Thursday, October 18, 2007
HOW TO CURB EMISSIONS WITHOUT AFFECTING ECONOMIC GROWTH?
The US and China are actually in agreement on this; neither wants to reduce growth. This is unfortunately a typical scene: Landing at Beijing airport in late July, a year before the 2008 Olympic Games, visibility was poor due to smog.
Officials say they are working hard to cut pollution but won't say what's actually in the air and don't in fact regularly monitor two of the most dangerous pollutants: ozone and fine particulate matter. They also like to use averages and indexes rather than talk about specific locations (such as the Olympic village) and they are not very transparent about how and where their monitoring stations are placed. Athletes are worried.
A lot of the pollution comes from outside of Beijing, but it's unclear how hard officials are leaning on the surrounding areas to clean up before the Olympics. Detailed information here. Satellite data has confirmed Beijing is the air pollution capital of the world.
When I first arrived in Beijing in 2005, the view from my apartment window towards Pacific Century Place in Sanlitun, on an ordinary day, often looked like this:
That same view on a bad day looked like this:
Posted by Maureen at 1:44 PM
Monday, October 15, 2007
THERE'S A PARTY IN TIANANMEN SQUARE
Starting Monday, 2,213 delegates meet at the Great Hall of the People to discuss policies in the Communist Party platform and select new leaders. More than 1,100 foreign journalists and more than 800 domestic Chinese journalists are covering the week-long event, known as "Shi Qi Da," shorthand for the 17th Party Congress.
Li Dongsheng, spokesman for the congress, answered questions Sunday evening:
On how the party can attract new members when there are so many other ways to get rich:
More than 73 million people belong to the Communist Party, up 6.4% from the last party congress in 2002. "Many young people as well as many private businessmen are enthusiastic applicants for CPC membership," Li said.
"If we do a good job in admitting new party members from the private sector, we will be able to broaden the popular foundation for our party, enhance the influence and cohesion of the party across the society, we will be able to broaden the coverage of our party's work … we will be able to strengthen the competence of our party members and ensure that there is vitality and vigor in our members."
On combatting corruption:
"Corruption is a global problem. Countries across the world give top priority to the fight against corruption but I don't see any country that has successfully uprooted corruption," Li said. "Progress has been made … the overall situation is good."
In some areas, he added, "corruption is still quite serious. Big cases of corruption occur from time to time." As head of the party, President Hu Jintao has proposed measures to treat "both the symptoms and the root causes of corruption."
On plans for advancing political reform:
"Political reform hinges on the success of comprehensive reform and it is also critical for the fundamental interests of our people. We have advanced political reform without pause," Li said.
"Our political reform is the self-improvement and development of the socialist political sytem. It must be promoted actively yet prudently … we have taken into consideration the national circumstances of China, we have deepened political reform on the basis of our own experience. At the same time we have also drawn upon the achievements of human political civilization but we will never copy the Western model of political system."
Posted by Maureen at 1:16 AM
AIDS ACTIVIST, AUTHOR AND DOCTOR GAO YAOJIE
In Henan province, Gao Yaojie, 80, avoids other doctors as well as entrepreneurs who seek her endorsement for various cures for AIDS. She also has harsh words for officials who want her approval of their efforts to fight the disease.
She was detained earlier this year trying to get to Beijing to pick up a visa from the US embassy in order to attend a banquet in her honor in Washington. Under pressure, authorities relented and let her receive an award from the nonprofit Vital Voices Global Partnership.
The Central Government's rhetoric on HIV/AIDS has improved recently, but grassroots and provincial level policy are rarely on the same page, details here.
Posted by Maureen at 12:50 AM
THE 1000 POUND GROUP
Loosely translated, that is. Discrimination against all sorts of people and problems is wide-spread in China; the story of how one very overweight woman tried to do something about it, here.
They performed recently in Guiyang, Guangxi province, here:
Posted by Maureen at 12:24 AM