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Weekly #3 Five China stories you need to read: Precocious puberty; Officials retraining; City Walk
"In his view, even if his daughter doesn't comprehend the concept of precocious puberty now, she will understand one day. "
Capitalizing on the momentum and positive feedback from our first two weekly roundups of ten selected China stories, curated by GRR from China's social media platforms, we're excited to present our third compelling compilation for this week. This piece delves into the following topics::
1) The rising prevalence of precocious puberty in children and the challenges faced by parents
2) The "recall and retrain" system for CPC officials as a final chance for the incompetent
3) When taking a stroll is now exaggeratedly praised as a "city walk" and even requires payment
4) Former chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) party receives young students from the Chinese mainland
5) Why the routine practice, prohibiting the hiring of relatives within three generations, go viral on social media
It is worth noting that two stories shed light on the appointment and supervision system for Chinese officials, which may offer you a window into the Chinese unique political system and its continued efforts in self-purification and self-renewal.
For the topic of precocious puberty, GRR has always been paying attention to issues concerning minors [check the Story of teens at a transgender clinic published in January], which to some extent reflects the generation gap between parents and children, in the context of China's relatively implicit oriental culture that may also pose some challenges for communication and understanding between two generations.
Your comments and suggestions regarding the content of this column are continuously welcome and appreciated.
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1.When my kid is diagnosed with precocious puberty 孩子确诊性早熟之后
Overview: The article discusses the rising prevalence of precocious puberty in children and the challenges faced by parents in dealing with the diagnosis, highlighting the impact of the condition on a child's physical and mental development and the various treatment options available. It also delves into the emotional toll on parents and the conflicts that may arise between them and their children as a result of the diagnosis. The story follows a mother's experience of discovering her daughter's precocious puberty while on vacation and her subsequent struggles to come to terms with it.
This is a report by 人物 [People], a magazine delving into topics that may not be mainstream but carry significance, providing in-depth analysis of individuals through sensitive and thorough interviews.
Liu Jing has some deeper fears. Precocious puberty may lead children to develop a curious desire for the opposite sex's bodies at an early age. In Liu Jing's view, puppy love is extremely detrimental to family relationships and academic performance. She remembers vividly her sister's love affair at the age of 13, which caused constant quarrels with her parents and disturbed the whole family.
She has even started to imagine countermeasures, even though her daughter is only seven years old. "If she falls in love too early, I definitely won't allow it." In her further fantasy, scenes of daughters crying and running away from home in TV dramas will also be staged in her family. Liu Jing shudders at the thought of this.
A pediatric endocrinologist observed in the clinic that occasionally a few cautious parents always hurried their children out of the door after they had finished their physical examination. She understands that "everyone hopes that their next generation is perfect, and if children do not perform well in exams, parents will also feel embarrassed." But she immediately added that this actually reflects people's strictness on themselves. "Everyone is born with various imperfections. Our bodies can accept such defects, but our consciousness excludes them."
Zheng Feng firmly believes that he and his daughter are both victims, "There's no shame in being a victim." He openly talked to his daughter about what precocious puberty is, but seeing his daughter's puzzled expression, he knew she probably didn't understand.
He and his wife never demand their daughter to keep silent about this matter. "It's okay to talk about it; many children go through this and we need to break down the prejudice." However, he added, "If speaking out really brings trouble to my daughter, we will find a way to solve it." By "finding a way," he means strengthening their daughter's emotional resilience.
In his view, even if his daughter doesn't comprehend the concept of precocious puberty now, she will understand one day. If, at that time, she recalls that her parents only taught her to evade the question and stay silent, she will surely feel even more inferior.
Comment: With advances in society and progress in mindset, people are gradually becoming aware of the importance of sex education. The "Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors (2020 Revision)" proposed for the first time that "schools and kindergartens should provide age-appropriate sex education to minors." In recent years, some schools and non-governmental organizations have also been promoting the improvement and popularization of sex education.
However, achieving comprehensive, scientific, and age-appropriate sex education still requires joint efforts from all sectors of society, not only government and social institutes, but parents' participation and support matters as well. But as the article presents, parents seem to have intense pressure and anxiety in response to this. "I feel that the anxiety of parents has a greater negative impact on children than precocious puberty." A netizen commented below and won many likes.
But it is a bit comforting to note that modern parents are generally more open-minded towards the topic of sex education compared to the previous generation of parents.
2.Political reckoning: final chance for the incompetent 干部召回，十年18省：不胜任者最后的机会
Overview: The article tracks down the origin, trial run, and promotion of the "recall and retrain" system for CPC officials, especially those on the grassroots levels - counties, towns, and villages. Originating in Guizhou, a southwestern province of China in 2014, it has managed to find a middle ground between rewards and punishments, and serves as an institutional innovation in the evaluation, appointment and management system of CPC officials.
According to the article, incompetent officials, namely, those who did a bad job or nothing at all, would be selected for intensive learning sessions through performance evaluations, democratic appraisals, and covert investigations, etc., before entering a 3-6 month job competency assessment period. If they failed to pass the assessment, they would be dismissed or no longer considered for promotion.
This is a report by Southern Weekly [南方周末], a prestigious newspaper focusing on original content.
The lectures were arranged for recalled officials from the same county. The coastal county was under the jurisdiction of the provincial capital and a traditional economic powerhouse. On the day of signing in, they were supposed to arrive at the small auditorium of the municipal Party school at 8:30 a.m. While 24 people were on the list, only 17 showed up.
该副主任开始点名，7个没到的一个一个从小礼堂左右两边的侧门进去了。 The deputy director started roll calling, and the seven late-arrivers entered the auditorium one by one through the side doors.
有位戴了一副茶色眼镜的干部引起该副主任的注意：以前就认识他，是个镇长，是全省第一批被召回的不胜任现职干部，召回原因是对县委安排的一项工作推进不力，4个月没有多少进展，“但他从来不戴眼镜的”。 One official with brown spectacles caught the eye of the deputy director. A former township mayor, he was one of the first officials in the province to be recalled due to incompetence. The reason for his recall was a lack of progress in a task arranged by the county committee - there was little progress made after 4 months. "But he never wore glasses before," said the deputy director.
During the group discussion on the first night, the former township mayor with brown glasses said, "I am embarrassed and ashamed. I'm already an old man - almost 50 years old."
According to the deputy director, before the lectures started, a leading official from the municipal organization department turned up to stress two points: first, being recalled meant there were problems with their previous work; second, being recalled did not mean the Party had given up on them. He hoped they could view the situation in a new light and rectify their behaviour in the proper manner.
The official also said that the assessment after the lectures was their last chance and that they should give 100 percent and live up to expectations.
The lectures, which lasted two weeks in total, consisted of studying central leaders' speeches, political theories, Party disciplines, legal basics, and visits to warning education bases. Every day after the lectures were given, there were 30 minutes of group discussion, during which officials from the municipal disciplinary commission and organization department would sit in to listen. Before 10 p.m. each night, everyone had to hand in a handwritten essay of at least 2500 words.
Comment: The "recall and retrain" system is the latest of the continued efforts of the CPC to tease away every bit of inefficiency. Instead of targeting major offenses such as bribery and bad policies, the "recall and retrain" has played an especially effective role in curbing "lazy government" [懒政], a term introduced by the CPC for officials reluctant to take on responsibilities. Although the political system of China has always been censored for being over-centralized, the "recall and retrain" system is proof of its unique advantages - that the Party's supervision is able to seep down to every cell of its organization in self-renovation and self-cleansing.
3."Hilarious! Taking a stroll is now exaggeratedly praised as a "celebrity City Walk," and now they even want to charge money for it." “笑死个人，遛弯被吹成网红City Walk还要收钱了”
Overview: The article mentions that "City Walk" has become a popular trend in Chinese cities. Originally a niche way of exploring cities, it has now evolved into a fashionable lifestyle choice. However, the recent emergence of paid City Walks (a rebranding of city tour service provided by travel agency) has sparked criticism. Many argue that walking on the streets shouldn't require payment and that the trend has been overhyped. Despite the backlash, City Walks still attracts participants seeking a sense of belonging and an escape from daily routines. The appeal lies in the freedom and individuality it offers in exploring cities.
This is a report by Vista看天下 [Vista], a comprehensive digest of news stories in China, mainly political, historical and social (including finance) as the main content.
"Before the term 'City Walk' became popular, we used to refer to ourselves as street strollers." Certain things, which are clearly old and common behaviors, have been given new names by those who dominate the online discourse. Moreover, with each instance of dissemination, it strengthens the barriers used to distinguish identities, tastes, and other labels.
It seems like everyday life must be adorned with exquisite orderliness for it to be deemed worthwhile and worthy of showcasing. City Walk is not inherently superior to a casual stroll. Its enthusiasts often emphasize the importance of "seriously experiencing life." Well, excuse me, but even my landlady, who takes 10,000 steps a day, may not necessarily fall behind in her understanding of life.
A gentleman born in the 1980s told me, "In our generation, there were numerous discussions on online forums about how to roam the streets of Beijing. We would gather a few friends and wander around Beijing's Hutongs all night long. It was nothing out of the ordinary."
However, in 2023, even a young migrant in Beijing would find it challenging to embark on a spontaneous City Walk. They might have to start from their rented apartment in Tongzhou, take at least one transfer, spend an hour and a half, and cover a distance of 20 kilometers just to enter the Second Ring Road in Beijing and commence their intentional walk.
Young migrants in big cities are seeking ways to attain a sense of belonging and offset the increasingly high costs.
Comment: The phenomenon of City Walk becoming a trendy and commercialized concept has sparked mixed reactions. While some find it amusing and criticize the hype around what is essentially a leisurely stroll, others see it as a way for young people in big cities to seek a sense of belonging and counterbalance the increasing cost of living. The trend of packaging everyday activities as fashionable concepts and charging for them has drawn both mockery and frustration. It highlights the power of online discourse in shaping perceptions and creating new labels that further differentiate and categorize individuals based on their lifestyles. Ultimately, it reflects the desire for unique experiences and the struggle to navigate the complexities of modern urban life.
4.Ma Ying-jeou receives young students from the Chinese mainland: The best gift for my 73rd birthday 马英九接待大陆青年学子：我73岁生日最好的礼物
Overview: The article reports that the former chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) party 马英九 Ma Ying-jeou hosted a banquet to welcome a visiting delegation of students from five universities of the Chinese mainland on July 15. Ma expressed that this visit was a significant cross-strait youth exchange activity and the best birthday gift for him.
Ma emphasized the importance of increasing mutual understanding and friendship between the youth of both regions to dispel concerns about war and conflict. He referred to the Franco-Prussian War as an example of how different countries can establish a respected friendship. He also mentioned the growth of students from the Chinese mainland studying in Taiwan during his presidency.
This is a report by 环球网 [Huanqiu.com], a newspaper under People's Daily Online and Global Times, commenting on international issues.
According to the report, Ma Ying-jeou said that the invitation for students from the Chinese mainland to visit through the Ma Ying-jeou Foundation was an idea he had during his visit to the Chinese mainland at the end of March and the beginning of April this year. During that time, he visited Wuhan, Hunan, and Fudan University for exchanges, where the students and teachers responded enthusiastically. The interactions between students from both sides were natural and seamless, leaving a deep impression on him.
He said, "Therefore, I am determined to invite students from China's mainland to visit the Taiwan region, in the hope of continuing the enthusiasm of youth exchanges across the Taiwan Strait. When young people from both sides increase their understanding and deepen their friendship, why should we worry about the possibility of war and conflict?"
Ma Ying-jeou mentioned the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 as an example. Despite the differences in language and ethnicity between the two countries, they were able to establish a globally admired friendly relationship after a hundred years of war. If Germany and France, who have different languages and ethnicities, can achieve it, why can't we, descendants of the Fiery Emperor and the Yellow Emperor (Chinese descendants)?
The report also mentioned that after Ma Ying-jeou was elected as the leader of the Taiwan region in 2008, he opened up cross-strait transportation and allowed students from the Chinese mainland to study at Taiwanese universities. At that time, there were already over 800 mainland students studying in Taiwan, and by the time he stepped down as the leader of the Taiwan region in 2016, the number had grown to 42,000, an increase of about 50 times. Unfortunately, after he stepped down, cross-strait relations declined, and with the addition of the COVID-19 pandemic, cross-strait exchanges were almost completely interrupted for over three years.
Comments: Ma Ying-jeou's commitment to fostering youth exchanges between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan is highly commendable. By extending invitations to students from the Chinese mainland to visit Taiwan and nurturing mutual understanding and friendship, he aims to alleviate concerns and promote peaceful relations. It is now more important than ever to prioritize and sustain youth exchanges, creating platforms for dialogue and collaboration that can bridge the divide and lay the foundation for a brighter future between the two regions.
5.Why did the routine practice of the Tobacco Bureau, which prohibits the hiring of relatives within three generations, go viral on social media? 三代血亲不得应聘，烟草局的常规操作为何上了热搜
Overview: According to reports, the Shandong Tobacco Monopoly Bureau recently released a recruitment announcement for 2023 university graduates, stating that applicants cannot apply for positions where there would be conflicts of interest after being hired. They are also not allowed to apply for positions within units where their spouses, direct blood relatives, collateral blood relatives within three generations, or close in-laws hold leadership positions.
The article mentions the recent uproar over the long-standing rule prohibiting the hiring of relatives within three generations reflects public concerns about nepotism and a desire for a fair and merit-based competitive environment. Behind the public's passionate response lies a genuine demand for fair employment, where skills are valued over connections and where social background and resources do not hinder opportunities for upward mobility. Ultimately, the aim is to achieve equal employment opportunities and eliminate discriminatory practices.
This is a report by 澎湃新闻 [The Paper], a Chinese digital newspaper owned and run by the Shanghai United Media Group, focusing in particular on investigative reporting.
This article also says that the methods of "inbreeding" have become more discreet. For example, customized recruitment requirements based on family conditions are used, resembling tailor-made recruitment. Another example is conducting condition exchanges and cross-arrangements with other organizations. They try to find ways to game the system, and supervisory authorities need to be aware of these cunning tactics and improve their supervisory sensitivity, especially by leveraging the social power of public oversight.
值得一提的是，网络上出现了一些对“三代某某人”不满的声音，对于电三代、油三代、烟草三代、银行三代的吐槽声不绝于耳 …… 公众激烈情绪的背后是朴素的公平就业的诉求，希望学会真本事，就能够找到好工作；希望好工作不是小圈子里面的内部循环；希望“背景”“资源”不再成为寒门子弟的上升的障碍。
It is worth mentioning that there have been voices of dissatisfaction on the internet towards the "third generation of certain individuals." [This refers to the generations whose parents or grandparents were employed by state-owned enterprises and who have subsequently followed in their footsteps, securing employment within the same institutions.] Criticisms of the "third generation" related to electricity, oil, tobacco, and the banking industry are rampant ... Behind the intense public sentiment lies the simple demand for fair employment. People hope that by acquiring genuine skills, they can find good jobs. They aspire for good jobs to be accessible beyond the confines of exclusive circles, and they hope that "background" and "resources" will no longer be obstacles to upward mobility for those from humble backgrounds.
Comments: The strong public reaction reflects concerns about nepotism and a demand for a fair and merit-based competitive environment. Similar regulations exist in various sectors, emphasizing the need for fair recruitment practices and oversight to prevent favoritism.