The Wenchuan earthquake occurred on May 12, 2008.  The city of Dujiangyan was located only 11 kilometers from the earthquake epicenter and suffered losses of 3,091 deaths, 4,610,000 million square meters of collapsed housing and 41,260,000 square meters of damaged housing.  In particular, 95% of the houses in the mountainous areas were destroyed or damaged.  Clearly, it was an important component of the reconstruction to provide housing for the earthquake victims.

In Cuiyuehu town, residents are rebuilding their own homes following regulations.  The government provides compensation at 20,000 yuan per capital.  For example, resident Cheng Yuanliang of Brigade 13, Wugui village has 8 family members and therefore received 160,000 yuan in state compensation.  Together with family savings, they have built a two-storey house of more than 300 square meters.

In the various towns, the newly constructed houses have more similar architectural styles and better infrastructure.  Many reporters were impressed by the fact that the post-earthquake rural buildings are every bit as good as upscale villas in the major cities.

[ESWN comment: Is this propaganda?  Probably.  But how do you counter it?  Do you keep harping about the tofu buildings and the dead students?  Given photos like these, many Chinese citizens will probably wish that an earthquake occur where they live.]

On February 15, 1998, the nephew of Zhaolou village (Shangqiu city) resident Zhao Zhenshang reported to the police that his uncle has been missing for more than four months and he suspected village resident Zhao Zuohai of foul play.  The police began an investigation.

On May 8, 1999, an unidentified body with no head and no lower legs was found while a well was being dug in Zhaolou village.  The police believed that the body belonged to Zhao Zhenshang and therefore they arrested Zhao Zuohai as a suspected murderer on May 9.

Between May 10 and June 18, Zhao Zuohai made confessions on nine different occasions.

On October 22, 2002, the Shangqiu city procuratorate charged Zhao Zuohai with premeditated murder.

On December 5, 2002, the Shangqiu city middle court found the defendant Zhao Zuohai guilty of murder and sentenced him to death (with a two year suspension) and permanent deprivation of political rights.

On February 13, 2003, the Henan provincial supreme court reviewed the case and affirmed the lower court's verdict.

On April 30, the murder victim Zhao Zhenshang showed up in Zhaolou village.  When the Shangqiu Middle Court learned that Zhao Zhenshang had resurfaced, they immediately sent people there.  They spoke with Zhao Zhenshang, his sister, his niece and the village cadres and confirmed that the man was indeed Zhao Zhenshang.

According to Zhao Zhenshang's own account: On the night of October 30, 1997, he took a kitchen knife from his own home, went to the home of a certain local woman and took a swing at the head of Zhao Zuohai.  He became scared at having committed murder and therefore left home with his bicycle, blanket, ID and four hundred yuan in cash without telling anyone.  Thereafter, he became a scavenger all over the place and he never contacted his family.  Last year, he became ill and the doctors told him to return to his home village to see if he can get medical insurance to pay for his treatment.

On May 8, the Henan provincial court made the following decisions: (1) rescind the verdict against Zhao Zuohai and pronounce him to be innocent; (2) immediately forward the relevant documents to the prison authorities for the release of Zhao Zuohai; (3) arrange for state compensation as well as provide for the future of Zhao Zuohai.  The provincial court disciplinary committee will also investigate to hold those responsible for the wrong verdict accountable.

So far, this is another case of overzealous law enforcement people trying to solve a murder case to the point of extracting confession by coercion.  But what happens next has led to a new term in Internet terminology ("being touristed").

Zhao Zuohai had been serving his time at the Number One Prison in Kaifeng city, Henan province.  On the evening of May 8, his brother-in-law Yu Fangxin was notified about the court decisions and he immediately traveled to Kaifeng city overnight.  At 8am yesterday, Yu Fangxin, government and court officials went to the prison to pick up Zhao Zuohai.  The group returned to Shangqiu city at 10am.

Since Zhao Zuohai's home had fallen into disuse by now, his family expected him to come to his sister's home.  So a large gathering of the relatives, friends and neighbors waited there.  At around noon on May 9, Yu Fangxin called the storeowner near his house to relay a message his daughter that they were not going to be back home by noon.

At around 3pm, Zhao Zuohai's uncle received a call from the police to say that " Zhao Zuohai is with the Zhecheng county party secretary who wants to take him away on a tourist trip."  The uncle called Yu Fangxin, but that phone was shut down.

At around 4pm, our reporter went to the Zhecheng county party office and met with the publicity office deputy director named Li.  Li called the Zhecheng county political and legal committee secretary named Liu, who said that he does not know the whereabouts of Zhao Zuohai.

As 11pm, Zhao Zuohai is still not home yet.

At 10:35pm on May 8, a construction wall in Tianhe district, Guangzhou city collapsed and trapped eight workers under the rubble.  At 10:37pm, the Guangzhou city fire department received a call and immediately dispatched fire engines and rescue teams with 60 officers to the scene.

The rescuers quickly retrieved four injured workers and sent them off to the hospital for treatment.  The other four workers were buried underneath a rubble consisting of steel and concrete.  The firemen used electric saws to remove the debris on top of the workers.  After three hours, the four workers were dug out but they were already dead.

Yes, this seems to be another tragedy arising from an industrial accident.  So what?  Here is the other side of the story.

(Southern Metropolis Daily)

When dozens of Guangzhou media reporters got to the scene, they found that the construction site had no markings apart from the words "Guangzhou Construction" on the iron gates in front.  The rest of the construction site was walled off.  The reporters saw at least seven fire engines inside and many more ambulances waiting outside.

During the process of news gathering by the reporters, the dozen or so security guards stood outside the iron gate.  Whenever the reporters tried to enter, they would block the way.

When a car came out, the security guards held hands to form a human wall in case a reporter tried to sneak in.  Someone even yelled out, "If these reporters come in, we'll beat them up as if they are thieves."  Another man dressed in black told the security guards, "If a reporter tries to enter, I will pretend to fall down on the ground and you guys should report the assault to the police."

At around 2:30am, a man wearing a safety helmet came out and entered a Toyota Corolla without a license plate.  He declined to be interviewed.  Several minutes later, a BMW without license plate arrived at the gate.  But the police did not investigate these two cars without license plates.

The human wall formed by the security guard not only prevented the ambulances from entering, but they also prevented the fire engines from leaving.  At 1:25am, an ambulance from the Tianhe Chinese Medicine Hospital arrived but the security guards blocked it from entering the site.  At 1:35am, the ambulance left with the doctor saying that they didn't know what they were not being allowed to enter. At 2:19am, an ambulance from the Huangpu Chinese Medicine Hospital arrived but it was also blocked from entering.  After arguing for four minutes, it was permitted to enter.

At 1:40am, a fire engine wanted to exit, but the security guards impeded its movement.  20 minutes later, the fire engine was allowed to depart.

At 2:20am, a senior police official arrived at the scene.  The reporters asked him for permission to enter.  He assented and told the reporters to follow him.  But as soon as he stepped in, the security guards rushed up at the order of two men dressed in black.  Shoving and pushing ensured and the situation went out of control.  The police official said, "Please wait" and entered himself while escorted by the security guards who immediately shut the gates again.

During this period, a man who claimed to be from the Tianhe district party publicity department was at the scene.  He ignored the fact that the reporters were being blocked by the security guards.  When the reporters asked him about the cause and extent of the accident, he pretended to be making a phone call and quickly left the scene.  He also refused to give out his name.

At 0:30am, two women arrived at the scene.  They were also prevented from entering.  The two of them are sisters and their respective husbands were among the eight workers.  The two women work at a paper mill.  At 10pm or so, they received a call that their husbands were involved in an accident.  Therefore, they came over to find out what was going.  At 3:00am or so, it was confirmed that the two men were dead.  They were the last two workers to be found.

(China Daily)  Ministry: Time to get ‘real’ on China’s Internet    May 4, 2010

China has been actively promoting a real-name registration system for Internet and cell phone users to better manage Internet information and services, said Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office.

Earlier efforts to adopt a real-name registration system for website moderators at major news portals and big commercial sites, as well as a ban on “anonymous” comments following news stories, have achieved substantial results, Wang told the country’s top legislature last Thursday. “We’re also exploring an identity authentication system for users of online bulletin board systems,” he said.

This is the first time the central government has confirmed a push for an online real-name registration system and its possible further expansion. People now have to log onto major websites with a user name to post comments, while before they could comment anonymously.

(Telegraph)  China to force internet users to register real names.  By Peter Foster.  May 5, 2010.

China is considering measures to force all its 400m internet users to register their real names before making comments on the country's myriad chat-rooms and discussion forums, in a further sign of tightening controls on freedom of speech.

The move comes less than a week after China announced a hardening of its State Secrets law, requiring internet and mobile phone operators to inform on their customers and co-operate with police demands for information on users. Plans to make all online users register have been debated for years in China, but senior officials have confirmed that the government is now actively investigating how to implement a system of real-name registration.

"We are also exploring an identity authentication system for users of online bulletin board systems," said Wang Chen, the vice-head of the ruling Communist Party's propaganda department in a speech to China's top legislature reported by the state-run China Daily newspaper.

Chinese online users are already banned from making anonymous comments on online news portals, but they are allowed to use "net-names" which obscure their real identity. In a country where print and television media is tightly controlled, the discussion platforms are one of the few vibrant places of debate where citizens air grievances and are frequently critical of the government.

The announcement drew a predictably scathing response from online users angry at yet further plans to curtail freedom of speech. "I am afraid there will be more harassment or reprisals if real-name registration system is enforced," wrote one user of the popular bulletin board. "Stopping the free flow of people's thoughts will cause more damage than stopping the water flowing in the rivers," added another on the Tianya website. "China will soon enter an era when people only dare to contact each other with eyes rather than by talking," wrote a third, drawing a literary allusion to the ancient Chinese tyrant-emperor who so controlled his subjects speech that they dared only make eye contact in the street. 

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  "An Internet identity authentication system?"  By Tan Renwei.  May 10, 2010.

Recently many news web portals and even traditional media outlets were reporting that "the State Council Information Office says that an Internet identity authentication system is being developed in order to enhance control over the Internet."  Our reporter investigated the situation and found out that this was a "news story" that came as a result of translation errors between Chinese and English.

On May 6, a certain party website published a report titled <Indian media pay attention to China's real-name registration for Internet commenting>: "On May 6, India Times quoted a report in China Daily that the State Council Information Office says that an Internet identity authentication system is being developed in order to enhance control over the Internet.  Once this system goes into operation, website administrators as well as Internet users who want to post comments must register under their real names.  This is the first time the central government has confirmed the plan to have an online real-name registration system.  Several years ago, the first disclosure of such a system raised a storm.  The report also said that Chinese Internet users now must register before they can comment, but they are not required to use their real names."  This story was quickly re-posted at the major portals and published in traditional media outlets.

Our reporter consulted the original <China Daily> and <India Times> reports.  They quoted State Council Information Office director Wang Chen: "We are also exploring an identity authentication system for users of online bulletin board systems."  It was this sentence that got translated into Chinese as "We are developing an identity authentication system for users of online bulletin board systems."

The <China Daily> report also noted the origin of Wang Chen's remark -- he was addressing the National People's Congress Standing Committee on April 29.  The reporter checked and found out that during that talk, Wang Chen never spoke about such a system.  His original words were "exploratory work on user identity authentication at online bulletin board systems."   When this sentence was translated first into English and then back into Chinese, it became "developing an identity authentication system for online bulletin board systems."

Wang Chen's speech was covered previously in news reports but drew little attention.  After the translations, it became a brand new story that raised doubts and speculations about a real-name registration system.  Many websites have deleted the news reports now.  At a certain party website, the link now leads to "This page does not exist."

I like Donnie Yen's kungfu movies.  Just like <Ip Man 1> last year, I watched <Ip Man 2> as soon as it came on.  Due to the heavy promotion by the production company beforehand, I had even higher expectations for the sequel.  I was somewhat disappointed after watching it.  I felt like the current saying: Donnie Yen was in charge of <Ip Mon 1> but Huang Xiaoming took over in <Ip Man 2>.  Donnie Yen had presented a thorough and vivid portrait of the role as a flesh-and-blood martial master with character, patience, patriotism, integrity and more importantly he was a family man.  Huang Xiaoming played Ip Man's first pupil Huang Liang as a young tough guy.  This is not to deprecate <Ip Man 2> but it was likeable and funny to see Huang Xiaoming depart from his usual solemnity and masculinity.  As kungfu movies, there is practically nothing to complain about both <Ip Man 1> and <Ip Man 2>.  But if we compare them to the Hollywood classics, they are still far behind (and it would take several more essays to explain why).

Overall, <Ip Man 2> is an upgrade of <Ip Man 1>.  In <Ip Man 1>, Ip Man's victory over the Japanese karate artist General Miura incited nationalistic passions.  In <Ip Man 2>, Ip Man's victory of English champion "Twister" incited even greater nationalistic passions.  In China, movies sell tickets through manipulating nationalistic passions.  In terms of that era, no matter what the true history or the embellished versions are, every Chinese person ought to have nationalistic sentiments.

The cast in <Ip Man 2> is basically the same one as <Ip Man 1>.  The director Wilson Yip worked again with the lead actor Donnie Yen; Sammo Hung continued as the action director as well as playing the master of the Hong Style Sect; Fan Xiaohuang, Lynn Hung, Simon Yam also appeared in <Ip Man 2>.  The team ensured that the sequel would match <Ip Man 1> in tone and style.  The only difference is that there is more fighting in <Ip Man 2>.  Basically, the movie went with inciting passions all the way.  Apart from the fighting, there is more fighting.  Fight, fight, fight ...

In terms of the story line, <Ip Man 2> is even more intricate than <Ip Man 1>.  With respect to nationalistic passions, <Ip Man 2> was clearly even more over the top.  <Ip Man 2> is actually a simple simple story.  Ip Man takes on some pupils; the pupils caused trouble; the Hung Style Sect master shows up; and this should have been the climax.  But then the Hung Style Sect master fights the English boxing champion Twister and is killed.  Ip Man assumes the responsibility of revenging his friend and defending the honor of the Chinese people and enters the ring against the English champion.  Once again, nationalistic passions are inflamed.  All the details were meticulously crafted as the story ebbed and flowed.  The director Wilson Yip managed to tell this simple story in a flawless manner.

The best parts of <Ip Man 2> are Ip Man facing the challenges from other martial arts masters and his final fight against Twister.  The rapid close fighting of Ip Man meshed well with the fast rhythmic music and brings the blood to boiling point.  At the premiere showing, someone in the audience yelled: "Hit!  Hit him!  Kill the foreign devil!"  The applause kept coming, maybe because the movie was good or maybe because it was great to see that foreign devil being knocked down and searching for his teeth on the ground.  In this sense, <Ip Man 2> was not different from the traditional Chinese movies which aimed to sell tickets through nationalism and patriotism.  There is nothing wrong with that per se.  But the huge ticket sales over the first few days makes one wary about the rise of nationalism in China!

In terms of the characters, everybody else other than Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung and Huang Xiaoming are blurry.  Fan Xiaohuang's role as Jin Shanzhao was one of the best characters in <Ip Man 1> but in the sequel, he appears as a minor petty character without even one piece of action.  That is regrettable.  Playing Ip Man's wife, Lynn Hung had little or no interaction with Donnie Yen.  In this hot-blooded movie, the wife of Ip Man has been the most unlikable character.  In <Ip Man 1>, she was cold and indifferent and she continued the same way in <Ip Man 2>.  One would have thought that after the dramatic events in <Ip Man 1>, she would be more supportive of her husband's martial arts career.  But no, she was the same old way.  Maybe the script required her to do that, or maybe Lynn Hung is naturally like that.  Who wants to face a cold shrew with a stern face all the time at home?  Simon Yam who had just won a Best Actor award and the child star Sik Siulung had pedestrian roles which I almost did not catch. 

Sammo Hung had a strong and powerful role, but unfortunately he was there only to highlight Ip Man.  When he got into the ring to challenge Twister, I knew that he was going to either die or be seriously hurt.  He died so that nationalistic passions could be inflamed.  Ip Man should have gone in the ring right there and then but the script suspended the action.  While the responsibility of "killing that foreign bastard" fell upon Ip Man, the timing was probably going to be about the same time in the movie when Ip Man beat the Japanese fighter in <Ip Man 1>.  I don't understand why the director would not let Ip Man kill the English champion right there and then.  It would have aroused nationalistic passion even more and thus sell even more tickets!

In the movie, Ip Man said: "Today's match was not intended to show that Chinese martial arts are better than western boxing.  Although people have high and low social statuses, there is no difference in the nature of people!"  This was the brightest point in the movie.  No matter in Ip Man's era or today, this saying undoubtedly conveyed certain universal values!

As for the young boy who showed up seeking a teacher at the end of the movie, I found it incredible.  Was this to tell us that Ip Man had a pupil named Bruce Lee, or was this going to be the basis of <Ip Man 3>?  If there is going to be an <Ip Man 3>, then the American boxing champion will surely be the next to fall ...

In Guansheng town, Chongzhou city, Sichuan province, there are many restaurants serving press duck dishes.  One of these restaurants is a family business owned by a man named Liu Dehua, who named his restaurant The Original Liu Dehua's Press Duck Restaurant.  The restaurant has been operating from that location for 30 years.

Unfortunately for Mr. Liu, he happened to have the same Chinese name as famous Hong Kong actor/singer Andy Lau.  Recently 65-year-old Mr. Liu received notice to change the name of his restaurant on the grounds that it is damaging the reputation of Andy Lau.  Mr. Liu's son said, "The reason was that our use of the trademark was detrimental to socialism, morality or customs, and/or other bad effects.  How are we doing that?"

Mr. Liu's son wondered why a person can't use his own name to open a restaurant?  He said: "When we first started using this name, Andy Lau wasn't even born yet.  Besides, Liu Dehua isn't even Andy Lau's real name.  This is only his stage name.  His real name is Liu Furong."

Last Friday, our reporter went to visit the restaurant.  It was lunch time and the place was filled with diners.  The family members were working hard.  His second son was taking orders and passing out the food; his granddaughter was bringing out more rice and addming water; Mr. Liu himself was the busiest person as he supervised the cooking, cleared the tables and swept the floor.

The children said that Liu became depressed after receiving the legal letter.  Nowadays he either kept busy or else he sat in a corning silently smoking cigarettes.  "My dad is always 70years old.  He toiled most of his life.  And now he has to be vexed by something like this.  This is too harsh!"

Mr. Liu said: "Maybe he didn't really start this himself.  It could be his company or his subordinates who had time on hand."

Mr. Liu said that he has hired a trademark company to defend himself.  The position is that there is nothing wrong with Mr. Liu Dehua using his own real name to open a press duck restaurant.  By happenstance, Andy Lau is a celebrity and this may elevate the commercial prospects for the restaurant.  Both sides have cause, so the case should be referred to arbitrators.

(Ming Pao)

The case of the Original Liu Dehua's Press Duck Restaurant drew a great deal of attention, to the point where Andy Lau even wrote on his blog: "Uncle, don't worry, it'll be alright!"  Yesterday, Andy Lau's trademark representative announced that they will take no action against the Original Liu Dehua's Press Duck Restaurant.  They emphasized that they were only concerned about fake and misleading trademarks and they have no intention of stopping others from using their own names.

Our reporter called the children of Liu Dehua in Sichuan and informed them about this development.  They were very happy to hear that this matter is finally closed, and they immediately told their father.  Mr. Liu was very happy not to be vexed anymore about the trademark issue, and he hopes to return to a normal life.

Recently, a certain photograph was widely circulated on the Internet with the caption: "Parents raise an awesome banner at a kindergarten: 'Injustice and debts have their rightful owners -- make a right turn and the government office is right there'."  This was promptly posted at the various Internet forums, microblogs and social networks such as Renren and Kaixin001.

The background was clearly about the recent series of mass murders of children across China.  The simple explanation was that people angry at the government took in out on the very vulnerable children instead.  This supposedly led some parents to urge people to direct their anger at the right targets instead.

Yesterday our reporter tracked down the course of events.  The earliest post was made by a netizen named "Yu" on the microblog at 7:43 on April 30, 2010.  But he was only re-posting and not the original author.  The reporter then found out that the kindergarten in the photo was the Grand Kindergarten in Shenzhen city, Guangdong province.  The kindergarten had a student recruit banner on the wall saying: "Welcome chldren to come to the Grand Kindergarten on August 15; free trial; application telephone numger 29506937."

"I was informed about the matter at some time after noon.  I was in the lobby.  I immediately rushed out to check the banner.  I did not see the banner in the photograph."  Kindergarten director Sun Hong told our reporter.  When the teachers got on the Internet and searched for the keywords, they found the PhotoShop-ed photo of their school and were shocked.  They printed the two photos and made a comparison.  They reached the conclusion that the Internet photo was a spoof by some netizen.  They have found the original photo to which PhotoShop was applied.

"We took that photograph in 2007 when we opened the school and wanted to recruit students."  Sun Hong provided our reporter with the original photo.  According to the EXIF data on the photo, it was taken on August 8, 2007 on a Canon DIGITAL XU S40 camera.

As to why the kindergarten became the target of a spoof, Sun Hong said that their kindergarten was part of a real estate development project and therefore a photo was used for promotional purposes.  This photo was found by some netizen as the material for a spoof.  "This happened by chance.  I don't think that they deliberately chose us."

1. 2008

1. In order to understand Han Han, you must do so through reading his blog.  Once you read through his entire blog, you will quickly find an important line of demarcation: 2008!

2. Before 2008, Han Han rarely addresses current affairs.  Most of the time, his blog was about "personal exercises" about his personal life, auto racing and cultural affairs.  After 2008, the focus of Han Han's blog has clearly shifted towards "public issues" (especially current affairs).

3. The year 2008 was the watershed when Han Han crossed from the personal to the public.  This change was rather dramatic.  For example, the blog <Certain unreasonable traffic setups in Shanghai> at the end of 2007 was rather sedate and fact-based.  After 2008, there were no more current affairs blogs that were so serene.

4. I have always enjoyed reading Han Han.  But after reviewing all the blogs by Han Han again, I found that my "always" actually began from 2008.

5. That is to say, as far as I was concerned, Han Han became the Han Han of today after he began to pay attention to public issues in 2008.  Otherwise there was no difference between Han Han and Guo Jingming -- they are both successful cultural elite with the only difference being their writing styles.

6. When someone expresses his opinions on public issues persistently, he is a "public intellectual."  After 2008, everything that Han Han did was what a "public intellectual" does.  More precisely, this is the core value of Han Han.

7. But Han Han has emphasized repeatedly that he is just an "ordinary lad" and declined the title of "public intellectual."  The reason was that the public have been manipulated too often by so-called "experts" and "public intellectuals."  As a result, the term "public intellectual" is a "dirty word" in the eyes of the Internet public.  Conversely, the term "ordinary lad" is more likely to be identified with by the masses and therefore a really good role title.  Han Han played smartly to the masses.

8.  It does not matter what the title is, "public intellectual" or an "ordinary lad" who likes to discuss current affairs.  Apart from such "interests" such as enjoying media and fan attention, one should assume the most basic responsibilities -- to follow the facts and to respect reason.

2. Revealing his true self

1. Since 2008, Han Han's blog was very much "locked on" the hot social issues, especially the hot Internet stories.  Wherever there is a hot spot, there is Han Han!

2. Han Han's writings carries strong feelings and is particularly suited for Internet reading.  At the same time, his writings are humorous, sarcastic and adept in using allusions.  Overall, technically speaking, Han Han is a first-rate essayist in China.

3. Han Han's blog almost always stands on the side of the "weak" (in the eyes of the public).  He sympathizes with the weak against the powers that be.

4. Always the "hot spots," first-rate "writing," correct "positions."  This is Han Han.  This is the charisma of Han Han.

5. Because of these three points, I turned from not paying much attention to Han Han into becoming one of his fans.  Especially the third point about the "positions."  Every time that I read Han Han's essays, I felt that this guy was saying the right things that matched what I felt.  This took place many times until I read two Han Han essays when I finally saw the truth.

6. The first essay was about the case of the Hangzhou speeding driver (known as the case of "70 kilometers per hour") in the essay <Hu Bin goes in, Hu Liaobin comes out>.  The background of the story was that the Internet rumor has it that the suspect was switched with another person at the court trial leading to popular mistrust of the court.  Han Han's essay did not analyze any of the facts and simply continued to propagate the message of mistrust.  Han's mistrust reinforced the public mistrust.  Since Han Han had met the suspect before, I thought about what I would write about if I come across the same situation?  Basically, I only have one way of writing this -- based upon my acquaintance with the person, I would analyze the facts.  But Han Han did not do that at all.  As usual, he "correctly" echoed the sentiments of the Internet masses.  That essay made me somewhat uneasy.

7. The second essay was about the killings in Taizhou: <Children, you are ruining grandpa's fun>.  In the essay, Han Han did not make any real attempt to analyze the motive of the killer.  He wrote: "When there is no outlet in society, the only way out for them is to kill those who are even weaker than they are" and "a huge reason why these killings occur is that this society is unfair and unjust."  Both of these assertions are irrational, but also what the masses "like to hear."  When I read them, I suddenly woke up: I need to be cautious about Han Han.

3. Caution

1. Let me repeat once more: Han Han's value = (always the "hot spots") + (first-rate "writing") + (correct "positions").

2. The first point is "hype" and give no cause for much criticism.  In fact, Han Han has to do so because this is what a public intellectual does.  On this point, I fully support him.

3. The second point is a "talent" which is absolutely worthy of admiration.  On this point, everyone who is into writing should learn from Han Han.

4. It is necessary to be cautious about the "correct positions."  Here Han Han's "correctness" is not the respect for the facts but pandering to public emotions.  Can you really find an essay in which Han Han stands opposed to the public sentiments!  This is too suspicious.  Are public sentiments always correct?!  Definitely not.  (For example, in the first example of the case of "70 kilometers per hour," the fact was that there was no switcheroo in court)  But Han Han has no independent thinking.  All his "positions" fall into one thing -- public sentiments!

5. One netizen said, "to speak for the people" is not "to say what the people like to hear."  Indeed!

6. All of the criticisms above has nothing whatsoever to do with the commercial interests of Han Han.  This essay does not address any commercial interests at all.  Han Han deserves all the commercial interests that he is getting now.

7. This essay wants to say one thing: So far, Han Han has not shown any independent thinking.  All his essays are designed to pander to public emotions.  Furthermore, they pander "irregardless of the facts."

8. This essay is written for observant and conscientious people.

On December 18, 1996, a man who had tied dynamite onto his body charged into a kindergarten in Zhengzhou city, Henan province.  He kept 28 children and two teachers hostage.  The female police officer Wang Yurong disguised herself as a female teacher and went into the classroom to negotiate with the hostage taker.  She caught the right moment to fire three shots at the hostage taker, killed her instantly and freed all the hostages safely.

Recently, the Zhengzhou city public security and the Henan TV Group decided to film this story together.

The film group selected a kindergarten in Zhengzhou city to re-enact the hostage situation.  The filming took place on the first day of school after the May 1st holiday.  According to a worker at the kindergarten, they selected several dozen children to appear in the show.  These children who are five- or six-year-olds were said to have volunteered themselves.  However, the worker declined to answer the question about whether parents were informed that violence is involved in the show.

According to Zhengzhou city resident Mr. Yang, his 5-1/2 year old daughter was one of the temporary actresses for the show.  Ever since the filming, the daughter would wake up in the middle of the night crying and repeating: "I'm scared!  I'm scared!"  Mr. Yang and his wife has questioned their daughter many times about what happened.  The daughter said that when she and her fellow students could not cry in terror as demanded by the director, the film crew yelled at them: "The earthquake is coming! You better start crying!"  Indeed, she and her fellow students were scared until they started crying aloud.

Mr. Yang said that her daughter does not want to go back to the school anymore.  The parents of other students claimed that apart from lying to the children that "the earthquake is coming," the film crew also uttered other threatening words.  They also staged the scenes of violence right in front of the children.

When Mr. Yang went to pick up her daughter on the day of the filming, he took out a camera to capture the "evidence."  He was surrounded by a dozen or so film crew people.  They accused him of interfering with official business and violating image rights.  They also assaulted Mr. Yang, leaving scratch marks on this neck.  The police had to be summoned to mediate.

The kindergarten principal has apologized to Mr. Yang.  He promised that Mr. Yang's daughter will be provided with the appropriate psychological counseling.

With respect to the May 16th Legislative Council by-election,
25%: Proportion definitely will vote
44%: Propensity to vote ("definitely will" + "most likely")
(Note: It should be noted that, 44% likely voters would not give a 44% turnout rate, because many people who claim they would vote at this stage would eventually not vote.  If we would depreciate the figure by half or one-third according to historical patterns to calculate the final turnout rate, we would have a figure between 22% and 29%.)

“Firm votes” is defined as likely voters who have already decided how to vote, while “stray votes” is defined as likely voters who have not decided how they would vote, or those who would not support any candidates and might cast blank votes.

Hong Kong Island
44%: Proportion of likely votes
28%: Proportion of firm votes
16%: Proportion of stray votes (including 15% who won't support any candidates)
Strength of candidates among firm votes
26%: Tanya Chan
  2%: Others

Kowloon West
47%: Proportion of likely votes
30%: Proportion of firm votes
17%: Proportion of stray votes (including 15% who won't support any candidates)
Strength of candidates among firm votes
18%: Wong Yuk-man (19% during April 8-25 survey)
10%: Peck Wan-kam (5% during April 8-25 survey)
  2%: Others

Kowloon East
43%: Proportion of likely votes
35%: Proportion of firm votes
  8%: Proportion of stray votes (including 7% who won't support any candidates)
Strength of candidates among firm votes
32%: Alan Leong Kah-kit
  3%: Others

New Territories West
42%: Proportion of likely votes
25%: Proportion of firm votes
17%: Proportion of stray votes (including 14% who won't support any candidates)
Strength of candidates among firm votes
21%: Chan Wai-yip
  4%: Others

New Territories East
44%: Proportion of likely votes
30%: Proportion of firm votes
14%: Proportion of stray votes (including 14% who won't support any candidates)
Strength of candidates among firm votes
25%: Leung Kwok-hung
  5%: Others

Three photos by Eighth China Photo Contest award winner Yang Xiaoyu and one photo by award winner Ouyang Xingkai were declared to have used computer software to modify the raw photos.  As such, these works do not reflect the original situations and therefore violate the principle of authenticity for documentary photography.  Therefore, the awards to Yang Xiaoyu and Ouyang Xingkai have been rescinded effectively immediately.

No photos, no truth.  So here we go:

Specifically the charge refers to the use of cut-and-paste.  Can you tell where it is?

So far, the deepest impression of the Expo on me has been the volunteers.  They are many in numbers, so that I see them every few steps.  Also, they are being relied upon by people who need help, including the managers.

I thought that they are working too hard.  They toil under the hot sun.  They begin working at 7am.  Several nights on my way back to the hotel after dinner, I saw them leaving in their Expo buses.  The tired faces seen through the bus windows were heart-breaking.

The Expo Park uses a human wave strategy so that the spectators can find volunteers to help them anytime.  But was it necessary to have so many volunteers at the same time?  In many places, there is a volunteer every several meters.  At the News Center, it should be enough to have one security guard each side to check credentials.  But they added a volunteer to accompany each security guard.  Inside the News Center, there are volunteers at the elevators and corridors.  I don't know what the purpose was.  Security or service?  I am worried about whether they can hold up for the more than 180 days to come.

But I am most concerned about the scope of their work.

On Monday morning in front of the China Pavilion, a Hong Kong television cameraman clashed with a volunteer, who broke the camera.  The incident began when the cameraman entered the queue to film and the China Pavilion worker let the volunteer go and tell the cameraman to move on.  When the cameraman refused to listen, the volunteer used his hand to slap the camera.  During the argument, other Hong Kong reporters converged.  The volunteer got upset and slapped the camera again.  The entire process was captured on film.

People can have their say about who was right or wrong.  But I want to know just who is responsible for public safety at the China Pavilion.  It ought to be the responsibility of the security guards.  This is a professional and risky assignment which should not be given to inexperienced volunteers.  Right?  Is it fair to blame everything on the volunteer afterwards?

From the fact that this volunteer slapped the camera a second time, it can be seen that this was a young man who was not good at controlling his emotions.  In truth, it is unrealistic to ask a young man to maintain his cool while facing several cameras.  I am concerned that this volunteer may face sanctions by his school or other authorities as a result of this incident.  Ultimately, this is a lesson for this young student but he should not be paying a huge price.

I also hope that certain people will reflect on why these young and inexperienced students are being put on the front line.  Is this the responsible thing to do?  A volunteer is just someone who offers his time to provide service to others.  They do not represent cheap labor.  They deserve respect.  When there are problems, they need protection instead of being held fully responsible.

At the Beijing Olympics, the volunteers not only solve the manpower problem for the organizers but they also gain something for themselves.  It was an invaluable experience for those young people.  Similarly at the Shanghai Expo, many volunteers look forward to enrich their life experiences.

The volunteers do what they are told and they do not have a choice.  But it should be commonsense that the volunteers should not be in the front line.  They should not have to handle conflicts themselves.  They should only be providing assistance.  When people enter the Expo Park, they should not be asking the volunteers to solve problems.  They should be asking the paid workers whose job it is to solve those problems.

Volunteers are very wonderful.  Even though they ask for no reward, the spectators and the supervisors should give them a minimal respect, so that the young people will also learn to respect others.  If not, there will only be disappointment and despair behind their smiles.  If they should ever become public servants some day, how will they learn to respect others?

I remember the first day that I went to get my press pass in Shanghai.  Nothing went well.  While we waited patiently, some reporters unavoidably vented their anger on the volunteers.  If you think about just where the problems lie, you would feel that it is very stupid to harangue these young people.

On that day, there was a government official friend who was present at the scene the whole time.  He told me that he was there to take the heat because he did not want people to get mad at the volunteers who were just students.  On that day, the volunteers were lucky because they are often used as human shields at other times.

(SCMP)  ATV reporters involved in scuffle with volunteers at Shanghai Expo   By Regina Leung.  May 4, 2010.

Hong Kong reporters covering the World Expo in Shanghai were on Tuesday involved in a minor scuffle with volunteers at the venue, Asia Television (ATV) footage showed. A camera used by an ATV television crew from Hong Kong was damaged when a volunteer tried to force reporters away, the footage showed. The scuffles broke out on Tuesday morning between ATV reporters and volunteers charged with maintaining order.

Television footage showed the journalists were trying to report on the large crowds queuing outside the China Pavilion. But they were stopped by expo volunteers, who were concerned about overcrowding. One of the volunteers then put his hands in front of the video camera and asked the journalists to leave, which led to scuffles and arguments. A volunteer then struck and damaged one of the video cameras, the footage showed.  Later, one of the volunteers was taken away by police.

No video, no truth.  Here are the TV news reports:



However, there is a different view from a mainland netizen:

A volunteer broke the camera of a Hong Kong journalist; but this time, I as a supporter of freedom and liberty spit on the journalist

It is obviously wrong to use force arbitrarily, but here are the key points:

Firstly, the journalist inserted himself in the queue and remained stationary.  This caused congestion in the queue and it became extremely dangerous when the people behind keep pushing ahead.  This was the precondition of a stampede.

Secondly, the volunteer and the supervisor (in the light green jacket) began with verbal admonitions.  And all their physical forces were directed against the equipment.  They did not attack the journalist himself.  The only destructive force was directed at the camera screen in an unintentional way.

Thirdly, after the contact with the camera, the entourage of the journalist surrounded the volunteer and began to tug at him (as in pulling his name tag).  This caused the volunteer to slap at the camera once more.  But this did not apparently cause any more damage to the camera.

According to the time and place, the volunteer is probably a Fudan University student.  The video which was edited by the journalist whose camera was broken is likely to be the most unfavorable to the volunteer.  These volunteers do not appear to be violent types.  While I reject the level of force being used here, I must support this volunteer against the aggressiveness of the Hong Kong television journalist and his cohorts.

In order to film the chaos in the queues, the journalist deliberately stood still, blocked progress and endangered public safety.  This is not only against journalistic ethics about objectivity and fairness, it is also against basic human ethics.

Also, even though I don't like to speculate on people's motives, I sense a moral superiority in the Hong Kong media reports.  It seemed that they were smugly satisfied with the mistake which they ridiculed in order to exhibit their own moral superiority.  I don't like that feeling.  Regardless of the numerous betises by the World Expo folks, this cannot prove that this reporter was automatically correct.


If you had used the chaos scene to investigate what percent of the 50,000 quota at the China Exhibit was publicly distributed instead of being routed unfairly to privileged people, I would have saluted you.  But when you want to pile on individual young volunteers or other powerless old ladies, it shows that you have no journalistic boldness and imagination.

When your camera got broken this time, I think that it is more a case of paparazzi being beaten up instead of freedom of speech/press being suppressed.

That is why I am writing this in order to raise a middle finger against the reporter named Liang Jianhua and his team.

Yesterday at 11:20am, Beijing resident Mr. Ban took his 5-year-old daughter Yuanyuan to go shopping in the market.  Yuanyuan walked in front pushing her small red bicycle while Mr. Ban followed closely several steps behind.

When they walked by a real estate agency named "I Love My Home," a 20-something-year-old man in a grey-white jacket seized Yuanyuan.  "I thought that a neighbor was having fun.  I was ready to say hello."

But when the young man turned around, Mr. Ban got scared.  This stranger had a fierce look and he held a 20cm knife against Yuanyuan's neck.  The man told Mr. Ban to back off and summon the police.

Mr. Ban backed off to let the man calm down and then took out his mobile phone to call 110.  "My daughter is being held hostage in the street."

This sudden incident shocked the residents.  Mr. Ban's relatives and neighbors rushed to the scene.  But they did not want the young man to hurt the child, they dared not do anything.  "At the time, we cried and prayed to the heavens," said one of Mr. Ban's relatives.

Five minutes later, the police arrived at the scene.  Following procedure, they blocked off the street.  At around 11:30am, a male and a female plainclothes negotiation expert arrived and talked to him while standing 6 meters away.  The man called out a telephone number and demanded that the police summon a woman to meet him.

According to a worker at the "I Love My Home" real estate agency, the man told the police that this telephone number belongs to his Internet girlfriend.  She lives in this neighborhood but she refuses to meet with him.  On this day, she stood him up again and he was upset.  He demanded that the police call the number and get the woman to see him.  He was not letting the girl go otherwise.

According to eyewitnesses, Yuanyuan kept crying during the negotiation.  The woman did not show up.  So the man got excited and wanted to cut the little girl.  The negotiation expert and the police officers dissuaded him.

During the process, Mr. Ban was asked to leave the immediate vicinity.  "My child was in peril, but there was nothing that I could do.  I stood far away and watched.  I did not dare move my eyes away.  I was very concerned, but I couldn't do anything."

According to eyewitnesses, the man initially stood between two cars.  During the stalemate, he dragged the little girl one step at a time towards the entrance of "I Love My Home" until he was by the air conditioner by the steps.  The doors to the various shops were locked at the time.

By 12n, the police had completed their deployment.  The man was getting agitated.  "There was a cut mark on my daughter's neck.  She kept crying."  Mr. Ban said.

In order to ensure the safety of the child, the police commander decided that they could not wait any longer.  While the negotiation experts continued to talk to the man, a team of snipers got up to the top floor of the building on the opposite type.

At 12:11, the order was relayed to the sniper 32 meters away to open fire when there was a 100% chance of success.

"Bang!  It was like the sound of a small firecracker.  The man was shot dead."  Eyewitness Mr. Yao said that the man was shot on his left cheek.  His blood was splattered on the wall.  The police rushed up and took the little girl away.  Mr. Ban took the girl over from the police.  The girl was sent to Xuanwu Hospital for treatment.  She had nine stitches applied to the slash wound on her neck.  The wound was not very serious, and she has returned home.  When asked about the incident, she said nothing.  "My daughter is too young.  She does not full comprehend this incident."

Meanwhile, the neighbors applauded.  According to eyewitnesses, there were several hundred spectators, all of whom were worried about the safety of the little girl.  Resident Mr. Liu said that he was relieved after the shot was taken.  He praised the police for their decisiveness.  The sniper silently departed.

According to the police, they have been extra-vigilant after several recent cases of people killing children across China.


Q1. For the Chief Executive election in 2012, the Government now proposes that the representatives of Election Committee should be increased from 800 to 1,200 with around 100 representatives returned through election by elected District Council members from among themselves. Besides, every 150 Committee members can nominate 1 Chief Executive candidate, that is, the nomination threshold is set at the ratio of one-eighth of the total membership of the Election Committee. How much do you support or oppose this proposal?
44%: Support
10%: Half-half
29%: Oppose
16%: Don't know/hard to say

Q2. For the Legislative Council election in 2012, the Government now proposes that there should be 5 more seats of geographical constituencies and 5 more seats of functional constituencies, so the total would be 70 seats. Among them, 6 seats would be returned through election by elected District Council members by proportional representation, while existing functional seats remain unchanged. How much do you support or oppose this proposal?
39%: Support
12%: Half-half
35%: Oppose
14%: Don't know/hard to say

Q3. The Government has announced its political reform proposal for 2012. It is suggested that the Legislative Council (Legco) should pass the proposal so political reform won’t stand still. It is also suggested that the Legco should veto the proposal because it does not mention the roadmap to universal suffrage and the abolition of functional constituencies. Do you think the Legco should pass or veto the proposal?
48%: Pass
33%: Veto
18%: Don't know/hard to say

Q4. Do you suppose or oppose the de-facto referendum in five districts?
26%: Support
10%: Half-half
53%: Oppose

Q5. (Only ask registered voters, base=837) Will you vote in the coming Legislative Council by-election on May 16?
44%: Yes
45%: No
10%: Haven't decided yet
1%: Don't know/hard to say

(The Standard)  Macau still raging after May Day mayhem   By Diane Lee.  May 3, 2010.

The leader of a Macau trade union has been arrested for assaulting an Australian during a May Day rally that turned ugly. Forty-one 41 people, including 32 policemen and two journalists, were hurt. Two remained in hospital yesterday in stable condition - a 60-year-old protester and a woman journalist. Riot police used water cannon and pepper spray when marchers tried to force a way through barricades. The protesters responded with rocks and bottles. One unionist later said police used excessive force and anti-triad tactics.

Nearly 1,000 people had turned up for the march, which was intended to demand jobs protection and firmer action against illegal workers. Protesters were also demanding stronger action against corruption, better government housing and more help to offset inflation. The protest continued into the early hours of yesterday, but dispersed without further trouble about 2am. Some 350 policemen had been deployed for the protest.

Lei Sio-kuan, president of the Macau Workers Power Union - one of the five protest organizers - was arrested for allegedly attacking an Australian man. He was charged with wounding. Union member Fung Chio-weng accused police of suppressing labor unions and for arresting Lei using anti-triad tactics. Lei said he was grabbed by eight or nine officers in the early hours of the morning, and he denied striking the Australian. "I only told the man to walk on the other side of the road," Lei said.

(Apple Daily)

It was chaos at the scene of the demonstration.  When the demonstrators were blocked from progressing by the police barricade, they got emotionally excited.  Whenever they found "obvious" plainclothes policemen among them, they would rushed up to assault them.  Our reporter spotted a family of three including a teenager with tatoos on his body walking by.  The demonstrators accused the teenager of being a plainclothes policeman.  Then they accused of theft.  The teenager was assaulted by several middle-aged men.  They yelled that they were going to kill him.

During the melee, an Australian man came and separated the middle-aged men from the teenager.  He hit one of the men by mistake.  The men then targeted this "god-damned foreigner."  They took turns to punch and slap him.  He did not retaliate.  He only asked people to note that he was being assaulted without cause.

At this time, Macau Workers Power Union president Lei Sio-kuan interceded to mediate.  He held the right hand of the Australian man and called for everybody to stop.  "Let us make sure that we understand what is going on first!"  Then he took the man into a side street.  Throughout the process, our reporter did not see Lei assault the Australian man.  When the Australian man entered the side street, plainclothes policemen suggested that he ask for police held.  Our reporter recorded the entire proceeds.

According to the Macau authorities, the Australian man asked for police assistance.  He watched the television news reports and identified Lei Sio-kuan.

(Oriental Daily)

Yesterday noon, Lei Sio-kuan held a press conference to deny the charge.  He explained that there was a thief who was apprehended by the demonstrators.  The Australian couple thought that the demonstrators were assaulting a passerby.  The misunderstanding resulted in someone getting hurt.  When he saw what happened, he saved the Australian man.  Instead he was falsely charged with assault.  He said that the charge was political oppression.  He said that his arm was injured when the police took him away.  He said that he would never back off.

What happened?  No video, no truth ...



A very weird televised debate on earthquake prediction.  By Fang Zhouzi.  April 28, 2010.

This evening, I participated in the recording of a Shenzhen TV "22 degree observation" debate about whether earthquakes can be accurately predicted.  There were six guests.  I, Fang Xuanchang and Sun Shihong sat on one side.  Ren Zhenqiu, Guo Anning and a lawyer named Yang sat on the other side.

Before going there, I asked the producer who the guests were.  But I did not realize that they found people from the false science camp (the "People Born From Heaven and Earth") as guests and audience members.  Supposedly these people were invited at the last moment.  Ren Zhenqiu is from that camp, and he was very excited at getting another opportunity to criticize me in public (the last time was on the Phoenix TV program about false science).  He kept standing up and accusing me of accepting American money to destroy innovation in Chinese science.  After the recording was finished, we went back into the waiting room and he continued to accuse me of being a "big Chinese traitor" and he threw a punch at my shoulder.  On his way out, he tripped and fell down on the ground.  I would not have come if I knew that he was here, because I don't want him to die.

The weird thing was the the former lead earthquake predictor Sun Shihong of the China Earthquake Administration sat on our side.  I knew that this person has always believed in false science (or even superstition) for earthquake prediction.  Recently, I criticized his superstition in the essay <Association and Causality>.  I knew beforehand that he would be participating and I believed that I was going to debate him.  But he ended up on our side.  This surprised me and I voiced my objection.  But the producer said that Sun's position was that it is still impossible to predict earthquake at the present moment.  So I assumed that he either changed his mind or at least he has become more moderate.  Indeed, he began by saying that earthquakes cannot be predicted at the present moment.  Then he immediately took the opposite tack.  He spoke about civilians who are good at predicting earthquakes with their paranormal abilities who can sense earthquakes before they occur (note: such as the person who heard ringing in his ears just before the Yushu earthquake).  He also said that the parrots of Li Junzhi (at Beijing Industrial University) can predict earthquakes.  I obviously criticized him, so the two of us were on the opposite sides even though we sat next to each other.

The arrogance of Sun Shihong was incredible.  I cited data from the US Geological Surveys, and he said that stuff from the Americans are untrustworthy.  He smirked in contempt.  I cited that the US Geological Surveys found that there are 18 earthquakes of magnitude 7 or higher each year on the average.  He did not accept that and said that the US Geological Surveys number was based upon hearsay and without foundation.

The ignorance of this person was even more striking.  He did not know the difference between magnitude and intensity for earthquakes.  He said that Beijing buildings can withstand a magnitude 6 earthquake.  Fang Xuanchang and I corrected him by saying that he should be using intensity to rate the destructiveness of earthquakes, but he said that we were ignorant.  The other three people sitting opposite to us chimed in to say that we were ignorant.  (Note: The Beijing buildings following an intensity 8 standard, not a magnitude 6 standard.  Magnitude and intensity are two different concepts.)

I am merciless towards these types of "experts."  He asked me why I cited American data instead of China Earthquake Administration data.  I said: "Because I don't trust the China Earthquake Administration.  There are too many people into false science, superstition and even falsified results within the China Earthquake Administration."  He said that the US Geological Surveys cannot be trusted.  I asked him to write an article about the US Geological Surveys.  He called me ignorant, and I responded immediately "You're the one who is ignorant.  Someone who is as ignorant as you are can still get work at the China Earthquake Administration."  I expect these exchanges will be edited out in the broadcast itself.

So it became a case of me and Fang Xuanchang agaisnt the other four.  On the other side, there were the "earthquake experts" Guo Anning from the Lanzhou Earthquake Administration who claimed to have predicted the Yushu earthquake.  The producer obviously planned to have Sun Shihong as an expert on our side, but they got the wrong person.  Given that the other side has two "experts" from the Earthquake Administration, our side clearly looked less "professional."  I was frequently interrupted by the other side, so I had to raise my voice.  I was also sweating because the studio lights were very hot.  This made me looked as if I had no confidence.  Ha ha.

The audience was not one-ided.  A core member of "People Born of Heaven and Earth" was the "British-Chinese" Chen Yiwen who lived and grew up in Beijing.  He was in the audience and introduced by the program host as someone who came from faraway (did he really travel from Great Britain?).  Chen was given several opportunities to speak.  There were several students from the China Geological University who supported us.  There was an audience member who boasted about his accurate predictions of earthquakes made through measuring neutrinos.  It was hilarious.


(Associated Press)  China says Houston police beat, injured diplomat  By Jeff Carlton

Three Houston police officers have been restricted to desk duty after they followed a Chinese diplomat into the parking garage of the Chinese Consulate, arrested the man and injured him, the Houston mayor said. Mayor Annise Parker said in a statement that the officers' duties will remain limited pending an investigation into how Chinese diplomat Yu Boren was injured last Saturday.

Officials in China's Foreign Ministry released a statement Friday saying police harassed and beat a deputy consul-general while he was driving to the consulate. The statement said a family member also was involved, but did not say if that person was injured. The consulate in Houston did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press. Houston police and the U.S. State Department are investigating the incident. "China urges the U.S. ... to quickly investigate the details of this incident and to look into the persons responsible to ensure that the Chinese diplomatic and consulate personnel and premises are not violated," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement. "The Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Chinese Embassy and the Houston consulate have already made solemn exchanges with the U.S. side." Under international practice, the premises of foreign embassies and consulates are outside the jurisdiction of local law enforcement, and diplomats have legal immunity.

Houston police tried to stop a car that was missing a license plate, CBS News reported. When the car didn't stop, they pursued it into a garage. Police handcuffed and arrested the driver, injuring him, the report said. CBS News identified the official as Ben Ren Yu. The Houston consulate website lists a deputy consul-general, Yu Boren. The officers said they were unaware they had pursued the diplomat into the Chinese Consulate's parking garage, Parker said.

The U.S. State Department was taking the matter very seriously and the findings of the investigation will be shared with China "as soon as appropriate," said Susan Stevenson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. A Houston police spokesman declined to comment. The police force did not immediately respond to a request for a copy of the offense report, which typically is not released while an incident remains under investigation.

(New York Times)  Diplomat’s Arrest in Houston Spurs Complaint From China   By James C. McKinley Jr.  April 30, 2010.

Three Houston police officers caused an international incident last weekend when they followed a Chinese diplomat into a parking garage at the Chinese Consulate and arrested him, injuring him in the process, the authorities said. Mayor Annise Parker said late Thursday that the officers had been restricted to desk duty while the police and the State Department investigated the arrest. The officers have said they were unaware the building the diplomat had entered was a consulate and off limits to them.

The arrest took place Saturday night. The diplomat, Yu Boren, the deputy consul general, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries to his neck and head. His wife, who was riding with him and also has a position at the consulate, was not injured, a spokesman for the consulate, Wang Peijun, said. “They are both at work now,” Mr. Wang said Friday.

In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry lodged a formal complaint with the United States over the arrest of Mr. Yu, noting that the police had violated international treaties by following Mr. Yu onto the consulate’s grounds. The United States responded with a promise to investigate the episode quickly and fully. “The department takes this incident very seriously and has been in touch with the Chinese Embassy about what occurred,” a spokeswoman at the State Department, Nicole Thompson, said.

The police department declined to release any details about the arrest of Mr. Yu. The mayor’s office identified the officers as Timothy J. Riley II, Quang Tran and Victor Olivares. A local CBS television station, KTRK, reported on Thursday that the officers had followed Mr. Yu because his car was missing its rear license plate.

(Houston Chronicle)  Officers investigated over Chinese diplomat's injury   By Moises Mendoza and Bradley Olson.  May 1, 2010.

Three Houston police officers have been assigned desk duties as city and federal authorities scrutinize the arrest of a local Chinese diplomat who says police hit him in the face during a traffic stop last weekend at the Chinese Consulate.

The Chinese government responded to last Saturday's arrest of Houston deputy Consul General Boren Yu, who said a security camera recorded the incident, with a call for a speedy investigation. China also noted that “solemn exchanges” had passed between China and the U.S. as a result of the incident. Under the Vienna Convention, local law officers are prohibited from entering foreign diplomatic offices in all but the most extreme circumstances. Mayor Annise Parker, in announcing the officers' re­assignment on Friday, praised Police Chief Charles McClelland's handling of the case. “This is important, as Houston has the third-largest number of consulates in the country,” Parker said. “We cherish our international residents and want to assure them they are welcome in our city.” Reassigned to desk duties were Central Patrol Division officers Timothy Riley Jr., Quang Tran and Victor Olivares. Riley has been with the department since 2008; Tran and Olivares since last year.

In an interview Friday, Yu said he was traveling with his wife in a consulate vehicle when he saw a patrol car with flashing lights behind him. Yu said he stopped and waited several minutes, but drove off when the officer stayed in his car and took no apparent action. Yu said he drove to the Chinese Consulate in the 3400 block of Montrose. When Yu drove through the consulate's automatic garage gate, the police car followed him. Yu said he “made it clear” he was a Chinese diplomat, but the officer handcuffed him anyway. Yu said the officer struck him in the face, but he did not address the circumstances or specify when the alleged assault took place. Yu also suffered hand and neck injuries, according to a co-worker at the consulate. Roberta MacInnis, a Houston Chronicle features editor, said she was shopping at a nearby business when she saw an HPD officer lying on top of a handcuffed man who was face-down in the garage. Yu said the entire episode was captured on tape by a garage security camera. He and his wife later were released at the scene.

A source familiar with the officers' version of events said Yu's vehicle was spotted about 4:30 p.m. Saturday traveling a short distance from the consulate without a rear license plate. With the police car following with flashing lights, the vehicle wound through Montrose for about five minutes before entering the consulate garage. As the officer exited his patrol car, the source said, Yu greeted him with loud curses. A consulate spokesman said Yu's rear license plate had been stolen, but the diplomat thought having a front plate was enough. Texas law requires front and rear plates.

Aaron Suder, staff attorney with the Houston Police Officers Union, dismissed Yu's claim of a police assault as “categorically false.” “When and if there's a video that's made public we are absolutely confident that the actions of the police officers involved will be justified,” he said.

Unresolved Friday was whether city police had jurisdiction on consulate property. Parker reported police said they were unaware they were on property owned by the Chinese government. The consulate has a large sign and usually flies the Chinese flag. The garage has a smaller sign designating it as consulate property. Under the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, police can enter a consulate's property only by the invitation or to protect the consulate from a grave threat such as a fire or mass shooting, said South Texas College of Law professor Geoffrey Corn. “If they thought the person they were pursuing was dangerous to consular staff,” he said, “there's a provision that says permission is presumed. But this is nothing like that.”

Parker said McClelland has issued a directive that all beat officers receive the address of every consulate in the city. Houston City Councilman Al Hoang, who represents a heavily Chinese-American district, Friday praised the Parker administration's handling of the case. “The Chinese Consulate has a great relationship with our city and I know that relationship will continue,” he said.

(River Oaks Examiner)  ‘Grave violation’ at Montrose consulate under investigation    By Michael Reed.  April 30, 2010.

A Chinese diplomat was beaten and injured by Houston police Saturday at the Chinese Consulate in Montrose, according China's Foreign Ministry. The incident, described as a “very serious violation of the Geneva treaty” by a local international law expert, prompted HPD to assign three officers to desk duty, pending the outcome of an investigation. A source at Memorial Hermann Hospital said Deputy Consular General Yu Boren arrived by ambulance with head and neck injuries, but was released shortly afterward.

“The officers involved have stated that they were unaware the building Yu entered was the Chinese Consulate,” Mayor Annise Parker said Friday. She added, HPD and the U.S. State Department are coordinating the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest. The three officers involved all work out of Central Patrol. HPD said late Friday they are Timothy J. Riley II, Quang Tran and Victor Olivares. None of them had been sworn in prior to August 2008.

The incident apparently started when police attempted to stop the diplomat’s car, which was missing its back license plate. Instead of pulling over, Yu returned to the consulate at 3417 Montrose Blvd. Sources said police entered the garage after Yu activated the garage door by remote to gain entry. A small sign at the garage’s entrance on Harold Street indicates the building is the Chinese consulate. The Examiner was unable to determine if an arrest was ever made. HPD would not comment beyond saying the incident is currently in the hands of the Internal Affairs Department. Police Chief Charles McClelland, however, has issued a directive that all patrol officers receive the addresses of every consulate in the city for future reference.

“Not only was it a serious violation to go onto the property to exercise law enforcement powers without consent (from the consulate), it was an even more egregious violation if an arrest was made,” said Jordan Paust, professor of international law at the University of Houston. “Each step makes it more serious.” Foreign embassies and consulates are outside the jurisdiction of local law enforcement, according to international law. Also, diplomats have legal immunity and cannot be detained except in cases involving a threat to human life. And, according to Paust, the United States government could be sued or face sanctions from China as a result.
“It is a grave violation,” he said.

Consulate spokesman Teijun Wang issued a statement that, in part, said, “We’re asking them (the United States) to quickly investigate the details of the incident to ensure the premises and rights of diplomats are not infringed. We have already urged the U.S. side to observe the Vienna Convention on consular relations.”

(World News Net)

Vice consul-general Boren Yu broke his silence on April 30.  He claimed that the police hit him in the face.  He said that the consulate security cameras have recorded the actions of the police.  In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Boren Yu said that he and his wife were the consulate vehicle when they spotted the flashing light of the police vehicle.  He pulled over and waited in the car.  But the police officers stayed in their car without taking any action.  So he drove to the consulate building at Montrose 3400, and opened the garage door through his remote device.  The police car then pulled up.

Boren Yu said that he "clearly indicated" that he was a Chinese diplomat, but the police handcuffed him all the same.  Boren Yu said that the police hit him in the face.  However, he did not go into the details.  Another Chinese consulate worker said that Boren Yu sustained hand and neck injuries.

Houston Chronicle features editor Roberta MacInnis happened to be shopping nearby, and she saw the handcuffed Boren Yu being held on the ground of the garage in the consulate.  At the time, Boren Yu had his face on the ground.

Boren Yu said that the consulate security cameras have recorded the actions of the police.  Boren Yu and his wife were arrested and later released. 

On April 30, Boren Yu told local Chinese community leaders in Houston that he had a license plate in the front of his car, but the one in the back was somehow missing without his knowledge.  As such, the media reports have been inaccurate.

The three officers who have been assigned to desk duty were Timothy Riley Jr., Quang Tran and Victor Olivares.  Riley joined the HPD in 2008, wihle Tran and Olivrares joined in 2009.  The three officers have offered their own version of events.  They claimed that they noticed Boren Yu's car at around 4:30pm somewhere near the Chinese consulate.  The car did not have a license plate.  They turned on the flashing light.  But Boren Yu drove on for five minutes and entered the garage inside the consulate building.

(Daqi)  April 30, 2010.

I have some questions.

1. Why didn't Mr. Boren Yu's car have a license plate? 

2. While under pursuit by several police vehicles, why did Boren Yu ignore them and drove right back to the consulate?

3. Whose fault was it for a Chinese diplomat to be handcuffed, wounded and insulted?

4. Is that woman on the car a diplomat too?  [Note: The female has been identified as the wife of Boren Yu.  Previously, netizens have insinuated that this was a mistress/girlfriend/prostitute and that was why Boren Yu had to flee.]

5. Were the American police really unaware that this was a consulate?  Can you believe it?  Even if a diplomat breaks the law, the police have no right to enter a consulate and make an arrest.  How dare they enter the consulate?  This is violating the sovereignty of China.

6. If an American diplomat violates the traffic code in Beijing, would the Chinese police dare to grab him by the neck and handcuff him?  If they don't dare, then why don't they?

7. Who dares to enter the American consulate and make an arrest?

8. Why are the Chinese media not reporting this case?  What are they afraid of? 

Addendum:  World Daily/China News.  May 1, 2010.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the media can obtain the detailed incident report down at the police precinct station by presenting the case file number.

According to a Houston police patrol officer who wishes to remain anonymous, the neighborhood is not a safe area and that is why patrol frequencies are higher.  When the police spot a suspicious vehicle, they will query the computer database for information on that license plate number.  If there is no license plate, they will usually flash the siren and get the car to stop.  If the driver stops and offers a plausible explanation, the police will either issue a warning or a fine and let the driver drive off.  Diplomats are usually let off immediately.

If the suspicious vehicle refuses to stop, the police will call in and summon back-up vehicles.  If the suspicious vehicle continues, the police will stop it provided that they don't put other vehicles or pedestrians at risk.  Once stopped, the driver is immediately handcuffed and the vehicle will be searched carefully for drugs and other contrabands.  In recent years, the police have installed cameras in their vehicles to record video evidence.

Over at the Huanqiu Forum, more than 2,500 comments have been made on this news story.  Most of the netizens are angry at the United States.  "America had better not bully us!  The Chinese consulate represents China's sovereignty and image and must not be violated!  We have to take serious diplomatic action!"  Many netizens thought that the American police broke international law and should apologize to China.  One netizen said: "Preposterous!  The consulate stands for Chinese sovereignty.  This was an invasion of Chinese territory!  America must give justice to China!"  Another netizen said: "They must apologize!  This was an insult to China!"  Another netizen said: "We must not let America get off so easily.  An apology is not good enough!"

Concerning the American police's assertion that they were unaware that the building was the Chinese consulate, the Chinese netizens were mostly incredulous.  Some angry netizens even linked this to the "erroneous bombing" of the Chinese embassy many years ago.  "History repeats itself!  Can't American policemen read English?"  "Could they be using an outdated map and therefore they did not realize that it was the Chinese consulate?"  Many other netizens were even more extreme in their views.

But other netizens were more cool-headed.  One netizen looked at in terms of diplomacy: "Once again, the American imperialists have sent up a trial balloon to check the reaction of China."  The CIA may have been the ones who stole the license plate on the vice consul-general's car.  The CIA stole the license plate and got the vice consul-general arrested in order to test the reaction of the people of China.  "This is a trick put on by America.  They are good with crisis diplomacy.  They pulled off this trick in order to best how your people react and deal with it."

ATV (Hong Kong)





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