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     Gung Ho Newsletter No.89-90
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Organization Built on Family Ties and Cooperation


Li Xiang and Mark Hughes (China Daily)


Michael Crook's link with the Gung Ho movement is through his mother, Isabel, and his late father, David. 

The daughter of a Canadian missionary, Isabel was born in
Chengdu, Sichuan province, in 1915. She returned to Canada to complete her education and came back to China
in the late 1930s.

While doing anthropological and sociological research in
, Isabel met David, a member of the British Communist Party who volunteered to fight with the anti-fascist International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).

Inspired by the book Red Star Over China by the American writer Edgar Snow, David traveled to
Shanghai in the late 1930s. In fact, both Isabel and David had met Rewi Alley previously in China. Alley was the New Zealander who helped to initiate the Gung Ho movement to bolster China's resistance against Japanese invaders. The couple joined the movement and actively promoted cooperatives throughout China

Michael, the couple's second son, did not join the Gung Ho movement until the late 1980s. The movement is known as the International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (ICCIC) and the phrase Gung Ho is derived from gong ye he zuo, roughly meaning an industrial cooperative.

Born in
Beijing in 1951, Michael grew up in a hutong. His mother tongue is Mandarin Chinese. And while he has a Western face, he inherited his parents' love and passion for China, said Michael Crook. At age 8 he moved to England and eventually completed his college studies at Queen Mary University, London

After teaching in the
United States for a few years in the 1980s, he decided to return to Beijing
in 1988 to help his mother with her Gung Ho activities. He worked first as a volunteer, polishing the organization's newsletter, before becoming a member. He was elected vice-chairman of the ICCIC 15 years ago after working with the Canadian International Development Agency.

The fact that
has embraced the stock market and private enterprise increases his resolve to promote cooperatives. In fact, he helped revive the ICCIC when the state started selling off industrial assets in 1987.

He sees the cooperative sector as performing a vital role as a middle ground between State-owned enterprise and the private sector, especially with farms and other rural enterprises. Now the ICCIC is promoting and developing cooperatives in
through training and consulting.

"I was involved in development work and I liked it," said Crook. "Besides teaching, development is also my field."

Apart from his work with the ICCIC, Crook teaches at the Western Academy of Beijing, an international school. "Teacher is always the title I like," he said.

He happily concedes to possessing two personas: the first being an upper-middle-class Englishman when he speaks English, and the second a more vulgar local when he discourses in Beijing-accented Mandarin.

Crook's brother Carl, 60, works as a wine importer in
Beijing. Another brother, Paul, 56, works for the British Broadcasting Corp World Service in London. Their father died in 2000 and their mother, 94, remains in good health. She spends the summer months in the UK but otherwise lives in Beijing.








2012 International Year of Cooperatives




United Nations Declares 2012 International Year of Cooperatives


NEW YORK, 21 December (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) -- The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, highlighting the contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development.  In adopting resolution 64/136 on 18 December, the Assembly noted that cooperatives impact poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. 

A cooperative is an autonomous voluntary association of people who unite to meet common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations, through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.  In general, they contribute to socio-economic development.

 As self-help organizations that meet the needs of their members, cooperatives assist in generating employment and incomes throughout local communities.  Cooperatives provide opportunities for social inclusion.  In the informal economy, workers have formed shared service cooperatives and associations to assist in their self-employment.  In rural areas, savings and credit cooperatives provide access to banking services that are lacking in many communities and finance the formation of small and micro businesses, promotes inclusive finance.

 The cooperative sector worldwide has about 800 million members in over 100 countries and is estimated to account for more than 100 million jobs around the world.  The strength and reach of cooperatives are illustrated in the following examples:

 under the umbrella of the World Council of Credit Unions, 49,000 credit unions serve 177 million members in 96 countries, and 4,200 banks under the European Association of Cooperative Banks serve 149 million clients;

agricultural cooperatives account for 80 to 99 per cent of milk production in Norway, New Zealand and the United States; 71 per cent of fishery production in the Republic of Korea; and 40 per cent of agriculture in Brazil;

electric cooperatives play a key role in rural areas.  In Bangladesh, rural electric cooperatives serve 28 million people. In the United States, 900 rural electric cooperatives serve 37 million people and own almost half of the electric distribution lines in the country.

International Years are declared by the United Nations to draw attention to major issues and encourage action.  To commemorate the Year, regional conferences will raise awareness of cooperatives and seek ways to leverage their contribution to socio-economic development and foster regulatory frameworks.  A research agenda will be proposed and Member States are to form national committees that will serve as focal points for the Year’s activities.



International Co-operative Alliance Commends UN Proclamation of

International Year of Co-operatives 2012


Geneva, 18 December 2009, for immediate release - The ICA’s new president, Dame Pauline

Green, expressed today, on behalf of the entire international co-operative community, support for the United Nations resolution on the role of co-operatives in social development, which proclaims 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives. UN Member States approved the resolution (A/RES/64/136) on 18 December at the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly.


The UN resolution recognises that the co-operative business model is a major factor of economic and social development, promoting the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of people in both the developed and developing world, and that, in particular, cooperatives contribute to the eradication of poverty. The resolution also encourages all governments to create a more supportive environment for co-operative development, particularly when it comes to securing finances for capacity-building.


“The International Year of the Co-operatives is a well timed event that represents the depth of

understanding of the entire co-operative movement,” said Pauline Green, ICA’s first-ever woman

president. “The co-operative model is a better choice and offers the basis for a more sustainable way to do business when compared to traditional capitalist models now under scrutiny. What sets this model apart from others is that all co-operatives, whether they are small farmers or large consumer-owned entities, share the values of democracy, solidarity, equality, self-help and self responsibility, creating businesses that serve the greater good as opposed to maximising profit for the very few.”


Iain Macdonald, Director-General of ICA, expressed his support for the resolution in a statement at

ICA’s recent Board meeting, indicating that the International Year of Co-operatives is “well timed to remind the world that there is more than one way of doing business and that in a global economy we all have to work together. Whether it is in tackling the economic crisis, the threat of climate change, or food security issues co-operative enterprise offers real hope of solutions to these problems, and I have no doubt that the increased profile offered by an International Year will achieve great things.”


In its 2008 Global 300 report, the ICA noted that the top 300 co-operatives alone are responsible for

an aggregate turnover of 1.1 trillion USD, which represents the size of the 10th largest economy in the world (equivalent to the size of Spain alone. The International Year will provide an opportunity to further document the impact of the largest, but also of the small and medium sized co-operatives that significantly improve people’s lives around the world.


With this newly approved resolution, the ICA will mobilise the global co-operative community in

creating a global campaign featuring a series of events around the world and targeted messages which all co-operatives will be able to use to promote co-operative business. It will work closely with the United Nations and its agencies in addition to other co-operative stakeholder to put the co-operative model of enterprise on international and national agendas.









ILO hails UN proclamation of 2012 as International Year of Cooperatives


The International Labour Office (ILO) hailed the proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly of 2012 of the International Year of Cooperatives as an acknowledgement of the fundamental role of cooperatives in promoting the socio-economic development of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, especially in times of economic crisis.

Hagen Henry, Director of the ILO Cooperative Programme (ILO/COOP), said the move “recognizes the pivotal role cooperatives play globally in supporting sustainable development, eradicating and preventing poverty, and creating and securing livelihoods in various economic sectors, both formal and informal, and in urban and rural areas. Cooperatives, as social economic enterprises and self-help organizations, have a meaningful function in uplifting the socio-economic conditions of their members and their local communities in virtually all countries.”

The ILO said cooperative enterprises have successfully operated locally-owned, people-centered businesses while also serving as catalysts for social organization and cohesion. With their concern for their members and communities, they represent the core type of enterprises that do not have profit making as a primary objective and organizations that place a high regard on democratic and human values while facing climate change challenges.

In the resolution, the UN General Assembly calls for measures aimed at creating a supportive and enabling environment for the development of cooperatives and raising public awareness of the contribution of cooperatives to employment generation and socio-economic development. It also underlines the need for comprehensive research and statistical data-gathering on the activities of cooperatives, employment and overall socio-economic impact in preparation for the International Year, and support for agricultural and financial cooperatives in particular.

ILO COOP says cooperatives have a proven record of creating and sustaining employment, providing more than 100 million jobs today, while the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) says the top 300 cooperatives worldwide are responsible for an aggregate turnover of USD 1.1 trillion, equal to that of the world’s tenth largest economy. The ILO, as the only UN agency with a mandate on cooperatives, having developed in-depth expertise in this area over the years, will take a leading role together with the ICA, under the overall coordination of the UN, in developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy for activities to be undertaken during the International Year.

The adoption of the resolution A/RES/64/136 was supported by 55 countries; namely: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Lebanon, Jamaica, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Panama, Sudan and Zimbabwe.




Fair Trade




Fair Trade and Environmental Protection

By Professor Yang Fangyi of Social Resources Institute


Fair Trade and Environmental Protection

Coffee will be in mind of people who are familiar with Fair Trade when they talk about it. Under the free trade, when you pay 20 RMB for a cup of coffee in Starbucks, the farmers who plant the coffee bean in their field just gain less than 0.1RMB and Most of the profit obtained by the coffee producers and retailers. What’s more, the farmers in Ethiopia are cheering for the coming harvest, but their income is decreasing because the price of coffee is going down; basically, nearly 15 million people rely on coffee bean’s planting for living. As a result Fair Trade, a comparing trading form with free trade, appears in Europe in1950s. So far, Fair Trade has gained many supporters and consumers around the world.  

Fatal Weakness of Free Trade

Presently, free trade is still the general trend. Specialization of division of labor makes the industry chain longer and longer. More and more parts take place between the supplier and consumer. On the one hand, the profit of product has been divided by many steps and there is not much left to farmers. On the other hand, due to the lack of information, the planter and collector become the lowest part of industry chain as well as this kind of injustice information leads to social and environmental issues. When you enjoy your fried chicken in KFC, you might not realize that they have to cut down a large amount of rain forest for planting soybean in tropical rain forest areas of Amazon. The soybean is used for chicken farming at last. As a result of that, the customers become “the terminators” who “kill” the tropical rainforest. Coffee is facing the same problem and few people have a view of the background of Starbucks coffee and the same injustice situation creates serious environmental issue.

People who sink into the vicious circle are struggling with their lives. In India, ignorant farmers gave up their traditional planting method and adopt the seeds, pesticide or fertilizer of Monsanto or other international companies. The price of these agricultural materials rise up urgently when the farmers have to rely on those products of companies. At last, farmers’ income cannot afford their living output and this is also the reason why many Indian farmers suicide in recent years. However, Fair Trade shortens the distance between the lowest parts of industry chain with the consumers and let the first supplier gain more from trade and achieve the sustainable development.

The Prosperity of Fair Trade

Well-known Fair Trade Movement is comparing with the unequal international trade, which emphasizes on the balance of income division, gender equality and environmental protection in trade. In the beginning, Fair Trade just was a small-scale movement but now, it becomes a global movement and many relative authentication systems show up. The most famous systems are from Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International (IFO) and International Fair Trade Association (IFTA). Products can be labeled after they are authenticated. After that, they will get in European market and achieve a better selling profit. Besides this advantage, Fair Trade can bring funds with organizing and skill contribution to community. In 2003, Fair Trade commodities simultaneously join in the markets of 13 nations in Europe. It means that Fair Trade has begun to develop from a social movement to a general form of business. According to a statistic record of FLO in 2007, the international selling of commodities that have been authenticated by FLO reaches 2.3 billion euro; 1.5million workers of 58 nations reap profit from that. Currently, you may find Fair Trade products in every supper market in Europe or Fair Trade shops in the big cities of Asia. From agricultural products like coffee, rice and flowers to handicrafts, the categories are becoming rich and even though some Fair Trade commodities are more expensive than normal commodities, customers are prefer to buy them. Excitingly, though, Fair Trade movement is a pure folk activity, it has achieved the support from European parliament and German government. From 2000, departments of European government have been starting to purchase the tea and coffee that have been authenticated by Fair Trade. Thus we can see the market of Fair Trade will be considerable.    


Observe environmental protection in Chinese hilly area with an angle of international industry chain.

China is getting involved in globalization, even the peasants from the far hilly areas. China is becoming the important producer and consumer in international trade. Compare with the richer role of customer; there still have many peasants who will be recognized as figure producer in southwest forest regions of China. Many of their agricultural and forest production take part in the international trade. For instance, in the southwest areas of China named “hot spot of international biodiversity protection”, lots of products of non-timber forest will be exported around the world. Meanwhile, the domestic sale substantially relies on the international company like Carrefour. 

 In the southwest hilly areas, most of the farmers who live along the forest collect the non-timber products like mushrooms, spice and medicine etc. beside the usual planting and animal raising. There is one kind of mushroom named Song Rong (Tricholoma matsutake) in the northwest of Yunnan province. It usually will be exported to Japan and it becomes the main source of cash of the local farmers. In the summer when the hot season of harvest comes, farmers will go up to the mountains to collect the mushrooms. One of my friends remember that Song Rong’s price was quite nice in1990s and she just need to go to pick one big piece of the mushroom once a week and that could afford her daily cost for one semester of her middle school. Scholars investigated before in these areas and nearly 80 percent cash income of the local residences is from Song Rong. In recent years, the purchasing price of Song Rong has been changing by the global market fiercely and this makes effect on the mushroom collection. However, Song Rong, as wild specie, it takes a very important function in forest ecosystem maintaining. Excessive collection will degrade the quality of forest and then lower the mushroom’s quality; finally, farmers cannot get reasonable profit from it.

 Just like Song Rong, many products make effect on environmental protection. For example, the Pu’er Tea, which has a serious speculation problem in its market. And quite large amounts of old tea tress have been cut down. The only one solution is the Fair Trade in which we have a fair market with a more stable and shorter sales chain.  

Fair Trade in China

 It is not very long since Fair Trade concept is adopted in China. Meanwhile, with the increase of Chinese total supply and demand, more rich people born and China no longer plays a single role of producer as well as a consumer. The behaviors of purchase of Chinese start to have influence with the whole world. So that it is more urgent to develop Fair Trade in China. On one hand, we need Fair Trade to promote Chinese commodities to European market and on the other hand, as for Chinese huge consumption market, we need to have our own Fair Trade market.

In the beginning, Fair Trade was started firstly in
China by Oxfam Hong Kong and other NGOs; and it realizes the Fair Trade and the authentication system. Moreover, some Chinese tea companies broke into the European and American markets by authentication of FLO. Anyway, this is the start level of Fair Trade in China because on one side Chinese farmers are not very clear about Fair Trade as well as the authentication system; as a result, few people applied the authentication of FLO so far. On the other side, the authentication systems of FLO or other organizations are too academic to Chinese farmers in hilly areas such as the social gender and villager’s collective group etc. Those are unsuitable for Chinese farmers in rural areas. Besides, most of the domestic consumer doesn’t know anything about the Fair Trade. This is a “blind spot” in sales market of China

However, although, there is few commodities have been authenticated by international Fair Trade organization we have many domestic activities that are quite similar with Fair Trade. There is one case of the attempt action by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Carrefour. For protecting the wild panda habitats, WWF and Carrefour working in partnership to sell the Chinese pepper and honey etc. in Carrefour’s stores and those products are from the areas where WWF has projects. Especially, after the earthquake, WWF and Carrefour organized the Chinese Pepper Festival, Sichuan to sell the pepper and other agricultural products in their stores to support the reconstruction. The customers are wiling to contribute through buying and get information from the disaster area. As we can see, Fair Trade has great development potential even under today when the public is focusing on the environment; Fair Trade should has a reasonable market and does better service to environmental protection. 


Obviously, China should have her own Fair Trade authentication rule or system because China has very splendid consuming market. More and more people start to think about Chinese Fair Trade standard and they hope they can get the environmental protection, the protection of villagers’ rights and trade together to promote Fair Trade service for society. 





Fair Trade Flows Against Economic Tide

By Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International (FLO)


Fair Trade flows against economic tide

A global survey released today demonstrates that support for Fair Trade is on the rise. Ahead of World Fair Trade Day on 9 May, this first ever global consumer survey on Fair Trade shows that shoppers increasingly expect companies to be more accountable and fair in dealing with producers in developing countries. The survey by GlobeScan was commissioned by Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) with a sample size of 14,500 in 15 countries. Among those surveyed, almost three quarters of shoppers believe it is not enough for companies to do no harm, but that they should actively support community development in developing countries.

Consumers are calling for a new model in trade in which justice and equity are integral parts of the transaction. ‘Active ethical consumers’ make up more than half the population (55%) in the countries surveyed. These shoppers have higher expectations of companies’ social, economic and environmental responsibilities. Their shopping habits and decisions tend to reward (or punish) companies that meet (or do not meet) their expectations, and they influence others with their opinions.    
These attitudes are fuelling support for Fair Trade as more consumers identify with its values. Half of the public (50%) in the fifteen countries surveyed are now familiar with the FAIR TRADE Certification Mark, or in
North America
the Fair Trade Certified™ label. Of these people, nine out of ten (91%) trust the label. 64% of all consumers believe that Fair Trade has strict standards, a quality that also closely correlates to consumer trust. Almost three quarters of shoppers (72%) believe independent certification is the best way to verify a product’s ethical claims.

These levels of awareness and trust are consistent with people’s action, as sales indicators show more people are shopping for Fair Trade. Sales were up in 2008 (as compared with 2007) by 24% in
Austria, by 40% in Denmark, by 57% in Finland, by 22% in France, by 75% in Sweden, by 43% in the UK and by 10% in the US

Even where the rate of growth has slowed, sales have not fallen back in any country. In these tough economic times, the vast range of Fair Trade certified goods and wider availability means that consumers can still remain loyal to Fair Trade even while switching to other brands.  As solid support continues to come from world shops, faith-based groups and campaign organizations, Fair Trade certified products are now widely available in mainstream outlets, major supermarkets and transnational coffee chains.   

‘With the devastating impacts of the global recession and the credit crunch, producers need Fair Trade now more than ever,’ says Rob Cameron, CEO of Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International, the international umbrella enterprise for Fair Trade. ‘It is very encouraging that consumer commitment to Fair Trade remains strong in these challenging times. We are indebted to the grassroots movement who have built up solid support for Fair Trade. As a result of their efforts, global brands see Fair Trade as an important part of their strategy for the future. We are working with both the grassroots movement and companies to increase the market, so that more producers will benefit from the better deal that Fair Trade offers.’

An important basis for Fair Trade’s success is revealed by the survey. Alongside conventional promotion activities, its unique marketing strength comes from its loyal, dependable and global grassroots’ supporter base. 32% of people learn about Fair Trade through family, friends and work colleagues, whilst 16% hear about it through education, community and faith groups. Broadcast and news media account for how 33% people learn about Fair Trade. People learn about new products and concepts from their own social groups and contacts – a key ripple effect for Fair Trade.   

Binod Mohan, Chairman of the Network of Asian Producers and member of the FLO Board says, ‘We in
Asia have faith in the consumer and their loyalty to buying Fair Trade products. For the shopper these are staple products; for the farmer in the developing world the purchase of Fair Trade makes a big difference and we know consumers realize this.’

Copyright: International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives
Address: Room 206, Library Building, Beijing Bailie University, No. 1 Shuangqing Road, Beijing 100085 CHINA
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