Monday, August 3, 2009

Writer's Block

I'm still worn out from going to Guangzhou last week and then working all weekend. I can't seem to muster up the energy to actually write much of anything right now.

I found some good stuff, just can't produce anything of my own. So I'm just going to link up to some interesting articles and then will encourage any readers, if moved by the articles, to share their thoughts on them in the comments section.

First, from The New York Times:
HONG KONG — More than 13 million abortions are performed each year in China, according to statistics disclosed by Chinese health officials on Thursday, a marked increase from 2003, the most recent statistics available.

When unreported and medication-induced abortions are counted, the actual number is substantially higher, according to physicians and medical researchers quoted by the state-run newspaper China Daily on Thursday.

The rate of abortion in China — about 24 abortions for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 — is less than half that of the world’s highest rate. That is Russia’s, at 53.7 per 1,000, according to the United Nations Population Division. Some two million abortions are performed each year in Russia, which has a population of 142 million. China’s population is 1.3 billion.

But the rise in the numbers is significant. In a joint report, the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute put the number of abortions in China in 2003 at 9 million, out of a total of 42 million worldwide that year.

Chinese officials said a low level of sex education among young people was the reason for the widespread use of abortion.

More than 70 percent of callers to a pregnancy phone line at a Shanghai hospital knew almost nothing about contraception, China Daily reported. Only 17 percent were aware of venereal diseases, and less than 30 percent knew that HIV/AIDS could be transmitted sexually.

Read On
The second, from The Associated Press:
BEIJING — The crowd in the packed Guosen Securities office jostles around buzzing printers that spit out receipts for their share buys, hoping to cash in on China's stimulus-fueled stock market boom.

"The central government has to fulfill their promise of 8 percent economic growth," said Wu Jun, 62, a retired civil servant who has part of his life savings of 50,000 yuan ($7,300) in stocks and lives on a 2,000 yuan-a-month ($290 a month) pension. "They'll come up with measures to keep the market in good shape."

But while investors expect the market — up more than 80 percent this year — to keep rising, Chinese leaders are alarmed. They worry that too much of the $1 trillion lending binge by state banks that paid for China's nascent revival was diverted into stocks and real estate, raising the danger of a boom and bust cycle and higher inflation less than two years after an earlier stock market bubble burst.

Beijing is trying to tighten credit controls without derailing the economic revival or causing a market crash — a risky path at a time when Chinese leaders say a recovery is not firmly established.

"It's a very serious threat. The Chinese government is walking a tightrope," said Mark Williams, Asia economist for Capital Economics in London. "There is the question of what happens if they rein in lending, because there is really no strong evidence that private sector demand is picking up."

Read On
The third, from AFP:
BEIJING — Bad breath is enough to fail the test to enter China's manned space programme, state media said Sunday -- but the final green light for blast-off is given by the hopeful astronaut's wife.

China only wants to send the best of the best into orbit, meaning unfortunate personal smell is sufficient reason to get disqualified right away, the website reported.

"Bad body odour will affect the colleagues in the narrow confines of a space shuttle," said Shi Binbin, a doctor with the 454th Air Force Hospital in the east Chinese city of Nanjing.

A runny nose is also a definite obstacle to joining China's space race for much the same reason, according to the report.

The hospital recently completed a rigorous first screening of candidates, who had to satisfy 100 requirements, to eliminate those obviously unfit to serve China in space.

But the battery of tests were only the first of three aimed at selecting China's new breed of astronauts that will pick up from the pioneers chosen in 1997.

Discarded early in the process were those with scars -- as they may burst open in the extreme conditions in space, the report said. And candidates must also show they have no family history of serious illnesses going back three generations.

Read On
Hope to get something more substantial soon.


Anonymous said...

Well the second story is the one that really intrigues me. Its sad that this old guy who put his life savings into the stock market is gonna now watch it all go down the drain because the party needs to "save face" and make good on the 8% rhetoric.

I have a degree in Finance and have studied markets all my life. Before the crash here in the US I tried to tell the uneducated people I work with to consider transferring their stuff to safer investments like bonds as a downturn was eventual. I didn't foresee a crash though. Well, I took my own advice and lost little money during this mess and am now putting that money back into the market, taking advantage of the age old concept of buy low and sell high. This old timer is buying high and will be selling low. I've just bit my tongue as I watched co-worker after co-worker tell me how they liquidated their 401(k)'s at rock bottom and it took everything I had to not say I told you so. This old timer in China I'm sure will also decide "ah to heck with all of it" once his assets have dwindled to nothing.

I personally think if it weren't for this whole ingrained "save face" concept that the government would do the right thing and regulate their markets to prevent the crash, which I will guarantee, is imminent.

Saving face is without a doubt the most moronic ancient concept among any culture on the planet. Yeah, let's not be open and honest and try to improve... why would we do that when we can lie to ourselves and each and continue to make mistakes while maintaining a false pride based on lies?? BRILLLIANT!!!

Mark said...

It's funny you went off on saving face, Hopfrog.

When I read that quote from the old man, that is EXACTLY what I thought of.

Your articulation of "saving face" is classic. Wish I could've written it myself.

"Face" definitely is more prevalent in China than in the West. But at the same time, I feel like I've heard from more than a place or two that neither Bush nor Obama would ever "let GM, an American institution for over a century, die on his watch." And so I feel like America is also falling into the trap of saving face and is doing some idiotic stuff.

The whole charade of saving face is so, so silly.

Think about the situation the world is in and the responses of leaders across the globe makes me wish that there were more adults with fortitude and courage running the show.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I also really admire people who have the guts to defy the powers that be in order to do whats right. Thats the only way real change for the better is ever accomplished. Its easy to be a sheep who stands quietly and takes a fleecing.

Yeah, saving face is a universal concept, I see it here all the time even among friends and family, but no where in the world does it take on an art form like it does in China. Its like litigation here in the states, a ludicrous national past time.

So many times in my personal life I have been tempted when I was wrong to put a spin on the situation so it looks like I may have been actually right, and everytime I have caught myself doing that and instead admitted being wrong or making a bad decision, I have felt so much better for doing that and feel I have gained respect everytime among peers and co-workers for doing so. It just amazes me that in the modern world, their is a place where you will actually lose respect for having the guts to admit being wrong.