China As It Is

China’s higher education: debt and unemployment

According to the statistics of Bank of China, the debt of China universities has accumulated to the tune of RMB200 billion. The No.1 borrower is Jilin University (RMB3 billion debt), followed by Guangdong Industrial University (RMB2.3 billion debt), Zhengzhou University (RMB2.1 billion debt), Nanchang University and Guangzhou University (RMB2 billion debt respectively).

It is the first time that the China Government has admitted to the scale of debt problem faced by the higher education institutions.

Another higher education problem in China is the scale of unemployment among university graduates. China’s Ministry of Education predicts that this year there will be over one million graduates who cannot land a job.

I recall that when I ran a language school business in Hangzhou, eastern China, a graduate in international business came for job interview. She was then working as an assistant in a university’s Chinese language program. Asked why she chose to study for international business when the chance for her to work in a related profession is remote, she just smiled. She was not able to give an answer. You will guess it right. I didn’t hire her.

And major in international business in a university in Hangzhou?? Where to find the real expertise to teach such a subject? She may forget that Hangzhou is a tourist city, not a business city.

Maybe the kind of choice some China students make is partly to blame for their unemployment upon graduation.

China As It Is

Family visit by China president

During the short trip China president Hu Jintao made to Hong Kong to mark the 10th anniversary of the city’s return to China, he paid a visit to two Hong Kong families. 

In the first family where the father is a construction worker, Hu gave the family a Leno computer as a gift. It was reported that he danced a Mongolian dance with the family’s little daughter.

Hu visited a second family where the mother is a mandarin teacher, He gave the family a plasma tv set as a gift.

Hu also talked with the families to understand their work and family life, it was reported.

I was struck by the “uniqueness” of this kind of activity integrating into the agenda of a nation’s head, and becoming the focus of news reports – It would be something very odd in the West.

I guess when a government is not elected, but claims it serves the people, it should be natural that it has to remind the public from time to time that they do serve the people, by staging relentless shows and propaganda.

China As It Is Hong Kong As It Is

The hint to applaud

In case you don’t know, in China, when the leadership makes a speech, clapping hands in support of the points they make, from time to time, is common practice. But how can the people know when they should applaud? Easy, the leadership will raise the tone at places intended to be applauded, and then the public will know and acknowledge by clapping hands.

I was watching news yesterday on TV and could not help hold Hong Kong’s chief executive Donald Tsang in awe. Gosh, he was so good in imitating the Chinese leadership when making a speech to the Hong Kong-based Chinese army (PLA, People’s Liberation Army). Where he praised the army for its professionalism and friendliness, he skillfully raised the tone at the end of the sentence, and immediately the audience of the soldiers exploded in applauding. I found it both funny and pathetic.

Well, there must be reasons why Mr Tsang can be HK’s chief executive, and the above episode demonstrates why: You have to behave and think like you boss does.

It is saddening for HK, whose people have worked so hard to build the port city into a world renowned city, only to see they have no say in who with what attributes to lead them, and are told economic prosperity is the only thing they treasure. Their voice is fabricated and not heard.

When the government is spending a great deal of money to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of HK’s return to China, I find myself indifferent to all the fanfare.

China As It Is

China’s heroine Gao Yaojie and her children

I saw a profile tonight on Hong Kong TV of Gao Yaojie, China’s retired doctor who disclosed the tragedy of farmers in Hunan Province contracting AIDS after selling blood for money, and consequently suffer house arrest, communication cut-off from the outside world, and monitoring day and night by the police.

If not for watching the profile, I would not have known what a great woman Gao is. Well, I knew she is great, from the media, but not until I get the chance to see on TV what she has to say, and what sacrifices she has to make, do I understand her – and China – better.

She was filmed going to the US to get a prestigious award from Vital Voices, a non-profit organization for her contribution to the AIDS issue in China. She said: “I do not feel happy. I feel a mix of emotions for getting the award.” Previously, she said, her son kneeled down on the floor to beg her not to go to the US. “Just say you are sick. Don’t go to the US, my son said. But how can you lie to the whole world? I don’t want to lie, just like so many people in this dark society.”

“My son’s head kneeled so down that it touched the floor. It hurt me. I announce herewith to the world, what I do has nothing to do with my son.”

Gao going to the US to get the award was stopped by the Government of Henan province, where she lives. Gao was finally be able to make it because Hilary Clinton intervened, pleading to China’s President and Premier. Reaction of Gao’s son is understandable. He was imprisoned for three years during Cultural Revolution because of his mum’s brave criticism of the Government. Now, he didn’t want more troubles for his mum and himself, so he was pleading his mum not to go against the will of the authority.

But Gao was determined. “I am 80 years old. What can I fear? I will not lie and I will die without regrets.”

Her daughter, also a doctor, lost her job because of the fierce criticism Gao levied on the authority. She left China a few years ago and moved to Canada where she has to work as a waitress in a restaurant, rather than as a doctor. She had a bad relationship with her mum Gao since. Only after her dad died, did her relationship with her mum improved.

About the situation of her daughter, Gao said:” I feel helpless. What can I do?”

The TV profile shows her daughter meeting her mother Gao in the US. The daughter didn’t want to talk about her relationship with her mum. She said: “For an outsider, my mum does the right thing. But for an insider, ….” She didn’t want to continue. Her tears were rolling in her eyes.

I think tragedies like this can only happen in China, and more tragically, tragedies like this continue into today’s China, a rising economic power.

China As It Is

The decision of a China sexologist

china's sexologist Li yinheChina’s sexologist Li Yinhe, known for her liberal stand, announced on her blog on Feb 8 that her “leaders” (superiors) asked her to shut up. So she decides that from now on she will avoid not to be interviewed by the media and talk less on sex-related issues.

Ms Li supports same-sex marriage, for instance. This has caused controversy in China where a majority of people view same-sex marriage with disgust.

In announcing her decision to “shut up”, Li said China has not reached the stage of civilization as accepting same-sex marriage. Maybe she can only be the witness of a social change to happen, but not the participant of the change.

It is sad, very sad that a country of five-thousand year civilization has not reached the stage of allowing for a public intellectual discussion of sex-related issues, not to mention tolerance for same-sex marriages.

With no openness of mind and attitude, where will the five-thousand year civilization be directed to, despite its increasing wealth and booming economy?

I recall that I talked about my experience of censorship in China and a foreigner living in China responded that he could not access the gmail, but then so what? So what? Because he himself is not a Chinese and does not rely on Chinese language as the source of information. Of course, he didn’t feel the pinch. As a foreigner living in China, they simply have privileges the local Chinese don’t have in terms of access to information. hosts a major blogging community. The portal exercises censorship on a daily basis. Message can be just deleted without any prior notification. The extent is so that it has flamed public anger recently and a group of sina bloggers, including two law professors in Beijing, launched a joint protest letter, but it was blocked – of course.

The bloggers are becoming an influence force in the society and the government is quite worried. It is said that it is considering to request all who want to blog or respond to the blogs to be registered with id card numbers and their names. That would be a total disaster for China’s freedom of speech.