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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Four Equals One China—Urban China (Part 3 of 7)

May 15, 2010

In 1949, when Mao came to power, 0.005 kilowatts of electricity were being generated in China.  Most of China did not have electricity or modern roads. In 1950, most of China was the same as it had been for centuries.

Soon after Mao’s death, China entered a transition that isn’t over. There was a period of planning and then the miraculous modernization of China that the world has seen since 1980 began.

China’s first 10, five-year plans focused on modernization and growth in urban areas. Urban China started with about 250 million people. As China became the world’s factory floor, the largest migration in human history took place and 300 hundred million rural Chinese moved to urban China to work in factories. Today, urban China has about 550 million people with more than a hundred cities with populations over a million. Trillions have been spent developing cities like Shanghai, Beijing and others.

To discover more about this modernization transition taking place in China, read Pop-Up Cities: China Builds a Bright Green Metropolis by Douglas McGray.  By 2020, China plans to build four hundred new, modern cities at a rate of 20 each year.

Go to Four Equals One China: Part 4 or Discover After Mao

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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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Four Equals One China—Communist China (Part 1 of 7)

May 15, 2010

The four Chinas are Communist China, Urban China, Rural China and Minority China. The Communist Party has more than 70 million members. Then there are the members of the Communist Youth League (another 70+ million), whom are not members of the Communist Party.

The members of these two groups are the ruling class. They have the best health care and probably make up a sizable portion of China’s middle class, which has been estimated at 200 to 400 million people living primarily in urban areas.

President Hu Jintao

Hu Jintao, was elected president of the PRC on March 15, 2003. According to the Chinese Constitution, he may only serve two five-year terms and has to stand for reelection after the first term. There is an article of impeachment in the Chinese constitution that was added after Mao.

Go to Four Equals One China: Part 2

Many in the west consider the president of China a dictator. By definition, that is wrong. See Dictatorship Defined

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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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VOLTING all of China into the 21st Century

May 9, 2010

For China to match the United States, a dependable supply of electricity is needed. Besides more power plants and running more lines to carry that electricity, it also means replacing the ancient villages from feudal times with homes built to modern standards.

China at night

Then rural China would have the same opportunities to live like the spreading urban middle class. To succeed, China would be starting the largest construction project in the history of humanity.  Once completed, all 1.3 billion Chinese would be able to buy and plug in washing machines and dryers for clothing, TVs, computers, air conditioners, electric heaters, refrigerators, freezers, etc. 

What is it going to take rural China to catch up with urban populations?

It is estimated that each American uses about 11,000 kilowatts a year.  Since the United States produces 4.062 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity a year, China would have to produce almost 18 trillion kilowatts so everyone in China could plug in the same number of gadgets Americans do. Source: EIA

America at Night

For the Chinese to match the American middle class example, China’s sky would have to look like America at night. Of course, while all this construction and relocation was going on, the Western media would be reporting how horrible China’s government was to force those rural people to give up their old, feudal lifestyles.

Read more about the next super power.

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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.


Electricity is the Key

May 8, 2010

For rural Chinese, electricity is the key to a modern middle-class lifestyle.  Currently, much of China outside the urban areas does not have a dependable supply of electricity.

However, China is currently working to deliver that dream to the 800 million have-nots in rural China. According to The Economist, by 2012, China should produce more power annually than America, the current world leader.

Electrical Generation Projections for China

I have read about the wide gap in living standards between rural and urban areas of China.  The main reason for that is the lack of electricity and a fast, efficient means of transportation to get around in a country with more rugged terrain than the United States.

To improve transportation in China, a grid of electrical powered high-speed rail will soon crisscross China.  China Railways operates a network of some 86,000 kilometers, which is intended to increase to 110,000 in 2012 and a massive 120,000 by 2020.

Learn more of the urban-rural gap in China

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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.