President Obama's charming smile
Comment on "Obama takes power, urges unity vs 'storms'" (China Daily website, Jan 21)
The new US president's inauguration showed that a statesman could be as charming as a movie star.
When would Americans worship a statesman like this? What impressed me about Barack Obama was his winner's smile.
On China Daily website
Buying house is not patriotism
An official in Anhui province has drawn an avalanche of criticism by linking the purchase of apartments with patriotism. The urban planning bureau chief of Hefei, capital of Anhui province, promoted home sales in a local TV program.
She is actually not alone in clamoring for more real estate purchases by citizens. The logic goes that the nation's GDP growth is bolstered by the property market, so when citizens buy an apartment, they are helping ease the current dire economic climate and thus showing their love for the motherland with actions.
I wonder how patriotism, a selfless, spontaneous sentiment, can be so strangely mixed with buying a house, a sheer consumption behavior.
Whether an individual decides to buy an apartment is based on various factors: the location, surrounding environment and price of the house, the mortgage rates, and above all, the purchaser's affordability.
Some people believe the market has hit bottom and they should buy at what they deem a low price while others are still on the lookout. These are normal behaviors in the market, and they have nothing to do with patriotism.
Besides, if the official's logic is anything to go by, then the obscenely wealthy who have dozens of posh villas are far more patriotic than cash-strapped wage earners who can hardly afford a plain flat.
Plus, is it reasonable to urge ordinary people to buy an apartment at hugely inflated prices at the risk of being enslaved by life-long loans, just to show how much they love their country?
Not easy to move farmers to buy
China is giving farmers a 13 percent subsidy for home appliance purchase in an effort to stimulate sluggish rural consumption and reduce the increasing trade surplus.
It sounds pretty lucrative at first, though the policy might be set upon miscalculations.
For example, it would be difficult to promote washing machines and refrigerators in rural areas of the country's southern part, where farmers are used to washing clothes in nearby creeks and pick fresh vegetable from their own farmland for cooking.
More importantly, the plan didn't take account of farmers' purchasing power. For farmers, their family's plan to buy an electric appliance for around 2,000 yuan is almost as hard as an urban resident's plan to buy a car.
In addition, people in rural areas are likely to buy home appliances only in some special situations such as moving into a new house or getting married. It's not that easy to persuade them to spend only because of a cheaper price.
Meanwhile, enterprises' production should consider different conditions in different areas. For instance, weather in the country's southern part is humid, so products' quality should be strengthened in damp-proofing.
It's also necessary to make household appliances more durable than usual as there can be constant power-downs or shortage of power supply in some rural areas.
So far, most of those brands, which have been chosen by relevant officials for the project to supply appliances, are famous ones. Famous brands always sell at higher prices, which might be the biggest concern for farmers.
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(China Daily 01/22/2009 page9)