Biggest-ever mushroom discovered in SW China hotel

A huge mushroom was recently spotted at the Pu’er Lesser Panda Manor Villa Resort Hotel in Pu’er city, in southwestern China’s Yunnan province, China News reported on August 5.

The mushroom, weighing 8 kilograms with a perimeter of 1.8 meters, is the largest and heaviest of its kind ever found in the region, though it cannot be eaten because it is toxic. The manor in the transitional area between tropical and subtropical climate allegedly provides good environment for fungi to grow.

At present, it has been transplanted to a secluded forest to prevent tourists from accidentally eating it.

Survey says Chinese are the world’s most optimistic citizens

Chinese are the world’s most optimistic people about the future of their country, says the monthly survey, “What Worries the World – July 2017,” released by the global market research and consulting firm, Ipsos, on August 6, Guancha.cn reported.

The report shows that 87 per cent of Chinese interviewed think that their country is going in the right direction, being the highest among all adults under aged 65 surveyed in 26 countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the U.S. and South Korea.

U.S. media, Axios, said economic giants, China and the U.S. are gradually becoming geopolitical rivals. Chinese are more confident about the future of their country, while most Americans are worried that their country is going downhill.

Unemployment (36 per cent), political corruption (34 per cent) and Wealth inequality (33 per cent), are the three major worries for global citizens since 2010.

Chinese participants in the survey worry most about moral decline (47 per cent), threats to the environment (40 per cent) and unemployment (31 per cent); while healthcare, terrorism as well as crime and violence, are the top three worries for Americans, the report noted.

In addition, the report pointed out that nearly 43 per cent of Americans surveyed are optimistic about their country in July 2017, down 4 per cent from the previous month, but much higher than during the presidential election in October 2016.

College students save drowning woman, donate reward to charity

Four college students recently saved a woman from drowning in Satellite Lake, Yongchuan District, in southwestern China’s Chongqing Municipality. They later donated the reward offered them as a result of the gesture, thereby moving many people by their gallantry and philanthropy, Chongqing Morning Post reported on August 7.

The students did not hesitate to jump into the lake to save the drowning woman when they heard her faint cries for help from the nearby river as they were exercising on the field. With knowledge of First Aid, they gave the rescued middle-aged woman cardio-pulmonary resuscitation before the ambulance arrived.

In appreciation, the woman’s daughter made cash gifts to the Good Samaritans, but they politely turned them down. In addition, the reward of 20,000 RMB ($2,973) offered by the Chongqing Youth Development Foundation for their gallantry was donated by the boys to poor students of a local school.

India has no reason to oppose establishment of Chinese base in Djibouti: Rear Admiral

India has no reason to oppose the establishment of a Chinese base in Djibouti, as the Indian Ocean does not belong to India, said Yin Zhuo, a rear admiral in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, according to the official WeChat account of CCTV4 on Aug. 3.

The ceremony marking the entry of troops into the PLA support base in Djibouti.

The rear admiral made the statement in response to India’s discontent over China’s establishment of its first military support base overseas in Djibouti, which is a decision made by China and Djibouti after friendly negotiations.

Yin added that the establishment of the base will help China performance its international obligations regarding humanitarianism aid and escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia.

The ceremony marking the entry of troops into the PLA support base in Djibouti was held on Aug. 1 in the base’s barracks.

China’s Central Military Commission chose a special team of 80 officers and soldiers for construction of the base on Dec. 15, 2015.

Although desert and volcanoes occupy 90 percent of the land of Djibouti, and the country is extremely short of natural resources, the team built the base in less than a year, with communication facilities and logistics support facilities basically reaching the same standards as in China, Yin noted.

As Djibouti has a unique geographical location, many countries, including the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, and Spain have bases in Djibouti.

Yin said that, although the U.S. is not used to China having bases overseas, as it will bring a certain level of political pressure, it is clear that the Chinese base will only act as a logistics supply facility rather than one for military operations.

It is obvious that the Indian Ocean does not belong to India, so any country, including China, is free to conduct its missions in the region, the rear admiral stressed.

India should welcome all countries’ participation in safeguarding the peace and stability of the region, and in achieving fruits in anti-terrorism and anti-piracy operations through international cooperation, Yin added.

China’s first homemade aircraft carrier to enter mooring trials next month

China’s first homemade aircraft carrier will likely enter mooring trials next month ahead of schedule, said Hu Wenming, general director of construction of the aircraft carrier, CCTV.com reported on Aug. 3.

Hu introduced that construction of China’s second aircraft carrier, also the country’s first homemade one, is going well after it hit the water in Dalian on April 26 this year. Hu added that the carrier will likely start mooring trials next month ahead of schedule to test if its equipment is able to meet the requirements for further sea trial.

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has been delivered to the Chinese Navy for training and research. China’s second carrier will be based on the Liaoning and will be among the world’s most advanced, further improving China’s research and development of aircraft carriers, according to the director.

Hu also disclosed that a total of 412 state-owned enterprises, private enterprises, and scientific research institutions in China have contributed to its development, occupying 77.4 percent of the total, which indicates that its construction is the result of national collective efforts.

In addition, through construction of the carrier, China has possessed a talent team at an average age of 36 and gained the ability to independently research and develop, design, and manage an aircraft carrier project, which has laid a foundation for the country to build better ones in the future, the director noted.

‘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