Posts tagged ‘farming’

Friday, November 8, 2013

Press Review: the “Magic” of Third Plenary Sessions

The Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Central Committee’s third plenary session is scheduled to begin on Saturday, and to close on Tuesday. The Economist is full of joy and great expectations:

When colleagues complain that meetings achieve nothing, silence them with eight leaden words: “third plenary session of the 11th central committee”. This five-day Communist Party gathering in December 1978 utterly changed China.

Why should Xi Jinping be in a position to repeat a similar plenum tomorrow, 35 years after the 1th Central Committee? Because Xi, and chief state councillor Li Keqiang, have assembled an impressive bunch of market-oriented advisers, and because Xi himself appears to have more authority than any leader since Deng. And he had done nothing downplay expecations.

press review

The outland expects nothing short of a (counter) revolution.

The Economist’s editorial mentions two fields on which the central committee – in its view – should focus: state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the countryside. The magazine has been banging on about the latter issue since March 2006 – if not earlier. In its March 25, 2006 edition, it suggested land reform (“how to make China even richer”), and it saw some of its expectations met in winter 2008, but the third plenum that Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao chaired in October 2008 proved an anticlimax.

If the next days should not produce spectacular decisions, neither the Economist nor the Financial Times appear to be too worried: bloated phrasing, the FT suggests, has not been an obstacle to far-reaching economic policy changes in China over the past 35 years. The FT also agrees with the Economist’s 2008 finding that

for Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, the 2003 third plenum became a marker of his administration’s shortcomings. Mr Hu vowed at the plenum to tackle China’s unbalanced growth, but a decade later left office with the economy even more reliant on investment.

But contrary to the Economist, the FT doesn’t seem to believe that the input from the market-oriented advisers, assembled by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, will translate into results quite as dramatic as the think-tank papers. Incremental change would prevail.

One of the ideas – certainly not shared by all Chinese leaders alike – behind the right to farmers to sell their land is that the money earned from sales would enable them to start new lives in the cities or in urbanized areas. This would, apparently, require loosening or abandoning the household-registration system, even if some more conservative models of trading land-related rights rather seem to encourage rural citizens to stay where they are.

This should make sense – maybe not everywhere, but in many places. After all, Hu Jintao’s and Wen Jiabao’s caution wasn’t unfounded. The history of Chinese agriculture seems to have been about making farmers owners of their land – with concepts of ownership which most probably differ from our days -, even if for different goals. The idea then was to make agriculture work, not to make urbanization work. And time and again, land concentrated, back into the hands of small elites, Erling von Mende, a sinologist, suggested in a contribution for a popular-science illustrated book published by Roger Goepper, in 1988.*)

If a peasant in Gansu province sells his few mu of land – to a local developer, for example – and heads to a big city, one may doubt that his small capital would get him very far. He might return to his home province as a poorer man than ever before. It’s unlikely that the center would loosen all the brakes at once.

The most striking thing to me about recent foreign coverage of the plenary session aren’t the technicalities, however. It is the way China is being looked at as just another kind of political system. The potential of big business seems to have squashed ethical issues.

That’s not soft power, but it is Beijing power. A number of former foreign officials, among them Mexico’s former president Ernesto Zedillo and former British prime minister Gordon Brown, pilgrimaged to the Chinese capital to attend a conference of the 21st Century Council, a global think tank (apparently formed by them). They got an invitation for tea met with Xi Jinping, too, who informed them that China would not fall into the middle-income trap.

There is no reason to believe that elites who worship abusive power abroad will show more respect for human rights at home.

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Note

*) Roger Goepper (Hrsg.): “Das Alte China”, München, Gütersloh, 1988, pp. 164 – 166

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Related

» Is China misunderstood, Oct 24, 2012
» Middle-income trap, Wikipedia, acc. 20131108

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, July 2013

1. Radio Habana Cuba (RHC)

If there is an element of soft-power methodology in Cuba’s foreign radio programs – winning friends and influencing people -, it’s probably the music they play.  Some other of the station’s regular topics may come across as rather old-fashioned to listeners, especially – depending on your perception – the World of Stamps and Arnie Córo‘s DXers Unlimited programs.

Radio Habana Cuba (RHC) covered the trails of the Pastors for Peace this month, on their annual trip to revolutionary sites in the free territory in the Americas. Also in the news: lots about Edward Snowden or related events, and Swedish member of parliament Torbjörn Björlund has a short interview with the station as he visits Cuba for the first time.

RHC used to broadcast to Europe, too, partly or completely through relay stations in the USSR, but the main target areas are now the Americas and Africa. The main target area for RHC’s English-language broadcast is North America, and one of the program’s frequencies, 6000 kHz, can usually be received clearly in Europe, too.

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Picadura Valleys Cattle Breeding Project, Radio Habana Cuba QSL, 1988

Picadura Valleys Cattle Breeding Project, Radio Habana Cuba QSL, 1988. The project’s prominent role in the QSL series is no concidence: the project is or was run by Ramón Castro Ruz, » the older brother of the two political leaders. Asked by an American journalist in the late 1970s » what he thought about Cuban-U.S. relations, Castro parried the questions “with a shrug and grin: ‘That’s all politics – I leave that to Fidel. All I know about are cows.’”

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2. Voice of Turkey

TRT Ankara, also known as the “Voice of Turkey”, retains a bastion of Kemalism. Every once in a while when listening, you will stumble across readings from the founder of the Republic’s diary or memories, or contemporaries’ memories about him (I have never given the topic a close listen yet). No Koran recitals in the English, French, German or Spanish programs, as far as I can tell, but both the Arab and the Chinese services carry such programs at the beginning of every broadcast, at least currently. In the Chinese case, the recitals may be meant to benefit Uighur listeners, and other Muslim minorities in China. A listeners’ letter with a number of signatories asked TRT for a Koran copy for each of them in January this year and were told that unfortunately, there are no Korans among our gifts, but you can download them from the internet. There are also Chinese ones.

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3. Recent Logs

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
AFS – South Africa; ARS – Saudi Arabia; CUB – Cuba; EGY – Egypt; INS – Indonesia; KRE – North Korea; MRC – Morocco; OMA – Oman; RUS – Russia; THA – Thailand; TUR – Turkey.

Languages (“L.”):
A – Arabic; C – Chinese; E – English; F – French; G – German; S – Spanish.

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kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

Day

Time
GMT

S I O
  6000 RHC
Habana
Cuba
 CUB  E July
6
 04:00 3 5 3
13760 Vo Korea  KRE E July
7
 13:00 3 5 3
15140 Radio
Oman
 OMA E July
7
 14:00 4 5 4
17660 Radio
Riyadh
 ARS F July
8
 14:53 5 5 5
12050 Radio 1)
Cairo
 EGY G July
8
 19:00 4 5 1
15290 Radio 1)
Cairo
 EGY E July
8
 19:00 3 3 1
17660 Radio
Riyadh
 ARS F July
14
 14:00 4 5 4
 5980 Channel
Africa
 AFS E July
15
 03:00 4 5 3
 6000 RHC
Habana
Cuba
 CUB E July
15
 04:00 3 4 3
15240 TRT 2)
Ankara
 TUR C July
16
 11:00 4 4 4
15670 Vo
Russia
 RUS E July
16
 13:00 4 5 3
12050 Radio 1)
Cairo
 EGY G July
16
 19:00 4 5 2
15290 Radio 1)
Cairo
 EGY E July
16
 19:00 3 4 2
 6000 RHC
Habana
Cuba
 CUB E July
17
 03:50 4 5 4
9525.7 RRI
Indonesia
 INS G July
20
 18:07 4 4 4
 6000 RHC
Habana
Cuba
 CUB E July
21
 01:00 3 5 3
 9770 TRT
Ankara
 TUR S July
22
 01:00 4 5 4
 9665 Vo
Russia
 RUS E July
22
 02:00 4 5 4
 9580 Radio
Médi
 MRC A/
F
July
22
 08:48 5 5 5
 9390 Radio
Thailand
 THA E July
22
 19:00 4 5 4
11750 TRT
Ankara
 TUR  A July
24
 11:00 4 5 4
13760 TRT
Ankara
 TUR  G July
24
 11:30 4 5 4

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Notes

1) The usual modulation disaster.
2) Soundtrack here, online for ten days (minimum). Download enabled.

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Related

» Previous Log, June 28, 2013

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

An Inspection Tour: Cross-Legged on the Kang

Latest (probable) directive from the propaganda department (in these or other words):

“Dampen great nationalist expectations, but strike a chord with them nevertheless. Dampen expectations among the masses at large. Display the care and awareness of the Central Committee for those stricken by hardship. Spread a message of hope and glory, but modest glory.”

Former foreign minister (and probably still a central-committee member) Li Zhaoxing showed that kind of concern in global terms, in an interview with the Guangzhou Daily. Around the same time, Xi Jinping demonstrated his awareness locally, on December 29 and 30, 2012.

Main Link: Xi Jinping visits People in Straited Circumstances in Fuping Country, Hebei Province
Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Eradicating poverty, improving the people’s livelihood and to achieve common prosperity was the innate character of socialism, Xi Jinping told people in Fuping, Hebei Province, during a visit last year.

[...] we will pay special attention to people in straitened circumstances, we will care especially for them, and we will do our best to help them to dispell their worries and to solve their problems.

我们要格外关注、格外关爱、格外关心,千方百计帮助他们排忧解难

From December 29 to December 30, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xi Jinping visited and comforted people in straitened circumstances in Hebei Province’s Fuping County. This picture (Xinhua Newsagency) shows him visiting the poor Tang Rongbin’s family in Luotuowan Village, Longguan town.

12月29日至30日,中共中央总书记、中央军委主席习近平在河北省阜平县看望慰问困难群众。这是习近平在龙泉关镇骆驼湾村到困难群众唐荣斌家看望。 新华社发

From December 29 to December 30, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xi Jinping visited and comforted people in straitened circumstances in Hebei Province’s Fuping County, inspecting the [local] work to help the poor. This picture (Xinhua Newsagency) shows Xi Jinping in Gujiatai Village’s retail department, inquiring about the rural village’s everyday supply situation.

12月29日至30日,中共中央总书记、中央军委主席习近平在河北省阜平县看望慰问困难群众,考察扶贫工作。这是习近平在龙泉关镇顾家台村的小卖部,了解农村日常用品供应情况。新华社发

After the picture section, the actual article:

Xinhua Newsagency, Shijiazhuang, December 30, 2012 — the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xi Jinping went to Fuping Country, Hebei Province, to visit and comfort people in straitened circumstances, and to inspect the work of helping the poor and development support there. He pointed out that eradicating poverty, improving the people’s livelihood and to achieve common prosperity was the innate character of socialism. We will pay special attention to people in straitened circumstances, we will care especially for them, and we will do our best to help them to dispell their worries and to solve their problems, with the safety and well-being of the masses always on our heart, and we will send the party’s and the government’s warmth to the innumerable homes.

新华社石家庄12月30日电 中共中央总书记、中央军委主席习近平近日到河北省阜平县看望慰问困难群众,考察扶贫开发工作。他强调,消除贫困、改善民生、实现共同富裕,是社会主义的本 质要求。对困难群众,我们要格外关注、格外关爱、格外关心,千方百计帮助他们排忧解难,把群众的安危冷暖时刻放在心上,把党和政府的温暖送到千家万户。

On December 29, Xi Jinping, in the freezing conditions of more then minus ten degrees C., travelled more than 300 kilometers by car and then arrived in Fuping County, in the depths of the Taihang Mountains. Fuping is an old revolutionary base area, in the border area of what was then the location of the Jin Cha Ji government. Fuping County is a major national poverty country [sometimes also referred to as key counties for poverty reduction]. Xi Jinping was perfectly concerned about the area’s cadres and masses, coming there especially before New Year to visit them.

29日下午,习近平冒着零下十几摄氏度的严寒,驱车300多公里来到地处太行山深处的阜平县。阜平是革命老区,是当年晋察冀边区政府所在地。阜平县也是全国重点贫困县。习近平对老区干部群众十分挂念,元旦前特地来到这里看望。

Xi and his entourage didn’t fail to make the point that unforgettable achievements had been made from the once-revolutionary base, plus pointing out the need to improve lives which remained comparatively difficult (生活还比较困难), and that with confidence, the yellow ground [i. e. the loess ground] would turn into gold (习近平强调,只要有信心,黄土变成金).

Xi Jinping [...] visited Tang Rongbin’s and Tang Zongxiu’s family, sat cross-legged on the kang with them hand in hand with the villagers, inquiring in detail about their incomes during the year, about food supplies, clothing and heating coal during the winter, the distances the children had to cover to attend school, and about conveniences and inconveniences when having to see a doctor.

习近平逐一走进困难群众唐荣斌家、唐宗秀家看望,盘腿坐在炕上,同乡亲手拉手,详细询问他们一年下来有多少收入,粮食够不够吃,过冬的棉被有没有,取暖的煤炭够不够,小孩上学远不远,看病方便不方便。

One of the more concrete contents of Xi’s tour was the mention of the new rural cooperative health system (新型农村合作医疗制度).

Wang Huning, Li Zhanshu and central responsible comrades in charge accompanied [Xi] on the inspection tour.

王沪宁、栗战书和中央有关部门负责同志陪同考察。

To see Xi Jinping cross-legged on the kang, go to this story republished by the “Global Times”.

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Related

» How they cried, December 24, 2012

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Nobel Lecture in Literature: Mo Yan

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Script in English »
Script in Chinese »

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Confidence-Building Measure: “Rebel” turns Party Secretary

In December last year, Lin Zulian (林祖恋), along with other “Wukan rebel leaders”, was facing the prospect of being punished, once caught. Now, he has become secretary of Wukan’s local party branch.

This is the first ever case where a man on the government’s wanted list has become the Party Secretary of a village, the Telegraph‘s Peter Simpson quotes Yang Semao, one of Lin’s co-leaders in last year’s uprising.

That might be true. But in Chinese pre-communist history, co-opting rebels into leadership, if punishment would come at too high a cost (or if simply impossible) isn’t that new.

The Wukan revolt is seen as a small but significant milestone in the struggle between clean governance and Party dominance among China’s rural poor communities,

writes the Telegraph. This conclusion is almost certainly hyperbolic. For one, corruption exists beyond CCP officialdom. That’s not to say that power will corrupt Lin Zulian, but it remains to be seen what kind of party secretary he will be, and if he will last in his new position at all. He might, because he should be familiar with the big brotherhood’s hierarchy and procedures. According to Phoenix, Hong Kong, he has been a party member since 1965.

What this co-option has achieved however, is that it has saved Guangdong’s leadership’s face, in what may be a competition between different concepts of power. After all, Guangdong counts as one of the socially most advanced places in China. Bo Xilai might have handled the uprising quite differently.

And there will probably be a stabilizing effect in Wukan’s success, in that at least the local party secretary won’t feel motivated to avenge the CCP’s loss of face. The former “rebels” will feel more secure, than if the successor to Wukan’s previous party chief had come from outside the village.

Some party leaders may also remember Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily‘s savage assault of last month. “If it is difficult to rule a village, how can you rule what’s under heaven?”, the paper – as quoted by RTIjeered (or wondered) in December.

Now, Lin Zukang must show that he can govern a village. The party will continue to govern what’s under heaven, the rest of the country, and Lin Zukang himself.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Jerome Cohen (2010) on Chen Guangcheng: What is Power?

The Democracy Party of China (中国民主党) promotes Chen Guangcheng‘s (陈光诚) nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Activities to endorse Chen are scheduled to start on Tuesday, reports the BBC‘s Chinese website. Chen, a blind Chinese civil-rights activist, was tried in 2006, on charges of destruction of property and assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic, The Washington Post described the case at the time as one where the Communist Party’s final decision about how Chen’s future had been hanging in the balance, before local authorities, which had been the aim of Chen’s criticism,

fought back, placing Chen under house arrest and launching an aggressive campaign to damage his reputation and deny his allegations. Party sources said Linyi officials distributed a report in Beijing that portrayed Chen as a tool of “foreign anti-China forces,” accused him of violating the one-child policy and made much of the fact that he had received overseas funding for his work as an activist on behalf of the disabled.

[...]

For months, the party appeared torn about how to proceed, but the decision to prosecute Chen suggests that the Linyi officials have outmaneuvered others in the government who wanted to use the case to send a strong signal to local officials that forced sterilization and abortion would not be tolerated.

Forced sterilization and abortion belonged to the human rights violations of which Chen took issue. According to Jerome Cohen*),

then he decided that he would try to help people, using the law, which he learned through self-study. I’ve been told that no blind people have ever graduated from a Chinese law school. He had hope to study law, and I had made some arrangement because we were friends, for him to study law at a night law school in Shanghai, but before that could happen, he was first put under informal, unauthorized, illegal house arrest, and when that didn’t cause him and his wife to cease their human rights public-interest activities, he was then criminally detained, arrested, prosecuted, convicted of obstructing justice, and sentenced to four years and three months in prison after two rounds of trials.
The trials were a farce. Witnesses weren’t permitted to appear, lawyers were inhibited or not permitted to appear – it was a said commentary on justice.

Chen we call a barefoot lawyer, because he studied law on his own. I bought him a hundred-dollars’ worth of law books, at the New China Bookstore in Beijing, and he made good use of them. Very nice texts on administrative law, tax law, civil procedure, administrative law, particularly. He became quite effective, and the local courts were embarrassed by him. He was constantly asking them to take action against the local officials – the officials who appoint the judges, and pay their expenses or salaries – it was a built-in conflict of interest. And finally they stopped – the judges stopped – cooperating with him, and he got very frustrated, especially when the local police and population-planning authorities took very severe measures against the families of young women. Because they wanted the women to have abortions, or to become sterilized so that they couldn’t have children. And many of the women fled their homes so that they wouldn’t be there to suffer these forced procedures, and that led the authorities to start locking up their families.

Whole families – grandparents, children, spouses – were all locked up, in various informal buildings. Some of them were beaten, a few were killed, and this happened by the thousand. This was not a small enterprise. Throughout the province, where very strict measures were taken by the provincial and local authorities, to stop these women from having more children, because otherwise, the officials could not fulfill their birth-control quotas and limit the number of births for the year, and the officials would then suffer punishment themselves, and their careers would be stunted.

[...]

According to Cohen’s account, Chen, who didn’t get a hearing at the courts anymore, worked with the media instead, talking to foreign correspondents with Cohen’s help.

That led to a loss of temper on the part of the local officials, and they then locked him up.

For the “house arrest” that followed Chen’s release from prison, there was no legal authorization we know of for this. The video of half an hour may be an edited copy, and it is sort of a Chen biography, told by a friend.

Certainly no-one could be more powerless than Chen and his wife, locked up as they are, forever. And yet, he is powerful, and that’s what the government fears. Before I even met him, the Asian edition of Newsweek had run an eight-page story about him, with photographs showing that he was transforming rural life by enabling poor people who couldn’t find lawyers to represent them to go to court, assert their rights. This was an exciting development in China that has too few lawyers, especially in poor, rural areas.

[...]

What is power? The Chinese government would like to have soft power, as well as hard power. The world recognizes China’s growing military might, its tremendous economic development and influence, but China wants to be known for the quality of its civilization. That’s why they resurrected Confucius and engaged in a lot of cultural exchange and things, and that’s all good. But real soft power comes from people recognizing that you run a civilized government, and that you treat your own people better than he’s being treated.

[...]

He wanted to organize hundreds of barefoot lawyers, and have me and others help train them. So he would make a lot of difficulty, because in the Chinese countryside, often when people who don’t know much about law get their hands on some legal learning, then they begin to assert their rights, because they learn that sometimes, the local officials have taken advantage of them, and they are not honest with them, and they are denying them the legal treatment that the central government’s laws call for.

So learning is dangerous. It’s dangerous for the officials if they allow their people to learn, and it’s dangerous for those to seek to learn and to assert the rights based on that learning.

The whole video is worth to be watched and listened to from the beginning to the end. Cohen’s repeated question: “what can they do with him?”

From dangwai – from outer dangwai, in fact, there seem to be Chinese people with some suggestions.

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Note

*) The video was uploaded by New York University School of Law, in November 2010

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Related

» Improving Agricultural Production, Dec 23, 2011
» Sincere Thanks, February 15, 2011
» Taiwan’s Unbelievable Justice, Sept 12, 2009

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Paper: Improving Agricultural Production

Three authors – Hu Xiaoping (胡小平), Zhu Ying (朱 颖), and Ge Dangqiao (葛党桥) -, addressed the problems of low efficiency in agricultural production. .

Not only “surplus labor”, but workforce who would actually be needed in the countryside, too, have left China’s rural areas in the wake of reform and industrial development and urbanization, according to their paper, published by Guangming Daily (光明日报), and republished by China National Radio (CNR). The author found that labor shortage in agriculture and an aging workforce were problems that went hand in hand. That the workforce was becoming of age had also led to a situation where “the workers’ quality” (导致了从事农业生产的劳动者质量的下降) was deteriorating.

After stating the obvious – that it is mostly younger people who move into rural  [correction (20120308): urban] areas, and that the elderly tend to stay at home -, the article adds:

In our country, there are big gaps between the countryside and the cities, in terms of the economy, culture, public services, social welfare, etc.. To enjoy their share in the fruits of modern civilization and to pursue good opportunities of development, even though they won’t achieve the levels of income they hoped for there, the younger will still wish to move towards the cities. Once they are there, they won’t return to the countryside, unless they absolutely have to. In the cities, they are raising the second generation of migrant workers, and while they remain rural population in terms of household registration, these have never worked in agricultural fields, and will feel no desire to return to the countryside.

在我国,农村和城市在经济、文化、公共事业、社会福利等方面存在较大差距。为了分享现代文明成果和追求更好的发展机会,即使在城市中无法获得预期收入,农 村大量青壮年劳动力也会源源不断向城市转移。进城以后,他们除非迫不得已,都不会再回到农村。他们在城市养育起来的“农二代”,虽然在户籍意义上仍属于农 民,却从未从事过农业生产,今后也不愿回到农村。

Urban industries demand high skills, argues the article, and competition had driven many of those who left for the cities since the 1980s back into the countryside – but the next young generation was on its way into the cities again.

But age alone didn’t explain the low efficiency in agriculture, as a look at the situation in developed countries’ agricultural sectors showed. High prices on their produce, combined with state subsidies, agricultural efficiency wasn’t low in Europe, the United States or Japan, despite a rural population which had come of age there, too.

A survey in the U.S. in 2007 found that the average age of a farm owner there was 57.1 years, in Japan, in 2009, 61 per cent of those who worked in the agricultural sector were older than 65. This doesn’t explain why the agricultural sector’s efficiency should be comparatively low. Abroad, an aging population is no threat to agricultural production, because they have sound social services and a comparatively high level of mechanization there, which offsets labor shortages.

2007年,美国农业普查结果显示,美国农场主的平均年龄已上升到57.1岁;在日本,2009年农业从业者中65岁以上的人员所占比例为61%。这都不是农业生产比较效益低能够解释的。国外农业劳动力老龄化之所以没有威胁到农业生产,是因为他们有完善的农业社会化服务体系以及较高的农业机械化水平,弥补了农业劳动力的短缺。

The central government had intensified its efforts since 2004, writes the author, with some positive effects on efficiency in the agricultural sector, but not to a degree which would have avoided labor shortages, or migration of the young into the urban areas.

Rather extensive management of arable land was one reason for the shortcomings. Land had been left barren. The older farmers preferred land close to their homes, and abandoned more distant arable land. And where two harvests per year had been the rule before, the frequency had gone down to only one harvest a year. Frequently, they only grew food for their own needs. The central government had defined a red line of 1.8 billion mu of arable land to be kept in use, and the extensive use of arable land was in conflict with that requirement.

Attracting skilled work was another problem. Dual structures of rural and urban environments kept potentially skilled workers in rural urban areas. Modern agriculture required technical and management understanding, mechanical skills, which the existing population with rather low educational levels could hardly provide. The phenomenon that many rural citizens moved to the cities temporarily and kept their land as a lifeline didn’t help to make agricultural use of the land more efficient, either. Each of them kept small fields which left no option to achieve economies of scale.

A third problem – and one people in the cities are only too familiar with, would be rising food prices, given that the supplies were rather inefficient. Even though the share of agricultural products in the consumer price index (CPI) had fallen from 60 per cent in the 1980s, to about 30 per cent in 2011, 60 per cent of this years CPI rise were caused by food prices. Under normal circumstances, one should expect that demand for agricultural products would only rise slowly, and expect little volatility, but the fast price rises suggested that there were serious supply shortages. Rises in pig (or pork) prices would suggest that supply would rise quickly, but older farmers were often neither prepared nor unable to raise pigs.  Here, labor shortage was causing the problem.

The paper (or the Guangming Daily article reflecting it)  makes three proposals:

Firstly, train professional farmers. Focus on attracting highly qualified staff into agricultural production, intensify farmers’ education, and create a beneficial environment for rural talents.
其一,培育职业农民。应着力吸引高素质人才从事农业生产,加大对农民培训的力度,营造留住农村人才的有利环境。

Secondly, improve agricultural mechanization. Encourage and support research and development that leads to mechanical solutions in line with the needs of agricultural production, increase the level of mechanization, and decrease the dependence of agricultural production on human labor. Continue to improve and enhance state subsidies for the purchase of agricultural machinery.

其二,提高农业机械化程度。鼓励和支持相关科研机构研发符合农业生产需求的机械设备,提高我国农业生产的机械化程度,降低农业生产对人工的依赖程度。继续完善和提高国家的农机具购置补贴。

Thirdly, strengthen the building and investment in rural social services. Build and perfect social services to be provided before, during and after production [apparently kindergartens and pensioner facilities], accelerate agricultural production, the diffusion of agricultural technology, agricultural information systems, agricultural finance and insurance systems, and reduce the difficulties and risks farmers are facing.

其三,加强对农业社会化服务体系的建设和投入。建立和完善对农业生产提供产前、产中、产后的社会化服务体系,加快在农业生产、农业技术推广、农业信息、农业金融和保险等领域的服务体系建设,减轻农民的务农难度,增强农业抵御风险的能力。

Fourthly, change organizational and management methods in agricultural production. Change the traditional decentralized patterns of agricultural production, encourage the formation of professional guilds, cooperatives, specialized organizations and other forms of specialized economic cooperation, and increase the organizational levels in production. Encourage and support conditions which allow the achievement of appropriate economies of scale, based on reliable foundations of contract household responsibility systems.

其四,改变农业生产的组织经营方式。改变传统的分散经营的农业生产模式,鼓励农民建立专业协会、股份合作社、专业合作社等不同形式的专业合作经济组织,提 高农业生产组织化和产业化程度。支持和鼓励条件允许的地区,在稳定家庭联产承包责任制的基础上推进土地流转,进行农业适度规模经营。

The paper touches upon many related issues in economic, social, and ideological fields which are fairly frequently recorded on this blog. It also reflects existing confines of long-term and more recent restrictions on reform. I will try to build some links between these issues and this blogpost during Christmas.

Published without spell-checks or other corrections.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Siege of Wukan: If you can’t govern a village, how can you govern what is Under Heaven?

Wukan (乌坎) may best be translated as “Black Ridge”, and it is a fishing village in the vicinity and administrative area of Lufeng City (陆丰市), a county-level city in the Shanwei municipal region (汕尾), Guangdong Province. After months of tensions about land requisitions, protests starting in September this year led to the Communist cadres and administration fleeing Wukan.

The village was then stormed by riot police, according to the Daily Telegraph, after which the officials switched from stick to carrot, asking the villagers to appoint 13 representatives with whom they could negotiate – only to seize and arrest five of them on December 9. On December 12, news broke that Xue Jinbo (薛锦波), one of the five arrested, had died in police custody. His body reportedly showed signs of torture. Since December 11, the village has been under siege, without food, water, and electricity, after police had made an unsuccessful attempt early in the morning to recapture the village.

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) quotes from an Oriental Daily News (東方日報, Hong Kong) article of Friday (today) which gives an account of the events from September until now.  At the beginning, the “Wukan incident” had been just another matter of corruption, according to the article, where proper handling by the authorities could have won the villagers’ hearts and minds back. But nothing had been done about the corrupt officials, and instead, foreign hostile forces (境外敌对势力介入) were used as an excuse to explain why the situation deteriorated and finally went out of control. This had triggered the wrath of Heaven and the resentment of men (天怒人怨 – i. e. strong resentment). RTI quotes Oriental Daily as asking if the authorities, the current Wukan incident, are focusing on serving the people, or on serving corrupt officials – and with a question which would be damning even in a European country, but particularly in the celestial kingdom:

When it comes to Wang Yang (汪洋, Guangdong Province’s party secretary), “if it is difficult to rule a village, how can you rule over what’s under heaven?” (“一村尚且难治,又何以治天下?”)

RTI’s article is written in simplified characters, for the benefit of potential Chinese readers (if they can get over the firewall). In turn, Sina.com‘s Taiwanese website informed its Taiwanese readers on Thursday that according to the BBC, China had started to block microblog information on Wu Kan, which had led to internet users writing “WK” instead of the Chinese characters for Wukan.

Update [September 6, 2012]: the Sina article linked above has since been removed. See the two screenshots below for the original article:

online article, 1

online article, 1

online article, part 2

online article, 2

The siege of Wukan includes the villages fleet of fishing boats, according to the BBC report quoted by Sina.com (Taiwan). The BBC in turn is quoted as quoting a Daily Telegraph reporter [Malcom Moore, apparently – see Daily-Telegraph link in this post’s second paragraph] who had visited the village, and who had said that twenty-thousand people in Wukan were in open resistance, and that the authorities were completely out of control.

Sina.com (Taiwan) also quotes China News Service (中新社), China’s second-largest news agency. China News Service quotes Shanwei’s acting mayor, as saying that the legitimate demands of the people had already been resolved, or were in the process of being resolved.

It remains to be seen if this means that the people of Wukan will be starved into submission, and a crackdown will start right away, beginning with the surviving twelve village negotiators who once dared to stick their necks out, or if the authorities will choose to serve the people (as the Oriental Daily puts it), rather than avenging their official’s humiliation. (They may also choose to take the earlier approach first, and the second approach later, once national and international attention has abated.)

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Related

» Scalpel gives Way to Hatchet, Sinostand, Dec 16, 2011
» Blocked List, Things You Don’t Know, Dec 14, 2011

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Updates / Related

» The Foreign-Devils Pact, Malcolm Moore, Dec 15, 2011

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