Health | Labour and Migration
The International Labour Organisation and China’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security have launched a USD 3.5 million HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Project funded by the United States Department of Labor as part of a global initiative, it was announced last week.
Editorial | Civil Society | Environment | Subscription-only Content
A paper published last year in The China Quarterly concludes, on the basis of interviews with Chinese university students, that “There is little likelihood of environmentalism among students transforming into an independent grassroots movement or becoming a source of pressure for political change.” The most revealing aspect of this study is not the finding but the fact that the researchers chose to pursue such a line of enquiry.
Why are watchers of China’s civil society so preoccupied with looking for signs of nascent, oppositional movements? The prevailing paradigm for social and political change, it seems, sees a necessary role at some point for barricades (or, at least, a “non-violent” variant.) Such a view is not only anathema to the Chinese authorities, inviting the kind of heightened security surveillance that we have seen over the last 18 months, it also implicitly discards—as naïvely idealistic, no doubt—the hope that rational debate and enlightened self-interest may deliver meaningful progress. Yet in a world that is melting at the seams that may be our best hope.
Features | Governance and Social Policy | Subscription-only Content
For more than a decade, China’s total government revenues have been rising faster than GDP, recording 19.9% growth in 2005 alone. This sounds like great news for the government’s efforts to promote more equitable development with greater equality of opportunity and more robust social protections for the poor. But, as Chang Tianle (常天乐)reports, although reform efforts are gathering pace,the fiscal system is fraught with problems that tend to perpetuate, rather than reduce, inequalities.
In 1994 China’s total government revenue was just 10.8% of GDP. By 2005 it had risen to 17.3% of GDP—a larger share of a much larger cake, but still well below international norms of 30-50%. Nevertheless, the steady rise in revenues brings into sharper focus the issue of how those revenues are distributed across regions and sectors. Chinese officials, economists and development specialists are engaging in important debates on this topic, and international agencies are also flagging it as critical to China’s sustainable and harmonious development.
Civil Society | Environment | Subscription-only Content
Less vocal and publicity-seeking than their Western counterparts, Japanese environmental NGOs have nonetheless achieved a substantial presence in China, reports Robert Efird
Japan and China have been described as “neighbors separated by a mere strip of water,” an expression that emphasizes both the physical proximity of the two nations as well as their extensive and longstanding cultural affinities. These historical and cultural connections help to explain why more Japanese NGOs are engaged in exchange with China than with any other country, while the shared geography is one reason why so much Japanese NGO activity in China is focused on the environment. Yet the activities of Japanese environmental organizations in China remain largely unknown to both non-Japanese NGOs and the Chinese public. This is unfortunate, for though often small in scale and constrained by uncertain funding and scarce institutional support, a number of these NGOs have nevertheless established strong, successful relationships with Chinese counterparts and made significant contributions to Chinese social welfare and environmental protection.
Governance and Social Policy
The registration of children in rural areas of Shaanxi has doubled in the course of a pilot project initiated by international development NGO, Plan, it was announced at a seminar in Xi’an on January 13.
Only 47.5% of children in five townships of Qishan County (岐山县) had been properly registered with the authorities before the pilot project, which has raised the registration rate to 97.6%, according to a project evaluation report.
Civil Society | Livelihoods
Five Chinese NGOs have been awarded government funds to facilitate village-level poverty alleviation and development projects in Jiangxi Province as part of an Asia Development Bank-supported programme whose progress was discussed at a forum in Beijing on January 19.
This was the second round of funding in a two-year programme that has the backing of the State Council’s Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development Office and its local counterpart in Jiangxi. They are together providing around USD 1.7 million to match a USD 1 million ADB technical assistance grant.
Gender | Health
Although overall maternal and child mortality rates are continuing to fall in China, the decline is slower than would normally be expected of a country experiencing such robust economic growth, and there is very wide variation between rates in urban and outlying, rural areas, according to a Joint Review of the Maternal and Child Survival Strategy in China published in December by Unicef, UNFPA, WHO and the Ministry of Health.
Ethnic Minorities | Law and Rights | Media | Social Welfare | Subscription-only Content | First Person
Musapir, a native of Kelamayi (克拉马依) in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, is a police cadet in the Peoples’ Public Security University of China. In July 2006 he posted the following story on a website devoted to Uighur affairs.
During this summer vacation the school arranged for us to go to Shenzhen on a two month internship. The people and events in this story are all real, but for their security and for other reasons some names have been changed.
The danwei where I did my internship was a local police station (派出所) in Shenzhen city’s Bao’an (宝安) district. Around midday the day before yesterday we received a call saying some of our people on the beat (巡防人员) had arrested a thief in front of a commercial plaza. After taking the call, a police officer and I went together to the scene and found that the thief was a boy from Xinjiang, the same place I come from. He had been stealing a cellphone from someone’s bag, but the victim noticed.
Civil Society | Education
Hong Kong charity, Sowers Action (苗圃行动), established fifteen years ago to support education on China’s mainland and currently mobilising around CNY 19 million (USD 2.4 million) per year for primary schooling, is deliberating a shift towards vocational education, according to Herman To (杜勇声), a founding member and current Deputy Chair of the organisation.
Editorial | Media | Subscription-only Content
Relaxation of controls on foreign journalists in China—intended, it seems, to promote “harmonious” reporting during the Olympics—is a welcome sign that the government is alert to the power of global public opinion and recognises the need for a more sophisticated approach to news management. This may be good news for Chinese journalists too if it proves to be the harbinger of greater domestic freedoms—which are necessary for the profession to develop and become the foundation for a globally competitive, Chinese media industry.