CategoryChina

Prostitution in China

 

Dear Wang Jianshuo,

I am a frequent reader of, and occasional poster in your wonderful blog.

I’m writing to ask if you could start a topic on prostitution in China in your blog. I know that prostitution in China is theoretically illegal, but in practice, KTVs, bath houses, massage parlours, disguised barbor shops etc. are everywhere and everybody knows it.

Of I course I’m not talking about writing a Shanghai red light tourist guide. Instead, I’d be interested to learn more about the evolution and characteristics of this industry. Key questions might include:

  • What kind of people are the owners of the venues? How do they make sure that their venue doesn’t get closed down by the police (systematic bribery?)?
  • What kind of women (and men) enter this industry? For which reasons?
  • How much do sex workers earn (I’ve heard, the average monthly wage of prostitutes amounts to ~10,000 RMB; massage ladies earn up to 5,000 RMB per month)? What are their costs/sacrifices (lying to their family, permanent fear of getting jailed, loss of youth or up to 10 years of their life?)?
  • How is an approximate value of a prostitute determined? By her beauty? Who judges this? By the wealth of her frequent clients? Or by what else? Why do some really "ugly" prositutes demand high prices in expensive KTV venues, whereas other relatively more beautiful prostitutes in less extravagant venues demand a lower price? Can the latter try to get a job in a higher-profile venue? – What kind of people are the patrons?
  • Is it true that about 5 years ago, prostitutes used to earn significantly more than the average white-collar employee? How come that prices for sex services have gone down so sharply?

Of course, I know this is a sensitive and controversial topic, and I leave it totally up to you to decide whether to start such a topic. However, if you decide not to start it, could you provide me with some information or references on the internet for me do to some further research? Ideally in English, but I could also try to handle articles in Chinese :)

Thank you, pal!

Best regards
<name removed>

Good topic. I know it is controversal, but this blog is not a blog shy away of these topics, espeically when I feel the reader is genuninely offering attention to the less fortunately (or should I say so) people (sex workers). It is with sympathy when we dig into details.

The fact is, however, I really have no idea about the anwser of any of the questions, and I even cannot make a guess. So I want to direct this question to my other readers who may be journalist in this field in the last few years to give us some insight, or if you know a link, share it. Thanks.

Why Things in China is Cheap?

There is no doubt that China is one of the most important base for manufacturing. Christmas is coming, and this reminds people that the even higher majority of world Christmas decoration is coming from China. Even the Christmas tree – if it is artificial – may come from China.

Goods in China are cheap. There are arguments of the quality (Well. I will talk about that part in the future). My question to answer today is, why China’s good is cheap?

Labor is the Key

I would say the labor is the key. In Southeast China’s Guangdong province, the average wage for workers in factories are 40 US cents per hour, a fraction of U.S., even 1/6 of New Mexico. Why that?

There is a theory of “Population Dividend” in China. I first heard about it from King. It describes the situation of China – with the huge population, and huge base of “available” labor, China and the world is enjoying the benefits of these population.

Imagine, in the last few years, with the shutdown or reform of state owned enterprises, 45 million people lost their old jobs, and have to find new one. This is just a very small amount comparing to the 800 million peasants in China. Many farmers lose their land in the process urbanization, they don’t have land, and they are ready to pickup any job that pays them salary.

Take Shanghai as an example, the newly born children in villages don’t have land when they are born, while in the past, all peasant’s children must be peasant – there is no way to change it. The up-side-down change in policy forces the new generation to find a job.

Often, 40 cents per hour is way much higher than the money they can earn at home.

Continuous Supply of Labor

The promise for wage increase is not high in the near future. The key is, although the demand is increasing in the country, the employed workers are still far from all of the abundant labors.

For example, if someone ask for 41 cents per hour to their factory, the boss may say, there are millions of people waiting out side the gate, and they are willing to take your job at the same or lower salary…

So when does this situation change? Only after majority of the “abundant labors” find their job, and there is not so many people wandering outside the gates of the factories, and there will be some kind of labor shortage, and the wage would surely increase. At that time, the population dividend is used up.

China after Population Dividend

The world is flat. When all the labors in China is used up, countries like Vietnam is not. Then the world factory will shift to other countries. Hopefully at that time, the domestic consumption of goods, and the hi-tech sector start to boom, and China can be still strong in exporting, and go to another “right path” for development. If not, it is dark cloud on the future sky of China.

Just my few cents about this big topic.

The Age of Change, in Reality, and in Mind

This is an age of change, of China and of the world.

I feel it, but cannot name it. I see it all the time with all those small things in my life, but still cannot tell what it really means. My simple instinct tells me, 2007 is a very interesting and unique period for China. My friends, help me to understand it.

Job Market

My reader SuperDav asked me the question:

I see you’ve previously posted about some locals making 300-500,000RMB (per year). That’s almost $75k/ yr. USD! Most people in the US don’t make more that unless they have been working for MS for ten years…:)

I believe SuperDav must be surprised, that 500,000 RMB is not a very high salary in Shanghai in 2007 any more. I am not saying it is not high, but I can assure you there are so many people in Shanghai (senior managers in foreign, and local companies) earn more than that. Considering the exchange rate change between US, and China, the rate means higher than before. The recent salary survey I saw surprised me a lot – with the continuous CPI increase, the salary level in Shanghai finally raises. The concept that Chinese always earn less than foreigners should be updated.

The other interesting thing is, as I wrote in another blog, Foreign Job Seekers Move to Shanghai. This is also a trend that didn’t happen in the last centaury.

Capital Market

The recent IPO of PetroChina in the Shanghai Stock Exchange makes it the largest company in market cap in the world, by passing the second place, EXXON.

The second event is, China Mobile‘s market value bypassed Microsoft and became the largest technology company in the world several months ago.

Although the market cap does not reflect the power of the company, especially the PetroChina case, where the P/E is much higher in Shanghai stock than in U.S., and China Mobile is complete monopoly in the market, it is very interesting fact. There are some Chinese companies getting bigger in some way than U.S. companies. (P.S. Don’t need to argue about the fact. I know it means nothing using the irrational market valuation ways in current crazy Chinese stock market. I know that. I just want to play the numbers and show something that is very rare before).

People’s Life in China

I had the conversation with my parents the other day. I said, after centauries of poverty, Chinese people have to face the dramatic change in the next few decades of moving from poor, to wealthy. I wrote about this in previous article Not Be Afraid of Grace and Beauty (my thoughts when I was in YLF). I just realized the grace and beauty of the ancient China is coming back these days. Art, music, drama, film, even space technology is just like Renaissance. Which really means something.

Stronger China?

I don’t want to be too optimistic than I should be about the future of China. It is very hard to tell whole story about China and it is even harder to make any prediction. China is such a mixed subject mixing the worst, and the best, the richest, and the poorest. So, I don’t try to be complete (since no one can do that). I just picked some events, and attempt draw one side of the reality of China.

In reality, many things changes, but in mind, it may takes longer for people to realize it. The gap is there. It takes time.

What is your comments?

Mourning for Victims of Nanjing Massacre

70 years ago, 300,000 civil residents were killed by Japanese troops. It was the most miserable night in the recent history.

shanghai-canle.for.nanjing.massacre

What’s Wrong with China?

Every time I travel, I keep talking with a lot of people in the States to find out an answer of a simple question: What is the future of China? And that leads to another question, which is “what is wrong with current China?”.

I am reading the book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. The angle from environment and population, education, etc does not answer the question. Why there is so bad environment problem? The book China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power‘s point of view about power, about society partly answers the question, but there is still a lot of puzzles for me.

What’s wrong with current China or China in the last 300 years that turned the once-most powerful country in the world with 40% of world production into a country with 1.6 billion people but only less than 4% of world wealth?

I have some answers, but not so sure, and I am keeping seeking for more and think more about it.

The Scar in People’s Heart

Yesterday, before Wendy’s parents went back home, we finally had some time to sit down together as a family and chat. It was a wonderful hour. We had the chance to know more about their experience in the old days, when they were young.

I don’t Know China Well

I admit (as I always do) that I don’t know China well. No matter how people claim, the history of this country is a mystery for many people, including me.

We chatted about the “three dark years” from 1959 to 1961, which is officially named “Three Years of Natural Disaster”. It is actually NOT. The three years is a blurred image for me. I know many people starved to death during the three years, but it is still hard to connect this piece of history with the person before me, and myself. It is not a far away history anyway.

Why and How

From 1959, before the Great Leap started, there came the order from Beijing. People in the whole country were not allowed to own any private property, and were not allowed to cook at home. Anyone who setup fire to cook would be sentenced as criminal. Everyone had to go to public dining rooms to have “free meal”.

It was not bad in the first year, since there was so many food that was more than people can eat. However, at the same time, people were almost not allowed to work in the field.

The second year, not surprisingly, there were not enough food left from the previous year. Since the order from the top were the same: No cooking at home, no private property (especially food), and no working, people started to starve.

During the three years, so many people did nothing, just wait to starve to death. I read about this in history books (of cause not the current official version), but I was still stocked when parents described some real stories. They emphasized this is not a story on TV or film, this was the real life. They saw it with their own eyes.

Their neighbours were found death. One with 5 persons – all found dead in their own home, quietly. The other family had 3 persons. The parents died, and lied on the bed. The child didn’t tell anyone, and went to dining room to collect three persons’ food. Although the food was still less than one normal meal for one child today, he ate them all, but it was too much for this child who barely didn’t eat for months, and die because eating too much. People found three bodies in their home long time later, two in bedroom and one in kitchen. In other families, after people died, the neighbours could do nothing because they were so weak to carry the bodies.

The lives of our parents, and their brothers were at the edge of death. Mom said she opened her eyes but was not able to see anything clearly. Even when bird flow by and drop shit onto ground, people would put it into their month…

Well. This was the real situation in the year 1959 to 1961 in the normal small village. Record shows overall, the weather for the whole country were good, and there were no natural disaster, but millions of people died. No one know the exact number.

It Changes Lives of a Generation

Before, when I talk about common sense, my example was: parents always keep food left from this meal to the next, and I only want fresh meal the next time. My parents’ common sense is “to save money”, and my common sense is “to get best experience”. I compared and claimed: there are two different common sense, and people seldom communicate about this, and this is the reason of conflict.

Now, I’d like to say, I was partially wrong. The common sense of parent generation was not “to save money”, it should be “to save food”. I deeply understand when a person witness his/her family member or friends starved and died just because there was nothing to eat, how uncomfortable he/she would be if he/she throw away food – for the rest of their lives.

It also explains about why the whole generation (above 60 in age) went along from the Culture Revolution have such a strong sense of “insecurity”. They save money, because they don’t know what may happen; they are very cautious to talk, because a political movement easily swipe their lives away. The more I learn about what they have experienced, the more I appreciate their decisions, and their behavior, and the more I understand about this country.

This is a scar in the heart of that generation. I saw it, but I didn’t realize why there is a scar before.

Public Holidays in China

This is to answer Lee’s question about how many public holidays there is in China.

Three Major Holidays

In China, there are three most important holidays: May Holiday (May 1 to May 7), National Holiday (October 1 to October 7), and Spring Festival (Date varies, but normally be late Jan or early Feb, and lasting for 7 days).

The public holiday is actually only 3 days for each of the three holidays, but people switched and put the previous weekend and the next weekend together to make it up to 7 continous holidays, and fixed the date to be May 1 to May 7, Oct 1 to Oct 7. For the Spring Festival, since it is the 1st day of the first month to the 7th day of the first month, and there is no fixed date.

New Years Day

Besides the 9 days, the New Year’s Day is also public holiday – one day off.

Others

There are other public holidays but only for some people.

March 8th is international women’s day. All women take half day off (afternoon).

May 4th is the Youth Day, and young people (middle school?) take one day off.

June 1st is the International Children’s Day. Chidren take 1 day off.

So in conclusion, there is 10 public holidays per year in China.

Shanghai Looks Similar to US, But…

Every time I am in San Jose, I meet with people who are genuinely interested in China. China is becoming hot topic here, and I was asked many questions. On one hand, I was amazed by how much people know about China (like some people visited very small cities in China, or some speaks really good Chinese), and also by how little people know about the history (especially the recent century) of China. Yesterday, over our dining table, we chatted about the change in China. 30 years ago, China was in such a chaos, that the culture revolution, and great leap forward ruined the dream, life, and sense of trust for the whole generation of people. When people see the prosperity of Shanghai, people didn’t see it, and didn’t realize how long it takes for the country to cure the pain of the last 30-40 years.

Currently, the economy reform changed the appearance of some cities, but the political reform never happened. Using the western logic combined with the fact people see may lead to wrong conclusion. For example, some people praised the city planning of Shanghai that it seems the planners reserved big area of central Greenland, and spaces for the elevated highway. The logic is, the government works the same way as western world, and the fact is, there are big public facilities in the downtown of the city. The result is, city planning is good. The fact part is correct, but the logic part is not. The government issued an order that all residents in the designated area MUST leave before the deadline. That resulted almost 1 million people moved out of downtown just for the Yunnan Elevated Highway, and Chengdu Elevated Highway. So it was not because of city planning, it was enforcement of government’s order, and sacrificing the interests of those property owners.

Many people I talked with didn’t understand why those residents cannot sue the government. Well. This just does not happen.

There are many things like this. The social architecture, how the government works, the history, and culture…. all these are different, and the image people see from outside is misleading. It takes time to learn both the fact (easier) and the logic/context around it. Hope all my visitors to Shanghai can take your time and learn both what it appeared, and why it appeared this way.

Let me re-post my story of “Six Blind Men and China” from previous entry, since the entry was quickly buried in the archive of entries.

It was six men in different part of the world, to learning much inclined,

who went to see China (Though all of them were blind),

that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached China, and, reading several piece of news

on Internet, at once began to bawl:

“God bless me! but China, is nothing but an evil country!”

The second visiting Shanghai the last year, cried:

“Ho! what an exciting experience. I like the food!

To me tis mighty clear, this wonder of China, is very like a paradise!”

The third approached the country, and, visiting the rural area,

“I see, “, quoth he, “China is the poorest country in the world!”

The fourth reached out his eager hand and set a branch of his international business:

“Why you still waste time here,” quoth he;

“Tis clear enough China is the powerhouse of the world economy!”

The fifth, who chanced to be have a bad life on this land, Said; “E’en the blindest man can tell what this resembles most;

Deny the fact who can, This marvel of China, is very like hell!”

The sixth kept a blog for 5 years, and also lived there,

“I see,” quothe he, “China is very like a good place for me!”

And so these men, disputed loud and long,

each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,

tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,

and prate about China, not one of them has seen!

Written by Jian Shuo Wang, based on the work of John Godfrey Saxe (1816 – 1887)

P.S. Today, I saw Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE for the first time.

The Blind Men and The Elephant

I love the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant most. It is interesting, inspirational, and helpful for me.

In the story, six blind men approached the elephant and each one of them only grasped part of the elephant. They argued with each other about what the elephant really looked like. They claim the elephant is like a wall, like spear, like a snake, like a tree, like a fan, or like a rope. Obviously they could not reach an agreement.

Several hundred years later, the story still repeat itself. People tend to understand only a tiny portion of Reality and then extrapolate all manner of dogmas from that, each claiming only his one is the correct version. This re-appeared a number of times in both Western and Oriental thought.

I also saw it on this blog. The most recent comments (like this) repeated the Blind Men and Elephant story. When I read comment like this, I never doubt that the person had touched part of the elephant. He/she did, but not all. Me? I am the same.

By knowing that every one can only see so small part of the world, and so small slice of time in history, we are even more curious and conciouse about the world. Being able to see only part of the world does not prevent us from forming an opinion, but we can do a much better job than the blind men. When we express our opinions, we can show some respect to others, and always remind ourselves that we only see part of the world.

Since I don’t have the confidence as many of my strong-minded commentors to claim I am the person who knows the whole world best, I can only write my own observation to the world. So here is the rule I used to write my blog: I don’t write down something I know is not true. This helps me to still have the courage to write, although I am conciouse that I may be expressing the incomplete view. For example, I did write about news on local newspaper. However, I didn’t experience it myself, or by my own eyes, the only thing I could confirm is, I read about a piece of news on newspaper. I believe even after 50 years, even the news itself may be prooved to be fake, it is still a solid truth that this kind of news ever appeared and reached a normal person in Shanghai. Isn’t it also a valuable piece of history record to show the daily life 50 years ago?

Just like The Diary of Anne Frank shows there is children’s dream and how Anne enjoys the little closet under Nazi, general perception is different than REAL people’s life.

Shanghai is such a big city, and there are so many people there. Everyone has a different life. Some is tough; some is good. Some people are always optimistic about life, and some are always sad and angry about the world. There are 16 million different lives Shanghai. I am 1/16 million of the city. I don’t think anyone can generalize what the life in the city is. I don’t like to call a certain type of life is “representitive” to the life in this city, because 16 million lives, including mine, are all unique, and meaningful.

If the six blind men can learn to appreciate other’s observation, and sit down around a table, and put other’s view to suppliment their own views, maybe they could draw a much closer view of the elephant, who knows.

In reality, since everyone is a blind man, I rely on my readers to comment and tell me what the same world look like, whether it’s like a fan, like a pole, like a wall, or something else.

That is the reason I enjoy the comments on my blog, no matter it is positive, negative, or different. I never delete people attacking me or China/Shanghai/Henan/Asia/(and sometime human as a whole) on this blog. I never doubt the sincerity when they write down the comment, because it was their true feeling. I understand that. What bothers me was the frustration people expressed when they argued on this blog. They tried too hard pusuade another blind man to agree with them, without listening first. Why the world should have only one view? Why cannot a subject be both red, and green, large and small, evil and good, happy and sad? Can these conflicting characters belong to the same thing? If we accept that there can be more than one answer to a question, we start to appreciate other’s answers.

Finally, let me tell you another great story, it is called “The Six Blind Men and China

It was six men in different part of the world, to learning much inclined,

who went to see China (Though all of them were blind),

that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached China, and, reading several piece of news

on Internet, at once began to bawl:

“God bless me! but China, is nothing but an evil country!”

The second visiting Shanghai the last year, cried:

“Ho! what an exciting experience. I like the food!

To me tis mighty clear, this wonder of China, is very like a paradise!”

The third approached the country, and, visiting the rural area,

“I see, “, quoth he, “China is the poorest country in the world!”

The fourth reached out his eager hand and set a branch of his international business:

“Why you still waste time here,” quoth he;

“Tis clear enough China is the powerhouse of the world economy!”

The fifth, who chanced to be have a bad life on this land, Said; “E’en the blindest man can tell what this resembles most;

Deny the fact who can, This marvel of China, is very like hell!”

The sixth kept a blog for 5 years, and also lived there,

“I see,” quothe he, “China is very like a good place for me!”

And so these men, disputed loud and long,

each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,

tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,

and prate about China, not one of them has seen!

Written by Jian Shuo Wang, based on the work of John Godfrey Saxe (1816 – 1887)

I am not a Big Fan of Hate – Part II

I posted the first part of this article – I am not a Big Fan of Hate…. I didn’t plan to write the second part, but the hot discussion (52 comments in a week) urged me not to let it go. It is a controversal topic, but also an opportunity for people around the world to express, to listen and to understand about history, war and peace.

Before I start the discussion, I have to put some disclaimers here. Please read before continue and especially before you post a comment.

Please try to be open, try to listen and think before you argue what you believe in, and try to be respectful to others

You are welcome to post your thoughts as a comment. Feel free to disagree with me or anyone else, but do NOT conduct any personal attack. If I found any comment that is attacking someone else as a person, or a nation, instead of his/her opinion, I will have to delete it for the sake of a healthy discussion. The rule is much more strict due to the controversy nature of the topic.

Enough for a disclaimer. Here are my thoughts. It does represent anyone else. Just my view of the world.

On History

I don’t want to pretend to know history, and I don’t want anyone to pretend that they know everything inside out. Everyone just know what they were told, and never know what they are not told yet.

Personally, I admit that the younger generation in China, me included, don’t know the history of China well. For my fellow citizens in China, wait a minute to fight back when you hear something you don’t agree. Just wait a minute to do that, because there are big part of history of China missing in our history book too.

This is my personal experience. I was so shocked during my three weeks in New York in 2004. I saw different versions of the same history which tell totally different story. I don’t completely believe in any of version yet, but the difference itself made me think deeply about what on earth the truth is.

In the past two years, I started to read books I don’t read before, and think hard about matters I didn’t think. What I do is to try to understand more. I don’t argue as I was before, since if the evidence part of the argue was what I was taught. When I started to doubt what I were taught, I need sometime (maybe several years) to re-establish what I believe in. It is the same for people in any country – Japan, U.S., European country – any country if they find another version of history they believe in.

It is painful to accept an another version of history of his/her own country. People tend to refuse to accept anything that is different from what they are taught when they were young. It requires both courage and wisdom to accept it.

On the textbook issue of Japan, I can imagine how a normal young person in Japan (maybe another blogger in Tokyo?) feel when they realize their country ever committed huge crime in another country. He/she may never know that before. I can also imagine how shock a normal person in China will be if he/she was told and convinced about the crime China committed in the past. I know it is painful process, but people have to go through it if we want peace in the future and don’t repeat the dark part of the history again. This is why I insist to open a communication channel instead of spreading out hate.

On War

In the discussion in the first part this article, people talked about war. Recently I watched some movies, and books about WWII. In the Germany v.s. other European countries war, for example, Hitler should be the enemy of not only other countries, but also of German people themselves. When we talk about history, we should not only complain about Germany. German people also victim of the war. It was the people who started the war that need to be complained, sentenced, and punished, not the people. They were taught about how bad Jew are, just as we were taught how people in some countries are.

What I worry about the current China is, hate spread like virus, and people believe by hating other countries, they demonstrate patriotism. The situation is so similar to Germany and Japan before WWII. If you ask me, I would stand out and stop the hate. I know many people will throw stones to my window in the current situation, but I keep doing that, because I believe it is the right thing to do for a better future of the country.

People hate because they are taught to hate. Those who taught the people to hate the other countries are dangerous. People who claim by devoting their lives to whatever the government told them to do are dangerous. Think of those Japanese soldiers and German soldiers in WWII – they claimed they love their country. Their love were so deep that they are even willing to kill thousands to demonstrate their hate. It happened in Japan, it happened in Germany, and please don’t happen again in China. This is what I read from history.

I don’t want to pretend to know history well. I just want to think independently, assembly the limited information I gathered, and seek to be closer to the truth.

Thanks for the comments on this blog. During the last four years, you may saw many comments related to history and to current China. Emotionally, I didn’t feel comfortable when people point their fingers to China (it is common reaction, isn’t it?), but it also gave me opportunities to check out why people say so, what version of history they read, and which version is more likely to be true.

On Love or Hate

The hate dominate logic already caused problems in China. For example, the discrimination of people in other places is a social problem. Some people in Shanghai don’t like people outside Shanghai. It is also true in Beijing, and many other cities. “Shanghai people or Beijing people, which is better?” This kind of discussion is hot on BBS, and is guaranteed to have 100+ replies whenever it is raised. People believe there must be a right answer. There is NO right answer because the question itself is wrong.

I love my family. It does not mean I have to hate my neighbour. I am proud about what people in Shanghai archived, but don’t perceive it as I look down upon people in other region. Can I love all? Why I have to choose only one and hate others?

I never hide my pride to be part of the amazing country of China, and being who I am. But it does not mean I cannot appreciate other countries.

OK. That are some of my random thoughts. I experienced hard time to figure it out, and still seeking for a better answer to many questions.

Your thoughts?

I am not a Big Fan of Hate…

I got an email. It encourages me to act as “a patriot”, and writing something to boycott Japanese goods. I don’t like to mention this topic. Since people asked, this is my personal opinion of why I don’t like to do that.

The Topic of Patriotism, or Love to my Country

It is trendy to spread one’s love to the country by showing how much they hate a foreign country or a foreigner. It is very common, especially in the younger generation in China. I don’t think some government are doing the right thing, but I am not a big fan of hating something.

Patriotism means love. It means genuinely love people in your hometown, around you. It means to love the places you live in, the relationship you have. It can mean many things, but all around love, instead of hate.

In the blogger conference in Hangzhou, I met many old friends, and when I write the blog, each vivid face appears in my mind, and I do enjoy being with them, and love the land where all these lovely people live on, and enjoy being part of them. This is my cultural identity that I enjoy to have. When I think about this, I feel so happy about being in China, and feel proud about it. I guess, this can be called a feeling of “patriot”, if you want to abstract it to that level.

However, for whatever reason, people not translate patriotism to hate to anything against China. It is right that one has the responsibility to keep one’s country safe, strong, and enjoyable, but it does not mean to harm other countries, or draw an evil image of another country. People should show more love to his/her own land, instead of hate to people on other land.

I am aware of history. I am clearly aware of history. However, it is exactly what I learnt from WWII that we should not start WWIII. Anything leading to that direction concerns me. There are a strong intention to start war or something on BBS in China. I simply not a big fan of it, and I am proud (instead of feel bad) of not thinking that way.

Well. That is a simple note about my stake on this issue. It is not political correct for many people, and I know if I post it onto any of Chinese BBS, it will make many people so comfortable (how sad!). However, it works for me. When I am thinking about love, I am willing to do a lot of things to make the people around me feel better. If I think about hate, I really don’t have the incentive to do some positive contribution to the small piece of land in this world I am living on.

I Don’t Know about China Visa

I received many questions about “How can I get China Visa from India”, or “My visa in China expires next month…”.

I am sorry but I have no idea about Chinese Visa. Obviously, I don’t need to have one, and there is no way for me to try out the procedures.

If you do have Chinese visa questions, you may TRY to post under this thread, and I believe many readers of this blog have the experience and can help. I am also curious about the steps to apply for a Chinese Visa. Please share and help. Thanks.

Slight Changes in “China”

Recently, I feel slight positive trends in China.

Resume from U.S.

3 years ago, if you’d asked me, “do you think it possible for foreign university graduates to apply jobs in Shanghai?” I would say “you are crazy”. But recently, I received many good resumes from top universities in U.S, like Stanford, or Chicago University, for jobs in Shanghai. On my blog, we also see the trends of more and more people coming to the country.

Also, people from China went aboard for study and even settled for years, and recently, they started to think to come back. I can easily write down a list of 10 of friends who came back to Shanghai in the last two years.

Quality of “Made in China”

I am not sure about this part. So I’d like to ask for your opinion. Some of my friends in the States told me, “Made in China” does not always mean cheap and low quality as before. Many goods from China means “high quality” and some means “not cheap” now. I read news that many OEM vendors in south China start to turn their huge manufacturing capacity to their own brands, instead of just manufacturing for orders.

Chinese Company’s Acquisition

This is also new. It starts with the Lenovo’s Acquisition of ThinkPad business from IBM. Recently, although the CNOOC’s acquisition attempt to Unocal Corp. was stopped by the U.S. congress, it is breaking news for me too.

It is the same. If you ask me “can you imagine these acquisition?” I would say, I believe it would happen, but didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.

I have More and More Foreign Goods in my Daily Life

We went to Carefour the other day, and bought many goods back home. After we are back, I found we bought the Florida’s Natural Orange Juice. They claimed it as 100% pure orange. We also got Australia milk. I didn’t notice it when we put them into our shopping cart.

I have been used to electronic goods from aboard, like TV, camera, and cars. But recently, I found more and more foods appear to be imported from outside.

Is it a sign of the entry of WTO? I am not an economist. I have no idea. It is just the small change I saw.

I Felt the Positive Trends

When I chatted with my friends who is younger than me (5 years or more younger), they are feel their future is promising and there is nothing to worry about. This is called “Confidence level”, right? It is also good.

This is a positive change. Changes happen slower than we expected. However, when it really happens, it seems faster than our anticipation.

It is too fast to draw the conclusion that the country is definitely going to the positive direction, but at least it shows some trends.

Disclaimer: When I talked with my friends in middle China, especially in villages, they showed completely negative expectation for the future. Some felt hopeless about future. The gap within the same country is big and obvious.

One Child Policy – Part II

Continued from this entry: One Child Policy in China

Well. I am back home. It is 23:44 Tuesday night, and I think it is the good time to get started to answer this big question.

The Disclaimer (I hate it but I have to)

Before I started, just put the disclaimer here, as I usually did.

This is just a personal blog, and what I am talking here only represents my CURRENT point of view. Not anybody else, not to mention the whole country. I emphasis that it is the current point of view, because any one’s POV may change after he/she is exposed to more data, and has more experience, including me. Also, I am not a consultant, and I don’t want to pretend to know China well. I was born in small city in China, and lived there for 18 years before I moved to Shanghai about 10 years ago. I didn’t see the whole China, even didn’t see enough about Shanghai. I promise I don’t put anything I know is not true on this blog, but I am not saying whatever I believe is true is the truth.

OK. Enough about the disclaim. One problem people in this world have is, by reading newspaper, people claim they know a lot.

Just another off-topic story. My friends told me when he just went to Germany, he only see China appeared on movie or TV station as a poor country. He saw ugly stuff that he never saw in China. He complained why they didn’t introduce city like Shanghai or Beijing or any “good places”. He complained about the lack of completeness of the media there. He complained they didn’t know about China. Later, he finally realized it was him who didn’t see China completely. I always wanted to avoid his mistake when we talk about topics about my country.

One Child Policy

Here is how the one child policy came into being (from the story I heard or read). In the year 1949, China has about 400 – 500 million people. Guided by the theory of “the more people, the stronger we are”, people are encouraged to have as many children as they can. It was of greatest honor to have more children in one’s family in the next 30 years. By the time Deng Xiaoping started to focus more on development of economy instead of population, China is already way ahead affordable people – that is about one billion. So one child policy was introduced.

I have two brothers. I am the youngest one in my family. I was born in Oct in the year of 1977. The One Child Policy came out the same year, about 2 months before I was born, and was enforced in the year 1979 (at least in the place I was born, based on what I heard). So it is not common for people younger than me to have any brothers or sisters.

The Problem One Child Policy Caused

The facts part of many reports are true. (This sentence implies I don’t totally agree on the conclusion part.) The one child policy was enforced from city to villages, and was even violately enforced in some extreme cases.

From what I can feel (again, not what a social expert or economist sees it), it caused at least two problems.

1) Spoiled children.

It is common belief that the generation gap between 1979 and 1980 is much bigger than other gaps (this is just the common point of view in my friend circle of about 100 persons, not necessarily represents the whole country). We guess the reason may be, the generation starting from 1980 don’t have brothers or sisters. They are the only child of a couple, and the only grandchild of two couples. They are treated as “little emperor” inside the family, but fell lonely deep in heart.

I don’t worry about this too much though. Every generation worry about the next generation, with no exception in the last few thousands years. It is how the history works. So I don’t worry about this part. They will figure it out.

2) Old Society Problem.

When the one child policy approaches the third generation (in recent years), people find one child needs to support two parents and 4 grandparents. When they get married, one couple needs to support 4 parents and 8 grandparents. That will cause big problem.

The Recent Change in Policy

In the recent years, big changes have been introduced to the policy. More and more people can have two children. From what I see, it is clear that the policy has almost completed its mission to correct the mistake people made in the last half century and starts to retire.

For example, if both the husband and wife are the only one-child in his family, they can have two children.

I visited the rural area last year, and saw big posters to list about 14 (or some number like this) situations under which people can have two children. I cannot recall all of them. It basically said if it is reasonable to start have two children, people can have two children.

In Shanghai, and many places, the one child policy is not that enforced as before. Previously, the fine for having the second child was twice the annual income of the family (I heard about this but didn’t find any document or regulation about this yet). And the biggest punishment was much more that money. In the old 1980’s, to have the second child practically ruin the future of the couple, and even ruin the future of many related people – like the head of the unit (employer) or the head of the town/village.

Currently, it was not that big a problem. Attempt to find change in regulations or laws will fail, since you can only feel this change, instead of see it.

Government official said they are reviewing the one-child policy and are considering opening it up, but it is a bad idea to open it in one year or two, since it will cause a birth peak that no hospital, school, labor market or government services can handle.

What is MY opinion and What am I Doing

It is always hard to let people understand the *real* situation in China. I know friends from outside China who showed understanding of the policy to some extend (of cause not everyone) after their first visit to China.

Looking back of the history, there are so many mistakes in this country, and we need to solve the problems caused by these mistakes. If you ask me, I share the shame of the country as well as the glory. I am embarrassed to see the mistakes the government made, and is making. That is my opinion.

To say “I hate China” or “I am out of here” is easy for many people, if they are not part of the country. But it is not possible for me. No matter how messy the problems of history left to us as a generation, or how difficult it is to change the current situation, we are the people to solve it, right?

If you are with me long enough on this blog, you will understand I don’t like talking. Sorry I didn’t mentioned news just for sake of news on this blog, unless I can do something on my side. This is what I am doing, to tell history and to setup the bridge for the two worlds (Western and eastern) or even more worlds (every country is a world) to talk. I have no interest or ambition to save the world. I am only interested in and enjoy about helping just one person or two persons. That is good enough for me. Otherwise, I may quit blogging three years ago.

Back to the Investment Question

I think I don’t need to put the disclaimer of “this is not an investment suggestion” stuff here. (Sorry for over reacting, but there is just too high expectation for me to speak as a spokesperson or a journalist)

My immediate answer is, don’t worry about this problem. Yes. I am very sure. “Don’t worry about it”.

China has much bigger problems than this. I would even ignore this if you want me to talk about bigger problems. Wall Streets and New York Times are talking about these problems every week.

We still invest although we know the global warming presents the risk of flooding many cities or even countries, and we keep investing even when we know the oil will be used up within 50 years. When we talk about problems, it is big. However, there are the right people thinking about solutions. I believe human being has survived by overcoming one challenge after the other, and so does a country.

I am not saying One-Child Policy is not a problem. It is. This policy is being abandened. That is the solution.

Suggestions

Pete, thanks for the questions, and suggestions you provided. I don’t have the knowledge to judge whether it is valid or it is impractical in China. What I do know is, the solution part is quite eye-opening for me. I never thought about these solutions or heard about it. For example, opening immigration policy to people in Asia and western world seems very new to me.

China is among very few countries that has continuous history in the last 4000 years. Many problems are much more complicated than people thought. Many problems were caused by mistakes in history (like over-population in 1960’s), but more problems were created by solving those old problems (like one child policy). The solution to solve the problem caused by one-child policy may not be abandoning it immediately. Based on my limited knowledge about sociology, I can imagine what will happen if the birth rate suddenly raises by 500%.

The situation of thousands of problems mixed together is much harder to handle. I am not saying the current solution is the right now. To be honest, I am so embarrassed when the Chinese government was challenged for doing stupid things. At the same time, just because I love the country, and I am part of it, I cannot simply pointing fingers like foreigners do.

P.S. Lessons Learnt in Simulatoin City game

On energy, for example, I learnt something when I was put into the mayor’s position in the Simulation City game. It is a computer game. In it, you are given a piece of land, and 50,000 USD to develop a city. In order to have any resident to live there, you need to have water supply, electricity and roads. There are six types of power station for electricity. The cheapest and relatively powerful one is the coal-based electricity station. It cost 5,000 USD, but it pollute the environment. The cleaner enegry is the nuclear electricity station. It cost 250,000 USD, 5 times more than the money I have.

To get started with the game, you have to build a coal-based station first with the limited money (the other 45,000 need to be used build a lot of other stuff). When people start to live on the land, you can collect tax, and do trading. 20 years after the city was built (in the game), I finally accumulated enough money (about 380,000), and I made the decision to get rid of the two coal-based stations, and built a nuclear station.

In many places in China, it is in similar situation. Everyone knows a much better solution, but that solution has a condition, that people need to get started to build the conditions first. We cannot take it for granted that we have that. If I am not misleading, the history of many countries are similiar. So just give the country mroe patience to solve the problems.

P.S. 1:03 AM now. Didn’t do spelling check or grammer check on this entry yet. I welcome open discussion on this topic, both positive or negative comments are welcome. I am not discouraged when someone correct me and let me know more about this world.

One Child Policy in China

Pete raised a very good topic about the One Child Policy and the decision of investing in China or not. Here is Pete’s first post.

Also– Jian Shuo Wang, this is a little off-topic but I had a question myself. I was at a business conference recently where an international consultant was speaking– he’s one of these people that gives advice to American businesses, on where to invest abroad.

Anyway, he said something that shocked me quite a bit. Many of us have been planning investment in China for a while, but this consultant– who used to be a Chinese investor himself– is now advising all of us to avoid investing in China and to focus instead on Latin America, India and Vietnam. The reason for his advice, he stated, is China’s One Child Policy– he said China should get rid of it immediately, within maybe two years, or the investment consultants in the USA are going to recommend that US companies pull all their money out of China.

I don’t know whether he’s right or wrong, but he’s a very important and respected retail business consultant, and he said that China now has the world’s worst demographics, possibly the worst in history, due to the One Child Policy. He said the policy has caused China’s birth rate to plummet rapidly to about 1.6, way below replacement level very suddenly, causing a rapidly aging population with too few young workers to support the senior citizens. In fact, he said China is getting old before getting rich, thus getting old faster than any other country in history. He also said the problem’s even worse since some minorities in China (like the Muslim Uighurs if I recall correctly) do not have to worry about the Policy, only the ethnic Chinese, so the Muslim population in China rises rapidly while the Chinese fall in population, leading to further ethnic conflict. Moreover, he said that due to One Child Policy, China now has a massive excess of boys to girls, which can lead to wars in later decades. He said that due to the One Child Policy, China will probably suffer a massive economic collapse by about the year 2025.

He said that China should instead focus on better education and health care, which would naturally reduce birth rate while improving the Chinese economy, while discontinuing the One Child Policy. He said Chinese population should stabilize gradually to replacement, not fall rapidly like this.

Now, I’m raising this issue, because frankly, I don’t know whether he’s right or not. I always thought the China One Child Policy was applied only in the big cities like Shanghai, not in the countryside, so people in rural and suburban China, and in the small cities, can still have large families with many kids. Also, I thought people who wanted more than one child could easily overcome the policy, just pay a small fine or hide their kids or something. In other words, I thought China still had a relatively high birth rate.

But now, this consultant has gotten me concerned. I myself have been planning to invest about $10 million in China, and my fellow businessmen at the conference wanted to invest as well, so this is possibly $1 billion that we’re planning to invest in China, but now we’re unsure whether to do it. Honestly, if that consultant is correct, then we’re not going to invest in China. But, I’m not sure if he is correct.

This is your chance to prove him wrong. If I don’t hear any refutations of that consultant, then I’m changing my plans, and I won’t be investing in China. But if you can convince me he’s wrong or that the One Child Policy is changing, then I’ll put my money back into the Chinese retail market. I just need better information, and I figured that you might know something.

Posted by: Pete on June 18, 2006 09:01 PM

Second related post:

Jian Shuo Wang,

OK, now I’m *really* worried. A friend sent me a link that further talks about some concerning things regarding China’s One Child Policy, from a business perspective:

http://tinyurl.com/kq838

Look, this is very serious, and I’d like to have more solid, knowledgeable, accurate information on this. I don’t know whether this article is right or wrong, but if it’s true, then the One Child Policy– if it continues for several more years– is going to be doing tremendous damage to China’s economy within about 15-20 years, and if true, then I and thousands of my business colleagues are not going to be investing in China. We’ll be putting our money into places like India and Vietnam instead. I actually think the One Child Policy was a smart idea for China for a while, as it slowed population growth and probably helped China’s environment and urban planning to proceed at a more manageable pace back in the 1980’s. But it’s not supposed to be a permanent policy, and if this article is correct, then the Policy is doing more harm than good.

As Shrek7 was pointing out, it takes years– in fact, often more than a decade– for a business, especially if invested in a foreign country, to become profitable. For us to feel confident about investing in China, we have to feel confident about the economy’s long-term prospects there, and if the One Child Policy continues, we’re not going to have that confidence. Again, I’m still not sure how accurate that article is, but if it is accurate about the effects of the Policy, there are three big concerns that we as foreign investors in China have to worry about:

1. The elderly-to-worker dependency ratio. China and all other countries do have to stabilize their population, for the sake of the world environment, we understand that. But when stabilizing a large population, the best way to do it is similar to the best way that you stop a car in a snowstorm, if it’s skidding on ice on the road– you do it gradually so that you come to a smooth stop and then keep moving on the road. If you slam the brakes on too fast, then you skid like crazy and flip over, off the road.

We’re worried that with the One Child Policy, China has slammed the brakes on too fast, with China’s population aging faster than any other in history. The One Child Policy focuses too much on sheer numbers and not enough on the population and age distribution– you need to have a reasonable number of young workers, and not too great an excess of retired elderly. I realize that China can do things like raising the retirement age (to, e.g., 72 or so) and encourage people to work longer while they’re healthy before receiving pensions, also helping elderly people to stay healthy and productive, but you still need a decent ratio of young workers to have a good economy. As the economy and education improve, people prefer small families and the population stabilizes gradually, anyway.

If the One Child Policy has indeed sent the Chinese birth rate plummeting to 1.6 or 1.7 suddenly and creating a vast excess of elderly, then this is obviously not a formula for a healthy economy– if China is filled with hundreds of millions more retired elderly than young workers, then the country’s savings would be depleted and business would grind to a halt. As businesses especially in the retail sector (dependent on consumer savings and spending), we’re not going to invest our money into such a country.

2. The male:female ratio. This article and others, are implying that in much of China, the male:female ratio at birth has hit something like *130:100* due to the One-Child Policy. For rural families especially, if they’re forced to have only one child, then they’ll want a boy to help out on the farm– whereas if they can have more children, they don’t worry about this so much since they’ll have roughly equal numbers of boys and girls.

If true, this is unacceptable and it could be disastrous for China in about a generation, and we won’t invest our money there. Societies in history with large excesses of men or women have almost always been politically and economically unstable– you really need to have a roughly 50:50 ratio of each sex. Otherwise, China in 15 years for example, might be having a massive excess of young men to young women, with the result being that hundreds of millions of young Chinese men wind up not being able to find a woman to marry. Societies like this almost always have massive social problems when they have millions of embittered young men without partners– higher crime, increased warlike tendencies, depression, generalized social dysfunction. I realize that people can partially make up for the imbalance by e.g. importing brides from places like Vietnam, the Philippines or Korea, but this is a very limited solution. A society with this sex imbalance is probably not stable, and it’s not a good place to invest our money.

3. The differential birth rate problem. The consultant warned us that Xinjiang is a “demographic and political time bomb” since the Han Chinese are subject to the One Child Policy while the Muslim Uyghurs are not. So the Han have only one child per couple, while the Muslims have 5 or 6. I once read an article on this and history has shown how dangerous it is. Serbia lost Kosovo because the Serbs were having only one child while the Albanian Muslims were having 7-8 kids per couple. Shiite Muslims have a much higher birth rate than other groups in Lebanon which has made them close to a majority. The US Southwest is re-acquiring its Mexican and Latino culture and character since Latinos have a much higher birth rate than whites. (Southwestern states like California, Arizona and Texas were actually part of Mexico for many centuries, but the US invaded Mexico in the US-Mexican War and seized half of Mexico’s territory in 1848, which is why those territories are now part of the US.)

With the selective One-Child Policy, according to this consultant, China is producing its own Kosovo in Xinjiang. It would be a much better idea to have a uniform policy for everyone, also try and integrate more Uyghurs into the larger economy and make them less reliant on agriculture, help them find good jobs both within and outside of Xinjiang, and so on.

The result? If these articles and the consultant’s warnings are true, then the One Child Policy, if continued for several more years, is forcing China into a massive demographic, economic and political crisis in a few decades, and we’re not going to invest our money there. We’ll put our money into places like India instead.

Notice that this has absolutely nothing to do with the numbers of English-speakers that India has. English proficiency is by far the single most overrated and useless factor in attracting foreign investment. As retailers especially, we couldn’t care less whether workers in India or China become fluent in English or French or German or whatever– obviously, we’d be hiring mostly among the local people, and we’d be selling our products to them in the local languages and dialects, whether Mandarin in China or Hindi, Bengali, Tamil or the other local languages in India. Training more English-speakers in China would do absolutely nothing to help increase confidence among us foreign investors.

On the other hand, we do care a lot about demographics in China over the next 20-30 years, and India, for all its flaws, has much better demographics than China, if these articles are true. India’s population growth is also slowing rapidly, but at a more gradual pace overall than China, and it’s due to voluntary measures– like better education and availability of contraceptives– in India, rather than forced measures like the One Child Policy, which don’t necessarily help to increase wealth but force population growth down too fast. Thus, India is starting to look like a better place for us to invest our money in the coming decades, unless China soon changes the One Child Policy.

It’s funny, because as I’ve been writing this, another old friend of mine has written to suggest that the articles on the One Child Policy *are* flawed. He’s confirming my initial hunches– that the Policy really doesn’t apply much to rural regions, that the Policy is not really enforced much, that wealthy urban couples just pay the fine and have 2-3 kids if they want, that people just hide their kids or migrate if they have e.g. 5 or 6 in the countryside. He also says that China’s true fertility rate is much higher than the official figures since the official numbers underestimate it– rather than 1.6-1.7, it’s more like a little above 2.1, at replacement levels. If he’s right, then maybe things are OK. But I admit, I’m frankly confused right now. And the truth is, most of my business colleagues have been hearing the very scary things about the One Child Policy from the consultants and the articles, and if the One Child Policy goes on for a couple more years, they’re going to lose confidence in China and invest their money elsewhere.

Please don’t ignore this post, please don’t shuffle it around or disregard this issue as unimportant and talk about trivial things. We’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars (or Euros) in investment here from US and European companies. We’d like to invest a lot of it in China, but the One Child Policy is making us nervous. Honestly, a lot of us are confused and we hear a lot of contradictory information. How does the policy actually work? Can you chart out myths and truths about it? If the One Child Policy has forced fertility down too rapidly and caused China’s population to age too fast– which would be a very bad thing, as I explained above– are the Chinese authorities in the process of changing and loosening the policy, to encourage voluntary small families (and better economic growth and infrastructure improvement) instead? I’d greatly appreciate clarification here.

Posted by: Pete on June 19, 2006 04:36 PM

The third very good effort to find out solutions to the problems.

Well, I always tell my employees who are complaining about one problem or another, that when they’re done complaining, they should try to be productive and suggest solutions. I guess that applies to me as well, so in the spirit of trying to be mildly productive and offer helpful ideas, I’ll put myself in the shoes of a Chinese policy planner– please feel free to use this for a separate topic if you want.

I admit that I don’t have all the information here and I’d like to have more accurate data. But if I were consulted to draft a population, immigration, development, environment and nutritional policy for China– which stabilizes population but preserves economic growth and the environment (while encouraging investment from people like us)– the following 5 ideas are what I would suggest:

1. Instead of the forced One Child Policy, set up voluntary measures to encourage small families instead. Help to improve education throughout the country even in the rural areas, encourage more people to study advanced subjects at university, to become wealthy, to start towns and cities. Better education and economic improvement naturally lead people to have smaller families, down to replacement level stabilization. Furthermore, this would help China to become wealthier with a better-educated population.

2. Invest in pro-environmental technologies like reforestation, renewable energy sources, enriched crops with nutrients (like the “Golden Rice” that has extra Vitamin A), more energy-efficient technologies that require less electricity to deliver higher output, re-utilization of industrial wastes, vaccines and desalination of seawater. Minimize pollution of water sources and reduce the amount of lead in pipes and homes– which causes intellectual deficits and brain damage in children. The cleaner, less polluted and healthier China is, the more effective the Chinese economy will be. These will help China to have a firm, sustainable industrial economy and help to cushion the effects of rapid economic growth, while increasing health and providing for clean water, air, fruits, vegetables and grains for the population.

3. Provide more incentives for China’s vast population of emigrants in the US, Europe and Australia– including highly educated people who have graduated from top universities– to return home to China and apply their skills to strengthening China’s economy. Many of the “sea turtles” have been returning, but far too few. China has been losing too many of its best-educated and most capable young people abroad, and this, again, discourages us foreign investors from putting money into China. However, if more of these overseas Chinese are lured back in– with e.g. offers for nice jobs with high pay, their own labs and start-up capital for companies– then they’ll boost China’s economy tremendously, boost up creativity, help initiate Nobel Prize-winning work and innovative projects, and other big benefits. This sort of thing further helps to stabilize China’s population in the best way, while maintaining strong economic growth.

4. Encourage educated Westerners– as well as 2nd-generation and 3rd-generation Chinese and other Asian immigrants in the USA, Europe and Australia– to work or even settle in China. Help to spread Chinese language education at Western universities and provide overseas scholarships to talented Westerners to study and work in Chinese schools and companies, especially if they’re familiar with Mandarin. Again, this sort of thing can help to bring in further talent to help solve Chinese ecological and demographic problems more effectively.

5. Finally, and also very important– try to provide incentives and rewards for immigration of skilled workers from elsewhere in Asia to study, train, work, settle and start families in China, and assume Chinese citizenship. In particular, developing countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Burma have an enormous skilled talent pool that likes to go abroad for further education or even immigration, but current Chinese laws bar these skilled people from studying and working in China, where they could be a tremendous resource for the Chinese economy and their own. Vietnamese engineers, Filipino nurses and doctors, Thai businesspeople, Korean scientists, Burmese metalworkers– I’ve met these people and lots would like to work in China, but because of Chinese immigration restrictions, they can’t enter China or gain Chinese citizenship, so they go to Western countries in place of China. This is a tremendous loss of talent and human capital for the Chinese economy, which should instead be attracting such people.

Instead, China should open up its immigration laws to skilled workers from other Asian countries, who could meet shortages in the Chinese economy while getting extra training in Chinese universities and businesses. Obviously, China would also benefit from further encouraging Chinese language acquisition in these countries. In turn, these migrants from elsewhere in Asia would help their home countries by sending remittances back home, while using their extra training and returning home (in some cases) or staying in China and helping to foster business partnerships between China and their home countries.

I’ve read some other ideas like this, e.g. a “responsible family initiative” that’s been floating around, but I think this sort of a proposal helps to both stabilize population and maximize economic growth while protecting the environment, health and nutrition for the people. Again, I’m just a guy with my own partial information set here, but I genuinely admire China and would like the country to succeed– both for the country’s own sake and as a potential market for foreign investment. China could really become a model country, an example of how to grow and develop successfully, and hopefully some of my own suggestions might prove helpful for this.

Posted by: Pete on June 19, 2006 04:47 PM

Sorry to be late to response to this important topic. I tend to think deep and completely before I send out some not-so-solid suggestion. Unfortunately, it needs much more time than posting “travel-helping” information like weather.

Let me do this. I have posted Pete’s question in this entry, so we can start the discussion. I promise when I find more time, one hour, for example, I will get back to this thread to post what I think. (Disclaimer: it is what I think, and it may not be the true, or not a complete picture).

I feel happy that we have so good topics and so involved discussion on this blog. Thanks Pete. I will be back. While I am not involved, I invite everyone to share your perspective on this topic.

Update Tuesday, June 20, 2005

Continues from this entry: One Child Policy in China

Well. I am back home. It is 23:44 Tuesday night, and I think it is the good time to get started to answer this big question.

The Disclaimer (I hate it but I have to)

Before I started, just put the disclaimer here, as I usually did.

This is just a personal blog, and what I am talking here only represents my CURRENT point of view. Not anybody else, not to mention the whole country. I emphasis that it is the current point of view, because any one’s POV may change after he/she is exposed to more data, and has more experience, including me. Also, I am not a consultant, and I don’t want to pretend to know China well. I was born in small city in China, and lived there for 18 years before I moved to Shanghai about 10 years ago. I didn’t see the whole China, even didn’t see enough about Shanghai. I promise I don’t put anything I know is not true on this blog, but I am not saying whatever I believe is true is the truth.

OK. Enough about the disclaim. One problem people in this world have is, by reading newspaper, people claim they know a lot.

Just another off-topic story. My friends told me when he just went to Germany, he only see China appeared on movie or TV station as a poor country. He saw ugly stuff that he never saw in China. He complained why they didn’t introduce city like Shanghai or Beijing or any “good places”. He complained about the lack of completeness of the media there. He complained they didn’t know about China. Later, he finally realized it was him who didn’t see China completely. I always wanted to avoid his mistake when we talk about topics about my country.

One Child Policy

Here is how the one child policy came into being (from the story I heard or read). In the year 1949, China has about 400 – 500 million people. Guided by the theory of “the more people, the stronger we are”, people are encouraged to have as many children as they can. It was of greatest honor to have more children in one’s family in the next 30 years. By the time Deng Xiaoping started to focus more on development of economy instead of population, China is already way ahead affordable people – that is about one billion. So one child policy was introduced.

I have two brothers. I am the youngest one in my family. I was born in Oct in the year of 1977. The One Child Policy came out the same year, about 2 months before I was born, and was enforced in the year 1979 (at least in the place I was born, based on what I heard). So it is not common for people younger than me to have any brothers or sisters.

The Problem One Child Policy Caused

The facts part of many reports are true. (This sentence implies I don’t totally agree on the conclusion part.) The one child policy was enforced from city to villages, and was even violately enforced in some extreme cases.

From what I can feel (again, not what a social expert or economist sees it), it caused at least two problems.

1) Spoiled children.

It is common belief that the generation gap between 1979 and 1980 is much bigger than other gaps (this is just the common point of view in my friend circle of about 100 persons, not necessarily represents the whole country). We guess the reason may be, the generation starting from 1980 don’t have brothers or sisters. They are the only child of a couple, and the only grandchild of two couples. They are treated as “little emperor” inside the family, but fell lonely deep in heart.

I don’t worry about this too much though. Every generation worry about the next generation, with no exception in the last few thousands years. It is how the history works. So I don’t worry about this part. They will figure it out.

2) Old Society Problem.

When the one child policy approaches the third generation (in recent years), people find one child needs to support two parents and 4 grandparents. When they get married, one couple needs to support 4 parents and 8 grandparents. That will cause big problem.

The Recent Change in Policy

In the recent years, big changes have been introduced to the policy. More and more people can have two children. From what I see, it is clear that the policy has almost completed its mission to correct the mistake people made in the last half century and starts to retire.

For example, if both the husband and wife are the only one-child in his family, they can have two children.

I visited the rural area last year, and saw big posters to list about 14 (or some number like this) situations under which people can have two children. I cannot recall all of them. It basically said if it is reasonable to start have two children, people can have two children.

In Shanghai, and many places, the one child policy is not that enforced as before. Previously, the fine for having the second child was twice the annual income of the family (I heard about this but didn’t find any document or regulation about this yet). And the biggest punishment was much more that money. In the old 1980’s, to have the second child practically ruin the future of the couple, and even ruin the future of many related people – like the head of the unit (employer) or the head of the town/village.

Currently, it was not that big a problem. Attempt to find change in regulations or laws will fail, since you can only feel this change, instead of see it.

Government official said they are reviewing the one-child policy and are considering opening it up, but it is a bad idea to open it in one year or two, since it will cause a birth peak that no hospital, school, labor market or government services can handle.

What is MY opinion and What am I Doing

It is always hard to let people understand the *real* situation in China. I know friends from outside China who showed understanding of the policy to some extend (of cause not everyone) after their first visit to China.

Looking back of the history, there are so many mistakes in this country, and we need to solve the problems caused by these mistakes. If you ask me, I share the shame of the country as well as the glory. I am embarrassed to see the mistakes the government made, and is making. That is my opinion.

To say “I hate China” or “I am out of here” is easy for many people, if they are not part of the country. But it is not possible for me. No matter how messy the problems of history left to us as a generation, or how difficult it is to change the current situation, we are the people to solve it, right?

If you are with me long enough on this blog, you will understand I don’t like talking. Sorry I didn’t mentioned news just for sake of news on this blog, unless I can do something on my side. This is what I am doing, to tell history and to setup the bridge for the two worlds (Western and eastern) or even more worlds (every country is a world) to talk. I have no interest or ambition to save the world. I am only interested in and enjoy about helping just one person or two persons. That is good enough for me. Otherwise, I may quit blogging three years ago.

Back to the Investment Question

I think I don’t need to put the disclaimer of “this is not an investment suggestion” stuff here. (Sorry for over reacting, but there is just too high expectation for me to speak as a spokesperson or a journalist)

My immediate answer is, don’t worry about this problem. Yes. I am very sure. “Don’t worry about it”.

China has much bigger problems than this. I would even ignore this if you want me to talk about bigger problems. Wall Streets and New York Times are talking about these problems every week.

We still invest although we know the global warming presents the risk of flooding many cities or even countries, and we keep investing even when we know the oil will be used up within 50 years. When we talk about problems, it is big. However, there are the right people thinking about solutions. I believe human being has survived by overcoming one challenge after the other, and so does a country.

I am not saying One-Child Policy is not a problem. It is. This policy is being abandened. That is the solution.

Suggestions

Pete, thanks for the questions, and suggestions you provided. I don’t have the knowledge to judge whether it is valid or it is impractical in China. What I do know is, the solution part is quite eye-opening for me. I never thought about these solutions or heard about it. For example, opening immigration policy to people in Asia and western world seems very new to me.

China is among very few countries that has continuous history in the last 4000 years. Many problems are much more complicated than people thought. Many problems were caused by mistakes in history (like over-population in 1960’s), but more problems were created by solving those old problems (like one child policy). The solution to solve the problem caused by one-child policy may not be abandoning it immediately. Based on my limited knowledge about sociology, I can imagine what will happen if the birth rate suddenly raises by 500%.

The situation of thousands of problems mixed together is much harder to handle. I am not saying the current solution is the right now. To be honest, I am so embarrassed when the Chinese government was challenged for doing stupid things. At the same time, just because I love the country, and I am part of it, I cannot simply pointing fingers like foreigners do.

P.S. Lessons Learnt in Simulatoin City game

On energy, for example, I learnt something when I was put into the mayor’s position in the Simulation City game. It is a computer game. In it, you are given a piece of land, and 50,000 USD to develop a city. In order to have any resident to live there, you need to have water supply, electricity and roads. There are six types of power station for electricity. The cheapest and relatively powerful one is the coal-based electricity station. It cost 5,000 USD, but it pollute the environment. The cleaner enegry is the nuclear electricity station. It cost 250,000 USD, 5 times more than the money I have.

To get started with the game, you have to build a coal-based station first with the limited money (the other 45,000 need to be used build a lot of other stuff). When people start to live on the land, you can collect tax, and do trading. 20 years after the city was built (in the game), I finally accumulated enough money (about 380,000), and I made the decision to get rid of the two coal-based stations, and built a nuclear station.

In many places in China, it is in similar situation. Everyone knows a much better solution, but that solution has a condition, that people need to get started to build the conditions first. We cannot take it for granted that we have that. If I am not misleading, the history of many countries are similiar. So just give the country mroe patience to solve the problems.

P.S. 1:03 AM now. Didn’t do spelling check or grammer check on this entry yet. I welcome open discussion on this topic, both positive or negative comments are welcome. I am not discouraged when someone correct me and let me know more about this world.

P.S. 2. I started a new entry here to make the entry shorter.

Hukou System in China

It is not easy to realize how strange it is when you live in an existing system, but when you have the chance to talk with people from other countries, you realize the huge difference.

I enjoyed my talk with my great friends tonight, and we talked about the Resident Permit (Hokou) system in China. To be honest, I didn’t feel it too strange before I explained it with my own mouth. After that, even I think it is not reasonable at all, and astonished to hear what came out of my own mouth. Let me explain it to you.

What is Hukou

Hukou is basically a resident permit given by the government of China. It is issued on family basis. Every family have a Hukou booklet that records information about the family members, including name, birth date, relationship with each other, marriage status (and with whom if married), address and your employer…

Everyone has a Hukou in China.

Hukou before 1980

Before 1980, Hukou is extremely important. People are required to stay at the small area they were born (where the Hukou is), and stay there until they die. They cannot move around. They can travel, but there is no access to job, public services, education, or even food in other places. It is just like visiting other places with a B-1 (business) type of visa – you can visit, but cannot work there (it is illegal), cannot go to school (not accepted), cannot go to hospital (without a hukou, you are not treated). For food, in those old days, you cannot buy food no matter how much money you have. You need to use Liangpiao (The currency for food) with money together to get food. Liangpiao is only issued by the government of the place your Hukou is registered. So basically, you can survive with the Liangpiao you get for some days, but not long (especially taken the consideration that Liangpiao issued by one province or city cannot be used in another province or city).

So basically, at that time, without Hukou, people cannot move. There are very few people move around in the country, but their status is practically the same as illegal immigrants in U.S.

To move Hukou from one place to other is very hard – just as hard as getting green card for U.S. It is even harder to move from rural area to city – basically, there are too types of Hukou, one is rural Hukou, and the other is city Hukou. To move from rural to rural is easier, but to move from rural to city is very hard – it takes years. Only in very few situations does the change happen: 1) You enter a university in city, or 2) You marriage someone in city. Both of the cases, you need to wait for a long period of time to get it. There is limited Hukou open every year, so you need to compete to get it.

Hukou after 1980

After the year of 1980, a lot of things change. In practice, Hukou is not enforced as strong as before. The starting point is that Liangpiao is not required to buy food – money along work. For work, there are still huge difference for people with a Hukou or without a Hukou (the same till today), but it is possible to move.

This made it possible for many immigrant workers to leave their land and go to cities to seek for labor-intensive work. Typical works are workers in texile factory, consitruction workers, and nannies. However, the education of their children is still a big problem. They cannot receive education as other children, so some places, they setup school only for people without Hukou (immigrant worker school). Personally, I feel it even bad than the old “black and white seperation” policy.

Today

Today, Hukou does not play that important role as before, but there are still a lot of difference. Here are some examples:

1) Medical Insurance. For example, people living in Shanghai without Shanghai Hukou are not covered by social medical insurance. If the person get ill, he/she needs to pay for it by him/herself. This is not a big deal though, since more and more commercial insurance can help on this.

2) Job. Many job only opens to people with Shanghai Hukou. This is some type of discrimination, but some employers have to do that because there are still difference by the regulation.

3) Safety. Guangzhou is an extreme case. Four years ago, when I visited Guangzhou, my friends told me to bring my national ID card with me at any time. Police may stop anyone at any time on the street to check the ID card. If they find the address of the ID card is not in Guangzhou, and the person don’t have a temp resident permit, they have the right to detain the person and return him/her to their place of origin. This is the common practice in many cities. This regulation was abandoned as late as 2003, when a guy named Sun Zhigang was beaten to death during the detain period of time.

Hukou and Me

Hukou has a high impact for me. I didn’t go to kindergarten in my whole life, since at the time I moved to city at the age of 5, I didn’t get my Hukou yet. It took long time to get it, so the kindergarten refused to accept me. I stayed at home until I am 7 and got Hukou. If I didn’t got Hukou at that time, the risk was, I could not even go to primary school. This is a real story.

From my primary school to the end of my high school (1982 – 1995), my Hukou is at Luoyang. When I entered Shanghai Jiaotong University, my Hukou was transferred temporarily to SJTU for four years. When I graduated, it was a critical period of time that I have to find a local high-tech job, and I was qualified for the limited number of open Hukou positions. The standards are high – you have to be in certain major, with good record, and hired by compaines in certain area. It works exactly as how immigration works in Canada or U.S. Back to my story, I obtained the Shanghai Hukou. Then I transferred my Hukou from the university to a place in Shanghai (I even don’t know too clearly about what that place is). Only after I bought my own apartment three years later could I transfer my Hukou from that place to the address of my apartment. That is the long story. My current resident permit is at Shanghai, at my own apartment.

If I go to Beijing, I will have some trouble. According to the regulation, I need to obtain a temp resident permit in Beijing. The “temp resident permit” is a big step ahead from the original Hukou system, since at least, I can get something to proof I can legally stay in that city (v.s. previously there is no way to do that). However, it is still a very bad thing. People cannot help asking “Why I need to TEMPERARILY stay in my OWN country”?

Challenges it Brings

Although the current system is widely regarded as unfair and inhumane, I do see the challenge to remove this system. The benefits the government gives to people with different Hukou are so different, especially in city and village. I believe if it is abandoned, a short time chaos will happen – many people move from village to city, and from smaller city to larger cities. If it is not handled well, it will cause big problem. It is just the case like if all the borders in the world is opened and people can move freely from one country to the other over night, you can imagine what will happen.

How to solve this historical problem is a big challenge for this generation of people in China.

P.S. When we discussed about business, I said, in history, people in China don’t move as frequent as in U.S., so the demand for selling and buying houses are not that big. People asks: “Why? Why people don’t move”. I said “Well. It is a long story to tell.” You have seen the whole story here. Pretty long, isn’t it? :-)

P.S.2. I drove to my friend’s house in San Francisco tonight. It is 51 miles. It is hard to believe in China – to go to a place 82 km away for dinner and get back the same night? It is crazy.

City in China = County in U.S.

What? San Jose is bigger than San Francisco in terms of population? It may be a well known fact, but I just find it out. I keep reading “San Jose is the third largest city in California after Los Angles and San Diego”. I was wondering whether San Francisco is not included in California, or have some kind of San Francisco, D.C. arrangement… It turned out San Francisco is really smaller in population than San Jose.

According to Wikipedia:

Rank / City / Population / Land Area (in sq. miles) / Population Density (per sq. miles) / County

1 Los Angeles 3,976,071 469.1 7,876.8 Los Angeles

2 San Diego 1,305,736 324.3 3,771.9 San Diego

3 San Jose 945,000 174.9 5,117.9 Santa Clara

4 San Francisco 799,263 46.7 16,634.4 San Francisco

I am also amazed by how many cities California has – 478 cities. So the term of city in U.S. and China is quite different. City in China is more like county in U.S.

For example the Henan Province in China has 17 Cities, and under cities, there are 159 counties. Counties are under cities. It seems just the opposite of U.S.

The average size of counties is similiar with Henan province, because CA is 410,000 sq. km in area, and Henan is 167,000 sq. km in area. Just FYI, Henan’s population is 97,170,000 and CA is 33,871,648.

It is an interesting discovery for me. I realized it years ago when I got to know Redmond is part of the King County, but didn’t check it carefully until today.

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou

Look at this newly released Google Trends picture:

screen-bj.sh.gz-trends.png

Image in courtesy of Google Trends

shanghai

beijing

guangzhou

Shanghai is more searched in Beijing. I didn’t expect result like this, but it is understandable.

Going Back to China?

I got this email today.

I found your blog in Google. It is a very interesting and informative web site. My salute to you.

My wife and I are both Chinese living in the U.S. We are planning to move to shanghai early next year. When I talked with my family about the move, they all said it’s a very bad idea. They said to live comfortably in Shanghai you have to at least earn 500,000 RMB yearly. Also, unlike in the U.S. people in China usually work harder and with a lot of overtime. Is it

really true that you have to earn that much? How does people with average income manage their life then? How do you think about it? My wife already got an offer from a top fortune 500 company to be research scientist. I have yet to find my job but it probable will be in IT or computer software field. The work hard and overtime part really scares me. I don’t mind

work hard but to be forced to work hard will be another story. Here I work as a software engineer in a small company in a small collage town. Life is really slow and peaceful. Can you post something about your life and work? I mean, when do you go to work, how late will you come home, is your boss pushy, are you coworkers work abnormally hard, how do you spend you weed ends, evenings, Do you write all your post at work? It doesn’t have to be about yourself, just the life of regular white collar worker will be very helpful to us.

Going back to China is a hot topic among overseas Chinese these years. It is as hot as the topics of going aboard in the previous years. It is due to the booming economy in China and the big changes in the country. I have many close friends who just came back to Shanghai. This is what I heard and what I saw.

How Comfortable do you Mean by “Comfortable”

“Does it need 500,000 RMB annual income to lead comfortable lives in Shanghai?” Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on how you define “comfortable” life. What is your standard?

Think about how much $$$$ 500,000 RMB is in a city where the overall average annual salary 17,904 RMB (1492 RMB * 12) (src). That is 30 times more than the city’s average income. Even the white collar’s average salary just reached 38,447 (src).

Many people with 1400 RMB income claim they are leading comfortable life already. But I guess you may think they are leading miserable life according to your standard.

Does an apartment of 150 sq. meter for a family means comfortable?

    You can buy some good apartment at 7000 RMB/sq. meter or some nice apartment at 10,000 RMB/sq. meter. Monthly payment is about 7000 RMB for 20 years… Use this calculator. People with 1000 RMB per month don’t buy houses. They rent.

Is a car included in your definition of comfortable life?

    Budge for 100,000 – 200,000 RMB. If you take public transportation, 2 RMB per ride for many buses, and 3 RMB on Metro.

Do you think you have to send your child to really good schools?

    Local schools charge 1000 – 2000 RMB per semester. Meanwhile in the same city, some good American schools charges 15,000 – 50,000 RMB. My friend spent 1000 USD on the school bus for his child alone, not to mention the tuition. So, it is all about your own choice.

Do you want to eat the foreign way or the local way?

    Local white collars go to BigBite (or Dashidai). The average cost per meal is 20 RMB. 50 RMB per person is considered reasonable price in restaurants. Poorer people go to cheap food stores. They charge 5 – 6 RMB per meal. They don’t go to restaurants.

    If you want to eat the foreign way, there are many places a cup of ice water costs you 75 RMB. An average working lunch costs 70 – 150 RMB. I went to one in Xintiandi before. The life in that restaraunt is really too expensive to be comfortable for me. Where to eat and how well you eat is all about your choice again.

Do you want to dress the local way or the “international” way?

    150 – 300 RMB for woman dress (white collar) is considered good, or common (ladies, correct me if I am wrong here). White collars buy it. Parkson Shopping Center claimed their major targeted customers are young ladies with monthly income around 6000 RMB. People with 1000 RMB income buy clothes at 30 RMB to 50 RMB at places like Tianlin Road, where I have lived nearby. All the brands are local. If you want to dress up like you do in New York, or Paris, just go directly to Armani in the Three on the Bund. A shirt can easily cost you 2000 RMB. If you call it comfortable life, 500,000 RMB does not look like a decent number. What is your choice?

Want movies? Want bars? Want drama?

    Movie costs 30 – 60 RMB. Average cost in bars varies from 10 RMB (beer) to 100. Drama costs 100 – 200 RMB. Make a plan of how many times you want to go there and you get the number yourself.

What else?

I just listed some costs for your life, in the order of money needed. Please note: this is only in Shanghai. Keep in mind that Shanghai is among the most expensive cities in China already. Beijing is similar. If you want to try smaller cities, like Luoyang, where I was born, life is completely different again. I can guarantee you that with 1500 RMB, you can lead very nice life there. The “very nice life” is by the local standard, not the Shanghai standard, not the western standard….

Do I Have a Conclusion?

To answer your question about whether 500,000 is good enough, basically, it is good enough. If you know the average monthly salary for a 4-year university undergraduate is 1800 – 3000 RMB, or 3000 – 5000 RMB for graduates (masters); if you also know that MBA’s salary is only half of the number you gave, you may have the idea of whether it can lead a comfortable life.

Going Back? A Bad Idea?

At least from all my friends who just returned, it turned out to be very good idea to get back. I had a friend who returned to Shanghai months ago. He came back and had a two week vacation in Shanghai. Soon after he returned to U.S., he relocated his whole family to Shanghai. The only thing he regretted was he didn’t buy a house during the two weeks in Shanghai. The price raise in the 6 months surprised him a lot.

Work Hard?

In IT industry, undergraduate students have to work hard to earn 36,000 RMB per year, and I don’t know how hard you need to work if you aim at making 500,000 RMB or higher. :-D

Shanghai is such an interesting city. The pay is not the same for the same work. The best situation to relocate back to Shanghai is to find a position in U.S. company and the company send the person to China, typically, the person will enjoy the U.S. pay (sometimes higher due to the relocation package), which is much higher than China. These positions generally do not need you to work hard. From what I heard, many of the positions are just a local representative of the head quarter, and there is no real work to do. (I do not mean to offend anybody. It is the conclusion of my limited survey to some friends). Go to haiguinet.com for more information. Many returnees are there.

It is not about Comfortable Life. It is about Opportunities

If you want comfortable life – in the U.S. Standard, stay there. If you want to reach exactly the same standard of life in Shanghai, the cost is higher than in U.S. For example, I read a foreigner didn’t want to use the local water from the pipeline because it does not reach “his standard”, he built the private water supplying system and feed the system with canned purified water. He is just crazy and I bet his water is more expensive than in his hometown.

If you want to embrace the change and opportunity, come back. China is a huge market and there are so few players on so many fields. Let me try to show you some examples:

  • It is not easy to rent a car yet. There is no good rental company like Avis.
  • It is not easy to book train tickets online (like Amtrak, or Eurorail);
  • There is almost no local good canned cat food (this is the problem the two cats brought me);
  • Something that costs 0.5 RMB are traded at several Euro in Europe (I am talking about the decoration balls on the X’mas tree);
  • More and more people coming to China but there is no good service to help them (the reason why this website became popular);
  • In IT industry, there is no good broad band application yet, although near 20 million people are connected to the Internet already. Miracles like Shanda (SNDA) emerge every day..

The blank areas need some one who knows the land to fill in. My friend who just came back told me: “I can clearly see what I look like after 30 years if I stay in U.S. – everything is well planned and preciously calculated. However, I don’t have any idea of what my life will be in 5 years in China. It started to change everyday from day one after I set my foot back to this land.” I agree.

If you are not interested in these, stay where you are now.

My Work? My Life?

If you want to know my work and life, take some time to check this blog if you have time. I have more than 800 articles like this one on my blog. There are 181 articles in Life category.

In the articles, I talked about my Car, my Friends, interesting things in my life, and where I go during weekends, and Holidays. I also included new things I Learn. I guess you know better about Me from the articles.

Last Question

“Do you write all your post at work?” I don’t, most of the time. It does take me quite some time every night to write something. I sometimes sleep as late as 2:00 AM. It is 1:58 am already and I have spent one hour on this article.

(Top secret: I will change the time for this post to November 11, 23:mm, to make sure this post still falls into the previous day. I am trying to keep the one post every day rule. Some previous entires posted at 23:mm are very likely to be posted later than that time. :-D)

The choice is yours.

Basic Geographic Knowledge about China – Part II

Previous entry: Basic Geographic Knowledge about China

Directions and Provinces

东 Dong (Dong1) means east

西 Xi (Xi1) means west

南 Nan (Nan2) means south

北 Bei (Bei3) means north

As Jens Leo Malmqvist already found out, knowing it will help a lot to understand the Chinese province names.

There is Shan Dong and Shan Xi (Shan means the Mountain).

There is He Nan and He Bei (He means the river – The Yellow River)

There is Hu Nan and Hu Bei (Hu means the lake, or the Dong Ting Lake)

There is Guang Xi and Guang Dong. Guang may refer to that area, south China.

There is Xi Zhang (or Tibet), which means it is west most part of the country….

Regarding Cities, the most famous city Beijing means the north capital. Jing means capital. There is another city called Nanjing, which is also an capital. Tokyo is called Dongjing. Xian in the Shaanxi province implies the city is in the west…

Interesting, isn’t it? I agree that Chinese langauge is easier to learn than English – just put two word (very simple word, like Xi, Bei, Nan, Dong) together and there is a meaning.

Areas

Bigbro‘s useful comment:

Kaili’s point about north-east and south-east reminds us that it is probably much useful to introduce the “big-regions” that Chinese conventionally refer to. Furthermore, it is informative, to the Americans anyway (not to Kaili), to relate locations of Chinese cities to locations of American ones, as China and US are geographically somewhat similar. For example, China has a Northeast (Dong Bei) region, referring to Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces, including cities of Shenyang and Dalian. It’s location relative to the rest of China is that of New England relative to the rest of US. China’s Southeast (Dong Nan) region is similar to US’s south. Guangzhou (Canton), Shengshen, Hong Kong, Fushou, Xiamen, Quilin, Kunming are in this region. China has a Northwest (Xi Bei) that covers a larger area than does the US northwest. It has five provinces: Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Xian, Dunhuang, Lanzhou are in this region. China has a vast Southwest where Sichuan and Tibet are, so does the US but Texas is part of the South. China has Central (Hua Zhong) and North (Hua Bei), the US has a Midwest. And then there is the east coast (Hua Dong).

It is true. Xinjiang, Xizang, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia…. the latitude of these provinces are two high so the population density is too low. So we call Sichuan the Southwest China, aalthough it is geographically located in the central south.

Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning – these three provinces on the north-east part of China are called Northeast in general. The region shares the same ascent.

Suggested Places to Visit

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are the three major cities. You have to visit Beijing. You are suggested to visit Shanghai if you want to experience the modern China more clearly. Xi’an is a typical Chinese old city. Guilin is beautiful. The most beautiful area in China are in the southeast and Xinjiang (for example, Daocheng and Kanas)

By the way, do you know that the old Chinese map are drawn with south at the top and north at the bottom? We call compass Zhi-Nan-Zhen. In Beijing’s Forbidden city, the west door is called Right Door and the east door is called Left Door, which shows us vividly who the old Chinese map were drawn.