|Asia News Digest
Chinese Farmers' Living Standards Lag Behind Urbanites'
Chinese farmers' living standards are a full ten years behind those of the urban population, National Statistics Bureau deputy director Qiu Xiaohua announced, Peoples Daily reported Sept. 8. Qiu, speaking at the 21st Century Forum in Beijing, said he was "shocked" by this situation. "Generally speaking, the overall consumption power of the huge farming population still lingers at the early 1990s stage of their city counterparts. The gulf has yet to be bridged," Qiu said. He said the gap threatens China's development.
Nearly 60% of China's 1.3 billion population800 million peoplelive in rural areas. At end-2004, some 26.1 million people were still living in extreme poverty, and 49.77 million were classified as "low income," which means just barely able to nourish themselves properly.
There are also big inequalities in health and education. Some 42% of the urban population have government medical care, but only 10% of the rural population do. There are also 43.8 times more college graduates come from urban than rural areas.
Government investment in the rural economy gradually shrank between the late 1970s and 2003, although it has increased since. In 1978, the government invested 13% of total expenditure in the countryside, but this declined to 7% in 2003.
The Peoples Daily quoted a message posted on a popular Internet site, Sina, saying: "It's not so beyond the imagination that, generally speaking, China's city population are much better off than their rural siblings. We prefer concrete measures to better farmers' lives over appalled officials."
Arroyo Impeachment Fails in Philippines Congress
The Philippines House of Representatives failed to get the needed signatures to send the impeachment of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the Senate, the Inquirer reported Sept. 5. The House could have sent an impeachment petition directly to the Senate for trial, despite of the fact that the Judiciary Committee had rejected all three of the filed petitions, if 79 Congressmen (one-third the total) would sign on. Sept. 5 was the final day for gaining the 79 signatures, but the opposition announced they had not reached that number.
Nonetheless, the effort, led by House Minority Leader Francis Escudero, has one more chance later in the week, and was buttressed today when former Speaker of the House, Rep. Noli Fuentebella, whose Nationalist People's Coalition is part of the government coalition, resigned from his position as vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee and announced he would sign the impeachment petition. Fuentebella expressed his disgust at the stunt in the Judiciary Committee, in which President Arroyo's supporters used a technicality to throw out the competent impeachment petitions, accepting only a phony petition presented by Arroyo's forces. Fuentebella called this a "violation of the rules of the Constitution."
Chinese Textile Industry in Crisis
The Chinese Textile Industry Association is warning that if the Sino-U.S. disputes about textile imports, which have been going on for three months, are not resolved, some 100,000 Chinese textile workers will lose their jobs within a year, reports a Xinhua article Sept. 5.
Chinese manufacturers are "making the bridal gowns for other brides," as a Chinese saying goes, Xinhua reported. Chinese textile manufacturers earn no more than 10% of the total profits of their clothing exports to the U.S. "The remaining 90% is shared by foreign brand-owners, wholesalers, and retailers, mostly Americans." U.S. limits on Chinese imports will hit textile producers hard, but this will also hit U.S. cotton exports. Last year, China bought $1.6 billion of cotton from the United States; China is the biggest cotton importer in the world.
Russian-Chinese Meet on Nuclear Issues
The Russian-Chinese subcommssion on nuclear issues met in Moscow the first week in September, according to Xinhua and Novosti Sept. 7. Among issues under discussion were the schedule for constructing the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant; constructing a reactor for the fast breeder plant; and cooperation on building floating nuclear power plants. The two sides have also signed a protocol for cooperation in space nuclear energy, according to the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency Rosatom.
Joint Russian-Chinese construction of the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) will be finished by the end of 2006.
Chinese-Russian Talks on Military Cooperation
Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan called for new areas of military cooperation during his talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov yesterday in Moscow. Cooperation should expand after the successful first China-Russia military exercise Aug. 18-25.
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin met Cao, and said that: "My friend [Chinese President] Hu Jintao and I believe that Russian-Chinese relations today are at one of the highest points in their entire history."
China To Make Major Investments in Indonesia
China is moving ahead with nearly $30 billion in investments in Indonesia. While the economic hitmen have unleashed another assault on Indonesia's currency and economy, China is investing billions in Indonesian infrastructure development. The visit to Beijing at the end of August by Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla resulted in agreements totalling about $20 billion over the next 15-20 years, including a gas transmission line from Kalimantan (southern Borneo) to Java, an iron mine in Kalimantan, an aluminum smelter, housing development, telecom infrastructure, hybrid rice development, and a geothermal plant in North Sumatra.
On Sept. 5, it was also announced that China will build a $2.1 billion coal-fired power plant in Jambi, Sumatra. This is in addition to $7.5 billion in energy and infrastructure projects signed during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's visit to Beijing in July.