Friday, March 24, 2006

Opinion Page (China News) March 24 2006

Villagers pay ultimate price of poverty in the provinces
Wang Yanlin
THIRTY-EIGHT people squeezed into a farming boat designed to carry only two is obviously a disaster waiting to happen.
Inevitably, 28 of them died.
It happened in Yuechi County, Sichuan Province, on March 15. The boat, 5.7 meters long and 1.97 meters wide, sank instantly under the weight.
Most of the victims were villagers on their way back from a fair. The boat owner charged everyone 0.5 yuan (6 US cents) and, to make more money, continued inviting people to ride in the boat.
The journey was dangerous, obviously. Besides, it was illegal for a farming boat to work as a transport vehicle. So why did these people choose to take the risks and ride in the boat?
It could be the convenience at a lower price. If they chose the bus, it would cost them 1 yuan and a longer journey. For most peasants, a penny is worth a penny.
After the accident, the government has moved to strengthen controls on the river and stamp out boats illegally carrying passengers.
But as the fair is a routine event, villagers still have to get across the river.
The government would be better advised to provide a safe boat service at a reasonable price.

Children will continue to take care of old parentsAshley Tian
A METRO story in last Friday's Shanghai Daily reported that the city is seeing a growing trend of retired seniors moving out of Shanghai due to a lack of nursing and retirement homes.
However, the trend is not likely to continue. The report cited three reasons.
Firstly, money issue - low-income families cannot afford apartments in seniors' neighborhoods in neighboring provinces.
Secondly, family issue - some people worry about being unable to reach their parents in case of emergencies.
Thirdly, medical care issue - the city's medical care for the retired cannot be transferred elsewhere.
There is a fourth reason which is rooted in China's traditional culture. Chinese people run the risk of being regarded as unfilial if they send their old parents away. The concept of Yang Er Fang Lao, which means raising one's child so that one can live a comfortable life supported by his or her child in return, has a hidden assumption - children have to live with their parents.
Sending one's parents away, even if it's for better care, is not an easy decision, because relatives will whisper: Why can't you just spare some time and perform filial duties by yourself? Parents may be unhappy too. And you probably won't feel good about yourself, either.
This traditional belief may be forced to change though when two "only children" get married and have to take care of four seniors who are too old to take care of themselves. It's just not going to happen any time soon.

A virtual war between violence and educationXu Qin
Addiction to computer games has become a worry to many parents of school-aged children, especially when they are hooked to games which have "violent themes."
However, to ban a smart child from a world of computer games, which is full of fantasy and excitement, is almost not possible.
Parents are urging the game manufacturers to make good educational games that will teach their children appropriate things and improve their computer skills.
An online game, "Learning from Comrade Lei Feng," has recently been released by China Shanda Entertainment, focusing on Chinese history, virtue and morality.
In the game, players are encouraged to do good deeds, stop bad habits and help the needy.
Successful players are rewarded with bonus points, which can lead to the highest prize - a chance to see Chairman Mao in Tian'anmen Square.
It is expected that children as well as parents will learn from the online role-playing game and use the rules as guidelines in their day to day activities.
And of course, the players should not only carry out those good deeds in the virtual world, but in the real world too.


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