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Forums > Living in Kunming > Elephants approaching Kunming

Will the elephant caravan need special permits if and when they return home to their "Wild Elephant Valley" in Xishuangbanna?

The shrinking elephant habitat in Xishuangbanna could be due to various factors that may include enormous transportation projects as China strives to interconnect and power-up...

"One of the biggest disruptions is the Jinghong Hydropower Plant. (Secretary General) Zhou (JinFeng) of CBCGDF (China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation) said the dam and reservoir has made the Mekong river, which cuts through the region, impossible for elephants to cross, further fragmenting their habitats.

"During the (environmental impact) assessment, there were some experts talking about how the reservoir would stop the elephants' migration," Zhou said. "But these comments were not included in the assessment."

State power giant Huaneng, which built the plant, did not respond to requests for comment.

Xishuangbanna residents told Reuters that elephant sightings have dwindled since 2007, when the hydroelectric plant was completed.

"They used to roam here when my parents set up home," said Zhou Hongbing, who lives on a farmstead close to the dam. "Since the hydropower plant was built they haven't been able to cross the river."[...]

As the biodiversity conference looms in three months, perhaps these cost benefit issues of the Mekong River might be addressed by the UN and come back to bite the host.

Forums > Living in Kunming > Registering foreigners' religious activities

New policy measures were released yesterday addressing ways to promote a "long-term and balanced" approach to tackle's China's low fertility rate, in light of the government's announcement of lifting the two-child restriction back in May:

"The government said it would exempt the costs of raising a child under the age of three from personal income tax and encourage local governments to offer families with children preferential policies when buying and renting homes.

China also said it would boost the supply of affordable child-care services, a move to address a common complaint among parents and would-be parents.

Officials also said they would encourage local governments to start pilot programs offering 'shared parental leave' for employees and support companies that introduce such policies—an apparent response to widespread perceptions that women must choose between motherhood and the pursuit of a career.

Chinese law forbids employers from making hiring decisions based on marital status, but female job candidates frequently say they are quizzed on their plans for marriage and childbearing, which they say discourages them from having children.

According to the document, authorities also will stop levying fines on people who had violated earlier family-planning policies and remove penalties imposed on people for having too many children, including obstacles in securing jobs and enrolling children in school..."[...]

This appears to be a draft document by China's cabinet in Beijing. No specific timeline as to when above-mentioned labor protection measures for women would come into effect. The ruling party's cognizance of the People's complaints regarding the high costs of raising/educating their children is a good start.

Forums > Living in Kunming > Registering foreigners' religious activities

I'd submit that the one-child policy of the past didn't drastically affect rural farmers, a demographic covering at least two thirds of China's population in past decades. Families residing in these rural surroundings were pretty much exempted from the one-child policy, if not circumvented entirely via loopholes to sustain fertility rate of bearing at least two children per household on average. So the lifting of two-child limit set five years ago wouldn't drastically challenge the traditional principles of ruralites. Despite influx of rural migrations to cities, those who've remained in rural outskirts (or have returned) constitute a bulk of the nation's population... still. Perhaps the new census could correct that statement if mistaken.

As for urban households... it is often said the prince/princess are shouldered by six parental figures as the pseudo nuclear family. The mother, father, and two sets of grandparents. That amounts to ample college savings for the additional emperors/empresses-to-be. Outside the core family unit, the relatives are close knitted, akin to the 15 Asian elephants that recently trekked >400km northbound toward Kunming. Cousins are often referred to as siblings, while extended relatives would live in relative close proximity. Often in the same residential complex or community in order to be near the tribal elders so to speak. Cohesiveness of filial piety cultures in the East vary significantly from that of the West, such that this Confucian formula lessens the reliance on support networks found in Western religious communities. (Btw, Buddhism is quite prevalent in Chinese culture, despite China often being labelled as atheists) Will additional immediate family members compromise the integrity of this one or two-child familial paradigm? Time will tell. But time is perceived as ticking faster for an aging Party that will celebrate their 100th anniversary in a month, so the three-child policy is worth a gamble.

Other policies we've been seeing on the news lately could supplementally be aimed in tandem at increasing the birth rate.

China has historically achieved high savings rate, which nearly doubles the savings rate of the US. In the near future these household savings may be reallocated for extra child rearing expenditures. Also the proposed new property tax laws may attempt to discourage property speculation. With hopes of shifting white elephants to liquid assets for childcare & education. Beijing's new policies targeting the tutoring industry may be implemented to reign in the after-school rat race. To lessen disposable income pressures for parents with multiple kids. We'll see.

Forums > Living in Kunming > Urban locust invasion

LOL, thanks for sharing that story JanJal. I'm glad you spared its life, and vice versa. Yunnan government has been trying to exterminate them by deploying pesticide-spraying drones. The officials believe the locust swarm invasion migrated from Laos.

A fortnight ago, SCMP published a video report titled "Locust swarms in China's southwestern province of Yunnan met with pesticide-carrying drones." Did your uninvited guest look anything like the ones shown in the video below?

In case you're stuck behind firewall, I've taken the liberty to upload the Youtube video here for unobstructed download:[...]

Forums > Living in Kunming > Wearing Masks

"I believed that they would be looking for people to blame. The fingers would point at the outsider who was not wearing a mask."

Disagree. In January, the group that Kunmingers feared most were those from Hubei. Wuhan citizens were fearfully discriminated against the most across China. Caucasian foreigners were the least of people's concern. To presume locals were looking to blame you first would be a misunderstanding, if not reasons outside race.


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Currently listening to an interesting audiobook called Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town by award-winning journalist and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Barbara Demick. Nice read/listen on a rainy Saturday with coffee.

Demick lived in China for seven years. One of the extraordinary (and controversial due to >100 monk immolation) places she visited was a remote Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture county 480km Northwest of Chengdu, Sichuan called Ngawa (aka Ngaba). Demick documents Ngawa people's cultural heritage from a historical context, and how the indigenous conformed to modern day China over the last half century.

Sample listening (part 1 of 11):[...]

BBC Earth, encompassing their "Planet" nature documentary series spanning decades, published their Top 5 "Nature's Oddest Looking Animals" on Youtube yesterday:

Borneo's long-nose proboscis monkeys made it on the list as #4:

#4: The Proboscis Monkey

Ironically, #1 is awarded to "The Monkey With Blue Skin and No Nose." These Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey, or 四川金丝猴 in Chinese, are endemic to Southwest China. If memory serves right, I believe they were once featured here on GoKunming:

#1: The Monkey With Blue Skin and No Nose

Assisting Cambodians is great. Pink elephant in the room is the looming BRI project through Cambodia. All said and done, BRI will increase Chinese tourism and may gradually lift their country out of poverty and help their people at a macro level.

Ishmael, are you not one of the polluting air travelers you so despise?

Correct dolphin. I believe Airbus has recently unveiled concept plane that fly on 30-50% less fuel.

Government policies that back sustainable engineering innovations will nudge markets to greener pastures.

To mind & spirit!


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