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Links 1 through 10 of 21 by David Bandurski tagged development

A "blue paper" issued today by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences argues that "income inequality" in China has continued to worsen. The report reads: "The social blue paper believes that income distribution has consistently been a hot topic getting general attention in society. Related studies have shown that the inequality of income distribution in China overall continues to rise. Since the national government raised the [official] poverty line to 2,300 in 2011, the estimated rural population living in poverty in China has been 100 million, and the factors causing poverty in this population are complex. The task of mitigating poverty in the countryside remains an extremely arduous one."

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One of Sichuan province's largest commercial newspapers recently reported that Wenchuan County (汶川县), the site of the 2008 earthquake in which an estimated 68,000 people died, is now applying for 5A tourism destination status for Yingxiu (映秀), the town situated at the quake's epicenter. The lead editorial in today's The Beijing News questions the wisdom of this move, and cautions that the attempt to refashion Yingxiu as a tourist mecca should be sensitive to the views of the local people, and not just be thrust on them. The editorial concludes: "Tourism services in the earthquake region of Wenchuan should follow a standard, but this standard cannot be a routine application of the 5A tourism standard, but must take into account the special characteristics of the quake region. If the wishes of the people of Yingxiu and the feelings of all Chinese [about the tragedy] are not considered, and tourism is pushed in a big way atop the rubble of disaster, it would be better not to do this."

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In an editorial published in today's edition of Zhejiang Daily, the official Party mouthpiece of Zhejiang, the province's vice-governor, Chen Derong (陈德荣), heaps praise on the entrepreneurial spirit of the city of Wenzhou and criticizes what he calls the "demonization" of private financing. Chen concludes his editorial by saying that Wenzhou entrepreneurs have "used their fresh blood to protect the market economy." A number of entrepreneurs in Wenzhou were reported to have committed suicide in late 2011 as they were unable to repay huge private loans they had taken out with local financiers, often at rates of 70-90 percent. This led some in China to speak out against the practice of underground lending. Chen's editorial today counters by praising what he calls the "Wenzhou Model", based on a fierce entrepreneurial spirit.

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In today's China Youth Daily commentator Chen Fang (陈方) argues that social tensions in China cannot be resolved by spurring economic growth alone. Chen writes: "The point of economic development is to make the people more prosperous. Unfortunately, in our development model up to now, a number of local officials have placed more emphasis on the importance of development, always believing that issues of public welfare can be set to one side, that perhaps with development these public welfare issues will resolve themselves. In fact, once social tensions have gathered to a certain extent they will erupt again and again. Not only will public welfare issues be left unaddressed, but development will also be impacted."

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In a strongly-worded editorial today, sprinkled with humor (intended?) and innuendo, the Chinese-language Global Times newspaper criticizes "the West" for its "selfishness" during United Nations climate talks in Durban, South Africa. The editorial's points and criticisms center on the debate at Durban (and ongoing) over whether China can and should still be regarded as a "developing nation" (More: http://bit.ly/s91PUm). One of the more amusing rhetorical devices: "In Western society there is a very common habit, which is that men and women both change their clothes at least once a day, or at least change one item of clothing. In China, very few people have this habit, because people don't have that many clothes, and they can't use that much water, electricity and laundry detergent, to make themselves over freshly every day."

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Writing on his microblog account at Sina Weibo today, freelance journalist Fu Guoyong (傅国涌), who writes for Southern Weekend and other publications, summed up China's media today as follows: "A journalist asked me how I assess the media today. I said, strictly speaking, there are no relatively independent popular [or "non-governmental"] media today. While there are a large number of marketized media (市场化媒体), it is still the Party media behind them. Though we can't really say that everyone must simply accept control by propaganda organizations, their mouthpiece function surpasses their monitoring function. There is only a Xinhua Daily (http://xh.xhby.net/newxh/html/2011-12/05/node_2.htm) tradition, only a Party mouthpiece tradition, not a L'Impartial tradition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ta_Kung_Pao) or a Shen Bao (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shen_Bao) tradition." L'Impartial (or Ta Kung Pao) and Shen Bao were celebrated independent Chinese newspapers during China's Republican era.

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A report today in China Economic Weekly, a spin-off magazine of the official People's Daily, takes an original perspective on China's soaring (irrational?) property development sector by looking at value figures given for available building sites in various Chinese cities. The report notes on the basis of the figures for the country's capital that: "If all of the land in Beijing were sold off [at its declared value], the wealth that would result would surpass the total annual GDP of the United States. Now has real-estate in China become a saint or a demon?" 

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Jiangsu's Yangtze Evening News follows up today on a report from China Central Television's Oriental Horizon program exposing the illegal commercial development of Nanjing's Purple Mountain scenic area, home to the famous mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen (http://bit.ly/e5gFqw), who is generally regarded as the founding father of republican China. According to the reports, luxury villas have been under construction in the park for close to a year, despite the fact that commercial development in the scenic area was formally prohibited in 2004. 

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Writing in The Beijing News today, Peking University law professor Zhang Qianfan (张千帆) argues that the overbearing emphasis on GDP growth as a measure of political achievement for local officials in China is a key factor contributing to social unrest. Professor Zhang cites as an example the recent self-immolation case in Jiangxi province, in which he says pressure on local officials to generate growth led to forced land seizures, demolition and removal, leading to widespread rights violations culminating in an act of desperation -- citizens setting themselves on fire to protest the destruction of their homes.

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Speaking at a recent forum on development and water resources, Hu Siyi (胡四一), deputy minister of China's Ministry of Water Resources, said the condition of water resources in China would continue to worsen due to wide-scale economic development and global warming. Hu also said that the gap would continue to deepen between relative water resource wealth in China's south and scarcity in the north.

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