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News Briefs


Pregnant Ph.D. Candidate Unable to Obtain Childbirth Permit

[Beijing Morning Post, October 23, 2005] A married and three-month pregnant female Ph.D. student at a Beijing college has been unable to obtain a childbirth permit because of her student status. Many regions in China have stipulations stating that before a married couple’s first childbirth, they are required to obtain a childbirth permit. The permit requires a fee, and has to be used within a certain period of time. If a couple with a permit does not get pregnant within that period, the permit will expire.

The Ph.D. student was married two years ago, and learned in August that she was pregnant. Because her registered permanent residence is outside Beijing, she had to apply for the permit from her college. But the authorities of the college ignored her request. In despair, she sent her request to the authorities of the Beijing Birth Control Office, who indicated that giving birth requires a childbirth permit, that without the permit, the child’s permanent residence cannot be registered, and that other services related to the pregnant woman and her child cannot be guaranteed. Students’ registered permanent residences should be with their colleges, and therefore the schools should issue the childbirth permits, the staff at Beijing Birth Control Office told her.

Associate Party Secretary of Shanxi Province Removed from Post Due to Gang Ties

[Singtao Daily, October 22, 2005] Hou Wujie, the Associate Party Secretary of Shanxi Province, was recently expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and discharged from his post. Hou was reportedly the backstage boss of the largest underworld organization in Shanxi. He was once arrested in Beijing for engaging a prostitute. According to official charges, during the period when he was the Associate Party Secretary of Shanxi, Hou took cash bribes of US$100,000 and material goods valued at 160,000 yuan (US$19,800). Hou was dismissed from his post in December 2004 and was arrested formally at the end of July 2005.

300,000 New College Grads Seek Jobs in Guangdong

[Nanfang Daily, October 17, 2005] Estimates indicate that more than 220,000 students will graduate from universities, technical schools, and graduate schools in Guangdong Province in 2006. In addition, 60,000 to 70,000 graduating students from other provinces will move to Guangdong to look for jobs, making the sum of those newly entering the employment market close to 300,000. This year, the Guangdong Province Career Consultation Center will hold a series of job fairs beginning from November 20. The exact times and places are being coordinated. There will be more than 30 job fairs held this year, which is many more than former years.{mospagebreak}

China’s Pollution Extends to Hong Kong, Air Quality Deteriorates

[The Epoch Times, October 16, 2005] As China’s economy rapidly develops, pollutants from the factories of Hong Kong’s neighboring Guangdong Province increasingly drift across to Hong Kong. With more and more emissions from the ever-increasing number of automobiles in Guangdong, the smog condition has significantly worsened in Hong Kong.

According to a report from Bloomberg News, CLSA research indicates that the terrible air condition in Hong Kong drives away many foreign management workers, annually costs many companies US$9,000 in medical expenses per employee, and greatly reduces their workforce. Anthony Hedley, chairman of the department of community medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said, "Hong Kong is going backward in terms of pollution…The government has been noninterventionist to the point of being really negligent."

Hong Kong Economist Questions China’s GDP

[Financial Times, October 24, 2005] China’s most recent GDP has just been published, and many economists are already questioning the accuracy of these figures. According to Chinese reports, China’s GDP increased 9.4 percent in the third quarter. The growth is about the same as the numbers of the last two quarters, which were 9.4 percent and 9.5 percent respectively. Hong Kong economist Jim Walker questions this data, as he believes that the GDP listed for the last three quarters does not match the figures obtained from other economic indicators. Walker believes the Chinese officials’ published data is "something from an imaginary world."

About One Million College Graduates Jobless This Year

[Central News Agency, October 13, 2005] With the expansion of college admissions, the number of college graduates in China increases rapidly year after year. Nevertheless, there are few job openings for college graduates. It is reported that among this year’s college graduates, about one million of them remain jobless. In the meantime, there are 4.7 million new college students this year-a record number. Out of the 3.3 million college students who graduated this summer, 70 percent of them are now employed, with 30 percent, or approximately one million young graduates, still unemployed.{mospagebreak}

Pharmaceutical Kickbacks in China Reach 770 Million Yuan Annually

[The Epoch Times, October 17, 2005] The medical system in China has become a disaster area of corruption. According to official data, China’s pharmaceutical industry spends 770 million yuan (US$95 million) of national assets annually, or 16 percent of the tax revenue from the industry, in paying kickbacks for pharmaceutical sales and bribing medical professionals. Some Chinese officials have publicly acknowledged that the ten-year-long reform of China’s medical system ended in failure. In particular, 90 percent of people surveyed are unsatisfied with the medical system reform, while four-fifths indicated that hospitals are now out for profit, not for social welfare. The difficulty in getting medical treatments and the high cost of medicines has become one of the toughest social issues in China.

China Has 15 Percent of World’s Auto Accidents

[The Beijing News, October 16, 2005] According to statistics, China has only 1.9 percent of the world’s cars, but has 15 percent of the world’s car accidents. Hundreds of thousands of people die in car accidents every year. China Machinery Industry Association’s deputy president Zhang Xiaoyu said during the "2005 Shanghai Jiading Auto Forum," that according to international standards, cities in which 20 out of 100 families own a car can be recognized as entering the "automobile society." Chinese cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou have already reached this standard. Zhang added that compared to developed countries, China’s automobile cultural consciousness is still weak. Over 100,000 die of car accidents every year in China, making it one of the worst countries for car accidents.

Cholera Outbreak in Zhejiang Province, Over 100 Sick

[Central News Agency, October 7, 2005] In September of 2005, over 100 incidents of cholera were reported in Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province. According to Hong Kong’s Wenhui Daily, after the cholera outbreaks in several townships of Jiaxing, the Health Department has sent in staff to monitor restaurants, food stores, and industries, drinking water, and medical facilities. The main reason for the outbreaks is suspected to be contamination in the rivers and water supply systems.{mospagebreak}

China’s Groundwater Pollution Reaches Critical Levels

[The Epoch Times, October 14, 2005] After analyzing groundwater quality data from 118 cities in China, The Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences found that all the cities had polluted groundwater. Sixty-four percent of the cities suffered from heavy pollution, while 33 percent registered light pollution. As reported on Xinhuanet, the Academy’s data shows that China’s pollution problem centers mostly on the continually expanding areas of groundwater pollution. The groundwater of two-thirds of China’s cities is generally decreasing in quality, with some areas already in serious situations. In over 300 cities, groundwater pollution has caused water-supply shortages. The contaminants found in water are increasing, and are also becoming more and more complex. The concentration and extent of contaminants are also continually growing. This situation has made the decreased quality of natural water a large problem. Endemic diseases have also appeared in certain areas, caused by poor water quality.

New Monitoring System to Be Installed on the Streets of Beijing

[, October 17, 2005] Beijing’s Haidian District is now implementing a plan called "Science for Security." In the next three years, the government will install 2,052 surveillance cameras to cover the district. The cameras will be set up at all angles, and will form the monitoring and prevention system for the district. Scholars point out that the tightened monitoring system is a sign that Chinese society wants to avoid the control of the Chinese Communist Party. This is the first district-level monitoring and command center. The related department hopes to carefully control public protests and emergencies.

CCP Approves Five-Year Plan, No Mention of Political Reform

[, October 12, 2005] The Fifth Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) concluded in Beijing on October 11. At the meeting, the 11th Five-Year Plan for National Economy and Social Development was approved. Some of the goals addressed included reforming development concepts, improving social justice, reducing the wealth gap, and increasing farmers’ incomes. But according to analysts, the new Five-Year Plan did not mention anything about the urgently needed political reform. It is impossible to solve the existing social and economic problems under the current system of state.

This fifth plenary session is the first committee session presided over by current Chinese leader Hu Jintao, so the outside world has paid much attention to what new policies Hu would implement after strengthening his political power. But after the committee session’s bulletin was released, many people were disappointed.{mospagebreak}

Thousands of Workers in Chongqing Protest, Meet Violent Suppression

[The Epoch Times, October 8, 2005] The former workers at Chongqing Special Steel Co. have held appeals for their rights for over two months, but finally encountered violent suppression by the authorities on October 7, with two women beaten to death, a significant number of protesters injured, and all nine representatives of the workers arrested, leaving behind thousands of jobless workers without leadership.

According to people familiar with the matter, the order to suppress the appeal came directly from Beijing. At 7 a.m., around 3,000 police officers marched into Shuangbei Garden, where over 10,000 workers were gathered. After a standoff, police started to arrest the workers’ representatives. During the violent conflict, two old women died from beatings and many people were injured. In the end, all of the workers’ representatives were arrested.

Beijing Youth Daily Management Suspected of Financial Crimes

[Asia Times, October 4, 2005] The first Chinese media group to list its shares on an overseas stock exchange, the Beijing Youth Daily temporarily stopped trading on the Hong Kong Stock Market on October 3 for undisclosed reasons. According to a same-day report from Caijing Magazine, one of China’s most-respected financial magazines, six managing staff members of Beijing Youth Daily have been suspected of financial crimes from July 9 to September 26, 2005. The six staff members were taken away by the anti-corruption bureau for further investigation. Included were Zheng Yijun and Niu Ming, two vice-presidents of Beijing Media, the advertising unit of the Beijing Youth Daily; Yu Dagong and Zhu Weijing, the director and associate director of the advertising unit; Duan Tao, the director of classified advertising; and a staff member of the advertising unit. They are accused of financial crimes and accepting bribes.

Internet Users in China Exceed 103 Million

[Central News Agency, October 4, 2005] According to a report by the China Internet Information Center, the number of Internet users in China has exceeded 103 million, or one-thirteenth of China’s population, signaling how Internet use is becoming part of life in China.

According to electronic media in Hong Kong, China had roughly 50,000 Internet accounts ten years ago. A recent survey of 2,400 people in five cities shows that China’s Internet users spend an average of 2.73 hours online on a daily basis. They mainly spend their time reading news, sending and receiving emails, playing online games, collecting information, and chatting. According to the China Internet Information Center, exceeding 103 million Internet users is a big milestone for China. In as short as seven years, there has been a hundredfold increase in the number of Internet users in China. As of June 30, 2005, 45.6 million computers are being used for Internet activities, a 25 percent increase from the same period last year.{mospagebreak}

Three Thousand Taxi Drivers in Shanxi Province Hold Strike

[Wenhui Daily, Hong Kong, October 14, 2005] Around three thousand taxi drivers and taxi-business owners in Linfen, Shanxi Province, held a large-scale strike, protesting how corrupt officials collude with businessmen to allow a large number of unauthorized vehicles in the taxi service, which negatively affects the legitimate businesses.

The protesters smashed police cars and taxis, damaging dozens of vehicles and injuring several people. The strike was caused by the fact that many unauthorized cars and manned tricycles are illegally in service, and are protected by the traffic police and some public transportation staffers, who sometimes directly run their own taxi businesses or indirectly control the business through their relatives.

Dam Collapse in Yunnan Causes Man-Made Disaster

[Asia Times, October 3, 2005] On July 21, 2005, the three villages of Zuantian, Xiaoyan, and Fengzi in Liliang County, Yunnan Province, suffered an unforgettable disaster. At 6:20 a.m., the dam wall of the local Qixian Lake Reservoir suddenly collapsed, flooding three villages and leaving 16 dead and 23 injured. Fifteen houses were swept away, and 1,000 acres of fields were flooded. The tragedy was described by local authorities as "a regrettable natural disaster." After that, the media suddenly stopped reporting on the disaster. General estimation was that the propaganda department had forbidden further reports about this affair. An Asia Times Online freelance reporter traveled to the scene and discovered that it was another man-made disaster caused by shoddy construction.

Taishi Village’s Attempt at Democracy Ends in Failure

[Voice of America, October 2, 2005] The attempt to recall the head of the Village Committee of Taishi Village, Guangdong Province, ended in failure because of the withdrawal of two-thirds of the villagers, resulting in an insufficient number of voters backing the motion as required by law. Some villagers who were forced to withdraw said that under the intimidation and lures from the village officials, they had no choice but to withdraw against their own will from the fight to defend their rights. Some observers had previously predicted that the recall motion in Taishi Village would have historical significance in pushing forward political reform in China.

In the afternoon of September 29, 2005, the Recall Election Committee posted a notice that out of 584 villagers who once signed on the motion to recall the village head, 396 no longer supported the motion. As the remaining number of supporters did not meet the one-fifths of the village population required by law, the motion automatically became invalid.{mospagebreak}

Taiwanese Investments Flow Back to Taiwan

[Liberty Times, October 4, 2005] Nowadays it has become very common for Taiwanese businesses to bring their investments back to Taiwan. In the Industrial Park of the Department of Economy alone, there are 47 companies who have investments in the industrial park reaching 32.6 billion New Taiwan Dollars (TWD, about US$975 million). Taking into account investments outside the industrial park and those in the service industries, the capital inflow from Taiwanese businesses outside Taiwan exceeds 50 billion TWD (US$1.5 billion).

According to a survey by Taiwan’s Bureau of Industry, five out of the 47 businesses came back to Taiwan to build new factories after closing their factories in China, while 27 of them still have factories in China, but want to diversify their risks by investing in Taiwan. The rest of the 15 manufacturers have evaluated sites on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, but finally decided to base their businesses in Taiwan.