Tapping Into African Economies
On both sides of the American political spectrum, certain wariness exists about the economic powerhouse of China. Especially in the news right now, many of our politicians are brainstorming ways to keep up with and hopefully outpace Chinese growth. However, one of the secrets to China’s success might be its interest in working with developing nations.

Spring is inching closer and with it comes the Spring Festival. The Spring Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday in which families visit friends to refresh and strengthen friendships. China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi took this opportunity to visit China’s African trading partners on February 20.

According to The Economist, the growth of developing African economies is set to outpace their Asian counterparts by 2015. The Chinese government took notice of the opportunity presented by African markets years ago and has forged a strong partnership with many developing African nations. Through tapping into African economies, African countries are able to export their natural resources to China, which the Chinese then use to manufacture into their own exports.

China has taken notice that the development of Africa provides additional opportunities for China to strengthen its economy even further. Perhaps it is this investment in developing and impoverished nations that provides an economic edge to China in today’s changing global marketplace.

With the majority of our top trading partners being former recipients of U.S. aid, the United States has a previous history of success with turning impoverished nations into valuable business partners. By continuing this legacy and cultivating opportunities to decrease poverty in Africa with firm business relationships, we’ll be tapping into a pivotal market that China has been benefiting from for years.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: Xinhuanet.com
Photo: cntv.com

Smog From China is Crossing BordersSmog in China is an ongoing issue. China’s ongoing process of industrialization has resulted in extreme amounts of pollution in many of its cities. Because of the national dependence on particularly dirty fossil fuels, millions of citizens wear surgical masks when venturing outside because the air is just too dirty to breathe safely.

Until recently, the problem has been largely confined to China itself. Those afraid of global climate change, however, have been calling attention to the issue for years. Now, smog from China is crossing borders and affecting its Japanese neighbors. This presents another challenge to test Chinese-Japanese already strained relations.

Associate Professor Toshihiko Takemura of Kyushu University, who studies pollution for the University, explained that in Kyushu, “the level of air pollution has been detectable in everyday lives since a few years ago.”

China is notorious for quashing public dissent on sensitive issues like government shortcomings. However, in recent weeks, there have been uncanny amounts of focus put on environmental shortcomings by both state television and party officials.

Hopefully, the new Chinese Premier will work hard to drastically reduce China’s levels of pollution, bettering the health of the country’s citizens while improving relations with China’s estranged neighbor.

Jake Simon

Source: news.com.au
Photo: Japan Times

Who is Benefiting From Land and Water Grabbing?It is assumed that the already existing gap between developed and developing nations is large and apparent enough that wealthier nations would try and fill this gap and bring these opposite ends closer together. According to an ABC Environmental article, however, wealthy nations are instead competing over ‘land’ and ‘water grabbing’ to appease their growing populations and the “stressed” supply of basic necessities such as food and water. Investors in a foreign land, or better yet, the land-grabbers, are countries and investment firms from biofuel producers to large-scale farming operations (agricultural investors).

Since 2000, the major countries that have contributed to this land purchasing are the U.S., Malaysia, the U.K., China, and the U.A.E. Experts aren’t sure of these investors’ motives but it is clear that they are only focusing on buying land where there is clear access to water.

‘Land grabbing’ is defined by Paolo D’Odorico, a professor at the University of Virginia, as “a deal for about two km2 or more that converts an environmentally important area currently used by local people to commercial production.” According to an environmental study, 454 billion cubic meters sums up the ‘water-grabbing’ per year by corporations on a global scale, which is about 5 percent of the world’s annual water consumption. According to the public database Land Matrix “1,217 deals have taken place, which transferred over 830,000 square kilometers of land” since 2000, with 62 percent of such deals happening in Africa alone.

From 2005 to 2009, during a major food price crisis, land purchases, which fall under a very low level of regulation, skyrocketed. In 2011, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the U.N. released guidelines that advise investors to consider the people and communities whose land is being used. However, such guidelines are viewed as humanitarian concerns and have little enforcement, meaning that they aren’t strict enough to have corporations and investors abide by them or even care for them.

Governments who are interested in and have been leasing and selling land to foreign countries and investors are mainly those in Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia. They are interested in these sales because they want to modernize their farming and believe this is the way to do it. However, the reality is that the resulting development from such ‘land and water grabbing’ depends on the investors’ terms and conditions, as well as their sense of morality.

The main problem is that the majority of these sales are happening in poor countries in which there are high rates of hunger and where resources valuable to the local populations are being purchased by wealthier developed nations or even by private corporations. The main question of the matter is this: Who is benefiting from land and water grabbing? Are these sales helping the local people since it is their land? Or are these purchases only concerned about foreign benefits and the population concerns of developed nations?

– Leen Abdallah

Source: ABC
Photo: Water Governance

CIFOR Bamboo 2_opt
A case study from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) finds that bamboo has the potential to answer the problem of poverty in rural China. Nicholas Hogarth, a researcher with CIFOR, asserts that despite bamboo’s many uses and qualities, its potential to increase income for many households living in poverty remains surprisingly untapped.

Bamboo is used on a daily basis in the region to make household utensils, handicrafts, scaffolding and so on. The commodity is easily harvested, incredibly durable and flexible, relatively light and readily available. Hogarth’s study finds that there is much potential for bamboo to heavily benefit the region. Bamboo is an important “green” step as it is a valuable non-wood forest product. Bamboo, through its international commodity value, is increasingly seen as an answer to provide economic means to livelihood development and those in poverty.

Hogarth identifies the concern that most farmers’ knowledge about utilizing this resource is limited to smaller-scale management rather than for commercial production. In areas where off-farm income opportunities are scarce, forestry enterprises such as bamboo shoot production should be capitalized on. In his study, he writes that benefits could be provided to the poor in “areas of China’s south-western provinces, where over 73 percent of all new bamboo plantations have been established in recent years.”

Hogarth hopes that the ongoing research could serve as a catalyst to bring more focus to larger-scale and access to bamboo production.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: CIFORCIFOR

Climate Change Hits Hard in China
The world is changing in optimistic ways. Rates of malnutrition have halved in twenty years, infant mortality has halved in fifty years, and literacy rates have increased 33 percent in twenty-five years. The efforts of an international infrastructure founded on aid and education are paying off.

But there is still more progress yet to be made.

In 2013, global climate change is an irrefutable fact of life. Comparable to the important work of anti-poverty advocates is the work of environmentalists. As our world changes, experts have recommended that industrialized nations cut their carbon emissions greatly in order to stabilize the planet’s temperature and control some of the long-term implications of that shift.

These cuts are not only for developed nations, however, but also for those whose markets are still developing.

“Though global warming began with industrialized countries, it must end—if it is to end—through actions in developing ones,” writes The Economist. Particularly implicated are the economic giants of Asia – India and China, with The Economist citing that India, “accounted for 83 percent of the worldwide increase in carbon emissions in 2000-11,” with China claiming a quarter of the globe’s current carbon emissions.

Climate change is nothing new and has been happening steadily since the Industrial Revolution, with the past ten to twenty years seeing some of the fastest rates of change during the anthropocene. Members of industrialized nations have the privilege of heating, cooling and water upon demand that most of the world does not, and may not have noticed the shifts in seasonal weather patterns that have been occurring. Therefore, while developed nations have cultivated a culture of excess, life has only gotten harder for the lives of those in developing nations since the Industrial Revolution.

Now, however, officials have recognized that the facts are the facts and that we’re all in this together.

In a new book titled “Greenprint: A New Approach to Cooperation on Climate Change,” by Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian, the authors raise the point of the responsibilities of developing markets to expand responsibly while developed markets must constrain themselves into sustainable practices.

“The trouble, as the authors admit, is that emissions cuts will also be costly for China and India. Messrs Mattoo and Subramanian estimate that if the two countries were to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2020 (compared with doing nothing), their manufacturing output would fall by 6-7 percent and their manufactured exports by more than that. As still relatively poor countries, they are less able to bear the pain.”

While all of us bear the blame for the state of our planet, it’s the duty of governments to care about climate change and for both local and international communities to take action. Sustainable technologies, reducing the waste of valuable resources such as food and energy, and investing in sustaining the biodiversity we still have left are all great ways to start, and projects that we can all be a part of.

So, Borgen readers, this author’s advice? Pick up the phone and call your representatives. Make a difference and be part of a solution.

– Nina Narang

Source: The Guardian
Photo: China Daily

Billionaires_end_poverty_Warren_buffett
According to Oxfam, an international NGO committed to fighting poverty, the money made by the world’s top 100 billionaires in the last year alone could end global poverty four times over.

Oxfam asserts that the wealth amassed by the world’s richest is encouraging inequality and deepening a divide between those in abject poverty and the rest of the world – making it even more difficult to end poverty once and for all. They assert that the world’s rich are getting richer at the expense of those in extreme poverty, and that the $240 billion that was collected in 2012 by the wealthiest 100 billionaires could end global poverty four times over.

Although a few American billionaires have already pledged to donate much of their wealth back into the public sphere, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the exact figure has not been disclosed, and foreign billionaires have not made any such pledge to match those given by Gates and Buffet.

The Chief Executive for Oxfam GB Barbara Stocking cites a report that will be unveiled at the upcoming World Economic Forum. The report, titled “The Cost of Inequality: How Wealth and Income Extremes Hurt Us All”, found that within the last 20 years, the wealthiest 1% have increased their wealth by 60%. Stocking points out that this trend has led to extreme poverty as low-income earners have taken home an even smaller share of the total income as the rich get richer, which has also stifled growth and investment.

The report states that this trend has affected even Westernized countries, citing levels of high income inequality in the UK and South Africa. The report points out that top earners in China own over 60% of the overall income, similar to the situation in South Africa, where income inequality has risen even past levels seen at the end of apartheid.

Income inequality also persists across the United States, where the portion of total national income going to the top 1% has doubled within the last 30 years – the top 1% now take home 20% of the national income.

Oxfam is urging global leaders to committ to lowering income inequality levels to those seen in the 1990s, and Stocking asserts that doing away with tax havens, which reportedly would create $189 billion in additional tax revenues, would help alleviate the problem.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have taken a similar stance, saying that income inequality hinders development and growth, and say that they aim to fund projects that limit the perpetual cycle of inequality.

Christina Mattos Kindlon

Source: The Guardian

Chinese General Secretary Visit To Fuping CountyXi Jinping who is a General Secretary of the Communist Party of China visit the Fuping County late last December. Fuping County is regarded as one of the most impoverished localities in China with an annual net income per capita that is less than half the set poverty line of 2300 yuan, or $390 USD.

Xi Jinping visited two villages’ homes, clinics, and businesses and spoke with each community concerning income, food, education and medical care. Xi’s visit was broadcast on national television to showcase the rural poor of China. Fuping County resident Tang Zongxiu imparted, “The General Secretary knows life here is difficult and he visited us to ask about our situation. He won’t let us suffer.”

Following his visit to Fuping County, government and private sponsors donated money, food, and other household items. Government work crews and researchers were dispersed and also aided the county. Xi stated, “The most arduous and heavy task facing China in completing the building of a moderately prosperous society is in rural areas, especially poverty-stricken regions.”

The General Secretary emphasizes a renewed focus on policies that support agriculture, rural areas, farmers, and poverty alleviation. Xi Jinping also condemns the embezzlement of poverty-reduction funds. Xi commented on Fuping County remarking, “I want to know how rural life is here. I want to see real life.” Xi Jinping is next in line to become president of China following incumbent President Hu Jintao.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: CCTVNY TimesShanghaiist


The Bazaar Stars Charity Night (BSCN) is the first charity auction party in China and also goes far in illustrating a new model of charity in China, which integrates fashion, charity, celebrities and the media while doing fundraising in the form of auctions.

Many national celebrities, including famous singers, actors, entrepreneurs and artists, attend the auction party and bid on luxury items each year, the funds of which go to those in need. The media and merchandise brand names are also very supportive.

Over the last 10 years, BSCN has collected about $25 million, sponsored 13 charity organizations and supported people and families in need. Moreover, in 2007, this event was the only charity event awarded with National Charity Award in China.

As more and more celebrities join the event, BSCN has become the biggest and most influential, non-governmental charity event in China.

Mang Su, the executive publisher of Harper’s Bazaar, initiated the event in 2003 and organizes it every year. In fact, Su is a leader in Chinese fashion and one of the top philanthropists in China. Her idea, “Making Charity Fashion,” has, moreover, created a new approach to philanthropy.

Su explained that philanthropy is not about living frugally and saving money for others, but about creating a more valuable society as a whole. “I want to contribute to charity in an innovative and fashionable way,” Su said. “Just like pursuing fashion, such as a gorgeous hairstyle or a beautiful lipstick. Everyone asks, ‘have you given to charity?’”

The purpose of the BSCN event is to help people to understand the importance of advancing society while creating their fortunes. “Not everyone can help others at the cost of his (or her) career, but everyone has a kind heart,” Su stated. “I hope this event can encourage people to express their kindness while fighting for their career and dreams.”

Xinyu Zhao, an investor of Gold Palm Club, bought a Dior sweet-smelling perfume for about $7,246.38. “I would never buy perfume for this amount normally, but this time it is for the charity. I feel very happy,” Zhao said.

Furthermore, Bingbing Li, a Chinese actress and singer, explained that the ten-year persistence of philanthropy is also a form of attitude.

At present, BSCN is not only an auction but also includes in its bag of delights, an evening banquet with dancing, which make the event even more fashionable. “With the development of society, more rich people are emerging. They have their own lifestyle,” Su said. She considers charity activities an elegant lifestyle and exclusive entertainment for the wealthy.

As more and more fashionable activities are related to some form of charity, Su believes charity events similar to the BSCN can bring wealthy celebrities closer to the idea of charity and bring them a deeper understanding of it.

“Some day, behind the rich lifestyle, people will find that it’s only by offering their love and generosity that they can realize their true class,” Su said.

Compared to China’s past charity activities, which were low key and mainly held by private individuals, current charity activities, such as the BSCN, have allowed the rich and famous of the Chinese nation to personally get involved to give back some of their fortunes openly and freely. More and more Chinese philanthropists are emerging, thus representing a new class of Chinese citizens who are on the way to understanding the concept of sharing.

Liying Qian

Sources: Harper’s Bazaar, SINA, Trends, Women of China