Commentary from This Week's Paper

By English Edition Staff
Published: 2011-01-13

10 Billion is Nothing. Quality is what Counts.
Liu Tong (刘彤)
Comment, page 16,Issue 502, Jan 10, 2011
~"Let the Bullet's Fly" is funny the first time, but it is not a movie you would want to see again and again.
~In 2010, Chinese box office revenue finally passed the 10 billion yuan mark.
~But so what? 10 billion for an entire industry is nothing. Mao Tai (a brand of Chinese rice wine) sales alone gross over 20 billion yuan a year.
~If we look closely, most of the revenue comes from a few huge films like "Let the Bullets Fly" and "Aftershock", not to mention imported blockbusters like Avatar.
~Most domestic films tend to be poorly made genre films out to make a quick buck. Even big films have a mediocre script and rely on stars to carry to the film.
~Sales are not an indication of a booming film industry. Audiences want to see support for new Chinese directors with talent and innovation. What is important is producing quality films that have a lasting impact.
Original article: [Chinese]

Are Red Channels Good? Vote with your Remote
Huang Xiaowei (黄小伟)
Comment, page 16, Issue 502, Jan 10, 2011
~Chongqing launched the first "Provincial Level Red Channel" in an effort to "preserve history". The channel will replace sitcoms with documentaries, red songs, and other revolution-related programming.
~Is the "Red Channel" a good thing? Audiences that enjoy war songs and black and white films about the Red Army undoubtedly think so.  
~Fans of Korean soap operas and Jay Chou's indistinct serenades probably do not.
~In any case, there's one easy way to settle the debate: Use the remote control.
~The "Red Channel" does not have to be about ideology or "historical responsibility". It's about entertainment.
~Television stations are interested in attracting a wide audience. A diverse audience will want to watch a variety of shows.
~There is no reason why we can't have a Red Channel, as long as it's one channel among many.    
Original article: [Chinese]

The Chinese Government has Lost Public Trust
By Wei Liming (魏黎明)
Comment, page 16, Issue 502, Jan 10, 2011
~The Chinese government has lost public trust for always doing the wrong thing and thus disappointing its people.
~Commodity prices have been surging despite of the government's continuous efforts to tackle inflation and housing prices are still increasing because of inflating land prices and the government's decision to reduce land supply for commercial flats.
~To win public trust, it's necessary for the government and the market to play separate roles. The Chinese government should learn to retreat from market sectors. If it continues to occupy excessive resources instead of sharing them with the public, it will never be respected or trusted. 
Original article: [Chinese]

Return Complete Ownership of Land to Farmers
By Hao Yu (浩宇)
Observer, page 41, Issue 502,Jan 10, 2011
~ In this interview Xu Chenggang (许成钢),a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economic's Asia Research Centre and a professor at the University of Hong Kong, offers his views on China's housing policies.
~ Xu argues that policy makers in China have been relying on market mechanisms to solve the housing problems of ordinary people while at the same time reducing land supply to developers. He believes that this will do nothing but inflate housing prices.
~ To solve the problem, Xu argues that the state should allow farmers to gain full possession of their own land and also allow them to sell their own land.
~ Xu also argues that the policy of constructing economically-affordable houses has serious weaknesses. Since properties can also be the target of investment, selling such housing at excessively low prices will likely lead to speculation.
~ Xu says that it's impossible for the low-income population to benefit from the policy-based housing policies, as long as people may buy these houses at low prices. 
Original article: [Chinese]

Toll Stations should be Punished for Overcharging
By Yang Tao (杨涛)
Economic Observer Online; Jan 11, 2011
~A farmer who has avoided paying 3.68 million yuan worth of tolls has been sentenced to life in prison. But why aren't toll stations punished for overcharging?
~The farmer is accused of committing fraud, though experts say that usually when people fail to pay tolls they are not allowed access to the road and are required to make financial contributions to road works.
~The Chinese government has made it legal to charge tolls to pay off loans for road construction and stop charging when the loans are paid off. But the law makes no sense. For example, the Beijing government only borrowed 765 million yuan to construct the capital airport expressway but has collected 3.2 billion yuan since 1993 in the name of "paying off the loan".
Original article: [Chinese]

Do Not Let Reform follow the path of China's "No-Smoking" Failure
Wei Liming (魏黎明)
Economic Observer Online; Jan 11, 2011
~China's widespread "no-smoking" movement has failed. The reasons for the failure are under speculation; one of the important reasons is the connection of the movement's organizers to the tobacco industry.
~Once a reform begins to hurt the interests of its organizers, change becomes difficult, which is the biggest obstacle to the reform of China's political and social system.

~The people who benefit from the current system have to sacrifice some of their interests for the interests of the public, which it is the only way to push forward reform.
~Reform means the adjustment of current interests. Reformers must know that the standard of reform is that it promotes the development of society, and not personal interests.
~The interests of the tobacco industry are insignificant compared with the long-term health of society; likewise, personal or group interests are nothing when compared with the long-term and total interests of society. 
Original article: [Chinese]

Do Governments have the Right to Cut-off the Heat?
Wuyue Sanren (五岳散人), Columnist and well-known blogger
Economic Observer Online; Jan 12, 2011
~ To meet its annual targets for energy conservation and carbon reduction, Linzhou City in Henan Province stopped heating the homes of its citizens for several days. The current temperature in Linzhou is 10 degrees below zero.
~ Does the government have the right to unilaterally decide to cut off the heat?
~ As residents pay heating fees, and not all residents have the ability to warm their own homes, it's the responsibility of governments to provide heating to the homes of residents. This is similar to the other public needs such as policing and building infrastructure that governments provide.
~ The reason that governments can unilateraly break the contract that exists between them and their citizens is due to the current imbalance between power and responsibility.
~ Energy conservation and carbon reduction is not a convincing explanation for the actions of the government, in reality all they are doing is breaking a contract that exists between them an their citizens.
~ I suggest that people take the local government to court for breach of contract so that we can be clearer about the legal responsibilities of governments.
Original article: [Chinese]

Should "Going Home" Really be a Law?
陶短房 (Tao Duanfang)
Economic Observer Online; Jan 7, 2011
~A few days ago, there were reports about a new senior citizen law.
~The law would require family members of senior citizens who lived alone to frequently pay visits to their relatives. But I don't think this is an appropriate law.
~Filial duty should be advocated, but it is a moral, not a legal issue.
~Parents want to be in touch with their children as much as possible, but this does necessarily mean a visit. If a visit is required by the law, it would become a formality, without the sense of affection.
~The relatively low income of ordinary citizens and the hukou system also make it difficult for young people to go home for a visit. Many want to visit their relatives, but they are not always able to for practical reasons.
~The law should implement policy changes, such as improve labor laws and provide young people with more vacations, instead of trying to enforce filial piety.
Original article: [Chinese]