Erenlai - Social Changes and Challenges 變動中的華人社會
Social Changes and Challenges 變動中的華人社會

Social Changes and Challenges 變動中的華人社會

Here are materials that examine and assess the current issues that are influencing the Pacific-Asian culture and society.





Monday, 26 May 2008

Health situation and ecological tensions in China

Problems of health and anxieties related to the environment are part of the same equation. The WHO considers that 17% of deaths in the western region of the Pacific – a region where the Chinese population is huge - are linked to one or even more ecological health risks.

The link between social tensions and environmental problems was strikingly illustrated by the demonstrations which occurred in Xiamen in May-June 2007. The people came onto the streets to oppose the construction of a giant petrochemical complex intended to produce parayxlene, a substance used in the manufacture of polyesters and dangerous for the health of those exposed to it without protection. At the end of a mass campaign which saw about a million telephone messages exchanged (and after the closure of the internet sites which denounced this construction), the deputy mayor had declared that the project was suspended temporarily. But the inhabitants continued their pressure to try to ensure that the project would be abandoned for good.

In May-June, 2007, Wuxi, an industrial centre in the Yangtze delta, the urban area of which contains 6 million people, had a water shortage for several days because of the proliferation of algae in Lake Taihu. The heat, combined with continuous discharge of a large part of the town’s sewage into the lake and the pollution from the factories, had contributed to the development of this green slick, which was finally controlled after sixty thousand tonnes of algae had been cleared.(1) There had already been a spectacular illustration of this in the serious incidents of pollution of water courses which occurred in
November and December 2005 at Harbin and close to Canton.(2) And the history of these repeated catastrophes points to structural failure:(3) China’s ecological crisis could not be overestimated.

One can see how the health, environmental and social problems must be grasped as a whole. The “Report on the implementation of the project for national economic and social development” from 2006 and the “Sketch of the 2007 Plan for national economic and social development” describe quite well the overall situation, as perceived by the Party-State:
“The need to save energy and to reduce pollution is extremely urgent because pressures on resources and the environment are continuing to grow. (…) Public opinion is expressing serious concerns as to the lack of accessibility and the excessive cost of medical care and education. There are also serious problems on the subject of the safety of food and drugs, housing, distribution of incomes, public safety and production. Other problems which have a negative impact on people’s interests include restructuring of enterprises, demolition of homes and rehousing in urban sectors, acquisition of lands and expropriations and
protection of the environment”.(4) Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize-winner for Economics, often uses a comparison to indicate the nature of the Chinese problem: “Although Chinese economic growth has been much faster than in India since the economic reforms of 1979, life expectancy in India has increased about three times faster than in China. In 1979, life expectancy for a Chinese was 14 years longer than for an Indian. It is now only seven years longer. Some regions of the country,
like the province of Kerala, now have an advance of four years over China in terms of life expectancy. In 1979, China and Kerala had exactly the same rates of infant mortality – 37 per 1,000. In Kerala today the infant mortality rate has fallen from 37 to 10, while the figure in China has fallen from 37 to 30”.(5)

(1) Xinhua press agency, 15 June 2007.
(2) Note at the same time that the catastrophe which occurred at Harbin was to accelerate the completion of major improvement works carried out along the Songhua river, one of the most polluted rivers in the country.
(3) The case of the River Huai, which provides the entry on the subject in the book by Elizabeth Economy, is particularly striking. Cf. E. Economy, "The River Runs Black", Cornell U.P., 2004.
(5) http://www/ The comparison between Kerala and China has often been repeated by A. Sen on the basis of his work, "Development as Freedom, and other essays on the concept of human development".

Attached media :
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Tuesday, 29 January 2008


梁准 撰文


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Monday, 28 January 2008


梁准 撰文


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Wednesday, 23 January 2008


梁准 撰文


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Friday, 04 January 2008


魏明德 撰文



Saturday, 29 December 2007

Healthcare in China today

China faces several emerging healthcare challenges, among them are:
- Diseases linked to air pollution and cigarettes: respiratory illnesses are now the first cause of mortality.
- HIV-epidemic: in January 2006, according to a joint estimation by the Chinese government, WHO and UNAIDS, there were 650 000 HIV-infected people in China.
- The pressing necessity to build a healthcare system that better caters for the needs of rural areas and the urban poor.
In 2006, 80% of medical resources were concentrated in cities.

From the eighties on, costs of medical treatment have increased, while rural health coverage has decreased as economic reforms have yielded priority to market mechanisms.

In 2003, 80% of the rural population was not covered by any insurance. Furthermore, 120 million workers going from the countryside to the cities were excluded from the public health care insurance system. Several studies show that at least 30% of Chinese people refuse to be hospitalized because of financial costs.

The Public Health Insurance

Chinese Public Health Insurance reforms started in 1998. It mainly covers big enterprises’ employees in the cities and is financed out of "welfare funds".

The public health insurance is slowly covering more and more of the urban population. Over the past years, the government has decided to extend it to the self-employed and the migrant workers. Between 1998 and 2006, the number of urbanites covered by the public health insurance system increased sevenfold. However by the end of 2006, only 160 million of the 500 million urban residents were covered.

The public health insurance system is supposed to cover all urban residents by 2012.

The New Rural Cooperative Medical Care System (NRCMCS)

Since 2003, cooperatives has subsidised health insurance for rural households who now voluntarily pay a contribution of 10 RMB (1.28 $US) per person and per year. The enrollees can have between 20% and 60% of their healthcare costs reimbursed but they have to pay first their costs.

By the end of 2006, the government was allocating 4.23 billion RMB to the NRCMCS. In March 2007, 410 million of rural residents were covered (i.e. 50.7% of the rural population). The government expects the NRCMS to cover 100% of the rural population by 2010.

A balance between the market (private insurance) and the State has not been found yet. In a time of environmental diseases and risks of pandemics, the Chinese healthcare system remains fragile.

Attached media :
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_en.jpg|}media/articles/HealthcareinChina.swf{/rokbox}

Monday, 17 December 2007

The Water Festival of Dujiangyan

This set of pictures and the accompanying text are available for purchase on
Tale Image

Attached media :
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_en.jpg|}media/articles/Dujiangyan.swf{/rokbox}

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Urbanization in China - Part III : A new social map

I.Urbanization pattern

II.New Social Areas

The government projects to:
• Spend an annual 140 billion yuans to develop urban infrastructures facilities (increase water-supply, wastewater treatment, natural gas supply, increase green areas, and build in-city roads).
• Improve public transportation between downtown area and the suburbs to divert more residents to the suburbs and reduce the real estate prices downtown.

By 2015, half of the Chinese population will be living in cities, but what kind of cities will they be?

Attached media :
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_en.jpg|}media/articles/Urbanization Part III.swf{/rokbox}

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Urbanization in China - Part II: The consequences of fast growing urbanization

Fast growing urbanization leads to some disastrous consequences notably on environment.

I. Migrations & Inequalities

II. Degraded quality of life

Attached media :
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_en.jpg|}media/articles/Urbanization Part II.swf{/rokbox}

Friday, 26 October 2007

Urbanization in China - Part I: The urban development

China has long been a rural society, but the urbanization rate is growing fast.

This is the first step of this three-parts flash animation.

It introduces

I. China’s territorial division

II. The speeding urban growth

III. History of urban development policies

Attached media :
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_en.jpg|}media/articles/Urbanization Part I.swf{/rokbox}

Friday, 28 September 2007




Friday, 28 September 2007


2003 年8月,我离开白乌,出去找工作。2004 年9月回来以后,就待在白乌。我到田里工作。我发现,如果只是赚钱的话,待在家里或出去打工存得钱差不多。当然,在外头打工赚得多,但是还要扣掉日常开销以及路钱…
我到新疆乌鲁木齐附近收割棉花。有人到白乌找人,我们一百人跟著他走。我在棉花田做了一个月,建筑做了三个月,后来挖运河做了八个月。最后我带回来7000 元人民币 。工作很辛苦,而且没办法寄钱回家。


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