media misrepresents Burkina FasoOftentimes, the media misrepresents Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in western Africa. Major journalist outlets like the New York Times or the Guardian usually only take note of terrorist or militia attacks in the country or diplomatic exchanges like when Burkina Faso most recently tied itself to China after renouncing connections to Taiwan.

How the Media Misrepresents Burkina Faso

The New York Times’ website portrays how the media misrepresents Burkina Faso, with articles that carry headlines like “Militants Carry Out Deadly Attacks in Burkina Faso” or “Gunmen Kill 18 at Restaurant in Burkina Faso.” This is not to say that the Times only report these negative events, as it also has an article titled “U.S. Pledges $60 Million for Antiterrorism Force in Africa” with Burkina Faso being cited as one of the beneficiaries.

In the past year, the Times published three articles about violence, two neutral-leaning articles about diplomacy with China and Taiwan and only 1 positive article, which was about France returning artifacts to the country. Overall, the media misrepresents Burkina Faso through its tendency to post negative articles.

The Death Penalty

Another way the media misrepresents Burkina Faso is by not covering the improvements the country has made, especially about humanitarian issues. As of June 1, 2018, Burkina Faso outlawed the death penalty with Justice Minister Rene Bagoro stating that the passing of the new law allows for “more credible, equitable, accessible and effective justice in the application of criminal law.”

While the country’s last known execution was in 1988, Burkina Faso hasn’t used the death penalty for 30 years. However, the passing of the law strengthens the country’s humanitarian resolve. This new parliamentary decision has been applauded by groups ranging from Amnesty International to the Catholic Church, which demonstrates that human rights movements are progressing in the country.

Clean Water Access

Another way the media misrepresents Burkina Faso is with the country’s access to clean water. In 2015, UNICEF reported 76 percent of the rural population and 97 percent of the urban population had access to clean drinking water, meeting or exceeding the country’s water-related millennium goals. Compared to neighboring country Ghana’s 66 percent rural access and 88 percent urban access, Burkina Faso is a leader in the region.

Access to clean water is one of the biggest problems in Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa, where North African countries lead the charge with 92 percent safe water coverage in 2014 as reported by the U.N. However, 40 percent of the 783 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa go without clean drinking water. This is a major problem for Africa, but one Burkina Faso has been ahead of the curve on.

This improvement can be heavily attributed to the National Office for Water and Sanitation (ONEA), which is a state-run utility company that began operating in the 1990s. According to the World Bank, it is a “capable state company with the ability to absorb external funding effectively.” The World Bank also says Burkina Faso is a model country in Francophone West Africa in regards to its water capabilities.

Despite how the media misrepresents Burkina Faso, there have been improvements in the small West African country, as shown in humanitarian and clean water improvements. While there is a still a long way to go for Burkina Faso in regards to humanitarian efforts and overall infrastructure, it is still important to acknowledge the progress that has already been made.

– Dylan Redman
Photo: Flickr

US Backs World Bank Capital Increase
The World Bank has secured a $13 billion paid-in capital increase by committing to reforms in its lending programs. The increase, opposed until recently by the Trump administration, will help the bank continue its mission of alleviating poverty and supporting international economic development.

The World Bank

The World Bank is a multilateral institution that supports developing countries through loans and grants for investment in education, healthcare, infrastructure and a variety of other initiatives that accelerate and sustain economic growth. Given its status as a nonprofit organization, the bank is willing to fund projects in poorer and riskier countries that privately funded and profit-focused organizations may not be willing to.

The World Bank must have a secure capital base in order to lend this money. This funding is supplied by its 189 member countries, with the United States (17.25 percent of total subscribed capital), Japan (7.42 percent), and China (4.78 percent) providing the most capital and thus being among its largest shareholders.

In 2015, The World Bank set a goal for a capital increase for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Finance Corporation (IFC), two of its lending arms, by the end of 2017.

International Economic Development and the U.S.

Initially, this goal faced a major obstacle: the United States government. A contributor of approximately 16 percent of the bank’s capital, the United States is The World Bank’s largest shareholder and the only member to have veto power over changes in the bank’s structure, giving it the capability to block the increase.

In 2017, the Trump administration expressed skepticism over the capital increase, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressing concerns that too much lending is being directed to upper middle-income countries that have plentiful sources of credit. Mnuchin contended that the bank should target lower income countries, supporting international economic development in locations more in need of a source of loans and grants.

In April, following a World Bank agreement to commit to certain reforms, the United States pivoted from its previous objection and supported the increase, resulting in an injection of $13 billion of paid-in capital from the bank’s shareholders and channeling more resources to developing countries.

Global Financing

Lending is now expected to average around $100 billion annually until 2030, compared to $59 billion last year — a stark increase that will ensure funding for the bank’s ongoing initiatives. To cite a recent example of the bank’s capital being put to work, The World Bank approved an $180 million guarantee to Kenya in April to encourage private sector financing in the country’s largest electricity company and increase energy security.

The aforementioned reforms accompanying the capital increase will result in a greater share of initiatives directed to lower-income markets. Countries classified in the lower- to mid-range of the IBRD income classifications currently receive approximately 60 percent of IBRD commitments, and the reform package will seek to elevate that to 70 percent.

Hurdles and Hope

These reforms mean that the bank’s increased capital will be in service of supporting international economic development for countries on the lower end of the income spectrum.

The ultimate success of the capital injection and its associated reforms will be determined in the years to come, but by overcoming the Trump administration’s initial reservations and obtaining funding, the World Bank, backed by the U.S. and other shareholders, has secured its role as a leading institution for economic development for the foreseeable future.

– Mark Fitzpatrick
Photo: Google

Poverty in Guangzhou
Guangzhou, Guangdong province’s capital and the third largest city in China, is known as the factory of the world. Skyscrapers and trade fairs bring beauty to the city as Guangzhou edges out competitive cities and sets itself up to become China’s technology leader by 2020.

Guangzhou wasn’t always this successful; in fact, it was once a rural area of China where poverty hit hard. As a matter of fact, all of China was once recognized as one of the poorest countries in the world to live in, and the city of Guangzhou wasn’t exempt to this status. To understand the evolution of poverty in Guangzhou, one should examine poverty in China as a whole. Let’s discuss the top 10 facts about poverty in Guangzhou.

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Guangzhou

  1. The majority of the empty-nest senior citizens live in poverty in Guangzhou. Seventy percent of them are females between the ages of 50 and 60 as well as over the age 70.
  2. Homelessness is a byproduct of poverty; 2.41 million people are homeless in Guangzhou, with a majority of them being male.
  3. There are an estimated 138 “urban villages” (slums) in Guangzhou where a large majority of the poor reside. Most of the residents are migrants, farmers who’ve lost their land and other impoverished groups. Guangzhou has garnered the nickname ‘Slum City’ due to these populations.
  4. There are currently one million children fending for themselves in China. According to a study done by the Guangzhou Children Protection Center, 48 percent of the children living alone on the streets are children running away from poverty-related family problems and abuse.
  5. Poverty plays a large part in the education gap between rural and urban children. In fact, 60 percent of students in rural China fail to continue their education past high school. Guangzhou made attempts at education reform, but the impact has not been sustainable for kids in rural areas. There are still more than 60 million children left behind in rural schools.
  6. In 2016, parasitic diseases of poverty hit mainland China, with a high rate of infections occurring in expectant mothers and children. Cancer patients and individuals who possessed compromised immune systems were infected by water-borne diseases like toxoplasmosis and giardiasis. In Guangzhou, people are encouraged to drink bottled water to protect themselves from health risks such as these.
  7. Of the 1.37 billion people living in China, 56 million are people living in poverty in rural areas; 2.8 million people live in rural areas of Guangzhou.
  8. Guangzhou called for a limit to its population growth by 2020 as overpopulation is one of the leading causes of poverty in rural areas. In the late 1980s, China instituted the one-child policy to regulate population growth in the country with hopes of stabilizing the economy. Due to this legislation, 400 million births were claimed to have been averted.
  9. Since the 1980s, 800 million people have risen from poverty in China. This decrease in impoverished individuals is due to the country investing in its economy by training its people for skill and knowledge-based sectors. Despite its growing population, Guangzhou currently has one of the fastest growing economies with labor demands supplying jobs to impoverished people in rural areas as well as migrants.
  10. The extreme poverty rate in China is set to fall below one percent by the close of 2018 through sustainable development efforts. Guangzhou is on track to do its part, as it is considered a unique economic development area in China, specializing in transportation, industrialism and trade.

Steps Towards Poverty Alleviation

China as a whole has made significant strides in ending poverty. Once one of the poorest countries on the globe, with more than 500 million people living in poverty, China has found ways to eradicate this debilitating occurrence.

With Guangzhou as the epicenter of trade and economic development, China is now on track to meet its target—less than one percent living in impoverishment. A decrease in poverty in Guangzhou should follow suit, but only will time will tell.

– Naomi C. Kellogg
Photo: Flickr

development projects in ChinaIn recent years, five major development projects in China have made significant progress. Consider the proposal for the international Belt and Road Initiative in China, which will not only build trade connections between China and other nations in the world, but also create strategic alliances for military applications. China’s development projects spread outward from the nation to connect it to neighboring countries and continents.

The China Railway Express to Europe is the largest investment project in China’s five-year (2016-2020) plan, with a cost as high as $242 billion. Multiple railways are under construction between China and many cities in Europe, sending freight to London, Madrid and Warsaw, among other cities. Xinhua News Agency has reported that 51 international lines have been laid out from 28 Chinese cities to 29 cities in 11 European countries.

The longest railway service, covering more than 9,000 km, will go from Yiwu, China to Madrid, Spain. Another cross-continent railway connecting Beijing and Moscow will be put into operation in 2025, and it will take 30 hours to make the 7,000 km journey between the two capital cities.

The central government of China aims to improve the network of freight trains in order to deliver products as quickly as possible. Even though the costs of shipping may be higher using this method, analysts predict that China will consolidate its international trade status through these large railway projects.

The second largest of the development projects in China is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, costing over $62 billion. This economic corridor involves a series of Chinese investments in Pakistan. The expansion of Gwadar Harbor, one of the most important Chinese investments, will benefit China as it ships its products from western provinces to the Middle East and Africa without having to go through the Strait of Malacca. Gwadar Harbor is also adjacent to the Persian Gulf and as such has the added benefit of being able to import crude oil from the Middle East. The distance over land from Gwadar to Xinjiang is merely 3,000 km.

The next largest investment is China’s Africa project, which has a budget of $13.8 billion. The footsteps of Chinese railways “going global” also reach Africa, and railways in Nairobi and Mombasa are under construction. This plan is part of the future transportation network in East Africa, connecting Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and other countries. The network also includes Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. China will also finish the construction of a railway connecting Djibouti to Addis Ababa. A U.S. maritime expert regarded this project as a crucial strategic development for China, allowing it to expand its maritime power in Africa.

The fourth largest of the development projects in China is called the Asian Train Network, with an estimated cost of $13 billion. At least two projects are worthy of global attention. One is the Trans-Asian Railway, which expects to connect Kunming to Laos then extend to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Other routes will connect Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. It is expected that the entire transportation network will eventually merge together. The other is the 140 km high-speed railway for Indonesia, connecting the capital city of Jakarta to the third largest city, Bandung. It has attracted global attention since it is the first overseas high-speed railway project to be built by China.

The fifth largest ongoing project is the Colombo Harbor in Sri Lanka. China also has a goal of building overseas harbors, since the new Silk Road is not just restricted to the continent. However, there are quite a few voices of opposition in Sri Lanka. While the new government threatened to end Sri Lanka’s dependence on China after it came to power in 2015, due to financial hardships it yielded to practical needs.

There are many more large infrastructure development projects in China that are fast developing. Through these investments, China has shown itself to be a large, strong and friendly nation. China’s goal is to sustain a stable, reliable and healthy economic order, and to reshape the world for a better future.

– Xin Gao

Photo: Flickr

China Is Leading in Poverty ReductionChina is the world’s most populated country and has a culture that stretches back nearly 4,000 years. In recent years, its achievements in poverty reduction have been unprecedented. China is leading the world in poverty reduction, outpacing many other major nations in terms of national focus.

These efforts can be attributed to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has led a drive to eradicate the problem of extreme poverty. For the first time in over 30 years, its list of areas suffering from extreme poverty has been reduced. China removed 28 counties from its list of poorest places in the country. The number of Chinese people lifted out of poverty over the last 30 years accounts for more than 70 percent of the world’s total. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said in a forum that “China is an active advocate and strong force for world poverty alleviation.” This combined with efforts within the country shows how China is leading in poverty reduction.

The government of China hopes to share its experiences and improve collaboration with other countries as part of its plan to follow the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Years of work have led to China closing in on its goals of achieving a moderately prosperous society by 2020, beginning with the baseline task of lifting all people out of poverty. So far, more than 10 million people have been freed from poverty each year since 2012.

In an interview with Xinhuanet, U.N. Resident Coordinator and Development Resident Representative in China Nicholas Rosellini said: “These achievements not only can benefit China, but also bring experience to the world and make great contributions to global poverty reduction efforts.” He goes on to stress that without China’s contribution, there is no way to achieve the common goal of reducing global poverty and believes that China can achieve the goal of comprehensively eliminating rural poverty by 2020.

Additionally, the United Nations will provide systematic support for China’s poverty reduction work. Rosellini commends China’s contributions to world peace, as they contribute more troops to U.N. peacekeeping missions than any other permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. China has become the second-largest country to share U.N. peacekeeping costs.

Although the goals may seem somewhat optimistic, it is still significant that China is leading in poverty reduction around the world. There are many reasons for the U.S. to increase support for global poverty reduction. With less poverty comes less overpopulation, as the higher the death rate is for children in a region, the higher the birthrate. This is because when people know their children will survive, they have fewer children. In addition to this, history has shown that when people transition from barely surviving into consumers, it opens new markets and job opportunities for U.S. companies. In the United States, one out of every five jobs are export-based, and 50 percent of U.S. exports go to developing nations.

There are many positive consequences that can come from fighting global poverty and they should incentive other countries, like the U.S., to increase their support for reducing extreme global poverty.

Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr

African Students in China
The number of African students in China is on the rise.

In 2000, there were less than 2,000 African students enrolled in Chinese universities. In 2015, there were 50,000.

The number of African university students in China surpasses both the United States and the United Kingdom, which each host around 40,000 students. France remains the host of the most African students at 95,000.

The increase in African students in China coincides with the strengthening relationships between China and numerous African countries. China is focused on Africa, and has provided several African countries assistance in areas like government and education, which continues to this day.

An example of these partnerships is China’s gift of 65 scholarships to Ghanaian students for the 2017/2018 academic year. As reported by Xinhua News, the Chinese government has also provided other resources to Ghana’s government.

For the Chinese government, African students in China encourages strong times between the Asian country and the African continent. CNN highlights how China hopes that investments in Africa will create strong economic and political partnerships with the African people.

One of the benefits for African students in China is affordable education. Chinese education is relatively inexpensive, even without a scholarship.

African students in China also benefit their countries. Because Chinese laws discourage international students from remaining after their studies, many African students return home and use their skills and education in their home countries.

Many students feel that the business connections they make with China are valuable beyond education, along with learning the language of a country that is considered to be a rising power.

African students in China illustrate a growing, mutually beneficial relationship between China and Africa. China’s commitment towards assisting Africa and Africa’s receipt of resources and opportunities has created a multi-country network and a climate of exchange that is continually expanding.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in China
Ironically, China’s urbanization, which initially was seen as an improvement for the country’s economy, is now known to be one of the leading causes of poverty in China. The urbanization initiative, which began back in 2012, was pushed by the Chinese government to prompt new forms of growth for the country. Moreover, although the country experienced a slight improvement in poverty, there remain more than 252 million people living on less than $2 per day.

Looking for better-paying work, many farmers moved out of rural areas to urban centers. Due to their low skill level and lack of education, many of these workers are stuck taking low-level jobs. Moreover, with an increased cost of living, these workers are just swapping one low-paid job for another, causing an increase in urban poverty.

Furthermore, the Hukou system is set up so that these migrant workers can no longer receive government aid. The Hukou system is China’s household registration system that monitors and distributes government-provided services such as healthcare, education and pension.

However, the system is designed so that, if a person moves from their original region, then they forfeit their rights to these benefits. Consequently, rural workers who move to cities can no longer receive government-funded healthcare or retirement aid. Moreover, their children, if they move with them, no longer have access to education.

The most severe effects of the urbanization trend are found in rural areas. Often, it is the adults in rural families who leave to find work in cities, leaving behind children and the elderly. One-third of China’s rural students under the age of 16 have at least one parent who is a migrant worker, meaning many children get left behind.

Nearly 60 percent of children living in the countryside of China see their parents less than twice each year. These children are often left with grandparents who are either too busy with farm work or else too incapacitated to properly care for the children.

Though urbanization may be beneficial for some Chinese and is giving the economy a boost, it has been detrimental to many others. Migrant workers and those left behind in rural areas are struggling the most from the massive national migration. Because of this, urbanization is now one of the leading causes of poverty in China.

Hannah Kaiser

Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in China
In June 2017, the world witnessed a feat in the energy industry unlike any other. For an entire week, the five million citizens in the Qinghai Province of north-western China relied entirely on renewable energy. According to state media, the week-long run, organized by China’s State Grid Corporation, illustrated the potential of renewable energy in China as well as the rest of the world.

June’s event is an emblem of the increasing presence of renewable energy in China. The government announced that it plans on spending $360 billion on clean energy investments by 2020. This will offset the detrimental and life-threatening pollution, as well as push forward its economy by creating an estimated 13 million new jobs. Numbers released by Greenpeace suggest that one wind turbine was installed every hour in 2015.

Increasingly, China and renewable energy are becoming more intertwined. As an energy behemoth, China’s mass manufacturing of solar panels made widespread, household renewable energy more of a reality. Responsible for manufacturing four out of five solar modules installed presently, China made solar energy cost-competitive against fossil fuel energy.

Pitting China against other nations, its accomplishments become even more glaring. In 2016 alone, China added 35 gigawatts of solar generation, which is almost equal to Germany’s entire capacity. Meanwhile, solar power in the U.S. is not nearly as productive.

Notably, China is the largest consumer of coal consumption responsible for half of global usage. Since domestic coal miners generate 70 percent of its electricity, the Chinese government has strong incentives to continue developing and investing in renewable energy. Domestically, scientists say that China’s pollution, caused by the mass-use of fossil fuels, accounts for 1.1 million deaths a year. Its pledge to the 2014 Paris climate agreement has also been an international push towards more effectively incorporating renewable energies into its state infrastructure.

Particularly venerable is China’s efforts to develop solar panels and applications for renewable energies that can survive in environmentally diverse urban and rural areas. This will make renewable energy viable in varying landscapes around the world.

Have China and renewable energy become the pillars of the future of sustainability? Only time will tell as other nations lean toward incorporating renewable energies to compete against China’s growing market hegemony. China’s remarkable journey towards sustainable future has been an exciting one to watch, but it is far from over.

Sydney Nam

Photo: Flickr

Five Year Development Plan
Though most of China is now urbanized, some parts of the third largest country in the world still remain cut off from industrial society. Tibet is the western part of China, dominated by high planes and an agriculture based economy. The region can almost be considered its own country, given that the isolated culture differs so much from that of other more populated places in China such as Beijing or Hong Kong. Not only does Tibet differ in population and culture but in poverty as well. China’s 13th Five-Year Development Plan hopes to change this.

The current President of China, Xi Jinping, has stated that getting rid of poverty in rural areas such as Tibet would be the hardest part of building a “prosperous society.” In addition to building better access to transportation, the government plans to expand access to water, the internet, education and health care.

While the poverty rate in China was measured at just about 6.5 percent in 2012, the rate in Tibet was a staggering 32.9 percent by the end of 2015. The Chinese government is now being forced to strategize and increase its efforts to support Tibet. Through many provisions in China’s 13th Five-Year Development Plan (2015-2020), Tibet will benefit greatly. Included in the Five-Year Development Plan is the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, which has recently begun construction.

The China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group states that the railway will go from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, all the way to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. This line will connect the most remote villages of Tibet with the most globally connected parts of China, making travel easier and faster. The $36 billion project will promote and increase economic prosperity, which is exactly what the Five-Year Development Plan set out to do.

Since the construction of the Qinghai–Tibet Railway increased the tourism economy of the region, the Sichuan-Tibet Railway is sure to have the same effect. This construction project will be a huge job-creator, and, with more money from tourism, government jobs and increased access to industrialized markets, the people of Tibet will have many more opportunities to escape from poverty.

Vicente Vera

Photo: Google

Poverty Rate in ChinaOver the past several decades, China has made a remarkable effort to decrease its poverty rate. Consequently, the nation has seen an exponential decline. This marks a dramatic and obvious shift in the country’s efforts to eradicate poverty.

According to data from The World Bank, approximately 756 million people were living in poverty in China in the year 1990. At the time, the total population of the country was 1.14 billion. In 2013, this number has decreased to around 25 million, while the total population has increased to 1.36 billion. This marks a decrease in the poverty head count ratio from 67 to 2 about percent.

The number of people living under the poverty line has thus decreased at a nearly improbable rate.  Additionally, the pace at which the number is dropping is picking up.

According to Reuters, approximately 12 million people in China in 2016 moved above the poverty line through the investment of 230 billion yuan into anti-poverty efforts. This equates to $33.5 billion USD.

The Chinese government is using these funds in an attempt to completely eradicate poverty by 2020.

When examining the tremendous progress made by the Chinese in the fight against poverty, it is important to note that the primary method has been a higher issuance of loans.

By allowing people to take out loans that typically work as micro loans, the Chinese government is giving impoverished Chinese citizens the opportunity to pursue continued education opportunities and create small businesses. These are two essential factors for a growing country.

Despite continued efforts to fight poverty, this remains a major issue. According to The China Daily Newspaper, approximately 43 million people are living below the poverty line of 2,300 yuan per year, which is equivalent to $335 USD.

This is slightly above the poverty line that the Chinese government acknowledges. Consequently, these people are not technically impoverished, despite being unable to sustain a decent life with income of this level.

China should definitely be proud of its advances in lowering the poverty rate in China. However, it is important to remember that fighting poverty is a war that will require constant support and effort.

Garrett Keyes

Photo: Flickr