007: Licence to blog (nonsense)

Source: 007: Licence to blog (nonsense)

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42. The End Of The Chinese Miracle

Looking back only a few years, the Chinese economy was growing at a tremendous rate. Labour was plentiful and the ability to change jobs quickly was possible. These labourers came from afar, from the villages and helped the formation of China’s newest metropoles.

This had began to fuel a new mentality on spending, an entrepreneurial spirit and a radical change of outlook regarding employment for China’s high streets.

The video below explains China’s migrant problem now….

FT: China’s migrants

Career flexibility is not a given in China. Many families crave what is traditionally seen as employment’s ultimate aim: the iron rice bowl. This figurative rice bowl is managing to get a job which ensures job security for life and pays the bills handsomely. This can be a big event in a Chinese worker’s life- ascending into the middle classes and few employment concerns for the rest of their career. Family celebrations are commonplace for these lucky workers.
However, recent attitudes during growth were perhaps challenging this view, with chopping and changing more common. Many of my friends, on losing a job, were completely nonplussed and were happy to take the extra time off knowing full well that jobs were not in short supply. Freedom in economic growth.

Yet, with the Chinese population due to explode, the idea that lack of labour may stunt Chinese growth is certainly puzzling. Nevertheless, this is where we are.

Small businesses, which form the bedrock of the Chinese economy like no other country. Being less developed than some super economies, family and street business has always been the staple. In growth, the transition to factory work was full of opportunity, provided a stable wage and gave many a chance to spend outside of essentials for the first time. With work drying up in the city for migrant workers, the economy is now grinding to a halt.

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(Image, one of Changchun’s ‘western-style bars’)

The boom years saw entrepreneurs in China try all manner of ideas, relatively new to a traditionally guarded culture. Signs of the slowdown are most obvious here, with innovative business falling foul of decreased expendable income and being forced to close within the first 6 months. The care-free and occasionally extravagant middle class are beginning to look at tightening their belts, reigning in spending and reverting type.

Instead of  new start-ups such as trendy new bars, a la mode clothing lines and western-style shopping centres, which appear at least superficially in decline, traditionalism is returning to the fore. Migrants are settling, or returning despondent. With harvest festival reminding many of village life, crisis point may be reached. Perhaps the economy is staring back at manufacturing and production to help out- the recent steel dump around the world may say much about China’s economic struggle between past and present.

Is it that China can overcome its migrant labour issues, and we could soon see a new generation of migrants holding their own trusty iron rice bowls?

To find out more about the Financial Times’ series on the End of the Migrant Miracle, visit the link below! Until next time!

http://www.ft.com/indepth/china-end-of-the-migrant-miracle

 

 

41. Travels- Guilin

Hi guys….

Sorry for not being with you for a weekly dose of fun in a while. As I said, I’ve been traveling around China again to see a little more of the country. This week is Guilin- a beautiful southern city in Guangxi province famous for its stunning natural scenery. I have been told off repeatedly for using a potato of a camera and this has still not got any better, but I’m in the fortunately position of being able to not take this criticism to heart, so I’ll apologise again and move on!(I have been shamed into searching the internet for a more accurate picture of the area, however… so the first picture is just that).

Guilin is famed for it’s incredible backdrops and it seemed best doing a spot of climbing in order to see some of them from above. For an extremely reasonable sum in the nearby town of Yangshuo we armed ourselves with the aforementioned potato, a cheap of chips bag of exotic fruit and a rope. Donning a pair of climbing shoes tighter than an Olympic diver’s Speedos., we set about scaling a nearby rock. This one, actually.
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Although I was pretty much a novice to climbing rock, oppose to the indoor/ artificial ones that I did at scout camp in my youth, I was slightly disappointed with my efforts. I have literally no idea how I got into this position, but I do know that it was uncomfortable, as well as having my left knee and right elbow in my own mouth at one point.
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After creating makeshift viewing platform using my harness and tree branch, I wedgied myself in for a look at the scenery. Boy was it worth it…
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Back in Guilin, the locals pride themselves on a rich culture, which is being exploited by the touring masses. In fact, there are new villages muted for taking over from Guilin as the new untouched areas of natural beauty, once Guilin has been overrun by tourism. It’s a shame, as the city itself is charming and really rather romantic, which is difficult to appreciate in any sense when traveling with your brother… The city is pleasant enough to simply stroll around mindlessly without doing anything really, the area does all of the serious touristing.

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The spectacular scenery continues in the shape of the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces in Longji, just North of Guilin. Cultivating a wide range of crops , the terraces stretch out for as far as the eye can see, comprising of 3 sets and rising to 1000m in some places. There’s very little point in my wasting your time by explaining more, so let’s just get to the pictures.

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The mountain folk are gentle and welcoming, offering beds for the night and woven local produce. They work for sunup to sundown in most parts of the terraces in order to supply crops and they have become much more than subsistence farmers, with the same families working the fields for generations, dating back roughly 650 years. A truly remarkable lifestyle and one of my favourite parts in China.

So, a little on the South of China this week… Next week the Yellow Mountains as we made our way Eastward towards Shanghai.