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"The truth is rarely pure and never simple"

-Oscar Wilde

Thanksgiving: More than just Food and Football

November 22, 2006 - by Tim Cronin

This past weekend marked one of the most monumental college football games in American history. The #1 Ohio State Buckeyes were taking on their arch-rivals the #2 Michigan Wolverines in a match that may easily decide who proceeds to the national championship in January. After a brief nap Saturday night, I awoke at 3:00 AM and made my way to Frank's Bar so that twenty years from now I won't have to tell my kids that daddy missed the big game because he was in China. Surprisingly, however, what I will remember most from the experience will probably not be the nail-biting 42-39 ending. Although the OSU victory was certainly thrilling, it could not rival the feeling of being blindsided by images of Santa Claus on the television screen. Seeing the iconic Christmas figure made me realize how out of touch I am with American culture.

Old man Christmas not only reminded me to start collecting presents for my friends and family back home, but also that I had almost rushed past the lesser-known American holiday Thanksgiving. This Thursday's festival of food, family, and football should be a great way to bring me back to my roots for a night. After interning at LLX for the day, I will head back to Haidian District to meet my Peking University family at Kro's Pizzeria. Here we will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast comprised of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (I don't even know what this "stuff" is actually made from), and pumpkin pie. Then comes my favorite part of the holiday: complete relaxation until I regain the capacity to walk. The rest is well-deserved since a normal Thanksgiving Day consists of watching parades and football all day on TV followed by a few cocktails and the largest meal of the year.

After describing the features of the American holiday at lunch yesterday, Will asked what the history was of this celebration. I realized that I had focused far too much on the modern, opulent characteristics of Thanksgiving and failed to convey its importance to American culture. Although now the holiday does tend to focus on simple leisure, the tale of Thanksgiving's origins points directly to two important themes in American history.

The first Thanksgiving occurred at Plymouth, Massachusetts in the fall of 1621. The pilgrims, who had crossed the Atlantic in hopes of escaping religious persecution in Europe, found themselves under very harsh conditions when they arrived in America in 1620. By the end of the brutal Northeast winter, almost half of the original settlers had perished. When 1621's autumn proved to be a bountiful harvest, the pilgrims decided it was time to give thanks for their fortunes. The result was a week long festival of food and games celebrated in harmony with the local American Indians¡ªwithout whom the settlers probably would not have survived the previous winter.

This fusion of English and Native American cuisine and leisure activities gave birth to the first definitively American holiday. The process of sharing and learning would later be described as America's cultural melting pot. Despite the holiday's modern focus on food and football, the two traditional themes of giving thanks and cultural exchange have not been lost. This Thursday, American families of English, American Indian, Chinese, German, African, Mexican, and any other descent imaginable will gather around the dinner table and thankfully reflect on their fortune.
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China Blawg's thoughts 1 Comment November 23, 2006, 6:07 pm

Income Disparity: A Dissolving Issue

November 22, 2006 - by Joi Kush

As stated by Peter Kwong, a professor of Asian Studies at Hunter College, "In 2003 average peasant yearly income was $317; the monthly wages of factory workers ranged between $62 and $100, which was only marginally higher than in 1993, although the economy grew by 10 percent annually during the same period (Kwang, pg. 20)." Hence, even though per capita income reached U.S. $1,000 in 2003, more than 85 million Chinese residents were still living on average less than $77 per year (Lu and Simmons, pg. 14). In comparison, the average annual income of a typical Shanghai household is almost 10 times that of a rural household. Unfortunately, the per capita income of the rural cities has not shown a significant increase over the past three years resulting in a growing disparity between the rural and urban cities. Clearly, this vast difference in income has allowed for urban cities to enjoy a capital surplus while the rural cities continue to live in economic turmoil (Kwang, pg. 20).

However, looking at these facts and figures only creates a disillusioned viewpoint of the current economic situation in China. As the Simon Kuznet's Law states, this income gap is inevitable in the early stages of industrialization; as industrialization continues to increase, income equality will follow. Consequently, the income gap that currently exists will start to dissolve as China's developmental process continues forward. Furthermore, Dwight H. Perkins, a professor of political economy at Harvard University, states,

"¡­if China were to maintain a per capita GDP growth rate of 7 per year, roughly the growth rate achieved since 1978, it would take China only thirty more years to catch up to Western European income levels of the 1970s (Vogel pg. 143)."

This statement implies that the developmental process is occurring at such a fast pace that China could actually catch up with the living standards of Western Europe in the 1970s. So far, China has been following that exact trend. For example, a report released by UK's House of Commons stated that China's GDP grew by 9.5% in 2004 and has continued to grow at that same pace since (Beale pg. ii). With this mind, China will inevitably reach western standards within years; thus, supposing Simon Kuznet's Law is correct, China's income disparity will begin to decrease significantly. In fact as a report done bythe Chinese Developmental Research Foundation states, "¡­the rural population in absolute poverty dropped form 250 million to 26.1 million, and the incidence of absolute poverty plunged from 31 percent to just 2.8 percent (CHD, pg. 8)." This statistic specifically illustrates the fact that China's development effort has had a significant impact on the income disparity throughout the years. Overall, although China currently suffers from a large economic disparity, its persistent fast-paced development endeavor is bringing hope towards dissolving the income gap in the near future.

Works Cited:

Beale, Edward, The Rise of China's Economy, Economic Policy and Statistics Section, House of Commons Library, UK, Feb. 2005

China Human Development Report 2005 Project Team, China Human Development Report 2005, China Development Research Foundation, October 15, 2005, pp. 1-177

Lu, Xing and Simons, Herbert W., Transitional Rhetoric of Chinese Communist Party Leaders in the Post-Mao Reform Period: Dilemmas and Strategies, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 92, No. 3, August 2006, pp. 262-286

Kwang, Peter, China's Neoliberal Dynasty, The Nation, October 2, 2006, pp. 20-22

Vogel, Ezra F., Living With China, New York, N.Y. W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1997, pp. 141-164
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China News 3 Comment November 22, 2006, 7:30 pm

LLX-GALA Advertising Seminar - from the Newsroom

November 17, 2006 - by Anne, Steven and Robin

Lehman, Lee & Xu organised one of the biggest advertising seminars in China this year in association with the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance entitled "Insight, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth" on 9 November 2006 at the China World Hotel, Beijing. More than 100 guests from different backgrounds and industries turned up for the prestigious event. Here are some of the snapshots taken during the event.

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To see more of these and to find out what happened at the event, please click here
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Lehman Affairs 0 Comment November 22, 2006, 4:00 pm

Mobile Work-Force

November 16, 2006 - by Joi Kush

Since the per capita in urban cities has been significantly better, peasants have been forced to flock to the cities in order to make-up for the income they lack. Currently, the number of rural migrant workers seeking employment incities and coastal areas has reached 140 million (CHD pg. 10). Unfortunately, many migrant workers face discrimination linked to household registrationresulting in only a select few actually being employed in the urban cities (CHD pg. 10). Even after a migrant worker is fortunate enough to become employed, even more discrimination exists. For example, many migrants will get paid less than an urban resident for the same job. In addition, most migrant workers get employed to do the jobs that no urban residents would do resulting in very harsh working conditions for the workers. Finally, the migrant workers often do not receive the same benefits as their urban counterparts; thus, many workers have no way of seeking aid if a health emergency were to occur. In general, many workers would be better off staying in the countryside and gaining money off of the land.

Although there is a large discrimination factor that exists amongst the rural and urban people, the simple fact is that the labor force is still moving towards urban cities. In the 2000 census, only 60 % of the population was classifiedas being rural which is down from 80% that was reported a decade before (Brooks and Teale, pg. 3). This migration to the cities was a direct result of an increase of urban jobs. As stated by an IMF working paper, "Jobs in urban areas increased at an average rate of 3 percent per annum (or 6 ½ million p.a.) over the past 12 years despite layoffs in SOEs that halved their workforce to less than 40 million by 2001 (Brooks and Teale pg. 3)." This statement implies that even if certain industries are creating labor shortages, the overall urban labor demand is high. This number will continue to increase as foreign interest continues to grow and more businesses open up in China. Fortunately the prospects for further foreign direct investment in China are highconsidering the government's continuous obligation towards attracting foreign investment since the inception of trickle-down economics.

In conclusion, equal-work opportunities may not exist in China, but the opportunity to work is increasing. Eventually, as the work force continues to grow so will diversity. Hence, equal opportunity in the work force is a cultural issue in which each individual will eventually have to overcome, not an economicflaw. In fact, the application of Deng Xiaoping's economic theory has sparked mobilization in the country allowing for a deeper understanding of people from all over the nation. Clearly this reform has been beneficial for not only the labor work force by creating more jobs through attracting foreign investors, but the reform has also mobilized thousands which has created more diversity throughout the nation.

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China News 0 Comment November 17, 2006, 8:27 pm

Insight, Challenges and Opportunities

November 9, 2006 - by Will

The Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance, or known as GALA, is having a regional conference today at the China World Hotel, Beijing, organised jointly by Lehman, Lee & Xu and GALA International.

The theme for the seminar: "Global Perspective on China Advertising Industry: Insight, Challenges and Opportunities" had attracted more than 100 international major merketing and advertising players' participation in the half-dayseminar.

Distinguished speakers from all over the world, amongst others, Li Fang Wu, the Assistant General Secretary of the China Advertising Association will be giving the audience an overview of China's Advertising Administration System.

Richard Wageman, one of the most prominent advertising legal practitioners in China, who is currently based in Beijing, also acting as Chairman of the Organizing Committee of this event, will moderate one of the GALA panel discussions on various advertising issues in China.

"We wish to take this opportunity to extend his gratitude and appreciation to our distinguished speakers and panelists, namely Erich Bachman (New Zealand) - GALA Regional President; Al Moffatt, CEO of Worldwide Partners and its partner in China, Viveca Chan; Mr. Li Fangwu of the China Advertising Association; Akihiko Hara (Japan); Peter Le Guay (Australia); Sharad Vadehra (India); Jay Young - June Yang (Korea); Patrick Mirandah (Malaysia); Marc Lim (Singapore) and all the respected guests for taking time off their busy schedule to meet in Beijing and participating in the conferene", said Richard when interviewed.

The seminar will also include panel discussions such as "Agency Perspective on China and the World", "Advertising Standards - decency and cultural sensitivity" and "Comparative Advertising". It is hoped that upon the conclusion of this seminar, the participants would be kept abreast of the latest developments and changes in the advertising industry in China and to foster closer working relationships and cooperations between Chinese and foreign agencies.
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China Business 1 Comment November 17, 2006, 7:54 pm

Sino-African Summit, Beijing

November 6, 2006 - by Robin

The world's largest developing country and the world's least developed continent, which is home to the largest number of developing countries, pledged to make joint efforts in making contributions to the construction of a just new international political and economic order, in advancing human civilization, and in promoting global peace at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

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The historic event, expected to be the biggest ever put together in the communist country since the founding of new China in 1949, saw more than 3000 attendees from 48 African countries as well as representatives from various regional and international organizations. Flowerbeds were set up around the Tian'anmen Square, to the west of which was the Great Hall of the People where the summit was held. Banners carrying words of welcome lined major streets, underlining the Summit's theme of "friendship, peace, development and co-operation". Beijing authorities had also mobilized 810,000 volunteers from all walks of life to patrol residential communities and streets as an extra security measure, according to reports by the Xinhua News Agency.

In his opening speech at the Summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao unveiled the eight sweeping measures that the Chinese government would adopt in the coming three years to foster the new China-Africa strategic partnership and expedite the bilateral co-operation in a wider scope and on a higher level.

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The Sino-African trade volume hit USD39.7 billion in 2005, almost four times of that in 2000. In the first nine months of this year, bilateral trade volume totaled USD40.6 billion, up a whopping 42% year on year. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, when addressing the High-level Dialogue and second Conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs, strongly urged both countries to fully draw on cooperation potential and endeavor to bring their trade volume to US$100 billion by 2010.

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China News 0 Comment November 10, 2006, 6:38 pm

Free trade talks with EU & China, says South Korea

November 3, 2006 - by Will

At a meeting with foreign businessmen at the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), the South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun said his country is determined to push for a number of free trade agreements (FTA) with the European Union and China simultaneously starting next year.

President Roh emphasized: "We aim to open FTA negotiations with the EU next year ... We'll also make all the preparations so that we may start FTA talks with China next year or later,".

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State-run KOTRA has said a FTA with the European Union would bring Seoul greater benefits than a similar trade pact with the United States now being negotiated.

Korea, has since 2004 joined the trillion dollar club of world economies, especially in the past few years with its consistent incredible records of growth and the nation¡¯s successful integration into the high-tech modern world economy.

According to the statistics from the Central Intelligence Agency, in the 1960s¡¯, the nation¡¯s GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. Today its GDP per capita stands approximately at USD$23k, equal to the lesser economies of the EU.

The Seoul based government promoted the import of raw materials and technology at the expense of consumer goods and encouraged savings and investment over consumption. Between 2003 and 2005, growth moderated to about 4%. A downturn in consumer spending was offset by rapid export growth. Moderate inflation, low unemployment, an export surplus, and fairly equal distribution of income had contributed to the characterization of the nation¡¯s solid economy.

The main reasons behind the proposed talks and further FTAs with the EU and China would boost South Korea's gross domestic product by 2 to 3%. Accordingly, if implemented smoothly, it would further increase South Korea's exports to the EU by US$11 billion and imports from there by US$8 billion.

A source from the Singaporean run MediaCorp Press reported that, South Korea has completed FTAs with Chile and Singapore, and has been in tough talks with the United States on a deal which would be the largest for the US since the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The two sides took a "big step forward" in talks that ended in the southern island of Jeju last month but lengthy negotiations will still continue into next year, a top US official said.

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China Business 0 Comment November 6, 2006, 11:20 am

The power of Junbo!

31 October 2006 - by Steven Kuo

On the evening of the 27th of October, Hao Junbao Attorney was given the exciting task of lecturing at the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL). As I was just about to dig into my slice of birthday cake, (might I add Happy Birthday to all of those who have their birthday in October) Hao Junbao (Lv shi) asked if I would like to attend the lecture at CUPL to give me an insight as to how student life is like in China. I was honored by this prospect, and accepted to go as one of Hao Junbao's Groupies, fellow colleague Lily Han also attended as Hao Junbao's Assistant on that night. As we arrived outside the University campus, we were greeted by a fresh new face called Zhou Zhi Hang who had just recently been elected Chairman of the Law society at CUPL. He escorted us up-stairs to a large classroom packed with around50 students, all eager and ready to listen to Junbao's lecture on Transnational Litigations. After about of an hour and a half of none stop lecturing about plane crashes and eye infections, the students got to ask questions, to my amazement the students had lots of question to ask and were still very intuitive to Junbao's Jokes and responses. As the lecture drew to a close, one of the students had even approached Junbao for his signature (Wow...). At the end of the night, it made me realise that this sort of work could make a difference to the understanding of law in China.
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China Blawg's thoughts 4 Comment November 6, 2006, 8:46 am