Friday, August 24, 2007

New Law to Prohibit Sex Selection Abortion

A series of legislation regarding the one-child policy is on the agenda of the State Council, to deal with the “distance between people’s wish to have children and the stipulations of law” and possible rebound of China’s low birth rate, Legal Daily reported.

One of these planned new laws will prohibit determining fetal sex unless medically necessary as well as abortion based on gender selection.

Experts have warned that the sex ratio of Chinese population is becoming increasingly out of balance, with more boys being born than girls. It is estimated that by 2020, 30 million Chinese men aged 20 to 49, roughly one tenth of this demographic group, will find themselves unable to get married because of shortage of women. Such situation might trigger more crimes such as prostitution and human traffic, some experts said.

New legislation

Unbalanced sex-ratio

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Chinese Authorities Trying to Update One-Child Policy Slogans

a slogan paint in a village, which reads, "daughters are also family descendants"

Chinese authorities recently launched a campaign to purge old, crude family-planning slogans displayed in cities and villages around the country and replace them with new, friendlier ones, after executing the one-child policy for 30 years.

Netizens posted online some of these old slogans that contain harsh, even threatening languages in urging people to have only one child, such as “better having ten new tombs than having one new person,” or “those who should but did not have an abortion would have their houses demolished and cattle taken away.”

“Some slogans are out of date, not good for the work of family planning and hurting the image of the nation and its one-child policy,” Zhang Jian, an official from the National Population and Family Planning Commission told Southern Weekend.

His agency recommended 190 new slogans that are much softer in tones, such as “control population, taking care of Mother Earth,” “Too many children will make a family less affluent,” and “boys and girls are all hope of the nation.”

Mr. Zhang Jian stressed that such changes only represent the adjustment of the approach and idea of carrying out the one-child policy, instead of loosening the policy itself. Mr. Zhang described such change as more “people-oriented.”

The central government required local governments to clean up and replace old slogans by the end of September, Xinhua reported.

One-child police slogans are everywhere in China, from billboards in big cities to giant characters painted on the outer walls of people’s houses in small villages. Some netizens derided the slogan effort as useless, since nobody cares about slogans anymore. But Mr. Zhang Jian said that in rural villages, “people are still reading them,” although slogans could indeed be abandoned in cities like Beijing.

Southern Weekend interview with Mr. Zhang Jian

Other news stories about the campaign

Some online comments

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Netizens Don’t Get New Web Vocabularies

Many Chinese web users found themselves nearly illiterate in front of a list of new vocabulary said to be mostly originated from the Web, which was released on Thursday by China’s Ministry of Education.

The list, containing over 170 new Chinese words, is compiled by language experts at the ministry, as part of its report on the use of Chinese language in 2006.

But a majority of the over 1000 netizens commenting on the new release, including some heavy web users, said they did not recognize most of these new words. Indeed, except for only a few terms, such as blog article, grassroots netizen, second-generation one-child family, and Gu Ge, the Chinese version for Google, the list is full of words that do not make much sense to even native Chinese speakers.

“I’m afraid it’s the first time for most Chinese people to see 90 percent of the words on the list,” one commented.

“I’m on the Internet for more than 14 hours everyday, but found half of the words unheard of…” said another.

Quite a few people saw such vocabulary simply as language pollution that should be tossed away instead of receiving official documentation. Some went on to criticize the MOE as being irresponsible in giving official release to such terms, since they might disappear very soon and would not stay in the daily language use in China’s fast changing cultural and social arena.

But some commentators supported the documentation of these new words and called for a more open attitude toward new trends in the development of Chinese language.

“I always welcome new words springing up like mushrooms after rain,” one poster said. “The mother tongue has a distant origin and a long stream, rich and deep, only because it is constantly changing and developing.”

Nevertheless, it seemed to be a common agreement that time will finally decide whether these new words, however ridiculous they might appear to be, will become permanent components of modern Chinese.

According to the MOE report on Chinese language use, the number of Chinese blogs has come to the third place right after Japanese and English ones. Blogs, Internet news, email, BBS and cell phone short messages have become the main origin of new words in Chinese, the report says. This is also the first time the MOE tried to document some of these new words entering Chinese people’s daily life in recent years, said Li Yuming, head of the ministry’s Bureau of Language and Information Management.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Today Show Goes to the Beijing Olympics

As Beijing celebrates the one-year count down to the 2008 Olympic Games, American television, such as America’s No.1 morning show, the Today show on NBC, is getting excited, too.

This morning, live scenes from the count down ceremony at the Tiananmen Square cut into Today’s regular programming from time to time. NBC correspondent Mark Mullen reported live from the square, making NBC the only western broadcaster to cover the event live, according to NBC producer Adrienne Mong’s blog.

Meanwhile, the show aired a series this week called "China Rising," with Today’s star Meredith Vieira reporting from Beijing on the changes taking place in the ancient city and the whole country’s ardent preparation for the big game.

Like many other overseas media institutions, the NBC depicts this Olympics as the “defining moment” for China in the 21st century, a sign of a “new China,” a chance for the country to increase its international prestige and demonstrate to the world that “China belongs to the 21st century.”

During Ms. Vieira’s trip to Beijing, it’s also noticeable that as a foreign journalist, she was allowed to access the construction site of the main stadium and interview Chinese Olympic athletes face-to-face during their practice at the National Olympic training center. She was even able to face a television camera right in the middle of the crowds on Tiananmen Square, something could have got her into trouble with Chinese authorities if done at a different time.

“There is still no freedom of press in China,” Ms. Vieira said on the square, but the Chinese government has loosened its control on foreign journalists' coverage of the Olympics.

NBC also mentioned a few hard challenges facing the Chinese government in hosting the big game, such as heavy pollution in Beijing. Mr. Mullen said he “would not be surprised” if factories in the city were ordered to be shut down during the game.

Today in Beijing

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