China’s PISA Pride

December 17, 2010

When I first visited China in 1999, my wife warned me that the Chinese men I might saw peeing or defecating in public parks (there weren’t many public toilets then—China started building public toilets to get ready for the 2008 Olympics) in Shanghai were peasants from rural China.

In fact, where my wife grew up in Shanghai (in the picturesque French sector), there was one toilet in a three-story house where several families lived and the stove was next to the toilet.

Since then, I learned that China is one country with many cultures and languages. Even rural and urban China is different as the US is to rural Mexico.

Rural China until recently is or was almost a kingdom from the Middle Ages while much of urban China was modern.

However, after the 1980s, hundreds of millions of rural Chinese migrated to the cities to find jobs that paid better than being a peasant still stuck in the Middle Ages.

Unfortunately, these people sometimes called Stick People brought their (uncivilized by Western standards) rural habits with them.

In 1999, I witnessed rural Chinese near Xian living in huts made of straw with dirt floors and no plumbing meaning no toilets.

This is what the Communist Party inherited when it came to power in 1949. The Party did not create this situation. After Mao died, the Communist Party had to rebuild an educational system that had been devastated by the Cultural Revolution and before then there was little or no educational system in rural China.

Most of the schools in China up until 1950s were in the cities and focused on educating the ruling class.

It wasn’t until the 1980s, that the Party Rebuilt China’s education system. Over time, the education system spread from urban to rural China where it is still being developed.

I don’t recall the exact stats I used in previous posts about the literacy level in China when Mao died, but I believe it was about 20% in 1976.

Imagine what the effort must have been for the Party to educate a population that was at least 80 percent illiterate in 1976 to today when randomly selected Chinese students in Shanghai earned the highest scores in the world on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) test beating 65 other nations. See: Time

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Opposites Attract

November 1, 2010

If the old saying that opposites attract is true, China and the US are perfect for each other.

The Huffington Post’s Robert Lenzner writes that China Needs to Hit the Brakes; US Needs to Step on the Gas.

Lenzner explains that China’s economic goals are to avoid what happened in the US when subprime mortgages burst the real estate bubble and almost brought down the West’s house of cards.

To succeed, China is attempting to slow its economic growth and smother inflation.

However, in the US, the opposite it happening as the US wants to add to the national debt to avoid deflation and stimulate the economy at the same time.

Lenzner points out why China has everything to lose if this doesn’t work. China’s current 12th five-year economic plan is concentrating on the rural poor, and it is about time.

In fact, smaller cities are being built for some of the rural poor while extending electricity to remote villages across China.

At the same time, China is expanding the rail system and building more roads to reach people that haven’t been touched by China’s economic progress.

To avoid unrest, China’s future depends on improving the lifestyles of about 700 million rural Chinese.

Learn more at Volting all of China into the 21st Century

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Homeless

September 16, 2010

The East Asia Forum (EAF) reported September 1, 2010, on the impact of the global financial crises on China’s migrant workers.

It turns out that the impact wasn’t as significant as first thought in 2009 as most laid-off workers went home to the rural, collective village farms.

Two years after the world economy collapsed, the EAF was surprised to discover that migrants who stayed in the cities suffered very little.

Instead, workers who stayed in the cities continued to work while about 15 million migrants, about 10% of the workforce, went back to the farm, where they had already worked on average 52% of the year helping grow the food China eats.

The EAF suggested that small landholders, since most Chinese in rural China cannot own or sell the land they farm, should be allowed to sell their land and that China should move toward a universal welfare system.

Huh?

In America, which has a universal welfare system, when a worker loses his or her job, he or she collects unemployment benefits until those benefits run out. The next choice is to become a homeless beggar.

A report on PBS says that since 2007 there has been a 12% increase in homelessness and that about 2.3 to 3.5 million people in the U.S. experience homelessness.

The suggestion from the EAF that China must allow rural peasants to sell the land they farm is wrong.

As long as those farms exist, few people have to go homeless in China. Being a poor peasant farmer may not offer many choices in life, but it has to be better than sleeping in an alley in Shanghai and going hungry.

It was difficult to discover how many homeless people there are in China.  It appears that most who are homeless lost their homes through floods, earthquakes and other acts of nature and live in tent cities while the government has new homes built.

See China’s Stick People

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to this Blog, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Poverty and China’s Peasant Farmers – Part 1/3

September 11, 2010

If you read about China, you may have heard that hundreds of millions live below the poverty level.  After all, many peasant farmers in rural China do not earn much money.

Are they poor?  Are they starving?  Are they homeless?

How do we measure poverty in an industrialized, electronic, virtual Internet nation? The answer is that poverty is measured by the lack of money and/or credit.

In the above video, the narrator says that the way people lived in America before the Industrial Revolution was different from the way we live today.  Nine out of ten people in rural areas.

There was a large, mostly poor lower class, a small rich upper class and not much of a middle class.

Rural people raised most of their food on small farms. They didn’t have to leave home each day to work at a job in a town or city. There were families and small village communities that depended on each other in a collective lifestyle.

Back then, there were no electric lights, no movies, no telephones, no recorded music and no cars (and not much pollution).

Ordinary people used their hands to make most of the things they needed. 

The world was quiet because there were no noisy machines.  The pace of life was slower.

See China’s Changing Face – Farmers’ Friend the Organic Way

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to this Blog, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Four Equals One China—Rural China (Part 4 of 7)

May 16, 2010

It is estimated that 57% (741 million) Chinese still live in rural areas made up primarily of primitive villages that have not changed much from the way things were during the first-half of the 20th century.

Rural village in China

Up until recently, rural China received the least support to modernize during China’s transition from its dark ages into the modern age.

In October 2009, China’s National People’s Congress, the Politburo Standing Committee and Hu Jintao, the president of China, approved the 11th, Five-Year Plan that focuses on bringing modern infrastructure to improve living conditions in rural China.

Historians and experts have written and said that what China has achieved since 1980 is a miracle that no other nation in history has managed to achieve. No nation has modernized as fast. It took more than a century for America to achieve what China has done in thirty years.

Go to Four Equals One China: Part 5 or discover China’s Stick People

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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