He is just an ordinary IT worker in Shanghai. By chance, he came across the detailed information about two groups of government officials going overseas on government expense and posted it on the Internet. Afterwards, the impact was huge. Two officials lost their jobs and many others were punished. The debate over transparency of government expenditure has been started again ... Why did he do it? Was he an angry young person? Or was he motivated by social responsibility? He told the reporter: "I am not going to let the taxes that I paid my whole life be wasted on an inspection tour."
"I thought that my post would sink silently to the bottom. At most, some netizens in Xinyu and Wenzhou might have cursed out after seeing the exposed government officials on television. But since I found the information, I should carry out my responsibility."
On November 21, he left work at 9pm and went home on the number 6 subway line. Then he transferred to the number 2 line. He saw that there was a pink shopping bag on the waiting bench. It seemed to be something that a girl would be using. "There were not a lot of people. "I thought that someone might have left it there by accident and could be coming back to get it. So I waited for a while, but no one came." Several minutes later, the train arrived. So he picked up the bag and got on the train.
He opened the bag to see if there was any contact information for the owner. He spooted a plastic bag holding a stack of documents. He took out the documents to read and immediately realized what it was about. "My first reaction was anger. That was blatantly a tourist trip under the name of inspection but without any hint of public service." His thought at the time was to expose the information.
He got home and he scanned every page. Since there were a lot of documents, he decided ultimately to upload only 37 pages. On November 26, the photos were posted on the Internet. Netizen response was huge as the photos got re-posted at the major websites and became the center of attention. The mainstream media noticed and case became a national news story.
Afterwards, he concealed his identity, even to his soon-to-be-wife girlfriend.
One day, the girlfriend told him about that blog post: "This infuriated netizen is even smarter than all the heroes in the big American films. In one move, he revealed the truth to the whole world before the other side could even respond." She said: "I work in finance and I can't stand corruption. This person is in IT just like you. You guys really have some technical advantages!" He felt great and could not help but say: "Do you know who made that post?" Then he used the netizen ID to log on to the forum and showed her. His girlfriend jumped up and said: "Oh, no! What about your security?" The girlfriend had been following this news story and she knew that it has had a great impact. "Technically speaking, there is absolutely no problem!" So the girlfriend was somewhat mollified.
This was not a false sense of security. As an IT blue-collar worker, he knew how to use a Chinese jumping board to use an overseas proxy to make posts. The particular ID was a transient sock-puppet that he used for this purpose.
The power of the Internet. He had mailed out the information about the Jiangxi group to the Jiangxi provincial party disciplinary committee while wearing a disguise at the post office on the day when the committee began a hearing on the case. That is to say, the committee had called for a hearing on the basis of the Internet informatoin alone.
He considered himself as having hit a big jackpot. He said: "I figured it this way. I pay around 10,000 yuan in taxes each year. If I work thirty years, I will make 300,000 yuan. If I don't expose this case, my taxes could be paying for this trip (but I will never make enough to pay for the expenses of the Wenzhou group). Afterwards, they wanted to refund the money. So I feel that my tax payments had not been squandered away. It was like hitting the jackpot."
Other Internet reactions bothered him because many people thought that "the Xinyu and Wenzhou government officials were unlucky."
His home is in a small, impoverished county in southwestern China. Of the more than 500,000 inhabitants there, more than 100,000 are migrant workers elsewhere. His 50 something year old uncle is presently loading dirt in the construction of the Jiangsu expressway. He asked: "Aren't these people unlucky? At a time when the common folks are still struggling for food and shelter, these so called 'public servants' are squandering the fruits of our labor!"
Today, these government officials have been published. But he is not happy because he says that he is "very disappointed" with the response of the Wenzhou government. He does not understand how they could say that "Las Vegas is a typical city and it is reasonable for the cadres to study and inspect urban infrastructure there."
Other commentators say that he was very naive. "They thought that I was too naive and making much ado about nothing."
But he firmly believes that he made the right choice to reveal the matter on the Internet. To him, the way that the public servants use public money on tours has gone unabated in spite of any number of directives and orders. This has become a grey area. When a grey area does not get sunshine for a long time, it is becomes a dark area to which people accept as normal. He asked: "If people can no longer see this, there will be more and more dark areas. What becomes of society? What becomes of fairness and justice?"
Related Link: Overseas Trips On Official Business
For the longest time, Baidu has been a very useful website to me. Today, I learned that it is actually a very interesting website.
If you enter the term "nuclear weapons" on Baidu, you will find the links on the right-hand side of the search results declaring: "Buying nuclear weapons? Baidu has them!" If you search for "false documents," Baidu will also tell you "Buy false documents? Baidu has them!" followed by the sentence: "Enter here if you are looking for fake local documents!"
But that is not the most exciting part. Even if you search for "Communist Party members," there will be "Buying Communist Party members? Baidu has them!" which is naturally followed by "Enter here if you are looking for local Communist Party members!" Here is the screen capture:
with the blow-up in:
However, I also found that if I look for "Hu Jintao," the right-hand side is empty. So it seems that Baidu is a very intelligent website ...
Later on, another netizen told me to try "Comrade Hu Jintao" and indeed I can also get "Buying Comrade Hu Jintao? Baidu has it!" and "Enter here to get local Comrade Hu Jintao!" at will.
But all that is not as entertaining as entering "Stupid cunt" and seeing those friendly, intimate, sincere and warm statements:
"Buying stupid cunts? Baidu has them!"
"Enter here if you are looking for local stupid cunts!"
(Threat Level) Wikipedia Blocks British Editors Amid Censorship Flap. David Kravets. December 8, 2008.
... the British Internet Watch Foundation placed Wikipedia on its blacklist when the group was told the encyclopedia had published the banned cover of a 1970s Scorpions album, Virgin Killer, featuring a naked prepubescent girl.
Wikipedia is one of the world's most visited websites. The online encyclopedia hosts about 10 million unique visitors daily. Walsh said the roughly 20,000 editors in Britain account for about one quarter of the online encyclopedia's English-language edits. Wikipedia is scrambling to correct the problem.
But because of the Internet Watch Foundation blacklisting, British internet service providers are currently redirecting Wikipedia traffic to a proxy server. When British editors log in via that proxy server, Wikipediaís systems cannot verify their unique IP addresses, and is blocking most access to British editors because it cannot adequately verify them.
The brouhaha began early Saturday when the IWF, an internet hotline for the public to report potentially illegal online content, notified British internet service providers of the album cover on Wikipedia, a nonprofit run by Wikimedia Foundation of San Francisco. Because of the blacklisting, web surfers in Britain cannot access that posting. Wikipedia traffic has been crawling at a snail's pace, Walsh said.
"As with all child sexual abuse reports received by our hotline analysts, the image was assessed according to the U.K. Sentencing Guidelines Council. The content was considered to be a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18," the IWF said in a statement.
The group says roughly 95 percent of British internet service providers abide by the IWF's voluntary blacklisting recommendations.
The album's image has now popped up everywhere online and is readily accessible, including in Britain.
"The album is available in record shops in the UK with the controversial image. You can buy it right now. So do we need to worry the police will come and confiscate our record collections?" asked David Gerard, a Wikipedia editor in London.
Wikipedia declined to remove the album cover. "We are particularly displeased that the IWF chose to censor not solely the image, but also the explanatory article text which described and contextualized the controversy surrounding the image, in a neutral and educational fashion," the foundation said in a statement.
(Threat Level) Censorship Group Removes Wikipedia Blacklisting. David Kravets. December 9, 2008.
Wikipedia's functionality was returning to normal Tuesday after an internet watchdog group removed the online encyclopedia from a child porn watchlist.
The IWF on Tuesday said that, "in light of the length of time the image has existed and its wide availability, the decision has been taken to remove the webpage from our list."
Nearly all-British internet service providers follow the IWF filtering guidelines. Wikipedia had appealed the IWF blacklisting. The IWF was bombarded with complaints.
Ironically, news accounts of the filtering promoted the album cover, and it was posted widely on the internet -- a factor the IWF said it considered when removing Wikipedia from its censorship watch.
"IWF's overriding objective is to minimize the availability of indecent images of children on the internet, however, on this occasion our efforts have had the opposite effect," the group said in a statement.
May the Chinese censors read the last two sentences and learn from it. For example, in early 2007, the General Administration of Press and Publications reportedly banned eight books. I had never heard of them before. After the list was published, I made special efforts to buy those books, and I translated selections from some of them:
I Object About former Hubei province People's Congress representative Yao Lifa.
The Press A novel about newspaper workers in a hypothetical Chinese city.
Ruyan@SARS.com A novel about a female Internet forum master during the SARS crisis.
Eras of History Historical snapshots of political/cultural/social lives in Our 1970's and Our 1980's.
Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars The lives and times of Peking opera stars in the post-liberation era from Zhang Yihe.
The Other Stories of History Qian Gang reviews former People's Daily deputy chief editor Yuan Ying's book.
I did not read these books and translate excerpts just for fun. I was trying to derive a logic for the censorship. After all this work, I profess that I don't get it. I can name any number of other books that should have been 'banned' as well because they were 'far more out there.' In that sense, I don't understand any logic that would allow me to answer: "Why these eight instead of any of the hundreds of others?"
My other reaction about the censors is provided by Qian Gang:
Each of their bad deeds is enough to turn their superiors' most recent "enlightened" statement into an instant lie; they are the most effective saboteurs of international trust in the Chinese Communist Party.
On December 5, an election for the village committee was held in Zihe village, Xihuo town, Changzhi county, Shanxi province. At 8:30am, the villagers arrived in the courtyard of the village committee office and found several dozen fully armed "anti-riot personnel" each holding a baton in the right hand and a shield with the left arm under the direction of a village committee candidate. They were there to "maintain order." Many of the villagers were shocked and displeased!
(Southern Metropolis Daily)
On December 7, the netizen "People's Affairs Hotline" posted a series of photos under the title <"Peace-keeping force" present at village government election>. On December 8, the photos were posted at Rednet. On December 9, RedNet placed the item on its front page, and the other major forums also began to carry it as well. Netizens questioned whether such a display of force was necessary required for a village election.
Yesterday afternoon, People.com.cn reported that this so-call "armed escort" was actually a normal militia police training exercise for emergency situations. The village election committee chairman assured the Southern Metropolis Daily reporter that everything had been regular about this election. There were 282 eligible voters, of which 240 went to the lone candidate Niu Jinping who had won the two previous elections as well. The rest of the voters did not cast votes as they were out of town at the time. There were no votes against Niu Jinping. Niu Jinping told Southern Metropolis Daily that the militia police were there to maintain order and he personally does not command them.
Niu Jinping made the further claim that the Internet exposť occurred because a reporter wanted revenge for not being able to extort a bribe. Niu said that on December 5, a provincial-level newspaper reporter came to sponsor a book of paintings for 30,000 to 40,000 yuan. He refused. The village election committee chairman Zhu Mengwen confirmed that this incident took place.
After learning about the photos on the Internet, Niu Jinping went through the public security bureau to reach the newspapers. A newspaper director spoke with him and promised to tell the reporter to take down the photos and eliminate the harmful results.
The Southern Metropolis Daily reporter contacted the newspaper where the reporter works at. The deputy general manager named Liu said that the said person was indeed a reporter of theirs. The chief editor said that he only found out after the fact and the details are still not clear at ths time.
The photos at "People's Affairs Hotline" have been removed.
When World of Warcraft issued its second promotional film this year, Chinese users were mentally prepared that they are likely to receive the new versions somewhat later than elsewhere because certain modifications will be made. On November 18, the new <Wrath of the Lich King> went online in Taiwan. Impatient mainlanders rushed over to the Taiwan servers and created major traffic logjams. Some users had to wait four or five hours before they could enter. This caused many Taiwan users to be unhappy and they blamed the service provider for not being better prepared. The service provider quickly added more servers on an emergency basis. A big debate took place between users on both sides of the Taiwan strait over this conflict.
On December 8, the official World of Warcraft Chinese website announced that version 3.0 of <Echoes of Doom> will be updated the next day. Last evening, impatient users quickly downloaded the update and got on the Internet. They found that the ice dragon that they had previously seen in the original version has been removed.
But before this even happened, Chinese WoW users already guessed that the ice dragon would never be passed. In November, Chinese WoW players were posting their own PhotoShop spoofs about the modifications, using ducks and penguins in the place for the ice dragon.
Chao Yi-an is the son of Chao Chien-ming and Chen Hsin-yu (the daughter of former president Chen Shui-bian). At a time, the entire Chen family is embroiled in scandals. So Chao Yi-an is told by his classmates: "My mother says that if I don't behave, I will go to jail just like An-an's grandpa and dad.' Chao Yi-an has also learned that his grandpa Chen Shui-bian is known as "2630" and his father is known as "2260" inside the detention center.
According to the latest issue of <Next Weekly>, Chao Yi-an has become the target of ostracizing and scorn from classmates and their parents. After An-an told about what the classmates had said, Chen Hsi-yu immediately took An-an out of the Montessori kindergarten and place him into the American elite school. But things have no improved as the previously bright boy is growing more and more taciturn each day. Chen Hsin-yu wishes that she could take her children overseas so that they won't be hurt further by the condemnations of the Chen family in society. Chen Hsin-yu is asking friends to look for overseas job opportunities.
Here are the HKU POP poll numbers for the respective government officials in charge compared to one month ago:
Chief Executive Donald Tsang:
Rating (0-100): 50.2 (-4.3)
Vote of confidence: 41% (-5%)
Vote of no confidence: 43% (+9%)
Chief Secretary Henry Tang:
Rating (0-100): 53.0 (-3.2)
Vote of confidence: 40% (-4%)
Vote of no confidence: 18% (+6%)
Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee:
Vote of confidence: 49% (-20%)
Vote of no confidence: 20% (+16%)
No person or organization has accused Yang Shiqun of being a 'counter-revolutionary.' This word was brought up by Yang Shiqun himself based upon speculation. According to Southern Weekend, the university leaders spoke to him twice about FLG and the Nine Commentaries. A university professor of political science and law should than do so. Southern Metropolis Weekly said that Yang swore that he never said that and that someone was framing him. The Shanghai police denies that there is any such case on file for investigation. The school authorities will only say that they are still looking into the matter.
Without any evidence, Yang Shiqun immediately linked two female students who came to see him after class to challenge him for criticizing Chinese culture and the government to the fact that the university leaders wanted to talk to him about FLG and the Nine Commentaries. Well, his actual denouncer could be somebody completely different. Why did Yang point to the two female students? There is no evidence for that. So now Yang has changed his tune, because he told Southern Metropolis Weekly that the two girls may not be the person who denounced him to the authorities.
On December 6, Yang blogged: "I was only speculating that the two female students made the denunciation. I am not sure, because the leaders will not tell me who denounced me. I can only guess. In retrospect, I may haven been too hasty because I never imagined that things would reach this stage today. Fortunately, my supporters won't be able to find the two female students through 'human flesh search.' I only spoke to the two female students for less than 1 minute on the corridor. Nobody noticed them. I have already forgotten their faces already. I don't even know their names."
Well, suppose Yang's supporters actually found two female students via human flesh search. They may be the right persons, or they may be the wrong persons. In any case, Yang will have to be held accountable for any violations of the rights of two female students (rightly or wrongly so) for 'speculating' and 'acting hastily.'
On December 5, when the 2008 China Charity Awards were due to be announced, the official website of the China Centre for Disease Control of the Ministry of Health posted a front-page news report titled: <The Civil Affairs Bureau wants to award tobacco companies for charity activities, but all sectors of society are firmly opposed>. It was also possible to download the letters from four organizations (including the World Health Organisation) to the Civil Affairs Bureau.
On that evening, the official website of the Civil Affairs Bureau published the final award winners. The China National Tobacco Corporation, which had previously been listed as first among corporations, did not appear in the winners' list. Five other tobacco companies were also eliminated.
The China Charity Awards had excluded the tobacco companies due to Internet opinion and other pressures.
From the day when the list of nominees was published on the website of the Civil Affairs Bureau, the qualifications of certain corporations were questioned by netizens. First and foremost were the six tobacco companies. Conversely, the nomination was big news for the China National Tobacco Company. On December 2, the official website's top story was the nomination of the company for a China Charity Award. According to the amount of donations during 2008 for 140 companies, the China National Tobacco Company was ranked number one. Five other tobacco companies also made the list.
On December 1, the New Exploration Health Research and Development Centre wrote a letter to the Civil Affairs Bureau; on December 2, the China Disease Control Centre's Tobacco Control Office wrote to the Civil Affairs Bureau; on December 3, the China Smoking Control Association wrote to the Civil Affairs Bureau; on December 4, the World Health Organisation's office in China wrote to the Civil Affairs Bureau. These letters have the same goal -- they recommend the Civil Affairs Bureau not to give any awards to the tobacco company.
In the letter from the Disease Control Centre, it was asserted that giving charity awards to tobacco companies seriously violates the <Tobacco Control Framework Treaty> and would do irreparable harm to the international image of China as a responsible big nation. The World Health Organisation sent a fax to the Civil Affairs Bureau to remind them that this action would be in violating of Article 5.3 of the <Tobacco Control Framework Treaty>.
The minimum qualification for an award is 15 million yuan in donations or more. Civil Affairs Bureau Social Welfare and Charitable Activities Promotion Office director Wang Zhenyao was interviewed by Beijing News and said that certain overseas organizations will not accept donations from tobacco companies or other companies which are not environmentally friendly. But in China, corporate charity has barely begun, and "we should not set up a rigorous moral standard for the corporations at this time yet."
But when the winners' list was announced on December 5, the tobacco companies were missing.
Afterwards Wang Zhenyao explained that after the list of nominees was published, many organizations wrote to the Civil Affairs Bureau to disqualify the tobacco companies. The bureau contacted the tobacco companies, and the ensuing discussions led to the removal of the tobacco companies from consideration. Wang Zhenyao said that the main reason was that many organizations questioned the selection of the tobacco companies.
In 2005, the Baisha Group won an award in the inaugural China Charity Awards. This is the first and only tobacco company which won an award.
Meanwhile, there was an international tobacco control conference in South Africa on November 17-22, with more than 130 countries in attendance. During the conference, China received the "ashtray award." This sarcastic award was chosen by the attending non-government organizations for the country that is least active country insofar as tobacco control was concerned. The official reason given for the award to China was that China "would rather have pretty cigarette packs than healthy citizens."
At the conference, the most significant results were the three practices under the <Tobacco Control Framework Treaty>; Countries are supposed to have clear and eye-catching messages about the deleterious consequences of tobacco smoking on the packaging"; a total ban on any form of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and a ban on tobacco companies from interfering with government policies.
According to a report in Southern Weekly, the representative of China's State Tobacco Monopoly Administration reserved his opinion during the discussions about these three practices at first, but ultimately accepted them.
Yang Shiqun's father Yang Kuan was a famous scholar who wrote a biography which included descriptions of his three sons. On Lunar New Year's Day in 1977, Yang Kuan was out visiting other relatives and friends. His second son (who is now a mathematics lecturer at Zhejiang University) broke into the home and stole all the valuables such as the savings passbook, television set, radio set and so on. Shortly afterwards, Yang Kuan went to Beijing to attend a conference. His eldest son (who is now a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences) stole more than 2,000 important and valuable books from his home. In July 1977, Yang Kuan remarried and moved into his father-in-law's home. His youngest son Yang Shiqun went to the new home and created trouble, including nailing the door shut from the outside four times. On one occasion, the 80-something-year-old father-in-law was confined for 12 days at home. Yang Kuan blames it all on the the Cultural Revolution for teaching his children to use violent means to achieve personal goals.
Yang Shiqun had to post an explanation:
When the Cultural Revolution ended, I was reassigned back from Guizhou to Shanghai. As a twenty-something-year-old, I had nothing. My mother passed away, and my father remarried. Certain disagreements caused my father to break relations with my two elder brothers, and he also forbade me to enter his home. He even refused to include me in the household registration. As a result, I had to stay with a neighbor for more than a month eating only a ten-cent bowl of noodles each day. Who else was I going to look up? But my stepmother had moved away all our family possessions to who knows where as well as nailing the door shut. I could not even move in. So I had to go to my stepmother's home to find my father. But they refused to open the door. After a few attempts, I got bad and resorted to nailing their door shut from the outside in the hope that my stepmother would come out and address the problems. Finally, the authorities sought out my father and included me into the hukou registration so that I could procure a place to stay by myself. My father and my stepmother gave me several hundred yuan to buy some furniture. My stepmother seized all the family assets. I did not spend a single cent of my father thereafter. When my mother passed away, her three sons were qualified to share her assets, but he got nothing. When my father passed away, we could have gone to court to challenge our stepmother but we didn't. When the children (all of whom became professors later in life) broke relations with the father, could the father have no responsibility whatsoever? When you read his memoirs, the fact that he refused to even mention the name of our mother who spent her entire life with him should tell you what an emotionless man he was.
On the afternoon of November 22, 26-year-old Hunan province Zhuzhou city People's Middle Court assistant judge Deng Huamen completed the most unique selection test to try to become a government cadre. This selection process, which incorporated elements of the Super Girl contest was a popular local discussion topic.
In July this year, the Zhuzhou city media listed the requirements for people born in the the 1980's to become government cadres: "All candidates are required to have (1) university or higher education; (2) two years of practical experience in society; and (3) one year of working in the Zhuzhou district."
Yang Jing from the Liling city court was one of the first to read this announcement, and she could not believe that the requirements were so few. She checked with the relevant departments again, and then she filed her application even though she was pregnant. "This selection method was too appealing to someone like me who does not have a good 'background'."
Zhuzhou city party secretary Chen Junwen said: "In the past, the cadres are selected from within a small circle. The people whom the leaders know are likely to get nominated. But this new open selection process bypasses the limits of the preliminary nomination process." Thus, the goal of this activity was to identify and keep a fine group of young cadres.
This unprecedented set of requirement attracted a total of 7,169 applicants born in the 1980's. These young people were assigned to 12 different departments whereupon a total of about 30 persons were selected by each department to participate in the citywide public selection. In total, 371 persons participated in this next phase."
The arrangements called for three stages: Recommendation, compete and evaluate. The event on November 22 was the final phase in which the final 30 competitors fight for a top 10 finish. For this event, the organizers used "Super Girl"-like methods such as live television broadcast, Internet voting, bands of supporters, live audience and displaying of the ratings given by the panel of judges.
Shen Meifang of the Zhuzhou city Shifeng district court was the first to appear on stage. She was required to answer two sections of questions. The first section was an instant speech, while the second one was a simulated Q&A session. For the instant speech, she was given the topic "People call us the 80's generation." Looking at the television camera as well as the gazes of several hundred spectators, Shen Meifang felt very nervous. Afterwards, she said that "she did not even know what she had said."
The mother Li Rongmin of candidate Zhou Jianjian said: "Young people today are so lucky. In our era, it was unthinkable to select cadres in this manner." She was very pleased to watch her English-teacher daughter Zhou Jianjian deliver an instant speech on the practical implications of building a two-model society in Zhuzhou.
The panel of judges consisted of eleven department heads, experts and corporate leaders. After each candidate answered all the questions, they flashed out their awarded points. When Deng Huamin of Zhuzhou city Middle Court received the high mark of 87.11, his supporters in the audience burst out in cheers.
On November 22, the Internet voting began. At RedNet, the photos and other other information about the 30 candidates were posted along with the current voting results. Of course, the Zhuzhou city party committee will further evaluate the moral character and diligence of the top candidates before actually selecting them.
Which AV movie was that? Finally some Chinese netizen had identified it to be an American adult video starring Traci Lords. On the left of this image are screen captures from the movie. On the right of this image are screen captures from Traci Lords' movie.
Now all of a sudden this can become a potential legal problem in Hong Kong.
Here is the Wikipedia entry on Traci Lords:
While living with her mother's ex-boyfriend, who posed as her stepfather, she used a friend's birth certificate to obtain a driver's license indicating that she was twenty-two years of age, and faked her way into the porn industry at the age of fifteen. She started in the porn industry with Jim South at the World Modeling Agency in Sherman Oaks, while assuming the name Kristie Elizabeth Nussman.
Shortly after, she was modeling for widely distributed adult magazines, most notably Penthouse, in the same September 1984 issue that exposed Miss America 1984, Vanessa Williams. She quickly ventured into adult movies. Her first movie was What Gets Me Hot!, followed by Those Young Girls and Talk Dirty To Me Part III, all made in the first half of 1984. Lords' youthful appearance and enthusiastic sexual performances propelled her to stardom. By the time she was 18, she had appeared in 100 adult films; however, Lords argued in her autobiography that about 80 of those films were composed from leftover and re-edited footage from the original 20 films that were shot.
In May 1986, authorities discovered she had been underage while making pornographic movies and arrested her, as well as the owners of her movie agency and X-Citement Video, Inc. (See United States v. X-Citement Video.) The ensuing prosecution against the agencies cost the pornographic film and distribution industry millions of dollars, as they were obliged by law to remove hundreds of thousands of her videotapes, films and magazines from store shelves to avoid the risk of prosecution for trafficking in child pornography (the legality varies with countries: while it is illegal in France to produce a pornographic film involving an actor under 18, the film remains legal). In her book, Lords suggested hypocrisy on the part of the movie producers and the news media, arguing that the porn industry actually got richer from the publicity of the scandal, even as they complained of losing money after destroying her illegal movies. Lords felt she was also exploited by the reporters, who used censored stills from her unlawful films. Lords herself was never charged with a crime, since as a minor she was unable to give informed consent to perform sex acts on film for money. Instead, the agents and producers who accepted her fake IDs were charged and people affiliated with the films in question experienced legal troubles for years.
If Traci Lords was under 18 years old when she made that movie, Stephen Chow would be guilty of exhibiting a film involving sexual intercourse with a minor ...
Even though the unemployment rate has reached a new high, a group of freelance bloggers are rolling in money. They leverage their popularity and they work hard to promote instant food, cosmetics, 3C, travel trips, "and anything that can be sold with no holds barred." Some of these bloggers are even millionaire s who rake in several million dollars (Taiwan denomination) per year.
In late October, McDonald's introduced a new hamburger with male idol Wang Leehom running a strong promotion on television. At the same time, three well-known bloggers were invited to taste the hamburger, after which they blogged to recommend the product. At the same time, the Internet advertising agency for McDonald's also recruited hundreds of writers to blog about the hamburger. All of a sudden, the Internet was flooded with paeans about "surprising fine food."
The food blogger 迴紋針 paid her own money to try the hamburger, and wrote a blog against the product. One reason was that she did not want the first few pages of search results for that hamburger be completely dominated by public relations essays. Since her blog has sizeable traffic, her blog post made it on the first page of search results. A few days later, 迴紋針 was contacted by the Internet advertising agency by phone, and they asked politely if she could revise her blog post. She declined.
迴紋針 was not the only one. The popular blogger 莓起司蛋糕冰淇淋 wrote that the food bloggers were saying that this hamburger was like "an NT$8,000 hamburger made from Wagyu beef." Another popular blogger 個人意見 wrote that the well-known bloggers must be spiritually tied together because they usually share their experiences on the same products (including spas, automobiles, hamburgers and house designs) at the same time.
This small but concrete example shows how blogs are becoming commercialized. Apart from keyword advertisements and product advertisements, the advertising agencies are also developing new business models. The hot model is year is "blog marketing" and the "blog economy" is one of the most popular jobs in a time of recession.
Interactive Communications, one of the top five communication agencies, had tried to promote a cosmetic product by getting bloggers to try and promote it. Sales was twice as much as the initial target, with 360,000 transactions coming from Internet searches.
Interactive Communications general manager Chou Yun-yun said more and more advertisers are accepting blog marketing because the costs are low and the effects are directly measurable. In the above case, they only provided trial products which confers honor on the bloggers as well as an aura of suspense. They actually did not pay the bloggers any money, but they ended up with a huge brand awareness effect.
The blogger DearJohn estimates that there are about 200 'blogging spokesperson' campaigns every year. Last year, the hot business model was "search engine keywords." This year, the hot business model was "blog marketing."
More and more bloggers are being treated as media reporters who attend product launch meetings and receive free trial products. They even get paid as much as NT$10,000 per essay. They also write books and appear on television. As the blog economy booms, A-list bloggers can concentrate on blogging as a living. But at the same time, there is also some reflection on the ethical aspects about these activities.
In July this year, two bloggers 李怡志 and 權自強 had an Internet debate over whether "bloggers should be paid for writing essays" and whether "advertising essays should be disclosed to the readers." The former was worried that bloggers may hold back opinions if they are being paid while the latter believed that a blog is the personal space of the blogger and that is nobody's else concern.
The veteran blogger 陳豐偉 is worried that the advertiser can spend just a small budget and they can overwhelm the search results with paid essays. Such artificial operations are similar to "Google Bombs." This will lead Google to reduce the weight on all blogs and thus hurt the blogosphere as a whole.
Although some blogs are doing paid advertising, the blogosphere also has the power to discipline itself.
迴紋針 used to write advertising essays, but she is now rejecting all food marketing. Other influential bloggers such as 工頭堅 will inform the readers that certain essays are trials or paid essays done in conjunction with advertisers in order to maintain the mutual trust with the readers.
權自強 supports the idea of blog marketing, but he also believes that "the advertisers should be educated about the importance of honest disclosure by the bloggers."
Apart from the issue of automatic disclosure, blog marketing has also seen other controversies such as "cashier's cheque is required in order to try a small notebook computer," "spokesperson uses the camera product to secretly film the product," "movie exhibitor treats different bloggers differently" and so on. This shows that the advertisers, the public relations workers and the bloggers are still trying to explore each other's ecology, language, culture and power relations.
The bloggers are adjusting to their new identities. They are being treated as a new media. They are beginning to see how the number of readers can be translated into the rings on the cash register. They are enjoying a rare warmth in the coldness of recession. At the same time, they are being subject to outside criticisms, unwritten rules and business pressures.
There is a huge storm over the Dalai Lama's wish to visit Taiwan again. Both the blue and green camps are amazingly in agreement for once. Apart from the Kuomintang legislators in the military wing, they criticized the opportunism of the Ma Ying-jeou administration when Ma said during a meeting with foreign correspondents in Taiwan that "this is not the right time for the Dalai Lama to come to Taiwan." It would seem that people were right in that Ma Ying-jeou should not have personally stated that the globally esteemed Dalai Lama is being turned down. However, Ma Ying-jeou's concerns are also valid. If the Dalai Lama were the president of the Republic of China, he would not be able to cope with the situation any better than Ma Ying-jeou.
In other words, the mistake of Ma Ying-jeou was that he should not have said so personally and thus belittle the presidency in front of the Dalai Lama and the civilized world. However, his decision was correct. Taiwan is standing at a key moment in the development of cross-strait relationships. The Dalai Lama is at a possible turning point in the negotiations with Communist China. If the Dalai Lama visits Taiwan, it will create the association that "he is seeking revenge on China" and "sabotaging cross-strait relationship." So the Dalai Lama should exercise restraint and Taiwan should also not be politically insensitive.
Those people who support a visit by the Dalai Lama will say that the Dalai Lama is a religious leader, and his visit will be helpful to promote the religious spirit in Taiwan. But they are forgetting that the Dalai Lama is also the actual political leader of the Tibetans and not merely their spiritual leader. The Dalai Lama is less concerned about the spiritual freedom of the people of Taiwan but more concerned about the political liberation of the people of Tibet. The two previous visits by the Dalai Lama (1997 to meet with then president Lee Teng-hui and 2001 to meet with then president Chen Shui-bian) were made cautiously and intended not to irk China. Given that the Dalai Lama have different degrees of concern for Taiwan and Tibet, he should appreciate that Taiwan also has different degrees of concern for Taiwan and Tibet.
Which is more? Which is less? When the Dalai Lama sends an emissary to hold secret negotiations with China, Tibet matters more and Taiwan matters less. He will be more interested in the relationship with China and less with Taiwan. Not only did the Dalai Lama regard the relationship with China as important, but he also deliberately turned down two more invitations from the Chen Shui-bian government to visit Taiwan again. He stated repeatedly: "In the spiritual realm, the Tibetans and the Tibet region are advanced; in the materialistic realm, Tibet is relatively backwards. By comparison, the recent economic and materialistic developments in China have been impressive. As part of the People's Republic of China, Tibet enjoys many benefits." When he visited in Taiwan, he even called to the Chen Shui-bian government: "Please consider your relationship with China carefully, because Taiwan has to establish a very special close relationship with China, both for economic interests and national security."
But the Dalai Lama is getting disappointed with China this year. During the Olympic torch relay, Tibetans were trying to intercept the torch all over the world to great publicity. Afterwards, the Dalai Lama made more critical comments about China. At a moment when the relationship between the Dalai Lama and China is at an all-time low (although they have not broken off yet), he suddenly wants to visit Taiwan. Isn't this going to create a problem for Taiwan which is trying to improve cross-strait relationships? Isn't this going against his previous call for Taiwan to build a "close relationship" with China?
The Dalai Lama stands for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. He is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and is esteemed around the world. He is said to be the most popular international leader. For these reasons, Taiwan should certain welcome him to visit. But the other side of the coin is that Taiwan is unlike Canada, United States or the European Union which can afford not to worry about the political consequences and moments and which use the Dalai Lama to openly or indirectly carry out their anti-China agenda. The time of anti-Communism and the contest to be the sole representative of China is long gone. Instead, Taiwan is trying to break the ice and improve cross-strait relationships. When breaking the ice, it is necessary to watch out for hidden reefs at every step. Taiwan should be concerned about the sensitivity of a visit by the Dalai Lama at this moment in time. Actually, Taiwan should learn from the Dalai Lama himself because he avoided visiting Taiwan when the Chen Shui-bian government were trying to work towards Taiwan independence.
The Dalai Lama has his problems and Taiwan has its own problems. A visit by the Dalai Lama is not just a simple religious activity. Ma Ying-jeou is doing the right thing and the politically insensitive blabbering objections by the blue and green political figures are wrong. The Dalai Lama is a politically astute person with great skills on managing relationships. He obviously recognizes that if he were the president of the Republic of China, he would not be inviting the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan at this time. Therefore, he will understand and accept the decision, while still believing that Taiwan is not disrespecting him. Taiwan's sole worry about him is politics, just as his sole worry about Taiwan is also politics.
There is a lawsuit currently by Oriental Daily against Apple Daily for four Apple Daily reporters deliberately misleading Oriental Daily reporters to divulge exclusive news information about suddenly breaking event in direct contravention of the terms of employment for the Oriental Daily reporters. Oriental Daily has asked the court to fine Apple Daily as well as bar future activities of the same order.
There are four specific incidents listed in the lawsuit:
(1) On November 8, 2008, a man jumped out of a building in Hong Kong. It is alleged that an Apple Daily reporter pretended to know much about the case and asked an Oriental Daily to describe the background and motive of the suicide.
(2) On October 26, 2008, a man drowned himself in Clear Water Bay. It is alleged that an Apple Daily reporter arrived after the victim's body had been taken away from the scene already. Nevertheless, the Apple Daily reporter probed the Oriental Daily reporter who arrived earlier for details.
(3) On October 11, 2008, a woman stabbed her husband who was taken to a hospital. It is alleged that an Apple Daily reporter prompted the Oriental Daily who arrived first at the scene for where the incident took place. After taking photos, the Apple Daily reporter further probed for details.
(4) On October 10, 2007, an Indian stabbed an elderly woman to death at Princess Margaret Hospital. The Oriental Daily reporter posted at the hospital was the first to gather information about the case. The Apple Daily reporter showed up one or two hours later and promoted the Oriental Daily reporter to provide the details of the incident including the location of where the principals were when it all happened.
[ESWN comment: I am basing my comments on belief and hearsay. I believe that the reporters for suddenly breaking incidents are a tiny group of journalists who are under tremendous pressure. As such, they have evolved their own standards of conduct.
Hong Kong is a city of 7 million inhabitants who live in an region with more than 400 square miles. Anything can happen anywhere anytime. How is a newspaper going to have reporters at every incident when it occurs? It is impossible. Fortunately, there are a dozen or so newspapers and television channels, and someone is likely to be there when it happens. So you can easily have incidents in which one newspaper has a reporter right at the scene, but the other newspapers don't have anyone there. Therefore, that one newspaper has an exclusive and sits looking pretty. Meanwhile the reporters at the other newspapers get tongue lashings from their bosses for their failures.
After this happens a few time, it is natural for the frontline reporters to forge a solidarity front. If you are the first to arrive, you will provide your competitors with information so that they can file reports as well. Why are you being so generous? Because this is a big city and many things happen all the time. For one incident, you may be the first on the scene. For another scene, you may be the last on the scene. Therefore, you do favors for other people when you were first just to make sure that they don't get butchered. In return, there will come a time when you arrive late on the scene but someone will return the favor by providing you with the details and photos.
But of course there will always be some dickheads who think that they will always be the first to arrive at the scene and therefore refuse to share anything. What happens to these people? They will be ostracized by the rest of the community. If one day this dickhead arrives late, everybody else will ignore him because he is obviously not a 'team player.'
By filing the lawsuit, Oriental Daily is stranding all its reporters. So they won't provide any information to anyone else. But nobody else will provide any information to their reporters either.
In reality, I expect the Oriental Daily reporters will continue their private trading anyway. If they want to keep their jobs, they have to keep delivering. That is more likely to happen with them trading information with reporters from other media outlets than with them going out on their own all of the time.]
Over the past week, there were three interesting news reports concerning e-government. The first report appeared in Xibu Shangbao about how 70% of the websites of 58 Lanzhou city government departments could not be opened or even linked. As such, these government websites have no Internet presence.
The second report appeared in Dongfang Zaobao: In Suqian city, Jiangsu province, the "Government Affairs" section of the official government website showed more than 30 government and party officials posting their "2008 accomplishments" in their personal blogs.
The third report is a government affair that came from outside the government. A netizen posted <I accidentally came across the detailed expense reports of public servants from a city city during an overseas inspection trip> and generated heated debate. The post contained 37 scanned documents which detailed the itineraries and costs of two groups of public servants from Wenzhou (Zhejiang) and Xinyu (Jiangxi) going on overseas training trips. However, the so-called inspection and training appeared more to be tourist activities. The Internet action then drew the attention of mainstream media, thus leading to "Overseas Inspection Gate."
In the three news reports above, the first two were government affairs initiated by the government. How effective were they? The first news report is nothing new. Periodically we read about government websites failing to be updated and being useless. Actually, if media reporter did not seek out those government websites, nobody would have noticed them anyway. The second news report is something new. But if you read those political accomplishments from the Suqian officials, you will find them being self-aggrandizements. Most of them use the same empty language such as: "I insisted on beginning with my personal self ... I set an example for others ... this is a healthy system ... I implemented the accountability system of the Party for clean governance ... and so on." It is easy to imagine that these blogs are getting very few page views.
A sharp contrast is the huge social resonance from the expense reports for the overseas inspection trips. When you compare these news stories, it is very clear what aspect of government affairs the people are interested in.
Regrettably, the current state is that whatever the people want to read, the government won't publish; whatever the people don't want to read, the government dumps a heap out there. Of course, some government websites understand that and they don't even bother with publishing what people won't read anyway.
The existing government websites may seem to be content reach, but their designs are more or less similar with information about the activities of the leaders, the laws and regulations, and occasionally some downloading forms for government business. Several decades ago, Mao Zedong wrote <Opposing Party Eight-Legged Essays> (note: see Wikipedia for the general description of the Eight-legged Essay) and listed eight "crimes" against this writing style. Among these "crimes" are some that are applicable to government websites today: empty talk; intimidating talk; pointless talk; boring talk; assembly-line produced talk; irresponsible talk; ...
We might as well as characterize these government websites as "Internet eight-legged essays." These websites claimed to be running an open government, but they are actually making sure that government affairs are being hidden.
It is common knowledge that the use of public funds for transportation, meals and travel are major problems. The various levels of government have issued any number of documents and held any number of meetings to deal with these issues. Nevertheless, these expenses reach 700 or 800 billion yuan each year in China. It is easy to make sure that every cent of taxpayers' money is used wisely because that post <I accidentally came across the detailed expense reports of public servants from a city city during an overseas inspection trip> has shown the way. If the government websites can forget about the Internet eight-legged essays and just post the expenses reports of government and party officials, these sorts of abuse would vanish!
Certain foreign government websites have provided valuable examples. The Swedish government website lists all public entertainment expense reports, including the number of persons present, the number of dishes, the cost of each dish, etc. A certain female western European minister was forced to resign because a netizen found that her expense report included the purchase of sanitary napkins.
(Taipei Times) Sisy Chen may face legal action. By Ko Shu-ling. December 3, 2008.
Former president Chen Shui-bianís (陳水扁) office yesterday threatened to take legal action against political commentator Sisy Chen (陳文茜) if she failed to produce evidence to back her claim that the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) suspected the former president had smuggled US dollars overseas.
The former presidentís office issued a statement dismissing the allegation made by Sisy Chen and challenged her to offer a clear account of who at the SIP told her that Chen Shui-bian had secretly shipped US dollars abroad and when the source made this claim.
... Sisy Chen wrote in her column in Saturdayís edition of the Chinese-language Apple Daily that the former president insisted on conducting a state visit abroad at the height of a corruption scandal in 2006 and now the SIP suspected that he had smuggled US dollars abroad.
Former legislator Sisy Chen mentioned during her television program as well as in her newspaper column that former president Chen Shui-bian used Air Force One to ship US dollars overseas. All the relevant government departments have denied this. So where did Sisy Chen get her information from?
In her broadcast program, Sisy Chen disclosed that she read about this news story while sitting on the toilet and reading the newspapers. She swore that the Special Investigation Panel did not provide her with that information.
Sisy Chen: "I don't know even half a person at the Special Investigation Panel. Nobody leaked anything to me. As for the news about Air Force Once carrying money out, I cared too much about any news on Chen Shui-bian. Every day I wake up in the morning, I read the newspapers while sitting on the toilet."
Sisy Chen: "Two years ago, Chen Shui-bian issued a press release through the President's Office to say that he was going to sue me. From the local district court to the Supreme court, he lost his case at every step. If you don't want people to know about your bad deeds, you should try not committing any. I listen to my lawyer's advice. There are some people whom you can just ignore."
Recently, some viewers who are attentive to detail spotted that in Chapter 24, the father and son wanted to please the female character played by Ada Choi by offering Shahtoosh shawls. The men repeatedly emphasized that the shawls are "very rare" and "very precious." The father made his offering first, and then the son said that his shawl was even more expensive and luxurious. Certainly the woman seemed very pleased.
This scene infuriated many mainland viewers. One blogger wrote: "If you don't know what Shahtoosh is, you may think that this is just another luxury brand. But the fact of the matter is that this is the generic name for products using the wool from the Tibetan antelopes. That is to say, the shawl was made by slaughtering Tibetan antelopes."
Shahtoosh (also written Shatush) - a Persian word meaning "Pleasure of Kings" - was the name given to a specific kind of shawl, which was woven with the down hair of the Chiru or Tibetan Antelope, by the weavers of Kashmir.
... It is a long-perpetuated false claim, however, that nomads gathered Chiru down from rocks and bushes, after it was naturally shed by the animals. To obtain the down fur, the animals must be hunted and killed. Multiple Chiru must be killed to gain the materials necessary for a single Shahtoosh shawl.
... The selling or owning of Shahtoosh was made illegal in all countries that signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Many countries including the USA, China and India are cracking down on those involved in the Shahtoosh trade. Although Shahtoosh is banned under the agreement, illegal hunting and selling of Shahtoosh is still a serious problem in Tibet.
Another netizen wrote: "The scriptwriters lacked any awareness of the protection of animals. For the sake of drama, they emphasize how precious these products are while ignoring their origins. In practice, they are promoting banned products and ignoring the cruel fact that the Tibetan antelopes are being slaughtered by mankind."
A mainland netizen lodged a complaint with the Hong Kong Broadcasting Authority, and got this reply:
We received a complaint from you about the program The Gem of Live being shown on TVB's Jade Channel.
The Hong Kong Broadcast Authority has jurisdiction over the licensed broadcasting services in Hong Kong only. The information that you provided are for broadcasting services offered to the public in mainland China. Those broadcasting services are not regulated by the Broadcasting Authority. Therefore, we cannot take any further action on your complaint. We recommend that you inquire and suggest directly to the organization which is providing the program.
NT$ 740 million
As more and more facts about the corruption of former president Chen Shui-bian and his family emerges, one would have expected that the number of voices inside the Democratic Progressive Party supporting him would decrease. Instead, the Democratic Progressive Party folks appear to be a mutant species because the pro-Bian voices are actually getting louder with each new revelation.
Generally speaking, the Democratic Progressive Party people are divided into four types with respect to the corruption case of the Bian family.
The first type of person insists on telling right from wrong. They condemn Ah Bian and they sever their ties with him. The first type of person is the fewest in numbers. Such is the sadness of the downfall of the 'green' camp when these people become a marginalized minority who are suppressed by the Democratic Progressive Party itself. These people are the conscience of the Democratic Progressive Party, but they need open-heart surgery in order to survive.
The second type of person is morally distressed, but they could not bring themselves to cut Ah Bian off. They therefore choose to be evasive and maintain silence. The second type of person constitute the majority. They have a conscience and they still have a faint sense of morality and right/wrong. But they are disgusted with the triumphalism of the Kuomintang and the indifference of the judiciary towards human rights. This provided them with an excuse to avoid their moral responsibility. Besides, they don't want to offend Ah Bian's supporters. Therefore, they keep silent. They are the typical silent majority.
The third type of person don't mind the Bian family taking graft. They only blame him for not sharing some of the loot with the impoverished Democratic Progressive Party. These people are moral opportunists. Graft is not an issue for them. The problem was that Ah Bian did not share his spoils with the party. This is the only reason why they condemn Ah Bian. This is like a wife not holding an opinion about the husband committing murder/robbery but only complaining about not getting a fair share of the loot.
The fourth type of person support Ah Bian based upon this argument: The Kuomintang party had been extremely corrupt previously, so what is the big deal of Ah Bian taking some graft? How come the Kuomintang people don't get prosecuted? How come only Democratic Progressive Party people get prosecuted? This is political persecution! This fourth type of person is hopeless. They have completely forgotten that the people gave Ah Bian two chances as president because the people were sick of the 'black gold' politics of the Kuomintang. If it was just a matter of choosing rotten apples, then we could have chosen Lien Chen instead of Chen Shui-bian!
The sad part is that the fourth type of person has the loudest voice, followed by the thrid type. The second type of person is the largest in numbers, but they are the least vocal. The first type is the fewest in numbers and their voices are not loud. The ratio of these four types of persons within the Democratic Progressive Party shows that this party has a grim future. A ruling party may be able to be immoral, but an opposition party must seize the moral high ground. The Democratic Progressive Party does not even have the conscience and will to fight corruption and cut off Ah Bian, how can they be counted to become the ruling party again?
The Chinese Tianping Investigator Administration Bureau (short form: the Chinese Central Investigation Bureau) has been busted.
On August 30, this newspaper reported that the Chinese Tianping Investigator Administration Bureau is an illegal entity that is suspected of swindling people using a company name that implies that it is a national government department. In September, the company sued Southern Metropolis Daily in court for libel. The court rejected the suit. In October, the "investigators" including the bureau chief Zhang Yiquan were nabbed by the real police.
According to the police, "This company came to our attention in April. We went to the Ministry of Justice, and they told us that they do not have anything like an investigator administration bureau in their Ministry. Furthermore, the so-called bureau chief Zhang Yiquan was not an employee of theirs."
On October 16, 2008, the Beijing police went to the bureau office in Beijing. The police were surpsied: "I looked at what they were wearing. Wow! How come these are police uniforms? The only difference is in very small details."
The police report said that the workers wore imitation police uniforms that had shoulder badges, arm badges, chest insignia, identification numbers and lapels. Everything was exactly right except the words for "Police" were replaced by "Investigation." The police also recovered one pellet gun, two fake guns, four bullets, five knives, three electric stun guns, one pin-hole camera plus large numbers of fake identification kits (such as citizen IDs, General Press and Publication Administration press passes, special passes, and Ministry of Justice logos).
According to the police, "This organization has its own bureau chief, political commissar, deputy chiefs, labor union chairman, Communist Party branch secretary and so on. Their daily operations are completely identical to any other government department." Their job appointment records are also completely identical to government documents.
According to the police, Zhang Yiquan had three ways of earning money.
First of all, the principal business activity is similar to other investigative agencies, including the investigation of extramarital infidelity, the collection of bad debts, etc.
Secondly, Zhang was in the business of setting up franchises around China. Each new organization has to pay 480,000 yuan in order to become a sub-office. In Zhejiang province alone, there are more than 20 branches. In the business plan for future development, Zhang listed the goal of 120 branches in 2009 and 300 in 2010.
Thirdly, Zhang offers training as a national-level government department. The training is for people to become collectors of bad commercial debts. The business plan for future development indicated a goal of training 1,000 persons in 2009 and 4,000 persons in 2010.
Although Zhang was making a lot of money from these activities, the two dozen employees have not been paid for months. Deputy director Luo Guobo told the police that he was a victim too. Luo had loaned 1.5 million yuan to Zhang, who offered the title of deputy director.
Zhang Yiquan told the police that he arrived in Beijing more than ten years ago, and has been conducting a honest living since. In 2002, he established this investigative agency strictly in accordance with the law (such as not handling cases of extramarital infidelity or bad debts in Beijing). Zhang says that he cannot understand why people think that he is a swindler. "We were conducing market research and product research." He said that the Tianping Investigator Administrative Bureau was set up for internal administration. All the identification, uniforms and vehicles were for internal use only. "The state laws and regulations do not forbid the establishment of such an entity."
A peculiar side story was that a television news story about the Chinese Tianping Investigator Administration Bureau is being circulated under the title <The lover of the bureau chief passes away; the state flag covers her coffin; the entire bureau staff mourned her death>. The title does not make it clear that this was a fake bureau.
On the day before yestreday, a blog post titled <County party secretary leaves post, citizens send him off with banners> put former Communist Party disciplinary committee secretary Wang Shuoquan of Sihong county, Jiangsu province under the limelight. Within a brief two days, the blog post drew much attention, got cross-posted at many forums and became the subject of much controversy and speculation.
The blogger was a cadre with the county party publicity department. His original intent was to share this moving scene. Instead, he ran into netizen's preconceived ideas.
The blog post described a moving scene in front of the county government office building on the morning of November 13, 2008. Several hundred people spontaneously lined up holding banners in praise of the departing secretary while firecrackers were set off. The people included senior citizens, handicapped persons, migrant workers who returned home for this occasion, laid-off workers, peasants, children, retired cadres, retired military veterans ... everybody wanted to see their benefactor Wang Shouquan. When they learned that Wang had been transferred away, they used the most traditional method of thanksgiving -- the parade of banners for clean officials. Apart from the text, the blog post included five photos. Three of the photos showed the row of spontaneously organized masses.
By yesterday, the blog post had accumulated 36,461 page views and 177 comments. This blog post also drew more audience at the cross-posts at other forums.
The reporter perused the comments and the common theme about the speculations is this: Was this a staged show? Or was Wang genuinely a clean official?
"If this is true, then it should be heavily publicized; if this is false, this should be strictly punished in accordance with the law." Netizens who have seen plenty of staged shows are dubious about the scene.
Some netizens even analyzed the cues from the photos: "There were just several dozen people in the photos. Where did the number 'hundreds' come from? Besides, they all look like as if they are government cadres. This appears to be a hype." "The strange hing is that all the silk banners appear to be the same design as if they had been purchased in bulk."
"This gives me a feeling rarely seen nowadays." "The people are really asking for a lot -- if you do things on their behalf, they will remember you." "Good officials are hard to find nowadays."
"Officials are just public servants who are paid with the taxpayers' money to work for the people. This is what they should be doing. There is no need to thank them. Conversely, they should be held accountable for what they do." "Even if Wang Shouquan accomplished things for the people, this type of feudal practice of displaying banners should not be encouraged."
"The eyes of the masses are snow-bright" is a common saying that is known to everyone on mainland China. Once upon a time, this saying appeared legitimately in newspaper editorials. But today at a time when there are more and more mass incidents, the eyes of the masses are no longer snow-bright. Instead, the masses "do not know the truth." Some netizens even proposed that the term "the masses who do not know the truth" be included one of the hottest phrases of 2008. These two political phrases with unique Chinese characteristics which contradict each other reflect the gulf between the government and the people.
Information about mass incidents seem to be transmitted following a standard model. "A small number of people who did not know the truth was incited by a small group of criminal elements with ulterior motives." When the incident initially broke out, the local government often use this official media statement to define the nature of the incident.
But the Internet does not care. The voices, viewpoints and photos from the civilian sector quickly turn into the a deluge on the Internet, with a speed that is much faster than the official media which have to go through a stepwise approval process. Under these circumstances, the local government quickly lost the right to explain the incident. Nobody cares about what the local government has to say. Outside public opinion (including a number of media based elsewhere) stand on the side of the participants in the mass incidents.
Then senior provincial officials intercede. The previous definition of the incident is overturned. The local official media slapped themselves in the face and make a 180-degree turn to discuss the failings of the government and express understanding for the feelings of the people. The "truth" is revealed one step at a time.
On further thought, it is intriguing to think about what is the 'truth' that the masses fail to understand at first. A thousand people somehow spontaneously gather in one place only because they have seen government-business collusion, social injustice, lack of public safety, forced evictions and other kinds of "truths." As for the details of how power is being traded for money, the masses may indeed not be privy to the "truths" that occur behind the scenes under cover of darkness.
The people who really don't understand the "truth" may be those local government leaders and party cadres. When the provincial party secretary goes out into the streets to speak with citizens, it is already after the fact. There had to be many deeply rooted contradictions accumulating over the years for several thousand people to come together in a mass incident. With respect to this truth, the eyes of the masses are snow-bright. They even attempt to report the situation to the government officials, who did not deal with the problems seriously. The inability of the senior officials to "recognize the truth" caused the "masses who do not understand the truth" to ultimately choose an extreme method of expression.
The Hu-Wen leadership has repeated promoted a 'sunshine' government with open activities and this is being tested at key locations around China. But certain local officials still cling to the idea that they can put a lid on things and cover up the truth. The result is that the problems worsen and the suppression of the contradictions only make them more extreme.
In the Internet era, every person can be the originator of information. If there is a disturbance in Longnan, Wall Street will find out several minutes later. Therefore, any attempt to block information or define the nature of incidents hastily are extremely unwise. After a mass incident has taken place, honest announcements are more important than all else. It is also the only hope for the local government to redeem itself.
After a mass incident occurs, the provincial officials discover the information gap between themselves and the grassroots elements. The monopoly of speech rights and communication channels had enabled certain city and county officials to get away with things. With respect to this system, we can only say that there are only officials who don't understand the truth and there is no such thing as masses who don't understand the truth.
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