Saturday, December 25, 2010


to everybody out there ! Not so much time for posting recently - but more will come up later. Enjoy some holidays - thank you very much for reading.
Here found another version of "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence"played on a Tenori-On

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Look at all the dead bastards... Nice ! WIKILEAKS

Some video here - now these days it is all about WIKILEAKS and if this is right or wrong. You watch the video and then maybe think twice about the BIG BROTHER USA - was it right to kill this people ? Is it wrong to show this to the WORLD ? It seems it is hard to digest the truth for many of the world leaders. Now WIKILEAKS is in big shit - paypal is blocked - actually since hours you cannot go to their site ! Assange is sooner or later to be arrested or killed by some CIA agents or a secret "Jack Bauer"like 24............And how comes all this documents could "leak" - is this another CIA trick ? We give you some minor shit - but the real mess you will not get trustworthy this makes a SUPER POWER like the USA ?
My personal opinion: We need many more WIKILEAKS !
The video is here - I won't comment - get your own impression and especially listen carefully the nice talking on the radio.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Now they are protesting against the new measures.....

It is not even 2 weeks ago the Government introduced new measures to cool down the completely overheated property market. See the posts below.
So almost immediately the "property-sharks" are biting back.
Last week one spokesman from one main developer said "this new measures
would mainly hurt the end-user" - means people who want to buy a property
to use for themselves (what actually still should be the main reason to buy some
appartment - or ?). Because if they buy after the day of the new measures have
come into force and then they suddenly loose their job or have to sell the
appartment because of some financial problems. This point is not really correct:
If you buy today with the purpose to use it for your own living this is something
people are planning for a long time and not in a short term thinking. So if your job
situation or financial situation is weak you will not consider to buy anyhow. This point
maybe is true for only a very small percentage of buyers - so NO POINT AT ALL !
But as the news is telling transactions are very little after the measures have been
introduced - because all the gamblers (speculators) are scared away from buying -
And now the agencies start crying & weeping: If the Government does not revert that
new measures 1,000 of agencies maybe closed & 10,000 of agents will loose their jobs !
GOOD ! Another logical step to cool down the market. Alone in my street are 8 agencies
in a distance of 200 meters - they are all offering the same appartments !
They want the Government to impose a profit-tax. Not a really good idea as people have
many possibilities to avoid this.
So now all this guys (price pushers) who were actually one of the reason that
the prices are "sky-high" are in big trouble, because their commission income for finished
transactions for the next weeks, months will decrease significantly. As they get a lousy basis
pay here we have another reason for this property prices - in past months (1 - 2 years) they
were trying everything to artificially push up prices into completely unreasonable heights.
The higher they sell the more they earn - so why keep the prices low ? They just told sellers to increase the initial asking price - this is snowball - system. If one is starting to do so the others will follow suit soon.
They want to held a protest march now on the coming weekend in Central !

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Some new measurements to cool the property market

Please read the 2 articles from SCMP of today. I am not sure if this will significantly help - but lets see. There must be more restrictions for mainland buyers in my opinion for example set up a quota for how many properties a private person / or company is allowed to buy. Check of the origin of the money which is used to buy the property. Also in general more transparency is needed like a buyers register (which will not collide w any "privacy laws".) Please read the 2 articles - just click on them for big size reading.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


OKAY ! This is just blank theory - but maybe there is some truth behind. I am living in a nice estate in the NT - 2 phases built - the first one around 7 years ago finished. So today my wife tells me...hey in Block 9 even without a balcony one flat was sold for HKD 6.6 Mio.....My first reaction was ..."This is fake or scam"...So later I checked the transaction records:
Flat 38C sold for HKD 6.6 Mio in middle of October 2010 (almost 95% profit compared with 1st transaction) - then after more checking: Same Block flat 48C sold for 6.26 Mio in July 2010 (almost 85% profit compared with 1st transaction). My guess it is / was the same owner - superstitious number ending with 8 - almost same 1st transaction date & almost same 2nd transaction for each almost double the price.
So if I am wrong then this is pure speculation:
1) You have a company interested in speculation in property
2) You buy several appartments in the same estate
3) You mostly keep them empty / unoccupied
4) You have a second company
5) At the right moment your company 1 sells the property to your company 2 for an extremly high price compared with the 1st transaction (75% -90% profit)
6) Is this a good or a bad deal ?
7) It is not really a good deal at all - because you are only moving the money from the left side of your pocket to the right side of your pocket
8) But it is a good deal if your companies are involved in property dealing - means you are one of the HK property agents and you are using "con-man" companies or whatever possible abstruse company constellations to handle this kind of transactions.
9) Then it is a very good deal - because your transaction will be listed in one of the pages of a special section in APPLE DAILY or other property gazettes and everybody will say "oh wow the prices are still going up"
10) Multiply this kind of idea / system by 100 - you are already manipulating the market in a decent way.
So why not introducing a scheme to have a register about who is selling & buying:
1) For private sellers / buyers just issue the first numbers of their ID Card
2) For company sellers / buyers issue the first part of the company name or the first 5 digits of their business registration number
This could help to bring some transperancy into the transactions.
Update 17.11.10: Surely if the toilet bowl & seat & water taps are pure gold then the price for this 38C & 48C is maybe reasonable (there are two toilets in each flat & and a lot of water taps)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kelsey Mudd jailed for 4 years 3 months

Everybody still remember that incident last year in June - now today there was the sentencing - please read below:

Man jailed for taxi driver's death
An Australian student has been jailed for four years and three months, after being convicted of the manslaughter of a taxi driver in Central last year. The lawyer for the man, Kelsey Mudd, suggested in the High Court that he was only partially responsible for what happened. But the judge disagreed, saying the defence was baseless and distasteful. He also criticised Mr Mudd for failing to show any remorse.
A jury convicted Mr Mudd, 23, of manslaughter by a five to two majority. They also found him guilty - unanimously - of drink driving and dangerous driving.
The court was told that the taxi driver stepped out of his vehicle during an apparent argument with Mr Mudd. The student then took control of the taxi and dragged the driver, who was tangled up in his seatbelt, along the ground, crushing him against the concrete road divider. The vehicle then hit another taxi. Mr Mudd started the vehicle again on the wrong side of the road after police arrived, and smashed head-on into a third taxi.
In mitigation, Mr Mudd's lawyer said his client was only "partly responsible" for the chain of events. He said the driver had left his taxi running when he stepped out of the vehicle - knowing there was a drunken passenger inside.
However, Mr Justice Wright said the defence was "baseless and distasteful". Passing sentence, the judge noted Mr Mudd also sought to blame the police and ambulence officers at the scene. His lawyer said they had failed to perform their duty by switching off the taxi's engine, and that was why he was able to start the taxi for a second time.
Describing the student as "staggering drunk" at the time, the judge noted the alcohol level in his body was five times more than the legal limit.
Mr Justice Wright also said the student had not shown the slightest indication of remorse or sorrow. The judge also ordered that Mr Mudd should not be given a driving licence in Hong Kong in the coming five years.


Please read below - it is originally from Spike from here - Thank you for being so kind to just let me copy it as is:
How can a poor man stand such times and live? That’s the title of a song written in 1929 during the American depression by Blind Alfred Reed, who accompanied himself on the violin according to Wikipedia. Presumably he couldn’t afford to hire any back-up musicians. Bruce Springsteen sang it in 2006 though he rewrote most of the lyrics. Ry Cooder recorded the song in 1970 and in this video on Youtube (I think it’s from the 70′s) he is accompanied by the always incredible Flaco Jimenez.

Of course in Hong Kong, it’s not just poor people, even the middle class is being squeezed far beyond the bounds of normalcy or decency.

From today’s SCMP:

Property prices in Hong Kong have risen by more than 45 per cent from the trough to which they sank after the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, research by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority shows.

The recovery in the luxury residential market has been particularly strong and average prices in the sector are now 14 per cent higher than their previous historic peak, reached in the third quarter of 1997.

Prices in the mass residential market are only 10 per cent down on the peak levels reached before the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998 triggered a sharp slump in the market.

But homebuyers are not as heavily indebted as they previously were, with the current mortgage repayment-to-income ratio at around 40 per cent, compared with more than 100 per cent in 1997. Mortgage rates are also less than 2.5 per cent, against more than 10 per cent in 1997.

The average loan size is about HK$2.5 million with an average contractual period of 23 years, both at record highs for the past 10 years.

Hong Kong has surpassed New York, Paris and Tokyo to become one of the most expensive cities for buying a flat, according to a report from the Global Property Guide.

The report says Hong Kong is now the third most-expensive city for buying a 1,291 sq ft apartment in the city centre, with Monaco the world’s most expensive and London in second place.

“Demand for housing in Hong Kong is no longer limited to local people, but also comes from the mainland,” said Alva To Yu-hung, the head of property consultant DTZ.

and from another article in SCMP today:

“We are not surprised by these [property price] figures,” Buggle Lau, chief analyst at Hong Kong property broker Midland Holdings, told reporters.

“In recent years, Hong Kong has seen a surge in mainland Chinese buying luxury homes… This has created a situation where demand for luxury homes exceeds supply.”

Pro-government lawmaker Raymond Ho Chung-tai called on the government to do more to help the city’s less well off during a debate on Wednesday.

“Residential flat prices have become a major concern for Hong Kong people,” he said.

“The middle and lower class are finding it more difficult to afford flats amid ever-increasing property prices.”

“The government should consider resuming ‘Home Ownership Scheme’ to meet the demand for flats and increase land auctions to increase land supply.”

Opposition lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee said: “For private developers, of course it’s the more money, the better… They are not willing to help stabilise the market,” said another,

“Since there is no regulation, it is not possible to control their greediness and shortsightedness.”

None of this is a surprise, really. Not even the fact that someone’s English name is Buggle.

And a third article in the SCMP. Maybe this would attract someone’s attention in government – if anyone actually paid attention to the SCMP.

… lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing of the Federation of Trade Unions said on Wednesday the scheme not cool down property prices.

“This policy would not control property developers [driving up prices]. People feel depressed and angry about it,” he told Legco.

Wong also criticised the government for giving no details on several other policies, including retirement allowances for the elderly; policies affecting standard working hours, and new laws to regulate private columbaria.

Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee also attacked the new housing policies.

He said the government had made available at least 5,000 unsold flats annually under the old Home Ownership Scheme (HOS). But the supply of flats under the new “My Home Purchase Scheme” would only produce 5,000 units by 2014.

“The housing policy outlined in the policy address would not help stabilise the property market,” he predicted.

Fung called on the government to resume building HOS flats.

In other developments, the pan-democrats said they would move five amendments to the motion of thanks for the policy address. The Democratic Party’s three lawmakers plan to move three amendments.

These include a call for the resumption of the HOS flat scheme, abolition of appointed District Council seats by next year, and a motion expressing their disappointment at government’s policies to tackle poverty.

Fred Li Wah-ming, a leading member of the Democratic Party, said his members probably would not support the motion of thanks if their amendments were not passed.

But lawmaker Ip Kwok- him of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) said his members would vote against the Democratic Party’s motion of amendments to the policy address.

The Economist surveys the global housing market and has decided that Hong Kong real estate is over valued by 58%. They rate Australia as the most over-valued, Hong Kong only comes in at #2. Lord Donald “Boom Boom” Tsang needs to try harder.

There once was a time when everything was cheap, But now prices nearly puts a man to sleep. When we pay our grocery bill, We just feel like making our will — I remember when dry goods were cheap as dirt, We could take two bits and buy a dandy shirt. Now we pay three bucks or more, Maybe get a shirt that another man wore — Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live? Well, I used to trade with a man by the name of Gray, Flour was fifty cents for a twenty-four pound bag. Now it’s a dollar and a half beside, Just like a-skinning off a flea for the hide — Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live? Oh, the schools we have today ain’t worth a cent, But they see to it that every child is sent. If we don’t send everyday, We have a heavy fine to pay — Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live? Prohibition’s good if ’tis conducted right, There’s no sense in shooting a man ’til he shows flight. Officers kill without a cause, They complain about funny laws — Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live? Most all preachers preach for gold and not for souls, That’s what keeps a poor man always in a hole. We can hardly get our breath, Taxed and schooled and preached to death — Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live? Oh, it’s time for every man to be awake, We pay fifty cents a pound when we ask for steak. When we get our package home, A little wad of paper with gristle and a bone — Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live? Well, the doctor comes around with a face all bright, And he says in a little while you’ll be all right. All he gives is a humbug pill, A dose of dope and a great big bill — Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

China customs loves Apple !

So here is the new thrill for you: Will they check me on the border to find my Iphone or Ipad ? Then will they ask me to declare it & pay 1,000 RMB tax ? Even if it is very clear you are not a smuggler and the device is 100% your own & already used - they are really daring to do this ?

Where then to apply the VISA for the Iphone / Ipad ? Commissioners office in Wan Chai ?

The other question is - if they really tax your own property when you go in - so what about if you are going out again - will they pay you back ?
Or what about you go several times a week to Shenzhen - then you better carry the tax receipt with you to avoid "double taxation".
Please read the below from SCMP today - click on it for better reading:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

RICH IN CHINA - Hurun Rich List 2010

Hurun Report - Webpage for China's Business Leaders - - Zong Qinghou of Wahaha tops Hurun Rich List 2010:
"Top Ten of Hurun Rich List 2010
2010 RankWealth
US$ billion Name Age Company Industry
1= *12 Zong Qinghou & family 65 WahahaDrinks
2= *6.0 Li Li & family46 Hepalink Pharmaceutical
3= 5.6 Zhang Yin & family 53 Nine Dragons PaperRecycled paper
4= *5.4 Liang Wen’gen 54 SanyHeavy machinery
5= *5.3 Robin Li Yanhong 42 BaiduSearch engine
5=5.3 Yan Bin 56 Ruoy Chai Drinks,Property,Investments
7=5.0 Liu Yongxing & family 62 East HopeAluminium,Feed
7=5.0 Wang Jianlin 56 WandaProperty
7=5.0 Zhang Jindong 48 SuningRetail,Property
10= 4.9 Xu Rongmao & family 60 ShimaoProperty

* New to Top Ten"

Correction regarding the capital Investment Entrant Scheme

Sorry for overseeing this: In the today policy address the so-called "Capital Investment Entrant Scheme" was changed (at least temporarily) with effect from tomorrow - means mainland buyers with foreign passport cannot buy anymore property under this scheme - here the full text from the policy address:
Review of the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme
34. The Government has reviewed the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, and noted an upward trend in real estate investment, which accounted for 42% of the total investment under the scheme for the first nine months of this year. Despite the fact that real estate investments under the scheme in recent years have only represented about 1% of the total market turnover, the Government, in view of public concern, has decided to temporarily remove real estate from the investment asset classes under the scheme with effect from 14 October. The Security Bureau will announce the implementation details and other changes to the scheme later.

Implementation details once available will be issued here - this issue is also some kind of "Visa issue" because under this scheme you will get a HK ID card automatically.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Here 1 cutting from yesterdays SCMP readers letter. Mr. Yiu is exactly getting the point - I have experienced exactly the same again and again. The market is too much driven by "poker faced" agents. In the todays policy address of our CEO not any idea about how to stop that. One should initiate a interest group to actively fight against this kind of "sales - tactics". Also once again another proposal from my side mainland buyers should be put on some quota - even if they are holding this so-called "capital investment entrant scheme"(please see correction in next post). Also there should be the obligation to proof the origin of the money if property is paid in cash by mainlanders. The other article is about flats in Tokyo - so now HK is even more expensive ! Please click on the picture for reading:

Friday, October 1, 2010


But before the HK firework started China had some special fireworks at hand: Some kind of rocket shot into space this evening around 7.00 pm - and China want to plant the flag on the moon in 3 years.

This is a group photo with Donald & wife and other BIG MACS here in HK waiting for the show to start or after the show - I am not so sure ...................

Here you see the presenters before the show starts on TV.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Here some videos how things can go totally & terrible wrong ! Dont ask me why I just selected this ones - no special reason - just think about - always be careful !

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How much does it cost in HK to slap a police in the face ?

Not too much - just need to have some uncle or uncles - you will walk free. First you slam your car into a bus - you are drunk. Police comes and want to take your breath test - just tell them you need to leave now - and then when police is getting a little bit more insisting you just slap one officer (actually he is quite a good actor - close to italian soccer player - just need 2 - 3 seconds after the slap and then falling down.......). This was in January 2010 - 2 days ago the judge ruled 1 year probation & HKD 8,000 penalty + please consult your shrink. Means lovely Amina Bokhary again went for free after her third offense - all similar actions. Good message to the public - here again we protect the rich and connected ones - whatever crazy they behave !
So we shall try ourselves same ? Be sure you will be in jail - as you dont have that "uncle".
Relax & enjoy the video - and remember: That's Hong Kong justice system.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

UFO over China !

Sorry for slow posting. Very busy here - it is too hot in Hong Kong and now we are waiting for some stormy weather or even a typhoon is coming. But lets hope no UFO is coming here - it seems in China there are a lot of UFO's - please enjoy the clips:

And here some more info from the China TV - this has happened close to Hangzhou Airport - anybody has any idea what this really was ?

And here another one showing more details of this THING - is it a stunt ? Is it some secret service action ? Is it a big destroyer to fight against the bad internet ? Is it GOOGLE leaving China ? Or is it just a street lamp "photo shopped" into the sky with a huge projector ?
Anyhow - it is gone - nobody has seen it again.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Info regarding Macao: 6 countries banned from visa on arrival

Please read here - info is from Commissioners Office in Hong Kong - 6 countries passportholders are banned for entry upon arrival visa in Macao - full text here:
Pre-arrival Visa Initiative for Nationals of Six Countries
From 1 July 2010, nationals of Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are required to obtain an entry visa before arriving at the Macao Special Administrative Region. Visa-upon-arrival is no longer applicable to these nationals. Nationals of above mentioned six countries who bears a valid Hong Kong ID are NOT subject to the new measure.

Please visit the following webpage of Public Security Police Force, Government of Macau SAR for detail:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

China to ease access for expats to visit relatives in China from June 1

A new law set to go into effect June 1 aims to ease access for foreigners coming to China to visit relatives, according to a notice posted on the Ministry of Public Security's official website.
The notice explains that foreign spouses of Chinese citizens, close family members of foreigners working or studying in China and certain classes of overseas Chinese will all be able to come to China via a much simpler process than before given a newly created residence permit category.
Any foreigner currently seeking to visit family members—parents, children or spouses—will be to apply for a tourist visa valid for up to one year.
The new class of residency permit also lifts restrictions on numbers of entries and raises the duration of each stay up to a maximum of two years.
"The number of foreigners related to Chinese citizens who are coming to China to visit, seek refuge or support their immediate family members has increased in recent years," reads the online announcement.
The notice notes that the Exit-Entry Administration of the Municipal Public Security Bureau would bring the new regulations into effect by "taking into account the actual needs of China."
Initial reaction to the news was greeted warmly on online forums frequently visited by expats in Beijing, though some questioned releasing the information only in Chinese and without explanations of many of the law's key points.
A user named "baiyunma" posting on titled a post: "Spouses of Chinese citizens finally fully human."
"After 20 or more years of denial by the government, this is a step forward in admitting that those married to Chinese citizens who also wish to live in China are actually residents and not tourists," wrote baiyunma.
According to Lin Song, press director for the Exit-Entry Administration of the Municipal Public Security Bureau, foreigners wishing to make use of the new law would still be subject to the same health checks required by other residence permit applications, and that only certain applicants would receive visas for a full two years.
"The new law will be applied nationwide on June 1, and applicants should apply once they have arrived in China," Lin told to the Global Times.
Lin said, however, that the new policies were not related to employment, and that those wishing to work in China would still need to follow correct procedures to become officially employed. Lin added that an English-language version of the new law would be available online once experts had finished checking a translation.
Some expats, however, have questioned whether those affected by the new law would actually stand to gain any real benefits.
"As far as I know, [the new law] really doesn't mean much because we're basically talking about a multi-year visa," said an American national living in Beijing. He has been married to a Chinese woman for five years. "This saves me a yearly trip, but when I go now it's pretty automatic, no hassle. It's not a big deal."
Another foreigner, who is also married to a Chinese citizen, also questioned the law's usefulness.
"Personally, [the new law] really doesn't affect me because my company takes care of my visa," said Perceson Chadders, a director of studies at an international school in Beijing. "I don't even have to think about it."
"But I suppose if you were a kept man or woman the new law would be helpful in securing your legal right to be here," Chadders added.
SOURCE: Global Times

Monday, April 26, 2010


In a few days the SHANGHAI WORLD EXPO will start. From May 1st until October 31st 70 Million visitors are expected. Since weeks the "Shanghai Expo excuses"are wonderful:
HK trucking from China to HK is disrupted heavily because some Beijing customs officials are at Lok Ma Chau border crossing to check the procedures of customs clearance to HK - because of the Expo. What has this to do with the event more than 2,000 kilometers away ?
Suppliers trying to use Expo as an excuse for late shipments - no idea why.
Lets see how the CHINA VISA situation will work out during the EXPO.

Here some useful seminar will be hold in Shanghai by the AMCHAM:

Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration Bureau Briefing on Up-to date Visa and Residence Permits
May 06, Thursday, 15:00-17:00. Grand Hyatt Shanghai
The Shanghai 2010 World Expo is expected to draw 70 million visitors to Shanghai, creating concerns about entry and exit access for AmCham Shanghai members and member companies. AmCham Shanghai is pleased to invite you on Thursday, May 6 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, to a Chinese government briefing on exit-entry visa resolutions.
Mr. Cai Baodi of Shanghai’s Exit-Entry Administration Bureau (Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau) will share up-to-date policies and procedures for visa service and residence permit applications. Mr. Cai will also share and answer your questions on how the Exit-Entry Administration Bureau will implement its management plans for the 2010 World Expo.
We hope you join us for this timely and informative session.
About the Speaker:

Mr. Cai Baodi is deputy director of the Visa and Residence Permit Division of Shanghai’s Exit-Entry Administration Bureau. He has more than 10 years of experience with exit-entry management and an in-depth understanding of exit and entry policies.

15:00 Check-in and networking
15:30 Speech and Q&A
17:00 Event ends
May 06, Thursday, 15:00-17:00

Grand Hyatt Shanghai
88 Century Boulevard

Member (RMB): 180.00
Non-Member (RMB): 280.00

RSVP: All AmCham events require confirmation of attendance (RSVP). If you attend an event without prior notification you will be charged a RMB 50 "walk in" fee.

RSVP Cancellation: If you need to cancel your RSVP please notify AmCham Shanghai's Events Department at (86 21) 6279-7119 no less than 12 hours in advance.

Shanghai Centre, Suite 568 1376 Nanjing Road West Shanghai, China 200040
Phone: (8621) 6279-7119 Fax: (8621) 6279-7643
E-mail: Website:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010


Hope as many people can see this - esp on the MAINLAND - enjoy some Bob Dylan here (including 2x Hendrix version of "All along the Watchtower" - I am afraid Hendrix also would have been banned to perform in China. Millions of Bob Dylan Fans feelings are hurt by the decision of the China Government (isn't this the standard reply of China officials .......?):


What a shame - the so-called CULTURAL department decided not Mr Bob Dylan have the 2 concerts in China. How dangerous it seems Bob Dylan is ? Like this you can never be GREAT. Upfront the WORLD EXPO in Shanghai - your cadres are doing something like this ? What is your WORLD you have in mind ?
Please see below link for further info:

Friday, February 12, 2010



CHINA: What Price Young Lives?
By Ma Guihua and Jiang Guibin*

HEZHOU, China, Dec 29, 2009 (IPS) - As more and more rural Chinese bid farewell to their impoverished home villages in their pursuit of a better life in bigger cities, leaving behind their young children in the care of relatives or aging parents seems only a small price to pay, especially in times of financial crisis.

But for some, the price is simply too high.

When a three-story brick building in Yanghui Village in Hezhou, in south China’s Guangxi Autonomous Region, was gutted by fire in November, the majority of the victims turned out to be children.

Yang Chunfeng still vividly recalls what happened on that fateful morning. Awakened by the sound of a blast, he rushed out of his house and saw a huge chunk of the building next door had been blown off while flames were raging high. Villagers coming to the rescue were soon carrying out soot-blackened children while others were screaming and running for their lives.

"All the children being taken out of the building were burned bare, with no hair or clothes left," recalled Yang, who is in his 50s. An explosion at an illegal firecracker workshop (employing children) inside the building triggered the massive fire.

Thirteen of the 14 victims, all students of Zhiyang Primary School, were aged 7 and 15. Two of them died of severe burns. All of them either had one or two parents working in cities away from home.

Yanghui Village is about two hours’ drive from Hezhou City, located east of the picturesque city of Guilin and bordering Hunan and Guangdong provinces. With a population of 3,000, half of them children under 14, the village is home to only 4,000 mu (231 acres) of arable land for tobacco and paddy rice. Per capita annual income from farming is a pitiable 600 yuan (about 85 U.S. dollars), hardly enough to feed a family.

Unable to make ends meet, villagers choose to work in other cities in Guangxi, including Guilin, Wuzhou and Liuzhou, or the neighbouring Guangdong Province, where labor-intensive jobs from export-oriented factories had propped up the local economy.

According to Yang Youji, the village chief, over 1,000 villagers leave to work in construction, textile or brick-making factories, making an average of 18,000 yuan (2,572 dollars) a year each—way beyond their farm earnings. They are forced, however, to part with their children, totaling 1,050 within the entire village.

Statistics indicate that some 130 million farmers left their home villages in 2007—when the global financial crisis began—to join the ranks of migrant workers in cities across China and become the main labour force in construction, manufacturing, textile, processing and tertiary sectors. As a result, over 58 million children were left in their rural homes, where their kin, usually grandparents, looked after them. Children under 14 accounted for more than 40 million of these young people.

Since the economy took a sweeping downturn, triggered by the collapse of financial giants in the United States, many small factories catering exclusively to foreign markets have gone bankrupt. Well-paid jobs are scarce and reduced earnings could only cover some basic family needs.

In Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, alone, 909 foreign-owned enterprises had to close down in 2007. By mid-2008, revealed the National Development and Reform Commission, 67,000 small and medium-size enterprises had gone bust.

Some of the children left behind by their parents have had to assume part of the ensuing financial burden by trying to earn their own keep to help defray the costs of their education, including their daily allowances. Working at the firecracker factory helped them achieve this goal. After all, all they needed to do was to insert fuses into the 1,000-plus beehive-like, powder-filled, little tubes coiled up to resemble a big plate.

Yang Xiaoli, a six-grader from Zhiyang Primary School, felt proud of what she could earn in the firecracker workshop. "For every coil I finished, I got 3 jiao (about 4 U.S. cents)," she said, adding that within two to three hours before school started in the morning, she could insert 3,000 fuses into firecrackers, making around one yuan (14 cents). During school breaks, she could generate about 3 yuan (42 cents) a day. "But if I work too long, my eyes hurt."

To her knowledge, many children in her neighbourhood had been doing the same, providing cheap labour and using their earnings to buy snacks and school supplies. The older ones used their money for more personal items. "I heard that some children, maybe due to their adolescence, felt uneasy about asking money from their grandparents for their personal stuff," explained Chen Xiaojie, the head teacher.

On hearing that his son, Yang Ke, was hurt in the fire, Yang Qisheng rushed to the hospital. After the blast, his face swollen and his skin blackened, he scurried back home crying.

"As a parent, who wouldn’t like to bring his children along so he personally could look after them? But my earnings could not afford his school fees and the cost of living in a city, so I had no choice but leave him with my parents," said Yang, who is separated from his wife. He also provides for the medical needs of his parents by sending them part of his income from Guangdong.

"I am the only one that the whole family could count on," he sighed. His son lives in a room next to the house of the grandparents, some 300 metres from the workshop.

Feng Lan’s nine-year-old daughter was killed on the spot. "I only hope my eldest daughter [also one of the victims] could make it. Otherwise, I don’t know how I could live on," said Feng, as she awaited news about the condition of her other daughter, who was lying unconscious in a hospital. Days later, she finally received word about her daughter, and it was not what she had hoped to hear.

Feng and her husband have been working in Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, for years, leaving the girls with their grandparents. Today, they are left only with the photos of their daughters, stored in an aunt’s mobile phone.

Yang Qishao and his brother had no idea that their sister, a six-grader at Zhiyang, had been working. "She bought us shoes, socks, sometimes snacks. We didn’t know where the money came from," said Yang. "If I had money, I would buy my sister some clothes. Hers had been burned to rags," said Yang, oblivious to what happened to her sister.

Most of the guardians, as well as the teachers, said they knew nothing about the children’s money-making activity until the deadly blast.

The city government had allocated one million yuan (140,000 dollars) for the blast victims’ treatment. But given the severity of the injuries, the children will take a long time to recover. Many will carry their burn scars for life

(*This feature was produced by IPS Asia-Pacific under a series on the impact of the global economic crisis on children and young people, in partnership with UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific.)

(*The authors also write for China Features.)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Please read below directly from the GOOGLE BLOG:

A new approach to China

1/12/2010 03:00:00 PM
Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.

First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.

We have already used information gained from this attack to make infrastructure and architectural improvements that enhance security for Google and for our users. In terms of individual users, we would advise people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their computers, to install patches for their operating systems and to update their web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and emails, or when asked to share personal information like passwords online. You can read more here about our cyber-security recommendations. People wanting to learn more about these kinds of attacks can read this U.S. government report (PDF), Nart Villeneuve's blog and this presentation on the GhostNet spying incident.

We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China's economic reform programs and its citizens' entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.

We launched in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that "we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China."

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

Posted by David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer

Please see the link here - there you can find many other links for this topic: