New documentary looks to reveal the creativity of Chinese migrant worker poets

Demolition Mark, a Chinese documentary film focusing on working class poets in China, recently put out a call for donations in order to raise money needed for post-production. The director Qin Xiaoyu, a poet and critic, stated that he hopes crowd-funding will allow audiences to have a better sense of participation in the film.

‘Silent majority’

The film delves deeper into the story of several of the migrant worker poets featured in Iron Moon, an award-winning documentary directed by Qin Xiaoyu and Wu Feiyue and based on Qin’s anthology of Chinese migrant worker poetry.

“We would like to make an Iron Moon a trilogy. The films will feature poetry, but we will also incorporate relevant elements such as new rural construction and the coal and steel workers who were laid off during the implementation of China’s de-capacity plan,” Qin told US-China Today, a student-driven publication from the University of Southern California, adding that he hopes to use Demolition Mark to raise public awareness about these issues.

Iron Moon was screened over 4,000 times across more than 200 cities in China, and won the Best Documentary Award at the 18th Shanghai International Film Festival’s Golden Goblet Awards.

The 2015 film drew global attention to Chinese migrant worker poets, many of whom have had to continually struggle with economic troubles and cultural prejudice.

For Demolition Mark, however, Qin focuses more on the extraordinary creativity of working class poets than hardships they go through.

“Since they are regarded as ‘the silent majority’ of society and are ignored, we hope this film will alter the stereotypical image that society has projected on them,” said Qin.

The economic reform and opening up of the 1980s brought an estimated 300 million rural migrants to booming cities such as Shenzhen or Dongguan, South China’s Guangdong Province, seeking manufacturing and construction jobs.

Common issues such as labor exploitation, lack of welfare protection and children being left to be raised by their grandparents have often led this group to be at the center of social and political criticism in China over the past few decades.

During the 1990s, their poems were only occasionally heard at small-scale poetry recitals or sharing sessions. As such they were not widely disseminated or popularized until the rise of the Internet after the year 2000 helped spread their pain and feelings of alienation far and wide.

Spreading the word

Xu Lizhi, a 24-year-old migrant worker who was going to be featured in Qin’s documentary, attracted global attention after he committed suicide at Foxconn, the electronics giant that produces the majority of the world’s Apple phones. After his death his colleague published his poems online.

In 2010 alone, the factory made headlines around the world as it witnessed 14 deaths among at least 17 attempted suicides that year.

Iron Moon was chosen to be the title of Qin’s documentary as it is a visual metaphor used in one of Xu’s poems:

I swallowed an iron moon

they called it a screw

I swallowed industrial wastewater and unemployment forms

bent over machines, our youth died young

I swallowed labor, I swallowed poverty

swallowed pedestrian bridges, swallowed this rusted-out life

I can’t swallow anymore

everything I’ve swallowed roils up in my throat

I spread across my country

a poem of shame

(Translated by Eleanor Goodman)

Xu represents the legion of Chinese migrant workers who pin their hopes on modern cities but end up being disappointed by grueling working conditions and poor wages.

Shocked by his death, labor groups translated Xu’s poems into English, gaining the attention of Qin, who published a volume of Xu’s poems.

Chen Nianxi, a 48 year old poet from Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, is another figure that Qin tracks throughout his two documentaries.

“Demolition Mark” was one of Chen’s early poems describing his life as a demolitionist. It was widely circulated online and earned him the nickname of “blaster poet.”

The blaster, who spent the past 16 years in and out of mining sites across Henan Province in Central China and Northwest China’s Qinghai Province and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, suffered a cervical spine injury in 2016 that forced him to quit his job.

Chen puts his own experiences of digging in gold mines into his poems. He has stated that he hopes his works can allow people to understand the hidden costs that lie behind the financial boom that China has enjoyed.

“We provided the most precious things to the world, but the world left us nothing,” he said in a speech at the New York University during his trip to the US with the documentary team.

During the US presidential election in 2016, he visited both slums and Trump Tower, which allowed him to feel a connection to migrant workers from Mexico who want to make a life in the US but have been rejected by US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy.

“Trump said that China has stolen opportunities from the US manufacturing industry and that he would move some factories back to the US. I am very worried that this will result in a lot of Chinese workers like me losing their jobs,” he said in his speech.

Source: Global Times


Elderly golden snub-nosed monkey gives birth to her 7th child

A golden snub-nosed monkey named “Liu Yi” gave birth to her 7th child at Harbin North Forest Zoo in Harbin, northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, sources from the zoo disclosed on May 10.

Liu Yi got her name because she arrived in Harbin on June 1, 2005, the Chinese of the date being “Liu Yi”. Different from her birthplace in southwest China’s Sichuan province, Harbin is known for its high latitude and biting cold winters.

In 2007, Liu Yi gave birth to her first baby. The 19-year-old monkey’s age is equivalent to over 60 in human years. The birth of her 7th child made Liu Yi the record holder for oldest golden snub-nosed monkey in China to give birth to this many children at the such a high latitude.

Both Liu Yi and her baby are in good health. The baby monkey has just learnt to walk and already wants to be independent from its mom, so much so that Liu Yi now has to repeatedly pick it up and hold it in her arms.

Six of Liu Yi’s children now live with her, her second born is currently at a zoo in Nanjing in east China, sources from the zoo said.

More young Chinese consumers prefer domestic brands

Young Chinese consumers are becoming fans of domestic brands and turning their back on foreign products.

According to a survey done by leading financial services company Credit Suisse this March, China is seeing the emergence of a generation of consumers who are more likely to opt for home-made brands.

The results of the study show that over 90% of young Chinese shoppers prefer domestic home appliance brands. Over the past decade, Chinese food, drink and personal care brands have expanded their market share by 3.3 percent to nearly 70 percent, said global information, data and measurement company Nielsen.

In addition, the stereotype that foreign products are superior has been gradually abandoned by Chinese youngsters. “Right now, Chinese consumers think China is good and ‘Made in China’ is not bad at all,” said Credit Suisse’s Charlie Chen earlier this March.

The smart phone market is a great example supporting Chen’s point. According to data tracking firm IDC, Chinese tech firm Huawei is the largest player in the Chinese cell phone market, accounting for 24.2% of the market share. Apple was ranked 5th with a share of 11.3%, and was the only foreign brand on the list’s top-5.

According to Li Yanhong, founder and CEO of Chinese Internet giant Baidu, the rise of Chinese cell phones is attributed to better localization of services, software, support and data.

Such trends can also be seen in the automobile industry. Chinese automobile manufacturers gained 44.2% of the market in China over the past year, 5.8% more than that in 2014. Li predicted that the figure will rise to 65% in the next 10 years.

China produces world’s thinnest glass with high impact resistance

Last month, China Triumph International Engineering Co., Ltd. (CTIEC) rolled out the world’s thinnest float glass.

The ultrathin glass has a thickness of only 0.12mm, merely 0.025mm thicker than the average sheet of A4 paper.

The glass, though as thin as paper, is extremely strong. It can resist the impact of a 55-gram steel ball falling from the height of one meter. This impact is the same as that created by a car being driven into a wall at the speed of 150 km/h.

According to Cao Xin, deputy director of the Class Engineering Research Institution under the CTIEC, the ultrathin glass is a core material for the electronic display industry. It is the basic material for cell phone, computer and TV screens.

The Chinese-produced 0.12-mm ultrathin glass has smashed the monopoly of western countries, lowering the international market price of such glass by two thirds.

Persistence and innovation are key in China’s expansion of shares of its ultrathin glass on the international market. Bengbu CNBM Information Display Materials Co., Ltd. is another Chinese company that produces glass display devices. Its international share was close to zero before 2014, but is has grown to a staggering 40 percent today.

“Now we are ranked in the world’s top 3 when it comes to market share,” said Ren Hongcan, general manager of the company.

More and more Chinese products are winning the trust of the international market, but the competition in manufacturing industries is endless. It is expected that more Chinese enterprises will grow stronger in the future and become leading manufacturers.

Sanjiangyuan area now home to over 1,000 snow leopards

The number of snow leopards in China’s Sangjiangyuan area, the source of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang Rivers, has now exceeded 1,000, experts estimate.

According to Lyu Zhi, biology conservation professor of Peking University, more than 50,000 pictures of snow leopards have been captured by infrared cameras over an area of 5,000 square kilometers since scientists began monitoring the big cats in the Sanjiangyuan area 7 years ago.

After analyzing the number of snow leopards at each monitoring point, experts have preliminarily estimated the average population density of the snow leopards in this area.

“Only 3,000 to 7,000 snow leopards now live on earth,” said Dr. Xiao Lingyun from Peking University Center for Nature and Society.

The population density of snow leopards in the Sanjiangyuan area is now higher than average levels in other habitats, said Zhao Xiang, director of the Sanjiangyuan project at the Beijing Shanshui Con-servation Center.

Sanjiangyuan area, located in the south of Qinghai province, is also home to other rare species such as leopards, Tibetan antelope, Tibetan wild donkeys, and whitelipped deer.

Domestic firms still lag behind Western rivals, but boast advantages in AI technologies: industry experts

China in recent years has been ramping up efforts to develop core technologies in the domestic chip industry, in an aim to cut its strong reliance on other countries and regions, and that pace was further accelerated in April following the US’ ban on component sales to Chinese telecom company ZTE Corp.

The most recent move taken by the Chinese government to bulk up the country’s chip-making muscles includes the establishment of a new fund worth more than $47 billion, run by the National Integrated Circuitry Industry Investment Fund Co, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Meanwhile, Chinese technology giant Alibaba Group Holding said in an announcement it sent to the Global Times that in April it acquired Hangzhou-based C-Sky Microsystems, a manufacturer of embedded chips, an important move in its chip development efforts.

In 2017, the conglomerate also said it would strengthen its technology research input, in an aim to invest more than $15 billion in R&D in the following three years.

Alibaba also set up a global research program in 2017 named DAMO Academy to seek global technological cooperation.

On May 3, Chinese tech companies Lenovo Group, Dawning Information Industry Co (also known as Sugon) and iFlytek also displayed new AI products at a product launch conference held by AI chip start-up Cambricon Technologies Corp.

During the conference, Lenovo released its first server platform equipped with Chinese-designed Cambricon chip-powered MLU100 intelligent processing cards.

Those efforts seem to have paid off. Data released by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) showed that in the first quarter of 2018, the value of China’s electronic information manufacturing industry grew by 12.5 percent compared with the same period in 2017, faster than the growth rate of all above-scale industries by 6.7 percentage points.

The volume of integrated circuits produced in the first quarter of 2018 reached 39.99 billion, up 15.2 percent compared with 2016’s figure, said the MIIT.

A shortcut?

Despite the rapid growth, it is widely believed that due to the time-consuming, slow and costly nature of chip development, China now lags behind the West in most chip-making processes and is unlikely to catch up in the short term.

Japanese financial news outlet the Nikkei Asian Review on May 1 reported that British chipmaker Arm Holdings will cede control of its Chinese operations in a new joint venture (JV) named Arm Mini China, with China set to hold a majority stake of 51 percent.

On Tuesday, Arm confirmed the news to the Global Times via email, stating the new JV has already begun operation, and that it will provide extensive technology support for its Chinese partners throughout the new venture.

Arm will also help localize technology to satisfy the demand in the Chinese market.

“Arm dominates in designing one of the key chip technologies, which others are unlikely to catch up with,” a graduate research assistant at Duke University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who only gave his surname as Yang, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Major tech multinationals including Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics, Huawei Technologies, Qualcomm, Broadcom and MediaTek all need to license technology from Arm, one of the most influential chip technology providers in the world, to develop chipsets for their smartphones, tablets, wearables and various other connected devices.

“It’s possible that domestic chip designers may benefit from the technology transfer, however, the chip-making process is too complicated; designing is just one part of the whole process,” Yang said.

Geng Bo, vice secretary-general of the China Solid State Lighting Alliance, agreed with Yang, admitting that it is of course good news for the Chinese chip industry, but that it’s too soon to say if the industry will definitely improve just because of the advancement of one specific technology.

Yang said that even with support from foreign firms, knowing how to actually use the technologies independently is vital.

“Having fresh meat is good, but you also need to know how to cook it,” he said, adding that after the design phase, the chip-making process is where China lags behind its western rivals.

Experts have also cautioned that if China wants to develop its own technologies in the chip industry, especially those related to national security, it must look at the “chip crisis” from the roots.

AI opportunities

Some domestic industry players, however, say that China has strengths in AI chip development, with many Chinese companies already leading the way in global cutting-edge AI technologies.

“AI is where we may overtake our foreign rivals. Our company is increasing efforts in developing AI chips and has seen some fruit sprout already. For example, our chips have been used in the new retail industry and facial recognition. They have already been applied in self-service stores and airports,” Chen Feng, vice president of Chinese fabless semiconductor maker Rockchip, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Chen’s company ranked 20th among the top AI companies in the world in a recent list released by global industry consultancy Compass Intelligence. Meanwhile, Chinese tech giant Huawei ranked 12th.

According to the ranking, US-based Nvidia is still the leading global player, followed by Intel and IBM.

A Chinese AI scientist who works at a US internet company spoke on condition of anonymity to the Global Times on Tuesday, saying that unlike in traditional chip industries, Chinese firms didn’t miss the chance of developing AI chips at an early stage, so that is why they are now at a level playing field with their US counterparts.

He also noted that China’s large user base ensures ample user feedback during testing processes, important for AI chip R&D.

However, he underscored that whether these AI chips can be defined as “successful” still lies in their sales performance and application scenarios in the future market.

Optimism with caution

“It’s hard to predict how long it will take for China to catch up with others, or successfully develop its own core technologies, but for traditional chip sectors, the time will be longer,” Geng said.

Nevertheless, Geng remains optimistic about the domestic semiconductor industry, considering China’s successful experiences in the LED chip-making industry.

Domestic LED chip development, starting from scratch in 2003, has successfully caught up with its foreign competitors over the past 15 years, and at present, more than 85 percent of lighting products in China have adopted homegrown LED chips, Geng said.

Although the technology barriers in domestic LED chip development are relatively minor compared to other chip types, they can still teach us a lot, Geng noted.

Source: Global Times


China’s first homemade passenger jet C919 conducts test flights

China’s first domestically developed large passenger jet, the C919, is currently undergoing a series of test flights before becoming available for public use in 2021 as planned, said an expert at a summit on May 7.

The passenger jet, which made its maiden flight in 2017, is currently going through a number of test flights, Yang Zhigang, chief designer with Beijing Aeronautical Science & Technology Re-search Institute (BASTRI), said at the China Medium & Large Aircraft Development Summit 2018 recently held in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.

Yang noted that the C919 is expected to gain the Chinese airworthiness certification and be deliv-ered to its customers in 2021 as planned.

In addition, the designer revealed that the Sino-Russian designed long haul, wide-bodied and two-aisle airliner CR929, based on research of the C919, has now entered the preliminary design phase and is expected to make its first flight in around 2025.

The designer admitted that there is still a big gap between China and its foreign competitors in developing civil aircrafts.

However, the C919’s involvement in the international aviation industry will not only help up-grade China’s manufacturing capabilities, but also push for the progress of its competitors, Yang added.

Belt and Road brings more Chinese tourists to Israel

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism held a promotional fair in Fuzhou, south China’s Fujian province on May 9. It is one of the country’s many promotional events held in China in May.

Fuzhou is a potential source of outbound tourism, and people under the age of 25 are the main contributors of outbound tourism and overseas consumption, said Bora Shnitman, chief repre-sentative of Israeli Government Tourist Office in China.

“Fujian is at the core of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and Israel is on the route. I believe the two sides could conduct closer cooperation in tourism and share the benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he pointed out.

In 2017, about 114,000 Chinese tourists visited Israel, an increase of 41 percent from the previ-ous year, sources from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism said.

To meet the demands of a growing Chinese tourist market, the Israeli Tourism Ministry has ele-vated tourism infrastructure and services, such as increasing the training of tour guides and chefs who specialise in Chinese food, according to Shnitman.

World’s first driverless rapid bus begins trial run

A “smart bus” called the Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit, or ART, started a three-month trial run in central China on May 8. It is the world’s first driverless rapid bus, National Business reported.

ART was developed by CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co, a subsidiary of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. The phase-one buses have three carriages, and can carry up to 100 people per carriage.

The vehicle runs without the need for rail and carries as heavy a load as a train, providing a new transportation model in large and medium-sized cities.

Furthermore, the cost to build one kilometer of standard ART is only one-fifth of that for traditional tram systems, which cost 150 million yuan ($22.6 million) to 200 million yuan per km.

ART has an advantage over traditional tram systems in small-and medium-sized cities because it’s cheaper and takes less time to build.

Yibin City in southwest China’s Sichuan province signed an agreement to introduce the smart vehicle in the city on May 8, according to the city mayor.