Guangdong’s Recipe for Happiness: Fewer People, More Sex

If Guangdong’s Zhang Feng gets his way — improving residents’ sex lives as part of a campaign to promote happiness — there may be more sites like this in the province.

The bedroom has become the latest target in a campaign to make “happiness” keep up with unbridled economic growth in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, with a senior local official pledging to improve the sex lives of singletons.

“There will not be a happy Guangdong without local residents having happy sex lives,” the state-run China Daily quoted Zhang Feng, deputy secretary-general of the Guangdong provincial government, as saying on the eve of national Singles Day on Friday (so designated because the date is 11/11/11).

More than 20% of single people suffered from a feeling of sexual repression in Guangdong — China’s richest and most populous province — according to Mr. Zhang, who is also director of Guangdong’s family-planning commission and chairman of the Guangdong Sexology Association.

Statistics from the family-planning commission show that, on average, Chinese people are now getting married at the age of 30, compared with 20 about a decade ago, but are also attaining sexual maturity at an earlier age, the China Daily said.

“That indicates the Chinese have more years as sexually mature singles,” Mr. Zhang was quoted as saying. He also called for better sex education, urging relevant departments to offer more help to migrant workers who were “suffering severe sexual repression as they had to live away from their spouses.”

The report did not offer explicit details concerning how Mr. Zhang planned to encourage the province’s residents to step up their sexual activity.

The proposal is the latest manifestation of a ”happy Guangdong” campaign, which aims to focus government efforts on improving public services and other quality-of-life issues, rather than just promoting breakneck GDP growth.

In July, Guangdong made headlines when it became the first Chinese province to publicly apply for permission to ease the “one-child” policy, which imposes fines and other penalties on most — though not all — urban couples who have more than one child.

Local authorities asked the central government to allow couples in which either the husband or wife was an only child to have more than one baby. At the time, Mr. Zhang was quoted in state media saying the relaxation wouldn’t cause a fast increase in the population because of the high cost of natal care and child rearing.

However, Mr. Zhang was quoted in state media last month saying Guangdong had now dropped that application and didn’t plan any significant changes to its family-planning policies in the next five years.

He said that the family-planning policy had relieved the province of an extra 35 million people, without explaining how that figure was calculated. He also said that Guangdong had set a target of keeping its population — 104.3 million according to the latest census last year — below 111 million through 2015.

The abrupt turnaround will come as a disappointment to leading Chinese demographers who have been urging the government for years to ease the one-child policy, which they say is leading China toward a demographic crisis over the next two decades. They argue that China’s real fertility rate has fallen well below official estimates and that, as a result, the labor force will start to shrink by 2016, while the number of retired people will balloon, placing a huge financial burden on the state and the working population.

The national Familiy Planning Commission, however, has so far allowed only small pilot schemes in certain small regions, and committed only to “strengthen” the family planing policy over the next five years, while keeping the birth rate low, and improving the “quality” of the population.

– Jeremy Page

The restructuring of the economy and resulting efficiency gains have contributed to a more than tenfold increase in GDP since 1978.

Economic development has been more rapid in coastal provinces than in the interior, and approximately 200 million rural laborers and their dependents have relocated to urban areas to find work.

The government has also focused on foreign trade as a major vehicle for economic growth.

Some economists believe that Chinese economic growth has been in fact understated during much of the 1990s and early 2000s, failing to fully factor in the growth driven by the private sector and that the extent at which China is dependent on exports is exaggerated.

Agricultural output has been vulnerable to the effects of weather, while industry has been more directly influenced by the government.

The technological level and quality standards of its industry as a whole are still fairly low, notwithstanding a marked change since 2000, spurred in part by foreign investment.

China’s ongoing economic transformation has had a profound impact not only on China but on the world.

On top of this, foreign direct investment (FDI) this year was set to “surpass $100 billion”, compared to $90 billion last year, ministry officials predicted.

“The growth rate (for ODI) in the next few years will be much higher than previous years,” Shen said, without elaborating.

China is aiming to be the world’s largest new energy vehicle market by 2020 with 5 million cars.

In large part as a result of economic liberalization policies, the GDP quadrupled between 1978 and 1998, and foreign investment soared during the 1990s.

Agriculture is by far the leading occupation, involving over 50% of the population, although extensive rough, high terrain and large arid areas – especially in the west and north – limit cultivation to only about 10% of the land surface.

Except for the oasis farming in Xinjiang and Qinghai, some irrigated areas in Inner Mongolia and Gansu, and sheltered valleys in Tibet, agricultural production is restricted to the east.

Sheep, cattle, and goats are the most common types of livestock.

Growing domestic demand beginning in the mid-1990s, however, has forced the nation to import increasing quantities of petroleum.

China’s leading export minerals are tungsten, antimony, tin, magnesium, molybdenum, mercury, manganese, barite, and salt.

Major industrial products are textiles, chemicals, fertilizers, machinery (especially for agriculture), processed foods, iron and steel, building materials, plastics, toys, and electronics.

The east and northeast are well served by railroads and highways, and there are now major rail and road links with the interior.

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Guangdong’s Recipe for Happiness: Fewer People, More Sex

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