If this was a mass incident or a demonstration, the western media would be there instantaneously.  As it stands, here is the only report that I can find in Google News:


(AP via SFGate)  Burning stuff brings good luck:
A man carrying flaming incense sticks prays to the god of fortune,
Cai Shen, at the Guiyuan Temple in Wuhan, China.
On the fifth day of the lunar new year, devotees traditionally
welcome Cai Shen back to earth with fire and pyrotechnics. (AP)

The fact that 600,000 Chinese citizens of one city went out to pray for fortune does not have much news value for the western media.  That is perhaps understandable.  But if you want to write a story about what the Chinese people really want, then this number does not lie.

Q. Which international incident(s) was(were) most significant in terms of raising China's international position?
85%: The successful hosting of the Beijing Olympics
36%: The economic power of China in coping with the global financial tsunami
15%: The influence of China in major diplomatic affairs
15%: The development model of China
10%: Manned Shenzhou 7 space mission
10%: The unity shown in the Wenchuan earthquake

Q. Do you think that China is a strong nation in the world now?
27%: Yes
44%: Not fully
20%: No
10%: Not sure

Q. Which of the attributes of a strong nation does China already have?
56%: Economic power
48%: Military power
45%: Political and diplomatic influence
29%: Cultural influence
  7%: None of these

Q. Which of these attributes affect the international image of China negatively?
52%: Corruption of certain government officials
44%: Poor quality and fakery in products
33%: Environmental pollution
23%: Work safety accidents
22%: Uncivilized behavior of Chinese people
19%: Human rights problems
12%: Lack of freedom of speech
  6%: Lack of progress in developing medical care system
  6%: An unjust government
  6%: Urban traffic congestion

Q. Which bilateral relationship is important to China?
76%: China-America
35%: China-Japan
23%: China-Russia
16%: China-Europe
  7%: China Africa

Q. Which is your favorite country? (One choice only)
34%: China
20%: United States of America
  7%: France
  5%: Japan
  4%: United Kingdom
  3%: Singapore
  3%: Australia
  3%: Canada
  3%: South Korea
  2%: Germany
  2%: Italy
  1% Thailand
  1%: Russia
  1%: Switzerland
  1%: New Zealand
  1%: Malaysia
  1%: Brazil
  1%: India
  1%: Philippines

Q. If you have the choice to travel overseas, which country would you choose? (One choice only)
33%: United States of America
  9%: Japan
  9%: France
  7%: United Kingdom
  6%: Singapore
  5%: Canada
  4%: Australia
  2%: Germany
  2%: Italy
  2%: Thailand
  1%: New Zealand
  1%: Russia
  1%: Switzerland
  1%: Brazil

Q. Do you think that the West is trying to stem the development of China?
21%: There have been clear and obvious actions
41%: The intent is there, but there have been clear and obvious actions
11%: No, it is just our imagination
12%: This is something that people say
15%: Hard to tell

Q. How do you think the "China Threat Theory" should be handled?
30%: Object without any hesitation
25%: Respond to the specific charges by retutation and explanation
24%: We will listen to them and improve ourselves
24%: We will ignore them
11%: Don't know

Q.  With the increasing power of China, how will its international position change in the future?
49%: Increasingly better
11%: Not much change overall
  3%: Increasingly worse
37%: Better overall, but there will still be some friction

Related Link: Planet China, Planet America  Mutant Palm

For the longest time, I have been the person who wants to look at 'sea change' as opposed to sharp breaks in the Chinese Internet.  Some time ago, I noted the phenomenon of "human flesh search" in China.  I wrote back then that these "human flesh searchers" might seem to care only about a kitten-crushing sadist or an unfaithful wife, but someday they will have perfected the rules and techniques and turn their attention onto government officials.  I was promptly denounced by some blogger as 'nuts' and/or 'Chinese Communist Party apologist' or something like that.  But at the end of year 2008, there was a flurry of Internet exposÚs against local government officials in the form of surveillance videos (of the Shenzhen official who may have molested a young girl); expense reports of government officials going to Las Vegas, getting European-style massages, and 10,000+ yuan meals; smoking 1,800 RMB/per carton cigarettes.  All those government officials were dismissed from their positions as a result of the outbursts of public opinion.  It is foreseeable that the Internet will become a formidable force of monitoring/supervision/watchdog at least at the local (and observable) level.

At the same time, I note that I have detected another phenomenon that is on the rise rapidly.  This is about the ability by some Chinese netizens to make up seemingly credible stories and gain acceptance.  During the monthly of January, the following cases are noteworthy:

We have to look at the sad fact that whenever something happens, there will be some nutcases out there trying to cause trouble.  For example, after the Sichuan earthquake, there were some people spreading rumors about "there will be an earthquake in Beijing this evening" and so on.  The ultra-liberal view is that people should be allowed to spread rumors if they wish, because those rumors will be dispelled in time as the truth emerges.  In the cases listed above, someone was able to point out the gaps and flaws.  But what is the social cost when hundreds of thousands of people have to sleep in the streets because of the earthquake rumor?

In terms of the 'sea change' that I brought up in the beginning, I must say that I am really concerned that the Chinese netizens are getting better at "making shit up" through practice.  At some point, people are going to get so good at it that there is no way you can tell that  one way or the other.  It wouldn't be that difficult, really.  It involves running a "human flesh search" on someone beforehand and then filling in the pieces so that the latter day "human flesh searchers" would find exactly what you hinted at.  Chen Hua?  You figure out what car he owns first and then you drop the hint that he might be driving a luxury car.  AC Nielsen?  You track the corporate history and you research the coverage area before you announce their 'ratings.'  If that should happen, then people will never know what is real or fake anymore.  Isn't that scary?

The converse to this story is actually positive.  Nowadays why would you believe anything on the Internet?  It is therefore incumbent upon you when you run across anything exercise commonsense (and that works most of the imte) and due diligence.  This is not different from what ever you see in the newspapers.

(Those Were The Days)

In recent days, there has been a Rashomon incident over the the television ratings for CCTV's Spring Festival Gala.  As soon as the show was over, the CSM television audience measurement service (in which CCTV holds a stake) announced that it had achieved a 95.6% share of the audience.

On the other side, AC Nielsen announced its ratings which are completely different from CSM's.  In particular, here are the ratings by city:
Liaoning: 88.9%
Jilin: 87.7%
Heilongjiang: 85.3%
Beijing: 73.2%
Hebei: 70.2%
Tianjin: 68.8%
Shanxi: 68.6%
Shandong: 68.4%
Ningxia: 67.7%
Gansu: 64.2%
Inner Mongolia: 64.8%
Shaanxi: 61.5%
Henan: 59.2%
Anhui: 24.8%
Hubei: 19.3%
Jiangxi: 18.7%
Jiangsu: 18.6%
Guizhou: 18.4%
Shanghai: 17.4%
Sichuan: 16.5%
Yunnan: 14.7%
Hunan: 14.1%
Zhejiang: 13.9%
Fujian: 12.2%
Guangdong: 5.3%
Guangxi: 2.6%
Hainan: 1.3%

This is currently a hot topic at mainland Internet forums.  People are accusing CSM of being biased since CCTV is part owner whereas the AC Nielsen service is likely to be more objective.

What's the deal here?

This is a fabricated story.  PERIOD.

The name of the other television audience measurement company is not AC Nielsen.  It is AGB Nielsen Media Research.  Furthermore, for the results to come out so quickly, it could only have come from the people meter service (and not from the diary service which would take a long time to collect).  AGB Nielsen Media Research does not even have people meter systems in some of the provinces listed above (e.g. Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Guizhou, Guangxi, Hainan, etc).  Therefore, this is a fake story.

(Link, in Chinese)  There is a background behind AGB Nielsen Media Research and CSM (CCTV-Sofres).  Once upon a time, the AC Nielsen company ran a television audience measurement service in China.  In 2005, a global deal was struck with WPP and a new joint venture known as AGB Nielsen Media Research was created (note: WPP owned the separate entity AGB Italia at the time).  Together they provide television audience measurement in dozens of countries around the world (including China).  In China, their main competitor is CSM, which is owned by CCTV and TNS (Taylor Nelson Sofres).  CSM has a 90% of the market while AGB Nielsen Media Research only has about 10%.

In 2008, WPP acquired TNS, which would therefore include its stake in CSM.  The European Union determined that WPP's ownership in AGB Nielsen Media Research as well as as TNS would be anti-competitive.  Therefore, WPP is selling off its AGB Nielsen Media Research back to AC Nielsen.  Today, it is not clear if AGB Nielsen Media Research will be a viable business since its major clients are WPP advertising and media buying agencies.  It is ironic that a Euroepan Union decision against monopolistic power in Europe would result in a monoploly in China.

All of this business intrigue is hard to keep up with unless one is personally involved.  Whoever produced that list of AC Nielsen ratings by city/province is not in the television audience measurement industry.  That person may have heard of the AC Nielsen company a while ago and has no idea of the coverage area.

[Full disclosure: This blogger is an employee of WPP and is involved in television audience measurement.  I have previously discussed The Statistical Reliability of Television Ratings in China.  The kinds of discrepancies in the fake story here cannot possibly occur in real life, because the client base would have rebelled first.]

On December 16, 2008, the Haidian district (Beijing city) People's Middle Court found three defendants guilty of running an "illegal business."  Chen Zhao was sentenced to 18 months in jail (but suspended for two years) and fined 15,000 RMB; Cheng Wei was sentenced to 15 months in prison and fined 15,000 RMB; Luo Jianshan was sentenced to 15 months in prison and fined 15,000 RMB.  Normally, people deserve to be punished when they break the law.  But in this case, all those who knew about the details were sympathetic to the defendants.

How they end up running an "illegal business"?  According to the court, they were guilty of "selling politically sensitive books that are banned by the state."  They were distributing photocopies of certain books that had been published overseas, including Gao Hua's <How The Red Sun Rose Up -- the details of the Yenan rectification campaign>, Gao Wenqian's <The Later Zhou Enlai> and <He Fang's <Notes on the History of the Party -- from the Zunyi conference to the Yenan rectification> and others.

In mainland China, it is hard for readers to learn about the historical truths, especially those truths that the Chinese Communist Party deliberately covers up.  All the mainland publishers are government-owned, so that there is no way that any books about historical narratives deviating from the official conclusions can pass scrutiny and be published.  The authors of such books have no choice but to publish their works in places such as Hong Kong.  Afterwards, it is not so easy for these books to flow back into mainland China.  The Customs have a black list of books that they will confiscate.  Certain old readers have been deceived most of their lies and when they realize what happened, their yearning to learn about the truths is all the more urgent.  Thus, books that dare to discuss Party history in a bold and open manner such as those three titles named above became their spiritual food.  Actually, even the senior government officials today will privately consult these "politically sensitive books."

Today, the Internet is very convenient for young and middle-aged people to use.  But some older people are not used to reading on the Internet.  Besides, there are always some difficulties with getting through the firewall that the government has built at huge expense.  Therefore, they often look for photocopies of these books.

Chen Zhao is an old man.  In his youth, he was with the Air Force.  As a result of the Lin Biao affair, he lost his job and has no source of income even now.  His unfortunate experience caused him to study the Cultural Revolution.  Together with Wang Ninyi and others, he has published essays about the Lin Biao affair.  During the process, he observed how people around him longed to know the historical truths.  Therefore, he made copies of the books in his collection to share.  At first, he supplied them for free.  When it became economically unviable, he began to charge money.  In 2005, he was visiting family members overseas.  His daughter Cheng Wei helped him to carry on with his business.  Meanwhile, Luo Jianshan was the owner of a small photocopy shop and he really neither understood nor care about ideological issues and he was only concerned about a business.

Through Chen's help, many middle-aged and old citizens manage to read some good books for which they are grateful.  At the same time, they were also worried that this may lead to trouble.  After all, this type of action is ripping up a hole in the carefully built cultural wall.  So some friends advised Chen Zhao to quit.  Meanwhile Chen Zhao himself was also worried that the authorities may catch on to him with so many strangers coming to him for the books.  So he quit the business.  But the authorities came after him all the same.  On October 7, 2007 Chen Zhao and his daughter Cheng Wei were arrested.


This is the photo of Zhu Yaiyang, a Virginia Tech student who decapitated a female student named Yang Xin.  This photo shows Zhu waving the Chinese national flag with the long banner "Warm welcome to Chairman Hu Jintao" in the background.

Here are the selected comments to the forum post of that title:

- Basically, the angry young people are all mental patients and deserve sympathy.

- A murder holds a Chinese flag and therefore all those who have ever held a Chinese flag are murders.  This is a terrific inference.  Have you ever held anything?  Just tell me what you held and I will send you a photo that will sure that you won't be able to sleep at night.

- This incident is an isolated individual act, so there is no need to raise it up to the collective level.  We oppose feudalism, of which a prominent aspect is guilty by association.  At Virginia Tech, a student of Korean origin killed more than 20 people in a shooting spree.  If the Americans believed in guilty by association as well, shouldn't they declare war on South Korean?  [Correction: He shot 32 shot and killed 32 persons.]

- When Zhu Haiyang raised the flag, he was killing anyone.  Is there any causal relationship between murder and flag-waving?

- The problem is not with the flag itself.  It is the bloody red flag of the culture of violence that exist in people's hearts.  The culture of violence is distorting the human character.

- This brutal distortion of human character is the product of the corruption of the Chinese Communist Party and the evil party culture/education.

- Sick people show up to criticize what other sick people do.  So sad!

- I only want to show everybody that anyone who waves the party flag is almost surely psychologically warped.  You have to accept that.

- Your logic is so powerful because you can derive regularities from rare events: A psycho once raised the flag, and therefore all those who raise the flag are psychos.  I congratulate your democratic movement and may it be as strong as your logic.  I pray that you powerful logic will destroy the Chinese Communist Party and build a new world of democracy.

- When a person who raises a Chinese flag commits murder, it does not mean that all those who raise the Chinese flag are murderers.  And there is nothing so controversial about a Chinese person loving China.  There is nothing wrong with a Chinese person welcoming a visit from the chairman of China.  Therefore, these is no causal relationship.

But Zhu Haiyang is a Ph.D. candidate.  He should know what the Chinese Communist Party have wrought but nevertheless he went out there with a Chinese flag in hand.  Then I must conclude that he is a psychologically warped bookworm.  It is no surprise that this mentally retarded bookworm would kill someone.  Thus, this forum post is reasonable -- far too reasonable.  Now I understand why my heart chills whenever I see a Ph.D. holding a Chinese flag in hand.  This blog post made me realize that all Ph.D.'s who hold Chinese flags in their hands are killers.  Just take a look at Qian Xueshen and Guo Moruo and you will know that it is a wonder that they didn't kill anyone.

- I puke when I see the five-star flag.  This person is either really ignorant (and therefore used by the Communist Party to kill) or else they are Communist Party members who will kill people anytime.

- When someone kills, it has nothing to do with his educational level.  It makes no different if he was a Ph.D. or not.  Do you think anyone who has received higher education won't commit crimes?  What is the relationship between education and committing crime?  With respect to his case, I would rather read the speculation from the psychologists rather than read the rubbish coming from a bunch of political hacks.  At this point, I am disappointed with the quality of the opponents of the Chinese Communist Party.

- A fake photo that was composed by computer generated so many comments.  This piece of fakery is a waste of time.  The Chinese people must be quite stupid.

- Hu Jintao visited America in June 2006, whereas Zhu Haiyang arrived in the United States in the fall of 2008.  How was Zhu supposed to greet Hu?

- The photo may be technically fake, but the reality of the violence of the Chinese Communist Party cannot be denied.

(Xinhua)  Accidents kill over 91,100 in China in 2008.  January 16, 2009.

China's top work safety official said here Friday that 91,172 people were killed in 413,752 traffic and work-related accidents last year. The number of deaths was down 10.2 percent from 2007 and that of accidents was down 18.3 percent as the country stepped up efforts to ensure work safety.

Luo Lin, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, said the 2008 death toll fell below 100,000 for the first time since 1995 as work safety conditions improved in various sectors, including coal mines. Fatalities from coal mine accidents fell 15.1 percent and deaths from road accidents dropped 10 percent, Luo said, without providing the specific figures. Figures released by the Ministry of Public Security on Jan. 4 showed that 73,484 people were killed in 265,204 road accidents last year. Death toll from coal mine accidents in 2007 was 3,786, according to the work safety agency.

(Xinhua via mitbbs)  91,172 Deaths in China Coal Mines in 2008.  January 27, 2008.

The death toll in China's coal mines last year was 91,172, down 15.1 percent from 2007, the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said Tuesday. It was the first time since 1995 the figure fell below 100,000,the chief work safety regulator said. The number of accidents fell 19.3 percent to 413,700 in 2008. The death rate in coal mine accidents, per 1 million tonnes of coal produced, dropped 20.4 percent year-on-year to 1.182, SAWS also said.

(China Daily)  Coal mine deaths drop 15% in 2008.  January 28, 2009.

The death toll in China's coal mines last year was 91,172, down 15.1 percent from 2007, the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said Tuesday. It was the first time since 1995 the figure fell below 100,000, the chief work safety regulator said. The number of accidents fell 19.3 percent to 413,700 in 2008. The death rate in coal mine accidents, per 1 million tonnes of coal produced, dropped 20.4 percent year-on-year to 1.182, SAWS also said.

[Note: The third story changed the title, but the body of the text was still wrong.]

(AFP)  China's deadly coal mines kill people in 2008: reports.  January 28, 2009.

The number of people killed in China's notoriously dangerous coal mines dropped in 2008, the government and state media reported, indicating the total amount of fatalities was more than 3,200. Coal mine deaths dropped 15.1 percent in 2008 compared to the previous year, the official Xinhua news agency late on Tuesday quoted the country's State Administration of Work Safety as saying. The report made no mention of the actual number of deaths in 2008, but Xinhua said at the beginning of last year that 3,786 miners lost their lives in 2007 -- a 15.1 percent drop from 3,786 equates to 3,214.

However independent labour groups have long maintained that China's mining death toll is much higher than the government says as local mine bosses and regional leaders cover up accidents to avoid fines and costly mine shut downs.

Even after the above has been noted, other western media have boldly piled insult on idiotic re-writing as if they don't know.

(BBC)  China mining toll 'below 100,000'   January 28, 2009.

China's State Administration of Work Safety office has said the death toll among coal mine workers fell 15% last year, compared to that of 2007. The official death toll last year was 91,172, the first time since 1995 that the figure fell below 100,000. The death rate in coal mine accidents, per 1 million tonnes of coal produced, dropped 20.4% year-on-year to 1.182, the work safety office added.

(Associated Press)  Police search homes of Va. Tech victim, suspect.  January 24, 2008.

A Virginia Tech graduate student accused of beheading a fellow student displayed erratic and standoffish behavior in the months before the attack on campus this week, his landlord said Friday. Also on Friday, police filed court papers listing items found in a searches of the off-campus town house occupied by Haiyang Zhu, who is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Xin Yang, and the room where Yang lived on campus.

Yang, of Beijing, was slain with a large kitchen knife as she had coffee with the 25-year-old Zhu on Wednesday night at a cafe in the building where she lived, a hotel converted into graduate student housing. A Tech police officer arrived Wednesday night to find Zhu holding 22-year-old Yang's head in his hands, according to a court affidavit filed Thursday.

...

Virginia Tech Police were trying to verify the authenticity of a posting on a Chinese-language blog earlier this month under the name Haiyang Zhu that expressed frustration over problems including stock losses, Chief Wendell Flinchum said Friday.  The Jan. 7 posting said, "Recently I've been so frustrated I think only of killing someone or committing suicide."

The lack of concrete information about the two principals created fertile ground for Chinese certain netizens to display their worst behaviors.  The first blog purported to be written by Zhu Yaiyang was a piece of forgery.  How so?  Other netizens were able to go to the Google cache and recovered the archived January 7 post -- it was something completely different written by a female blogger living in the Haidian district of Beijing.  After the murder, someone had modified the blog posts and identity of the blogger (from female to a man with Zhu Haiyang's photo).  Next, another forum post appeared by someone who purports to be a classmate of Yang Xin in Canada.  This person claimed that Yang Xin was a slut who simultaneously dated four guys while they paid for all her expenses.  However, the post was clearly false because it could not even specify which university Yang Xin was attending and what she majored in.  This is just a sample of many other posts that represent the worst of human behavior.

This Tianya forum post comments on the sad state of affairs: "It is your personal choice to sympathize with the killer and I won't object at all.  But it is very scary when someone with no conscience can create smears to come up with reasons why the victim deserves to die."  The title of the post was: "Gossip is a fearful thing.  Yang Xin, thankfully you can't hear them anymore."

 

(SCMP)  Short straw dims New Year glow.  By Mary Ann Benitez, Danny Mok and Amy Nip.  January 28, 2009.

As if recession and the prospect of a worsening economic downturn were not enough, Hong Kong yesterday drew the worst possible fortune stick in a ceremony at a Sha Tin temple. Lau Wong-fat, chairman of rural affairs body the Heung Yee Kuk, drew the stick numbered 27 on the city's behalf in the Taoist ceremony at the Che Kung temple.

A fortune-teller at the temple who read the stick said it showed the city could not isolate itself from the global economic turbulence, but that Hongkongers should nevertheless be cautiously optimistic. Fung shui masters interpreted the stick's meaning differently. James Lee Shing-chak said it signified possible conflicts between the government and its people.

Mr Lau said: "It is a warning to  all of us that only a harmonious society with people staying united can enable us to get through our challenges." The last time that stick was drawn, 1992, saw, among other things, the arrival of last governor Chris Patten - who unleashed fierce political strife.

(Apple Daily; Apple Daily; The Sun; Sing Tao; Ming Pao)

 

At the Che Kung Temple, there are a total of 96 different fortune sticks.  Of these, 35 are considered favorable signs, 27 are neutral signs and 17 are unfavorable signs.  Lau Wong-fat picked up fortune stick number 27, which is considered unfavorable.

The four sentences in the poem are:

You should not have to worry about the people being unworthy
Because all the troops in front of you are actually demons
The Emperor Qin wasted his efforts to build the Great Wall
Your misfortunes come and go on account of you

The associated interpretation on the stick is:

Because you have traitors inside your home
You won't have a restful time
Because your house is unlucky
You will fail to make money

Who are these traitors or demons on the inside?  Various interpretations are listed below.  To the extent that the different interpretations are different ways of finger-pointing, this is part of the message.

- According to Master Li who sets up outside the temple, this fortune stick means to say that Hong Kong is bound to be affected by the global economic recession.  Fortunately, Hong Kong is a wonderful place and its people are great too.  Things are expected to become better in the second half year provided that the people keep their fighting spirit and a cautious optimism.

- According to Master Leung who sets up outside the temple, he said that the first two lines of the poem refer to people who appear to devoted and respectful, but in truth they will secretly go and lodge complaints with the central government.  As for the last two lines in the poem, it means that the government departments hold different ideas and do not communicate with each other.  As a result, this administrative effectiveness is poor and the treasury receipts are being wasted.

- Fortuneteller Mak Lingling said that while Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang is not necessarily like Emperor Qin who failed in spite of building the Great Wall, it is still necessary to be cautious how government money is being spent.

- Master Chen said that the so-called talents within the government are actually second-rate and more interested in fighting against each other.  When Donald Tsang and the officials all harbor private interests and are not united for the sake of Hong Kong, troubles will arrive one after another.

- The fortuneteller named Tian Tung Tse said that this fortune stick says that the government is not sufficiently united and ought to hold repeated consultations to attain social consensus first before proceeding with its policies.

- Fortune teller Master Lee said that Qin Emperor was courageous when he united the six nations, but he was too strong-willed and opinionated.  Therefore he called for the government to work closer with the people.  The Great Wall refers to the ten large infrastructure projects which will use up lots of money but may not win public appreciation.  As for internal traitors, it may refer either to internal government office politics or clashes between government and citizens.

- Astrologer Master Yeung said that the fortune stick clearly showed that Hong Kong is affected by "internal factors."  The troops clearly refer to government officials who fail to perform their jobs and thus cause the Great Wall (=government policies) to be implemented.  The economic woes are therefore caused by Hong Kong itself.

- Chinese University of Hong Kong School of Chinese vice president Shi Zhongmou said that the key is that "your misfortunes comes out of your own doing."  The Qin Emperor built the Great Wall to defend against foreign enemies, but the dynasty ended due to internal problems that came out of his own doing.  "Hong Kong is facing an economic crisis due to external factors in the United States and Europe.  But the fortune stick text says that internal politics are even more important than the external factors.  He believes that the fortune stick is reminding the people of Hong Kong to remain united to overcome the crisis.

- Hong Kong Legco member Lee Cheuk-yan said that the China Liaison Office, the Political Assistants to the Secretaries of the Government, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong are all internal demons.  Lee said that this year will be the 20th anniversary of June 4th and the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, and therefore he expects the central government will increase political oppression in Hong Kong.  Furthermore, the Chief Executive Donald Tsang has recently postponed the consultation on political reform until the end of the year, which is expected to see some heated debated.

On the 114th birthday of the Kuomintang, the Party Central History Exhibition Hall was formally established with 250 historical photographs and more than 90 historical documents.  Included were posters and descriptions of the Kuomintang spy Zheng Pingru, who was the original model of the female character Wang Jiazhi in the movie <Lust, Caution>.

Cheng Pingru was born in 1918 and she was the original model for the female lead character Wang Jiazhi in the movie <Lust, Caution>.  When the War of Resistance broke out, 19-year-old Zheng Pinru was a spy.  On account of the fluent Japanese taught by her Japanese mother, she was able to mix with senior Japanese government officials.  The KMT government sent her to entrap the Chinese traitor Ding Muchuan.  She pretended to be an innocent young girl.  She failed in her mission, but Ding could not bear to execute her.  Instead, Ding's wife sent someone in to kill her.  Zheng was only 23 years old when she died.

Oy!  This goes to show the problem with passivity.  Before the movie <Lust, Caution> was exhibited, there was already a book published that claimed the fictional character Wang Jizzhi was based upon a real-life heroine Zheng Pingru.  This was refuted totally and completely in the Chinese-language article The Spyring and 'Lust, Caution' based upon the correspondence of Eileen Chang with my parents.  A longer version of this article appeared in the Taiwan literary magazine INK later on.

Whatever else, the correspondence showed that my father told Eileen Chang that she could not possibly publish <Lust, Caution> under the premise that Wang Jiazhi was a KMT agent.  Under the prevailing climate of political correctness in Taiwan at the time, a KMT spy could not waver and fail to carry out her mission.  Eileen Chang took his advice and created an elaborate identity (i.e. she attended Hong Kong University, she met with a group of patriotic students, they decided to become an amateur spy ring, she had to sacrifice her virginity in order to entire the target as a married woman, etc).  The only thing for certain is: Wang Jiazhi was not the Zheng Pringru character.

For me, the long-term problem is that I am holding on to the correspondence between Eileen Chang and my parents.  If I had release this information long before the movie <Lust, Caution> appeared, this news story could never have appeared.  Alternately I can insist on protecting her privacy and not publish any of the letters, and that may cause her to be victimized by many misreadings.  But, of course, she was accustomed to being misread -- according to her letters!

On January 18, the <Xuzhou City Computer Information System Security Protection Regulations> were approved by the provincial People's Congress Standing Committee.  Under these regulations, it will be a crime to disclose private information no other persons without their permissions or to provide or disclose information about other people on the other net.  The originators and propagators may face a fine of up to 5,000 yuan.  In more serious cases, the offenders may be barred from using a computer or accessing the Internet for six months.

The media reports drew strong Internet reaction.  Many netizens were concerned that these regulations will inhibit the ability of "human flesh search" to stop corruption.  "Corrupt officials must love this piece of legislation."  On January 19, the Xuzhou city People's Congress Standing Committee clarified that the law is not a total ban on "human flesh search."  Denunciation of corruption and exposure of bad conditions are allowed by the law already, and they will not be banned on the Internet.

...

The reporter noticed that People's Net ran a survey on the same day: "What do you think about the Xuzhou ban on human flesh search?"  Mo0re than 90% of the netizens said that they opposed the legislation, because it was "working against monitoring of government officials by grassroots citizens."  Only 4% agreed that the legislators did more good than bad.

Interestingly, NetEase ran a survey on the same day: "Are you worried about being the target of human flesh search?"  More than 80% of the netizens said "I am not worried because I haven't done anything wrong."  Almost 15% of the netizens said that they are worried and wanted laws that would ban the procedure.

...

"We ban certain 'human flesh searches' but not others."  During the interview, the Xuzhou city People's Congress Standing Committee leader emphasized, "Netizens are most concerned about whether they can expose bad social behavior, or report the illegal activities of leaders and cadres, or criticize uncivilized behavior in society.  These actions are not banned in these regulations.  They are permitted under state law and it is the right of the public to monitor the government.  For example, in 2008, the former Xuzhou city Quanshan district party secretary Dong Feng was denounced on the Internet, and that drew the attention of the party disciplinary committee which eventually ended with his being prosecuted.  This sort of 'human flesh search' is not banned by these regulations."  This spokesperson also said if netizens found people going through red traffic lights, or steal things, or beat up elementary school students, it is acceptable to expose and criticize them on the Internet.

"The regulations are intended to ban searches about the normal privacy of citizens and information security."  This spokesperson explained such searches usually serve no public interest while harming the legal rights of others.  They harm personal life, work, family and state of mind of citizens.  Under the civil laws, administrative laws and criminal laws of China, personal privacy is protected under by law.  Presently, personal privacy include information such as the age of a woman, the composition of personal/household wealth, income situation, residence, salary, etc.  'Human flesh search' frequently includes some of these kinds of information.  Therefore, it is illegal to willfully disseminate such information.  "I believe that the majority of netizens will understand what we have to ban these activities, because we are trying to protect each and every one of us."


A man charged into a beauty salon and started screaming:
"They want to kill me."  He grabbed a knife and held the pregnant female
owner hostage in the street.  The police set up cordons to keep the crowds
away and offered bottled water to the hostage taker.  Plainclothes police men
stood afar from the man, but you can see that they put their arms behind their
back while holding handguns in their hands.


One plainclothesman approached the hostage taker from the left to talk while another
one pretended to go up to listen in on the conversation.


The man on the right then pulled out his handgun and shot the hostage
taker dead.  The female hostage was safely rescued.


The body of the hostage taker was then taken away.

Is this going to the another Yang Jia case where the rights of the hostage taker were ignored?  Why did they just execute him?  Why couldn't they negotiate with him?  Why couldn't they have a heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul dialogue with him?

(Caijing) Mysterious Sounds Remain a Question.  January 12, 2009.

The southern city of Chongqing, which had recently experienced a strong earthquake, was rocked three times on January 8 by a strange sound that resembled an explosion. Rumors had it that the noises were a chain explosions set off by the crash of a fighter jet from the Chengdu military base. This was officially denied three days later. Flight training happened as usual at that day, said the head of the base, and no problems were encountered in the mission, according to a report on Xinhua Net. He went further, adamantly denying that base had anything to do with an explosion or the sounds.

 

According to witnesses, the noises shook the city around 3 p.m., reverberating through three districts in the north of the city. The sound was so loud that some citizens thought another earthquake was happening and ran from their houses into the street. Afterward, people found they could not make a telephone call until around 6 p.m. A police officer announced later that night that dead lines were the result of a switch error, not the sounds.

 

There local news attempted to find the cause of the sounds, but every possibility was ruled out. The civil aviation department said no air crash happened, and the fire department received no reports of the incident. The government of Chongqing also claimed they did not received no reports. And so the source of the sounds remains unclear, with still no official explanation offered.

(KDnet)

[in translation]

I personally searched for all information about the three loud booms that were heard and felt in Chongqing earlier.  Then we analyzed and interpreted the information and their interrelationship.

We found the following information:
(1) There were three loud booms.
(2) The booms were sufficient powerful that windows were shaking.  Certain drivers could even feel their cars vibrating on bridges.  Certain people felt the air move around them due to pressure waves.
(3) When the booms occurred, no eyewitness reported seeing any flying objects in the sky
(4) An eyewitness reported seeing white smoke in the sky
(5) There were no apparent eyewitness report about anyone seeing an airplane crashing, or being at the scene of a crash or seeing debris on the ground.
(6) Eyewitnesses reported airplanes taking off immediately after the booms and many military vehicles on the road.
(7) The various government departments deny there is anything and they ask the citizens not to be scared.
(8) The latest military announcement: "Xinhua from Chengdu on January 11: With respect to the loud booms in Chongqing, the spokesperson for the Chengdu military district air force training programme was interviewed by the Xinhua military reporter and said that regular flight training took place on January 8 with all activities ceasing by 17:26.  All training aircrafts landed safely and there were no safety problems during the training."
(9) Mobile telephone communication was interrupted after the loud booms.
(10) American media said that there was anomalous electromagnetic phenomena in Chongqing, and they found out that China had forced a flying saucer to land.

Let us analyze the various explanations:

Theory 1: Military airplane crash
Reasons against
(1) Military aircraft training should not be taking place over a high-density city because it incurs extra risk.
(2) Nobody spotted any military airplanes when the booms occurred
(3) If an military airplane crashed, there should not be three loud booms.  An incident with one loud boom would have caused the airplane to be split into multiple parts.
(4) A midair explosion would have caused debris to scatter over a loud area, but there are no debris reports.
(5) If a military airplane exploded midair, why is it necessary to sent a large number of airplanes out to watch the skies?
(6) The military has stated that there was no military airplane crash.  In the past, whenever an airplane crashed, the military may not admit it but they won't come out to deny it.
Conclusion: This theory is not valid

Theory 2: Sonic boom from a low-flying airplane
Reasons against
(1) If a pilot flies this way over a densely populated city, it would be a serious violation of discipline.
(2) There is a video clip on the Internet that shows the sonic boom when an airplane passes over a ship on the seas.  It seemed that the sound was heard at the same time that the airplane was spotted.  The sound of the engine was also audible.  This is inconsistent with the suddenness of the Chongqing booms and the absence of visual detection of lying objects.
(3) It is doubtful whether the sonic boom from low-altitude flying could cause buildings and cars to feel the tremor.
(4) If an airplane caused some sonic booms, why is necessary to create a military alert afterwards?
Conclusion: This theory is not valid

Theory 3: The testing of an aerospace plane
Reason against
(1) Why is a dangerous aerospace plane being tested in densely populated Chongqinq?  This is totally unreasonable.
Conclusion: This theory is not valid

Theory 4: SU 27 were fighting intruding F22 jets
Reasons against
(1) The intruding F22 jets should be detected by the coastline defense already
(2) It would be very gutsy for a F22 jet to intrude into inland China
(3) If a F22 jet was shot down, it would be a major political incident since international relationships are different today than several decades ago.
(4) There is no statements from the United States
Conclusion: This theory is not valid

Theory 5: The most likely explanation
We saw that the military got very nervous after the loud booms occurred and their airplanes went into the air to keep guard.  This  proves that the military knew something before the booms occurred and that hostility could be involved.  Who is the most likely hostile force?  The United States of America.  We know that the American Dawn Goddess can fly at very high altitude.  But at that altitude, no booms would result and guided missiles cannot reach it.  Apart from the United States, the only possibility is extraterrestrial flying saucers.  So we imagine the following scene took place:
At 3pm on the afternoon of January 8, a Chinese SU 27 was conducting routine military training when the aircraft radar or the ground control radar or the pilot spotted an unidentified flying object.  The ground command center ordered the aircraft to follow and lock on the UFO, which was warned to identify itself.  When no response came, the commander center ordered the SU 27 to shoot the UFO down.  During the chase, they passed over the city of Chongqing.
The two loud booms are the sounds of the explosion of the two air-to-air missiles fired by the SU 27, or else they are the sounds of the explosion of ground-to-air anti-aircraft missiles, or else they are the sounds of the flying saucer being hit, or else the flying saucer set off special equipment that caused the ground to shake.
The third and last boom is the sound of the flying saucer falling on the ground, or the successful escape of the flying saucer or the sound of a third guided missile.
So what did the military do after the firefight?
(1) They immediately sent their airplanes into the sky.
(2) They sent ground troops out to seal the scene.
(3) Mobile telephony in the area was interrupted at the request of the military to seal off information, or else the flying saucer caused the disruption to occur.  This interruption in telecommunications caused the Americans to get curious.  They have the capability to direct their high-resolution spy satellites to aim at their air and hence discover that China has forced a flying saucer to land.
(4) All eyewitnesses were told not to say anything.
(5) All government departments were ordered to say that it was not due to artillery, or earthquake, or thunder, or civilian airplanes, and that the citizens should not be scared.
(6) Please note that the Chengdu military district statement says: "All training warplanes landed safely."  This says that no airplanes were shot down during the fight with the flying saucer.  "There were no safety problems during the training" but a fight with an UFO is obviously not part of training.
(7) When a UFO is obtained, there is a lot of research values with respect to materials, structure and propeller theory.  Obviously, this must be kept top secret and not publicized.

The above are my analyses which are intended purely for entertainment.  If they happen to coincide with the top secrets, then it was through sheer lucky guessing.

 

(The Sun)

Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang arrived at the scene of the accident about three hours later.  The father of one of the six killed by a drunk driver cried out aloud from the crowd: "Give me back my son, Chief Executive!  My son was killed by that big truck, Chief Executive!  Chief Executive!  The driver was drunk!  Punish him severely!  Severe punishment, Chief Executive, he killed my son!  He was drunk driving!  You must not let him come back after only three years!"

The uncle of the deceased also called out to Donald Tsang from the crowd: "Mr. Tsang, give me back my relative!"  Donald Tsang walked up to him, held his hand and spoke to him.  The uncle spoke with a trembling voice: "Mr. Tsang, how can you explain this!  What kind of job does the Secretary for Transportation do?  I am very scared!  The next time, the same driver is going to kill again."  In his attempts to respond, Mr. Tsang was interrupted many times.

The uncle continued: "He gets into a car accident and he has to spend two year in jail.  Then he comes back out again and gets into another car accident!  You have to suspend his driver's license permanently.  He was driving a heavy truck.  Who is he going to kill next? ... Ten years in jail not enough because five lives were involved!"  Although Donald Tsang explained that the law has been recently amended, the uncle only got more agitated.  He cried and said, "That was not your relative.  He was my nephew!  How can you get him back for me!  Money is useless!  I can give you the money and you give me back his life!"  Donald Tsang can only say "I can get you his life back, I am sorry.  There is no way!  You are right!  Nothing will ever be enough.  I agree with what you say!"

The uncle then aimed right at Donald Tsang: "You are the leader of Hong Kong at a time when the economy is in a critical stage.  You are the leader.  You are the Chief Executive, but you won't help!  The law is so simple, but you won't enact it.  This was a heavy truck.  You can amend the law because it does not suit the times.  When my daughter is wrong, I tell her to change.  You tell me that you want to do your job well.  Will you please do your job well, okay!  Chief Executive!  I beg you.  I get down on my knees to beg you, please!"  Then he got down on his knees in front of the Chief Executive.  He said: "You cannot be so lax with respect to those who work for you.  The Secretary of Transportation treats the law lightly.  You must change!"

Donald Tsang explained: "The law is quite stern right now, but if he wants to get drunk, then there is nothing doing!"  The uncle countered: "Then you ought to suspend his license.  It would be permanently!"  This forced Donald Tsang to reply: "Yes!  I agree with what you say!"  The uncle then pressed him: "So you agree with a new legislation!  Do it immediately!  Convene a meeting!  I don't have another nephew!  How can I accept this!  All five of the passengers are my brothers!"  Donald Tsang could only sad: "I will try my best to help.  I will check the laws very carefully.  The court will follow up on this matter.  I promise that I will do this."

Q1. At the moment, many reporters are worried and do not dare to conduct incisive investigative reporting.  What do you think are the reasons?
A. According to what I know, some media have decided that when they lose a libel lawsuit, the reporter will be responsible for paying the compensation.  Under such circumstances, any reporter doing exposÚs and watchdog journalism must be treading on thin ice.  Therefore, we are seeing more scenes of prosperity and hearing songs of praises.  Alternately, we are reading reports that skirt the issues.  We got so-called critical reports in the tainted milk powder cases in which the reporters didn't even dare to name "Sanlu."

Q2. In a series of related cases during 2008, are now being arrested for "suspicion of taking bribes" whereas they used to be "suspected of committed libel" before.  What is the reason?
A. When state governments and officials need to counter critical oversight and watchdog journalism, it is an effective step to accuse the reporter of "accepting bribes."

Q3. How you view the discussions that were triggered by the arrest of reporters for "suspected bribe-taking"?
A. This is a truly worrisome phenomenon: whenever a reporter files a watchdog report, he will objectively be defending the rights of certain interest groups.  Certain cynical people will think that he "received certain advantages in order to obtain interest for certain persons."  This satisfies the requirements for bribe-taking.

Q4. Some journalism scholars believe that "when a reporter received some advantages, he has committed the crime of bribery."  Do you think so?
A. I think that this fully shows the "pan-moral" way of thinking, in which there is no justification for a reporter to accept anything.  Actually, the crime of bribery depends on whether the person (who is usually a state employee) is engaged in "official business."  If journalistic activities such as interviewing and reporting are "official business," then surely refusals to be interviewed, or interfering with news gathering, or using "public relations" to kill off negative stories must all be classified as crimes of "interfering with the conduct of official business."  This is obviously unjustified.  Reporters are not state workers, which means that they cannot be the subject of bribery.  Therefore, there is no bribery.

Q5. Concerning the "paid news stories" that abound nowadays, should laws be enacted to ban reporters from receiving benefits?
A: It is not necessary.  No matter how well-intended the laws may be to ban reporters from receiving benefits from the subjects of interviews, the goals are hard to realize.  On the contrary, it may have all sorts of bad consequences.

Q6.  Why is that?
A: I study media laws.  I have never seen any country criminalizing the act of reporters receiving benefits.  I have never seen any country's prosecutors charging reporters with taking bribes.

Q7. If reporters can take bribes to produce "paid reporting" or "paid non-reporting," aren't the bad reporters being given a free hand?
A: This can be dealt with by industry self-discipline.  We should trust this piece of commonsense: A reporter with lousy professional ethics will not be accepted by the industry.  Most reporters will stick to good professional ethics and not fool around with their professional careers.

Q8. Why is there chaos now which no longer exist in western journalism anymore?
A: This is a symptom of the state of ill health within our journalism industry.  But it can also be said that this was bound to happen whenever society is undergoing rapid big changes.

Q9. In your people, how can things be cleaned up in the absence of legislation?
A: The media market should be opened up even more.  Private capital should be allowed to be invested in media companies including roles in operations.  When the media companies become genuine market sovereignties, market competition will regulate media behavior.  It is useless otherwise even if you criminalize the activities by legislation.

Q10. What are the revelations of this string of incidents for us?
A: First all, we must put the Constitution into effect, and provide legal protection for the reporters as citizens in accordance with the law.  Secondly, we must restrain the powers of the state organizations and workers to protect civil rights.  I understand that the Xifeng incident is being treated as an important case study during cadre training.  I think that this should not be about letting officials learn how to face the media and the public and resolve the public relations crisis.  This should be about teaching them to learn how to properly handle the criticisms, complaints, charges and denunciations and to properly deal with expectations and supervision.

[in translation]

In my father's new book, he mentioned certain little secrets in the fight between himself and Frank Hsieh.  Although these matters are quite familiar to me, this whole thing has become something of a Rashomon, for which I feel wistful and resentful.

My father is absolutely telling the truth, but he is speaking out too late.  Today, the principals can deny everything.  Who cares about a former president in trouble when there are political interests at stake?  If he wanted to talk about it, he should have done so when he was at the peak of his powers.  I can fully understand the resentment that my father feels.  There are two other matters which my father told me not to speak out.  But if my father is going die without being at peace with himself, he might as well as write down the truth instead of bringing it into his grave.

Firstly, during the 2008 presidential election, Frank Hsieh suddenly called up my father one day.  He said that he had just suffered a mild stroke.  But he was afraid to seek treatment because it could affect his campaign negatively.  Then he stayed out of sight for a while and lied that he had injured his leg.  He was lucky because the stroke only caused weakness in one leg.  Thus, he was able to lie his way through.  However, he was in poor physical shape and his campaign was listless for that reason.  In retrospect, if he wasn't so selfish and he ceded the candidacy to Su Tseng-chang, the Democratic Progressive Party may have lost but not in such a rout.  Afterwards, I saw him insisting that his physical health was normal during a television interview.  This really makes me sigh with emotion.

Secondly, I had said at the time that everybody within the Democratic Progressive Party took money from my father.  Afterwards, people swore that they did not take a cent.  This kind of talk makes me totally contemptuous of these people.  Simply put, my father gave more than the maximum limit on political contribution and the people who took the money never filed accurate reports.  The excess money has gone to who knows where, and therefore they had to swear that they did not take a cent.

Back then, the Democratic Progressive Party had an election campaign advertisement that moved me every time that I saw it.  It was about the Formosa magazine era.  There was the silhouette of a prisoner and a photo of the defendant's lawyer.  It was a dark era back then, but everybody still had ideals and dreams.  Today, everybody wants to get away.  In order to cover up their own mistakes, they lie, they make up stories, they give up their ideals and they sell their souls.

I have never been locked up before.  I cannot understand why people are willing to sell themselves out because of the fear of being locked up.  I also hope for my father: "Even though the path ahead is dark, I hope that you will not abandon your initial ideals.  Even though your involvement politics brought many setbacks to our family, you have the strength to continue.  In my heart, I will be proud of you forever."

Based upon my understanding, the so-called "human flesh serach" is to use the force of netizens to expose certain facts that were previously unknown.  By its nature, it is no different from the verbal communication in our daily lives.  The search is conducted by individual netizens.  However, the open nature of the Internet means that the search results can become public information in an instant.

Compared to the self-restraints proposed by netizens in the "human flesh search treaty," the local laws enacted by the People's Congress of Xuzhou city "against human flesh search" not only showed a failure to understand the nature of the problem, they also defy commonsense with respect to the Internet.  Given the open nature of the Internet and the size of the netizen population, how can a city ban "human flesh search" on its own?  People outside of Xuzhou can continue to run "human flesh searches" on people and things in Xuzhou.

"Human flesh search" certain needs to be regulated, but to ban or eliminate "human flesh searches" is to a large extent a false issue.  When Xuzhou city enacted the law to ban "human search engine," we can just laugh it off and pay it no mind.  But what really deserves our attention is that the Xuzhou city People's Congress wanted to punish people for their transgressions by banning them from accessing the Internet for six months."

This is probably unheard of to prohibit someone from accessing the Internet as punishment.  For now, let us not even worry about whether this is feasible.  This policy of banning Internet access is ten times more absurd as banning "human flesh searches."  In the Internet era, this kind of ban is a ban on the citizens' right to know about public information, as well as their right to speak about their views on various policies and public issues.  It is also a ban on the right to be entertained, the right to communicate with others and so on.  Therefore, this is an absolute violation of personal freedom.  I do not believe that a local People's Congress has the right to deprive the citizens' right for Internet access.

 

I was at the home of a friend watching the live broadcast of Obama's inaugural speech on CNN and CCTV.  On CCTV, the speech was translated into Chinese simultaneously...

And then it came to this line ... "Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism ..."  Then came the sudden recognition that something is wrong.  The voice was quickly lowered ...

The television program host was speechless for 5 seconds and could not react ...

The live broadcast was then switched to a news documentary

Meanwhile, other published sources had no problem with publishing the paragraph verbatim (e.g. Daqi):

回想先前的世代力抗法西斯主义和共产主义,靠的除了飞弹和战车之外,还有强固的联盟和持久的信念。他们知道单单力量本身不足以让我们自保,也不能让我们为所欲为。相反地,他们知道我们的力量因为谨慎使用而增强,我们的安全源自我们理想的正当性,我们所树立楷模的力量,以及谦逊和克制所具有的调和特质。

(KDNet)

回顾过去,几代人在战胜法西斯主义和共产主义时依靠的不仅仅是导弹和坦克,更是牢固的联盟和不渝的信念。他们懂得单凭实力无法保护我们的安全,实力也并不赋予我们随心所欲的权利。相反,他们知道审慎使用实力会使我们更强大;我们的安全源于事业的正义性、典范的感召力、以及谦卑和克制的平衡作用。

"Face down" should be "to confront boldly or intimidate (an opponent, critic, etc.)."  The first translation above is "resist forcibly."  The second translation is "victorious over."


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