Insights from Hong Kong

WHO China: Time to bring ‘APEC blue’ indoors – Guest Columnist

In China on 21 November 2014 at 12:05 PM

Copyright China Digital Times

By Bernhard Schwartländer, World Health Organization Representative in China

The air quality in Beijing during and for a few days after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum remained satisfactory. The arrival of world leaders meant an all-out effort to curb pollution, with factories temporarily shut down, limited vehicles on the road and workers sent on temporary leave. Residents of the pollution-prone capital called it “APEC blue.” It was a lovely respite for a city facing sometimes hazardous levels of air pollution.

Despite the improved air quality outside, many places inside the city presented another harmful air issue. Smoking in enclosed public spaces is permitted at restaurants, hotels, offices and homes across Beijing. During the APEC meeting, the air outside was probably healthier than the air in many places indoors.

Beijing now has another chance to show the world that it can lead by making all indoor public places smoke-free. At the end of November, Beijing’s lawmakers will consider the final draft of a new law to mandate that all indoor places become smoke-free.

This is a unique opportunity to bring the “APEC blue” clean air to all indoor public places in the city, permanently.

Having clean air indoors is a basic right that all the citizens of Beijing deserve.

This is critically important, because outdoor air pollution caused by carbon emissions from factories and cars is not the only kind of air pollution which causes illness and death. Indoor air pollution caused by secondhand tobacco smoke is also lethal. In China, it is estimated that exposure to secondhand smoke kills more than 100,000 people every year.

Reduction of outdoor air pollution requires substantial structural changes to the infrastructure of Beijing, and will take time.

Cleaning the air indoors can happen now, and doesn’t require massive investments. It just requires the creation and implementation of smart laws to eradicate this health hazard.

Consider this the next time you pull on a face mask to go outside when the pollution reading in Beijing is high. Breathing in Beijing’s air on even the most polluted day is not as bad for you as being inside a restaurant, hotel, office, or bar where other people are smoking tobacco.

Secondhand smoke affects the health of everyone inside, from workers to guests, the elderly and children.

There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The only way to protect against the very serious health hazards caused by exposure to secondhand smoke is through entirely smoke-free environments, with no loopholes and no exceptions.

Beijing lawmakers are now finalizing a law to make Beijing’s public places smoke-free. They have an opportunity to make Beijing the first 100 percent smoke-free city in China.

In October, I was extremely pleased to learn that a proposed loophole in the Beijing smoke-free law on individual offices had been removed from the draft law. That was very good news indeed. But my pleasure on hearing this was matched by serious disappointment on learning about exemptions to the law which are now proposed for hotels and airports.

The provisions for hotels in the current draft of the law are weak. It is not good enough to say in a law that hotels “should” be smoke-free. They must be 100 percent smoke-free to protect their guests, as well as their staff, from exposure to secondhand smoke. Without such measures, China will pay a very high price in the lives of its own people.

Strengthening this law, to make Beijing 100 percent smoke-free, is not only in line with the legal commitments China has made by signing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, it will save lives.

This is a chance that will not come easily again – a chance to protect the health of Beijing’s citizens and visitors; a chance for Beijing to lead – nationally, and globally; and a chance to make the air inside Beijing’s indoor public places a permanent shade of “APEC blue.”

This article also appeared in the Opinion Pages of Global Times.

Hong Kong to Umbrella Movement: “We’re tired!”

In China, Hong Kong, Public Affairs on 17 November 2014 at 9:24 AM

In the middle of the night in the middle of the streets in the middle of Hong Kong protesters are sleeping. There are dozens of tents, some available on a “first come, first served” basis for visitors. Quiet is required and cleanliness is mandatory. The student movement is well organised.

And while the tents provide a place for tired protesters to rest their heads, they aren’t the only ones tired in Hong Kong. Today The South China Morning Post published a poll of local citizens taken by The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Of the 1,003 adults surveyed some 34% support the movement and 43% do not. This monthly poll tips public opinion against the protesters for the first time. One month ago 35% did not support the movement. The demography of support skews by age, education and income:

“In a more detailed breakdown, more than 67 per cent of those aged 15 to 24 said they supported the movement. Among those aged 40 or more, support stood at 27 per cent. Almost 46 per cent of those with a tertiary education supported the movement, dropping to 21 per cent among respondents with a junior secondary or lower education.”

But more than anything, the people of Hong Kong are tired. “Despite the divided opinions between people of different ages, education levels and political beliefs, the poll shows that almost 70 per cent of respondents believed the protesters should leave now,” reported The South China Morning Post.

The people of Hong Kong want the protesters to go home. Try something else. Clear the streets.

For those accustomed to more aggressive acts of disharmony, the clashes between protesters and citizens have been infrequent and without bloodshed. Those most likely to clash with the protesters have been retailers whose businesses are blocked, or taxi drivers losing fares due to road closures. The rest of Hong Kong has shifted routines. Kids wake up earlier for longer commutes to school. Workers move from buses to MTR or trams. Public transport has been running at peak capacity for a long time.

But in the end the people of Hong Kong have spoken. They’re worried about the long term impact of the Umbrella Movement on business, foreign affairs, civil harmony and their daily routines.

In the Mel Brooks 1974 comedy “Blazing Saddles” actress Madeline Kahn plays eccentric showgirl Lili Von Shtupp. In her cabaret number she slowly saunters on stage and sings a unique song. In it she listlessly describes her exhaustion.

Much like the people of Hong Kong, Lili Von Shtupp is tired.


 

 

11/11 Means War Remembrance in the West – In China it Means Shopping!

In China, Economics on 12 November 2014 at 9:43 AM

 

Black Friday in the United States

There’s no pre-dawn queuing. The stores don’t open at ridiculously early hours. There are no fights over who saw what first, and no long lines for the cashier. Yet in China yesterday, the amount of chopping completed in one day doubled the highest record for a single day of shopping anywhere in the world. Alibala recorded on-line sales of CNY57.1 billion – equal to US$9.3 billion – in one day.

Singles Day has become synonymous with shopping in Chinese culture. The four number ones that make up the date – 11/11 – is a quartet of singles (Chinese: 光棍节; pinyin: Guānggùn Jié; literally: “bare sticks holiday”). If “one is the loneliest number” then it’s never seen the inside of an Alibaba warehouse in November.

Today’s edition of The South China Morning Post provides a handy graphic to understand the scale of the event – and the demographics of those who make it happen (below).

South China Morning Post

These results fuel the post-IPO shimmer of Alibaba, now one of the world’s most valuable companies. And they’re making gains off the growth of consumerism in China. For those flying Cathay Pacific this month, their in-flight magazine Discovery includes a feature story on demographer Clint Laurent. He talks about the rise of the “empty nesters” in China (families with children not living at home). He says this demographic has the greatest potential for spending. And looking at the chart below from the magazine, it’s easy to see why China has more spending power.

Discovery Magazine

In 18 years, 68% of households in China will be without children. No kids means no school fees, no orthodontists, no allowance, no clothing and heaps more cash. That’s why 55% of yesterday’s shoppers in China were married with children (see chart above from The South China Morning Post). It will be interesting to see what are the top-selling items, and what “empty nesters” buy to feather their homes.

The rise of the consumer in China is good news for the rest of the world. These increasingly sophisticated consumers are not only buying products “Made in China”. They’re searching for foodstuffs from Europe, technology from South East Asia, clothing from America and more. Even if they don’t rush the stores in the pre-dawn hours, they do appear to be ready to crash the servers as sales on Single’s Day shoot up 30-40% each year.

Meanwhile in the West, citizens of numerous countries stopped at 11:11 am to solemnly recognise and mourn those killed in wars. Armistice Day coincides with the anniversary of the end of hostilities of World War One. Lest we forget.

Poppy pins remain available on Alibaba and Taobao today.

Hot sale cheap poppy badge fancy metal flower lapel pin supplier

 

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