A new Chinese policy imposes the purchase of all electricity from renewable sources. This stands among China’s most influential decisions relating to the environment in recent years.

Harsh criticisms on their environmental policy only drives China’s Government to consider emissions reductions. A strained reliance on coal and mammoth economic incentives, however, compels this type of expansive, progressive legislation. China’s coal consumption continues to grow while production plateaus. Still, it remains the cheapest energy source.

What China’s Government did was simple. They increased demand of renewable energy to 100 percent. Supply must then increase. They improve their environmental impact and require their renewable energy sector to expand. Alongside government subsidies on renewable energy, this is the only way to challenge coal’s price. It is obviously not perfect. Quality remains a concern. With this incredible incentive to produce renewable energy, the sector could grow too fast and produce poor products.

While the US can brag about freedom and democracy, our government could never pass this level of monumental legislation. In China, it happens quickly and impacts every region.

The ideal for Americans is that our innovation triumphs. Ideas that are designed and copyrighted in the US can be produced overseas in China at a cheaper cost. Win-win. Unfortunately, stagnant governmental efforts on clean energy delay the US’s capabilities. Furthermore, it fails to inspire job growth in this country. We must accept and utilize China’s capacity, and work with them instead of treating them like our rival.


Karaoke Restrictions


China’s Ministry of Culture introduced the “national karaoke content management system” in recent years to determine every song’s play count.  The system grew out of the desire to collect payments for songs’ copyrights.  Zhengzhou, Henan served as one of the test cities for the device. Almost half of the original 110 karaoke centers in Zhengzhou also featured a “black box,” a free addition that also tracks content. Selecting a banned or inappropriate listing triggers the “black box” to immediately notify law officers. As of this month, 176 locations in Chongqing installed this management system. Henan plans to employ the instrument throughout the province by the end of next year.

Zhengzhou’s Deputy inspector of Provincial Department of Culture, Wang Tianhong, explained a “black list” to establish criteria for censorship is still lacking. Current decisions allegedly restrict sensitive topics surrounding Xinjiang and Taiwan as well as vulgar, lewd content. Employees at places with a “black box” are ordered to erase inappropriate songs after authorities arrive.

Deputy inspector Wang additionally mentioned that one network would eventually unite all national, provincial and municipal cultural administration departments to manage every karaoke system. He stressed that this comprehensive structure “is mainly aimed at karaoke places and other entertainment services, consumers will not be punished.”

WTO Ruling Upheld


A WTO decision on China’s foreign media restrictions lives on, overruling Beijing’s recent appeal. The Chinese Commerce Ministry deemed the verdict regretful.

At the moment, the Chinese Government only permits the distribution of 20 foreign movies a year, and selling music online remains illegal.

James Cameron, who is presently in China for the release of “Avatar,” remarked, “China’s economy is expanding very, very rapidly. And I think the feeling right now is that perhaps it doesn’t need to be protecting itself quite as much.” The restrictions inhibit significant revenue. A number of US companies filed complaints that led to the initial decision. Among others, this group included Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, and Sony Music Entertainment. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk commented, “US companies and workers are at the cutting edge of these industries, and they deserve a full chance to compete under agreed WTO rules.”

China’s Government has a year to comply with the verdict. International law prohibits confining media distribution to government-controlled companies. This decision will not flood Chinese markets with movies; nor will it assault China’s “Great Firewall” on websites like Wikipedia and Twitter. It sets a foundation to challenge these issues with future opposition. A Chinese iTunes store and a breakdown of sanctions on videogame creators are likely to be the more immediate results.

This represented the final opportunity to appeal this ruling. This represents one of China’s most influential WTO defeats.


In July, 20 Muslim Uyghurs escaped China. Citing threats of torture, they hoped to attain asylum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Beijing deemed them “criminals.”

On Monday, Cambodian officials sent the Uyghurs home. China incentivized this arrangement with 1.2 billion dollars of aid and loans. This figure seems especially large when considering China assistance to Cambodia over the last 18 years totals almost 9.5 million dollars.

This decision concerns foreign leaders. It violates international refugee laws. The refugees entered Cambodia legally with visas. Rebiya Kadeer, a significant Uyghur leader, added, “Governments of countries neighboring China are reluctant to take any action that would displease Chinese authorities, leaving Uyghurs nowhere to flee.” UN refugee experts are currently exploring potential solutions.

Discontent with Chinese governmental control is intensifying, particularly in Xinjiang. Uyghur riots this past summer and a subsequent communication breakdown represent an extreme, but social unrest is generally increasing throughout China. A rise in crime has accompanied their massive economic expansion. In the first ten months of 2009, China saw a 15% climb in crime compared to last year, or four million cases. While many citizens choose to challenge governmental rule, a growing population hopes to flee their country.

Growing Houses


Government-financed development projects in China regularly necessitate demolishing buildings. Owners of any bulldozed dwellings receive compensation for losing their homes. Farmers in rural areas have learned to take advantage of this system. They find it more profitable to just construct buildings on their fields, anticipating future projects. Cultivating housing units proves more economically advantageous than growing crops. Successfully deceiving officials results in a 700 to 1500 yuan relocation fee depending on the structure and number of rooms.

It’s a gamble. In early December, news of potential government projects spurred tireless efforts among Wuhan City residents. Buildings materialized in days. Vegetable fields vanished. Locals worked by car headlights during the night. On December 17, nearly one thousand government officers set out to fix this situation. Two days later, they wiped out just under 40,000 square meters of these new, illegally constructed “grow houses” in Wuhan City.

These compounds are not difficult to destroy. Mud typically secures their brick exteriors. Recycled waste serves as windows and doors to ensure the dwellings are uninhabitable.

Chinese Government crackdowns continue, but farmers are not likely to halt construction. Rural areas remain plagued with unemployment. “Growing” houses offers substantial economic benefits for minimal costs and labor. Expanding the strained Chinese job market may be the only effective solution.


……are a joke


In June 2008, Steve Jobs deemed Russian and Chinese markets “two big ones” that Apple was working on.

Today, China Unicom, the only licensed company to sell iPhone in China, is embarrassed.

Unicom stepped into negotiations in September of last year when Apple’s dealings China Mobile broke down. They opened an online iPhone store just over two weeks ago on Taobao.com, which is China’s version of eBay.

In these first weeks, the e-store sold five iPhones—two 8GB and three 16GB iPhones. Total sales in this period of 5,000 units failed to meet expectations. This paled in comparison to the 60,000 online orders KT, the South Korean distributer, received prior to their launch more than a week ago.

Without G3 service, a 32GB iPhone in China costs 6,999 元, or $1,024 US. This is about $200 more expensive that those sold in Hong Kong. Aside from these elevated prices, credit cards are not very common in China, especially among the younger age group more likely to purchase iPhones. An online store may not be the best mechanism to push expensive phones. Fake iPhones (seen in this video) are also hurting sales. Reports praise their functionality and their prices range from $60 to $170 US.

Last month, Apple’s iPhone sales were projected to reach 50 million by 2011. Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi thought China Unicom would contribute 2.9 million units to this total. It may be too soon to tell, but this statistic seems slightly inflated.

A World Wide Web?


Internet usage in China is complicated. Asia already houses the largest Internet network in the world. Amidst exponential growth, access remains monitored. The Chinese Government maintains that restrictions over their country’s online content are necessary. If it grows unchecked, the Internet will hinder China’s efficiency and success.

(Here is an excellent account with diagrams of regional web usage)

Beyond the issues surrounding China’s Cyber Warefare, simply accessing the World Wide Web remains tough in certain regions. Xinjiang stands out as a radical example. Early last July, Uyghur riots in Ürümqi, Xinjiang led to a few hundred deaths, nine executions as well as a revamping of the region’s communication. Two years ago, I did not encounter any restrictions on e-mail or other messaging networks like Facebook during my travels throughout Xinjiang. Connections were scarce is more rural regions, but I could communicate easily once online. By mid-July 2009, these circumstances changed quite a bit. These days, a breakdown of available contact serves as a reminder for current Xinjiang residents to respect authority. While Internet connections allegedly remain largely unaffected, website availability continues to decreased. These two up-to-date accounts (Report #1, Report #2) depict current constraints.

Throughout China’s other regions, web searches on topics sensitive to authorities produce uninformative results and any degree of lewd content does not survive long. Although they admit corruption is a significant problem, preserving a positive government image is vital to their power. In the latter case, morals play a role. China’s Government recently offered monetary rewards for tips on location of servers running pornography websites. Response rates were astounding.

These examples are, however, extreme. There are very basic problems. A consistent frustration for some foreigners seems to be simply obtaining an Internet connection in their residence. Here is some advice for anyone struggling with this problem and wants to obtain Internet access in China outside of cafes and hotels.