Healthcare in China

May 8, 2019

After 1949, China’s government established the country’s first national health system more or less from scratch. However, the US National Library of Medicine reports, “the well-established cooperative medical system for the rural areas collapsed within a short time period after the economic reforms in China in the late 1970s, leaving the vast majority of the rural population without health care. In 1999, only 7% of the 900 million rural residents had some kind of health insurance coverage.”

Then in 2003, China’s government again took steps to reform the health care system that had collapsed in the late 1970s, and as you read this post, you will discover that today 95-percent of China’s population has some level of health care.

InterNations.org says, In 2011, new social insurance legislation set out to reform China’s healthcare system, and there are now three insurance programs providing basic coverage for 95% of the population.”

One: The Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance (UEBMI) applies to workers and employees living in cities. Their contributions are deducted from their salary via payroll taxes.

Two: The Urban Resident Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI) covers the non-working population in Chinese cities, such as children, the elderly, etc. The scheme is partly financed through contributions from individual households, but mostly through government subsidies.

Three: The New Rural Cooperative Medical System (NRCMS) is supposed to revitalize healthcare in China’s countryside. Funds are raised through a mixture of individual contributions, support from collective enterprises, and government subsidies.

In 1949, the life expectancy in China was only 37 years. In 2018, Reuters reported that China has overtaken the United States in healthy life expectancy at birth for the first time, according to World Health Organization data. Chinese newborns can look forward to 68.7 years of healthy life ahead of them, compared with 68.5 years for American babies, the data – which relates to 2016 – showed.” …

While the quality of lifestyles and health care is improving for China’s citizens, what is happening in the United States? “The United States was one of only five countries, along with Somalia, Afghanistan, Georgia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where healthy life expectancy at birth fell in 2016, according to a Reuters analysis of the WHO data, which was published without year-on-year comparisons in mid-May.”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Why is China automating jobs?

May 1, 2019

China seriously started to replace human workers with robots back in 2015.  The Japan Times helped explain why. “SHANGHAI – These are difficult days to be a factory owner in China. Workers are increasingly scarce, wages are rising, and strikes are breaking out with regularity. Factories in Southeast Asia are now beating China at its own game, attracting investors with the promise of even cheaper labor for low-value assembly work. What’s a factory owner to do?”

Yes, China is running out of enough human workers to continue producing the quantity of products the country has been exporting to the world, and with the rise of China’s American style middle class, many workers are demanding more pay and better jobs that fit their consumer lifestyles.

In 2018, the WITS reported, “China had a total export of 2,263,370,504.30 in thousands of US$ and total imports of 1,843,792,938.80 in thousands of US$ leading to a positive trade balance of 419,577,565.51 in thousands of US$.”

To keep up this favorable trade balance, China must remain competitive and to continue to improve the quality of life for its people, the country needs this positive cash flow.

How does a country continue to compete in a situation like this? Well, China does what the United States started doing back in the 1970s, you automate as many manufacturing jobs as possible. After all, unless you believe Donald Trump’s lie during the 2016 presidential debates that America “doesn’t make anything anymore”, the United States is the “2nd largest maker of things” in the world and according to the Global Manufacturing Scorecard turned out $1.867 trillion in goods in 2017.

Marketplace.org tells us, “What worries China’s manufacturers more than tariffs? Labor Shortages” … “According to Chinese government statistics, the country’s workforce peaked in 2011 at 941 million and has been on the decline since. The latest figures from China’s National Bureau of Statistics shows that the working population is 916 million [about 150 million work in China’s manufacturing sector].

“The working age population decreased by 25 million from 2012 to 2017. That is equivalent to the entire population of Australia disappearing from the workforce,” said Yao Meixiong, the deputy head of the Center for Population Census for neighboring Fujian Province.

After all, China does not trade only with the United States. It trades with the world, but China still has the lowest average robot density in Asia. For instance, in South Korea, in 2017 there were 710 robots for every 10,000 workers in manufacturing vs 97 per 10,000 in China while The Robot Report tells us that the United States ranks 7th in the world for robot density at 200 robots per 10,000 workers.

Just so you will know: USTR.gov reports, “U.S. goods and services trade with China totaled an estimated $710.4 billion in 2017. Exports were $187.5 billion; imports were $522.9 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with China was $335.4 billion in 2017.”

Forgive me, but I have to ask this question: Are robots in China stealing jobs from robots in the United States, and will Trump’s fake propaganda machine known as Fox News use that as a headline one day?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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How do you Define Freedom: Part 2 of 2

April 25, 2019

Slavery in China vs India, the democracy next door.

The Wall Street Journal reported, Of the 167 countries surveyed, India has the highest number of people living in slavery–more than 18 million, or 1.4% of the population. The 2016 Global Slavery Index from the Walk Free Foundation said modern slavery comes in many forms, from domestic to sexual to bonded and child labor. China has only 3.4 million slaves or 0.24-percent of the population. India, a democracy, has more than five times the number of slaves that China has.

USA Today reports, “There are 40 million slaves worldwide, most are women and girls. A United Nations agency warns 40.3 million people across the globe were subject to some form of modern slavery in 2016. Among them, about 28.7 million — or 71% — were women or girls forced into sex, marriage or labor.”

Freedom to Travel to Other Countries

Then there is the freedom to travel to other countries, but you have to have enough money to afford to become a globe-trotting tourist. The Economist reports, “China’s decision to let its people travel abroad freely is changing the world. … for much of the 1980s, the number of trips abroad taken by Chinese citizens was in the tens of thousands a year, the current figure is well over 130-million annually.”

For a comparison to the world’s two largest democracies, The Times of India said, “In 2015, more than 20.4-million Indians had the money to visit other countries.”

How about the United States? The PointsGuy.com said, almost 67-million US citizens traveled outside the country in 2015.

Food Production
How do you feed 1.4 billion people using only 10-percent of your land?

National Geographic.com reveals, “Sweeping reforms starting in the late 1970s have transformed China from an isolated, centrally controlled economy into an increasingly market-oriented juggernaut. Agricultural and industrial modernization has fueled continuing migration to cities, rising incomes, and a growing appetite for a more westernized diet among China’s 1.4 billion people. … Economic and food-production reforms have helped China’s growing population double its supply of daily calories.”

When U.S. Founding Father Patrick Henry, who was born a free man to a successful family, never lived in poverty and never starved said, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” did he mean freedom of speech was more important than living in slavery, poverty, starving, and/or going without medical care?

Improving Education in China

“After Deng (Xiaoping) took over in China (in 1978) and initiated a series of market-oriented reforms that led to explosive economic growth, the nation set out to reach parity with the West in education at every level—a truly daunting goal, given the very high rates of illiteracy in China, the extent of the prior destruction of its education infrastructure and teaching force, and the depth of poverty in this very rural nation.”  China’s agenda to improve its educational system at every level does not mean replacing public schools with private sector corporate charter schools that profit a few individuals like what has been happening in the United States for the last few decades. Instead, China has worked hard to improve its public schools from kindergarten through college. – Not replace them with public funded corporate schools.

In fact, Statista reports, “During the school year of 2017/18, over 363-thousand Chinese students were studying in higher education institutions in the United States.”

If China’s leaders were afraid of their people learning how to think for themselves, why allow them the freedom to attend colleges and universities in the United States and Europe?

The leaders of the United States seem to have forgotten: “I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” –Thomas Jefferson – 1820

Return to or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Great Fire-Wall and China’s Social Media Giants

April 17, 2019

When you read that China’s government monitors and censors that country’s social media, you might think the Chinese Communist Party is dealing mostly with YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google. If that’s what you think, you would be mostly wrong.

China’s version of YouTube is YouKu Tudou that serves about 500-million users a month, half of YouTube’s reach. “YouTube says more than 1-billion unique visitors visit its site each month, but don’t forget, YouKu Tudou caters to a much smaller net of Chinese-speaking audiences only.”

However, few if any of YouTube’s billion visitors are in China since YouTube is banned/blocked in China along with popular websites such as Google, Gmail, and Facebook.  If you live in China and you want to use those sites, you have to find a way to bypass the internet blocking by the GFW by using a web proxy or VPN, but in spite of the ban, Alexa ranks YouTube as the 11th most visited website in China.

Twitter is also banned in China and if you have had your fill of the Twitter maniac in the U.S. White House, who can blame the CCP? Twitter’s equal in China is called Weibo.  Nearly 25-percent of China’s population uses Weibo, and they are free of Donald Trump’s Twitter trolling, endless lies, and rants. Recently Trump has been bullying and insulting John McCain, a man that’s been dead for months. With more than 1.4 billion people in China, that means Weibo has more than 354.6 million users.

“Weibo has evolved into an entertainment platform that encompasses the features of Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, reddit and YouTube rolled into one,” eMarketer forecasting analyst Shelleen Shum said.

China’s Google is Baidu. Once a popular search engine, most services offered by Google China were blocked by the Great Firewall in the People’s Republic of China. In 2010, searching via all Google search sites, including Google Mobile, were moved from mainland China to Hong Kong.  Baidu remains focused on the local Chinese market while Google is global and continues to expand. While Google has long been the market leader in search in most countries, when it exited China, it was the runner-up. It held roughly 30% of the sector, with domestic rival Baidu capturing most of the remainder.

China’s Facebook is Tencent with almost one billion users mostly in China.  According to CNN Business, “This Chinese tech giant could soon be worth more than Facebook. … But it isn’t just social networking that has gotten investors excited about Tencent. The company has been expanding deeper into other areas including smartphone games, mobile payments and streaming music. All that has helped fuel record profits this year.”

Alibaba is China’s Amazon and India, Australia, and Singapore are becoming key battlegrounds for Amazon and Alibaba, says, cbinsights.com. According to a February 2018 SEC filing, Alibaba had 617 million monthly mobile users and 552 million active users on its China retail marketplaces, and Forbes says, “For Brands, Alibaba is The Gateway to China and Chinese Customers. … Amazon’s market cap is about 70% larger than Alibaba’s yet China’s e-commerce market alone is going to be larger than the rest of the world… by 2020, Asia is projected to account for 66% of global e-commerce sales with China accounting for 58%.”

“Alibaba has a more dominant e-commerce business than Amazon … though Amazon claims about 40-50% of all online US retail sales, Alibaba claims about 80% of all online Chinese retail sales.”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Does China have the best Chance to save Civilization?

March 20, 2019

The Chinese Government Is Dominated by Scientists and Engineers and this is why China and its leaders may be the only country on the planet capable of saving our species and its modern civilization.

Donald Trump doesn’t qualify to save the world. He is a serial liar. He doesn’t believe in science. He is a troll and a bully. He is proud of his ignorance and brags that he doesn’t read books, but worst of all, he is a malignant narcissist and psychopath, and his only goal is to build walls and make money for his family business.

Then there is the brutal fact that to most if not all of the America’s oligarchs of capitalism from the Koch brothers to the Walmart Walton family, if it is unprofitable to fight global warming, then we will do nothing.

There is also how the political system works or doesn’t work in the United States compared to how China’s one-party political system operates through the use of Guanxi.

In a Mad Hatter Libertarian-Trumpian world, it is always an “I” win and you lose situation, because the United States is fracturing into tribal groups incapable of compromise. The New York Times explored this topic in Does American Tribalism end in a compromise or a fight.

Russian Officials have even canceled a U.S. visit saying, “Second American Civil War” is underway.


Will China save the Planet?

However, that isn’t a problem in China. In “How to Lobby Beijing”, we discover that to win in China it has to be a win-win situation between business and the interests of the government.  That means both sides must be willing to find a middle ground and compromise.

What’s the best way to lobby the Chinese central government? “It is very important for foreign companies to make their case, make their argument to the Chinese officials in ways in which there is a win-win, where the Chinese can achieve their objective and the company can achieve their objective,” says Sandy Berger. The official-turned-lobbyist gives us the conventional wisdom–and a buzz phrase to boot.

The European Union “might” — and it is a big “might” because even Europe is in the throes of nationalism — survive and work with China to save civilization, but Russia is probably a lost cause since it is now a kleptocracy ruled by a small number of oligarchs who are also the leaders of most organized crime in that country and the boss of bosses is another psychopath called Putin.

Psychology Today reports, ” There can be little doubt that his (Putin’s) brain has been neurologically and physically changed (damaged) so much that he firmly and genuinely believes that without him, Russia is doomed. Absolute power for long periods makes you blind to risk, highly egocentric, narcissistic and utterly devoid of self-awareness. They also make you see other people as objects and the emotional-cognitive consequence of all this is…contempt.”  This previous paragraph could also be used to describe Donald Trump.

What about Xi Jinping – is he a world-class leader capable of keeping a clear-and-open mind and saving civilization even in the face of Climate Change?  We have no choice but to hope that answer is yes or at least maybe, because it seems there is no one else humanity may turn to.

The Cipher Brief.com attempts to profile and understand China’s illusive Xi Jinping. “To truly understand China’s President Xi Jinping is to accept his quintessential Chinese qualities, resilience, and psychological strength, and to conceptualize Xi not as merely another Mao or ‘Red Princeling,’ but rather, as his father’s son. For Xi Zhongxun, one of Mao’s closest comrades and founders of modern China, veteran of the Long March and survivor of Kang Sheng’s 1930s purges, the youngest Vice Prime Minister in China during the 1950s, and (along with Deng Xiaoping) a leader of reform and ‘opening up’ during the late 1970s, was also, in his own manner, ‘impressive.’ In summary, observers of Xi Jinping might thereby appreciate the qualities that bind together father and son for, in the words of Wordsworth, ‘the child is father to the man.’”

In conclusion, we can only hope that Xi Jinping will understand that to save China, he has to save the world, because it is obvious that there may not be another world leader capable of accomplishing it, certainly not Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin.

The future and survival of our species and the environment we need to survive may now be in China’s hands and at this moment that means Xi Jinping and the CCP, a political party led by scientists and engineers, not by corporate lobbyists and organized crime lords.

It is possible that this explains why Xi Jinping and the CCP he leads is cracking down on any divisive thinking and actions in China that might be seen as getting in the way of saving the world.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Power Corrupts and Great Wealth buys that Power

February 20, 2019

In the United States, autocratic billionaires are destroying the country. For instance, since 1973, the Koch brothers have systematically and deliberately built a machine to subvert America’s Constitutional Republic. Charles and David Koch are not alone. They have at least 2,000 other wealthy allies that belong to an organization the Kochs launched in 1973. It is called ALEC, The American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit, private sector organization with one goal, to subvert the U.S. Constitution and strip the federal and state governments of their power.

But in China, the Chinese Communist Party is attempting to limit the power of that country’s billionaires. For instance, in 2013, The Atlantic asked, Why Do Chinese Billionaires Keep Ending Up in Prison?  The subtitle says, “In China, the rich get poorer.”

The Atlantic continues: “In the last fifteen years, China has produced greater overall wealth than any other country. The number of its billionaires has gone from a mere 15 to around 250 in just six years, but for a number of these people this vaulted status is short-lived. According to one study, 17 percent of those on the list end up squealing their way to court or end up in jail. If they’re lucky, those who are caught are investigated and jailed. Some are even executed.” …

“What accounts for the sharp rise and fall of China’s wealthiest? In a business environment in which personal connections and favors — referred to as guanxi in Chinese — predominate, many tycoons have amassed large fortunes without concern of rules and regulations. However, such a fast and loose atmosphere can cut both ways.”

That piece in The Atlantic appeared in 2013. Five years later according to Business Insider (December 27, 2018), China now has 373 billionaires, a 5% increase in billionaires since the previous year (2017) while the US, where billionaires run rampant spreading corruption with their great wealth, and seldom if ever end up in prison, there are 585 with an increase of 4% from the previous year.

Lord Acton, a member of Parliament in the UK (in office 1859 – 1865), wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you super-add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.”

While the United States is drowning in the corruption Lord Acton mentions, China is struggling to contain the abuse of that power.  For instance, the Los Angeles Times ran this piece in 2017: “Some of China’s richest and most powerful men have mysteriously vanished.”

If U.S. citizens Charles and David Koch had been Chinese citizens, they would have probably vanished a long time ago and the world would be better place without them.

Beware, China, great wealth can become a terminal cancer and it will eventually eat you too no matter how hard your leaders try to stop it.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Who Will Survive the Next Big Global Economic Crises

February 13, 2019

When the next global economic crises hits — not if, but when — how will China deal with it compared to the United States?

First, as of October 2018, the U.S. government owes China $1.138 trillion dollars.  That’s 29 percent of the $3.9 trillion in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds held by foreign countries. The rest of the $21 trillion U.S. national debt is owned by either the American people or by the U.S. government itself. That is equivalent to about 47.6% of GDP.

On the other hand, the national debt of the People’s Republic of China is the total amount of money owed by the government and all state organizations and government branches of China. As of October 2018, it stands at approximately CN¥ 36 trillion (US$ 5.2 trillion),

In 2007, the United States federal government was only $9-trillion in debt. Today, it is $22.7 trillion in debt and with Trump cutting taxes and spending more; it is going to grow much bigger. The United States recorded a government debt equivalent to 105.40-percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2017, and there is no end in sight.

After 2008, almost nine-million Americans lost their jobs, and there were more than 3.1 million foreclosure filings issued during 2008, and that was just for that one year. That can’t happen in rural China and most of China’s factory workers have homes in rural China. When a job is lost in an urban city, the government gave the unemployed workers a free train ticket to go home to the countryside where the family home was not at risk of being taken away since there was no mortgage or property tax to worry about.

What happened in China after 2008 reveals how the Chinese will survive the next global financial disaster.

“The lack in demand from abroad meant factory closures, resulting in high job losses all over China. Guangzhou, a major manufacturing town, lost tens of thousands of workers in 2008, forcing citizens to return to their home in the countryside.”  Along with being forced to go home, most if not all of those Chinese citizens were allowed to retire early and collect Social Security. Younger workers were put to work in state owned factories and sent to work on infrastructure projects.

HROne says, “China’s Social Security System consists of 5 mandatory insurance schemes (pension fund, medical insurance, industrial injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance) + a housing fund (only applicable to Chinese employees).” … “An individual can receive a pension based on the amount accumulated in his/her individual fund after retirement.”

“In general, individuals need to pay at least 15-years of contributions prior to receiving a pension in China. Some industries have different retirement ages, but mainly men are 55 years old, women are 50 years old (blue-collar work), men are 60 years old, and women are 55 years old (white-collar work). The amount of retirement benefits depends on local regulations. Due to China’s population problems, these ages may soon change.”

The difference between the United States is China incorporates the characteristics of socialism, capitalism, and communism. China is not a pure communist or socialist or capitalist state. It is a hybrid and the CCP holds the reins of power.

As a socialist-capitalism country, all of China’s land is owned by the government. In urban China, the government leases homes and businesses but doesn’t sell the land. In most of if not all of rural China there is no mortgage or property tax, so losing your urban job and returning to your rural village home in the countryside doesn’t mean you are going to lose your home and become homeless. China also launched a $586 billion stimulus package designed to encourage more consumer spending and build new infrastructure putting people to work.

The United States is one of the most capitalistic countries in the world. Capitalism is an ideology where the means of production is controlled by private business. This means that wealthy, powerful individual citizens run the economy without government interfering in production or pricing.

What did the United States do in 2008?  President G. W. Bush, not President Obama, signed TARP’s 700-billion dollar bailout program. The initial purpose was to save the banks … not the people. The TARP program quickly turned around the banking industry but the U.S. didn’t do what China did to generate consumer spending and create infrastructure jobs. Yet infrastructure in the US is in horrible shape from its electric grid, its highway system, to its railroad network and bridges. G. W. Bush never intended the banks to pay the government back. When Obama became president, he changed that and most of that public money was paid back to the government.

While China used its government bailout money to help its people, the United States did nothing for its working-consumer class and more than a decade later many Americans are still struggling to survive financially.  When the next global economic crises hits, no one knows what will happen in the United States, because that depends on who is president at the time and what political party controls one or both Houses of Congress

For instance, instead of improving the social safety net in the United States, MarketWatch.com reports, “Why the latest warnings about cuts to Social Security and Medicare are a reason to worry.”

Here’s how bad: “Unless something’s done to shore up Social Security, monthly checks could get cut 23% by 2034.”

I think it’s a safe bet that China’s government will do something similar to what it did in and after 2008.

The United States will probably also do the same thing it did last time: bail out the banks and big corporations while continuing to keep cutting taxes for the wealthiest one-percent of Americans. As for the social safety net that’s supposed to be there for most U.S. citizens, who knows how it will weather another economic crises since it is already at risk.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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