Valley – what it is today.

“By viewing Zhongguancun’s history against the background of China’s economical development and systematic reform, Notes on Zhongguancun is a classic story of the Chinese Dream that focuses on high technology,” Xiron Group CEO Shen Haobo said at the announcement.

Depicting a number of scientist-turned-entrepreneurs including Chen Chunxian, a Chinese Academy of Sciences scientist and one of the men behind the Zhongguancun high technology pilot zone, the story is an unusually rich and realistic source ripe for a movie or TV adaptation, Shen explained.

As for The Traveler Xuanzang, a Xiron press release described it as “a representative work that resonates perfectly with China’s Belt and Road initiative.”

“Xuanzang’s story in India as depicted in the book, while it is not very familiar to audiences in China, is sure to become an exhilarating story when adapted into a film or TV drama,” Shen said.

New trends

Shen stated that while fantasy IP adaptations are all the rage, he believes patriotic works as well as those focusing on stories close to people’s lives are about to become the next big trend when it comes to IP adaptations in China.

“The success of the Wolf Warrior series, In the Name of People and the recent [film on ‘comfort women’] Twenty-two has proven that the demand for productions featuring positive values and a positive spirit is growing,” Shen said.

Xiron also officially launched production on one of the 10 projects announced Friday: Kangming (Fighting Against Destiny), which focuses on Chinese heroes taking on the Japanese Army in 1941 during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), will be adapted into a TV series.

“Many people told me not to write about the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression since previous poor quality domestic productions about the war have destroyed the genre,” Zhou Jianliang, author of Fighting Against Destiny and a former member of China’s special forces, said at the launch ceremony.

“But the story I wrote this time is interesting – it is a down-to-earth war drama featuring a group of fresh faced young fighters,” Zhou noted.

While many in the industry feel that the box-office success of Wolf Warrior 2 is about to kick off a new wave of patriotic films, some experts feel that this wave may just turn out to be a temporary fad.

“The two popular productions [In the Name of People and Wolf Warrior 2], with their outside-the box stories, may be able to increase audience’s excitement and feelings of patriotism over the short term, but it’s still early to say that this genre is becoming a ‘trend,'” Duan Huaiqing, a professor at Fudan University’s Department of Chinese Language and Literature, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Source: Global Times


Chinese look-alike agency adds Trump mimic to its roster of leaders

Professional Donald Trump impersonator Li Liangwei attends an event held to promote a plastic surgery hospital in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. Photo: Yang Yifan/CFP

Despite the success of former US President Barack Obama’s Chinese impersonator, a performer dedicated to mimicking President Donald Trump has struggled to find success.

Li Liangwei, a retired official with the “literature and art federation” of Yueyang, Central China’s Hunan Province, was told he resembles the man in the White House by someone who saw Li bragging at a banquet.

“He used to be a leader, and that demeanor is still there,” Zou Dangrong, now Li’s agent, said of his hand gestures.

“A leader first must have a [strong] aura. Only people who have achieved success have that kind of confidence inside out, including Obama, Trump and Hillary Clinton,” Zou said.

Wearing a brown wig and blue contact lenses, Li now looks vaguely like the US leader with his broad face and stout physique. He has learned five of Trump’s signature gestures but is still struggling with simple English phrases like “good evening” and “thank you.”

However, Li’s mimicry hasn’t gone over well. Once, he was paid to attend a promotional event by a plastic surgery hospital in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. While people were eager to pose with him for photos, the audience made for the exit when his speech began.

Li is part of a performance agency, which also manages two Obama impersonators and four who mimic North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

One of the “Obamas,” Xiao Jiguo, has been the company’s biggest success so far. Xiao used to act in various small roles and also speak for a plastic surgery hospital. Now his fee for appearing at a commercial event is 50,000 yuan ($7,500), and he has won better film roles.

In order to hone his performing skills, Xiao signed up for training classes at the Beijing Film Academy. He said he can act with more confidence now, bolstered by his performing skills rather than his appearance.

The company’s owner, Zou, looks for performance opportunities for his clients in company galas, weddings, commercial events, among others.

He said that many of his performers don’t have attractive appearances, neither do they have prominent families or a good educational background, but they try every means through hard work in order to become famous, Zou said.

“They either go through plastic surgeries or enhance their chests. They work hard from the very bottom. They will succeed sooner or later,” Zou said.

Xiao Jiguo, a Barack Obama impersonator, is the most successful actor at his agency. Photo: Yang Yifan/CFP

Li makes an appearance at a commercial event. Photo: Yang Yifan/CFP

Source: Global Times


China has to halt river data sharing as India infringes on sovereignty: expert

An Indian official’s accusation that China halted sharing hydrological data of a river that flows from China to India has met with demands from Chinese observers that India should withdraw its troops from Chinese territory before pointing fingers at China on secondary issues.

“For this year, as far as I know, we have not received hydrological data from the Chinese side,” said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Indian paper the Deccan Herald reported Saturday.

The Yarlung Zangbo River is known as the Brahmaputra after it flows into India. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on trans-border rivers in 2013 and India has since been briefed on data on the river’s upper reaches.

No government department has so far explained the reasons for the alleged halt to the data sharing, but Chinese observers have pointed to the escalating tensions in Doklam.

“Although China is a responsible country, we can’t fulfill our obligations to India when it shows no respect to our sovereignty,” said Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Hu added that China will not agree to carry out normal cooperation on hydrological data with India, unless it agrees to withdraw troops from Doklam.

The military standoff between China and India in Doklam has lasted for almost two months, and there is still no end in sight.

The upper reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo are in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, so China agreed to share hydrological data with India to help it prevent hydrological disasters such as flooding and drought, and carry out cooperation on the development and utilization of hydrological resources, Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times.

He noted that India has always voiced concerns over China’s development of the river, and tried to hype these projects in order to incite their people’s anti-China sentiment.

When the first section of the 9.6 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) Zangmu Hydropower Station went into operation in November 2014, the Indian media went to great lengths to predict the station was likely to cause floods.

China has explained on various occasions that hydropower stations will not affect flood control or the ecology of the lower reaches.

“Between India and China, despite the frequent rows over water, conflicts remain limited to diplomatic tussles. However, India’s move of bringing up the sharing of hydrological data will exacerbate the already existing conflict between China and India,” Zhao said.

Vital for livelihoods

With an average altitude of 4,500 meters, the Yarlung Zangbo River is the highest river in the world. It originates in the glacial regions of the northern Himalayas, runs 2,057 kilometers through southwest Tibet, passes into India and Bangladesh, and finally empties into the Indian Ocean in the Bay of Bengal.

Experts said that the Yarlung Zangbo is of vital importance to India and Bangladesh, because locals use the water as a major source of irrigation, fish and electricity generation.

Some 20 percent of the Indian population still has no access to electricity, news site reported in February. In order to generate more power, India commenced the process of giving the green light to 14 hydro power projects in South Tibet, which India calls “Arunachal Pradesh,” most of which were lower down on the Brahmaputra, India media reported in 2015.

By infringing on China’s sovereignty in Doklam, India has damaged the mutual trust the two neighbors used to enjoy, and China will be hard pressed to cooperate with India on other issues without the mutual trust, said Zhao.

Experts also suggested that India should take other country’s interests into consideration when it comes to the exploitation of the Brahmaputra.

Source: Global Times


More and more Chinese are traveling to the continent to beat the heat

Chinese tourists looking to beat the heat on their summer vacation are swarming to an unexpected destination – Africa.

China has just experienced its hottest July since 1961, with Shanghai hitting a record-breaking 40.9 C.

Over July and August this year, the number of online bookings for trips to Africa has been double what it was last year, according to travel agent Lvmama Tourism.

Most of these travelers are under 40, Lvmama says.

Data released by booking platforms shows that the average trip is eight days long and costs anywhere from 7,800 yuan ($1,169) to 48,000 yuan.

Reports on this phenomenon have sparked surprise on Chinese social media platforms as many people stereotypically think of Africa as always being very hot, with the hashtag “travelling to Africa to avoid the heat” garnering more than 3 million clicks on Sina Weibo as of press time.

While many countries in Africa do experience high temperatures, some of the continent’s top travel destinations are quite cool during July and August. Mauritius, Kenya and South Africa all boast comfortable conditions of around 16 to 20 C at this time of year.

Also, many parts of southern and eastern Africa are highlands with altitudes over 1,000 meters, which helps cool the climate, Ma Ding, director of overseas affairs at BTG International Travel & Tours, told the Global Times.

The most popular African destinations to “avoid the heat” include Mauritius, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia, said Lvmama.

Checking out the wildlife

Though travel agencies are marketing their package holidays as “heat-avoiding” journeys, many of the agencies reached by the Global Times said the main reason people want to travel to the continent over the summer is to witness spectacular animal migrations.

A 32-year-old surnamed Li, who spend a week and over 40,000 yuan on observing this kind of migration in Kenya, told the Global Times that around half the tourists he met while in the country are Chinese.

“It’s a tough journey compared with travelling to Europe and the US. Road conditions are bad, dust is everywhere and the food does not suit my taste. But when you see the unique animals, everything is worthwhile,” he said.

Other activities popular with Chinese include driving around Kenya and scuba diving in Egypt, said Ma.

Meanwhile, with direct flights and the relaxation of visa policies, travelling to Africa is becoming more convenient as countries are trying to attract more Chinese tourists, said tourist agencies.

As of the end of July, Mauritius, Morocco, the Seychelles and the French overseas territory Reunion Island offer visa free entry to Chinese nationals.

In 2008, only 2.8 percent of Chinese tourists went to Africa. But by 2016, that number had more than tripled to 10 percent with 11.3 million travelling to Africa, news site reported, citing data from the World Tourism Organization.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Africa has grown by 50 percent every year on average since 2010, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The increase has led many African businessmen to focus more on attracting Chinese customers. For instance, many Moroccan restaurants now offer Chinese-language menus.

Some Moroccan hotels even promote themselves on well-known Chinese websites and booking platforms, said travelers. A traveler surnamed Qi said that posting a positive Chinese-language review of her hotel on TripAdvisor even landed her a 20 percent discount to her bill.

Articles titled “How to attract Chinese tourists to visit your destination” have been reposted and shared on social media platforms popular in Africa. Suggestions include making the business Chinese-friendly by using signs in Chinese and offering Chinese food, as well as “making it easier for Chinese to pay,” such as using China Union Pay, Alipay and WeChat Wallet.

Though the number of Chinese travelling to Africa is increasing, they constitute only a small proportion of the total number of outbound tourists, said Ma, adding that the high prices and as well as personal safety are major concerns.

The tourist industries of many African countries are comparatively immature, as their infrastructure is yet to be developed and their emergency services systems are not as developed as Western counties’, said Ma.

Source: Global Times


US probe won’t spark trade war: experts

US President Donald Trump holds up the executive order he signed authorizing the US trade representative to launch an investigation against China on August 14 in Washington DC. Photo: CFP

The US decision to launch a Section 301 investigation against China over trade has renewed concerns that a trade war might break out between the world’s two largest economies, but Chinese experts on Sunday played down the scenario.

However, following the US move, which is aimed at addressing the trade imbalance with China, the bilateral trade relationship will face rising hurdles and China should be fully prepared to face more trade remedies from the US in the future, experts warned.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Friday formally initiated an investigation into China’s intellectual property practices under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

The probe comes after US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive memorandum authorizing Lighthizer to determine whether China’s practices harm US intellectual property rights, innovation or technological development.

“The investigation will seek to determine whether acts, policies, and practices of the government of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict US commerce,” the Office of the United States Trade Representative said in a statement on its website.

Real motive

Though the probe centers on the issues of technological intellectual property, Chinese experts said the US is using it to pressure China into tackling the bilateral trade imbalance.

“The US investigation is primarily aimed at addressing the country’s long-running trade deficit with China. The US hopes to impose pressure on China in order to protect its own manufacturing industry and improve American employment,” Wang Jun, a deputy director of the Department of Information at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times Sunday.

China’s trade surplus with the US reached $25.2 billion in July, official data showed on August 8.

Another motive behind the move could be that the Trump administration is seeking to draw attention away from domestic US problems by focusing on China, said He Weiwen, an executive council member at the China Society for the WTO.

The Trump administration wants to use China as a “scapegoat” as the US government has “made enemies” domestically as well as globally following various controversial policies and the decision to abandon the Paris Agreement on climate change, He told the Global Times Sunday.

“To make China a scapegoat is easy. It’s not only Trump who has done this; other US politicians have also tried it in previous years,” according to He. “The investigation has been long plotted by the US government,” he said.

Trade war unlikely

Experts said that the US probe is unlikely to trigger a full-blown trade war between the two countries and will not have a substantial negative impact on the bilateral economic and trade relationship in the short term, but it is still a worrying sign.

“Trade disputes between China and the US will rise in the future and the US is likely to employ more forms of measures against China [in trade],” Wang noted.

The US launched 11 trade remedy probes into Chinese products in the first half of this year, accounting for about 30 percent of the total investigations that China faced from around the world, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

China should be fully prepared for the effects of the US probe, not only in trade, but also in terms of pressure on the currency exchange rate, He said.

Wang noted that China would like to use negotiations to resolve such problems instead of launching harsh trade restrictions against the US. “China will not ban imports from the US nor raise tariffs on US products.”

Also, He suggested, China could use WTO rules to seek arbitration because the US move to apply a domestic law to an international matter violates the WTO’s rules.

Section 301, which was passed in 1974, allows the US president to impose tariffs or other trade restrictions against foreign countries. But it also represents unilateral action and is generally opposed by other countries, MOFCOM said Tuesday.

Source: Global Times