Category Archives: China

White House sends tough message on NGOs as Chinese president Xi Jinping visits US

A top White House official Tuesday hosted US non-governmental groups who face tough new Chinese security laws, a high-profile statement of concern as Xi Jinping arrived in the United States.

White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice met several representatives from among the universities, businesses and rights groups that would be forced to register and report to the Chinese security services if the draft law enters into force.

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“Today’s discussion focused on concerns that the draft legislation would further narrow space for civil society in China,” the White House said in a statement that came hours after the Chinese leader landed in the United States.

Sources familiar with Rice’s talks said it included some organizations that receive US government grants.

The controversial draft law looks set to be yet another area of contention when Xi meets President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday for a summit designed to strengthen ties.

“I think the president will make that clear,” a senior administration official told AFP, describing the draft law as “deeply troubling” and its impact “very unfortunate.”

“We are going to find some opportunities to speak out on that issue and also find an opportunity to meet some of the stakeholders involved.”

The Obama-Xi summit has already been beset by arguments over cyber hacking and China’s increasingly assertive land grabs in the South China Sea.

“Our concern with the law is profound,” said the official.

“First of all it is very broad, it gives a huge role to the ministry of public security, not the ministry of civil affairs that used to manage these groups.

“I have heard a number of these groups saying that they are having to question whether they will remain in China, whether they will curtail their activities in China or whether they will cancel plans to establish a presence in China.”

The White House said the legislation could hinder services to the Chinese people and “constrain US-China people-to-people exchanges.”

Pressure to push back

Christopher Johnson, a former CIA analyst now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said “there’s a lot of pressure on the administration to push back on this, to get the Chinese to change it.”

“Take Yale University, for example. They have a presence in China. If in New Haven they choose to host a dissident or the Dalai Lama or something like that, technically under this law the people in China would be subject to arrest.”

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio urged Obama to take a tougher line with Xi.

“The past year alone has been marked by further erosion of rule of law, tightening restrictions on civil society and outright attacks on human rights defenders and political dissidents,” he wrote in an opinion article that appeared in the Washington Examiner.

He urged Obama to invite Chinese human rights activists to Xi’s state dinner.

“Too often the Obama administration wants credit for ‘raising human rights’ —- but passing mentions and diminished significance in the broader bilateral agenda provides little solace to the brave men and women who face unimaginable obstacles and hardship for daring to claim their most basic human rights,” Rubio wrote.

Xi did not fully dispel the criticisms late Tuesday when he addressed the issue in a wide-ranging speech in Seattle.

“China recognizes the positive role of foreign non-profit organizations. So long as their activities are beneficial to the Chinese people, we will not restrict or prohibit their operations,” he said, adding they have “legitimate rights and interests.”

But he added that, for their part, the foreign NGOs in China “need to obey Chinese law and carry out activities in accordance with the law.”

by Andrew Beatty. (https://www.hongkongfp.com/2015/09/23/white-house-sends-tough-message-on-ngos-as-chinese-president-xi-jinping-visits-us/)

 

Officials Gift Family Education Books to Households in Xinjiang

Some two million residents in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are set to receive a series of books on families and women in the next few weeks, as part of celebrations to mark the 60th year since the autonomous region was founded.

The books are being donated by the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF), which held a book donation ceremony in the region’s Kashgar on September 16.

Song Xiuyan, secretary of the ACWF’s Party leadership group, vice-president and first member of the Secretariat of the ACWF, attended the event and handed out the books to representative local families.

ACWF Officials Gift Family Education Books to Households in Xinjiang
Song Xiuyan, secretary of the ACWF’s Party leadership group, and vice-president and member of the Secretariat of the ACWF, hands out books to local women in Xinjiang. [China Women’s News/Yang Rui]

The books are written on the themes of parenting, teenage safety, women’s health and infant care, and are published both in Chinese and ethnic Uyghur languages.

With vivid illustrations, they provide recipients with a useful and easy-to-follow guideline in their daily lives.

The publishing of the bilingual books shows the care of the Party and the government for Uyghur families and symbolizes the deep bond between women’s federations and Uyghur female citizens, said Song at the donation ceremony.

The books were well received by readers.

“It was useful. I have slept badly recently. After reading the book, I know it is normal,” said one middle-aged woman who pointed to the chapter on the menopause.

“I like this best,” said a woman who picked up the volume on how to be a good parent. “My husband and I agree that we should not beat or curse our son, but talk with him nicely,” she added.

While chatting with them, Song expressed her wish that all Uyghur women could live happier and more harmonious lives.

The books, a product of over a year’s preparation, are the first batch of their kind delivered to the locals in southern part of Xinjiang.

The second batch on related themes are being translated and reviewed and will be ready by the end of this year.

Vice-Secretary of the Standing Committee of the Party Committee of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Aierken Shiniyazi; Vice-President of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee of the Region and Vice-President of the ACWF Reziwan Aibai; and Vice-President of the ACWF Jiao Yang, were among the officials who attended the ceremony.

ACWF Officials Gift Family Education Books to Households in Xinjiang
 ACWF officials chat with local women in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. [China Women’s News/Yang Rui]
ACWF Officials Gift Family Education Books to Households in Xinjiang
Officials pose for a group photo with women that received the books. [China Women’s News/Yang Rui]

(Source: China Women’s News/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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Pontiac Bar’s and Aviator Gin’s 4th of July fundraising event in Hong Kong

One Million Words was happy to be selected as the recipient of the Pontiac Bar’s and US based Aviator Gin’s 4th of July fundraising event in Hong Kong. Around 100 people came to enjoy great music, food, drinks, and to celebrate US Independence Day and the passing of the new marriage equality act.

One Million Words was selected as the charity of choice due to the participant’s interest in equal rights around the world and the importance of literacy and education in making this a reality. We would sincerely like to thank everyone that came and donated to help this cause, and of course to wish everyone a happy 4thof July. Also, a very special thank you to The Pontiac and Aviator Gin for selecting us as their donation recipient!

We are constantly in touch with the SenJiMeiDuo school, and we have let them know of your kindness and support, so they wanted us to pass along a big THANK YOU from all of the students, teachers, and volunteers that help there.

ABIE Shanghai helps with donations to Tibetan Charity School

American Baby International English (ABIE) in Shanghai, China setup a donation box in the schools campus to raise funds for the “Give the Gift of Literacy – Tibetan Charity School” Indiegogo fundraiser campaign.

With both staff and students donating money funds for our projects are really rising fast, both online and offline.

Parents said “We are fortunate here in Shanghai as we have access to so many good books that we sometimes forget how truly lucky we are. It’s is a great pride for us to be able to give from the heart and help out these students who have such a high passion for learning.”

The school owner, Andy, above with Ms Calope from OMW China, said we just wish we could do more to help and it is our great pleasure to have ABIE involved in with the work that One Million Words does for our country.

Thank You One Million Words

SenJiMeiDuo Tibetan Charity School Stage 1 donation

Hong Kong’s early childhood education lacks a vital element – FUN!!!!

A long-waited advisory report on the gradual implementation of free kindergarten schooling has finally been tabled by a government-appointed committee, arousing much heated discussion about kindergarten subsidies and voucher systems, teacher training and salary range. However, we should not allow debate about financial benefits or government responsibility to overshadow what really matters: our vision for early childhood education, and whether it needs to change.

An excessively long and harsh learning schedule will stress out the children.

An excessively long and harsh learning schedule will stress out the children.

A long-waited advisory report on the gradual implementation of free kindergarten schooling has finally been tabled by a government-appointed committee, arousing much heated discussion about kindergarten subsidies and voucher systems, teacher training and salary range. However, we should not allow debate about financial benefits or government responsibility to overshadow what really matters: our vision for early childhood education, and whether it needs to change.

Sadly, this vital point seems to be missing in the debate.

Besides transferring knowledge, the most crucial element of education is empowering students to learn from their mistakes and failures in a safe environment, such as a kindergarten or school. So, when students encounter challenges, whether in the form of study setbacks, exam failures or emotional attacks, they can try to overcome the difficulties with the help of guidelines and assistance provided by devoted and qualified teachers.

During this process, they can figure out who they are, where their talents lie and what they most enjoy doing. They will learn to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. This will help them find a direction, take responsibility for their own life and ultimately serve society well.

Since preschool children have yet to fully develop their physical muscles and mental cognition, it can be torture if they have to write thousands of words or repeat the same things daily, never mind being fed with burdensome information far beyond their level of understanding. For preschool children, a meaningful education vision would revolve around healthy and creative play in a safe environment, assisted by teachers and parents, rather than being force-fed knowledge.

When children engage in spontaneous, pleasurable and flexible activities, such as a rhythm game, for enjoyment rather than a serious purpose, they can happily develop their creativity, physical strength, emotions, problem-solving skills, concentration and empathy. It is evident that children who learn good social skills and have healthy emotions are more likely to succeed academically.

Moreover, abundant research has demonstrated that creative play has a strong positive impact on a child’s cognitive, linguistic, physical and social development in early childhood.

Research from Germany in the 1970s showed preschool students who attended play-oriented kindergarten excelled in physical, social, emotional and cognitive development compared with those who studied at academic-oriented centres.The findings motivated Germany to switch all kindergartens to play-based programmes.

If parents treasure the value of play, their sons and daughters will have wonderful childhood memories, which can better equip them to handle frustration, take responsibility and deal with setbacks with maturity and endurance. However, it seems some Hong Kong kindergartens and parents don’t see the same benefits in a play-based childhood education. Business-oriented kindergartens offer tough syllabuses with a view to attracting driven parents of preschool children. In response, some parents who fear their children may be left behind are blindly chasing the wind, and send their toddlers to tuition classes and extra-curricular activities.

I remember a young child of friends once sharing with me in confidence that she sobbed at night because she felt so exhausted and stressed by being coerced to attend different language training classes after school, followed by piano or violin practice. When she got home after fulfilling all those parental demands, it was often 7pm or 8pm. How could the toddler get sufficient rest for her long-term development?

Young children need rest, not just for their physical health, but also their emotional well-being. Any excessively long and harsh learning schedule, or having parents who are focused only on their academic results, will stress out the children, which could hurt their emotional development.

If they grow up in a cold and materialistic environment, lacking valuable relaxation and the joy of play, is it possible that such children will suffer emotional problems or even sickness later on?

Take one case, several months ago, of a 31-year-old man who was convicted of murder after killing and dismembering his parents. He claimed they had put him under great pressure. He was educated, with some Chinese media reporting that his IQ exceeded 120, above the average for most people. Unfortunately, it would appear that his higher intelligence, plus parental pressure, equated to a tortured life.

Perhaps Martin Luther King’s statement applies here: “Education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.”

Knowing right from wrong is easy; holding on to our principles requires not just being smart, but also emotional and moral intelligence. The best period for children to develop such intelligence is between three and six years old.

A solid foundation of healthy emotional experiences constructed in early childhood can lead to success and happiness in adulthood. Parents, teachers and the government need to treasure the value of play and moral education, starting from kindergarten. Will these become the new vision for Hong Kong’s education policy?

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Fire again at SenJiMeiDuo Tibetan Charity School

After a fire burnt down half of the school in Nov last year, again the students at SenJiMeiDuo were faced with a fire again.

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This time it was a forest fire that came within 500 meters of the school, and luckily for all the students and staff none of the buildings were damaged.

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In these photos you can see the students have developed such a love for reading that they kept on reading as the fire passed them by.

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The students kept reading ……

 

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And reading….

Earlier this month we sent a small shipment of books up to the school to “tie them over” until we arrive next week with our first major delivery. This first shipment of books was made possible by a donation from Englearner, the English division of the Jilin Government Publishers (www.360hour.com) and money donated by Single Malt Online (www.singlemaltonline.com), an online whiskey investment company based in Hong Kong.

Previously the students in SenJiMeiDuo didn’t have access to books that they could read for pleasure and since this initial donation they have devoured every word of the books, with such a love for reading that they continue to utilize every minute of their time out of class, and when they are not busy with the reconstruction process, reading and rereading these books.

On Sunday the 31st May 2015, Dr Robert Lockyer and Kitty Zhang, will travel to a city close to SenJiMeiDuo to give a speech on literacy and to open the first stage of the library project with a larger donation of reading and reference books. This trip is being funded wholly by their own funds so as not to drain any funds away from the project work of One Million Words or away from the students and schools we assist.

This trip will require a 24 hour stopover in northern Yunnan, so as to acclimatize to the altitude of the school, before taking the 8 hour “goat trail” track up to the mountains where SenJiMeiDuo is located. The pair will spend two days in SenJiMeiDuo with thee students giving them lessons in both Chinese and English as well as playing a wide range of learning activities with the students.

Daily updates of the donation and trip to reach this remote school will be posted on the One Million Words Blog as well as on the indigogo campaign site, http://igg.me/at/lVIVDaJR3GI

Whilst this project has started out great and we are getting close to achieving our goal of supplying textbooks, reading resources and a library for this school we are still very short in our funding.

We strongly encourage those who have thought about making a donation to take the leap and click on either our “Indigogo Contribute” button or our PayPal “Make a donation” button on our website and help this project achieve its goal.

We thank you in advance and hope you will follow our updates and post as we travel to this school.

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Literacy in China

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Trying to find a consensus on the growth of literacy in China is like trying to find a grey rock in a quarry of gravel. The one agreement is that literacy is growing, but sorting through the data for the most reliable information proves challenging. For the first fifty years of the 20th century, illiteracy (不识字或识字很少) in China remained at a steady 85-80% of the population. Thereafter, the figures start to vary. Below is a broad view of literacy rates:

By 1959 rates among youths and adults (aged 12-40) fell from 80% to 43%.  By 1979 this figure had dropped to 30%, by 1982 to 25%, and by 1988 to 20%. China’s national censuses of 1964, 1982, 1990, and 2000 reported slightly different declines of illiterates as a percentage of the total population (which increased during those years from approximately 694,580,000 to 1,265,830,000) from 33.58%, to 22.81%, to 15.88% to 6.72%.

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According to 2000 census data, 86.992 million adults in China were illiterate, 20.55 million of whom were between the ages of 15 and 50.  Three quarters of these illiterates lived in rural areas. Seven provinces and regions had the highest illiteracy rates, including Tibet, Yunnan, Guizhou, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia. Tibet’s illiteracy rate was 37%-38%, the illiteracy rate of Yunnan, Guizhou, Gansu and Qinghai varied from 10%-15%, and the illiteracy rate of Inner Mongolia was 7%-8%.

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History’s role
History shows that Chinese have long held literacy as an important “moral template for cultural identity and modernity.” Wisdom and education have been highly regarded in China, and literacy campaigns appeared throughout the 20th century and continue today. Despite the importance of education, literacy has not been easy to achieve. During the Cultural Revolution when secondary schools were closed between 1966 and 1968, the number of illiterate citizens rose, and the population boom further destabilized learning.

Prior to 1978, adult education had always taken precedence over children. The report says, “Adult literacy was given first priority in literacy campaigns designed to ‘sweep away illiteracy’ (saochu wenmang). Because 80% of adults were illiterate they were targeted as crucial for securing new China’s economic security.” It may sound cliché, but reading was (and continues to be) power, and leaders knew that the literate could have considerable influence.

In 1950 the government set recognition of 1000 characters as the standard for literacy and 300 for illiteracy. A reading primer for peasants was distributed in 1951 to rural people. Pinyin was developed (there was even talk of doing away with characters), Putonghua became the standard for the Chinese language, and characters were simplified in an effort to make the written language more accessible to the public and to unify the country under a singular language system.

When the primary school curriculum was standardized in 1978, the focus shifted to a more consistent national education program for the younger members of society, and adult education began to decline (of course, it was no longer as necessary since the newest generations picked up the language quicker). Literacy among children increased; however, the years before had seen a decline in literacy despite the campaigns to eradicate it. The trend changed however during the ‘80s and ‘90s when the literacy rate rose considerably and China reported a 15.9% illiteracy rate (1990). UNESCO reports that the majority of those who remained illiterate were (unsurprisingly) women.

Gansu China. Classroom. 2005

Gansu China. Classroom.

What is the standard of literacy?
In China, literacy is measured by the number of characters recognized. For urban dwellers, the current literacy standard is 2000 characters while rural dwellers need know only 1500. Minority languages and dialects do not generally factor in. Over the years other criteria has factored into what counts as literacy including ability to write reports, read popular publications, etc.

The actual statistics published by China have made critics outside of the country skeptical. With the size of the population, condition of rural education, and other factors to consider, it does not seem possible that the literacy rate in 1990 could be as low as 15.9%. The age range represented in literacy censuses has not been consistent or clear over time, which makes statistics hard to reconcile when combined with the shifting literacy standard.

What are the barriers to literacy?

  1. Rural education. China has made great inroads to better rural education—lessening the cost of primary and secondary education, sending or subsidizing books, etc; however, there is still a significant gap between the rural and urban education systems.
  2. Gender disparity: male children are still chosen to receive more education than female children, especially in rural settings.
  3. Population: with over one billion citizens, educating the huge population is decidedly challenging. Factor in the minority culture and tradition of minority peoples, the difficult to monitor rural populations, and the millions of migrant children living in cities with barebones education and you can understand how difficult educating the country is.
  4. Disabled students: “China’s reported disabled population of 60-70 million represents approximately 5% of the overall population, 1/3 of which resides in rural areas.” Disabled students are not given the same educational rights as other children, and schools that do specialize in caring for the disabled and those with learning disabilities are expensive and are almost nonexistent outside urban areas.