Tags: CCP, Children, China, confucius institute, Falun Gong, human rights, Society
By Omid Ghoreishi
Is it possible for Confucius Institutes, a Beijing-controlled educational program cited by Chinese officials as a tool to extend the regime’s “soft power,” to follow both Chinese law and the law of the hosting nation?
A clause in the agreement between the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the headquarters of Confucius Institute (CI) obtained by Epoch Times through a request under Ontario’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act says that CI activities must be in accordance with the laws and regulations of both Canada and China. The school board, Canada’s largest, will vote on whether to terminate its partnership with the CI on Oct. 29.
Experience in at least one Canadian institution shows that this is impractical since in many cases the laws of the one-party totalitarian state contradict those of Canada’s parliamentary democracy, and so it may be that the Canadian law gets dispensed with.
“Canadian law is equality, non-discrimination,” explains David Matas, a Winnipeg-based human rights lawyer. China’s laws, on the other hand, institute “repression, discrimination, hostility,” toward any group the Chinese Communist Party chooses to target, including Falun Gong, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and democracy activists, among many others, Matas says.
In 2012/13, Matas took on a case involving a Confucius Institute instructor at McMaster University who, like other instructors hired in China to come to the university’s CI, had to sign a contract promising not to practice Falun Gong, a spiritual meditation system severely persecuted in China.
Sonia Zhao signed the contract out of fear that her refusal might reveal to Chinese officials that she in fact practices Falun Gong and as a result could face imprisonment like her mother, also a Falun Gong adherent.
“Initially [McMaster’s] defence was that it is not their jurisdiction and they didn’t know about it,” Matas says.
“I argued to the contrary that it was their jurisdiction because it was happening in Ontario and they must have known about it because the Hanban (CI headquarters in China) hiring policy was published on its website in English.”
Epoch Times reported in 2011 that Hanban has a stipulation in English on its main website stating that teachers at CIs must have “no record of participation in Falun Gong.”
Epoch Times also reported earlier this year that the website of Hunan University, which has an agreement to supply instructors for the TDSB’s CI, states that teaching candidates “will be assessed to ensure they meet political ideology requirements.”
For its part, McMaster held discussions with CI headquarters to eliminate the discriminatory requirement for the instructors coming to Canada. However, Hanban wouldn’t back down.
Eventually, the university decided to end its CI program since the Beijing-run organization didn’t follow human rights values and principles that the university follows and “holds dear.”
“There wasn’t alignment between what was happening in the two countries,” says Andrea Farquhar, assistant vice president of public and government relations at McMaster.
“Although we tried to see if there could possibly be a solution, it turned out that there wasn’t, so we did give them notice in December of 2012 that we would be closing [the CI], and it closed in 2013.”
‘Political Arms’ of Beijing
McMaster isn’t the only institution to close its CI. The Canadian Association of University Teachers issued a statement late last year calling on all Canadian universities and colleges to cut ties with CIs, calling them “political arms of the Chinese government.” Shortly after, the University of Sherbrooke ended its CI program.
South of the Border, the American Association of University Professors echoed the statement of its Canadian counterpart and asked all American universities not to partner with CIs, saying hosting one enables CIs to “advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.”
Two prominent U.S. universities, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Chicago, decided to end their relationships with CIs in the last couple of months.
Intelligence agencies and experts, including former Canadian Security Intelligence Service senior manager Michel Juneau-Katsuya, have also indicated that CIs are involved in espionage activities for Beijing.
The TDSB’s CI partnership was originally championed by former chair Chris Bolton while the rest of the board was kept in the dark about the details of the agreement. Bolton resigned in June a few months before the end of his term amidst concerns raised by parents and many of the trustees about the partnership.
Earlier this month, a TDSB committee voted to terminate the board’s CI partnership. That decision will be voted on by the entire board during a general meeting on Oct. 29.
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Tags: Body & Mind, cellphones, Children, health, IT and Media, psychology, relationships, technology
By Zachary Stieber
Steve Jobs, the Apple visionary, didn’t let his children use iPhones or iPads when he was alive.
Jobs, who helped create many of Apple’s most famous products, was the father of two teenage girls and a son before he passed away in 2011.
New York Times reporter Nick Bilton recently revealed a portion of an interview he once had with Jobs.
“So, your kids must love the iPad?” Bilton asked.
“They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs responded.
“‘m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow,” Bilton added. “Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.”
Jobs didn’t elaborate in the interview, but Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, confirmed that Jobs valued time with his family away from screens.
“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” Isaacson wrote.
“No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”
The NYT article includes quotes from a number of those involved in the tech world who also strictly limit their children’s screen time, including banning all gadgets on school nights.
“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” Chris Anderson, CEO of 3d Robotics, said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”
Bilton says that the dangers he refers to include harmful content such as pornography, cyber bullying, and becoming addicted to devices.
Tags: Body & Mind, IT and Media, psychology, relationships, Science, sustainable development, technology
Children who spend five days away from their smartphones, televisions and other screens were substantially better at reading facial emotions afterwards, a new study has found.
The UCLA study suggests that children’s social skills are hurt by spending less and less time interacting face-to-face (Uhls et al., 2014).
Professor Patricia Greenfield, who co-authored the study, said:
“Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs.
Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs.
The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”
Tags: Body & Mind, cellphones, Children, environmental issues, health, IT and Media, Society, sustainable development, technology
By June Fakkert
NEW YORK—Scientists don’t all agree about how much electromagnetic radiation risks cellphones and other devices pose to fetuses and young children, but governments, health organizations, and insurance companies are advocating precautions.
The rapid development of a baby in the womb is a stunningly delicate process, and disruptions to it can have life-long repercussions.
“We know that exposures that occur during pregnancy can have life-long impact due to these window periods of vulnerability that occur as the brain grows and develops,” said Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein, an integrative pediatric neurologist board-certified in adult and child neurology and pediatrics. She spoke at a recent press conference for the BabySafe Wireless Project, an initiative to raise awareness about risks of electromagnetic exposure in young children.
Children have smaller brains, thinner skulls, softer brain tissue, and a higher number of rapidly dividing cells, which makes them more susceptible to damage from cellphone exposure than adults, Dr. Shetreat-Klein said.
“Disturbing scientific data continues to be revealed regarding the effects of cellphone radiation on developing brains.”
One such study was lead by Dr. Hugh Taylor, chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine.
Researchers put cellphones in the cages of pregnant mice, turned some of the cellphones on continuously during the pregnancy, and kept others completely off. The young mice whose mothers were exposed to radiation from the activated cellphones were more hyperactive and had poorer memories than the young mice whose mothers lived with the powered-off cellphones.
“They were running around these cages bouncing off the walls, not a care in the world, something that in our eyes resembles attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children,” Taylor said at the press conference.
Electromagnetic Fields and Common Sense
Underlying the debate about the risks of electromagnetic radiation is the fact that electromagnetic fields can be natural—such as the build-up of ions in the air before a thunderstorm, as well as manmade—such as the energy of a microwave oven that boils your tea water in two to three minutes.
The frequency of an electromagnetic field determines its effect on the human body. So while we aren’t afraid of being exposed to pre-storm air, common sense (and manufacturer safety mechanisms) stop us from sticking our hands into an active microwave to see if our water is hot.
The frequency of the radiation emitted by cellphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi routers falls somewhere between storm air and microwaves, and their safety profile is a murky gray area that requires consumers to stay informed and aware, and to take precautions—even if the science isn’t conclusive.
Cellphone Safety Standards
A reason researchers aren’t likely to definitively prove that cellphone radiation harms children is that it would be unethical to conduct necessary studies. Such experiments would require test and control groups, and no parent would sign up their child to be in the test group, Dr. Devra Davis points out.
Davis is the president of Environmental Health Trust and award-winning author of “Disconnect: The Truth About Cellphone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.”
According to Davis, cellphones were originally tested on full-grown men and have never been tested on women and children.
Cellphone safety standards have also not been updated in 17 years, since smartphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi became ubiquitous, and the sight of a radiation-emitting device in a child’s hand became common.
Now toy manufacturers produce plastic teething cases with colorful plastic bells and whistles that allow the youngest babies to get really close to their screens, reminding Davis of the baby suits that were once made with asbestos fibers.
The take-home message is one of precaution—that every parent can limit young children’s electromagnetic exposure.
You can keep yourself updated on Twitter with #knowyourexposure
Below is a summary of what some concerned parties say about radiation and exposure to children:
The United States government does not acknowledge known risk of using cellphones that have a specific absorption rate (SAR—the amount of radio frequency absorbed by the body) of 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) or less.
The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland rated the Apple iPhone 4 at 1.07 W/kg and the Samsung SGH-E330 at 1.17 W/kg. Nokia and Motorola phones tested lower, according to the report.
The European Parliament recommends that schools and classrooms “give preference to wired Internet connections, and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by schoolchildren on school premises.”
French law requires that all cellphones sold in the country have SAR clearly labeled as well as the recommendation that users limit cellphone exposure to their heads by using a headset. It also bans advertising cellphones to children under 14 years old and bans giving or selling any device specifically designed for children under 6 that emits radio frequency.
Israel has banned Wi-Fi in preschool and kindergarten classrooms and limited the Wi-Fi to an hour a day in first- to third-grade classrooms.
Belgium has banned the sale of mobile phones to children under 7.
The World Health Organization reports that so far “no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use”; however, it also cautions that “the electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
High priority on the World Health Organization’s research agenda is developing a better understanding of the effects of radiation in utero and on young children.
The German Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents limit children’s use of mobile phones.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said that children “are disproportionately impacted by all environmental exposures, including cellphone radiation,” in a letter last year urging the Federal Communications Commission to adopt radiation standards that protect children. The AAP also recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2.
In the past, Lloyds of London and Swiss Re, two major re-insurers, have both refused to cover cellphone companies for health-related lawsuits filed by cellphone users.
In 2010, Lloyds wrote that “EMF cases could be more complex than asbestos claims” and in its 2013 report on emerging risks, Swiss Re put the “unforeseen consequences of electromagnetic fields” in the highest impact category for 10 years down the road.
10 Ways to Reduce Your Wireless Exposure
BabySafeProject.org gives the following tips:
1. Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body (that is, in a pocket or bra).
2. Avoid holding any wireless device against your body when in use.
3. Use your cellphone on speaker setting or with an “air tube” headset.
4. Avoid using your wireless device in cars, trains, or elevators.
5. Avoid cordless phones, especially where you sleep.
6. Whenever possible, connect to the Internet with wired cables.
7. When using Wi-Fi, connect only to download, then disconnect.
8. Avoid prolonged or direct exposure to Wi-Fi routers.
9. Unplug your home Wi-Fi router when not in use (that is, at bedtime).
10. Sleep as far away from wireless utility meters (“smart” meters) as possible.
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WASHINGTON—Using videos that claim to teach toddlers, or flash cards for tots, may not be the best idea. Simply talking to babies is key to building crucial language and vocabulary skills—but sooner is better, and long sentences are good.
So says research that aims to explain, and help solve, the troubling “word gap”: Children from more affluent, professional families hear millions more words before they start school than poor kids, leaving the lower-income students at an academic disadvantage that’s difficult to overcome.
That gap starts to appear at a younger age than scientists once thought, around 18 months, said Stanford University psychology professor Anne Fernald.
And research being presented this week at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science suggests that it’s not just hearing lists of words that matters as much as rich, varied language with good grammar that trains babies’ brains to learn through context.
Instead of just saying, “Here’s an orange,” it would be better to say: “Let’s put the orange in this bowl with the banana and the apple and the grapes.”
“It’s making nets of meaning that then will help the child learn new words,” Fernald explained.
“The advice I give mothers is to have conversations with your babies,” added Erika Hoff, a psychology professor at Florida Atlantic University. “Children can hear lots of talk that goes over their head in terms of the meaning, and they still benefit from it.”
Income Word Gap
The research comes amid a growing push for universal preschool, to help disadvantaged youngsters catch up. But it also raises the question of whether children from low-income, less educated families need earlier intervention, such as preschool that starts at age 3 instead of 4, or higher quality day care or even some sort of “Let’s talk” campaign aimed at new parents to stress talking, singing, and reading with tots even before they can respond. That can be difficult for parents working multiple jobs, or who may not read well or who simply don’t know why it’s important.
Scientists have long known that before they start kindergarten, children from middle-class or affluent families have heard millions more words than youngsters from low-income families, leaving the poorer children with smaller vocabularies and less ready to succeed academically. Fernald said by some measures, 5-year-olds from low-income families can lag two years behind their peers in tests of language development.
Brain scans support the link, said Dr. Kimberly Noble of Columbia University Medical Center. Early experiences shape the connections that children’s brains form, and kids from higher socio-economic backgrounds devote more “neural real estate” to brain regions involved in language development, she found.
Language Quality Matters
How early does the word gap appear? Around age 18 months, Stanford’s Fernald discovered when she compared how children mentally process the language they hear. Lower-income kids in her study achieved at age 2 the level of proficiency that more affluent kids had reached six months earlier.
To understand why language processing is so important, consider this sentence: “The kitty’s on the bench.” If the youngster knows the word “kitty,” and his brain recognizes it quickly enough, then he can figure out what “bench” means by the context. But if he’s slow to recognize “kitty,” then “bench” flies by before he has a chance to learn it.
Next, Fernald tucked recorders into T-shirts of low-income toddlers in Spanish-speaking households to determine what they heard all day—and found remarkable differences in what’s called child-directed speech. That’s when children are spoken to directly, in contrast to television or conversations they overhear.
One child heard more than 12,000 words of child-directed speech in a day, while another heard a mere 670 words, she found. The youngsters who received more child-directed speech processed language more efficiently and learned words more quickly, she reported.
But it’s not just quantity of speech that matters—it’s quality, Hoff cautioned. She studied bilingual families and found that whatever the language, children fare better when they learn it from a native speaker. In other words, if mom and dad speak Spanish but aren’t fluent in English, it’s better for the child to have a solid grounding in Spanish at home and then learn English later in school.
Next, scientists are testing whether programs that teach parents better ways to talk to tots really do any good. Fernald said preliminary results from one of the first—a program called Habla Conmigo, Spanish for Talk With Me, that enrolls low-income, Spanish-speaking mothers in San Jose, Calif.—are promising.
Fernald analyzed the first 32 families of the 120 the program will enroll. Mothers who underwent the eight-week training are talking more with their toddlers, using higher-quality language, than a control group of parents—and by their second birthday, the children have bigger vocabularies and process language faster, she said Thursday.
By Tara MacIsaac
We are engulfed by electromagnetic fields all day everyday, and the fields are only getting stronger as technology progresses and spreads. The health effects are of increasing concern, as it has been shown they not only affect individuals, but also harm DNA passed along to offspring.
Wi-Fi routers, cell phones, cordless phones, baby monitors, electric blankets, alarm clocks—all of these devices are damaging, says electrical engineer and environmental consultant Larry Gust. He discussed the dangers and how people can protect themselves in a video presented by Electromagnetic Health this week.
Here’s a look at the health effects, recommended maximum levels of exposure, the levels most people are exposed to, and tips on how to protect yourself.
Health Effects Overview
Dr. Martin Blank, who studies the effects of electromagnetic radiation at Columbia University, pointed out in a 2012 lecture uploaded to YouTube that the damage to DNA disrupts normal cell growth and protein production.
He cited studies that have shown DNA damage causes cancer. Illustrating the impact of the field emanated from a simple daily device, he said it has been shown electric blankets greatly increase a woman’s chance of miscarriage.
Electric field health effects:
-Muscle and nerve pain
-Bed wetting in children
Radio frequency health effects:
-Inability to concentrate
Electric, Magnetic Field Exposure
Recommendations for the maximum exposure in electric fields vary from about 3 volts per foot at the upper end of the spectrum to 1.5 volts or fewer per foot at the lower end. The typical bedroom has 3 to 9 volts per foot.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the maximum level for a magnetic field in a home should be 3 to 4 milliGauss.
In Marin, Calif., a 4-year-old girl had an 80 milliGauss field around her bed and in the play yard she frequented, recalled Gust. She was lethargic, had no appetite, and had rectal bleeding. As soon as the field was cleared, her symptoms vanished.
Maximum Recommended Levels of Radio Frequency Exposure
The BioInitiative Report was produced by a working group of doctors. Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and Environment at the University of Albany co-edited it. The Building Biology Report was released by the International Institute for Building-Biology & Ecology, a non-profit research and advisory institution.
Typical Radio Frequency Exposure Levels
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MONTREAL—The development of physical aggression in toddlers is strongly associated genetic factors and to a lesser degree with the environment, according to a new study led by Eric Lacourse of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Lacourse’s worked with the parents of identical and non-identical twins to evaluate and compare their behavior, environment, and genetics.
“The gene-environment analyses revealed that early genetic factors were pervasive in accounting for developmental trends, explaining most of the stability and change in physical aggression, ” Lacourse said. “However, it should be emphasized that these genetic associations do not imply that the early trajectories of physical aggression are set and unchangeable. Genetic factors can always interact with other factors from the environment in the causal chain explaining any behavior.”
Over the past 25 years, research on early development of physical aggression has been highly influenced by social learning theories that suggest the onset and development of physical aggression is mainly determined by accumulated exposure to aggressive role models in the social environment and the media.
However, the results of studies on early childhood physical aggression indicate that physical aggression starts during infancy and peaks between the ages of 2 and 4. Although for most children the use of physical aggression initiated by the University of Montreal team peaks during early childhood, these studies also show that there are substantial differences in both frequency at onset and rate of change of physical aggression due to the interplay of genetic and environmental factors over time.
Teaching schoolchildren happiness, empathy, altruism and compassion has proven beneficial results for classroom learning as a whole, says Vinciane Rycroft.
As educators, we have a genuine wish to contribute to a happier society. And yet, we sometimes wonder how we can keep this intention alive and make it a reality.
Do you remember this letter written by a Holocaust survivor? It said: “My eyes saw what no person should witness: gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot by high school and college graduates. So, I am suspicious of education. My request is: Help your children become human.”
A few of us like-minded educators met in the late-90s during mindfulness retreats that we attended regularly in France and in the UK. We were young and looking to live by values of peace and compassion, in a way that was neither cranky nor hairy fairy. What are the qualities that make the Nelson Mandelas and the Dalai Lamas of this world? Could we cultivate such qualities in ourselves and impact the young people around us?
Presence of China sits uneasily in background of global effort as new UN Campaign shifts their approach
The approach to solving the international crime of counterfeiting was, until recently, based around trying to negotiate with the main perpetrator: China.
But times have changed. Among the impacts of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden—which expose the NSA’s international spying—was the end of any possible discussion with China on intellectual property theft for years to come.
Thus, the focus has shifted, and the United States and its allies are now looking to stop China’s IP theft and the subsequent flow of counterfeit goods through other means.
In New York City’s Times Square, on Jan. 14, a very visible example of this new approach was aired on the NASDAQ screen.
The public advertisement on the big screen shows child laborers and men with guns, while giving a brief introduction to the dark ties that bind the counterfeiting industry with organized crime.
Counterfeit goods and the theft of intellectual property go hand in hand. Criminals and nation-states looking to tap the markets of foreign businesses will steal product designs, and then begin manufacturing their own copies of the products.
The counterfeit industry “supports child labor, 7-year-olds chained to sewing machines, eating two meals of rice a day,” said Valerie Salembier, president of the Authentics Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates about the dangers of counterfeits.
Salembier was publisher of Harper’s Bazaar when it printed an investigative story on the counterfeit industry in January 2009. It included a view from inside a factory in Guangzhou, China, where two dozen children aged 8 to 14 were making knock-off designer bags on rusty sewing machines.
Salembier said that the public response to the article in Harpers Bazaar makes her believe public education can be a powerful tool against the counterfeit industry.
“These stories of young girls working in sweatshops in China, the response we got for that story was overwhelming,” she said.
(China) Cooperation Problems
While few could doubt that the UNODC campaign is a step in the right direction, it is reminiscent of problems raised when the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was signed in October 2011 by the United States, Australia, Canada, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Morocco, and Singapore. http://www.ustr.gov/acta
Experts argued then—as they do now—that any significant effort to end counterfeiting requires broad cooperation from China. And Chinese authorities haven’t shown any serious interest in uprooting the counterfeit industry.
An estimated 15 to 20 percent of all products made in China are counterfeits, according to the MIT Center for International Studies. The Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs also reported in 2012 that close to 80 percent of counterfeit goods seized at U.S. borders come from China.
Asking Chinese authorities to stop the flow of counterfeits is “impossible, especially since eight percent of China’s GDP is based on counterfeit goods,” said Daniel Katz, an expert on the effects of outsourcing manufacturing, in a telephone interview. “A huge amount of their own revenue comes from that, so how can they just get rid of that revenue? What are they going to replace it with?”
“It’s a situation that can’t be cracked down on until China changes as a country,” Katz said.
‘Ask the Consumer’
The public awareness campaign, Counterfeit: Don’t buy into organized crime, is being run by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC). Of course, China is a member of the UNODC, but the campaign makes no mention of China. The focus is solely on transnational organized crime with groups such as the Chinese Triads, Italian Mafia, and Japanese Yakuza on the list.
“The aim of the campaign is to ask the consumer to look behind the purchases they make, particularly if they knowingly buy counterfeit products, and make an ethically informed choice about their purchases,” said Alun Jones, UNODC chief of communication and advocacy division for policy analysis and public affairs, in an email.
Jones said the campaign is part of a larger initiative from the UNODC that started mid-2012 to raise awareness about organized crime and the United Nation’s efforts against it.
And the scope of the problem can’t be understated. Jones said the global trade in counterfeits brings in $250 billion a year, “and is most probably the second largest earner for organized criminal groups after drug trafficking.”
Stopping the Flow
Flashback to May 2013. For the first time, the Pentagon called out China directly for its cyberattacks aimed at stealing U.S. corporate intelligence. This came just a month after Microsoft won a high-profile case in Beijing Higher Court on a lawsuit against China’s owner and manager of Bai Nao Hui, over the spread of counterfeit copies of Windows in China.
Also in May 2013, Jon Huntsman Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to China and now co-chair of the private Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, said, according to New York Times, “China is two-thirds of the intellectual property theft problem, and we are at a point where it is robbing us of innovation to bolster their own industry, at a cost of millions of jobs.”
For China’s communist leadership—which broadly censors the Internet and tightly controls the country’s media—public image matters. And it was precisely its public image that was being tarnished by the exposure of its campaigns of spying and theft.
The administration’s attempt to have the discussion with the Chinese leadership was derailed by Snowden’s leaks of the NSA’s spying, however. Even though the NSA targets foreign intelligence, rather than business secrets, the Chinese used the revelations to accuse the United States of hypocrisy.
Given that dialogue is no longer in the cards, other proposals have been made to deal with Chinese counterfeit goods and intellectual property theft.
Many were outlined in the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2013 report to Congress. They include banning imports from Chinese companies that counterfeit U.S. goods, preventing offending Chinese companies from using U.S. banks, and establishing stronger systems for U.S. companies to file international lawsuits.
But the problem with any solution is that counterfeiting is built into the workings of China’s communist leadership, according to Greg Autry, senior economist with the American Jobs Alliance, and co-author of “Death by China.”
“They don’t really view, as individuals, that intellectual property theft is a problem,” Autry said in a telephone interview. “Under the communist ideology, of course, they believe that everything is communal.”
“In the communist system, it requires that you have to kowtow to the authorities in Beijing,” he said. “It’s a political decision that moves you forward. Having great ideas isn’t what gets you forward—stealing other people’s great ideas and helping the leaders profit is what gets you forward.”
Child laborers beg not to go home when rescued, while officials back home squander money excessively
By Zhou Xi, Radio Free Asia
A recent Radio Free Asia report has highlighted two corresponding issues in China that have drawn much public attention.
The first news in focus is that when an illegal child labor site was discovered in an electronics factory in Shenzhen City and 41 youth were rescued, none of these teenagers wanted to be sent home.
One girl told the reporter: “I can eat rice and meat here, at home I only have potatoes and corn. I don’t want to go home.” Their hometown is Liangshan in Sichuan Province, one of the poorest areas in the province as well as the whole nation.
There, transportation and utilities are undeveloped, and farmers’ per capita annual income is only 2,000 to 3,000 yuan ($300 to $500), roughly the same amount as these child workers earn in a month. Even the parents feel that going out to work is not a bad thing—the children can gain experience, make money, and eat meat. Even with working 12 hours a day, they have a far better life than at home.
Meanwhile, the West China City Newspaper reported on Jan. 7 that a member of the Communist Party Standing Committee of Liangshan, who is also the Secretary of State-Owned Assets Supervision Administration Commission in Liangshan, was criticized by the Central Discipline Inspection Commission for feasting on public funds.
While leading a work group to conduct grassroots inspections, the official spent over 15,000 yuan ($2,480) on a dinner in which cigarettes and alcohol accounted for over 8,000 yuan ($1,322).
An article by Zhi Shang Jian Zhu (Constructing on Paper) said “Spending 15,000 yuan on a meal—such squander even humbles the affluent areas, not to mention it happened right in Liangshan, where the rescued child workers do not want to return home because they don’t have meat to eat.”
It looks like there is actually no absolute poverty, only absolute injustice. While people are hungry, the officials live in extravagance. Where did their money come from? It comes from those incredibly poor people.
This is exactly what the old saying “Yu Rou Xiang Li” describes (Treat commoners as fish and meat, kill and eat as you wish), it’s not a lifestyle issue, but a crime in the rawest form.
It might be coincidental for the two pieces of news to break out at the same time, one is about child laborers working 12 hours a day, the other is about squandering county officials. These people come from the same hometown, but they live in two totally different worlds.
As early as 2008, it was exposed by the media that a lot of child labor was exported to Shenzhen and Dongguan in Guangdong Province from Liangshan, which is very remote and inhabited by elderly, minority nationalities, and the poor.
So how was the squandering local official reprimanded for his 15,000 yuan work dinner? He was merely criticized in a written notice.
Those children of poor families, even if they are “rescued” and sent back to Liangshan, will most likely return to the city in groups after the Chinese New Year at the end of January, and continue their child labor lives, eating rice and meat.
An article by Di Guo Liang Min (Empire’s Innocent Citizen) said the situation hasn’t changed since the 2008 media exposure. But would media exposure today help people realize how bad Liangshan’s poverty really is?
The image of local officials enjoying an extravagant dinner with a scene of child laborers being exported in large groups in the background creates a modern version of ‘Behind the vermilion gates meat and wine goes to waste, while out on the road lie the bones of those frozen to death,’ (written by the famous poet Du Fu of Tang Dynasty in 755 A.D.).”
The state of poverty in the remote, poor areas such as Liangshan is always troubling, and many feel helpless about the child labor phenomena. Some people even blame the media for exposing the existence of those child laborers, because it resulted in the children being forced to return to their hometown where they only have potatoes and corn to eat.
Such bitterness and frustration constitutes a true portrayal of contemporary Chinese society.
By Cindy Drukier
Amira Willighagen, the 9-year-old Dutch girl who astounded first the judges, and then the world with her opera singing during her first appearance on “Holland’s Got Talent” has done it again. She was the runaway winner at the Dec. 22 semi-finals with her soul-stirring rendition of Ave Maria.
Many have likened her to the pure voice of American-born, Greek opera legend Maria Callas, whom at least some seem think she may have been in a past life.
Next week the opera prodigy will sing three songs in the finals.
Population control measures, including a possible loosening of the despised one-child policy, were a major topic at the third plenary meeting of the Party’s 18th Central Committee this week.
Any liberalization of the policy would be minor. The new policy being considered would allow any family, where one parent was a single child, to have a second baby. The current policy allows a second baby only in cases when both parents were only children.
Any changes to the one-child policy would endeavor to sustain the nation’s low birth rate while allowing greater freedom for some families to have a second child, National Health and Family Planning Commission spokesman Mao Qunan told state media.
Mao attributed China’s economic growth in the past three decades to the one-child policy, saying it had prevented the births of 400 million people, resulting in greater prosperity.
However, Wang Feng, a public policy professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, disagrees. In a Nov. 12 article in Caixin magazine Wang was quoted saying he believes the policy’s contribution is exaggerated by family planning officials and that the greatest decline in China’s birth rate occurred in the ten years prior to the 1980 introduction of the policy. The birth rate plunged because of the promotion of birth control information during the 1970s, he said, adding that when the economy took off in 1987, the birth rate fell again.
“The improvement of living standards and changes in people’s views about the family and giving birth are the key forces driving the decline,” Wang said.
Critics of China’s one-child policy point to serious abuses, including forced abortions, selective abortions of female fetuses, and invasive forced birth control practices as further reason to eliminate the policy. Though Chinese authorities have denied the use of forced abortions, such cases have been documented by activists like Chen Guangcheng.
“Women are forced to abort babies up to the ninth month of pregnancy, and sometimes these forced abortions are so violent that the women themselves die along with their full-term babies,” Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an international coalition that opposes forced abortion said on the organization’s website.
“The one-child policy causes more violence towards women and girls than any other official policy on earth, than any other official policy in the history of the world,” Littlejohn said.
More in China Society
This girl can really sing. A voice from the heaven. So mature… for her age.
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, meditation, psychology, Society, Spirituality, sustainable development
By Rosemary Byfield
How teachers cope with demands in the classroom may be made easier with the use of “mindfulness” techniques, according to new US research.
Learning to pay attention to the present in a focused and non-judgemental or mindful way on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course helped teachers in the study to feel less stressed and to avoid burnout.
Dr Richard Davidson, chair of the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, is the study co-author. “The research indicated that simple forms of mindfulness training can help promote a certain type of emotional balance, leading to decreased stress,” he said in an interview on the Centre’s website.
“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.
“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.
Stress, burnout, and ill health are increasing burdens experienced by teachers in schools leading to absenteeism and prematurely leaving the profession.
“This is an area where mindfulness may be particularly important and interesting,” he said.
“We wanted to offer training to teachers in a format that would be engaging and address the concerns that were specifically relevant to their role as teachers,” said lead researcher Lisa Flook in a statement.
Researchers trained 18 teachers to use MBSR techniques designed to handle difficult physical sensations, feelings, and moods and develop empathy for pupils in challenging situations.
Randomly assigned teachers practised a guided meditation at home for at least 15 minutes per day and learned specific strategies for preventing and dealing with stressful factors in the classroom. These included “dropping in”, a process of bringing attention to breathing, thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations; and ways of bringing kindness into their experiences, particularly challenging ones.
Mindfulness originates from Buddhist meditation but was developed for secular use in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme at the University of Massachusetts in the United States.
“The most important outcome that we observed is the consistent pattern of results, across a range of self-report and objective measures used in this pilot study, that indicate benefits from practising mindfulness,” Flook said.
Study participant and teacher Elizabeth Miller found that mindfulness could be practised anywhere, and at any time.
“Breath awareness was just one part of the training, but it was something that I was able to consistently put into practice,” Miller said.
“Now I spend more time getting students to notice how they’re feeling, physically and emotionally, before reacting to something. I think this act of self-monitoring was the biggest long-term benefit for both students and teachers.”
In Britain, teachers Richard Burnett and Chris Cullen developed the Mindfulness in Schools project, “.b” or “Stop, Breathe and Be!” programme. After experiencing the benefits of mindfulness themselves they wanted to teach it in the classroom. Their course is now taught in 12 countries.
Tags: CCP, Children, China, human rights, Society
By Leo Timm
U.S. authorities are getting tough on pregnant Chinese women visiting the Northern Mariana Islands to give birth. In what is called “birth tourism,” prospective mothers can at once evade penalties imposed by the One Child Policy in China, and gain U.S. citizenship for their newborn.
Eloy Inos, governor of the Northern Marianas, told the Saipan Tribune that immigration agents had sent home about 20 “birth tourists” in the past three to four months because of “documentation problems.” In August, a pregnant tourist arrived on a charter flight from Shanghai one evening was sent back home early the next morning. Her tour leader Fenny He told the Tribune the woman ” refused to listen” when she advised her not to go.
The number of women delivering babies in the island chain, located between the Philippines and Hawaii, has seen a massive increase in the last two years, according to a Marianas Variety report. This is due to the constitutionally-protected clause granting citizenship to all those born on American soil. U.S. territory includes the Northern Mariana Islands, which were ceded by Japan following World War II.
Today, the territory is a tourist hotspot. In an exception to U.S. immigration laws intended to encourage tourism, Chinese citizens are permitted to visit Saipan and other islands in the Northern Marianas for up to 45 days without a visa. According to USA Today, the total number of Chinese arrivals in 2012 has already been surpassed by July of this year, and about 11,000 Chinese visited the islands in the month of July alone. It’s unclear how many of them are birth tourists.
Avoiding the penalties associated with violation of the One-Child Policy, which was introduced by the Chinese communist regime in 1979, appears to be a major motivation for birth tourism.
He Peihua, chief associate of Guangdong International Business Law Firm, told Chinese media Southern Metropolis Daily that if a Chinese family has their first child in China, and the second in the U.S, it does not constitute a violation of China’s family planning regulations.
According to the Southern Metropolis Daily’s report, one netizen under the name Great Mom wrote: “I’m planning to give birth to my baby in America. I did research from multiple sources to make sure I don’t break the rules. Giving birth in the United States is the best way.”
She added: “There are many centers run by Taiwanese in the United States. It takes two months to get ready for birth and one month after that. You can go back to China after three months.”
Another Internet user quoted in the report said she gave birth in the United States to avoid the one child policy – so her son wouldn’t be an only child.
Sohu, a Chinese Internet portal, lays out 10 reasons Chinese people might consider giving birth in the United States: American citizens are eligible for a retirement pension, for example, even if they never return to the United States, and they may be afforded greater opportunities to enter prestigious American universities.
Americans can visit over 180 countries visa-free, Sohu noted, whereas holders of a passport from the People’s Republic of China can only enter a handful of African and Southeast Asian countries visa free.
With research by Lu Chen.