China Guide - China Development - China Circulation Travel Service

China Development

MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

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Chinese kid China is on course to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Already there have been spectacular results in increasing life expectancy, and decreasing illiteracy rates and poverty. The social security system is under reform, expanding from local services in cities and rural areas into a nationwide network.

China's development model has been called the biggest poverty reduction campaign in the world - according to studies conducted by Qingua University, 75% of people across the world who have been lifted out of poverty in the last two decades live in China.

One reason is that the country's poverty alleviation policies preceded the Millennium Declaration. Between 1978 and 2003, 220 million Chinese rose above the poverty line. However, this success is undermined by the fact that, in 2003, the absolute number of Chinese living in poverty increased and that this number is very large - about 200 million earn less $1 per day. Furthermore, achievements on poverty are offset by regional unevenness, gender, HIV/AIDS and environmental issues which lag behind in progress and priority.

China Foundation For Poverty Alleviation For example, the large investment in production and infrastructure has been concentrated on the developed eastern regions of Shanghai, Tianjin, and Guangdong. The majority of poor Chinese live in the underdeveloped western regions of Shaanxi, Guangxi, Sichuan and Gansu. There is also concern that intensification of industrial agriculture in the west is degrading the environment to the point at which yields will no longer sustain poverty-relief policies. Indeed in some areas poverty is increasing once again, not helped by new WTO regulations which mean loss of jobs (China became a member in 2003).

Regional disparities encourage migration to more developed eastern regions where minority migrant groups are met with resentment and hostility. Nevertheless, these migrant workers are able to return very considerable remittances to the west; for example in 2003 migrant workers in Dongguan sent home 14.24 billion yuan (US$1.71 billion).

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POLITICS

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Maozedong China, the world's oldest continuous surviving civilization, outpaced the world in arts and sciences for centuries but in the 19th and early 20th centuries the country was plagued by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats and foreign occupation. In 1949 the communist party under Mao Zedong came to power, suspended relations with the west and imposed severe social and economic controls – often resulting in great loss of life. Deng Xiaoping succeeded Mao in 1976 and raised the 'bamboo' curtain and decentralised economic decision-making. However, his rule is more remembered for the Tiananmen Square massacre.

China Foundation For Poverty Alleviation For the Han majority racial diversity is considered a threat to national integrity and relations with China's national minorities have always been tense - most notably with the Uighurs, Tibetans and Hui peoples.

China continues to be a one party state but with two systems: Hong Kong and Macau operate as Special Administrative Regions. Elections in the mainland are held every five years, the most recent was concluded in 2003. All candidates are approved by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the parliament (National People's Congress) appoints the President, currently Mr. Hu Jintao.

Hu Jintao Since 1988 a system of local democracy has been permitted in which village committees are directly elected by the people. Until recently the innovation has been largely successful but, as evidence of social disturbance in rural China increases - often in protest at local corruption over land sales, it is far from certain that village democracy is the stepping stone for wider governance reform.

The emergence of civil society is a product of modern China but there is still a long way to go before it is truly independent of the government. However, the recent broadcast of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party (revealing the truth behind the CCP and its brutal methods) originally published by The Epoch Times has triggered a mass exodus from the CCP. More than two million Chinese have already quit the party and the departures continue at a rate of 20,000 a day.

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CONFLICT

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Taiwan Province of China Since 1949 there have been many stand-offs between China and Taiwan characterized by Taiwan's continued assertion of its independence, threats of Chinese invasion and disputes over the ownership of the Taiwan Straits. In March and April 2004 there were huge protests as pro-independence candidate Chen Shuibian won the presidential election in Taiwan. Peace talks have begun again if somewhat tentatively, and the President's stance on independence may be softened following the defeat of his party in the December 2004 Taiwan parliamentary elections. In 2005 the Taiwanese opposition leader, Lien Chan, made an historic visit to the Chinese mainland; the first by a Nationalist leader since the retreat to the island in 1949.

During the first half of 2005 there were anti-Japanese protests in both China and Korea over a controversial Japanese textbook that whitewashes Japanese aggression towards the two nations before and during World War II. Tensions have been further aggravated by continued visits to the Yasukuni Shrine - which commemorates Japanese war dead - by the prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi.

One World One Dream - Beijing 2008 Olympic's Games China's human rights record is abysmal and there are constant calls by human rights groups to impose sanctions and to suspend China's right to hold the Olympics in 2008.

On June 4th 1989, during protests sparked by the death of liberal party leader Hu Yaobang, between 100 and 3,000 people were massacred in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. The international outcry was immense but failed to change the attitude of China's government which reacted with more stringent clampdowns on freedom of expression. Surprising signs of rehabilitation of Hu Yaobang's reputation in 2005 could signal a change of government attitude towards Tiananmen; although some perceive a ploy to reverse Hu Jintao's increasing unpopularity.

The departure of former President Jiang Zemin in 2003 raised hopes that China's human rights practices would improve but to no avail. Charges of almost every headline abuse are laid at China's door - strict controls on expressions and associations, free speech and the media, suppression of religious freedom, continued torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, a serious lack of judicial independence and due process, arbitrary detention, massive use of the death penalty, political discrimination against ethnic minorities and their religious and political beliefs, violence against women, and abduction and trafficking of women - all still continue. And China's intensive development has led to forced evictions in both urban and rural areas - Beijing's Olympic construction programme is a much cited example.

One Child The longstanding "one child" policy designed to control population growth has distorted the natural gender balance at birth and encouraged violations against female children. Although any form of pre-birth selection is illegal, traditional preference for a male child is reflected in the statistics.

Other examples of human rights abuse widely known outside China include Falun Gong and Tibet. Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese meditation and exercise which was adopted by so many people that the government perceived the gatherings to be of a political and religious nature and banned the "movement" in 1999. The situation in Tibet continues to be of world concern. The government continues to encourage Han Chinese to migrate to Tibet whilst continuing to close and demolish Buddhist monasteries.

With revived economic development and the arrival of the Internet in the 1990s, Chinese media has become more diversified. By 2003, over 400 kinds of daily newspapers were issued in China and the print run reached 80 million, the highest of any country in the world. However, vigorous government censorship controls the output of all media and China remains firmly at the bottom of international press freedom rankings. The limited access granted to the press to cover the visit of President Bush in 2005 provided further illustration.

China Internet websites

By June 30, 2003, China had 470,000 Internet websites and 68 million Internet users and it is estimated that, by 2005, there will be as many as 40 million computers in China connected to the Internet, and 200 million users of data, multi-media and the web. However, access to external sites is strictly controlled - all OneWorld pages are blocked and the Chinese language version of Google compromises Western concepts of Internet freedom. Indeed, increased internet surveillance and censorship have led to a rise in arrests of those expressing political opinions on the web.

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HEALTH

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Ministry Of Health P.R.China Stop Aids On one hand, health care in China has improved dramatically since 1949. Major diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and scarlet fever have been brought under control. Life expectancy has more than doubled and infant mortality has dropped significantly. On the other hand, the incidence of cancer, cerebrovascular disease, and heart disease has increased to the extent that these have become the leading causes of death. Economic reforms initiated in the late 1970s fundamentally altered methods of providing health care; the collective medical care system was gradually replaced by a more individual-oriented approach.

Official statistics suggest a low rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence in China. But the conditions now widely recognised as necessary to prevent the disease taking hold - allocation of adequate funds by central government, mainstreamed awareness programmes and an active role for civil society - have not been established and the risk of a serious epidemic in China remains. There is now growing concern over the high levels of sexual ignorance amongst young people.

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ECONOMY

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Beijing Street Since 1978, China has been engaged in an effort to reform its economy. The Chinese leadership has sharply reduced the role of ideology in economic policy. Political and social stability, economic productivity, and public welfare are considered paramount. In these years, the government has emphasized raising personal income and consumption and introducing new management systems to help increase productivity. The government also has focused on foreign trade as a major vehicle for economic growth.

Since 1978, China has been engaged in an effort to reform its economy. The Chinese leadership has sharply reduced the role of ideology in economic policy. Political and social stability, economic productivity, and public welfare are considered paramount. In these years, the government has emphasized raising personal income and consumption and introducing new management systems to help increase productivity. The government also has focused on foreign trade as a major vehicle for economic growth.

Chinese Farmer As a member of the WTO and APEC, with the world's largest hydropower potential and domestic market, China is being courted by the major economic nations for investment. Entry into the WTO has increased China's international reach and highly competitive Chinese goods such as textiles are swamping world markets. Tourism has also increased since entry into the WTO and looks to grow heading up to the Olympics.

Despite China's impressive economic development during the past two decades, reforming the state enterprise sector and modernizing the banking system remain major hurdles. Nevertheless a measure of its economic success is that the fate of the US economy is widely felt to hinge upon China's policy for valuing its currency.

The privatisation of the Chinese economy is provoking conflict in the countryside as local authorities sell off land, on which peasants have lived and worked for decades. These peasants have also been the victim of the hukou system of household registrations which constrains their rights to move to the cities for work. The massive gulf in prosperity between urban and rural China has been acknowledged in recent speeches by the leadership who promise a fairer distribution of the proceeds of economic growth.

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ENVIRONMENT

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Classification Trash China's environmental problems are gargantuan because of the sheer numbers of people who await their rights to the benefits of an industrialized economy. The country's environmental sustainability is widely threatened by urban air pollution, acid rain, water shortages, water pollution from untreated wastes, deforestation, estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1949 to soil erosion and economic development, desertification, and trade in endangered species.

The controversial Three Gorges Dam project has gone ahead despite the refusal of the World Bank to fund it over concerns that it will eventually displace a total of 1.2 million people. The loss to the environment has been catastrophic and it is yet to be seen whether or not this exercise in flood control (a huge priority for the government) will work.

Environmental Governance Of increasing concern is how the environmental impact of the country's growth is becoming ever more global. Although China is a signatory to the Kyoto agreement, it has no obligation to control emissions and its ongoing construction of dozens of coal-fired power stations is ringing alarm bells for climate change. And China's demand for soya (used to feed livestock) contributes more to the clearance of the Amazon rainforest than the logging, cattle farming and mining combined. The Harbin chemical spill in 2005 is the most recent example, its potential pollution of Russian water supplies aggravated by the initial instinct of Chinese officials to cover up the incident.

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