As one of China's four special economic zones opened in 1980, Xiamen is the only coastal city that has begun to gradually implement certain free-port policies. An interview with Deputy Mayor Wang and a two-part special report by our correspondent Zhang Zeyu detail the area's achievements, problems, and measures for implementing the open-port policies. The report also catalogues the social changes that have emerged in the wake of these policies.
Xiamen Spirals to Special Goals
An interview with Deputy Mayor Wang Jinshui
Question: Given Xiamen's characteristics, what sort of plans do you have for its future?
Answer: As distinct from the three other special economic zones, the Xiamen Special Economic Zone was established from a former industrial city. Xiamen now has 767 industrial enterprises manned by 110,000 workers. Its 1985 industrial output value surpassed 2.6 billion yuan, making it Fujian Province's second largest producer.
Xiamen is also a major trade centre in southern Fujian. It has 9,000 businesses with a total workforce of 36,000 people, averaging one out of every 10 persons working in trade and commerce; such a proportion is fairly high in the country. Xiamen's foreign trade has also developed. As a long-time port city on China's southeastern coast, Xiamen has established trade relations with 112 countries and regions.
In addition, Xiamen is easily accessible by bus and train through the Gaoqi-Jimei Embankment, which was built in 1955. The city also has an international airport, completed in December 1983 and has opened flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xian, Fuzhou, Hongkong, Japan and the Philippines. Xiamen's harbour is also ice-free year round. Witha 12-metre-deep main channel and 30 berths, the port can be called on by 10,000-ton-class ships.
Surrounded by the sea and the mountains Xiamen has long attracted visitors with its enchanting natural beauty. The city also has a solid cultural, scientific and technological foundation and is home to a number of overseas Chinese.
Bearing these special characteristics and advantages in mind, we would build Xiamen into a comprehensive, outward-oriented special economic zone, which mainly develops industry while concurrently managing tourism, trade and real estate. Since being approved by the State Council, the Xiamen SEZ has expanded from the original 2.5 square kilometres to 131 square kilometres, which includes Xiamen's metropolitan area and the Gulangyu Island. The special zone has step by step put into effect certain free-port policies, thereby providing a better environment for overseas investors.
Q: How much progress has the zone made in the past five years?
A: From 1980 to 1985 Xiamen has scored these achievements:
With an average annual rise of 15.7 percent, Xiamen's total industrial and agricultural output value has more than doubled that of 1980. During this period, the industrial output value in Xiamen increased at an annual rate of 17.6 percent, while its agricultural output value went up by 6 percent annually.
The 1985 income in the zone was 2.14 times that of 1980.
The investment in capital construction during this period reached 1.7 billion yuan, doubling the combined total of the 31 previous years.
With a new airport, port and an automatic programme-controlled telephone system, the city's infrastructure facilities also have been steadily improved. Altogether 390,000 square metres of workshops and luxury living quarters for overseas business people were also constructed in Xiamen's Huli Industrial District.
With such amenities, the improved environment has succeeded in attracting more and more foreign investors. Between 1980 and 1985, city officials signed 296 contracts for operating Chinese-foreign joint ventures, cooperative enterprises and solely foreign-owned enterprises. These contracts are valued at US$1.16 billion, US$660 million of which comes from direct foreign investment. About 85 percent of the contracts were signed after the special economic zone was expanded to cover the whole island in 1984. Now one-third of these projects have opened for business.
The number of tourists to Xiamen from Hongkong, Macao and overseas has increased year by year. In 1985, about 80,000 tourists, or twice as many as in 1980, visited the city.
The living standards of Xiamen residents have improved steadily. In the last five years or so, workers' wages have gone up by 57.5 percent, and the per-farmer net income has increased 2.4 times. In addition, the 1985 commodity retail volume reached 900 million yuan, or 2.7 times that of 1980. Savings deposited by Xiamen's urban and rural residents also increased to 420 million yuan in 1985, which is 4 times the 1980 figure.
Q: In which areas of trade and in what form have the overseas business people made their investments in Xiamen?
Xiamen Harbour being called on by Xiamen-Hongkong passenger ships.
A: About 46 percent of the contracts signed have been on industrial projects, with the other half involving tourism, trade and other such businesses. Of the industrial projects, most are in electronics, light and building materials projects. Chiness-foreign joint ventures account for 65 percent of the investments. Chinese and foreign co-operative enterprises make up about 30 percent, while 5 percent are solely foreign-owned enterprises.
Q: What countries and regions do investors come from?
A: From 1980 to 1983 investors were mainly from Hongkong and Macao. Since 1984, however, they have been joined by businessmen from Southeast Asian countries, Japan, the United States, the Federal Republic of Germany, Canada, Australia, Jordan, Poland and Hungary.
Q: What are your plans for modernizing Xiamen's outward-oriented industry?
A: We will devote our main efforts to the following two fields:
First, we intend to attract additional foreign capital. It is hoped that 60 percent of the direct investment will be used for industrial production. Those in which investment will be concentrated are projects involving the production of precision instruments and meters, electronics, refined chemicals and new-type building materials. Projects which facilitate the technical progress of existing industrial enterprises, and projects which turn out products mainly for export to earn more foreign exchanges and which can provide the necessary accessaries for the imported equipment will also be given investment priority.
Second, we will speed up the technological transformation of the existing enteprises. In the next three to five years, we plan to upgrade the technology of Xiamen's main industrial enterprises by promoting co-operation between domestic enterprises and by importing advanced foreign equipment and technology. At that time, the technical level of all enterprises should be up to advanced domestic levels of the same trades and some of the zone's key enterprises to the 1980s world levels. The present efforts will focus on the technical transformation of electronic, foodstuff, machinery textile and other light industrial enterprises.
In 1990 we plan to double the 1985 industrial and agricultural production output value, as well as Xiamen's GNP.
Q: What does free port entall? And could you describe your office's plan for the implementation of the free-port policies in Xiamen?
A: Implementing certain free-port policies step by step in the zone involves carrying out a number of policies followed by some of the world's other free ports. These policies include allowing the storage of foreign goods with the exception of narcotics and weapons, processing these goods and exporting them once again by the appointed enterprises. All of this is done under the strict supervision of the customs house. No customs duties, import tax and value-added tax are levied on them.
This decision of the Chinese government will have a far-reaching influence on the future development of the Xiamen SEZ. Xiamen officials are now drawing up concrete measures and creating necessary conditions for the policies' implementation.
As a free port, the zone must first create conditions to facilitate the entry and exit of personnel and the import and export of materials as well as the circulation and exchange of currency. To this end, we have done the following things:
The Buddhist scripture reserve pavilion at the Nanpotuo Temple
A worker using computer equipment for monitoring the loading and unloading of goods at the deep-water Dongdu wharf.
Xiamen has attracted a variety of foreign and overseas Chinese banks that are now considering opening branches in Xiamen. The Xiamen International Bank, a joint venture run by the Bank of Industry and Commerce, the Fujian Investment Corp., the Xiamen Construction Development Corp. and a Hongkong Corp., recently opened to business with the approval of the Chinese authorities at the end of 1985. The Singapore United Overseas Bank Group and the Chi-Yu Banking Corp. have also been granted approval to operate branches in Xiamen. Also filing applications with the Chinese authorities for branches or joint ventures in Xiamen are the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp., the Chartered Bank, the World Bank and others.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has planned to establish a visas office in the city for the convenience of the people visiting the zone.
We are making preparations for establishing a management line between the special zone and the other areas in order to facilitate business and tourist travel in and out of the zone.
To stimulate the business of the Xiamen International Airport, the State Council has invested the local authorities with the management power of the airport. The Xiamen Airline Co., the first local airline company in China, has also recently gone into operation.
The city has also improved its legislative work.
Q: As one of the mayor's senior aides, what knotty problems have you encountered in building the Xiamen SEZ?
A: The first problem to confront us was the lack of experience. Another is the shortage of talented people. Though the former problem has been basically solved, the latter still exists. I believe that as long as we persist in the reforms, in the open policy and in learning from our work, we will be better able to improve our special economic zone.
Talent shortage is the key problem facing us now. We are in urgent need of talented people, especially people who are well versed in business management and are experienced in conducting economic and technological exchanges with foreign countries.
Considering that training experts is not something that will yield instant result, we have drawn up plans and adopted a series of measures to train specialists in building the special economic zone. We also are prepared to invite both Chinese and foreign experts and scholars to help realize these plans.
Q: Does the zone have trade unions? If so, how do they differ from those of the capitalist countries and what is their role?
A: Yes. Several hundred of Xiamen's older enterprises had trade unions before the establishment of the special economic zone. With the establishment of Chinese-foreign joint ventures, Chinese-foreign co-operative enterprises and solely foreign-owned enterprises after the Xiamen SEZ was set up came a new labour-capital relationship. Most of the 99 such enterprises that have already opened to business have their own trade unions.
The new labour-capital relationship is also different from that of the old society. Now the capitalists and their agents are invited by us, and they are our partners. This new relationship is being dealt with according to the principle of equality and mutual benefit. The trade unions in these Chinese-foreign joint ventures also differ from those of the state-owned enterprises, although they are under the same leadership of the All-Clina Federation of Trade Unions.
The main tasks of the trade unions in the special economic zone are to educate their workers to better understand and implement the open policy, and contribute to the development of Chinese-foreign joint ventures and foreign-owned enterprises. The trade unions should also encourage foreign-owed interprises to abide by the laws, while also respecting the rights and interests of these foreign businesses and supporting them in the reasonable use of their management power. In addition, trade unions should uphold the rights and interests of the workers, stimulate their productive initiative and help them improve their political, technical and cultural levels.
In the last six years, because of the activities of the trade unions, there have been no major falling-outs between labour and management. The Chinese and foreign sides have both done their best to make their enterprises a success, each side doing its share to carry out their contracts. Though some problems have emerged due to lack of mutual understanding, they have been solved quickly.
Q: What measures have you adopted to prevent bourgeois thoughts and habits from polluting the area's residents?
A view of the Xiamen's new Hubin district.
A: The Xiamen Special Economic Zone was established on the basis where the socialist public economy occupies an uncontested dominant position in China, and is different from the export processing areas and free trade districts of other countries and regions. China's ultimate aim is not only to catch up economically with the developed countries, but also to uphold the socialist system in order to benefit the Chinese people through economic achievements.
As people live under different social systems, so their concepts of value and morals are different. The development of the zone is not oriented towards capitalism, but instead, it will gradually be built into an equitable society where the economy is thriving, the people have lofty ideals and a sense of discipline, the environment is attractive and social morality is good. Our special zone will not tolerate corruption, bribery, smuggling, reactionary and pornographic books and magazines that will poison the people's minds, especially those of the young. If such disgusting things were allowed to spread unchecked, it would be meaningless to build the zone.
From the outset of the zone's establishment we have given attention to the cultivation of traditional morals and have publicized our principle of oppos- ing negative influences but not everything foreign. Our attitude towards decadent bourgeois thinking is: We are opposed to but are not afraid of it.
The main measures we have adopted to retain our cultural integrity are as follows:
We have educated all leading cadres and the people to observe the open policy, inspired them to love the motherland and the people and foster lofty ideals. We also have established Party committees, Youth League committees and the trade unions in the joint ventures and co-operative enterprises according to China's Constitution. We have also asked the Party members, cadres, workers and staff members to abide by the law and disciplinary codes and honour the contracts already signed. these measures have helped us run our enterprises better and have been welcomed by the foreign business people.
We also have criticized and punished people for peddling pornography or for illegal traffic in smuggled commodities. We have established a video tape leasing corporation in order to strengthen our management of the zone's tapes. Any units or people who show pornoraphic tapes without authorization will be punished according to Party codes and the law.
We also have established recreational centres, homes for the elderly people, amusement parks and other centres. The zone has also organized dances in order to enrich after-work activities for residents of all ages.
Talent-Scouting, the Xiamen Way
Socialist China lacks the capital and talent it needs in order to crank up its drive for modernization. This is also true with the Xiamen SEZ. To make up for the deficiency, the municipal government has been emphasizing two capital construction programmes - the building of infrastructural facilities geared to attract foreign investment, and the speeding up of training for as many employees as possible.
Settled in the 100-year-old city of Xiamen, the SEZ has several hundred old enterprises. Although its large numbers of universities, colleges and secondary professional and technical schools are churning out many graduates, they cannot meet the city's needs either in number or quality. The municipal government has therefore decided to "unearth" and train local people, while also bringing in others from outside the city.
Tapping Local Potential
Large numbers of younger, more talented and dedicated intellectuals have been promoted to leadership positions in the last few years to meet the anticipated economic take-off in the special zone, according to a spokesman of the Organization Department of the Xiamen Municipal Party Committee. In the same period, the local authorities have also redressed previous unjust cases. The major changes the local authorities have made during this period include the following:
Zeng Zeng, manager of the Xiamen Supertronics, Ltd., demonstrates his equipment to Vice-Premier Wan Li, who came for an Inspection.LI KAICONG
Readjustment In Leadership.
Before 1983, the leadership of the municipal government was composed of 13 people, whose average age was around 57 years old; only three of them had had any further education after senior middle school. The readjusted leading body is now reduced to 10 persons, averaging 50 years old, with the youngest, a deputy mayor, 32 years old. They include seven with college and university education and three with senior middle school education, who are specialists in certain fields. For example, Deputy Mayor Ye Shuliang is a senior electronics engineer who has been in charge of Xiamen's electronics industry since 1984. Familiar with the foreign electronics market and Xiamen's needs, Ye is able to personally negotiate with foreign businessmen over the stipulations and signing of contracts.
Leading management bureaus and key companies and enterprises under the municipal government also have been readjusted. The average age of the leadership of the city's 18 key enterprises has dropped from 54 years old to about 47, and the proportion of those leaders with senior middle school education or higher stands at 81 percent.
Zhang Liping (second right), deputy manager of registration of the Mandarin Hotel, receiving guests.
Advertisement for Employment. Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the number of Sino-foreign joint ventures set up in the Xiamen SEZ. This calls for a swift increase of talent in the city. The municipal government has reformed the employment system, replacing the practice of state assignment with advertising employment opportunities. This change has helped lift the square-peg-in-round-hole syndrome.
The bulk of the Chinese managers involved in the 88 Sino-foreign joint ventures in Xiamen were employed through advertisement after they had taken written and oral exams. It is stipulated by the municipal government that their salaries and bonuses shall be determined by the enterprises for which they work, in accordance with private contracts. This practice breaks away from the long-standing practice of egalitarianism in distribution and of "only promotion and no demotion" for cadres.
Absorbing talent from outside of Xiamen was an important measure adopted during the reform of the employment system. In the past, the flow of talent from the outside met with many restrictions. For example, those who had lived apart from their spouses for fewer than 10 years, and those whose aging parents living outside of Xiamen but had been taken care of were faced with stringent requirements in order to get their spouses or parents transferred to work or live in Xiamen.
In 1984 the Personnel Exchange and Consultation Service Centre was organized to recruit outside talent. For those who want to transfer to work in Xiamen, the centre provides a shortcut. From 1980 to 1983, only 800 people moved to work in Xiamen. Those figures soared to 987 in 1984 and 1,400 (including some 100 assistant engineers) in 1985. These new employees have become the backbone of the economic construction in Xiamen.
Bai Lang working at the electrical equipment repairment workshop.
For example, 44-year-old Xu Yingjie, a graduate of the semiconductor department of the China Science and Technology University, was a researcher in Shanghai. He was recruited to work for the Xiamen-Wang Computer Co. Ltd. in 1984. His diligence earned him a good reputation at the joint venture and in 1985 he was promoted to deputy manager of the company.
Since the SEZ was established in 1980, Xiamen has been very active in training personnel. One successful effort was the opening of a foreign economic relations and trade college. Since its setup in 1982, more than 100 cadres engaged in foreign trade work have been trained. Of the 60 graduates of the first training class, 47 have become leading cadres at various levels.
Another training process was to establish the Lujiang Vocational University in 1981, which has nine departments, including foreign languages and trade, customs, business and management. Its students pay tuition on their own and live off campus. Upon graduation, they are recruited by enterprises. It has 818 students today, and its 373 graduates are currently working in Xiamen.
Xiamen University also provides special training programmes of two to three years in foreign languages, international finance and accounting.
At the middle school level, 10 vocational schools have been established and vocational classes in another 10 regular middle schools have been opened to train students in special fields considered useful by the local enterprises and companies. At least 46 percent of the students in Xiamen are enrolled in these schools. Ninety percent of the 2,000 graduates from these schools are currently employed in Xiamen.
Foreign-owned factories and co-operative enterprises also are being encouraged to start up training schools for their employees. The Xiamen Sensitive Materials Co. Ltd., supplied with advanced equipment from the United States' Kodak Co., is still under construction. Though it is not scheduled to go into operation until 1987, the company already has been providing pre-work training for its employees. Another example is the Xiamen Supertronics, Ltd. financed solely by Hongkong businessmen, which is running a four-year study programme for its employees that includes university courses.
The Xiamen leadership has been active in pursuing a special educational network centred around the television university programme, which is attended by spare-time university and correspondence students. These involve more than 55,000 students; more than 6,000 factory workers have taken part in higher-education examinations in the past two years.
Pan Dongcheng, a dentist who began a private clinic in downtown Xiamen, is known for his skill and quality service.
Sanguine, Enterprising People
China's recent policy of opening to the world and implementing economic reforms have been altering both the economic outlook and the social practice of the Xiamen Special Economic Zone. From interviews with the employees and residents of the zone in Fujian Province, one gets the impression that every aspect of life in Xiamen is in transition: The way of thinking, personal relations, and social conduct are all vacillating somewhere between the old and new.
Dedicated to Work
The expansion of the zone to include the entire Xiamen Island, and the introduction of flexible policies have offered ambitious and competent people an opportunity to assert themselves.
Liu Hong is just such a man. The 29-year-old Liu is now the chief engineer of the Xiamen Southeast Electronics Industry Co. When he and a dozen others came to Xiamen to create the company in 1984, Liu was the chief engineer of the Fujian Provincial Computer Research Institute. He had been cited on several occasions by the State Economic Commission and the Chinese Academy of Sciences for his participation in the research of multi-function Chinese character micro-computers.
The day Liu was interviewed, he was teaching several college graduates how to use microcomputers.
When asked why he had come to Xiamen, he said some people once thought he had come to make big money. "This is ridiculous," he said. He already had a big house and was making money in Fuzhou. And his newly-married wife, he said, remained in Fuzhou. If he wanted fame and fortune and the company of his wife, he did not have to travel so far from home to find them.
When asked what had caused him to take such a seemingly absurd transfer, Liu said that in his business contacts with some foreigners, he found China was often looked down on because of its lack of technical expertise. He was encouraged by a strong sense of responsibility to defend the nation's dignity, and to win credit for China, he added.
So far he has been true to his words. His company has produced 150 North Star brand microcomputers since it started up in 1984 and has logged in profits of 480,000 Yuan (US$160,000) in 1984 and 2.5 million yuan in 1985. This year, his company plans to produce large Chinese language terminals and small programme-controlled telephone exchanges in co-operation with the Shanghai Post and Telecommunications Equipment Research Institute.
Another young Xiamen upstart is Zeng Zeng. Formerly an official in charge of technical and management affairs in the Xiamen Electronics Industry Corp., 37-year-old Zeng was asked in 1984 to be manager of the Xiamen Supertronics, Ltd., an independent Hongkong company in Xiamen.
A sober-minded sort, Zeng said money was very important in a commodity economy. Without money, one could not live; to live well, he had to make more money. In a socialist society, however, money is something, not everything, he said. To live was not just to make money, but rather to contribute one's part to the construction of a prosperous country and help others to lead a good life. Therefore, Zeng said, he would do as a real Chinese does - run the company well and attract more foreign businessmen to invest in Xiamen.
The Xiamen Supertronics, Ltd. produces, among other things, touch-button telephones, recording telephones, wireless telephones, other telecommunications equipment, as well as electronic products and their components. Since it began operations in August 1984, the company has made much headway, pushing its daily output to 3,000 telephones and 6,000 electricity transformers. The quality of its products is completely up to the standards of the United States International Telecommunications Association, and its productivity ranks first on the mainland.
A glimpse of the Xiamen University campus.
Zeng is putting to good use the advanced management experiences of foreign countries and Hongkong. While doing ideological and political work among his employees to keep them in high spirits, Zeng has built up a series of efficient management techniques that won him the recent accolade of "businessman of the new generation" by Xiang Nan, secretary of the Fujian Provincial Party Committee. And Hu Qiaomu, member of the Secretariat of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, recently called Zeng the "pace-setter of enterprise reform."
Even younger still is 29-year-old Bai Lang, an electrician for the Xiamen Cigarette Factory. In 1981, the factory imported some equipment from the US Camel cigarette producers to manufacture cigarettes. According to the contract, the American side was to send in technicians to give Chinese workers technical guidance in the installation of the equipment. But Bai found some mistakes in the blueprints. He showed them to his American counterparts, who, believing Bai was educated not well enough to clearly understand the blueprints, disregarded his opinion. Only a later check made the Americans change their minds. The American quality control supervisor said, "I have been to many countries, but I have never seen people as brilliant and studious as the Chinese."
Students studying at the garment design and sewing class sponsored by the Xiamen No.6 Middle School.
Asked what he thought of this remark, Bai said, "Only learning a great deal can one make a good deal for the country."
Working for Prosperity
In recent years, "What Is the Purpose of Life" has been a hot newspaper topic discussed among young people. Some have answered the question just by giving lip service, but the young people in Xiamen have given the question a profound response by contributing all they can to invigorating the nation's economy and modernization.
"Money" was once seen as a synonym for "capitalism." The issue of money only made the Chinese nervous. On top of this, the old distribution method that theorized everyone should get a fair share from the same pot, regardless of performance, made it unnecessary to persevere in one's work to make money. Things have greatly changed. "More work, more pay," and "getting prosperous by the sweat of your brow" have become the order of the day.
Several young attendants at the Mandarin Hotel, the most luxurious in Xiamen, were asked about this, and they all said they just took it for granted that more work meant more pay. Chen Kuanyu, deputy manager of the housekeeping department, said he used to work in a factory, but he much preferred his job at the hotel. One of the main reasons he came to the hotel, he said, was the good pay. Although he now works harder and longer hours at the hotel, he said it was worth the extra money he makes.
Another deputy manager at the hotel, 22-year-old Lin Xiaoqing said she used to be a gardener and was low paid. She said she was usually exhausted after a 10-hour workday at the hotel. But she makes about 200 yuan a month now, much more than she made as a gardener, and is able to practise her English at the hotel, making those long hours more than worthwhile.
An official of the city's statistical bureau said when the Xiamen Special Economic Zone was established in early 1980 the monthly per-capita consumption was only 33.81 yuan. Today it stands at 67.55 yuan, about twice as much as five years ago.
The policy of allowing people to make more money through labour has rekindled their enthusiasm for study. The more knowledge, the more chance of a good job, and perhaps better pay. The city now has 350,000 residents, 60,000 of whom are studying part time. About 60 percent of the students are young people.
Traditions Moving in Time
Xiamen's young people are the most conspicuous of all when it comes to new lifestyles. Unlike their older counterparts, who have stood by their traditions, young people in Xiamen have new interests and hobbies. They take pride in their appearance and often can be seen wearing Western-style suits or Shanghai or Hongkong fashions. While they are of a more practical nature than many other young people in China, they also love to socialize, listen to pop music and dance. Gold wedding bands have become common at wedding ceremonies. Young married couples have begun to be able to afford modern amenities like colour television sets and refrigerators.
Xiamen has enjoyed full employment since it was designated a special economic zone. Young people fresh from school find it easy to get a job. Therefore, some of these youths with long purses under their belts prefer to live away from home. The tradition of several generations living under one roof is being replaced by smaller families of one or two generations.
In the neighbourhood of Haibin, for example, about 250 households out of the 730 have broken away from traditional family roles. Wang Xiuqing, director of the neighbourhood committee, said the elderly had nearly nothing in common with their children in terms of lifestyle, likes or dislikes. Therefore, she said, it makes sense for them to live separately, rather than to try to manage together.
Young peopl in Xiamen learning how to operate computer In a training course sponsored by the Xiamen-Wang Computer Co. Ltd.PHOTOS BY OUR PHOTOGRAPHER. CHEN ZONGLIE, EXCEPT TWO BY LI KAICONG.
Ten out of the 12 young people interviewed for this article said they preferred to live on their own. The two who preferred to live together with their parents said they had young children of their own who needed looking after by their grandparents.
Despite the galloping speed of the young away from binding traditions, the centuries-old custom of respecting the old and cherishing the young remains deep-rooted in Xiamen. Children still feel duty-bound to support their parents.
In the Kaiyuan district, one woman, Huang Yuzhen, said her son and daughter, married and long gone, each give her 15 yuan every month as a symbol of their filial respect.
Although Xiamen has become a real "boom-town," neighbours still watch out for each other. In the Kaiyuan district, a 47-year-old widow has been seriously ill. Her only son is severely mentally disturbed. But her 64-year-old neighbour is always ready to look after them, free of charge.
The Wenan neighbourhood committee in the Siming district has taken under its wing 10 elderly people without children, two old men whose sons were killed in the war, and six disabled people. The committee has placed them in the hands of several groups of retired workers, Communist Youth League members, and housewives.
Yang Changming, deputy director of the city's civil affairs administrative bureau, said the city hall had doubled its efforts to build welfare houses and homes to care for the senior citizens. The city now has one welfare house and 12 homes for the aged, so that all those 60 or older who do not have children to look after them have been accommodated.
The welfare house, built in 1980, is a complex of six buildings with 150 beds. It houses more than 70 senior citizens, including one foreigner and two returned overseas Chinese. All the expenditures of the welfare house and retirement homes are covered by the city government and other collective organizations.
Since Xiamen opened its doors to the world, the economic zone has imported needed investment, technology and management expertise, all of which have had a positive effect on China's economic and social development. Unfortunately, along with these benefits come the uglier aspects of Western culture, so-called "cultural wastes." These include money worship, pornographic videotapes, decadent music and sexually violent publications. These objects have already had adverse effects on the impressionable youth of Xiamen.
According to the city's public security bureau, the city's overall crime rate has dropped year after year since 1980. But the juvenile delinquency rate is on the rise. Some of the young criminals said they admired a bourgeois lifestyle and were seeking material gain and pleasure. Others, aroused by X-rated videotapes, have been known to rape women.
Life has not been all wine and roses for them. There have also been handcuffs and shackles. The problem has caught the attention of the city hall and the public. Apart from trying to encourage the education among young people, the city government already has made it a point to crack down on those who smuggle in these "cultural wastes."