Archive for the Housing Category

China unveils policies to revitalize northeast [Xinhua]

Posted in China, Economy, Employment, Heilongjiang Province, Housing, Jilin Province, Labor, Liaoning Province, Reform and opening up, State-owned Enterprise (SOE) on October 21, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — The Chinese central government announced an action plan to assist the northeast region’s staggering economy with a list of new measures.

The plan aims to free up private businesses, deepen reforms of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), develop modern agriculture, renovate urban rundown areas and launch dozens of infrastructure projects in the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, according to the new measures announced Tuesday.

The 35 new measures, listed in a document by the State Council on its website, came as the northeastern regions saw the slowest economic growth among China’s provincial areas during the first half of this year.

China will speed up the construction of eight rail lines and build or expand 10 regional airports in the region, the document said.

SOEs are encouraged to sell part of their equities to private and foreign investors to build a mixed ownership system and pay for the reforms.

A new state-owned regional investment company will be established to hasten the reorganization of poorly run SOEs in the region, the document said.

The central government will support emerging industries including robotics, gas turbines, advanced marine engineering equipment and integrated circuits, as well as expanding the service industry of the region.

For traditional sectors such as agriculture, the document said the northeast provinces’ status as a core grain production base will be strengthened. Grain storage and logistical facilities will be improved.

The central government will fund the building of affordable housing and grain logistics facilities, included in a 60-billion-yuan (9.7 billion U.S. dollars) new credit reserve for shanty town renovation by the China Development Bank.

The document also named a few power transmission projects, nuclear power plant projects and heating projects to be initiated as part of a clean energy network in the region.

Once China’s industrial base, the northeast provinces relied heavily on SOEs to drive local economy but they fell short of the national economic growth of 7.4 percent in the first half of the year, with Heilongjiang’s GDP ranking at the bottom with an increase of just 4.8 percent during the period.

Editor: Luan

Article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-08/19/c_133568678.htm

Former toilet used as family home – PHOTOS [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Housing, Liaoning Province, Shenyang on July 12, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

March 20, 2012

Zeng Lingjun plays with his son next to an urinal at his home inside an unused toilet of a hotel in Shenyang, Liaoning province on March 18, 2012. Zeng, who is a shoe repairer, rented the unused toilet of a hotel since 2006 as his home, and made up his family by marrying Wang Zhixia in 2010, local media reported.(Photochinadaily.com.cn/Agencies)

Photo article link here

See related article, “Chinese migrant builds life in "toilet home"” [Xinhua]

Chinese migrant builds life in "toilet home" [Xinhua]

Posted in China, Economy, Employment, Housing, Liaoning Province, Shenyang on July 12, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

SHENYANG, March 27 (Xinhua) — An unused hostel restroom has been home to a poor migrant worker in a sprawling Chinese city for six years.

Zeng Lingjun, now 33, has built a home for his family since moving into the restroom in Shenyang. He has brought in simple furniture, gotten married, and had a baby, who is now 14 months old.

In the space of less than 20 square meters, Zeng placed planks over the squat toilet and uses the planks as a bed, which faces a small television placed on a table between two urinals. He has also hung a clock on the porcelain wall.

On the opposite wall, Zeng has pasted a red paper cut-out of the Chinese character "xi", or happiness — a Chinese tradition to court good luck.

"I am satisfied with what I have now," said Zeng, who came to Shenyang for work 13 years ago with only 50 yuan (8 U.S. dollars) in his pocket. "Life actually is better here than where I used to rough it out."

Zeng has rented the toilet from the hostel near Shenyang’s long-distance bus station for 8,000 yuan a year since 2006. He was also given, for free, a space in front of the hostel where he sits on a stool and polishes shoes for ten yuan a pair.

Zeng brings in about 2,000 yuan a month from the job, nearly double the minimum wage set by the government of Shenyang.

Zeng’s wife, Wang Zhixia, was a migrant worker herself, but chose to become a homemaker since late in her pregnancy.

Zeng told Xinhua that he is so content with life that he named his child "Deyi" — which means satisfying one’s desire.

But living in a toilet is not always as "comfy" as he describes.

Though the restroom has long been deserted, Zeng said he has to flush the toilet frequently to "wash away" the stinky odors that creep down through the pipes from the functional toilet above his home. And long-term exposure to the humid atmosphere has left his child with eczema.

Zeng said he wants to find a better paying job and move his family into a proper home. But earning extra money is not easy, as he still has to wire money home to his aging parents in the countryside and the family will soon have to spend money on the child’s education.

Zeng’s struggles caused an online sensation after pictures of his "toilet home" were posted on the Internet. Compassion poured in and aid money was pledged from around the country.

China’s 240 million rural migrant workers in cities and factory towns are crucial for keeping the world’s second-largest economy humming. But many migrant workers live in undesirable conditions, have limited access to health care, education, and social security resources, and they face challenges in holding their families and marriages together.

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Leung wins Hong Kong election by wide margin [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Corruption, Hong Kong, Housing, Income gap, Transportation on March 27, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Zhao Qian and Miranda Shek (Global Times)
March 26, 2012

Leung Chun-ying, a former government adviser who pledged to protect local residents’ interests, won Sunday’s election to become the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) fourth-term chief executive.

The 57-year-old, British-educated real-estate surveyor won 689 of 1,132 valid votes cast by members of the 1,200-member Election Committee. He beat Henry Tang, former secretary of administration, and Albert Ho, Democratic Party leader, by wide margins.

Leung had dedicated his election campaign to protecting the rights of Hong Kong residents, including tough policies to control the city’s runaway property prices and banning pregnant mothers from the mainland from giving birth at local public hospitals.

At the press conference after winning the poll, he reaffirmed his election pledges to build more public housing and promised to only sell homes to Hong Kong residents when the market becomes over-heated.

Leung also promised to speed up construction of the city’s infrastructure and railway systems. His term will begin July 1 when Donald Tsang Yam-kuen completes his second term as the city’s chief executive.

Leung was born into an ordinary family. His father was a police officer. After completing his studies in the UK, he went back to Hong Kong in 1977 to work as a property surveyor.

At age 31, Leung was appointed to draft the city’s Basic Law in 1986, and in 1999 he took up the post of convener of the Non-Official Members of the Executive Council of Hong Kong.

“Livelihood issues, including soaring property prices and the widening wealth gap, could be the major challenges for Leung during his tenure,” Zhang Dinghuai, a professor at the Contemporary Chinese Politics Research Institute at Shenzhen University, told the Global Times.

Zhang noted that Hong Kong could rely on the fast economic growth momentum of the mainland and seize a good opportunity to boost its economy.

The central government’s supportive policies, including setting up an offshore renminbi center in Hong Kong, could benefit the region’s development, said Zhang.

Bernard Yip, a political commentator and politics professor at Hong Kong University, told the Global Times that by only securing 689 votes, Leung will have a difficult time winning support from local residents.

“Hong Kong is going through a tough period as the election campaign revealed a lot of corruption suspicion toward the current chief executive and Henry Tang,” Yip said. “Leung needs to rebuild the public confidence in Hong Kong’s governance.”

Tang’s popularity was dealt a huge blow after he admitted to building a basement under his villa without government permits. Local media also reported that he did not pay his real estate taxes.

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, the current chief executive, is under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). He is the first chief executive to be suspected of corruption during his tenure.

About 2,000 people protested outside the election site Sunday, according to Reuters.

Eric Lai, spokesman for the Civil Human Rights Front, which organized the protest, said they did not want a selective committee to choose Hong Kong’s leader for them, and they needed universal suffrage.

But Ji Shuoming, a senior commentator of Asiaweek based in Hong Kong, told the Global Times that “the relatively lower votes for Leung could also be ascribed to more candidates this time than previous elections.”

Ji noted that the number of election committee members expanding from the previous 800 to the current 1,200, as well as more candidates being allowed to stand, all paved the way for universal suffrage in 2017.

The central government has said universal suffrage can start from the election of the Hong Kong chief executive in 2017 and for the legislature in 2020.

Zhang said that Hong Kong residents have the right to express different opinions, but they did not realize that universal suffrage has already been approved by the central government, and the SAR is now gradually moving toward the ultimate aim of universal suffrage.

“On Hong Kong’s constitutional development, both the central and local governments are fully committed to promoting constitutional development in accordance with the Basic Law, with a view to achieving the ultimate aim of universal suffrage,” a spokesman of the SAR government said in November.

“The SAR government has made it clear that the future universal suffrage models should comply with the Basic Law and the principles of universality and equality. The community has sufficient time to reach a consensus on issues relating to the implementation of universal suffrage in future,” the spokesman said, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90785/7768456.html

China to maintain its family planning policy: official [Xinhua]

Posted in China, Education, Employment, Family planning policy, Housing on October 31, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) — China will adhere to its family planning policy so as to maintain a low reproduction rate, said the country’s family planning chief on Sunday, expected to be the eve of the world’s population reaching seven billion.

“Over-population remains one of the major challenges to social and economic development,” said Li Bin, director of the State Population and Family Planning Commission in an exclusive interview with Xinhua, adding that the population of China will hit 1.45 billion in 2020.

Li said maintaining and improving the existing family planning policy and keeping a low reproduction rate, along with addressing the issues of gender imbalance and an aging population, will be the major tasks in the future.

Li’s words came just one day before Oct. 31, the day on which the United Nations estimates the world’s population will reach seven billion.

Zhai Zhenwu, a leading Chinese demographer, said earlier in the past week that China’s family planning policy had postponed this day for at least five years, as it prevented 400 million people from being added to the country’s population, which is 1.34 billion at present.

“The population of China would have hit 1.7 billion had it not been for the family planning policy, and it would have created more difficulties for society,” said Li.

The most populous nation in the world, China introduced its family planning policy, often referred to as the “one-child policy”, in the late 1970s to curb pressure on the environment and resources.

Li said the policy has made a favorable environment for the country’s economic development and social stability by alleviating demand for fundamentals including education, employment and housing.

Thanks to the policy, China’s average education term has reached nine years and its population’s life expectancy 73.5 years. In addition, maternal mortality rates and infant mortality rates are among the lowest in all developing countries.

China is focusing more on the all-round development and the livelihood of the people. It is a model of poverty relief efforts for developing countries, said Li.

“The Chinese government seriously fulfills the World Population Plan of Action and the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations, making positive contributions to the world’s population development,” said Li.

However, Li said that besides overpopulation, China is still facing other population-related challenges, including gender imbalance and an aging population.

For every 100 girls born in 2010, 118 boys were born. And 13.26 percent of China’s population are aged 60 or above. It is expected the ratio will hit one third, or 440 million, by 2050. One fifth of the population will be 80 years of age or older in 2050, according to Li.

Although the average education term has been extended, the rate of higher educated people in the main labor force stands only 12 percent, which still lags far behind the average level in developed countries.

In the meantime, the rate of infant defects in recent years has stood at four percent to six percent, and people with disabilities account for 6.34 percent of the aggregate population, said Li.

“We must stick to the existing policy, raise the quality of the population and optimize its structure, so as to reach the sustainable development of population, society, environment and economy,” Li said…

Full article with photos: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-10/30/c_131220403.htm

“The truth behind China’s train tragedy” – Don’t listen to US media lies [Workers World]

Posted in Beijing, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Capitalist media double standard, China, China-bashing, Corporate Media Critique, CPC, Dalai Lama, George W. Bush, Germany, Housing, Japan, Media smear campaign, PLA, Premier Wen Jiabao, Shanghai, Tibet, Transportation, USA on August 9, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Stephen Millies
Published Aug 8, 2011 10:10 PM

A terrible train wreck occurred July 23 in China’s Zhejiang province near Wenzhou, about 220 miles south of Shanghai. Thirty-nine people were killed and 200 injured as a moving train crashed into a stalled train. Passenger cars were thrown off a viaduct.

People around the world were saddened by the loss of life in China’s train disaster. Many Chinese are upset over this tragedy and are wondering how it could have happened. The railroad line opened in 2009.

Unlike President George W. Bush, who let Black and poor people drown and starve in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao went to the scene and comforted survivors in hospitals. Some railroad officials have already been fired as an investigation into the wreck continues.

What is known so far is that lightning apparently knocked out the overhead power line, forcing one train to stop. The lightning strike also changed the stop signal so the following train was allowed to proceed. Because of this malfunctioning signal, the engineer had no idea there was a stalled train ahead.

Railroad signal technology has developed over the last 160 years, yet signal failures still occasionally occur.

In the late 1980s this writer was working in an Amtrak signal tower in New Jersey. A commuter train was crossing over in front of an Amtrak train near Philadelphia despite a “clear” signal allowing the Amtrak train to proceed. Fortunately, the Amtrak engineer saw the other train in time and was able to stop the Amtrak train.

*** Behind China’s rail growth ***

Socialist China’s answer to the capitalist economic crisis has been to build railroads, dozens of subways and plenty of new housing. What a contrast to capitalist decay in the United States where just in New York City alone, St. Vincent’s, St. John’s, Cabrini and Sydenham hospitals have closed.

From about 400 miles of high-speed railroad lines in 2008, China now has over 5,000 miles. China’s latest five-year plan calls for almost 19,000 more miles of railroad, not all of it high speed, at the cost of over $400 billon.

On June 30 China opened an 832-mile high-speed line linking Beijing and Shanghai. Every day 90 trains are scheduled to go each way, with the fastest ones making the trip in less than five hours.

Going over frozen tundra and high mountains, the railroad line linking Tibet Province with the rest of China is an engineering marvel. Most Tibetans had been serfs under the Dalai Lama until they were freed by the People’s Liberation Army in 1959.

Meanwhile, at least 60,000 miles of railroad lines in the United States were abandoned. Since 1947, 1.2 million railroad jobs have been abolished.

*** Healthy debate, media lies ***

There’s a big debate in China over building the high-speed rail system. Some wonder if tickets will be too expensive for workers and peasants, or if dangerous shortcuts might be taken because of the rapid construction.

In the last 30 years, though the socialist state still controls much of the Chinese economy, capitalists have been allowed to flourish. Are some of these crooks bribing officials for railroad contracts?

Relatives of those killed in the crash have demonstrated and demanded compensation.

None of this activity is counterrevolutionary. Members of the 80-million-strong Communist Party are joining this healthy debate and asking tough questions.

The defamation campaign of the worldwide capitalist media is completely different. The media harp on the fact that the famous Japanese bullet trains have never killed anybody. That is good for capitalist Japan.

German capitalists are also known for having a good railroad system. This reputation didn’t prevent 101 people from being killed in a train crash near the village of Eschede on June 3, 1998.

This was the highest number of people ever killed in a high-speed train wreck. Yet as the China Daily noted on Aug.1, this Eschede disaster is missing from big-business-owned media accounts.

The real capitalist attitude was expressed by a blogger on businessinsider.com, who advised investors, “If one is so keen to profit on tragedy, buy Chinese airlines stocks.” The Washington Post on July 27 lectured China about its rail system and wrote that it cannot be a model for the U.S.

Chinese workers don’t need the Washington Post to tell them how to build railroads. Chinese labor was indispensable for the first U.S. transcontinental railroad crossing California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. In return, Chinese Americans got racism and death, such as the lynching of at least 18 Chinese in Los Angeles in 1871.

Where were these Post editorial writers when nine people died in a train crash on the Washington Metro in the nation’s capital on June 22, 2009?

Completely preventable train accidents have occurred near Washington, D.C. Sixteen people were killed in the Chase, Md., disaster on Jan. 4, 1987. Eleven people — including eight youths who had just graduated from a Job Corps camp — were killed in a crash outside Silver Spring, Md., on Feb. 16, 1996.

While engineers were blamed for these disasters, both these tragedies never would have occurred if necessary safety equipment hadn’t been removed.

Behind the corporate-owned media bashing of China is a fear of Chinese competition in technology and construction. U.S., European and Japanese capitalists don’t want People’s China to develop its own high-speed rail technology and signal systems.

But China will not be stopped from moving forward.

The writer is a member of Local 1402, Transportation Communications International Union/IAM.
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Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/2011/world/china_train_0811/

Stay vigilant about loss of government’s ‘intangible assets’ [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Corruption, CPC, CPC Central Committee (CPCCC), Economy, Environmental protection, Housing, Shenzhen on July 7, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

June 10, 2011

Sincerely responding to social concerns and voluntarily maintaining the governments’ “intangible assets” including credibility are the political responsibilities of each party and government cadre. Emergencies would turn into negative factors harming the government’s credibility if they cannot be dealt with well, while proper handling may enhance credibility.

While economic development and social wealth accumulation are tangible, credibility belongs to intangible assets. Just like tangible assets, intangible assets should also be accumulated bit by bit. The difference is that the government’s intangible assets can be lost in a much easier and faster way. The responses of governments at all levels to hot issues and of social concern in recent years have demonstrated the rise and fall of intangible assets.

Following the 2009 Chengdu bus fire tragedy, the government disclosed information in an active and timely manner, which not only resolved various doubts and uncertainties but also united the pubic to face difficulty together with the government. Faced with public doubt about prohibiting groups of migrant workers to appeal for payments during the 2011 Shenzhen Universiade, housing construction authorities lifted the ban and apologized publicly. This not only showed the spirit of Shenzhen as a special economic zone but also effectively maintained the reputation of the local government.

Emergencies would turn into negative factors harming the government’s credibility if they cannot be dealt with well, while proper handling may enhance credibility.

It is important not to blame the information disclosers in the wake of events, but rather we should promote smooth exchange between the government and the public. Furthermore, we must not shift responsibilities after situation is worsened, but rather we should focus on solving practical problems. If emergencies can be responded to in such ways, the outcome will be a win-win result, turning crises into opportunities. The government’s public management and credibility will be improved and the public’s legitimate aspirations and interests of fairness will be realized.

Some officials mistakenly believe that being open-minded to criticism and actively responding to public doubts will damage their image and prestige. However, nobody is always right, and the governments cannot always make the right decisions. When faced with criticism or unexpected events, cadres should not put off their duties or sweep mistakes under the carpet.

It has been repeatedly proven that it is inappropriate, overdue responses that makes things worse and even causes a trust crisis. The crisis could put government officials in a difficult situation where they will be criticized no matter what they do, even when they are doing good things, and people will not trust what they say, even when they are telling the truth.

In a period of social transformation when some conflicts emerge, local governments carry heavy burden and the cadres face great challenges in governance. Despite all difficulties, the Party should adhere to the principle of wholeheartedly serving the people, implement the scientific development outlook and strengthen the belief that “intangible assets,” including public trust, are much more important than “tangible assets” such as economic growth.

Certain local governments are increasing “tangible assets” at the expense of “intangible assets.” More specifically, they have built high-rise buildings, established convenient modern transportation systems, and achieved rapid GDP growth, but the forced demolition, corruption, jerry-built projects and pollution problems have simultaneously reduced public trust in government…

By People’s Daily Online

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Full article: http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90780/91342/7406370.html