Features | Health
AIDS activists in China remain angry at what they see as the culpability and inaction of authorities in Henan Province, while government officials there remain implacably hostile to people they see as troublemakers. Nevertheless, reports Nick Young with Mian Liping (勉丽萍), things are changing in Henan, but the stand-off between government and citizen activists seems to be delaying the kind of progress that has been seen in neighbouring Anhui.
“Things haven’t changed that much in Henan,” Dr. Gao Yaojie (高耀洁) tells us. “The government has created model areas to show it’s doing something, but there are still counties that are not open (公开) and where they get nothing.”
Features | Environment | Ethnic Minorities | Livelihoods
It is a decade since mass tourism arrived in the picturesque northwest Yunnan towns of Dali, Lijiang and Zhongdian. But what of the villages and townships that some more adventurous tourists are beginning to visit? Julie Perng visits four communities that hope to embrace tourists without being overwhelmed by them.
In 2006, total receipts from tourism in Yunnan Province reached CNY 49.97 billion (USD 6.2 billion), almost 90% of which came from Chinese tourists. Receipts were up 16.7% on the previous year, and accounted for 12.5% of the provincial GDP. The tourism industry is clearly flourishing in one of China’s most ethnically, geographically, and biologically diverse provinces.
Features | Education | Labour and Migration
In an ambitious drive to increase access to higher education, China’s college and university enrolment increased from around six million in 1998 to 21 million in 2005. But with the flood of new graduates, individuals are having a tough time finding jobs in an increasingly competitive labour market. Li Mu (李沐) reports on government interventions designed to alleviate graduate unemployment by encouraging young job seekers to "Go west, go down to where motherland and people are in greatest need."
Features | Civil Society | Governance and Social Policy | Law and Rights
China is introducing new transparency rules for government—in part, it seems, to curb corruption. But, reports Chang Tianle (常天乐), some progressive localities are ahead of the central government on this issue, and the national rules remain ambiguous as to how much the public has a right to know.
China’s first national regulations on public disclosure of government information have been cautiously welcomed by scholars and NGOs, but most say that China still has a long way to go to achieve transparent government.
The Regulations on Government Disclosure of Information (政府信息公开条例) were approved by the State Council on January 17, 2007 and take effect on May 1, 2008. Article 1 states that they aim to “ensure that citizens, legal persons and other organisations (公民、法人和其他组织) can obtain government information by lawful means, and increase government transparency.”
Features | Civil Society | Health
Although not an HIV hotspot, over the last three years China’s north-eastern province of Heilongjiang has seen a surge of local NGOs working on AIDS prevention. But, Nick Young and Mian Liping (勉丽萍) ask, is this a civil society success story or an opportunistic response to the influx of international funds?
HARBIN Away from the bright lights of Gogol Street, the main entertainment strip in this northern industrial city with historic ties to Russia, a Saturday night crowd has gathered in a downmarket bathhouse that caters for MSM—“men who have sex with men.”
Features | Livelihoods | Subscription-only Content
At the end of 2005, the People’s Bank of China (China’s central bank) launched a pilot initiative to create new, privately invested lending institutions in some of China’s poorest areas. A year later, the China Banking Regulatory Commission announced measures to stimulate new “village banks” and financial cooperatives, and on the last day of 2006 it also licensed the Post Office Savings Bank to enter the rural credit market. Rural finance experts have welcomed the new measures. But, Nick Young reports, many earlier efforts to encourage rural credit have faltered and it may be some time yet before financial services trickle down to the poor.
Features | Civil Society | Livelihoods | Subscription-only Content
In January the Ministry of Agriculture launched a month-long drive to inform farmers and local officials about the new Law on Farmer Professional Cooperatives (农民专业合作社法). Given China’s long and varied experience of things called “cooperative” it might take longer than a month to get the message through, Chang Tianle (常天乐) concluded after visiting Anhui, Sichuan and Yunnan.
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.
Features | Governance and Social Policy | Social Welfare | Subscription-only Content
China’s top leaders recently recognised the need for a corps of professional social workers. Chang Tianle (常天乐) reports on ongoing efforts and challenges in building the new profession.
Features | Civil Society | Health | Subscription-only Content
Self-help groups of people living with incurable illnesses or disability provide an invaluable forum for information sharing and personal support. But although they are appearing in China, as Chang Tianle (常天乐) reports, their growth is hampered by problems of legal status and fundraising.