Economist Scott Rozelle of Stanford University was at Taipei American School yesterday, where he gave a presentation on economic development in China.
Rozelle, who studied Chinese in Taiwan in the mid-1970s, is adjunct professor at six universities in China and heads Stanford’s Rural Education Action Project there. In 2007, he won the inaugural Chinese Academy of Science Collaboration Award for Science Research and last year received the Friendship Award from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶).
There is no doubt, Rozelle said, that China has undergone an economic miracle, which finds many parallels in the miracles seen in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan a few decades ago.
From 1978 until 2004, the size of China’s economy grew 10 times, a feat that took the US 100 years to accomplish. Of the 200 million people worldwide pulled out of poverty in the past two decades, most were in China, he said.
The key component to that growth was not government anti-poverty programs — which Rozelle said had barely had an impact — but migration from rural areas to the cities. In 1980, Rozelle said, only 4 percent of Chinese workers had full-time work outside a farm; by 2007, more than 90 percent of households had at least one family member working off a farm.
Mei Xiaoyuan, a young Chinese interviewed by Rozelle, highlighted the challenges and opportunities faced by migrant workers. Mei, who left her rural home a few years ago, works at a factory owned by a South Korean firm in a Shanghai suburb. Working between 12 and 14 hours a day, 29 days a month, Mei makes NT$100 a day.
While complaining about lice and substandard living conditions, Mei said she would never go back home — an answer that contrasts with what migrant workers would have said 10 or 15 years ago, when they would move to the cities for a few years before returning home.
Mei can now send money back home and even buy cosmetics for herself.
However, while migration drives wages and increases people’s purchasing power, “demography is destiny,” Rozelle said, adding that in 1990, 20 million babies were born in China, a number that would drop to 6.5 million this year. Twelve to 15 years from now, there will be no population growth in China, he said. Demand will rise, supply will drop, causing an increase in wages.
To sustain this, China will need to ascend the production ladder to standards seen today in countries like Taiwan and South Korea, Rozelle said.
China has the entrepreneurs and the money to make this happen, Rozelle said, but it remains critically weak in one respect — education. While in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan education from kindergarten to grade 12 was almost universal by 1978, in China today, less than 2 percent of Chinese in rural areas receive higher education and only 8 percent of junior high graduates go to senior high.
Education at a rural high school costs US$160 a year, which, in US terms, is the equivalent of sending a child to an Ivy League university. Adjusted for purchasing power, putting a child in high school represents decades of work for an ordinary worker in rural China, he said.
For those who cannot afford it, migratory schools — private and unsupervised by the government — are available, but conditions there are deplorable, Rozelle said.
Besides the poor quality of education at schools in rural areas, 26 percent of students have anemia or intestinal parasites (40 percent in Gansu), with serious implications for performance, development and cognitive abilities: A survey of 600 children aged four showed that while 6 percent of children in urban areas were deemed “unprepared” for school (about 10 percent in the US), that figure was 65 percent in rural areas. All start behind, many never catch up, Rozelle said.
Asked by the Taipei Times whether a strong, centralized Chinese Community Party (CCP) would hinder or be key to success in addressing the education challenge, Rozelle said that based on his observations, the CCP appeared to be moving away from the liberalization that, in his view, will be necessary to keep China competitive in the industrial sector.
‘FAILED TACTICS’: A lawmaker said Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong and Taiwan’s success at boosting its ties internationally have boosted identification as Taiwanese Self-identification as “Taiwanese and Chinese,” or solely as “Chinese,” has dropped to record lows, while 63.3 percent of the public regard themselves as Taiwanese, a survey released on Tuesday by National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center showed. Respondents identifying as Taiwanese and Chinese dropped to 31.4 percent, while those identifying solely as Chinese fell to 2.7 percent, the survey showed. The results reflect changes in attitudes since 1994 among Taiwanese toward independence and unification with China, as well as self-identification trends since 1992, commenters said. Support for independence was 25.8 percent, while about 5 percent of respondents said that they want the nation
ONLY EXCEPTIONS: The mayors of the two largest cities voiced concerns over hidden cases, while all other local governments are to follow eased CECC guidelines All local governments, with the exception of Taipei and New Taipei City, are to allow dine-in services at restaurants after the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday announced that it would on Tuesday lower a nationwide COVID-19 alert to level 2. The center on July 8 allowed the resumption of dining at restaurants nationwide — despite keeping the alert level at 3. At the time, this prompted all cities and counties, except Penghu Country, to keep local dine-in bans in place. Following Friday’s CECC announcement that COVID-19 prevention measures would be further relaxed, the Taipei and New Taipei City governments
‘NOT IMPOSSIBLE’: Acceptance to the UN would end the nation’s troubles, but it would be impossible to achieve without US backing, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun said The US might recognize Taiwan if war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) said yesterday while discussing politics with former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Speaking on Chen’s program on Smile Radio, You reminisced about his agrarian childhood, studies, the founding of the Democratic Progressive Party in 1986 and his eight years as Yilan County commissioner. Chen’s appointment of You as premier in February 2002 marked several firsts, as he was Taiwan’s youngest premier, as well as the first from a farming background and first democratically elected county leader to hold the office. Asked to share his views on
‘STILL UNDER CONTROL’: The center also reported the first fatality involving the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, a woman in her 70s who died on Wednesday The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 30 domestic COVID-19 cases, three imported cases and four deaths. Of the local cases, 15 were men and 15 were women, with the onset of symptoms reported between Saturday and Wednesday, the center said. Taipei and New Taipei City recorded 11 cases each, Taoyuan had seven cases and Hsinchu City had one, it said. Twenty-four of the local cases had known sources of infection, five had unclear links with confirmed cases and one was under investigation, it said. Despite the relatively high number of cases yesterday, the COVID-19 situation “is still under control,” Minister of Health