Some Tuesday China links:
Want China Times reports, citing a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, that China may lose its favorable demographic dividend as early as 2015, reaching the Lewis Turning Point whereby all excessive labor from the agricultural sector has already been absorbed into the modern sector, forcing wages up and requiring the economy to find new ways to boost productivity. By 2030, the report goes on to say, China’s elderly dependent population could rival or outnumber the younger, working age population.
Previously, the Chinese government had estimated its population dividend would continue until 2030. In a January working paper, two economists from the IMF estimated China could reach the Lewis Turning Point as early as 2020.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), as the company has come under widespread suspicion of engaging in bribery and other corrupt practices inside China. Things just continue to get worse for GSK, however, as The New York Times has a damning story on the company’s research and development practices inside China, which is based on an internal audit the NYT obtained. One of the most egregious violations contained in the report is that scientists working for GSK in China covered up unfavorable effects new drugs had on mice during testing, and proceeded to go ahead and test them on humans.
Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian announced this week that by the end of the month the government will issue stricter air control standards for cities and heavily populated areas, the latest sign the government is getting tough on climate change and pollution issues. Last week it was reported that China had asked the EU to help it adopt more climate friendly policies, while last month China’s Supreme Court said it would prosecute pollution cases more efficiently, and in some cases might impose the death penalty on violators.
Liu Yi, a journalist at South China Morning Post, resigned this week over what she claims was the censorship of the newspaper. Ms. Liu’s recent interview with Alibaba Group founder and CEO Jack Ma garnered a lot of attention because in the interview Ma appears to say that the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown was the “the most correct decision.” However, Ma immediately denied he was talking about the crackdown, saying the SCMP had misquoted him and he was actually discussing business decisions he had made.
Liu herself tried to re-edit the article and it briefly appeared on SCMP’s website before her editors took it down and published the one they had originally. Soon thereafter, Liu wrote on her Facebook page: “Ma never intended to make any comments about politics. I solemnly apologize to Mr. Ma Yun [Jack Ma’s Chinese name] and resign from the South China Morning Post.”
The Hong Kong-based SCMP has long been seen as one of the best media sources for getting non-censored coverage of China, although in recent years many—such as prize-winning veteran journalist Paul Mooney— have challenged that the paper is actually as independent as it seems.
The China Story has a lengthy interview with Rowan Callick, the Asia-Pacific Editor of The Australian, about his wonderful recent book on the CCP, Party Time: Who Runs China and How. The book is a great read although it’s not available everywhere yet, such as the United States, even in most ebook formats. It can be found at Book.Ish, however. (From what I can gather, it is being released in the West later this year under the title: The Party Forever: Inside China's Modern Communist Elite, although this could be a somewhat different verision.)