Q1. Overall, would you say that you are happy this year?
Happy: 33% (-7%)
Unhappy: 48% (+14%)
Sometimes happy, sometimes sad: 7% (+1%)

Q2. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the coming year?
Optimistic: 17% (-23%)
Pessimistic: 71% (+35%)

Q3. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the stock market next year?
Optimistic: 12%
Pessimistic: 68%

Q4. How do you think the real estate market will be next year?
Get better:  6%
Get worse: 48%
About the same: 36%

Q5. Are you worried that prices will rise next year?
Worried: 62%: (-12%)
Not worried: 33% (+12%)

Q6. Do you think unemployment will become more severe next year?
Yes: 85%
No: 9%

Q7. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about cross-strait relationship next year?
Optimistic: 47% (0%)
Pessimistic: 36% (+12%)

Q8. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the diplomatic status of Taiwan next yer?
Optimistic: 34% (+14%)
Pessimistic: 49% (-2%)

Q9. What do you think the opposition between political parties will become next year?
Better: 8% (-22%)
Worse: 36% (+16%)
About the same: 47% (+13%)

Q10. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the overall development of Taiwannext year?
Optimistic: 29% (-21%)
Pessimistic: 61% (+30%)

Q11. Overall, you think that you will have better or worse days next year?
Optimistic: 18% (-25%)
Pessimistic: 70% (+37%)
About the same: 5% (-6%)

Hong Kong's development for the year past
Satisfied: 29% (-35%)
Dissatisfied: 38% (+28%)

Hong Kong's development for the next year
Better: 15% (-42%)
Worse: 64% (+52%)

The most important problem to be tackled by the government next year
Economy: 67% (+31%)
Employment: 7%
Welfare: 4% (-9%)
Constitutional development: 2% (-9%)

Expected personal development next year
Better: 27% (-19%)
Worse: 31%: (+20%)

At 11am on the day before yesterday, the reporter went to the General Science Art Gallery and found the publicity material for the campaign against illegal direct sales.  The material included the various results against direct sales across Yunnan.  One of the photos showed a videoconference in Chaotong city.  Three people were seated in the foreground of the photo with the man in the middle sitting with his eyes closed and arms closed.  This particular photo drew curious looks from the citizens at the Gallery.  "This is having a bad influence.  The picture is so big that you can spot it immediately.  I don't know if the organizers checked these things.  I personally feel that it should be taken down."  One citizens said.

The reporter then found the place that was responsible for putting up the publicity board.  According to a worker named Dai, the board was erected on December 28 and he was unaware of the situation.  At 3pm, the reporter made contact with the vice-president named Zhang in charge of things.  He said that he will arrange to have the photo taken down.  At 4pm, the photo was removed by the Science and Technology Museum.

Yesterday morning, the reporter returned to the scene.  He found that the same photo was there, except this time the man's eyes are now open.  According to the manager at the Science and Technology Museum, the publicity had not official began and therefore it is unsurprising that materials are sometimes adjusted.  "However, we are still grateful to the broad masses for paying attention and concern to us."

On September 27, 1953, <People's Daly> published the oil painting <The Founding Ceremony of the People's Republic of China> by Dong Xiwen.  In 2002, Dong Xiwen went to court to defend his intellectual property rights over the painting.  Here is the photo used in People's Court Daily:

Alas, that was not the painting that Dong Xiwen first drew.  Instead, the original photo was this one:

(DWnews)  In a review of a book on the case of Gao Gang, the original oil painting by Gao Gang was described.  In that painting, the six vice-chairmen stand in a row behind Mao Zedong.  Zhang Lan is the man with the long white heard.  Behind him is a man who is partially hidden by Zhang's body but his head is clearly visible.  This is Gao Gang wearing glasses.  More than a million postcards and pictures of this painting was published by the People's Art Publishing House.  One year later, the China Revolutionary Museum instructed Dong Xiwen to erase the image of Gao Gang.  This was an easy job.  During the Cultural Revolution, the China Revolutionary Museum instructed Dong Xiwen to erase the image of Liu Shaoqi.  This was significantly more difficult because Liu was in the middle of the group.  So Dong replaced Liu with Dong Biwu instead.  During the latter stages of the Cultural Revolution, someone wanted Lin Boqu removed for he had opposed the marriage of Mao Zedong and Jiang Qing in Yanan.  By that time, Dong had died from cancer.  So another painter Jin Shangyi was given the assignment.  Jin did not want to modify the original painting, so he made a full replicate with the changes.  After the Cultural Revolution ended, the China Revolutionary Museum decide to restore <The Founding of the People's Republic of China>.  The assignment was given to young painters, and Liu Shaoqi and Gao Gang are now present again.

(Dahe)  In 2002, a Changsha restaurant had a wall painting up with the words "Comrades, the Big Wok Rice has successfully arrived!"  In this version, Liu Shaoqi and Gao Gang are both present.  While this is faithful, is also violated Rule 7 of the <People's Republic of China laws on advertising>: The content of an advertisement should maintain national dignity and interests.

Towards the end of the year, there were a series of seemingly minor news stories.  They were scandals in which low-level government/party officials were involved.  Those stories became Internet storms and drew in the human flesh search engines to dig out the details and eventually resulted in the officials being punished.  An example is the Nanjing Housing Bureau chief who has been relieved of his duties for misspeaking in public and smoking expensive cigarettes.

On the last day of year 2008, The Zhoushan Sexy Photo Gate exploded.  For the raw photos, go see this link.  The story had popped up on the afternoon of December 29.  By December 30, the letter and the photos were all over the Internet.  Even the mainstream media were poking around.  In previous years, there might have been an attempt to stifle the story.  But this is year 2008 and experience has shown that it would be futile to try it.  Instead, <Zhoushan Daily> took a different path and issued a public statement about its role and efforts in the affair.  So this is the year when bottom-up Internet watchdog journalism began to work effectively and consistently.

That does not mean everything is open and transparent.  Here is a story from Guangzhou that no Guangdong mainstream media have uttered a word about.  At issue is the power transformer station to be erected between the Junjing Garden Apartments and the elementary school.  The owners did not want a potential health hazard so close to them, but the authorities have sent in a strong police contingent to force the issue.


Ever since the Edison Chen photos earlier this year, pornographic information at the discussion forums have waned a bit.  But yesterday another outbreak occurred at the Hong Kong Discussion Forum and HK Golden Forum.  Someone first posted four videos in a compressed file at the overseas Sendspace website.  Then the links were posted at the discussion forums.  That drew a huge amount of traffic with more than 10,000 downloads in one evening.

Netizens went ahead to figure out the identities of the male and the female in the video clips.  The male is supposed to be a student at a renowned private secondary school, while the female is a student at a tertiary college in Tsing Yi.  In one video clip, the male joked that "I am like Edison Chen."  Most of the time in those video clips, the two are naked and engaged in either fellatio or copulation.

The Hong Kong police reminds its citizens that the Internet must be used legally and responsibly and all real world laws apply to the virtual world as well.  Anyone who is found to be disseminating indecent/obscene articles is in violation of the <Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance> and subject to a maximum penalty of HKD 1 million and three years in jail.

The lawyer Tang Tat-ming pointed out that netizens should not think that posting a link at a discussion forum is legal: "Posting a link may be breaking the law if someone who clicks on that link ends up seeing obscene or indecent articles.  This is equivalent to distribution."  He said that it is a crime to be the first to post the videos on the Internet, or to distribute the items via the discussion forums.

Tang Tat-ming said that website operators also have a certain degree of responsibility.  They must have a reasonable system for the public to denounce illegal information and they should have a regular review system.  They may be prosecuted if they allow unrestricted dissemination of obscene articles.

[ESWN Comment: Why is this suddenly news now?  The first three video clips have supposedly been around for more than 3 months.  Besides, the discussion forums are filled with other kinds of adult materials (mostly Japanese) anyway.  The only reason why there is a crackdown is the local flavor and the unresolved issue whether the two persons have reached the age of consent at the time.]

(AFP)  Roissy: un voyageur chinois achète pour 46.423 euros de vins, un record.  December 25, 2008.

Un passager chinois a acheté mercredi pour 46.423 euros de vins, une somme record, dans les boutiques de l'aéroport de Roissy, a-t-on appris auprès d'Aéroports de Paris (ADP).

Peu avant de prendre son avion pour Pékin, prévu à 18H55, le passager chinois a acheté plusieurs grands crus dont deux bouteilles de Bourgogne, un La Tâche 1991 et un Romanée Conti 2002, plusieurs Bordeaux dont un Lafite Rothschild 1947, un Pétrus 1986, un Certan 1982, un Château Margaux 1982 et un Château Latour 1976, a-t-on précisé de même source.

"La vente s'est déroulée en deux fois: un premier achat de 43.083 euros, puis le passager est revenu après quelques minutes de réflexion et a acheté trois autres bouteilles pour la somme de 3.340 euros", a expliqué Lynda Chong, vendeuse dans la boutique du terminal 2E, citée dans un communiqué.

Le précédent record remonte au 20 mars 2007. Un autre passager chinois avait dépensé la somme de 23.000 euros dans une boutique du Terminal 2C de l'aéroport de Roissy, en achetant également plusieurs grands crus français.

(Sima Pingbang's ifeng blog)

<Le Parisien> reports that the salesperson at Charles de Gaullle (Paris) airport could not believe that on Christmas eve, a rich Chinese man on his way back to Beijing spent 46.423 on French red wine in the duty-free shop.  According to the report, the previous "record" was set in March 2007 by another Chinese passenger who spend 23,000 euros.  According to the report, this new "record holder" first bought a bottle of 19,000 euro wine.  Then he put several more bottoms of Bordeaux in his cart, including a 9,000 euro bottle, a 8,200 euro bottle and a 4,950 euro bottle.  The salesperson recalled: "After thinking a few minutes more, he came back and bought three more bottles worth more than 3,000 euros."

The French people are slow and lazy when they do things, but they want to see how Chinese people spend money.

... This piece of news is embarrassing to the Chinese.  Just a few days ago, Chinese netizens are screaming about boycotting French goods.  Immediately some Chinese person goes on a spending spree on French wine.  This rich Chinese person certainly gained face for China which is its 30th year of economic reform.  But there is no way for this person to hide now.

If the report in <Le Parisien> is accurate, the Chinese can use the "human flesh search" to flush out this person.  For example, what is the passenger list from Paris to Beijing on November 24?  Once we figure out his name, we will find out why he spent so much on wine that day?  What is he using it for?  Where does he get his money from?

First of all, if he can spend almost half a million yuan on red wine, then he must be a billionaire (in yuan).  There are not more than 10,000 such persons in China.  Secondly, he must be madly in love with red wine and collects them.  Or he could even be an alcoholic.  At any rate, there are fewer than 1,000 such person in China.  Therefore it won't be difficult to find this Chinese person.

When we find him, we will make him take 5 million yuan and go buy potatoes in a Chinese food market (but not a Carrefour) for the sake of Chinese farmers.  He can use the potatoes to brew Chinese wine which should last him a lifetime.

But what if we can't find him?

If we can't find him, then its shows that <Le Parisien> should be more appropriately named <The Parisian Liar>, because it and other French media fabricated this story to make fun of the Chinese people who are calling for a boycott of French products.

How did <Le Parisien> find out about this shopping spree?  Did the store provide the information?  According to what I know, it is impossible for me to find out about what a particular customer did at a store in China.  It does not matter even if I identify myself as a reporter, because the store is obliged to keep the purchasing records confidential.  Unless the <Le Parisien> reporter went along with French government intelligence agents (or pretended to be such), it would be extraordinary to find out about this transaction.

Another possibility is that the <Le Parisen> reporter personally witnessed this shopping spree and he noted all the details.  But this is too much of a coincidence, and how would he know what the previous record was?  Could he have encountered the current as well as the new record holders by chance?

Or perhaps the Charles de Gaulle airport shop told the media about the purchase of these two customers in violation of their privacy.  The salesperson was reported to have recalled: "After thinking for a few minutes, this extremely wealthy Chinese person came back and bought three more bottles worth more than 3,000 euros."

Another explanation is that certain wealth Chinese persons are under surveillance in France by reporters or special agents.  From <Le Parisien>, such surveillance has been occurring since 2003 when the previous record was set.  Thus, all those Chinese people who travel to France are reminded that they may come under surveillance for unknown reasons.

If not, that the report in <Le Parisien> is a fake story that was fabricated to shame the Chinese people.

In that case, <Le Parisen> should be renamed <The Parisian Liar>.

[ESWN Comment: It is clear from the AFP story (in French) that the information was released from the duty-free shop (with the saleswoman Lynda Chong being cited).  The passenger was only identified as Chinese and traveling from Paris to Beijing with no other information.  More interesting to me is a technical problem in translating 《巴黎骗子报》.  I have translated it in English as <The Parisian Liar>.  I actually prefer the French translation of <Le Con Parisien> because of its multiple meanings.]

(Glenn Greenwald)  Marty Peretz and the American political consensus on Israel.  December 28, 2008.

Opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute are so entrenched that any single outbreak of violence is automatically evaluated through a pre-existing lens, shaped by one's typically immovable beliefs about which side bears most of the blame for the conflict generally or "who started it." Still, any minimally decent human being -- even those who view the world through the most blindingly pro-Israeli lens possible, the ones who justify anything and everything Israel does, and who discuss these events with a bottomless emphasis on the primitive (though dangerous) rockets lobbed by Hamas into Southern Israel but without even mentioning the ongoing four-decades brutal occupation or the recent, grotesquely inhumane blockade of Gaza -- would find the slaughter of scores of innocent Palestinians to be a horrible and deeply lamentable event.

But not The New Republic's Marty Peretz. Here is his uniquely despicable view of the events of the last couple of days:

So at 11:30 on Saturday morning, according to both the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz, as well as the New York Times, 50 fighter jets and attack helicopters demolished some 40 to 50 sites in just about three minutes, maybe five. Message: do not fuck with the Jews.

"Do not fuck with the Jews." And what of the several hundred Palestinian dead -- including numerous children -- and many hundreds more seriously wounded?

Israeli intelligence reported 225 people dead, mostly Hamas military leaders with some functionaries, besides, and perhaps 400 wounded. The Palestinians announced 300 dead, probably as a reflex in order to begin their whining about disproportionate Israeli acts of war. And 600 wounded.

Objections to the Israeli attack are just "whining." Those are the words of a psychopath. And what to do now?

Frankly, I am up to my gullet with this reflex criticism of Israel as going beyond proportionality in its responses to war waged against its population with the undisguised intention of putting an end to the political expression of the Jewish nation. . . .

The current warfare will go on a bit longer. If there is a pause and if I were giving advice to the Israelis, this is what I would say to Hamas and to the people of Gaza: "If a rocket or missile is launched against us, if you take captive one of our soldiers (as you have held one for two and a half years), if you raise a new Intifada against us, there will be an immediate response. And it will be very disproportionate. Proportion does not work."

This super-tough-guy warrior -- whose prime accomplishment in life was marrying an heiress and then using her family's money to buy himself The New Republic -- beats his chest and threatens that even a single Palestinian act in response to this bombing campaign will provoke still more massive retaliation in the form of collective punishment (which, not that anyone cares, happens to be a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions, as are Hamas' far less harmful rocket attacks on Israeli civilians).

What of the response in China?

(Apple Daily, Hong Kong)

The accompanying report is a summary of the reported reports from Associated Press, Agence France Presse, Haaretz and BBC.  The Xinhua bureau in Gaza Strip was reported to have hit.  The bureau only has a local staff none of whom were hurt.

Reader Comments:
- This is slaughter and not just torture!  Bin Laden, it is time to start another jihad!  When I saw what happened on 9/11 and investigated the cause, I thought he was right.  America is belligerent.

- Although terrorism is wrong, it is more wrong to invade another country!  America should not be supporting Israel!

- What does God watch his children slaughter each other and do nothing to stop them?  Is this child abuse?  Can we sue him?

- I hope the angry young people who support terrorists will be wiped out soon!

- I hope that Israel and America will be eradicated soon.

(KDNet, BBS in mainland China)

The photos contains civilian casualties but also adult males who appear to be paramilitary.

Reader comments:

- You can't do anything unless you have power.

- The place is hell anyway, and the elimination of the demons can return it to the human world.

- Israel is cleaning out the cancer on Earth

- It would be great if the world permits Israel to conduct precision bombing!  America can lend them a few B52's and the cancer of the Earth will be eradicated by Israel within a few days!

- Israel was targeting the Hamas police station.  There is only one photo with police casualties, so you are being biased.  People die in war, so wars should be avoided from the humanitarian view.  In reality, war is sometimes unavoidable.

- I hate Israel!
I hate Israel for being too soft and weak!!
I hate Israel for not completely eradicating the Hamas terrorist organization!!!!
The people of China firmly supports the righteous actions of Israel!!!!
We support the almighty Israel, and justice will triumph over evil!!!!!

- Hamas provoked this action.

- I don't feel any pity, I only feel joy!  That bunch of misogynist trash deserve to die!

- Why not send in a nuclear bomb?  This is not exciting.

- There were old people, women and children in there.  This is too tragic!

- Israel was making a precision attack on a military target.  If there are women and children in there, then they had been placed there intentionally.

- When the action is so drastic, civilian may be inadvertently hurt.  But is there another way to deal with terrorists?

- Democracy is so wonderful because you can kill people anytime.

- Hamas fired rockets in Israel several days ago.  Israel has warned them many times that they will act against Hamas.  If Israel does not have a democratic government, they would have wiped out Hamas a long time ago.  You should be saying that democracy is a nuisance because you cannot retaliate at will even after you were attacked by rockets.

- After seeing the injured women and children, I am more certain that Hamas is just a bunch of cowards who hide behind women and children.

The course offerings at the General Education Unit of Hong Kong University may have been interfered with.  About half a year ago, the General Education Unit had invited the Hong Kong UFO Club to offer a course.  More than 80 students signed up.  But four hours before the first class was going to be held, the University cancelled the course on the grounds that the contents did not reflect all views.

According to the Hong Kong UFO Club executive by the name of Moon, the HKU General Education Unit contacted them to offer a course about UFO (Unidentified Flying Objects).  The course would consist of six classes, including one given by the famous Australian UFO expert Mary Rodwell.  The course was also listed in the Autumn 2008 catalog to begin on September 16 every Tuesday.  Moon said that they wanted to study the UFO phenomenon from a scientific point of view, including astronomy, propulsion, energy source and exopolitics

Moon said that the course was cancelled because senior leaders of the HKU Department of Physics had complained that the course was too "one-sided."  The director of the General Education Unit acknowledged that the course may have been cancelled very abruptly.  But he said that the Hong Kong UFO Club has been told that the content has to be more neutral through the inclusion of people who are not pro-UFO.  He declined to say whether the course was canceled due to pressure from senior leaders at the university.

One of the scheduled lecturers, Neil Gould, said that if someone had applied pressure to force the cancellation, it would be interfering with academic freedom.  "Foreign universities such as the University of Toronto also offer courses on UFO."

Mervyn Cheung Man-ping, chairman of the Hong Kong Education Policy Concern Organisation, said that the HKU General Education Unit should have gotten university approval for the course, and therefore it was being disrespectful to the lecturers and students when the course was canceled.  He said that Hong Kong University must explain whether someone was interfering unnecessarily.  He said that general education is suppose to let students broaden their knowledge, and there is nothing to fear from UFOlogy.

Nanjing city Jiangning district Housing Administration director Zhou Jiugeng was found to have made inappropriate remarks to the media and thus caused a bad impact on society.  The investigation also showed that he used public funds to purchase expensive cigarettes (at 1,500 yuan per carton on a salary of 4,000+ yuan per month).  Therefore, the Jiangning district party committee has decided to relieve Zhou from his duties.  The disciplinary committee is presently investigating other Internet allegations against Zhou (such as owning a 100,000 yuan watch, driving a Cadillac and colluding with real estate developers to fix real estate prices).

On December 10, Zhou told the media that a real estate developer is selling apartments at lower than its cost.  Therefore, he intends to run an investigation.  On December 19, the Jiangning district party committee announced publicly that no real estate developer has ever been penalized for lowering sales prices.

(Yangzi Wanbao via DWnews)

Jiangsu province party standing committee member and Nanjing city party secretary Zhu Shanlu said that the rapid development of the media (and the Internet especially) has made every word and move by party cadres come under monitoring by the media and the general public.  Zhu Shanlu demanded that the party cadres at the various levels remember that they are there to serve the people and therefore they must pay attention to the various ways in which public opinion can be expressed.  The cadres should follow the various information released on the Internet in order to under public opinion.

Dragon TV pprogram host Yuan Yue wrote in his personal blog on December 24 that the arrival of the pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan in Taiwan has once again reminded people that the panda is an important symbol of the Chinese people.  Therefore, he proposed: "We should seriously consider the possibility that the panda be made the state symbol of contemporary China."

Yuan Yue's argument is based upon the fact the panda is gentle and lovely.  Thus it will not invoke negative connotations.  By contrast, the traditional Chinese symbol of the dragon is imperial and domineering, being the special symbol for the emperor.  While the dragon can represent traditional China and its culture, it is not especially suited for more open and free contemporary China.

Yuan Yue wrote: The Hollywood animated film <Kungfu Panda> was popular all around the world.  One can see how the image of the panda can be extended to include the creativity and richness of the Chinese people and garner greater attractiveness and influence.

Yuan Yue's blog post was featured on Sina.com and it drew many comments.  Very few of those comments were supportive.  Instead, there were plenty of condemnations.  Whereas the current saying is that the Chinese people are the "descendants of the dragon," will they become the "descendants of the panda" in the future?

Many netizens believe that the dragon symbol represented several thousands years of cultural tradition, which the image of the panda cannot possibly convey.  Using the panda as the national symbol has no historical basis.  It will only destroy Chinese culture, making it vulgar and commercialized.  Other netizens accused Yuan Yue of speaking irresponsibly and "drinking too much Sanlu milk."

Some commentators agreed that the panda has softened the image of mainland China for Taiwan, but some netizens liked the dragaon symbol precisely on account of its powerful strength and hegemonic dominance.  By comparison, the simple and honest panda with two black eyes looks like a sissy.  Worse yet, the panda is a vegetarian.

This is not the first time that the dragon has been controversial as a symbol of China.  In 2007, a scholar recommended that the English translation of the term be changed from "dragon" to "long" or "loong."  The reason was that the "dragon" is an aggressive demon in western culture and westerners may draw the wrong associations if China adopts the dragon as its symbol.

Peking University Department of Sociology and China Folklore Association secretary-general Gao Bingzhong said that the various discussions about the dragon symbol are expressions of the anxiety over the image of China as a nation.

This anxiety arose because of the sense of defeat in international politics in contemporary history.  China had once been a much admired eastern civilization and then it became a figure of contempt.  There are internal causes as well as external causes why that happened.  He believes that the negative image comes from international forces which cannot be changed simply by switching a national symbol.  It is not a matter of self-proclamation, because the outside world has to change its attitude.  He does not believe that the "dragon" can be replaced by the "panda" and all these discussions won't change anything.  However, they can lead to a re-thinking of the image of China and it also expresses the good intentions of the Chinese people.

He said: "When someone suggests that the national symbol should be replaced by the panda, it shows that we want our image to be more likeable and we want to change ourselves to adjust to the rest of the world.  The nation should also be willing to make certain changes in order to fit into the international community."

I just read a great story in Nanjing Morning News.  In Shiqiao town, Pukou district, Nanjing city, there was a survey of how well-off citizens are nowadays.  The various village governments undertook certain extreme measures for this survey.  According to the reporter's investigation, the various village residents all received a booklet called "Sample answers for the prosperity survey."  There were sixteen questions and answers in this booklet.  For example, Q3 was: "In 2008, what was the approximate income of your entire family?"  The correct answer was: "More than 8,000 yuan."  As another example, Q16 was: "On a scale of 0 to 100, how would you rate your own happiness level?"  The correct answer was: "Between 90 and 100."  The village cadres also said that those people lucky enough to be selected for the telephone interview will be rewarded with 2,000 yuan if they gave the correct answers.

Even more amazingly, the telephones of many people malfunctioned on that day.  Some people were happily waiting at home to wait for the home telephone to ring, but nothing happened.  So they used their mobile phones to call their own home telephones: "It sounded like as if nobody was home, but actually the home telephone was not ringing."  Some people went down to the Ministry of Telecommunication to complain and found more than 100 people there complaining about the same situation.  "Most of those with telephone problems were either poor, or had previously argued with the cadres."  Telephone service was restored in the afternoon, by which time the telephone survey had just ended.

One does not know to laugh or cry about this story about the behavior of Chinese officials.  Random sampling is a somewhat scientific statistical methodology, and it was a good thing that the Jiangsu provincial government wanted to conduct a prosperity study.  But the grassroots cadres in China are infinitely wise and they subverted the survey.  On further thought, there is a strong tradition behind this.  I have some old books here about rural studies in the 1960's.  From reading those books, you will have no idea that hundreds of thousands of people were starving to death at the time.  Every single commune reported that production levels rose again and the situation was never better.  Even Mao Zedong who came from a peasant background was confounded by the sight of children sitting on the tightly packed crop.

What created this sort of absurdity?  Aren't the grassroots cadres afraid of being caught cheating?  Which great leader and brilliant emperor in history did not demand their underlings to speak the truth?  Yet it is hard to find cases of bureaucrats getting their heads cut off for daring to lie about how great the situation was.  Conversely, when people like Peng Dehuai tried to speak the truth, they met with bad endings.  Sometimes, the decent folks are worried that the leaders being lied to.  Actually the leaders are often only too glad to be lied to.  It is the child telling the truth about the emperor's new clothes who creates embarrassment.

So this is how a culture that regularly practices lying and fakery came about.  Even more sad in this news report is that a local school holiday was declared on December 20 and the teachers told the students to stay home in the morning to wait for the telephone call and provide the standard answers.  I think that there must have been unbearable pressures on the teachers to instruct their students on how to lie.

The only comforting part is that the cadres used rewards to mobilize the people.  In the past, it was more likely that brute force was used to coerce the people not to say the wrong things, or smear the image of the local district, or even smear the image of socialism.  As a result, people lied out of fear or they chose to maintain silence and let the trained "actors" represent them.  But today terrorism is not working as well.  People have a choice to some extent, including denouncing the practice to the media without fear of retaliation.  It can be said that 30 years after the reforms began, the dignity of the Chinese people as well as the degree of civilization in society have been raised markedly.

One may wonder how much longer will the Chinese phenomenon of the grassroots officials deceiving their superiors persist?  How can we completely change things?  The most traditional idea is to hope that the leaders are clear-minded people who sometimes travel incognito to observe the actual conditions.  But the Chinese people have been waiting for several thousand years without much effect.  As long as the source of authority comes from "above," the phenomenon will continue to occur.  Only when the source of authority comes from "below" can the situation be changed.  The great leader only has one pair of eyes, but the people have innumerable pairs of eyes and they can't all be fooled all of the time.

An oil painting titled <Taiwan is my mother> currently being exhibited at the Pingtung Art Museum is created a controversy.  The painting shows a vampire who looks like former president Chen Shui-bian using one hand to pull out the innards of a naked woman who is supposed to be symbolize Taiwan while the other hand is fondling the woman's vagina.  In the background, a woman resembling the former first lady Wu Shu-chen watches from her wheelchair while wearing a queen's crown and holding a staff in her hand.

The painter is Wei Che from Pingtung.  His father was a former National Assembly representative and therefore it would be easy to classify Wei Che as a 'deep blue' painter.  Wei Che says: "Painting it a way of expressing your feelings and thoughts.  I did not name who these people are.  The television talk show hosts are much more vicious than I am.  I have a different mode of expression!"  He emphasized: "If Ma Ying-jeou is a lousy president, I might paint him too."  He said: "This is like a mother being dallied with and abused.  I am just communicating the sense of being abused."

One citizen said: "Never mind the politics, but the nudity is disgusting in itself."  Another citizen said: "Taiwan society is making progress by being able to tolerate multiple voices."

A lawyer said that it is hard to charge the painting with obscenity, but it is possible to charge the painter with making a public insult.  If the targeted person felt displeased, he/she can sue.

Suitor appeared outside dormitory building with bouquet in hand

Everybody came out to watch

Even the campus police got anxious about a possible mass incident

At 12:45pm on December 24, a male student came to the space between Dormitory Number 42 and 52 of the Huanan Agricultural University, and unfolded four long banners to declare love to a female student.  The banners: "XXX, I love you," "I don't want to lose you, can we be together?"  "I am silly because I cannot live without you," "I am silly, please come back to me."

As this was the time of day when students return to their dormitories, the action drew a large group of spectators.  The campus security guards went up to intercede, but the student just ignored them.  The campus security guards send patrols cars around to disperse the spectators.  The crowd slowly dissipated by 1:30pm.  The female student that was the subject of the suit never made an appearance.

At 3:00pm or so, netizens began to post the photos and videos onto the Internet.

Then came the unexpected consequences.  "Who is the female principal in this incident?"  Some netizens got curious and initiated a human flesh search.  By the next morning, it was alleged that the female student had been discovered.  She is reportedly a third-year student.

Yesterday afternoon, the reporter interviewed the female student by telephone.  "I did not do anything.  I did not know about this beforehand.  He was just a friend from before and I have not been in contact with him for a while.  There is nothing extraordinary about a suitor, but it is the human flesh search thing that is shocking."  The reporter learned that this female student has already received many harassing telephone calls, but she is relatively calm.

"Actually, why is it necessary to find out about the female principal?  She is innocent."  A netizen posted at the Huanan Agricultural University BBS and said that there was no need to ferret out the details of someone in order to assess their looks and characters.

At 1:40pm, a post at the Huanan Agricultural University BBS by a netizen who claims to be relaying a message from the male suitor.  The post was titled: "Words from the crazy guy on December 24 at the Huanan Agricultural University."  The man wanted netizens to stop the human flesh search and protect the privacy of the female principal.  The man said that he was sorry for hurting the girl.  "I hate myself for starting the ruckus.  I hate myself for not considering her situation ... I hope that you will all want to protect a nice girl and not let this affair evolve into a bigger tragedy ... as for me, I had it coming.  Actually, I have no right to speak of love.  My love was totally selfish ... Please let this affair come to an end, okay?"

(Ai Ze's blog)

While heated discussions about this female Beihang University student raged on the Internet, the principal chose to be silent.  She changed her mobile telephone number, and she changed her location of study.  After some twists, I was able to communicate my wish to interview her through her good friend.  On Christmas Eve, I met with her and her good friend in a restaurant outside of the Beihang University campus.

I had previously learned from friends that she is a studious, warm and friendly female first-year graduate student.  Yesterday, she wore a light-green dress and appeared to be quite happy.  But as soon as the subject turned to the scene that day, she assumed a serious attitude.  She said that she cared a lot about how people assess her, but she did not want to spend too much time explaining to people.  Some people praised for concentrating on her reading, and other people said all sorts of things.  In reality, she never expected to receive so much attention.  She never expected to be so close to Premier Wen that afternoon and trigger off so much debate.  She laughed and said, "I suddenly find life incredible."

Here are the notes of the interview with her:

Q. People wondered how you could still bury your head in your book while Premier Wen is so close to you?
A: At the time when the photo was taken, I had no idea that Premier Wen was sitting behind me.  I only found out later.

Q: But you can see that the other students are looking at hm.
A: They may be facing Premier Wen when he came in.  Then they informed the students next to them to look at Premier Wen.  I had lowered my head to read at the time, and nobody was sitting next to me.  It was a Saturday, and there were not many people in the reading room.

Q: Do you go there often to study?
A: Yes.  When Premier Wen entered, the reading room was quiet.  Nobody was making any noise.  Anyone who sees Premier Wen is bound to be anxious.

Q: When did you notice that Premier Wen was so close to you?
A: I only realized it when I heard someone speaking behind me.  Under normal circumstances, nobody speaks aloud in the reading room.  I turned out and saw a large group of people surrounding a person.  I immediately recognized Premier Wen.  My heart jumped.  Our chancellor was also there.  I have never seen him here.  There were people taking photos and films.  I wondered why I did not realize this earlier, but I thought that nobody noticed me because everybody was paying attention to the Premier.  I was surprised and excited about the idea of Premier Wen being at our school.  Then I steadied myself and I realized that Premier Wen came here to see us.

On Christmas Eve, 180,000 Chongqinq citizens celebrated at the Liberation Monument plaza in the heart of the city.  The next day, the local newspapers reported that they have set a new "Guinness record."  This story became a hot Internet item as many netizens wondered if this was a true Guinness record and whether it was proper for Chongqing citizens to celebrate a western holiday.

In truth, Chongqing citizens have also gone into the streets en masse every Christmas Eve, and the 180,000 celebrants had no idea that the government had applied for a "Guinness record" on their behalf.

Blogger "Zhuyi Diantou" made a post titled <Christmas Eve in Chongqiing set a shameful Guinness record>.  The blogger said that the "mindless celebration of Christmas is an risible and absurd act, and Chongqing pushed the absurdity to the extreme by setting a record.  I cannot even begin to be angry at them.  I only have sadness and disappointment."  This post has drawn almost 100 pages of comment already.

At MOP and other forums, other posts about the Guinness record in Chongqing drew heated debate as well.  Many netizens said that they disapproved of the Guinness record set by the 180,000 Chongqing citizens, and they called on everybody to focus on the traditional Chinese holidays instead of following western holidays blindly.  Other netizens believed that it is the right and freedom of everybody is celebrate Christmas Eve if so desired and that is nobody else's business.

In truth, most netizens misunderstood.  The local Chongqing government had applied not to Guinness for a world record, but to Shanghai's Great World DSJJNS for the largest Christmas Eve assembly within China.  In Chinese, Jinisi (基尼斯) sounds almost exactly like Guinness (吉尼斯).  There is no connection between the two entities.  The local Chongqing government apparently does not mind the confusion, because its website bills the story as <New Guinness record of 180,000 at Liberation Monument plaza to listen to the sounds of the bells>.

Local Chongqing netizens said that they are unsure whether the application for the record will have a positive or negative effect.  But as of 11:00pm last night, all posts related to this issue were deleted from the local Chongqing Internet forums.

Q1. Do you know that two panda named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan were sent this afternoon from mainland China to Taiwan?
90%: Yes
10%: No

Q2.  Do you welcome the pandas to come to Taiwan?
63%: Yes
15%: No
21%: No opinion

Q3. Will you go to the Taipei zoo to view the pandas?
52%: Yes
44%: No
  4%: No opinion

Q4. Do you think that Taiwan's position has been dwarfed as a result of the pandas coming over from mainland China?
25%: Yes
59%: No
17%: No opinion

Q5. Do you think that the coming of the pandas is a normal cross-strait exchange or a mainland unification ruse?
59%: Normal cross-strait exchange
22%: Mainland unification ruse
19%: No opinion

On the afternoon of December 18, the Hengyang city Communist Party committee and city government held a meeting to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the economic reforms.  During the meeting, six cadres were photographed to be napping.  The photographs were subsquently posted on the Internet and carried by the major websites such as RedNet, NetEase, iFeng, China News, Xinhua and others.  This created a very poor impression in society.  Many netizens commented that the cadres should be severely punished in order to set an example.

Afterwards, Hengyang city Communist Party committee secretary Zhang Wenxiong asked that the case be handled seriously. The city disciplinary committee and party organization department made an investigation.  They looked at the photos of the six cadres and identified the culprits.  On December 25, the Hengyang city Communist Party standing committee held a meeting and decided to relieve the six cadres of their party and administrative duties.

On December 21, Chinese writer/blogger Han Han was invited to do a show at Hunan Satellite TV with hostess Annie Yi.  This was going to be the debut episode on this discussion program on books.

Yesterday, Han Han blogged about what happened.

The program has a "chart for good books."  The live audience would vote on a book by raising placards that said "good" or "bad," and a book would make the chart if there are more "good" than "bad'.  As it turned out, 29 out of 50 audience members raised "bad" placards.  Han Han wrote, "The male host said immediately that it was about 50-50, but there were still more 'bad' than 'good.'  Regrettably, Han Han's book could not make the chart."

Han Han was perplexed by the fact that the male host knew immediately that 29 people voted 'bad.'  Han Han wrote: "So I made a request to get all those who voted 'good' to stand next to him and the camera should focus on those remaining audience members who voted 'bad.'  The 20 plus who remained seated turned out to the elderly men and women, some of whom used the placards to cover their faces.  I asked, Have you read my books?  Since the director never told them about this part, these actors and actresses did not know what to do.  I said, Since you have not read my book, how can it be bad?"

Han Han said, "I can immediately that these were actors and actresses hired to raise 'bad' placards.  A reader told me that they had talked before.  The program staff hired them for money and meal.  They were supposed to raise the 'bad' placard.  After the show, they would each get 20 yuan.  They were even asking, What does Han Han do (for a living)?"

A program director saw that things were getting disharmonized, and he quickly got on stage and asked, "Han Han, are you bitter over the readers' views?"

"My response was basically that I mind what my readers think, but they had better be me readers.  It does not matter whether they say I am good or bad, but you can't use money to hire people to manufacture public opinion.  The worst kind of fake stuff is fake public opinon.  No matter how you look at it, the directors were wrong.  They think that they are real directors, but I and my readers did not come here to be actors and actresses."

On Han Han's forum at Baidu, Han Han's fans wrote about their participation in that show.  "There were 23 Han Han fans who were recruited by advertising on Internet forums.  The elderly extra actors were summoned for a secret briefing.  When they came out, they looked like as if they knew what was going on.  I was perplexed because we were the audience members whereas they were extras.  Then I realized that they were there to put on a show."

The director even told the fans that things are more interesting when there are people are both sides.  "It did not matter how many placards were raised on each side, the results were pre-determined."  Afterwards, the director blamed the fans: "When Han Han asked you to stand next to him, you all did that.  Didn't I tell you that some of you must rasie the 'bad' placard."  A fan then asked the director: "Are you deliberately want us to make sure that Han Han's book does not make it on the chart?"  The director said, "Yes."

Huna Satellite TV replied to an inquiry from Southern Metropolis Daily: "At the present, this program is still under testing and development.  The guests have been very cooperative with the recording of our sample films.  Also, in order to ensure that the recording goes smoothly, the specially invited guests have also been very cooperative and used different ways of expression to support the testing of the model for the show.  At present, the program is still a sample.  It is in a stage of exploration for a new program.  It has not yet reached the stage when it is examined by the editorial committee and actually shown."

(Daily Telegraph)  Hallelujah: the perfect Christmas song.  Neil McCormick.  December 17, 2008.

Hallelujah is the song we will all be singing this Christmas, although not necessarily in praise of the Lord. For all its air of religious devotion, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is a very secular ballad of desire and rejection, failure and transcendence.

It is set to become the most philosophically complex Christmas number one in the history of the pop charts. Three versions are currently competing for that honour, Cohen's stately original (at a lowly number 34), the late Jeff Buckley's towering 1994 recording (currently at three, driven by an internet campaign to save the song from the clutches of Simon Cowell) and the firm favourite from X Factor winner Alexandra Burke.

Leonard Cohen and the X Factor is not an obvious union. For one thing, if the veteran singer-songwriter had ever auditioned, he wouldn't have got past the first round. One can only imagine Cowell's withering contempt for Cohen's bassy, fragile and idiosyncratic vocal style. That he is acknowledged as one of the greatest songwriters of all time would be no defence.

Yet Cowell has probably identified Hallelujah as a perfect Christmas song for godless times. As a nation, we may no longer go to church, but we still celebrate the birth of Christ with a fervour. There remains a tangible yearning for the social unity that Christmas represents, the glue of faith, symbolism and shared stories. Hallelujah is really a kind of secular hymn, giving praise to a non-specific deity, to be interpreted however the listener wants.

Its amorphousness derives from its length and complexity. Cohen's writing process involves exploring every possible lyrical permutation, completely finishing verses before he can discard them. Hallelujah has the protean quality of a folk song, with different verses to pick and choose from, altering the narrative to reflect the needs of the moment. Hallelujah is, at least in part, about song-writing itself. Cohen invokes the Biblical story of King David (in a sense, the original songwriter) and the woman whose beauty overthrew him, Bathsheba. The protagonist offers up his "sacred chord" to a lover whose indifference to either art or faith is expressed in the deadpan put-down, "You don't really care for music, do ya?" (you can imagine Cowell relishing that line). The exchange is played out against a classic chord progression, lent playful delight by Cohen's trick of identifying the musical shifts as he makes them: "Well, it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift, the baffled king composing Hallelujah." Music and lyrics dovetail with perfect simplicity.

The second version appeared on Cohen Live in 1994, retaining only the chorus and concluding lines. It is harsher, the bitter reminiscence of someone who admits "all I've ever seemed to learn from love / Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew ya." It was this that Buckley covered. With virtuoso guitar playing and a multi-octave voice, Buckley's Hallelujah spirals from a whisper to a scream of erotic exultation.

The X Factor version takes its cue from Buckley, dispensing with Cohen's final redemptive verse. It is an unfortunate omission, because here you find key phrases that bind the song, and suggest its ultimate meaning. "I did my best, it wasn't much / I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch / I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you / And even though it all went wrong / I'll stand before the Lord of Song / With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah"

It is a verse that may have been deemed inappropriate for the winner of a TV talent contest, because Cohen suggests that, in music, in love and in life, it is not really the winning, but the taking part that counts. It is a song that tells us failure is human.

Cohen does, however, have a simpler theory for its universal appeal: "It's got a good chorus."

Here are the various versions:

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen


K.D. Lang

Alexandra Burke

Jeff Buckely (embedding disabled)



"So she is the legendary 'female Lei Feng' and she is from Hunan, go!"  Yesterday at noon, a netizen identified the "female Lei Feng" who took off her overcoat in frigid Beijing weather and gave it to an elderly beggar.  She is Li Yizhen, a performer with the Cultural Performance Troupe of the People's Liberation Army Air Force.

On December 15, a video was posted at RedNet about the most beautiful "female Lei Feng" who gave her overcoat to an elderly beggar.  These elements -- pretty girl, elderly beggar, snowy weather, the gift of the overcoast -- caused many netizens to suspect that this was yet another staged performance.  Other netizens said that they were moved by this Lei Feng-like action.  Traditional media even published the essay <Let you and I all put on such a show of love everywhere>.

On the afternoon of December 22, this reporter contacted the principal Liu Yizhen.  She averred that she was unaware of the video for a while because she is not a regular Internet user.  She said that she passed by the spot and spoke to the old man.  She gave him some money but felt that it was not going to solve his immediate problem.  So she gave him her overcoat.  She said that she was going to her car immediately.  Besides, her mobile phone, wallet and stuff was in the handbag that her assistant was holding.

Li Yizhen said that she can understand why some netizens have doubts, because very few people perform good deeds nowadays.  When she was young, her family was poor and her parents often taught her to help others.  Her own motive was very simple, and she hopes that more people will care more about elderly people.


The top grossing movie in the world during year 2008 is <Batman - The Dark Knight>.  Unfortunately, it will not be shown in mainland China.  The decision by Warner Brothers to forego even an application was said to be based upon two reasons: (1) the circumstances surrounding the movie beforehand; (2) certain elements of the movie touch upon culturally sensitive issues."

The first issue appears to be related to the three-second appearance of Edison Chen in the movie.  As brief as that appearance was, the involvement of Edison Chen was known throughout China.  In case you don't know, Edison Chen is the principal in Sex Photos Gate.  Of course, those three seconds can easily be excised without changing the story.

The second issue is more critical and cannot just be excised.  In the movie, a Chinese person Mr. Liu is the investment advisor for the criminal gangs.  In the movie, he fled from Gotham City to Hong Kong with the money.  Batman says: "We have to grab Liu back."  The prosecutor said: "The Chinese government will never extradite Chinese nationals."  So Batman goes ahead with a one-man assault on the high-rise building where Liu is housed in Hong Kong.  Liu asked his subordinates: "Where the hell are the cops?  What the hell am I paying them for?"  This implies that the Hong Kong police can be bribed.

"But the Chinese government will never extradite Chinese nationals"

"Where the hell are the cops?"
"They are coming."

"What the hell am I paying them for?"

On December 24, the serial drama titled <Shenzhen Bay> will make its debut on Guangdong Satellite TV, Jiangxi Satellite TV and other channels.  This drama is groundbreaking.  For the first time, a mainland serial drama will show scenes of mainlanders escaping across the border into Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution.

The story was about the relationship between a woman who escaped to Hong Kong and a man who was resolute in staying behind.  The story unfolded over several decades during which Shenzhen developed from a fishing village to a metropolis.

According to the director, "We first sent the film to the Guangdong Provincial Administration for Radio, Film and Television for review.  A leader there expressed some doubts.  The film was then sent to the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television, which approved it without demanding a single cut."  The director said, "My sense is that the censors are changing their views alongside the reforms, and we are seeing the results.  When I first got the script, I was also dubious.  I spoke with some other people and they all thought that we should deal with this part of history."

This was not an ordinary serial drama.  Previously, the Guangdong provincial Communist Party secretary Wang Yang had said that "Guangdong must blaze out a blood path to begin a new round of thought liberation."  So the result was this serial drama to commemorate the thirty years of economic reform.  The serial drama is also the joint production of the Guangdong provincial party committee publicity department, the Shenzhen city party committee publicity department, Guangdong TV, etc.  With such backers, it is hard to imagine how it could be banned.

On December 20, Premier Wen Jiabao entered unannounced into the library of Behang University and sat down to chat.  A student named Wu Jiaxing was fortunate to be there and used his mobile phone to record the discussion.  This video clip was uploaded onto the Internet, where it became a hit.

But the netizens were more intrigued by the background of the video clip, which had one female student sitting with her back turned to the Premier and immersed in her reading.

(Qin Jianzhong's blog)

Some people would thought that this female student should have known that it was an honor to Beihang University to have the Premier coming here to speak to the students.  Her lack of attention of the Premier shows that she lacked the civilized qualities of a university student, or minimally social manners.

But this blogger thinks that maybe she is contemplating a hard-to-solve scientific problem and therefore oblivious to the mundane matters of the world.  She may not even be aware that the Premier was there.  At a time when even the ivory tower has lost its serenity and the academic world is swamped by fraud and corruption, it is wonderful to see someone so immersed in studying.

... When Premier Wen came to meet with the Beihang University students, he is coming as an ordinary citizen.  This is demonstrated by the fact that one female student could continue to sit with her back to him.  The first reason why she is being applauded is that she showed the will to study.  The second reason is that she has an independent character that is so infrequently seen in Chinese society.

On the morning of November 17, 2008, more than 30 evictees from Dongjiang town, Wudu district, Longnan city went to petition at the city Party Committee's office to demand answers on issues of housing, land and livelihood after the city moves its administrative center away.  The city party committee, government and other comrades tried to assuage the petitioners.  But the petitioners were incited by certain illegal elements, and this became a mass incident in which more than 2,000 people rushed into Party Committee office building and set fire to offices and 12 vehicles.  The damages included 74 injuries (69 armed policemen, 2 militia policemen and 3 Longnan TV reporters); 110 houses and 22 cars vandalized, looted or torched; other damages to public facilities totalling 5.038 milion yuan.

According to the police investigation, the Longnan city real estate developer Li Baoluo is the major suspect as the mastermind of the Longnan mass incident from behind the scene.  After the incident, he quickly went into hiding.  Since Li Baoluo is a resident of Nanchong city, the job for finding Li was given to the Nanchong city public security bureau.  The investigators found Li's hiding place and the patterns of his daily activities.  Finally, they arrested him inside a coffee shp in Xinxhheng town, Yilong county.

At the time of his arrest, Li was wearing a 9,000 yuan fur coat.  He sighed and said: "When it comes to crimes against the state, you can hide some of the time but you won't be able to hide all the time!"

Related Links:

CCTV reporter Li Min was arrested at her Beijing home by four prosecutors from Xianhualing district, Taiyuan city, Shanxi province on suspicion of accepting a bribe and interceding in a commercial dispute through her job.  The case was big news in mainland Chnia.  The family of Li Min arranged for the renowned lawyer Zhou Ze to represent her.  Zhou has been to the detention center many times to ask to meet with Li Min, but he was always turned away.  Just when Zhou Ze was about to sue the detention center for breaking the <Law for Legal Representation>, he found out that the detention center had arranged for another lawyer Wei Dazhong to represent her.  According to Wei Dazhong, Li Min asked him to "tell the media to stop showering attention on her case."

Zhou Ze told the Ming Pao reporter that he and Li Min's uncle went multiple times down to the detention center in Shanxi where she was being held.  They produced the family's appointment letter and Zhou's lawyer license and asked to exercise the rights under the <Law for Legal Representation> to meet with Li Min.  But each time, the detention center said that they must have the consent of the investigating agency.  When he contacted the local procuratorate, he was told that their consent is not required under the <Law for Legal Representation>.  Those two departments kept blaming each other and deprived Li Min's the chance of meeting with the lawyer.  So he warned the detention center guards that they were breaking the law.

Yesterday afternoon, Zhou Ze and the family members of Li Min went to the Shanxi province procuratorate and the Taiyuan city public security bureau to express their dissatisfaction of not being able to meet with Li Min.  When they returned to the detention center, they were told that another lawyer was meeting with Li Min.  This lawyer was supposed to be "retained" by the detention center at Li Min's "request."

Zhou Ze immediately raised the question: How come when he wanted to meet with Li Min, the detention center said that the procuratorate must provide an official letter of agreement but the other lawyer doesn't?  When Wei Dazhong came out of the detention center, he told Zhou Ze that it was easy for him to get in because all he had to do was show his lawyer's identification.  He also said that Li Min does not want the media to shower attention on this case.

Zhou Ze said that this change reminds people of the Yang Jia'an affair, when the lawyer procured by the family was not permitted to meet with the principal and the lawyer at court was appointed by the authorities.

Our reporter then contacted Wei Dazhong to ask him if he has been appointed as Li Min's lawyer.  He said that it was inconvenient to speak and hung up the phone.  According to information on the Internet, Wei Dazhong is presently associated with a Beijing lawyers' office but his normal practice is in Shanxi.

Nanjing city Jiangning district Housing Bureau director Zhou Jiugeng got a great deal of Internet publicity for smoking 1,500 yuan/cartoon cigarettes and wearing a 100,000+ yuan Vacheron Constantin watch on his 4,000+ yuan monthly salary.  Another netizen posted <The watch of the Shaanxi province Foping county party secretary is not bad either, at 520,000 yuan>.  On the basis of two photographs, one for secretary Yang Guangyuan wearing a watch on his left wrist and another for the Rolex/118348a/day/a/male watch/063, it was proclaimed that Yang was wearing a watch valued at 525,725 yuan.  The poster asked: "Could a county party secretary afford such a watch on his monthly salary?"

This post has appeared at many websites.  Netizens think that while it is alright for the leaders to wear nice watches, it is unreasonable to wear a watch worth several hundred thousand yuan because people have to wonder where the money is coming from?

Yang Guangyuan explained the origins of his watch.  In 2004, Yang completed his posting in Tibet.  Those cadres who accept assignment in Tibet receive a pay bonus for the hardship because their families usually do not go with them.  In this case, Yang used his pay bonus to purchase a made-in-China Meihua watch worth just over 2,000 yuan in memory of his stay in Tibet.  The watch is presently worth less than 3,000 yuan and definitely not the 527,725 yuan.  The photo of Yang was taken at a 2005 meeting.  When the watch in the photo is magnified, it was a Meihua watch.

The Foping county publicity department has posted a front page story on its website: <An explanation of the true situation about the Internet forums saying that our county leader comrade wears a "high-priced" watch>.  The essay said that "there is no factual basis about the allegation that our county leader comrade wears an expensive watch.  We welcome the media including the Internet to perform watchdog journalism, but we are extremely angered and we severely denounce these types of speculative false stories.  In accordance with the law, we reserve the right to defend the reputation of individual citizens.

Submissions are as follows:

Yesterday, citizen Mr. Xu was chatting online with a friend who showed him a URL for an ersatz edition of the Baidu search engine.  Mr. Xu saw that the home page was almost exactly the same the Baidu, except the words "Baidu" was replaced by "Erotic search."  If you didn't look at it carefully, you might have thought that this was the real thing.  Mr. Xu then made some searched and was shocked to find that there was nothing but pornographic websites.  Mr. Xu said: "If this is not distributing pornography, then what is?"  So Mr. Xu contacted the newspaper.

The news reporter entered the website indicated by Mr. Xu.  The website permit ID was Guangdong ICP 00624.  The reporter then looked at the ICP permit registration system of the Ministry of Industry and Information and could not find this ID.  Thus, the producer of the website was using a fake ICP permit ID.

When the reporter entered the name of entertainment celebrity Joe Nieh, the results were mostly about his wet kisses and so on.  When the reporter entered "Andy Lau," it was mostly pornographic novels with Andy Lau as the main character.  When the reporter entered "financial crisis" or "stocks" which are totally unrelated to pornography, he got only pornographic content and nothing about the falling stock market or the financial crisis.  Finally, the reporter entered "Chinese culture master," and the search engine was completely defeated and came back with "No relevant results were found."

The reporter then contacted the public relations department of Baidu and was told that the company had no relationship with this website.  The reporter then asked whether Baidu has any comment, and was told that there is no official reply.

The reporter then contacted the China Internet Harmful Information Complaint Centre and was told that they have already recorded the URL of this website and forwarded it to the Ministry of Industry and Information for investigation.  According to a lawyer, Baidusq.cn has a page design that is similar to Baidu.  Therefore, Baidu can file a civil suit for trademark infringement.  Furthermore, since the searches are restricted to pornographic websites, the website operator is breaking the criminal law code.  Even though the website does not provide any pornographic information itself, it is providing a platform to distribute and promote pornographic content.

In Part 1 of "Treason Gate", actress Gong Li became naturalized as a citizen of Singapore  and was branded as a traitor by some Chinese netizens.  If we were hoping that the ruckus would die off in time, then we are underestimating the "fighting spirit" and "passionate patriotism" of Chinese netizens.  Recently, Gong Li took a set of photos with her wear clothes that would appear to belong to a Japanese geisha.  This was promptly charged as "a Singaporean pretending to be a Japanese."

Some sample comments:

"Frankly, Gong Li's dresses look like those of a Japanese woman.  But she is a Singapore citizen, so what do you care what she wears?  Even if Gong Li is a Chinese citizen, what is the big deal if she wears a kimono?  A kimono is just a dress for wearing."

"Well, you are observing her embarrassing situation that she seems to be a person who belongs 'nowhere.'  She is now wearing alluring and classy clothes with deep autumnal colors, but she does not seem to be pleasing too many people.  Oh, Gong Li, where can you go?"

"Gong Li is the pride of China.  When she switched nationality, you want to erase her artistic accomplishments and you want to take her down.  But this is no longer the Cultural Revolution now.  Those people who continue to think that way should really be boiled in the same pot with the Gang of Four.  These are just some dresses in beautiful colors.  Aren't you overeacting?  Gong Li became a citizen of Singapore because her husband is from Singapore.  What is wrong with having the same nationality as your husband?  If she does not like it, she can switch back some day.  I don't know what you people are insisting on, or what you are objecting to.  Movie stars are people too.  As long as they don't break the law, they can do whatever they want.  Why not give them a bit of space?"

On the afternoon of December 20, there was an examination in the Xianyang examination district for Communist Party School candidates from five provinces in northwestern China.  According to several other students who were in Room 601, they were sitting for the exam on <Financial Calculations and Operations>.  When the examination began, a late arriving student went to his seat and immediately began to start answering the questions.  A monitor asked him to pause and listen to the explanation of the rules.  But this student began screaming: "What kind of exam is this?  It is almost like as if this is real!  I paid good money to buy tjhis diploma!  You have no say over what I do!"  The monitor ordered the student to be more respectful, but the student continued to scream and yell and thus disrupted order in the room.  It took more than 10 minutes before order was restored.

The reporter learned that the name of the student is Wang Xianliang, who is the director general of the Qianyuan county Science and Technology Department.  The monitor involved was the Xianyang city Communist Party School Dean's Office director Xiao Bo, who said: "During the morning exam in Room 601, there was a problem with students passing their papers around.  Therefore, during the afternoon exam, I repeated the rules for the exam room.  But this late arriving student 'unwisely' chose to have a quarrel with me and said some 'unpleasant things'."

The reporter called director general Wang Xianliang to verify the circumstances.  But Wang refused to say anything about what happened that afternoon.  Instead, he questioned the reporter in a very unfriendly manner: "Who complained to your newspaper?  I have the right to know who the complainant is!"

In his interview with our reporter, Xidian University publicity department head Qiang Jianguo broke into tears several times.  He said that he is a just a small person with parents and children, and he did not want to become a news celebrity.  Qiang Jianguo repeated said sorry during the interview.

On December 18, China National radio braodcast a segment on "The Credit Card Gate" over at the Xidian University and pushed the university's publicity deparment head Qiang Jianguo into the national limelight.  Qiang's statements such as "I want to take over the Tianya Forum" and "I want to do something today that will shock the naton" became nationally known overnight.

Over the past few days, the office phone of Qiang Jianguo has been ringing non-stop, with the telephone numbers being mostly from outside the province or even overseas.  Qiang is not picking up the telephone.  He emphasized that although he felt misunderstood, he has no intention to explain or debate.

In July this year, the Xidian University Financial Affairs Department arranged with the China Industrial Bank to get credit cards for more than 11,000 students without informing them.  This became known as "Credit Card Gate."  Xidian University has apologized to its student body and destroyed all the cards that have not yet been issued.

Q: Is there a lot of pressure to become a news celebrity all of a sudden?
A: I am just an ordinary person, a small person who wants to lead a tranquil life.

Q: Why did you say that you want to take over the Tianya Forum and do something to shock the nation?
A: On that day, we have already drafted the letter that explains the credit card matter and apologizes to the students.  The so-called takeover of Tianya is just an issue of posting the letter at Tianya and use the Internet to inform society.  As for shocking the nation, I misspoke carelessly.

Q: The reporter Yang Chao walked out of your office and you pulled back in.  What was that about?
A: She wanted to leave and I asked to wait because I want to give her my reasons.  But she wouldn't listen to what I say and insisted on leaving.  After she covered a certain distance, I told her, "If you keep doing this, I am going to ask the security office to detain you."  I tugged at her bag lightly and she went back into the office with me.

Q: Did you realize at the time that your action and speech may be inappropriate?
A: Before Yang Chao left, I told her that I was willing to sincerely apologize for inappropriate action and speech before.  But she did not say anything.  I called a reporter at the Shaanxi bureau of China National Radio and asked him to say sorry to Yang Chao on my behalf.  Here, I am willing to say sorry to Yang Chao once more.  I mean to say sorry and it is not an apology.

(Ramblings of a Drunkard)

The statement from Qiang Jianguo:

I, Qiang Jianguo, am a refined, educated and forthright man.  I am a dedicated and qualified publicity director.  I am a gentle and courteous publicity director who gets the big picture.

I wanted to tell her that as a national mainstream media, China National Radio should be guiding opinion.  She should be helping and not to cause more trouble.

China National Radio is a national mainstream media.  She should know that everybody cares about stability.  The credit cards did not cause any problems for the students.  The cards have been destroyed and the school has apologized.  I hope that she would not report on the credit card incident.  We are in a special period when the stability of universities takes priority over everything else.

If she continues to report on the credit cards, there may be a mass incident.  I asked her to please re-consider carefully.

Lie Detector (1993)

Recently this reporter found a blog titled: "Research Centre for Nudity in Chinese movies."  The blogger claimed that the movies that he presents have been shown many times on television in China and he is using screen captures to display the evidence.  Each blog post contains screen captures as well as explanatory text.  For example: "In the television serial drama <Monkey Go West>, the spider temptresses inadvertently bared themselves in the bathing scene.  But unless you have carefully watched the episode, you will not notice that one very brief moment."

This type of "research" about movie nudity is controversial on the Internet.  Some people were surprised: "The author is very attentive" and "this research is very interesting."  One netizen wrote: "After reading the texts carefully, I am touched by the professionalism of the actors and actresses of the previous generation.  Nowadays more and more movies just play the pretty girl card and go out on the edge to attract eyeballs in the name of art.  That is harder to accept."

According to the blogger's self-description: "Two years ago, I found a forum post that discussed nudity in Chinese movies which drew many comments.  The clues in that post brought back my childhood memories and inspired to collect more information on the the subject ... then I got the idea that there is no specialized blog on this subject, so I went ahead to set up this blog.  My original intention was to provide a delightful surprise to whose who otherwise despise Chinese movies.  The fact is that Chinese movies are not conservative.  I want to promote Chinese movies through this way."  He also said that his "research" will not stop "because new information will continuously be dugged out, unless of course there are irresistible reasons such as war, natural disaster, death or legal ban."

Link: 国产露点影视研究中心

Liu Liyuan, who is the spokesperson for Zhou Zhenglong, told this reporter that after Zhou declared that "the tiger photos are real," he was taken away by Ankong city police and court workers.  According to his lawyer, Zhou may now have to serve out his suspended sentence.

On December 20, Zhou Zhenglong to ask Peking Normal University associate professor Liu Liyuan, who is one of his leading supporters, to issue a statement to the media that he is recanting his court confession.  Yesterday evening, Liu learned from Zhou's wife that Ankong police and court workers came to take Zhou away.  Liu said that the Zhou's statement was written in his own hand and sent by his daughter via email to Liu.  Yesterday, the computer of the daughter was taken away by the police.

On December 17, Zhou Zhenglong was interviewed by our reporter and said that he is not afraid of going to prison for recantation.

Q: Are you saying that their court confession was fake?
A: I was forced to admit to the forgery.  Could they release me otherwise?

Q: Your signature on the confession was fake?
A: I did not sign "Zhou Zhenglong
周正龙."  I signed as "Zhou Zhengyu周正尤" with one stroke missing.  I signed it that way deliberately because the statement was not truthful.  They forced me to confess.  They hit me and they scolded me.  My waist is still hurting now."

Q: You are still serving out a suspended sentence.  Are you worried that the police may come and get you?
A: Let me come and get me.  They might as well as shoot me (yelling over the telephone).  My tiger photos are real even if they cut my head off.  When my leg recovers, I will go up the mountain to find the tiger.  When I find the tiger, I will kill it and drag the body back to prove my innocence.  The police have mistreated me.  I have met misfortune.  Please support me, Mister Reporter."


China used to have a few extreme leftist publications that advocated the thoughts of Mao Zedong.  They wanted Chinese history to rewind back to the days when everybody was pore, the country was closed and backwards, people yelled "Long Live!" and they pledged their loyalty.  Anyone who griped a little bit was shot for being a "counter-revolutionary."

Later, the rulers wised up and shut down those publications.  But the extreme leftists are hysterics who shifted their camp onto the Internet.  There are a few extreme leftist websites, of which Wuyouzhixiang is the most notorious.

A recent article at Wuyouzhixiang is a 40,000-word essay written by someone named Li Bisheng.  The title was something like: "Questions on the responsibilities and reasons for the ten big mistakes of the thirty years of reform.  In the conclusion, Premier Wen Jiabo was directly named: "The ten big mistakes of the refroms in China, especially the events of recent years, are tied to Premier Wen.  We therefore recommend the Central Government and the National People's Congress to dismiss Wen as Premier and member of the Politburo.


Compared to the Mao Zedong era, China has no doubt made great strides during the thirty years of reform.  Of course, there are still many problems and inadequacies, which can be laid down to the fact that only "four modernizations" were proposed and there was no fifth modernization for the political system.


Why are they doing this?  ... Everybody knows that Premier Wen has acknowledged on many occasions that democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law are not exclusively western rights.  In other words, he is acknowledging that they are "universal values."

This means that Wen Jiabao is going the complete opposite way as the extreme leftists.  In order for the extreme leftist to seize power, they must eliminate the biggest stumbling block inside the system.  Thus it is logical that Li Bisheng should with the anti-Wen flag.

The question is, How much support will an anti-Wen call get?  I think that it will just be a bunch of people talking to themselves over at Wuyouzhixiang.

(Qin Henhai's blog)  Eight tear-jerking photos of Premier Wen in 2008.

1. On February 2, Wen Jiabao hurried from Changsha to the disaster area of Chenzhou.  On the train, he looks at the ice storm that has paralyzed many parts of the country.

2. On the day before Lunar New Year's Day, Wen Jiabao steps on the icy snow to go up Guanyin Mountain, southern Guizhou to see the electricity workers who are trying to restore the electricity lines.  At the time, the workers on the hilltop spotted him coming and they yelled repeatedly: "Premier!  It's dangerous!  Don't come up!  Don't come up!"  But the premier kept climbing.

3. At 2:28pm on May 12, there was a magnitude 8.0 earthquake in Wenchuan county, Sichuan province.  Wen Jiabao flew out to the disaster zone immediately to direct rescue operations.  Here Wen Jiabao is planning the work on the airplane.

4. On May 13, Wen Jiabao was inspecting the situation at Xinjian Elementary School in Dujiangyan city.  He cried when he saw rescuers trying to bring out a student from a collapsed school building.  Wen Jiabao squatted down and told the child, "This is Grandpa Wen Jiabao.  You must hang on.  You will be saved!"

5. On May 14, Wen Jiabao reached the heavy disaster area of Beichuang county.  Here is Wen Jiabao standing on the rubble of Beichuan middle school and waving to the rescuers.

6. On May 14, Wen Jiabao stood on the road two kilometers outside Beichuan county city.  Several soldiers are rushing a young girl out and so Wen's entourage stood aside to make way.  Wen said that time means life and they ought to do everything to save lives.

7. Wen Jiabao visited villagers in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces which also suffered from the earthquake.  On June 21, Wen Jiabao ate corn with a peasant woman who said, "We try to use our hands to start new lives."

8. On November 29, Wen Jiabao went to Fuyang city, Anhui province to visit AIDS patients, orphans and grassroots workers.  The thee children here are orphans whose parents both died of AIDS.

[ESWN Comment: If you don't like Wen Jiabao, then which better person will you nominate to replace him?]

The movie "Ip Man" raked in 30 million yuan in China on opening week.  According to information, two sections of the movie were censored and some speeches were re-dubbed before it was allowed to be shown to the public in China.  Our reporter worked hard to find out about those censored contents in order to keep our readers informed.

In the original movie, the northern martial artist Jin Shanzhao had a very loud and thick Shandong accent that is consistent with the image of the tough northerners.  But Jin Shanzhao ultimately ratted on master Ip Man to the Japanese military.  As such, it may hurt the feelings of the compatriots in Shandong.  After some serious deliberations, the released movie "Ip Man" was re-dubbed so that Jin Shanzhao was not clearly from Shandong.  Also in the original movie, Jin Shanzhao failed to extort the cotton yarn factory due to the intercession by Ip Man and he went to inform the Japanese military that Ip Man was connected to the factory.  The Japanese general was looking for a duel with Ip Man and this gave him the leverage to force Ip Man to fight with him.  At the demand of the State Administration of Film, Radio and Television, the released movie <Ip Man> did not physically show the scene of the denunciation but communicate the event through a simple sentence from the translator Li Chao.

In the original movie, Ip Man won the duel with the Japanese general, whose aide pulled out a pistol and shot Ip from behind.  The angry Chinese crowd broke through the cordon and chaos ensued.  The translator Li Chao seized the pistol and shot and killed the Japanese general's aide.  But the angry crowd mobbed the translator Li Chao, whom they regard as a collaborationist.  For the sake of the unity of the Chinese people, the movie producers obeyed the demand from the State Administration of Film, Radio and Television and cut the scene out.  The released film did not explain what happened to Li Chao after he shot the general's aide.