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.

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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 Reuters: U.N. Sounds Alarm on Worsening Global Income Disparities

U.N. sounds alarm on worsening global income disparities

BY LOUIS CHARBONNEAU

UNITED NATIONS Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:50am EST

Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), speaks during a news conference after launching a report on ''Water Governance in the Arab Region'' in Manama November 28, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), speaks during a news conference after launching a report on ”Water Governance in the Arab Region” in Manama November 28, 2013 file photo.

CREDIT: REUTERS/HAMAD I MOHAMMED

(Reuters) – The U.N. Development Program warned in a report on Wednesday that income disparities in countries around the world have been worsening, posing new risks for global economic and political stability.

The UNDP warning echoes remarks from U.S. President Barack Obama in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, in which he said there was a widening gap between rich and poor in the world’s biggest economy and that while the stock market has soared, average U.S. wages have barely budged.

The UNDP report said income inequality increased by 11 percent in developing countries over the two decades between 1990 and 2010. The majority of households in developing countries — more than 75 percent of those nations’ populations — are living today in societies where income is more unequally distributed than it was in the 1990s, the report said.

 The UNDP says this is a global trend that, if left unchecked, could have dire consequences since it “can undermine the very foundations of development and social and domestic peace.”

The widening income gap comes as some major developing countries – such as China andIndia – have seen strong economic growth and an overall increase in national wealth. But that wealth has not been evenly distributed, which has contributed to greater inequality in those societies.

“The sharpest increases in income inequality have occurred in those developing countries that were especially successful in pursuing vigorous growth and managed, as a result, to graduate into higher income brackets,” the UNDP report said.

“Economic progress in these countries has not alleviated disparities, but rather exacerbated them,” it said.

In an interview with Reuters, UNDP chief Helen Clark made clear that this negative trend is reversible and that one of the key components is creating quality employment opportunities.

“The key thing is the focus on jobs – jobs, jobs, jobs,” Clark said, adding that it was important for governments to pay attention to ways of improving the skills of its labor force.

She also touched on the subject of the widening income disparities in countries like Chinaand India, which have seen significant levels of economic growth in recent decades.

“It’s the nature of the growth,” she said. “If it’s uneven growth … it does create tensions within society because people can see that others are doing much better than them.”

“The China example shows that you get fast growth and poverty reduction, but you also get the growing inequalities,” Clark said. “And this is of concern to China’s leadership.”

The report said there was evidence that increases in inequality over the last two decades were mainly due to trade and financial globalization processes that weakened the bargaining position of labor.

Clark said one of the problems with globalization is that it “has proceeded in a very deregulated world.” She advocates more regulation of international trade and financial flows but without eliminating risk and the ability of companies to generate profits.

“It’s a balance,” she said. “You have to leave room for risk.”

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau, editing by Tom Brown)

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)

UN: 6.6 Million Children Under 5 Died Last Year – ABC News

UN: 6.6 Million Children Under 5 Died Last Year

LAGOS, Nigeria September 13, 2013 (AP)

By CARLEY PETESCH Associated Press

Childhood death rates around the world have halved since 1990 but an estimated 6.6 million children under the age of 5 still died last year, the U.N. children’s agency said Friday.

Nearly half of all children who die are in five countries: Nigeria, Congo, India, Pakistan and China, it said in a report.

“Progress can and must be made,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s executive director. “When concerted action, sound strategies, adequate resources and strong political will are harnessed in support of child and maternal survival, dramatic reductions in child mortality aren’t just feasible, they are morally imperative.”

The top killers are malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea, the report said, taking the lives of about 6,000 children under age 5 daily. A lack of nutrition contributes to almost half of these deaths, the U.N. said.

Eastern and Southern Africa have reduced their death rates for children under 5 by more than 50 percent since 1990. West and Central Africa are the only regions not to have at least halved the number of children under 5 dying over the past 22 years, the U.N. said.

Nigeria bears more than 30 percent of early childhood deaths for malaria and 20 percent of the deaths associated with HIV. Globally, the country accounts for one in every eight child deaths, the U.N. said.

While these numbers are grim, the rate of improvement globally seems to have plateaued at about 4 percent improvement per year since 2005, the report said. The estimated numbers are based on solid data from about half the world’s countries. And for regions with the biggest problems, they had to rely on modeling techniques.

Countries like Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Brazil showed tremendous progress, due in part to increased community health care. Affordable and increased interventions — like treated mosquito nets, medicines, rehydration treatments and improved access to safe water — helped improve the early childhood death rate in other countries as well.

But improvements were not as bold in countries like Nigeria, Congo, Sierra Leone and Pakistan, the report showed.

Lake said a new sense of urgency was needed to improve the figures.

“Yes, we should celebrate the progress,” he said. “But how can we celebrate when there is so much more to do?”

via UN: 6.6 Million Children Under 5 Died Last Year – ABC News.

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.

Everything is in China: The World’s Architecture Replicated in Chinese Copy Towns

Everything is in China: The World’s Architecture Replicated in Chinese Copy Towns.

Via: Atlas Obscura

article-image

Thames Town Chapel (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

 

The canals of Venice, the monuments of Paris, the skyscrapers of New York, even the pubs of London can all be found in China. The replicas are part of a trend of copycat architecture that has brought the architecture of the rest of the world, particularly of Europe and the United States, into the new developments of China’s growing cities. In a book released earlier this year called Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China by Bianca Bosker, these cloned communities are examined both in their historical and cultural context.

There’s Thames Town where a statue of Churchill looms before guards dressed in uniforms inspired by the Queen’s foot guard; New Amsterdam in Shenyang where a copy of the Hague’s Peace Palace is alongside a traditional ship; and New York, New York, where a dwarfed Chrysler Building cuts above a pseudo-Times Square. Bianca Bosker told us more about this replica architecture and her first-hand experience exploring the mirror cities.

How did you first encounter the copy towns of China? 

During a visit to China a number of years ago, I was intrigued by billboard after billboard advertising homes in elaborate fantasy-villes with names like “Venice Gardens,” “Majesty Manor,” and “Top Aristocrat.” It was especially jarring to see these ads for old-fashioned-looking homes — with façades and ornamentation seemingly borrowed from the days of dukes and duchesses  — juxtaposed with the cutting-edge, modern architecture going up in China’s cities. Why the obsession with chateaux and mock-villas, I wondered?

The “duplitecture” developments seemed too strange to be real, and, curious to see how the illustrated Euro-towns pictured on the ads compared to the real thing, I set out to see them for myself. It turned out in most cases, the copies were even more bizarre in person than the over-the-top billboards had let on. That led to several years of research that took me into theme-towns all across China, and served as the basis for my book on China’s duplitecture movement, Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China.

article-image

Luodian Town, a Scandinavian-themed town (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

Is there an aspect of Chinese culture that you think most influences the amount of copies there are, not just in towns, but in other aspects of life as well? 

As I discuss in my book, China, at least traditionally, has viewed copying with far greater nuance and tolerance than we have in the West. This perspective has helped create a copy-friendly climate where knockoff White Houses and Monet-manufacturing centers can flourish.

article-imageSan Carlos (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

article-image

San Carlos (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

In the United States, we have a total aversion to copying: replication of any kind sets off a panic attack and copycats are seen as cheats. Yet in China, where there’s a long tradition of replicating everything from architecture and artwork to natural landscapes, copying isn’t viewed with such hostility. Traditionally, people saw there as being many distinct types of copies, each with certain merits and purposes. Being able to copy well could actually be a sign of one’s skill or ability — a good copier would be celebrated as a talent, not a thief, and a well-done replica could be a testament to achievement.

China’s current government leaders are also strategically encouraging imitation across a number of fields as a way for China to gain a competitive edge. In 2001, for example, the Shanghai government decided to hire ten foreign firms to build ten themed cities around Shanghai, each built in the style of a different European country. The officials in charge of the project noted they hoped working with foreign architects would help domestic designers come away with a sharper skill-set  they could apply to helping the nation grow and urbanize. This is mimicry as a path to mastery.

article-imageLuodian Town, a Scandinavian-themed town (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

article-imageAnother view of Luodian Town (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

The range of what is copied is really impressive, from Paris to Austrian towns. Can you give us some insight into how these copy towns are designed and built? Are they more than just quick copies? 

There are copycat communities where the Western flourishes — a column here, a statue there — are slapped on like icing on a birthday cake. But in many cases, the Chinese developers will actually go to extraordinary lengths to be sure their copies are as faithful to the originals as possible.

article-imageSan Carlos (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

Chinese architects will sometimes travel abroad to study the town they plan to copy firsthand, on location, to be sure their replica is just right (interestingly, many developers I spoke with said they’d found that Chinese architects were far better able to create the look and feel of a European town than their Western counterparts — they apparently knew what elements would scream “French” or “Spanish” to potential Chinese homebuyers).

Not only are the façades of these copycat homes designed to have a Western look, but their floor plans will borrow from abroad, the layout of the town will frequently replicate the original’s, and major landmarks will be recreated to make the whole fantasy more believable. The townhouses in Hangzhou’s Venice Water Town look out over canals crisscrossed by gondoliers’ boats, and the residences are just a few steps away from a copy of Saint Mark’s Square. Bits of European culture are often imported along with the architecture to make the whole replica even more complete. The British-themed Thames Town, for example, boasts  a cathedral, statues of British historical figures, streets with English names and even pubs and cafes serving typical British fare.

article-imageHolland Village (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

What’s the experience of visiting or living in a place that is a reflection of another place?

It’s crucial to note that many of these duplitecture developments are not theme parks, but neighborhoods where people live out their lives, raise their kids, and grow old. The homeowners who’ve opted to live in a replica Paris or Palm Beach most often say that they’ve embraced the Western style because it helps them show off their success and sophistication. “Living here means we have a social identity at the upper level,” one resident explained to me.

I think it’s still too early to say for certain how a generation of Chinese raised in Baroque townhouses or Ye Old English surroundings might be shaped by these themed surroundings. Will these landscapes help inculcate foreign cultural traditions? Might they promote an interest in emigrating abroad, or rather lessen the desire to leave China? Could homeowners embrace more Western political systems along with their Beaux Art homes or Mediterranean villas? We’ll see, and I’m fascinated to see how this evolves.

I’d highly recommend going to explore these places, and people can find numerous examples of these copycat landscapes throughout China listed in my book. The whole experience of touring China’s duplitecture developments, to borrow from the motto of one Italian-themed community, is “out of expectation within common sense.”

Here are five of these “copy towns” that Bianca Bosker shared with us:

THAMES TOWN
Shanghai

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Thames Town (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

Real estate agencies in Shanghai’s British-inspired Thames Town lure potential buyers with the promise that they can “Dream of England. Live in Thames Town,” and its glossy brochures are written for those who consider themselves “fond of steeple chasing, Premier League soccer, and the Beatles.”  The property, which welcomes day trippers, but is also home to full-time residents, is a mix of Gothic, Tudor, and half-timbered buildings, and includes a brick-for-brick replica of Bristol’s gothic Christ Church cathedral.

article-imageThames Town (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

It was built as part of the Shanghai government’s “One City, Nine Towns” plan, a massive urban planning project that set out to build ten satellite towns around Shanghai, each in the architectural style of a different European nation. Thames Town has a small commercial area with coffee shops, a pub, and various shops, along with neighborhoods surrounding it. The winding streets of the town are patrolled by security guards wearing uniforms inspired by those of
 the Queen’s Foot Guard, and the town is a favorite for Chinese couples seeking wedding portraits.

article-imageThames Town (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

VENICE WATER TOWN
Hangzhou

article-imageVenice Water Town (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

Hangzhou’s carbon-copy of Venice offers Italian-inspired, la dolce vita living in townhouses overlooking a network of manmade canals on which gondoliers navigate gondolas under stone bridges. The crown jewels of Venice Water Town are the town’s replicas of Venice’s most iconic landmarks: the ornately-tiled Doge’s Palace and the bell tower of Saint Mark’s Basilica.

article-imageVenice Water Town (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

PALAIS DE FORTUNE
Beijing

article-imagePalais de Fortune (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

The gargantuan, luxurious villas at Beijing’s Palais de Fortune development have been built with materials imported from France and have each been named after prized symbols of French culture, from “Louvre” to “Versailles.”

The enormous homes, each between 1,400 and 1,600 square meters in size, offer a seemingly endless number of bedrooms, balconies and lounging areas, including multiple kitchens, and are decorated to the hilt inside and out with chandeliers and cherubs. Like many of China’s copycat developments, security is extremely tight: visitors have to pass through multiple check points, each manned by a team of security guards who patrol the gold-tipped wrought-iron fence.

article-imagePalais de Fortune (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

TIANDUCHENG
Hangzhou

article-imageTianducheng, with French-themed architecture (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

In the suburbs of Hangzhou, China, the greatest hits of Parisian architecture have been recreated in a sprawling residential development complete with churches and carriage rides. While the self-described “Oriental Paris” boasts detailed replicas of Parisian apartment buildings and its very own Champs Elysées Square, it’s a strange hodgepodge of French landmarks.

When I visited, I found a one-third scale replica of the Eiffel Tower just a little ways away from a copy of a fountain from the Palace of Versailles, which was in turn not far from an amphitheater modeled after the famous Arena of Nîmes, as well as a miniature medieval-style French town.

article-imageTianducheng Hilltop castle (photograph by Bianca Bosker/Original Copies)

Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China (2013) by Bianca Bosker is available from University of Hawai’i Press.  

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)

New Chinese law: Visit your Parents – CNN.com

Human Imprint Synopsis:

In a country where a one-child policy and an aging population prevail, the traditional family is being turned on its head. China is a rapidly developing country that is improving its economic position by sending more of their children to universities, even abroad.  However, as the money starts to come in, dependents of the “little-prince” generation are wondering if their kid will ever come back home to take care of them. Recently, the “Law of Protection of Rights and Interests of the Aged” was established in an effort to make sure that kids are not turning their back on their parents. A social necessity or infringement of human rights? What do you think?

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Story Via: New Chinese law: Visit your parents – CNN.com.

New Chinese law: Visit your parents

By Meng Meng and Katie Hunt, for CNN
updated 6:36 AM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
Watch this video

In China, visit parents or face jail?

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New Chinese law requires children to visit elderly parents
  • Care of growing elderly population a big challenge for China’s leaders
  • One-child policy and economic reform have broken up extended family
  • Some say law controversial and hard to enforce

Hong Kong (CNN) — Lola Wang, a 28-year-old marketing officer in Shanghai, makes a six-hour trip to Shandong to see her parents twice a year — once during the Lunar New Year and again during the National Day holiday in October.

“I feel like I should visit my parents more but having a job in the financial industry means I have to work long hours and sacrifice some of my personal time for work,” Wang, an only child, tells CNN.

Wang’s dilemma is faced by many young people in China, where a one-child policy and three decades of economic reforms have accelerated the decline of the traditional extended family.

It’s also a matter of concern for China’s new leaders as they grapple with the burden of supporting the growing number of elderly people.

New law

New Chinese law: Visit your parents

A new national law introduced this week requires the offspring of parents older than 60 to visit their parents “frequently” and make sure their financial and spiritual needs are met.

“People are accusing young people of not visiting their parents enough,” says Wang, adding she agrees with the aims of the law.

“Admittedly, some of them use their career and long working hours as an excuse. My problems are that I do care about my parents, but I have little vacation and my parents live far away.”

According to Xinhua, China had about 185 million people above the age of 60 at the end of 2011. The figure is expected to surge to 221 million in 2015 and by 2050 a third of China’s population will be classed as elderly.

Neglect

The “Law of Protection of Rights and Interests of the Aged” was amended by China’s legislature in December after a spate of reports about elderly parents neglected by their children.

In one particularly horrific case in Jiangsu province, a local television station reported that a farmer had kept his 100-year-old mother in a pigsty with a 440lb sow.

Chen Shoutian told the station his mother had been happy to live there: “She wants to stay here because she feels it is convenient,” he said.

A modest pension and social welfare system, particularly in rural areas, means elderly people are usually dependent on their children for support.

More than a fifth live below the poverty line, according to figures from the National School of Development at Peking University.

Changing values

Although respect for the elderly is still deeply engrained in Chinese society, traditional values like filial piety have been weakened by the country’s rush to modernity.

“The traditional family support system is eroding for many reasons and I think the government would like to slow this process down,” said Albert Park, the director of the Emerging Markets Institute at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The law stipulates that children cannot give up their inheritance rights in attempt to evade their duty to take care of their parents. It adds that children should pay a monthly allowance to their parents if they refuse to take care of them.

The legislation also allows for the elderly to sue their children but does not specify the process or what penalties they might face.

It may also prove difficult to enforce, says Ding Yiyuan from Beijing Yingke Law Firm. He told the Guangzhou Daily newspaper the law fails to qualify the word “frequently.” He added that few elderly people were likely to sue their own children.

Controversial

The law’s introduction has proved controversial. Some say it puts too much pressure on those who move away from home for work, study or other opportunities.

Cheng Zhegang, 50, whose only child is studying for a master’s degree in the United States, said the law “distorts the parent-child relationship.”

He hopes his daughter will head to a big city like Shanghai or Beijing to find a job on graduation and not return to the small town where she grew up.

“I don’t want my daughter to have a burden both physically and spiritually,” he told CNN.

“For me, my daughter’s career is the most important thing. As the parent of an only child, I have spent so much time and money on my daughter’s education and now I want her to be successful.”