(Apple Daily)

The Special Investigation Panel learned that former President Chen Shui-bian's wife Wu Shu-jen was directing accountant Chen Cheng-hui to bring large sums of cash of unknown origin to the safety deposit room at the Cathay United Bank.  For example, Yuanta Securities board director Tu Li-ping said that when her company was about to buy out Fu-Hwa Financial Holdings, she and two other company officials brought NT$200 million cash in fruit cartons to the president's residence and handed it over to Wu Shu-jen.  Tu also said that Wu Shu-jen once told her brother Wu Ching-mao to move NT$740 million cash to Yuanta Securities.

(China Post)

It was the time when anti-Chen protesters were staging massive demonstrations trying to oust him from the presidency for alleged corruption. The reports said the former first lady asked Tu to pick up the brother at a bank. The brother loaded a few suitcases into Tu’s car and both then left for Yuanta’s office. The suitcases were then opened to reveal the cash. The ex-first lady later instructed that Yuanta help her make overseas investment with the money.

(Apple Daily)

(Apple Daily)

According to a person in the financial sector, one million dollars in 1,000 dollar bills weigh 1.03 kilograms.  Therefore, 740 million dollars weigh 762 kilograms.  Also, a 1,000 dollar bill measures 16 cm in length and 7 cm in width.  One million dollars in 1,000 dollar bills measures 10 cm in height.  Therefore, a bundle of one million dollars in 1,000 dollar bills measures 1,120 square cm in volume.

The commonly available super-sized suitcases measure 82 cm in length, 56 cm in width and 33 cm in height, which carries about 55 kilograms.  A one million dollar bundle can be stacked three layers deep in a suitcase, with about 120 bundles per suitcase.  Depending on how it is packed, the 740 million dollars can be packed inside 7 to 10 suitcases.

In the rural areas of Taiwan, a school child's lunch costs 30 dollars.  Therefore, 740 million can provide 186,800 children with free school lunches for the entire academic year.

If the 740 million dollars are put in a single stack, it is about 74 meters tall (= 22 stories in the building).

(Taipei Times)

In the latest development in a graft scandal implicating her family, former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) yesterday said that she had not stashed NT$740 million (US$22 million) in a local firm.

“Wu Shu-jen was hospitalized during the time,” Wu’s lawyer Lee Sheng-hsiung (李勝雄) said yesterday. “It was impossible for her to assign anyone to move the money to Yuanta Securities [元大證券].”

“She swears on her life that she did not interfere in financial reforms” during former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) term, Lee told reporters.

(Apple Daily)

Yesterday Wu Shu-jen's brother Wu Ching-mao was asked: "The Special Investigation Panel suspects that you participate in moving the 740 million dollars.  How do you prove your innocence?"  Wu Ching-mao said: "You only find people you trust to move money.  At the time, I was just asked to move the money.  Frankly speaking, I had no idea why the money needed to be move.  After the money arrived at Yuanta, I left!"

(Apple Daily) (514 persons interviewed by interactive voice system on November 29, 2008)

Wu Shu-jen states that she did not interceded in the two financial reforms, and she denies that the 740 million dollars exist.  Do you believe her?
72.8%: I swear on my life that I absolutely don't believe her
  8.2%: I swear on my life that I absolutely believe her
19.1%: Don't know/no opinion

(Apple Daily)  Are you still interested in tracking the whereabouts of the NT$2 billion plus in the six corruption cases swirling about former president Chen Shui-bian and his family?  Here is the roadmap:

[in translation]

Today is Thanksgiving Day.  I want to say to the innumerable people that I know well and those whom I have never met in person: I thank you.  I thank you for reading my blog, even though most of the blog posts have painful contents.  I thank you for posting your comments.  No matter whether you support or oppose me, you have expended your valuable time in letting me understand your thinking.  I especially want to thank certain netizens for their patience and encouragement.  At those moments when I felt lost and hurt, your patience and encouragement let me release the negative pressures and become happy again.  I want to thank those Internet forebears (whom I cannot list here out of safety concerns) for giving me inspiration, support and encouragement with respect to using the Internet and also how to stand up to the National Security police.

Two days ago when the representatives of the European Parliament came to visit me, the National Security police was "speaking" to me at my home.  When I took a telephone call, they asked me what I had said.  There were people guarding the passageways in the building.  Today, I found out that the security intercom wire had been cut off.  If someone rings my apartment, the phone won't ring and they can't speak to me (I cannot tell whether this was accidental or intentional).  Although the weather was cold and my baby was not feeling well, I took her outdoors.  The plainclothes police followed me.  Even when I shopped for food, they went with me to the vegetable market to watch me.  To a certain degree, these actions of the plainclothes police are a step backward.  In the currently fashionable language of the Internet, I am "emotionally  unstable."  But in front of my baby, I try my best to be relaxed, be neither happy nor sad, and maintain a stable state of mind.

On this evening, I returned home with my baby with a cold wind blowing outside.  I received a phone call from Deutsche Welle to say that my blog has won a special award this year.  They asked me how I felt.  My tired and somewhat slow mind did not react immediately.  I said that I had no special feeling, but I was nevertheless very delighted ...

In 2005 when I first began to blog, I did not even consider questions such as: What is a blog?  What can blogging achieve?  How will blogging affect my loife?  I had read the blog of a friend and I thought that it was fun.  So I posted my diary onto a blog open to a small number of friends.  I did so in order to share my daily life and thinking, and interact with others through the comments.  Diary-writing is a habit that I kept from childhood.  Although I did not write every day, I like to write down my ideas.  I also write poems, essays and weird stories.    When I feel bad, diary-writing lets me quickly feel good again.  From this point of view, I am absolutely the constantly chirping woman that Hecaitou described in <Females and Blog>.

On February 16, 2006, Hu Jia was disappeared.  At first, I was counting on the usual routine during his previous disappearances when the police voluntarily brought him home several days later.  But things did not turn out that way.  The police denied that they had taken Hu Jia away.  I began to be very worried.  I went searching for Hu Jia everywhere.  I recorded the story of my search on the blog.  By late February, I began to realize that I needed to make my blog public in order to get the attention of more people who can help me find Hu Jia.  At the time, I still did not understand the function of blogs fully.  I only sent emails every day and that was my principal method to inform everybody about the progress in the search for Hu Jia.

Hu Jia returned home forty-one days later.  I was lost at one point about what to do with my blog.  Should I continue to update it?  There were many daily trivia and I also had many immature ideas.  I didn't want the public to see them.  I was unsure about how to maintain a blog that the public cares about.  Should I update the blog?  Or should I return this into a private blog?  I had fallen in love with blogging.  Through the blog, I had become acquainted with many people who think like me.  They provided invaluable exchanges and they gave me precious inspiration.  I hoped that this exchange can continue.  Besides, what would I do if Hu Jia gets disappeared again?  So I consulted several forebears, who gave me some good recommendations and encouraged me to continue blogging.

In 2007, a friend said that he did not want to read my blog because he found contents that were depressing, even though he recognized that these situations exist in our society.  Through my narrative, he felt an unbearable pain.  There was a certain period when I felt very grim and fatigued.  I was pessimistic about the state of human rights in China.  But every time that I see the sufferings of the human rights defenders and their families and I listened to their appeals and calls for help, I want the world to hear that story as well as offer my meager efforts to defend human rights in China.  On May 6, 2007 in the essay <Q&A about the TIME magazine 100 persons>, I discussed how blogs can serve important meanings and purposes in an environment when freedom of speech is being restricted.

My view about blogging has not changed.  I am even more optimistic.  A blog can totally become an independent media.  As long as you insist on telling the truth, you insist on telling about what is happening around you, insist on independent thinking and insist on getting involved in an issue, your blog will become a brand name blog sooner or later, and thus trustworthy source of in an information-flooded world.  This is all the more valuable when fake and exaggerated news are swamping society.

Telling the truth requires not just courage, but you sometimes have to pay a heavy price.  In your blog, you don't need to be responsible to any political group, interest group, superiors  or bosses. You only need to be responsible to your own conscience.  Your can express your own personal feelings or your possibly not quite mature ideas.  You can also get ideas from the comments from netizens.  Even the traditional media and social groups cannot ignore the influence and convenience of blogs.  For the Chinese grassroots movements, there are many cases and issues which are banned in the traditional media but which are transmitted through blogs.  In 2008, China was not peaceful.  But in the cat-and-mouse game, the mouse had the upper hand.

With just computers and blogs, the countless voices from the grassroots may sound like just chirping up close, but they actually sound like a raging tide from afar.  They are shapeless forces, they surge and retreat at will and their turbulent and tempestuous forms are invincible.

(China Business News)

Previously, the rumored electricity subsidies would be coming through partially.  Today, it was announced that 19.5 billion yuan in the state enterprises' budget will be used to assist those state enterprises that were hurt during the natural disasters to recover.  Included are the state electricity companies ...

(Douban)  Secret internal Sohu.com email.

We used received an emergency bulletin from the External Relations Department of the State Electricity Network to mobilize everybody to post comments at Sohu.com.  Today, Sohu.com featured the article <Five major electricity enterprises will all be facing losses; hopeful to gain 10 billion yuan in state subsidies>, which is drawing discussion from netizens.  In order to guide public opinion and support the good image of the State Electricity Network, its External Relations Department has requested the various departments and employees to join the discussion.  These comments should highlight the following keypoints.  (1) There is no doubt that the electricity network was adversely affected by natural disasters.  (2) Before the financial tsunami arrived, the state electricity network had invested 1 trillion yuan in order to create job opportunities.  (3) At critical moments in time, the state electricity network has always courageously assumed the burden.  (4)  Certain individual want to have the best of both worlds, by expecting the results without paying the costs, and we better make sure that the people remain alert.  After each employee has commented, they should send an email back to indicate that they have done so.  The deadline is 11pm on November 28.

Related Llink: People to the power, power to the people, all comments deleted  Black and White Cat


Democratic Progressive Party legislator Wang Sing-nan said: "In the whole world, I think that only Taiwan has so many political talk shows during prime time.  In the whole world, only Taiwan is this way.  Everybody can see the result -- the opposition between the blues and the greens.  The two sides are either physically wrecked, or else they are about to pull knives on each other in the streets.  I think that the political talk shows bear a great responsibility for dividing society so far."

Legislator Wang Sing-nan proposed to amend the law in order to prevent more social divisiveness through banning these political talk shows from prime time television.  Kuomintang legislator believes that such an amendment would restrict freedom of speech and thus make democracy go backwards.

(Apple Daily)

The two political talk shows <2100-The People Speak> on TVBS and <Big Talk News> on SETV are on the opposite ends of the poiltical spectrum, their hosts Lee Tao and Cheng Hong-yi are in complete agreement in their position with respect to the proposal by certain legislators on restricting the political talk shows -- they declined to comment.

Some of the guests who appear frequently on these shows disagree with the charge that these shows are the source of social chaos.  The pro-green commentator Chen Lee-hong said that the legislators are the ones who are the source of social chaos.  The pro-blue commentator Chen Feng-hsing also did not want the legislators to exercise their powers to restrict media and speech.

(Apple Daily)  (425 persons interviewed by interactive voice system on November 27, 2008)

Do you think that the political talk shows on television should be subject to daypart restrictions?
50.1%: They should be restricted because I don't want to see this sort of nonsense all the time
36.0%: They should not be restricted because freedom of speech must not be restricted
13.9%: Don't know/no opinion

There are plenty of reports about public servants traveling on public funds in the name of training and inspection.  But yesterday there came an Internet post at the MOP forum with 37 photos of the complete accounting documents for one such trip, including the names, job titles and passport numbers of the relevant local government officials. 

How much did this group pay to get a letter of invitation from someone in the United States of America?  3,240 yuan.  What is the profit for a travel agency to handle this group?  76,942.55 yuan.  How much money did the 23 public services from Wenzhou spend on its 21 days of "studying and observing" in the United States?  649,495.21 yuan.

The travel agency was All-Americas.  The host which issued the invitation was the Northwestern Institute of Technology.  The purpose of the trip was to "observe the management structure of government organizations and their advanced administrative and management experience as well as helping local enterprises develop, etc."  But the published itinerary showed that the places visited may not mesh with the stated purpose.

The activities on February 15 (Los Angeles County meeting), February 25 (New York State meeting), February 27 and 28 (Northwestern Institute of Technology training course) stated that these were "business activities."  But the rest of the schedule covered tourist spots in ten American cities including Hawaii, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Buffalo, New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, etc.  The description explained: "Visit various film studios in the Universal Studios (Hollywood) to experience the San Francisco earthquake, flash floods, Jaws and other thrilling scenes ..."  "Drive to Las Vegas with the world's grandest casinos and most beautiful dancing girls ..."

Meanwhile, in the visa application to the United States, the applicants are reminded to state that they are supposed to write down 10 days for training at the Northwestern Institute of Technology and two days to tour the city government facilities.  The list of tourist scenes (such as Hawaii, Las Vegas, Washington DC) are not to be mentioned.  The photos also included the the detailed items, such as USD 700 for one night at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas.

The most intriguing part is that the bill not only included what the group paid to the travel agency, but there was a record that the travel agency paid the group back.  On January 31, the travel agency paid 50,000 yuan in cash.  Netizens were intrigued about the reason for this reverse payment.

The netizen would made the post wrote: "If you a taxpayer, please continue to read this post because you may learn why the central government's budget includes such a high amount for administrative expenses."  Yesterday the reporter contacted the various named departments, individuals and the travel agency.  All of them refused to comment.  One person said twice: "I don't know, so don't ask me about this" before hanging up the telephone."

The netizen who made the post also wrote: "These photos have been sent to the relevant provincial party disciplinary committee."  Some netizens think that this type of activity is commonplace enough.  Other netizens are hopeful that something will come out of this.  Still other netizens are not optimistic that this type of exposure and complaint will lead anywhere.

On May 29, four criminal suspects staked out a bank in Fugu county, Shaanxi province.  When their targeted victims came out and left in an Infiniti, the four followed in a car which had fake licenses.  They were about to take action when a passing police car made them stopped.  Another change arose when they passed a highway tool booth.  The four had purchased a police siren as well as a loudspeaker.  They turned on the police siren and ordered the Infiniti to stop.  When the Infiniti slowed down, they sped ahead and cut off progress to force the Infiniti to come to a halt.

At that point, the four jumped out of the car and used a hammer on the door of the Infiniti.  When the driver opened the door a little bit, the robbers stuck a shotgun through and ordered the victims to open the door.  Although the four did not plan to use violence, their leader Zhang Honghuai shot and killed two of the victims in the interest of speeding things up.  The four seized 2 million RMB and fled the scene.

According to information, the four criminal suspects had all previously served prison terms.  Zhang Honghuai had been in prison thrice for theft and assault.  He also ran an illegal coal mine.  After the coal mine was shut down, he resorted to armed robbery.  In April this year, he got 200,000 RMB using the same method.  Zhang is an avid fan of the TV series <Shanghai Bund> and compares himself to the character Xu Weqiang in the show.  After this robbery, Zhang spent almost 200,000 RMB on drugs and also gambled away 200,000 RMB.  But the time that he was arrested, he had spent his own 500,000 RMB plus another 300,000 RMB belonging to an accomplice.

Yesterday afternoon, three of the four criminal suspects were arrested and returned to Fugu county.  The local government arranged a huge welcoming party for the heroes of the militia police who cracked the case.

(Apple Daily)

Yesterday at 1:30pm, the three individuals who were suspected of committing a murder-robbery on May 29 were escorted back to Fugu county.  They were placed on the back of a truck along with more than a dozen fully armed police officers.  The suspects wore name plaques.  The truck cruised around Fugu county for more than one hour.  It was estimated that 50,000 people came out to watch, and the streets became impassable due to the congestion.  The police had to send in reinforcements to maintain order.  The citizens carried banners on "Welcome the triumphant return of the special case squad."  Other citizens set off firecrackers in celebration.

On the Internet, netizens questioned whether parading criminal suspects is a violation of their human rights.  "They are only suspects who have yet to be convicted by a court."  "Public parades should not occur in a civilized society."

In an online survey at NetEase, 57.6% disapproved of the parade while 42.4% disapproved.

As for the mastermind Zhang Honghuai, he did not seem to mind.  He spoke to a reporter while keeping a good smile.  He fully admitted his crime and said, "I have no regrets for being caught for doing something big."

Related Link: Statistics of Mass Incidents  November 15, 2006.

[in translation]

<To the wife>

The music from Leader Radio has beautiful themes
But they cannot soothe the melancholy of wistful longing
The wife sings one song after another
How can I not think about her?
The quick final farewell at Polaris Garden seems to be just like yesterday
The thirteen days since seems like thirteen years

You said that you were sorry to become the First Lady
No, this was not your fault
It was because I did not heed your words
And selfishly took the path of politics
Why couldn't I take any other job?  Why did I become President?
It is too late now, because it is impossible to turn back

I wake suddenly to the sound of the reveille
So I am still able to breathe air
Leader Radio kindheartedly welcomes a brand new day
but it finds that nobody is in a good mood

The layers of wall of the bastion of iron
A small and damp prison cell
The dark dungeon where the warm sun cannot break in
People are watching twenty-four hours a day through the observation eye on the ceiling
Do they care whether my freedom was taken away
or whether I am dead or alive?

One after another bucket
The bucket was not enough, so the tea jar will have to do
Eat, drink, defecate, laundry, bathing
Wet and wet again, I don't know what is dry
Hang up everything that can be hung up
Can't tell which is wet or dry
Objects, blanket, books take up the floor space for the bedding
This is not a shelter for beggars or drifters
This is the Tucheng Detention Center which is the Bastille Prison

The former resident of Chongching Southern Road
is now the prisoner of the new resident
A sigh for the volatility, cruelty, ruthless and darkness of politics
When has Taiwan become a backwards country in Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia
and revert to the dynastic transitions in Chinese history?

The burden of the changing of ruling political parties
Amidst the pile of rock debris
The project for building an independent nation
is still suspended in mid-air
If I cannot walk out with my head held high and my chest forward
I would rather die on the cross of Taiwan history

Reviews by famous cultural writers:

Chang Dachun: "What kind of shit is this!  Please don't waste my time.  Go waste someone else's time!"

Yu Kuang-chung: "This subject is too sensitive.  I don't want to trigger extreme reactions from both sides, so I don't have any comments."

Netizen comments:

- I am now inclined to believe the rumor that Ah Bian's previous press releases were penned by someone else.  This kind of nonsense is supposed to be poetry?

- "Eat, drink, defecate, laundry, bathing"  ... aren't you supposed to be fasting?

- This wife is really very almighty, because she sticks her nose into everything.  When the husband can confer such great powers upon his wife, this is really worthy of praises and tears.

- The writing is so bad that it is beyond bounds!  Is he a graduate of National Taiwan University?

- Since they love each other so much, this pair of mandarin ducks ought to spend the rest of their lives in the same prison cell.

- I don't think that we can find any measurement instrument in the world that can measure the thickness of the skin on the faces of this family.  It is really too thick.

But I do not want to address the issue about how the blogospheres in Hong Kong and Taiwan have changed between when I started blogging in 2003 to what they are today.  The stories are completely different from each other and from mainland China, but I will leave that discourse for another day.

Here I want to supplement my initial comments in Reflections Of A Bridge Blogger.  I had made a strong point about the declining influence of western media.  Once upon a time, the western media could bring in unreported and unreportable news in China (see The Shanwei  (Dongzhou) Incident).  But even so, the western media were lagging behind a number of overseas Chinese websites.  In all likelihood, the information was strictly banned inside China, but reached out quickly to these overseas Chinese websites.  The western media picked up the information, but their professional standards require them to seek verification before publication.  This means western media lagged the overseas Chinese websites.  Therefore, I relied heavily on these overseas Chinese websites, most of which are blocked by the Great Internet Firewall inside China.  My translation even served a way of communicating the information back into China since my English-language blog is not blocked.

The most famous instance was recorded at The Taishi Village Elections - Part 1 (Chronology):

(October 8, 2005)  The source here is Boxun, which is not always reliable.  Anyway, if true, this will be a huge international affair that the State Council cannot afford to ignore.  The one paragraph English-language release appeared at 1020pm, Saturday, October 8.  One hour later, you can read the translation of the detailed Chinese item here: Last evening, Benjamin Joffe-Walt, a reporter with The Guardian, arrived in Guangzhou with his assistant Mr. Chen to work on the Taishi Village official recall story.  Today, he went there accompanied by the Zhijiang City (Hubei province) People's Congress delegate Lu Banglie who has been active in the case.  By 7pm, Lu Banglie who did not intend to enter the village had still not returned and Joffe-Walt could not be reached by telephone either.  The friend waiting outside the village was concerned and telephoned villagers.  At that moment, Benjamin Joffe-Walt also sent a SMS to his British colleague: "Our car is being surrounded and we are being attacked!"  The villagers then told the friend: "They are inside Taishi Village, being assaulted.  The foreigner is near death.  It is pitiful.  Please call for help!"  "The attackers are security personnel hired by the village party secretary at 100 RMB per day.  Their job is to assault all outsiders and foreigners in the village!  Every day, they drink alcohol, beat and arrest people.  This is black terror!"

That would lead to an internationally reported event that went on for months.

Here we are in 2008.  How have things changed?  I still use the overseas Chinese websites, because their people read a lot of mainland Chinese websites and aggregate the important news stories.  But when I pick up such a news story, I go back to the search engines (e.g. Baidu, Google, etc) and find their original sources which I read carefully before I translate and publish.  The normal path of information transmission is that there is a mass incident, which is immediately reported at the local Internet forums with photos and stories.  This is quickly suppressed by the local authorities.  Next the local netizens begin posting onto the national Internet forums, where the administrators have not received orders about banning discussion of this local event and do not recognize the import immediately.  Thus, there is this time window when the information is reproduced on overseas Chinese websites.

But why do I not trust the overseas Chinese websites today?

Because I have come across many instances when they produced false stories about these mass incidents in recent years.  They contend that they don't have the means or budget to verify these reports coming from anonymous tipsters.  That may be factually correct.  But when enough false stories come through this system, their credibility is shot.  Sometimes the falsehood may be making up the number of deaths in a mass incident.  That will expose the original source of information to the risk of being charged with rumor mongering to disrupt public order.

So this is similar to what I was saying about the western media.  All these 'sensitive' reports are available somewhere on the Chinese Internet in different places and times.  A Chinese person does not need the western media or the overseas Chinese websites to find out about the facts, especially when it is by no means clear that the truth is being published there.

Today, if I read the same October 8, 2005 item, I would probably classify it as 'unreliable' and not say anything about it.  That is because I cannot tell this one from the large number of other random or malicious noises.  I have my own credibility to maintain.

How pathetic can this be?  I have seen a blogger getting outraged over an overseas Chinese report about some piece of injustice in China.  Then someone else wrote in the comments: "This is false because it comes from ET."  The blogger then wondered: "Oh, that's it? ..."  Yes, that's it.

On the morning of November 21, a netizen posted a photograph of a small crying Chinese boy carrying a load of hay.  The text said that this boy had to rise up at 4:30am during the summer to work.  In the winter, he had to rise as soon as the rooster crows thrice.  He has not grown physically even though he is ready for high school.  It is a tough life living in the rural remote area..

This post did not collect universal approval, because some netizens questioned the authenticity of the photo.

Was this a posted photograph for the Internet?  One netizen wrote: "This seems to have been directed.  The two bales of hay were designed for the child.  Each bale needs only one knot.  Everybody who has done it knows that.  The fact that there are two knots on each bale suggests that they were set up for a photo shoot.  Nobody drags wet hay back. They always lay it out in the field or hillside, let it dry in the sun and then haul them back home twenty something bales at a time to form a haystack."

Another netizen agreed: "Why do you need a child to haul two bales?  This child looks like 5 years old.  An adult male could do what he does all day about the time that he smokes a cigarette.  This is not just a show -- this is child abuse!  Nowadays, we have a one-child policy.  A boy is treated as treasure.  Who would send a boy out to work in the fields that way?  Based upon my experience, cows are fed green grass and not dry hay unless it is the middle of winter.  Why would the child be crying on the road while hauling two bales of hay except to post for the camera>?"

But other people disagreed: "It was like that when I was  young.  My father was conscripted for water works.  My mother took us out to work in the fields.  I was just taller than the hay but my younger brother was shorter."  "Those who say that this photo is posed are from the city.  Look at how tanned the child is.  People who work in the fields are tanned.  It is also very normal to go barefoot.  When I was small, grown-ups and children work together in the fields.  It is tough working in the water-logged fields.  When the water is deep, you can hardly extract your feet from the mud."  "Why is the boy crying?  Maybe his parents scolded him.  In the rural area, farming is a tough life.  There is a great deal of pressure.  It is normal for parents to scold at their children."

Other netizens analyzed: "Look at this crazy discussion of truth versus falsity.  My heart is breaking when I see those young shoulders taking on the harshness of life.  Perhaps we should evaluate our education concerning hardships in life.  If this photo is genuine, should this child be considered 'fortunate' for experiencing the hardship in life that city dwellers never experience?  Perhaps this experience will be invaluable for him over his lifetime, even though life was very hard for him at his moment.  But if this photo is faked, then society should consider itself lucky because it proves that this child is not living a hard life."

(New York Times)  The Dead Tell a Tale China Doesn’t Care to Listen To. By Edward Wong.  November 18, 2008.

An exhibit on the first floor of the museum here gives the government’s unambiguous take on the history of this border region: “Xinjiang has been an inalienable part of the territory of China,” says one prominent sign. But walk upstairs to the second floor, and the ancient corpses on display seem to tell a different story.

One called the Loulan Beauty lies on her back with her shoulder-length hair matted down, her lips pursed in death, her high cheekbones and long nose the most obvious signs that she is not what one thinks of as Chinese.

(Global Times via China Review News)  American media used "Loulan Beauty" to question Chinese sovereignty in Xinjiang.  November 22, 2008.

With respect to this idiocy, Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences Central Asia Research Institute director Pan Zhiping said that the New York Times essay contained a "conceptual error."  He said that nationality and statehood are two different concepts.  Western people think of all Chinese as being from the Han ethnic group when in fact China is a unified country with many different kinds of ethnic groups.  Even if the "Loulan Beauty" is not a Han person, she can still be Chinese.

Related Link Mysterious Mummies? Maybe 10 Years Ago.  The Opposite End of China.  November 20, 2008.

(Reuters)  The Internet drives China to loosen its grip on the media.  November 20, 2008.

... "The Chinese government has started to loosen its control on the negative information," said one of the people, an academic close to the propaganda authorities who declined to be identified. "They are trying to control the news by publicizing the news."

A Communist Party official confirmed that the policy on dissemination of news had gradually changed this year. "It's almost impossible to block anything nowadays, when information can spread very quickly on the Internet," said the official, who was not identified because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. "We also noticed that it will benefit us if we report the news first."

The propaganda authorities have issued an order authorizing news organizations to report on unrest, rather than allowing rumors to take hold among Chinese worried about the effects of the global financial crisis on the mainland's economy.

(China Media Project)  Taxi strikes in China highlight changing press controls.  By David Bandurski.  November 12, 2008.

When the taxi strike occurred in Chongqing last week, news coverage unfolded as a virtual textbook case in Hu Jintao’s new, more active approach to “guidance of public opinion,” what one top Chinese editor aptly called on a recent visit to Hong Kong, “Control 2.0.”


One of the key characteristics of Control 2.0 is the active setting of the agenda through rapid but selective news coverage by critical state media such as Xinhua News Agency, China Central Television and People’s Daily.

This is what Hu Jintao meant when he said in June that the media needs to “actively set the agenda” (主动设置议题), an echo of April remarks (post-Tibet) in which he said state media needed to keep a firm grasp on initiative in reporting (报道的主动权):

We must perfect our system of news release, and improve our system for news reports on sudden-breaking public events, releasing authoritative information at the earliest moment, raising timeliness, increasing transparency, and firmly grasping the initiative in news propaganda work.

“Initiative” on the part of core state media is complemented by traditional control tactics, notably propaganda department directives that instruct media to stay within the bounds of coverage by Xinhua, People’s Daily and company.

Follow-up: The Longnan riots and the CCP’s global spin campaign.  By David Bandurski.  China Media Project.  November 20, 2008.

So what is the anti-dote to Control 2.0?  Here is the opening paragraph from an old 2006 post:

Let me summarize Naomi Klein's major thesis about how consumers can beat back the big brands: The bigger the brand, the harder they fall.  If you want to read more from Naomi Klein, here is the first part from her book No Logo.  The relevant part here is Chapter 15: The Brand Boomerang.

It can take 100 years to build up a good brand and 30 days to knock it down - David D'Alessandro, president of John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance, January 6, 1999.

Branding, as we have seen, is a balloon economy: it inflates with astonishing rapidity but it is full of hot air.  It shouldn't be surprising that this formula has bred armies of pin-wielding critics, eager to pop the corporate balloon and watch the shreds fall to the ground.  The more ambitious a company has been in branding the cultural landscape, and the more careless it has been in abandoning workers, the more likely it is to have generated a silent battalion of critics waiting to pounce.  Moreover, the branding formula leaves corporations wide open to the most obvious tactic in the activist arsenal: bringing a brand's production secrets crashing into its marketing image.

If the Chinese government wants to come out as being open and transparent on information, you hold them to this promise.  If the Chinese state media seem to jump out immediately with reports about the Longnan mass incident, then you applaud them even if they say that the masses were misled by a very small group of people with ulterior motives.  You praise them for this newfound openness and transparency.  Then you produce The Longnan Mass Incident In Pictures.  Then you ask, Are you prepared to publish these photos?  If not, why not?  And what do you have to say about these photos anyway?  Their comments will tell you more about their true position than anything else can.  If they revert to the good old censorship thing about those photos, their script goes out the window. 

Here is a reasonable trial question: Is it normal for police officers to be throwing rocks at citizens?  Is this because while they were explicitly ordered not to use their arms, they did not think that throwing rocks back was okay?  And do you think this is okay?

Just for fun, here are a few more photos:

Local Communist Party secretary Wang Yi at the scene

On November 19, I had linked to some photos and videos at The Longnan Mass Incident.  But those were of poor quality taken by spectators from afar using mobile phone cameras.  For example:

This new set of photos is remarkable because they were taken by a professional photographer using high-end equipment.  More importantly, this photographer was allowed close access to the scene.  For example, consider this photo taken right next to the feet of police officers standing over arrestees, some of whom were injured:

So I speculate (and everything else that follows are my speculations) that this photographer works for Xinhua or some other state news organization.  When the photographer went back to look at the photos, he must realize that there was no chance for publication.  What should he do, if he believes that his professional duty is to report the truth?

I speculate that this photographer went ahead and opened a blog at 51.com (or else he gave the photos to someone who opened the blog).  That blog has the introduction: "Hi, everybody!  I am sx8799691.  o(∩_∩)o.  Ha ha!  Welcome to my 51.com blog!"  There are no blog entries.  There is a photo album, where the photos are present under "my photos" without the context being described.  It does not say that these photos come from Longnan city, Gansu province.  But if you compare these photos against the previously published ones taken by citizens, the place is most likely to be Longnan.

These photos have now been cross-posted at many forums.  Some forums have clipped off the sx8799691.com at the bottom of the original photos and inserted their own logos.  In any case, the photos are all over the place now.

What did the photographer act this way?  This is a matter of self-protection.  If he had provided a written textual description of what happened, he may be charged with rumor mongering to disturb public order.  But here, he is just publishing photographs without any textual explanation.  The photographs do not appear to be doctored or staged because many people in them are identifiable.  This is not quite using Nepalese police action to stand in for Chinese police violence in Tibet as some western media have done.  Here is an example:

Since photos do not lie, the blogger was only publishing the truth.  This is not a crime.  Any attempt to charge him with a crime (such as leaking state secrets) will lead to a massive public reaction, much worse than the previous cases (such as the Pengshui SMS message, etc).

As for the other people who use these photos to score their own political points, that is a different story altogether.  A blogger cannot be held accountable for the activities of other unknown parties.

P.S. Reuters has a story titiled The Internet drives China to loosen its grip on the media.  "Official news organizations often lag behind reports posted on the Internet by bloggers and investigative reporters, and usually play down any elements that might raise distrust of the Communist Party, which values stability."  The Reuters story used the four old Internet photos to illustrate.  A blogger has just turned the dial up further with these new photos.


Under tremendous public pressure, the Qinhuangdao police went out in freezing weather to stake out the suspected area 24 hours a day.  They also used various channels to locate clues about the kidnap victim Little Guo and the direct-sales gang.  At 5am on November 20, the police raided a house in the Haigang district.  They found someone who looked like the "kidnap victim" Little Guo.  But this person insists that he is Little Wang and not Little Guo.  The police took the Internet photo of the man being whipped and compared the person as well as the conditions in the house.  They finally confirmed that the man was Little Guo.  The police also arrested the other nine members of the pyramid-scheme direct-sales gang.

Upon interrogation, Little Guo confessed.  In early 2008, Little Guo was working at a leather goods factory in Quanzhou city, Fujian province.  He got to know a female netizen named Zhang who said that she could get Little Guo in Qinhuangdao city with her uncle, who manages a shoe factory.  The job pays 5,000 RMB per month.  After considering for some time, Little Guo traveled from Quanzhou to Qinhuangdao.  Zhang met him and took him to a dilapidated house in the Haigang district.  There were already a dozen people living there.

Over the next few days, these people attended class where they were taught out Internet sales and its marvelous opportunities.  They told Little Guo that whoever gets more money will get higher positions and pay in the company.

Little Guo decided to join the company.  Where was he going to get the money?  He thought about his father.  He began to send SMS that said "I have been kidnapped -- send 30,000 RMB quickly or else you may never see me again," "30,000 RMB and not a cent less to be sent to my card and your son will be returned to you without a hair missing from his head," "it doesn't matter if you refuse to take phone calls -- do you want your son back?  If I don't see the money by 10am tomorrow morning, you won't have a good new year" and so on.  The father ignored these messages.

When Little Guo saw that his father was unresponsive, he got someone else to call while he cried and screamed on the side as if he was being beaten.  He yelled to his father that he has been held in a dark room for more than 10 days and to send money.  In order to get his father to believe him, he used a mobile phone to film himself being hung up and being whipped by someone.  The bloody welts on his body was created by applying red liquid.  Then he sent the photo to his father and brother via SIS. 

In the following, Little Guo is holding up the Internet photo in his right hand.  He has lifted up his undershirt with his left hand to show that there are no wounds.

Q1. How much negative impact does the international financial crisis have on Hong Kong?
  0.8%: None
18.1%: Some
79.9%: A lot

Q2a. How much negative impact does the financial tsunami have on your personal investments?
26.6%: None
41.5%: Somewhat
23.3%: A lot

Q2b. How much negative impact does the financial tsunami have on your personal quality of life?
32.2%: None
52.8%: Somewhat
14.7%: A lot

Q3a.  Are you worried that you might lose your  job?
54.5%: Not worried
34.4%: Somewhat worried
10.0%: Very worried

Q3b. Are you worried that your salary or income may go down?
45.1%: Not worried
35.6%: Somewhat worried
18.0%: Very worried

Q5a.  Are you optimistic or pessimistic about Hong Kong's economic prospects over the next three years?
40.3%: Pessimistic
35.9%: So-so
22.1%: Optimistic

Q5b.  Are you optimistic about the prospects for the four major economic mainstays of Hong Kong (finance, trade, logistics and tourism)?
29.8%: Not very
49.9%: So-so
15.4%: Very

Q6a. Are you confident about the stability of the existing financial system in Hong Kong?
18.2%: Not very
50.6%: So-so
26.3%: Very

Q6b. Are you confident that the Hong Kong SAR government can successfully lead Hong Kong to ward off this international financial crisis?
31.6%: Not very
47.8%: So-so
18.3%: Very

Q6c. What is the major reason why you lack confidence? (Base: Those who answered 'not very' in Q6b.)
34.4%: This is an international market problem, and the Hong Kong SAR government cannot do much
25.9%: This government's governance is poor
13.9%: This government does not have long-range planning
11.4%: The government underestimated the harmfulness of this financial tsunami
  6.0%: Too many political squabbles
  6.9%: Other reasons

Q7a.  Do you think that the measures introduced by the Hong Kong SAR Government (such as using its foreign reserves to guarantee bank deposits, provide credit guarantees for small- and medium-sized enterprises, promote tourisms and expositions, etc) help the economy of Hong Kong?
35.1%: Not a lot
46.7%: So-so
15.0%: A lot

Q7b. Which of the following measures do you most want the Hong Kong SAR Government to implement to deal with the impact of the global financial tsunami?
28.2%: Allocate more resources/create more jobs for unemployed persons
24.6%: Help the small- and medium-sized enterprises survive the crisis
15.4%: Accelerate the ten infrastructure projects
13.1%: Improve the financial monitoring system to consolidate Hong Kong's position as financial center
  7.6%: Increase subsidies and services to socially vulnerable groups
  6.1%: Hand out money to the citizenry like the Macau government
  3.4%: Other

Q8a.  Do you think the four trillion yuan stimulus package from the central government can help the Hong Kong economy?
27.7%: Not a lot
50.0%: So-so
17.1%: A lot

Q8c. Do you approve of the Hong Kong SAR government asking the central government take action to support economic development in Hong Kong?
23.6%: Disapprove
25.9%: So-so
48.7%: Approve

Q8d. Which of the following can help Hong Kong most in terms of improving economic development and increasing competitiveness?
39.7%: Central government
25.5%: Hong Kong SAR government
21.0%: Hong Kong business community
  3.1%: Hong Kong Legislative Council
  1.0%: Hong Kong political parties
  3.2%: Others

Q9. Do you think that economic development in Hong Kong should be coordinated better with the mainland?
  3.0%: No
10.2%: So-so
84.8%: Yes

Dear Colleagues,

The cover of the most recent German-language edition of MaxPlanckForschung (3/2008) depicts a Chinese text which had been chosen by our editorial office in order to symbolically illustrate the magazine's focus on "China". Unfortunately, it has now transpired that this text contains inappropriate content of a suggestive nature. Prior to publication, the editorial office had consulted a German sinologist for a translation of the relevant text. The sinologist concluded that the text in question depicted classical Chinese characters in an non-controversial context. To our sincere regret, however, it has now emerged that the text contains deeper levels of meaning, which are not immediately accessible to a non-native speaker.

By publishing this text we did in no way intend to cause any offence or embarrassment to our Chinese readers. The editors of MaxPlanckResearch sincerely regret this unfortunate error and would like to offer an unreserved apology to all of their Chinese readers for any upset or distress they may have caused.

The cover title has already been substituted in the online edition, and the English version of MaxPlanckForschung (MaxPlanckResearch, 4/2008) will be published with a different title.

We would ask you to forward this information to all Chinese scientists at your Institute. Please find attached the new version of the title. Perhaps you can distribute this print-out within your institute.

Best regards,

Translation of the Chinese text, which is an advertisement for an 'entertainment' venue in Hong Kong/Macao:

We have offered a lot of money to hire two managers -- KK and Jaime -- to lead the girls during the day.  Our young girls are elegant northern beauties with attractive physiques.  We also have housewives who are coquettish and enchanting.  They are appearing here and now.

(New York Times)  How Axl rose Spent All That Time.  By Jon Pareles.  November 20, 2008.

“All I’ve got is precious time,” W. Axl Rose sings in the title song of Guns N’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy” (Geffen), and he must be well aware of how that line sounds now. Mr. Rose, 46, the only remaining original member of Guns N’ Roses, needed 17 years, more than $13 million (as of 2005) and a battalion of musicians, producers and advisers to deliver “Chinese Democracy,” the first album of new Guns N’ Roses songs since 1991. It’s being released on Sunday, with CDs sold exclusively at Best Buy. (In another 21st-century fillip the album’s best song, “Shackler’s Revenge,” appeared first in a video game, Rock Band 2.)

“Chinese Democracy” is the Titanic of rock albums: the ship, not the movie, although like the film it’s a monumental studio production. It’s outsize, lavish, obsessive, technologically advanced and, all too clearly, the end of an era. It’s also a shipwreck, capsized by pretensions and top-heavy production. In its 14 songs there are glimpses of heartfelt ferocity and despair, along with bursts of remarkable musicianship. But they are overwhelmed by countless layers of studio diddling and a tone of curdled self-pity. The album concludes with five bombastic power ballads in a row.

“Chinese Democracy” sounds like a loud last gasp from the reign of the indulged pop star: the kind of musician whose blockbuster early success could once assure loyal audiences, bountiful royalties, escalating ambitions and dangerously open-ended deadlines. The leaner, leakier 21st-century recording business is far less likely to nurture such erratic perfectionists.


It’s easy to imagine Mr. Rose determined to outdo his own brazen youth and his old band, but with less perspective and hundreds of new tracks as each year goes by. If Guns N’ Roses had released “Chinese Democracy” in 2000, it would still have been an event, but it might also have been treated as the transitional album in a band’s continuing career. By holding it back and tinkering with it for so long, Mr. Rose has pressured himself to make it epochal — especially if, on this timetable, the next Guns N’ Roses studio album doesn’t arrive until 2025. And fans were waiting for him to defy the world again, not to do another digital edit. Sometime during the years of work, theatricality and razzle-dazzle replaced heart.

As Mr. Rose bemoans the love that ended or vows to face life uncompromised and on his own, the music on “Chinese Democracy” swells and crashes all around him, frantic and nearly devoid of breathing space. It’s hard to envision him as the songs do, that besieged antihero alone against the world, when he’s sharing his bunker with a cast of thousands.

(Apple Daily)

The new album from the famous American rock n' roll band Guns n' Roses was supposed to be advertised on Hong Kong broadcast TV channel TVB tomorrow.  However, due to the sensitive sujbect, TVB rejected the advertisement because it violated Hong Kong law.  The record company was forced to excise certain sections in order to pass.  Hong Kong Legislative Councilor James To denounced TVB for indulging in self-censorship.  But TVB explained that it was concerned about copyright violations.  The video clip contained the image of ex-chairman Mao Zedong and the five-starred national flag, which TVB believes is not allowed under Hong Kong law.  James To said: "Hong Kong laws have nothing about banning the exhibition of the national flag or Mao Zedong.  If that were the case, they could not be showing the flag-raising ceremony."