Yet another reason to despise the Chinese government. Keep up the good work, fellas.
A self-immolation took place in the heart of China’s capital city last month, but it has taken weeks for the news to leak out via foreign tourists. Police acted immediately to put out the fire and the man who did it has reportedly recovered.
The incident, which took place on October 21, has gone completely unreported on China’s heavily censored state media and social networks, despite being witnessed by hundreds of onlookers in the middle of day. After The Daily Telegraph published a photo of the man in the UK this week, government officials have finally admitted that the incident took place and that the 42-year-old man “took the extreme action because of discontent over the outcome of a civil litigation in a local court.” Read more.
A wounded villager from Wukan is seen after a riot with the police the day earlier in Lufeng, a city of 1.7 million, in the southern Chinese Guangdong province, on September 23, 2011. Hundreds of villagers in southern China protested on Friday over a government seizure of land, the latest outbreak of trouble in Guangdong province that illustrates growing public anger at the practice of land grabs.
See more. [Image: Reuters]
Caption from a picture in this amazing photoset, which I linked to earlier today.
When I was a kid, my dad was one of those fathers who really did tell me to finish my dinner, because “there are people starving in China, you know.” (And yes, I’m aware how much that ages me.) As The Atlantic points out, it’s difficult to imagine fathers using that same line today and getting away with it. (“There are people starving in Bangladesh, you know” just doesn’t have the same ring to it…)
So far, my China experience has rarely extended beyond the borders of Shanghai proper, but if this city is any indication of the country’s eating habits — and it sounds like it is — the figures above don’t surprise me at all. Fast food chains abound, convenience stores are ubiquitous (as are the snacks therein, which many people seem to consider meals), and, while I haven’t seen any morbidly obese locals, I’ve been shocked by the prevalence of chubby toddlers and roundish adults. Flat-out fatness can’t be that far down the line.
Good analysis from The Atlantic, but I’m dubious of the EIU’s index, at least with respect to Shanghai, which they rank five spots above New York. I moved here from New York, and there is no way Shanghai is more expensive all-around. Maybe if you buy into the real estate bubble here, maybe if you eat overpriced Western food for every meal every day, maybe if you attend movies every week and drink Starbucks and go clubbing on the weekends… Then you could probably spend more than you would living a standard, comfortable existence in Brownstone Brooklyn. But, to use the only example I really can, I am living in the nicest apartment I’ve ever had — alone — in the most desirable neighborhood in Shanghai, going out fairly regularly, and eating plenty of Western food, and I’m doing it all on a salary less than what I earned at my first job out of college, at a suburban nonprofit… and I’m still putting away plenty of yuan.
If the EIU didn’t charge to poke around, I’d be elbows-deep in their data trying to figure out how they reached that conclusion (among others).
Zenaide Muneton is a nanny in New York City. Last year, she made more than $200,000, Planet Money reports. Yes, with five zeros.
How in the world can Manhattan nannies be worth $200,000 a year? One answer is that they’re more talented than your typical babysitter. The highest-paid nannies can…
(One) facility that intrigued me… handled online orders for a different well-known American company. I was there around dawn, which was crunch time. Because of the 12-hour time difference from the U.S. East Coast, orders Americans place in the late afternoon arrive in China in the dead of night. As I watched, a customer in Palatine, Illinois, perhaps shopping from his office, clicked on the American company’s Web site to order two $25 accessories. A few seconds later, the order appeared on the screen 7,800 miles away in Shenzhen. It automatically generated a packing and address slip and several bar-code labels. One young woman put the address label on a brown cardboard shipping box and the packing slip inside. The box moved down a conveyer belt to another woman working a “pick to light” system: She stood in front of a kind of cupboard with a separate open-fronted bin for each item customers might order from the Web site; a light turned on over each bin holding a part specified in the latest order. She picked the item out of that bin, ran it past a scanner that checked its number (and signaled the light to go off), and put it in the box. More check- weighing and rescanning followed, and when the box was sealed, young men added it to a shipping pallet.
By the time the night shift was ready to leave—8 a.m. China time, 7 p.m. in Palatine, 8 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast—the volume of orders from America was tapering off. More important, the FedEx pickup time was drawing near. At 9 a.m. couriers would arrive and rush the pallets to the Hong Kong airport. The FedEx flight to Anchorage would leave by 6 p.m., and when it got there, the goods on this company’s pallets would be combined with other Chinese exports and re-sorted for destinations in America. Forty-eight hours after the man in Palatine clicked “Buy it now!” on his computer, the item showed up at his door. Its return address was a company warehouse in the United States; a small MADE IN CHINA label was on the bottom of the box.
At 8 a.m. in Shenzhen, the young women on the night shift got up from the assembly line, took off the hats and hairnets they had been wearing, and shook out their dark hair. They passed through the metal detector at the door to their workroom (they pass through it going in and coming out) and walked downstairs to the racks where they had left their bikes. They wore red company jackets, as part of their working uniform—and, as an informal uniform, virtually every one wore tight, low-rise blue jeans with embroidery or sequins on the seams. Most of them rode their bikes back to the dormitory; others walked, or walked their bikes, chatting with each other. That evening they would be back at work. Meanwhile, flocks of red-topped, blue-bottomed young women on the day shift filled the road, riding their bikes in.
From “China Makes, the World Takes,” by James Fallows, in the July/August 2007 Atlantic. Great stuff. I rediscovered this one by picking up a copy of Postcards from Tomorrow Square, Fallows’s collection of essays about China. It might be a bit elementary for you longtime ex-pats out there, but I highly recommend it to everyone else.
A long-standing conflict over the sovereignty of a group of eight tiny, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea has resulted in dozens of anti-Japanese protests across China, some violent. The dispute came to a head after the Japanese government nationalized control of three of the largest islands earlier this month, purchasing them from a private Japanese family for more than US$25 million. The island group is called Senkaku Islands by the Japanese, Diaoyu Islands by the Chinese, Tiaoyutai Islands by Taiwanese, or the Pinnacle Islands by English speakers. Beyond national pride, potentially large gas reserves and fishing rights have raised the stakes, and China is now moving to assert its claim to the islands, contain the demonstrations at home, and respond forcefully to what it sees as a major Japanese provocation.
See more. [Images: AP, Reuters]