The millions of migrant workers in China have a tough life. Leaving their homes to find work and separated from their families almost all year round, they toil in the cities for little pay and reside in ramshackle lodgings. Yet this much we know about migrant workers, what we know less about is how these migrant workers deal with the loneliness and isolation of their long and difficult sojourns. After more than a month of research and interviews with migrant workers in the city of Ningbo, the Contemporary Gold (现代金报) newspaper from Zhejiang province today published a front page story on the phenomenon of migrant workers forming “temporary couples” (临时夫妻) in the cities.
The newspaper recounts the stories of a few individual migrant workers in Ningbo that have formed temporary bonds of love and support in the cities to help shoulder the difficult burden of urban life. The newspaper quotes statistics from the Ministry of Health that around 80% of migrant workers in China are in a sex-starved state. And not only this, they are alone in an unfamiliar location, with little money, and no-one to comfort them. So perhaps it’s not at all surprising that migrant workers are seeking to make temporary arrangements.
One of the stories that Contemporary Gold relates today is that of Old Shen and Xiaoyan, both married migrant workers, who found each other in Ningbo. Their tale illustrates just how some migrant workers are dealing with the difficult circumstances they face in the cities, and how they have to face the consequences of their decisions.
The global price of gold has tanked, and Guangzhou’s gold market is booming.
The front page of the Guangzhou Daily (广州日报) today has images of long queues that formed the last few weeks in the city of people seeking to part with loads of cash for cheap gold.
This is probably not going the get the hated chengguan any love, but one of their number has made a short video in the style of a popular recent television advertisement to try and “clear up some misunderstandings” surrounding his profession. His video probably did nothing of the sort, but you can’t fault him for ripping off another television advertisement to try and stem some of the overwhelming negative press his profession generates. Or perhaps you can. Read more
Xiaomaibu literally means small selling department, and refers to Chinese corner shops or small convenience stores usually run by an individual or a family. The person who runs such stores may sleep inside the store. The range of products and services sold in such stores varies immensely. This post highlights such xiaomaibu in a few locations around China, looking at the most popular products sold in each store along with particular services offered that make each xiaomaibu an essential local dispenser.
The front page of the Sanxiang Metropolis Daily from Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, today unloads on the city’s unruly drivers. The front page is festooned with a line of images of orderly straight lines of traffic in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Shenzhen, contrasted with a line of images of a muddled rabble of cars moving every which way in Changsha. One of these images even shows a stationary car in the middle of a highway with the driver on foot next to the car, under the words “this is also Changsha”.
The images are some of the evidence compiled yesterday by the newspaper in a multi-region fact-finding operation. The object of the operation was to establish which of the cities has the most unruly drivers, i.e. the ones worst at driving patiently in orderly lines. The newspaper conducted an online survey in Changsha before sending a journalist driving around the city to observe first-hand the state of its driving, and what he found wasn’t pretty. It then organized journalists in the other cities mentioned above (plus Guangzhou) to do some observing of the traffic in their own cities and take some pictures of what they saw.
As the front page so graphically illustrates, Changsha’s drivers are the worst of the lot. Hence the Sanxiang Metropolis Daily today does some soul-searching for its readers. What to do about the city’s muddled roads? What the newspaper first proceeds to do today is guilt-trip its readers in Changsha about the bad driving in the city, which is so uncivilized. It then informs them of a rather odd campaign launched in the city to inspire “new citizens” to become model drivers. As a single butterfly can shake its wings and cause a storm, it urges, so the drivers of Changsha must drive orderly and thereby shake their wings and ignite a civilized storm of orderly driving. Anyone who fails to fall for this passionate rhetoric is reminded that there are now high definition cameras on the streets of the city, and they will record every instance of uncivilized driving.
The city of Shenyang is getting tough (or tougher) on spitting and other such unhygienic habits. The Shenyang Evening News front page reports today that 200 specialist hygiene supervisors have been appointed, and they will be able to dish out fines of 20 yuan for each person spitting in public, among other such offences and their corresponding fines.
On 8 October 2010, however, an almost identical headline appeared on exactly the same spot on the front page of the selfsame newspaper, announcing that spitting will now incur a fine of 10 yuan, and 100 specialist hygiene supervisors have been appointed to monitor unhygienic behavior and dish out fines for spitting, among other offences.
So we’ll say good luck this time Shenyang, or see you next year for the 3o yuan fine/300 supervisors upgrade.
About 20 km outside Beijing, tourists sitting in tour buses from Beijing north-eastwards towards the Badaling section of the Great Wall can spot the apparent remains of a medieval castle some distance from the expressway. Its concrete spires rising above a muddy corn field, the eerie shell remains as a relic of the grandiose ideas of once-powerful men who’ve since passed through the grinding mill of elite politics, corruption and prison in China. All around Beijing, architectural artefacts of previous decades remain, many decayed and going to ruin.
This article is a tour through some of the more spectacular wastelands of contemporary Beijing, places that will surely be developed into something entirely different at some point in the future – when the interest groups that control the land and construction finally make a deal they can live with.
“It must be said, says Shenzhen Evening News today, “that going home for Spring Festival is a deeply ingrained desire of all Chinese people.” That’s to say, all of 1.3 billion Chinese people. Hence the annual Spring Festival rush is a migration of epic proportions characterized by pushing, waiting, queuing, standing for hours, and generally having your stamina severely tested. So why haven’t more things been invented to make this difficult journey just a little more convenient? The front page of the Shenzhen Evening News today illustrates that some attempts have actually been made in this regard, and it showcases some odd contraptions such as the Hard Seat Helper and the Ostrich Pillow. There’s even a new portable “convenience” tool to help you go when you can’t go. So if you are going to do the Spring Festival rush this year, consider getting yourself one of the following (somewhat) helpful gadgets. Read more
The main theme on the front pages of China’s newspapers today is the record levels of pollution that convulsed China over the weekend and into this week. The front page of the Henan Business Times (河南商报) today displays the smog horizon over the city of Zhengzhou, and the newspaper has a special four page section on the pollution called “A city besieged” (围城). In this section the newspaper tries to make sense of why China is being plagued by such extreme pollution at present, and offers its readers the dubious consolation that although there’s basically nothing that can be done about it, it will eventually go away.
See below for a gallery of how a few other newspaper front pages covered the pollution bugbear today, and see also the Links and Sources section for links to a few other pollution-related stories in English.
In August 2012, a huge statue of a Buddhist goddess went up in Urumqi, Xinjiang. Without consulting anyone, the local government had erected it right on a busy intersection. 11 days later, however, the statue had disappeared. Again without consulting anyone, the local government had abruptly torn it down after sustained criticism on social media. What was wrong with the goddess? She was ugly, but she helped inspire some people at the website Sohu to launch an online poll to determine China’s ten ugliest statues from a shortlist of 59.
A full five million votes were cast, the competition was stiff, and as it turned out the ugly goddess in Urumqi was not one of the ten finalists. But no-one can deny her inspirational role. So here’s her brief, forlorn story, and the ten finalists of the ugliest, most obscene and confusing statues from around China – in all their glory.
The Legal Daily 法治日报 has published a summary of their ’2012 Mass Incident Research Report’ 2012年群体性事件研究报告, quantifying and analyzing ‘mass incidents’ in China – riots, civil unrest, and protests. The data sources and methodology behind the report are not made explicit in their introduction (which says the full report can be provided if you contact them; Danwei has not yet obtained a copy of the full report).
The summary does not give an absolute number of mass incidents in 2012, and the numbers in the geographical distribution section which seem to indicate, for example, that Guangdong only had eight mass incidents, do not make sense when compared to previous reports by Chinese government organs that talked about 80 to 100,000 mass incidents a year nationwide.
The report highlights Weibo as an increasingly significant factor in mass incidents, and makes recommendations that local authorities take “positive” steps like making official announcements and dealing with the person responsible for the situation, rather than using “negative” methods such as information blackouts, forced dispersals and arrests.
Some key statistic of the report are summarized below: Read more
China’s newspapers are today mulling over what is being portrayed as a sea change on China’s roads, a new regulation that has caused some consternation: Running a yellow light (note yellow, not red) will now be severely punished with an automatic deduction of six points! Thus cartoons and graphic depictions of cars, traffic lights and other nondescript yellow things (see gallery below) all bellow out that running a yellow light (闯黄灯) is now no longer cool.
Yet when a journalist from Orient Today (东方今报) from Henan province yesterday went to observe the traffic in Zhengzhou (郑州), capital of Henan province, he found the usual black Audis and other cars jumping yellow lights, some drivers talking on their mobile phones while they did so, as if there were no new “most severe traffic law in history” in force in China.
Here’s a few other yellow traffic light-themed front pages from around China today:
The Six O’Clock This Morning (今晨六点) from Shandong province today has a special feature rounding up the newspaper’s selection of the hottest “styles” of 2012, using an English word that has been popularized in China this year because of the global pop song hit ‘Gangnam Style’. Intending to capture some of the humor and pedantic banality of our social media-obsessed world, the special round-up of 2012 is divided into six categories:
- “Funny (幽默) Style”
- “Strong (实力) Style”
- “Emotional (感情) Style”
- “Surprising (惊诧) Style”
- “Lateral Thinking (偏锋) Style”, and
- “Controversial (争论) Style”
To put the whole section in its proper context, the newspaper prefaces it with the following quip:
In this year of 2012 sports and entertainment stars performed all kinds of remarkable deeds; they accomplished acts of great strength; they made some unconventional winning gambits (剑走偏锋); they got a lot of attention by means of marriage and divorce; and they swaggered around endlessly leaving you dazed and confused. No matter what kind of Style, these were all hot in 2012. They fully deserve the right to be called hot, and yet we are still mystified at why they became hot.