Via NBCNews: First Americans May Have Been Stuck in Beringia for Millennia

First Americans May Have Been Stuck in Beringia for Millennia
BY ALAN BOYLE
WILLIAM MANLEY / IAAR / UNIV. OF COLO.
20140306-131539.jpg

This map shows the outlines of modern Siberia (left) and Alaska (right) with dashed lines. The broader area in a darker shade of green, which is now covered by ocean, represents the Bering land bridge as it existed about 18,000 years ago.
Anthropologists say that the ancestors of Native Americans started making their way from Siberia to the Americas 25,000 years ago over a land bridge that once spanned the Bering Sea — but there are gaps in that story: Why didn’t those migrants leave behind any archaeological traces until 10,000 years later?

Now scientists are homing in on an explanation: During all those millennia, the first Americans were isolated on the land bridge itself. When the land bridge vanished, so did the evidence of that Beringian culture.

The “Beringian Standstill” hypothesis was first proposed by Latin American geneticists in 1997, as a way to explain the genetic evidence indicating that Native Americans started diverging from Siberians 25,000 years ago. In contrast, the archaeological evidence for the first Americans goes back only 15,000 years, to the end of the ice age known as the Last Glacial Maximum.

In this week’s issue of the journal Science, three researchers report new clues that support the claims for Beringia’s lost world. They say fossilized insects, plants and pollen extracted from Bering Sea sediment cores show that central Beringia was once covered by shrub tundra. That would have made it one of the few regions in the Arctic where wood was available for fuel.

Thousands of Siberian migrants might have found refuge in central Beringia until the climate warmed up enough for glaciers to recede, letting them continue their movement into the Americas, the researchers say. “This work fills in a 10,000-year missing link in the story of the peopling of the New World,” Scott Elias, a geography professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, said in a news release.

NANCY BIGELOW / UNIV. OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS
A photo of Alaska’s shrub tundra environment today shows birch shrubs in the foreground and spruce trees scattered around Eight Mile Lake in the foothills of the Alaska Range.
In addition to Elias, the authors of “Out of Beringia?” include lead author John Hoffecker and Dennis O’Rourke. For more about the “Beringian Standstill” concept, check out the reports from the University of Utah and the University of Colorado, plus this online animation and PDF presentation. For an alternate explanation of the spread of the first Americans, check out this archived story.

First published February 27th 2014, 1:37 pm

ALAN BOYLE
Alan Boyle is the science editor for NBC News Digital. He joined MSNBC.com at its inception in July 1996

vía Global Times: Island Migration – Canada Closes it’s Doors

Island migration

Recently, Canada announced that it would end its investor program, closing off another path for Chinese immigrants.

However, as Canada closes the door, island countries such as St Kitts and Nevis have opened another window for Chinese entrepreneurs who are seeking immigration for various reasons.

Island nations have become the popular alternative immigration choice for rich entrepreneurs in China, because of benefits such as relaxed conditions and low investment requirements. Entrepreneurs such as Zhang Lan, the chairwoman of high-end restaurant chain South Beauty, and Feng Changge, the founder of Harmony Auto, are reported to have migrated there.

A booth for overseas investment at the Shanghai Real estate fair, on October 3, 2013. Photo: I

Fewer options

A newly released report conducted by the Hurun Research Institute said that 64 percent of Chinese millionaires have already migrated with their wealth or are preparing to do so.

On January 22, 2014, the Center for China and Globalization and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences jointly released a bluebook on the status of Chinese people migrating overseas. The bluebook showed Canada as the top destination for Chinese migrant investors.

An agent surnamed Zhou from St Kitts and Nevis Investment Services said that since the investment immigration service closed in Canada, many clients have set their sights on moving to smaller islands.

The service was created by the Greenfield Group Asia Inc., according to its official website, one of the many services in China that offer investment and immigration consultation to the federal two-island country in the West Indies.

There are two ways of obtaining nationality there: donating $250,000 per person to local foundations, or by investing at least $400,000 in real estate per family, Zhou said, a relatively low threshold compared to other countries.

“This country has no demands on applicants, including the source of investment. Besides, it only takes a short time before you can become a citizen and get a passport,” she said.

“In the middle of 2012, St Kitts received fewer than 20 Chinese immigrants.  That number has now more than doubled, and many clients of listed companies say they were forced to migrate to the island,” a Hong-Kong-based agent surnamed Feng told the Legal Weekly.

There are many such clients, Feng said. Those people never live for a long period on the island, and they don’t care about seeing the place. They just need an immigrant’s status.

Even though the Chinese clients have acquired the nationality, it doesn’t mean they are true immigrants, and they don’t have election rights, Legal Weekly reports.

Zhou said if the clients don’t live on the island, they won’t enjoy the benefits. However, the local benefits aren’t as attractive as the ones offered by Canada or the US, so the people who choose to migrate there usually don’t care for such benefits.

She confirmed that Zhang Lan has indeed migrated to St Kitts, but through an agency service based in Taiwan.

Satellite image of Saint Kitts (upper left) and Nevis (bottom right) in the Caribbean Sea. Photo: IC

Changing policies

Canada was formerly a favorite immigration destination.

The country’s Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) had been popular in China due to its low risk and high security. The program started in 1986, an immigration policy the Canadian government used to attract investment from abroad. It requires investment of CAD$800,000 ($730,727), which is loaned to the government for five years with no interest, and a personal net worth of CAD$1.6 million.

Time Weekly reported that many families’ plans had been disrupted by the change of policy.

If it weren’t for the closing of the program, Li Rong might be preparing her winter clothes for her trip to Toronto. A few members of her extended family had already moved to Canada, living in Vancouver and Toronto.

The suggestion to migrate to Canada came from her father, a merchant in the raw steel industry who speaks hardly any English. His relatives and friends kept telling him about the benefits of living in Canada. Finally, he decided to invest and give his family a new life.

According to Li’s investment plan, Li Rong will be the only person living in Canada, while her parents and brother will only visit Canada occasionally.

“The reason they wanted to migrate by investing is so that they can enjoy the benefits Canada offers after retirement, and secondly to transfer their property abroad because in the future China might establish housing or death taxes,” Li told the Time Weekly.

Time Weekly reports that in the past 28 years, the IIP has drawn more than 130,000 immigrants into Canada, most of whom are from China.

On February 11, the Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveiled the 2014 budget, proposing to scrap the program in 2014, a policy that directly affects 65,000 applicants who are waiting for their results, as well as many potential applicants.

However, even as Canada closes its door on immigrants, many other countries are trying to win them over.

“If the clients who are going with the IIP want to change their channel, we suggest Europe,” Liu Jianyu, a Shanghai-based immigration expert, told Time Weekly.

European countries such as the United Kingdom are opening up their immigration policies in order to win over rich Chinese immigrants. In 2013, England gave 30 percent of its million pound investment immigration visas to Chinese.

From the end of 2012 to October 2013, the Portuguese government gave out 560 “golden visas” to families who invest over one million euros in Portugal, and 90 percent went to Chinese people, according to Time Weekly.

Frigate Bay Beach, St Kitts, in Central America. Photo: IC

Looser requirements

According to data from the CCG’s bluebook, a growing number of rich people in China are migrating overseas mainly due to concerns over the environment, children’s education or to send their private property abroad.

Since the Canadian program was closed, the consultancies contacted by the Global Times said the clients have decided to move to other countries. Liu Guofu, an expert on immigration law from the Beijing Institute of Technology, said that as Canada has closed down its investor program, it’s only natural that the entrepreneurs will choose other countries.

“There aren’t many choices for Chinese people to immigrate to, usually the US, Canada, Europe, or Mediterranean countries,” he said. “Besides these countries, the only other options left are island countries.”

There are few choices for entrepreneurs, because only a few have relaxed immigration requirements, Liu said. For example, the US requires at least $500,000 in investment. Some countries require that the applicants speak the local language, while others require that applicants show the source of their investment funds. Island countries usually have lower conditions than countries such as the US or Australia, he said.
Furthermore, if entrepreneurs register their companies overseas, they are subject to a lower tax rate, Liu said.

“For those island countries, they don’t have many resources or markets, so they need the investors to develop their economy. Therefore, they give a low tax rate. That always existed,” he said.

Another reason for entrepreneurs to choose these countries is so that their companies can become listed, media reported.

Many Chinese companies push to get listed as red chips in Hong Kong, but since a regulation came out in 2006 saying all red-chip companies and investors must report to the Ministry of Commerce for approval before setting up companies overseas, no company in the Chinese mainland has received approval, therefore blocking their chance to enter the Hong Kong stock market, the Legal Weekly reported.

As a result, island countries have become a popular choice for entrepreneurs: becoming a foreigner means they can get around this regulation.

Guo Xinfei, an Internet company director who is in the process of migrating to an island country, told the Legal Weekly that for most countries, migrating means living there for four to 10 years, which is an unfeasible condition for businessmen who are eager to get their companies listed.

There are only three countries that don’t have this requirement, and St Kitts is one of them, Guo said. Besides, most countries waive visas for their citizens, which makes it a more convenient location.

But there are downsides to this move, Legal Weekly reported. Since China doesn’t accept dual nationality, acquiring a foreign passport means giving up Chinese citizenship as well as opportunities for political titles, such as being a member of the CCPCC or the NPC.

Besides, if there are investments within the mineral or energy sector, entrepreneurs will lose their opportunity because they don’t have Chinese citizenship, Guo said.

via Channel NewsAsia: Virginia to be first US state to include “East Sea” in textbooks

The US State of Virginia has recently voted to include the name “East Sea” in its history and geography textbooks, alongside what is now marked only as the “Sea of Japan”.

File photo: A South Korean warship conducts in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea in South Korea. (AFP/South Korean Navy)

VIRGINIA: The US State of Virginia has recently voted to include the name “East Sea” in its history and geography textbooks, alongside what is now marked only as the “Sea of Japan”.

The House of Delegates passed the bill in a vote of 81 to 15, and once it is signed into law, Virginia will be the first American state to include “East Sea”, South Korea’s name for the stretch of water.

The move appears to show that Korean Americans have been mobilised by their country’s increasingly strained relationship with Tokyo.

Peter Y Kim, a Korean American lawyer living in Annandale in Virginia, was shocked when he caught a glimpse of his son’s fifth grade geography textbook recently.

“We found out that the actual textbook, the World Civilisations, only says “Sea of Japan”, (for the sea) between Korea and Japan,” he said.

Mr Kim, who is the president of the Voice of Korean Americans, was upset that the name he grew up learning was not being passed on to his children.

“So I got really frustrated, I got upset, I told them, that’s not true, this particular sea is called the East Sea,” he said.

It is a source of bitterness for the community that the name “Sea of Japan” became the worldwide standard back in the 1920s, while Korea was under Japanese colonial rule.

So Mr Kim and other Korean activists decided to do something about it on behalf of the 82,000 Koreans in Virginia.

They persuaded Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen, who is married to a Korean American and received significant Korean American support in winning his seat, to push for a law to revise the books.

Japan hired a team of lobbyists to defend its position, stressing that “Sea of Japan” was the only internationally recognised name, and was in use from the 19th century, before Japanese colonial rule.

But when it came to a vote, Seoul won by a wide margin — 81 to 15.

Mr Petersen thinks it is a sign that Korean Americans are becoming more politically active.

“I think the Korean population has become much more organised and much more sophisticated.

“And I’ve had people that have supported me, and again, my wife’s Korean so there’s a natural link for me, but people who supported me said ‘you’ve got to stand with us on this issue. And we expect you to stand with us,’” he said.

The Obama administration is also clearly well aware of the growing importance of the Korean American vote — last summer, South Korean President Park Geun-hye addressed a joint session of Congress, a rare honour even for America’s closest allies.

Around 6 per cent of Mr Petersen’s constituents are Korean American, but Mr Petersen said the latest move will not affect any bigger, national ties with Tokyo.

“I’ve made the point that America and Japan are great allies and they have been for almost 70 years.

“People are still going to buy Toyotas and buy Hondas and buy Sony televisions and that’s not going to change. This has nothing to do with any sort of antipathy towards the Japanese. This is a local issue.”

Virginia’s governor is expected to sign the bill into law within the next few weeks — a sign that the Korean American community is now very firmly on the map.

– CNA/nd

via Nat’l Geographic: The Growth of Megacities

Geography in the News: The Growth of Megacities

Posted by Neal Lineback of Geography in the NewsTM on February 17, 2014
By Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner,  Geography in the NewsTM

Megacities’ Expansive Growth

For the first time in human history, more of the world’s 6.8 billion people live in cities than in rural areas. That is an incredible demographic and geographic shift since 1950 when only 30 percent of the world’s 2.5 billion inhabitants lived in urban environments.

The world’s largest cities, particularly in developing countries, are growing at phenomenal rates. As a growing landless class is attracted by urban opportunities, meager as they might be, these cities’ populations are ballooning to incredible numbers.

A May 2010 Christian Science Monitor article on “megacities” predicted that by 2050, almost 70 percent of the world’s estimated 10 billion people—more than the number of people living today—will reside in urban areas. The social, economic and environmental problems associated with a predominantly urbanized population are considerably different from those of the mostly rural world population of the past.

A megacity is an urban agglomeration (accumulation) with more than 10 million inhabitants. Sixty years ago in 1950, there were only two megacities—New York-Newark and Tokyo. In 1995, 14 megacities existed. Today, there are 22, mostly in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. By 2025, there will probably be 30 or more.

gitn_1049_Megacities

Urbanization has been occurring in the developed countries of the West for 200 years. Since the Industrial Revolution, a period from the 18th to 19th century in which machine-based manufacturing grew tremendously, cities have grown rapidly. As technological innovations flourished, economies previously dependent on manual labor and draft-animals began to change. People moved into the cities to find work and relatively quickly, cities began to grow exponentially.

Today, the most rapid megacity growth is occurring in the world’s least developed and poorest countries—those least able to handle the political, social, economic and environmental problems associated with rapid urbanization.

In the most modern industrialized countries, on average, three out of four people already live within an urban area. In contrast, in the least-developed regions of the world, more than two out of three people still reside in a rural area. But that statistic is changing rapidly.

For people in developing countries, even the slums of cities like Mumbai, India, can offer more opportunities than their poor subsistence-based villages can. People gravitate to the cities because the potential for making money is greater there. While most of the economies in rural areas are agriculture-based with little cash flow, in the cities, people may be able to earn cash for work or retail sales.

The 10 largest cities in the world in 2010 and their projected populations by year 2025 are Tokyo, Japan  (37.1 million), Delhi, India (28.6), São Paulo, Brazil (21.7), Mumbai, India (25.8), Mexico City (20.7), New York-Newark (20.6), Shanghai, China (20.0), Calcutta, India (20.1), Dhaka, Bangladesh (20.9) and Karachi, Pakistan (18.7).

According to the Christian Science Monitor, along with the masses come problems associated with providing necessary services like clean water, sanitation systems to remove the megatons of garbage and human waste and transportation systems to ferry workers. In addition, many cities have difficult times providing electrical networks, health care facilities and police protection.

Urbanization is not all bad news. According to the Christian Science Monitor, some see great promise in the trend, especially those companies that build roads and buildings.  If a city is efficient, energy consumption can decrease by 20 percent. Transportation costs for goods and labor can fall considerably in cities because markets and workers are all close together. In essence, cities are where cash flows—they are where economic growth takes place.

As the world’s population increases at the rate of 134 million per year, the urbanization process is pushing more and more people into the cities. Such frenetic rates of urbanization and intense poverty of large urban populations strain resources. Nonetheless, to poverty-stricken, landless people, cities offer visions of opportunity. The resulting massive urban underclass, particularly in developing countries, represents one of the world’s greatest social and economic challenges.

The real question is, “What are the limits to urban growth?”

And that is Geography in the News.

Sources: GITN #1049, “Growing Megacities,” June 28, 2010; GITN #844, “Megacities: 10 Million or More People,” Aug. 4, 2006; and Bruinius, Harry, “March of the Megacities,” The Christian Science Monitor, May 10, 2010.

Co-authors are Neal Lineback, Appalachian State University Professor Emeritus of Geography, and Geographer Mandy Lineback Gritzner. University News Director Jane Nicholson serves as technical editor. Geography in the NewsTM  is solely owned and operated by Neal Lineback for the purpose of providing geographic education to readers worldwide.

via the Guardian: Time running out for China’s one-child policy after three decades

Time running out for China’s one-child policy after three decades

As list of exemptions grows, experts predict scrapping of rule said to have prevented 400m birthsChina baby
Even if the one-child policy is scrapped, many Chinese couples say they are unlikely to have bigger families because of the expense. Photograph: Afp/AFP/Getty Images

Chen Xi once saw the one-child policy as a brick wall, unyielding and inevitable. Now she considers it a nuisance.

The turning point came in November when, just as she began the fifth month of her pregnancy, Beijing announced a big change to the contentious policy, allowing couples to have two children if one parent is an only child. Chen, a 28-year-old employee at a state-owned enterprise, should qualify – her husband does have siblings, but she does not.

Yet her hopes may be dashed: although she is pregnant with her first child, she lives with her husband’s 16-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, and family planning officials may consider the teenager her own.

As Chen fruitlessly searched the internet for details, her emotions turned from hope, to confusion, to anger – first at the lack of information, then at the policy as a whole. “This policy has so many downsides – it violates natural law, it makes kids spoilt and thankless,” she said. “Sooner or later, they’re going to have to give it up. It’s really just a matter of time.”

Chen is not alone. While experts doubt the relaxation will deliver a baby boom, they say it has delivered something else entirely: a paradigm shift for many Chinese people who, over three decades, have grown numb to the government’s role in their reproductive affairs.

The policy’s pitfalls are common knowledge: it has engendered an economically perilous demographic crunch and human rights abuses such as forced late-term abortions, abducted infants and the use of violence to collect fines.

Yet “resistance against the policy has never really been that strong”, said Wang Feng, an expert on China’s demographics at the University of California, Irvine. “That’s why I think this top-down change – when the government says ‘now the policy has outlived its use and needs to be changed’ – that actually triggers a change in thinking.”

Five years ago, Wang estimated, only three out of 10 Chinese people were adamant that the policy should be scrapped. “Now, with the announcement of this change, it may not be an exaggeration to see a shift to the other way around. Maybe nine out of 10 would say it’s about time to get rid of this.”

Last week, the wealthy coastal province of Zhejiang became the first to sign the revision into law. Hubei in central China and Guangxi in the south could follow suit by March, state media say.

Authorities say the policy has prevented 400m births since its implementation in the late 1970s. For evidence, they often point to UN estimates that the country’s birthrate has dropped from 4.77 births per woman in the 1970s to 1.64 in 2011. Yet experts have called the figure into question. China’s greatest fertility drop-off occurred in the decade before the policy was introduced, they say; its continuing decline mirrors that of other developing nations.

China already allows many people to have two children, such as couples who are both only children, and ethnic minorities.

Yet many of these families refrain, unwilling to bear the economic cost of a second child. Since the early 1990s, “there’s been no tightening up of the policy, but the fertility rate continues to decline”, said Zuo Xuejin, an executive vice-president at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. “So the basic driver for declined fertility is socioeconomic change.”

If China’s demographic trends hold, the country will probably scrap the policy by 2020, according to Zuo. “By 2025, the government will be encouraging people to have more children.”

Yet the policy will almost certainly continue to have a hold on people for years, experts say, for reasons that have little to do with demographics. For leading officials, backtracking on a three-decade-old policy would entail an intolerable loss of face. The country’s sprawling family planning bureaucracy, which levies more than £1bn annually in fines, is too deeply entrenched to suddenly dismantle.

“At the same time as China announces this policy change, it says the government will continue to put population control as its main mission,” said Cai Yong, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “You see a contradiction right there.”

Chen is still waiting for details on her eligibility, and probably won’t find answers until Beijing formally legislates. She badly wants a second child, unlike many of her colleagues. “If my child doesn’t have any siblings, she’ll grow up very lonely,” she said. If she finds out it is illegal, she will book a flight to the US and hopefully give birth there, granting her child foreign citizenship.

“Before, most people would go to Canada, but some policies changed, so people don’t go there any more,” she said. “Going to America is really popular. If that’s what it takes, that’s what I’ll do.”

via CNN: Mainland Chinese line up for Australia’s ‘millionaire visa’

Mainland Chinese line up for Australia’s ‘Millionaire Visa’

By Peter Shadbolt, for CNN
February 4, 2014 — Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Chinese immigration into Australia now represents the third largest group after migrants from the UK and New Zealand.
Chinese immigration into Australia now represents the third largest group after migrants from the UK and New Zealand.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chinese are the biggest group to apply for Australia’s ‘millionaire visa’
  • High wealth individuals must invest $A5 million in Australia to get a visa
  • Those investing for more than four years are eligible for permanent residency
  • Chinese are the third largest immigrant group in Australia after the UK and NZ

Hong Kong (CNN) — There’s little doubt which country Australia is targeting under its immigration scheme for the super-wealthy; the investment visa is called sub-class 188 and its permanent visa is called sub-class 888.

In China, the number eight is culturally associated with wealth, prosperity and good fortune and rich Chinese nationals have been queuing up for the opportunity to live in Australia under the millionaire visa program.

Since the scheme was launched in November 2012, 91% of the 545 applicants for the visas have been Chinese nationals, according to figures from the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

So far, Australia has granted 65 ‘significant investor’ visas to mainland Chinese.

The requirements for getting one of the highly prized visas are simple: all you need is a clean criminal record and $A5 million ($US4.37 million) to invest. There is no language requirement, upper age limit and applicants do not even have to set up a business in Australia.

Report: Wealthy Chinese using tax havens

Joining China’s journey home

The world’s largest mass migration

Those able to park their A$5 million investment in Australia — complying investments include government bonds, managed funds and Australian proprietary companies – for more than four years can apply for a permanent visa.

Under the scheme, visa holders can keep their operations running in China if they wish. It’s hoped that the move will attract a greater range of immigrants to Australia.

MORE: Europe’s golden visas lure China’s rich

Deloitte partner and global immigration leader Mark Wright told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the days of Chinese investors coming to Australia simply to start a corner store or a small business were over.

“Australia is now looking to attract a larger scale of investment to feed a greater level of infrastructure development,” Wright said.

According to a report by professional services company KPMG, the patterns of Chinese investment are beginning to change, with more private Chinese investors expanding their interests in the country.

The report said that while Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) accounted for 64% by value of the amount invested in Australian agriculture between 2006-2012, Chinese private investment accounted for 70% of the deal volume.

“Chinese companies are playing a more active role compared to other sectors such as mining and gas, where SOEs have dominated,” the report said.

According to immigration specialists in Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne — where property prices have risen 10% and 6% respectively over the past 12 months — are the preferred destinations for mainland Chinese immigrants.

In some suburbs 90 per cent of new product will sell to Chinese buyers
John McGrath

The chief executive officer of McGrath Estate Agents, John McGrath, said that Chinese buyers had boosted prices in certain sectors of the Australian property market.

“In some suburbs 90 per cent of new product will sell to Chinese buyers,” he told the ABC. “I think it is quite centralised in certain pockets, so I don’t think it is doing great damage or harming local buyers’ opportunities to buy here still.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of Australian immigrants born in Asia increased from 24% in 2001 to 33% in 2011.

Around 6% of immigrants born overseas came from China — the third largest group in Australia. While this group, along with Indians, represented one of the fastest growing groups, it was still a long way behind immigration from the United Kingdom, at 20%, and New Zealand at 9.1%.

Immigration has been a politically charged and emotive subject in Australia, where the conservative Liberal Party won election last year partly on a platform of promising tougher policing of the country’s immigration laws. Australia turns away thousands of refugees and asylum seekers but at the same time is suffering a skills and manpower shortage for manual jobs.

via CNN: Moving map shows Chinese New Year travel rush in real time

As hundreds of millions of Chinese migrate home for the new year, Baidu uses cell phone data to create a real time map of human migration.

-The Human Imprint

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Moving map shows Chinese New Year travel rush in real time

By Wilfred Chan, CNN
January 28, 2014 — Updated 0619 GMT (1419 HKT)
 Chinese social network Baidu has developed a moving map of Chinese people as they travel home for Chinese New Year.
Chinese social network Baidu has developed a moving map of Chinese people as they travel home for Chinese New Year.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chinese web giant Baidu develops moving map of Lunar New Year travelers
  • Map works by pulling location data from mobile phones

(CNN) — With a bit of technical ingenuity, Chinese web giant Baidu has developed a moving map of travelers as they return home for Lunar New Year, which begins this week.

The map, which updates hourly, works by pulling location data from users’ mobile phones as they travel across the country.

Users can click to see which routes and cities have the most traffic at any given moment.

The Lunar New Year, also known as spring festival in China, is a hectic time for the country of over 1.3 billion people, as hundreds of millions leave the cities to visit their relatives, many of whom remain in the countryside.

Although the country is rapidly urbanizing, a huge number of city-dwelling Chinese are considered migrant workers, and do not enjoy full legal and social rights in urban areas.

View the map here. (In Chinese)

CNN: ‘Hidden income’ makes China’s rich wealthier than thought

china-rich-poor-story-top

Hong Kong (CNN) — China’s urban rich are making far more than they officially report, suggesting the wealth gap in the world’s second largest economy is much higher than previously thought, according to a new study.

The China Society of Economic Reform released a survey Monday that found “gray income” was 6.2 trillion yuan (U.S. $1 trillion), or 12% of GDP. “Gray income” can range from illegal cash from kickbacks to unreported income and gifts.

“The result has highlighted expanding social inequalities and policy issues surrounding official corruption and income distribution,” said Wang Xiaolu, who led the research for the CSER, in an article in Caixin Online. “The richer the household, the more likely it receives shadow income.”

The study comes a day after Bo Xilai, a once high-flying politician, was sentenced to life in prison for bribe-taking,15 years for embezzlement and seven years for abuse of power. Bo is appealing the verdict.

The CSER surveyed 5,344 urban families in 18 Chinese provinces. The results suggest the top 10% of households earn nearly 21 times more than the poorest 10%. The National Bureau of Statistics places income disparity far lower, saying China’s wealthiest make 8.6 times more than its poorest. “China is in a dangerous zone as one the most unequal countries in the world,” Wang wrote.

The survey found that rich families gain 80% of their wealth from business and on average “have decent gains” in stock markets, whereas most middle and lower income families lose cash in the capital markets, Wang said. “We can’t rule out that some of these business gains are problematic, or even illegal, because many survey takers count kickbacks as business gains,” he wrote.

Much of the high gray income is linked to the loose credit handed out between 2009 and 2010, Wang wrote, as well as the rapid increase of government investment during the same period.

“To stop widening income disparity and unfair allocation, in addition to anti-corruption campaigns, there needs to be gradual but firm progress in economic, political and social reform that moves the country closer to the rule of law with public scrutiny over administrative power,” he said.

via Report: ‘Hidden income’ makes China’s rich wealthier than thought – CNN.com.

Low-Water Lunch: A Chinese Breakthrough on Irrigation? | @pritheworld

Esther Boserup would be proud! It looks as though the Chinese have created a new irrigation system that allows plants to use water only as it needs-creating a more sustainable agricultural method to support it’s exploding population.

Take that Malthus.

Low-Water Lunch: A Chinese Breakthrough on Irrigation? | @pritheworld.

Agronomist Kim Ji-Seok points to soil with trace irrigation that is moist, but not wet. (Photo: Mary Kay Magistad)
Agronomist Kim Ji-Seok points to soil with trace irrigation that is moist, but not wet. (Photo: Mary Kay Magistad)