Netizen email: "The officials at the Xindu district, Taixing town, Guangdong village are all fat and ugly.  How could they not be corrupt?"

Website response: "The Taixing Town Communist Party Discipline Committee has investigated and did not find any evidence of corruption among the Guandong village cadres.  If you have specific evidence of corruption among the Guandong village cadres, please present them directly to the Taiwing Town Communist Party Discipline Committee.  We remind you: Corruption should not be determined on the basis of obesity."

It is hard to imagine that this straight but humorous response comes from an official government website.  Recently, this piece of interaction is being circulated on the Internet as an example of the "most pragmatic official website with a personality."

This website is the Xiangcheng Xindu Webiste.  It is the official website of the Xindu district government in Chengdu city.  Here are some more fascinating exchanges:

September 16.  The netizen "Baixin" said that citizens are annoyed by the massage parlor activities on Old Dafeng Street, which the local police fail to act on.  He hopes that the relevant higher-level departments would take action to give citizens some peace at night!

September 20.  The police station responded: On September 16, the Dafeng police station marshaled all its forces to raid five locations on Old Dafeng Street.  Three of these locations have been shut down on suspicion of illegal activities.

September 15.  The netizen "Diannan village resident" asked: How many years in prison was the former Longfu town Diannan village mayor Zeng Lingguo sentenced for taking bribes?

September 17.  The court responded: Zeng Lingguo was sentenced to 10 years 6 months!

August 28.  The netizen "Lin Jie" asked: What is no one acting against the corrupt officials in Mulan town?  They are greedy and blatant.  Our mayor and our commune leader have cars worth 100,000 yuan, and his home interior decoration is awesome.

September 6.  The Mulan town government responded: With respect to your comments about corruption among cadres, we welcome you to contact the town discipline department or the higher-level discipline department if you have specific evidence.  We will act in accordance with the law.

As for the matter of the mayor and the commune leader having cars worth 100,000 yuan, you should regard it in terms of whether their incomes/expenses come from proper sources and protected under the law.  You (and the broad masses) should understand that even village cadres have the right to prosper.  They can the leaders for bringing prosperity to everybody, and if they become rich through proper methods, they ought to become fine examples for people.  You cannot say that a cadre must be corrupt if he owns a 100,000 yuan car.  If we obtain concrete evidence of corruption, we will spare no effort.

These comments are excerpted from the "Letters to the District Leader" as of September 24.  There were more than 11,300 such letters.  Netizens have praised the responses as being "not evasive, not cover-ups, addressing the problems directly, evidence-based, pragmatic and humorous, no officialese."

Who comes up with these responses?

Inside the Xindu district government building, there is a small office with the tag "Online Petition Department" with three workers led by Yang Jianzhen.

"Every morning we arrive at work, the first think is to forward the letters from the netizens."  Yang Jianzhen said.

Meanwhile, the various departments in Xindu district have workers who jobs is to read the letters directed to their departments by 10am.

Yang Jianzhen said: "When a department worker sees a letter, the first task is to determine whether this falls into their jurisdiction.  If not, they just immediately ask for the letter to be returned to the appropriate department.  They must state the reason why this other department should be responsible.  We won't accept the request if we don't see any rason."

Yang Jianzhen said that each department has seven working days to come up with a response.  If the matter is really complicated, they can have fifteen working days.  Out of the more than 11,300 letters received by September 24, they have responded at a 99.98% rate.

How did this system come about?  In 2008, the Xindu district government introduced this online platform for petitioning.  But very quickly, it was obvious that certain departments were just passing the buck around.  The Xindu district Communist Party secretary Yang Yu was told about the situation.  "Give me some examples," said Yang Yu.  Then he used these examples to criticize the relevant departments in open meetings, and demanded changes.  Changes occurred.

Yang Jianzhen told our reporter that compared to other similar efforts around China, they are doing something that others might find hard to imitate: "First, we will answer all letters and we try to satisfy people with our responses.  Secondly, we never delete anything, even if they are negative, even abusive."

Q: Many of the letters are negative and critical, including exposing bad practice at many departments.  Do you consider altering or even deleting some comments to spare the departments?
Yang: We never delete anything.  We will even comments that refer to people's mothers.  For example, people tell us that the Family Planning people have bad attitudes; also the Industry and Commerce Department, the Civil Affairs Service Center.  Some workers were said to use crude language.  We won't skirt around that.
As for people using abuse language in the letters, we usually add a sentence like "Please use civilized language when you report a problem" at the end of the response.  We consider this to be proper guidance.

Q: Certain criticisms and exposés can be embarrassing for certain departments.  Have they ever asked you to "spare" them?
Yang: Never.  Not from any department, even the most viciously criticized.  For example, the Transportation Department is criticized the most because they handle more cases.

Q: You have handled petitions for 15 years or so.  How have things changed ever since there is the open mailbox to the district mayor?
Yang: I think that many contradictions and conflicts have been nipped in the bud.  If people have problems, they can turn on the computer and tell the government.  The matter will be dealt with immediately.  In the past, those problems could be suppressed.
The number of traditional petitions (by mailed letters or in-person petitions) has been decreasing.  In 2008, we received 4,668 petitions; in 2009, we receive 3,890 petitions.  So far this year, we have received just over 1,000 petitions.  Mass petitions have also decreased.

Q: Your responses contain a lot of individualistic language and humor.  Did you intentionally look for it?  For example, "corruption should not be judged on the basis of obesity."
Yang: Actually I added that sentence just to make fun of the statement.  I want to add a little bit of humor.  But I also want to get closer to people.  Since ancient times, we say that we must not judge people by appearance.  Just because an official is fat does not mean that he is corrupt.  There are skinny corrupt officials too.  The important thing is the evidence.  We want to tell people not to judge by appearance.
I have been dealing with people many years.  I know what they think.  I know what to say to make things clear to them.  Sometimes, I think I can show a bit more individual personality.  We don't want to use too many fancy words which people don't understand.

Fishing boat captain Zhan Qixiong became an international news celebrity.  When he was released back to China, about 50 media reporters from mainland, Hong Kong and Japan went to wait for him through the night at the Fuzhou airport.  But this media event turned into a Sino-Japanese fight too.  Some of the reporter were allowed to enter the airplane parking area but the Japanese reporters were shut out.

According to the Fujian authorities, all reporters must obtain temporary passes issued by the airport public security bureau in order to gather news inside the airport.  According to Fuji TV reporter Fujita Mizumi, she and six other Japanese reporters got in a queue to obtain temporary passes at 7pm on the evening before yesterday.  When the workers learned that they were Japanese reporters, they claimed that all temporary passes have been given out.  However, the Japanese reporters observed that late-coming mainland reporters continued to receive temporary passes.

At 3am or so, the Japanese reporters made one more attempt to get interviews inside the VIP suite at the airport.  Fujita Mizumi asked one of the Fujian Province Publicity Department workers who was handing out passes: "We are Japanese reporters who are approved by the Chinese government to cover news in China.  Why doesn't China allow us to gather news?"  The other party said bluntly: "We cannot arrange for Japanese reporters to cover this welcoming ceremony.  You ought to know the reason why."

The Japanese reporters got not help, and had to gather news from the periphery.  Fujita Mizumi sighed: "Politics is politics, news is news.  This was so juvenile and unbecoming of a grand nation."

After I was released, many people asked me why I wrote <The Great Relocation>.  The police officers in charge of my case had also asked this same question repeatedly.  My response was that the Weinan migrants were too poor and pitiful whereas certain Weinan officials were too greedy, corrupt and abominable.

<The Great Relocation> touches on two key problems about the Sanmen Gorge migrants: land and money.  The land and money that the central government allocated to the migrants were not distributed to them.  Instead less and less money was reaching them each year.  Since this affected the image of the local government, certain nerves were ticked off.

When the police came for me, I did not think it was any big deal.  After I received the book, I investigated the relevant laws about its publication.  I called up the General Administration of Press and Publications, and I consulted with lawyers.  The opinion was that the author and the magazine are held responsible for any content issue while the magazine is held responsible for any printing issue.  I was relieved when I heard that.

When the Weinan police interrogation began, I began to sense that this matter was grave.  I asked them, "Aren't you worried about a wrongful case?"  Their response was "No" because they are not responsible for any mistakes because they are only acting on the orders of the city leaders.

I thought that they were blatant about enforcing the law violently.  When they arrested me, they cuffed me tightly so that my left shoulder became swollen and hurt like hell.  I asked them for plaster at least ten times, but nobody paid any attention to me.

On August 23, we took the train to Xian at the Beijing West Station.  Wang Peng (one of the case officers) marched me through five waiting rooms, pushing and shoving me hard.  I thought that he wanted to break down my psychological defense this way.  I was cuffed to the iron gate by the ticket inspection entrance for more than 30 minutes.  As we were about to board, he wanted to cuff me from behind.  I said, "My arms felt like they are broken already.  I won't run.  Don't cuff me from behind."  Wang said that he was only carrying out his duties.  I got upset and I said, "If you cuff me from behind, I am going to kill myself by ramming my head against the wall."  As I said that, I took a step back and got ready.  Zhu Fuli (another of the case officers) came over and held me in his arms.  He said, "Old Xie, don't do that."  He then cuffed his left hand to my right hand, and then we boarded the train.

At the Chaoyang detention center, I waited 3 days "in transition."  The conditions were poor.  Four persons ate from one meal box.  I was then transferred to the Linwei detention center.  The detainees had to perform labor there in the form of batching joss papers.  For the first week, I was in a cell with more than a dozen people and we completed two batches a day because we were novices.  I was transferred to another cell later, where we had to complete ten to twenty batches a day.

Usually, we work in the morning until past 11am.  In the afternoon, we were interrogated, sometimes as late as 7pm.  When we return to the cell, there was no meal left.  I remember skipping dinner six or seven times.  I cry when I hear the words "steam bun" now.  Once I came back from interrogation and everybody had already eaten dinner.  They were sitting on the bed planks in silence (note: in detention cells, detainees are required to sit still and contemplate silently).  I sat down as well.  A 17- or 18-year-old boy crawled over and said to me: "Uncle Xie, you didn't eat yet?  I know that you haven't eaten yet.  We got two steamed buns per person this evening.  I saved one for you."  I took a bite and tears began to came out of my eyes.  But I felt that a grown man shouldn't be crying.  So I turned my head to the wall and cried.

The police did not torture me to get a confession.  But they showed disrespect for people.  When they interrogated me, I sometimes asked those whom I did not know to show me their identification.  They said: "Who do you think you are?"  I said: "Some day, we will stand as equals in front of God."  Eventually they showed me their identifications.

There were no prison kapos or bullies at the detention center.  But the rules are that newcomers have to sleep next to the toilets, clean the toilets and wipe the floor.  Wiping the floor requires the person to squat down and apply a rag to the floor.  I had back problems.  After I wiped the floor for four times, my back felt as if it was broken.  My clothes were soaking wet.  I knelt down to work.  The prison guard yelled aloud: "No kneeling."  I told the prison warden that I didn't want to squat, and the prison guard let me off.  On the day when I first arrived, my clothes were soaking wet and stinking with sweat.

Between September 7 and 12, the police interrogated me intensely.  They kept asking two questions.  Did I take any money?  Did I provide "receipts" to the Weinan migrant representatives after the book was delivered?  I think that they were looking for evidence of "illegal business operations."

I said that I have never received a single cent.  I said that I ended up spending more than 100,000 yuan of my own.  I said that I have never let any migrant pay for my meals when I go to Weinan to conduct interviews.  As for the "receipts," I have thought about this repeatedly until I finally remembered.  On the evening of June 26, several of us transported the books to Weinan.  They suggested that we should have receipts that say "XXX has received this number of <The Great Relocation>" or "XXX should be paid this amount of money."  I printed it out on my computer.  There were many people present.  I had no idea who took what.  But I think that there ought to be "receipts."

I found out later that on September 13, the Procuratorate declined to issue an arrest order for me.  I did not know it that day.  On that day, two prosecutors came over.  They were very sharp and asked tough questions.

On September 15, they interrogated me a second time.  They showed me a printed document which seemed to explain a Supreme People's Court opinion.  They said, "You cannot evade this question."

This "question" is the 1998 legal opinion of the Supreme Court about illegal business operations. (<Explanations of certain legal questions applicable to illegal publications>)

I read the document and I realized that there were certain problems with our process of publication.  The Spark magazine originally assigned the printer to a Henan print shop for 10,000 or so copies.  Later the job was switched to a Langfang print shop for 20,000 copies.  I requested a corrected letter from the magazine, but they said that it was unnecessary because Zhao Xun (the owner of the print shop) was doing the printing.

So I said: "If the judiciary departments want to hold me accountable, I am willing to receive fair handling provided that the Weinan leaders do not intervene."  The prosecutors asked me to write to the Procuratorate and I did.  I wrote that I was not trying to make any money.  Even if I broke the rules, it was a first offense.  At the September 17 press conference, one of the reasons given for my release on bail was that I was contrite.

Although I was locked up, I knew that the outside world was paying attention to me.  During my interrogation, the police said, "Your wife is doing a lot outside."

I was not hopeful, and I was prepared to be found guilty.  On the morning of September 17, the Procuratorate came for me again.  I thought I had to sign on the arrest order.  I even prepared a note which I was going to write on the arrest order; "There will come a day when history will sanction the person who signed this arrest order.  The corrupt officials and their lackeys who use the judiciary to initiate this case will be nailed to the pole of shame in history."

But the Procuratorate people asked two questions and left.  I was disappointed with the fact that I got neither results nor hope.  I would have preferred to be formally arrested just so I knew.

That afternoon, the prison warden told me to pack my stuff.  I asked: "Am I being transferred to a different place?"  He said, "You are being released."  I did not believe him.  I asked him, "Are you kidding?"  The other detainees in my cell were happy for me.  One of them even helped me to shave.  I gave my clothes and meal card to my cell mates.

So I have left the detention center.  But I have become more fragile.  I cry whenever I hear the words "steam bun."  I cry whenever I think about my wife.  I can never forget the look in my wife's eyes when she rushed out to see me being taken into the elevator.  All the bitterness and sorrow of the world were there.

- Ta Kok Tsui/Jordan
  Partitioned room in aged walk-up building
  Monthly rent $1,250-$1,600 for a room of 15 to 20 square feet
  Average monthly rent per square feet = $83 to $106

- West Kowloon
  Illegally partitioned room in an industrial building
  Monthly rent $800 to $1,250 for a room of about 24 square feet
  Average monthly rent per square feet = $33 to $52
  (Extra $100 for extra person; $50 to rent a 14" television set)

- Kowloon Station, West Kowloon
  Monthly rent $98,000 for an 4-room apartment of 2,269 square feet
  Average monthly rent per square feet = $43

- Residence Bel-Air, Cyberport
  Monthly rent $63,000 for a 3-room apartment of 1,709 square feet
  Average monthly rent per square feet = $36

- Florient Rise, Ta Kok Tsui
  Monthly rent $21,000 for a 3-room partment of 836 square feet
  Average monthly rent per square feet = $25

- Sham Shui Po/Ta Kok Tsui
  Monthly rent $3,000 to $4,000 for a studio of 120 to 150 square feet
  Average monthly rent per square feet = $22.5 to $25

At 8pm on September 21, the Beijing police held a press conference to announce that the main suspect Xiao Chuanguo in the assault case was arrested at the Shanghai Pudong Airport.  Xiao was attending an academic conference at the time.

According to the Beijing police, they conducted a thorough investigation and arrested four suspects.  Among them was the Huazhong University of Science and Technology School of Medicine Urology Department director Xiao Chuanguo.  The police retrieved the claw hammer and steel pipe that were used during the assault.

According to the preliminary investigation, the assault was initiated in retaliation against Fang Zhouzi for charging Xiao Chuanguo for "academic fakery" and causing him not to be elected to the Chinese Academy of Science.  Xiao Chuanguo directed Dai Jianxiang, who organized Long Guangqing and others to commit the assault. Dai Jianxiang is a distant relative of Xiao Chuanguo who made a payment of 100,000 RMB to organize the assault.

In the evening of August 29, Fang Zhouzi was attacked near his Beijing residence.  One man sprayed an unknown liquid in his face and another man threw an iron hammer that injured his waist, causing bleeding and minor bruises.

On September 14, 2005, Fang Zhouzi said during an Internet interview that the so-called "Xiao somatic-autonomic reflex pathway procedure for bladder control" had not gained international acceptance.  On September 21, he questioned Xiao's academic qualifications and pointed out that Xiao had only four publications in international journals over more than 20 years.

On October 8, 2005, Xiao Chuanguo suited Fang Zhouzi and the relevant media for defamation.

After the assault on Fang Zhouzi, Xiao Chuanguo became the prime suspect in the public's eye.  On his blog, Xiao Chuanguo made three posts including <How come Fang Zhouzi had three injury marks from one hammer blow?>.  He accused Fang Zhouzi of fraud and plagiarism over the past decade.  Fang Zhouzi countered with an offer of 200,000 RMB for witnesses to the attack on him.

In Yihuang county, Fuzhou city, Jiangxi province, three persons in a nailhouse home set themselves on fire while defending against demolitionists.  The three daughters of the family head Zhong Rucui, Zhong Rutian and Zhong Rujiu were ready to go to Beijing to petition their case.  But they were forcibly intercepted by the county party secretary and more than forty men.  Yesterday, they were hauled into a bus and taken away.  The photo of Zhong Rujiu pounding on the bus window for help was circulated across the microblogs.  The censors kept deleting the photo, but microbloggers kept re-posting.  Last night, Zhong Rujiu and her companions were released.  Meanwhile it was announced that the county party secretary, the county mayor and six other officials were relieved of their duties immediately and placed under investigation.

Previously on September 10, a team of more than 100 demolition workers were ready to raze the Zhong family house.  There was a physical clash and negotiations got nowhere.  The mother Luo Yufeng, the daughter Zhong Rujin and a food friend of the father Ye Zhongcheng got on the roof, douse themselves with fire and immolated themselves.  The three were taken later to the hospital.  Luo Yufeng and Zhong Rujin were seriously injured.  Ye Zhongcheng passed away yesterday morning from his injuries.

After his death, the local government sent 70 to 80 persons to seize the body Ye Zhongcheng.  The family demanded to get the body back to no avail.  According to Zhong Rucui, the family called the police who took no action.

Zhong Rujiu is the youngest of the nine Zhong children.  She is only 22 years old.  Last Thursday, she attempted to go with her sister Zhong Rucui to travel to Beijing to petition.  They were violently stopped by the county party secretary Yu Jianguo leading more than 40 men.  The two sisters ducked into a restroom and sought help.

The <Phoenix Weekly> reporter Deng Fei broadcast the <Assault on the ladies' restroom> live via microblog.  More than 1 million netizens viewed his posts.  The mobile telephone numbers of many of the Yihuang county officials were posted, and their phones were deluged by calls and text messages from netizens.  The officials promised the Zhong sisters that there would be "negotiations" and so the sisters came out and left the airport.  Although called Deng Fei later to ask for his post to be removed, the incident had already become widely known.

Zhong Rujiu came to the realization that appealing to the Internet was more effective than going to petition in Beijing.  So she and her siblings opened microblogs and reported on the latest developments.  Yesterday morning at 9am, Zhong Rujiu and four other relatives were taken onto a bus.  The photo of her appealing for help through the windows and her message for assistance was re-posted several tens of the thousand of times.  Although the posts were deleted continuously, netizens kept re-posting it.

Yesterday at noon, the Xinhua news agency announced that the Yihuang county party secretary and county mayor were relieved of their duties on the evening of September 17, some netizens are skeptical because the mayor was still in charge of seizing the body of Ye Zhongcheng on the evening of September 17.  So was the Xinhua report just a ruse to "put the fire out"?

Yesterday evening, Zhong Rujiu was released and returned home.  She is grateful for the concern showed by the people.  She said that Fuzhou city vice-mayor Chen Riwu had begun negotiating with the Zhong family and promised them that their personal freedom will be guaranteed.  She said that her mother and fifth sister will be receiving skin graft operations today.  "I hope that the nightmare has passed."


"How are you?  My name is Zhong Rujiu.  I am the youngest daughter in the family involved in the self-immolations in Yihuang county, Fuzhou city, Jiangxi province.  I have seen how everybody on the Internet has been concerned about my family.  I am very grateful."  On September 17, Zhong Rujiu started a microblog at  Thereafter, every single word of hers has drawn the attention of tens of thousands of netizens.

At around 2am on September 18, Zhong Rujiu announced that her father's good friend Ye Zhongcheng has passed away.  More than ten minutes later, she made three new posts to describe how the authorities seized Ye's body by force.

"Many government people have surrounded us now."

"Seventh to eighty people surrounded us and seized the body of our uncle."

"After the government people seized the body of our uncle, we attempted the lead car in which county mayor Su Jianguo was sitting.  But Su Jianguo sat passively in the car.  More than 40 other Yihuang county officials then dragged us away by force."

The next microblog update by Zhong Rujiu took place at past 8am on September 18.  "The violent effort by the Yihuang government led by Su Jianguo to seize the body of my uncle caused my brother to suffer a hip injury.  He is still unable to stand up straight.  My third sister sprained her ankle.  She cannot talk because the ankle is swollen.  We all suffered scratch wounds.  I would like to know if there is any justice in this world?  Why won't they even let a dead person go."

Just as Zhong Rujiu got read to visit her mother and sister at the hospital, "As soon as I got out of the door, four or five persons tried to grab me.  I sprinted for my life with them chasing me.  Finally I hopped into a taxi and got away ..."

At this point, it seemed that the microblogber became her brother Zhong Rutian who was in Beijng.  "I just received information that my family and the body of my uncle have been taken back (from Nanchang city) to Yihuang county.  My brother, my youngest sister Rujiu and three others are held in house arrest at the Yihuang Longteng Hotel.  My nephew hid his mobile phone.  He just sent the information over to me ..."  Zhong Rutian made the microblog post just after 4pm on September 18.

Zhong Rutian also disclosed that Zhong Rugui's wife went to the hotel, got down on her knees and begged the guards to let her see the family.  They refused.

At around 7pm on September 18, our reporter dialed through to Zhong Rujiu's mobile phone.  There was a heart-rending howling cry in the background.  The sobbing Zhong Rujiu said: "We have been released.  We are looking at the body of our uncle."

Zhong Rujiu calmed down and told our reporter what happened.  "The hospital notified us that my mother and my sister will undergo more operations.  Our signature was required.  So I, my sister and my brother headed for the hospital separately.  But as soon as Zhong Rujiu stepped our of the hotel, four or five persons tried to grab her.  As Zhong Rujiu wrote in her microblog, she knew that they would not assault her in public and so she fought her way out and jumped into a taxi.

But when Zhong Rujiu arrived at the Nanchang University Number One Auxiliary Hospital where her mother and sister were staying, she found that even more people were waiting for he.  "Dozens of people surrounded us and wanted to take us back to Yihuang.  We refused.  They began to drag us over."  After some struggle, the five members of the Zhong family were taken home against their will.

During the trip, Zhong Rujiu asked the Yihuang officials why they had to take the family and the body of their uncle back to Yihuang by force?  "They told us that they wanted the uncle to go back to his roots.  They also said that our behavior may disrupt the routine at the hospital.  If there are problems, we should go back to Yihuang and discuss."

Screen 1: Nailhouse Family versus Demolitionists -- Let the game begin>
Screen 2: Select level (1-6, Final: Survival mode)
Screen 3: Your house on the left, the demolitionist come from the right, your inventory in front of you (including your units of 'life,' gold pieces (to hire defenders), a mobile phone to summon your family members
Screen 4: You have attained victory in this level -- Keep going and resist until the end

Your house may fall, but you must not.  Keep trying!

Yesterday, a Flash-based game <Nailhouse family versus demolitionists> was being passed around on the microblogs.  In this game, there is an empty construction lot with a four-storey house on the left.  There is a big "Demolish!" sign pasted on the wall of the building.  This house starts with a life value of 100 units.  When the life value goes down to zero, the game is over.

After the game begins, demolition workers show up on the right side of the screen and head towards the house.  Each time that the player knocks down a demolition worker, he gets a corresponding rewards in gold coins.  With enough gold coins, the player can pay for more family servants to defend his house or upgrade the strength of those famly servants.

The game has six regular levels plus a survival mode final level.  As the player goes up the levels, the game becomes more difficult with more demolitionists showing up.  The player needs to configure his family servants based on their skills.

There are six family members with different skills.  Grandpa has a rifle; daddy can throw petrol bombs; mommy throws her slippers; the "cool guy" is a weight-lifting muscleman; the boy uses a slingshot; the girl throws firecrackers. 

Here is one strategy: At Level 1, the girl is available and appeas on the top floor.  Once you can 100 gold coins, mommy appears on the third floor; another 100 gold coins later, daddy appears on the second floor; finally, the "cool guy" appears.

Against them are the demolistionists.  Some of them are topless men carrying knives in both hands; others are uniformed men carrying shovels; they hop across the field, or they come on bicycles, or they drive a truck equipped with a swinging iron ball ... towards the end of the game, they rush over in large numbers.

Although this is an ersatz game created by an anonymous netizen, people like it.  This game meets the psychological mindset of people at this time.  "The game is entertainment, whereas reality is cruel."

时代周报    荐书:我喜欢的十本书    宋以朗   2010.09.09

如“哎呀,迭只浮尸迭抢又靠弗住拉哉”(《杂格咙咚集》), 读到这些句子,童年回忆都会慢慢回来,又好像再被亲昵地调笑。


Oliver Lutz Radtke《Chinglish》
Gibbs Smith,2007年8月








The incident took place in Fengfang town, Yihuang county, Fuzhou city, Jiangxi province.  Zhong Rukui's family lived in this three-storey building.  They have three housing ownership certificates, belonging to the brothers Zhong Rutian, Zhong Rukui and Zhong Rumen respectively.  In 2007, the Yihuang county government wanted to build a new bus depot.  With the approval of higher level government departments, they began to relocate nearby residents to make way for the new depot.  The process moved along slowly because some residents were dissatisfied with the compensation and relocation arrangements.  The Zhong family's three-storey house was the last holdout.

According to Zhong Rucui, the sister of the three Zhong brothers, electricity to their house was cut off in May this year.  Water was also cut off.  The Zhong family was forced to purchase their own electricity generator which ran on gasoline purchased from a nearby gas station.

At past 9am on the the day of the incident, a team of more than 40 police officers and urban administrators came to their home using the pretext that they wanted to look for gasoline.  Zhong Rucui asked, "Do you have a search warrant?"  The answer was that this was an "emergency."

At the time, Zhong Rucui and her two younger sisters Zhong Rujin and Zhong Rujiu, her mother Luo Zhifeng and an elderly man Ye Zhongcheng were home.

Zhong Rucui argued with the officials while the others locked the door.  Several minutes later, the police forced themselves into the house.  Zhong Rucui tried to stop them.  She said that they pulled her away by the hair.

According to photos obtained by our reporter, Lu Zhifeng and Ye Zhongcheng went on the roof with gasoline canisters in hand.  Within a minute, they were on fire.  Zhong Rucui said that she was held down on the ground at the time, and so she did not know how the fires got started.  "We know that they came here to restrain us and then demolish our house by force.  The construction machines were here.  My mother and my uncle might have lost control of their emotions."  After hearing that her mother and uncle were on fire, Zhong Rucui wanted to go help them but she was held firmly down on the ground.  According to the photos from the scene, Zhong Rujin jumped out of the second floor like a fireball.  Later Zhong Rucui asked Zhong Rujiu who was taking photos about what happened, but the latter did not know.

After Zhong Rujin jumped down in a fireball, Zhong Rucui struggled free and put out the fire with sand along with her brother Zhong Rukui who had just rushed over to the scene.  According to the photos, none of the other people did anything.  They merely held their arms akimbo and watched.  According to the photos, Zhong Rukui got on the roof six minutes after the fire started to bring Luo Zhifeng and Ye Zhongcheng down.  By that time, the fires had ran out of gasoline to burn.  Fourteen minutes after the fire started, they were taken downstairs and put into an ambulance.

Zhong Rucui did not remember who called for the ambulance.  She and Zhong Rujin had asked the police to take the victims to the hospital in the police car.  But the police said that the police care cannot be used for this purpose and they had to wait for an ambulance.

After the self-immolations took place, all the cameras and mobile phones of the Zhong family members were confiscated.  The photos that our reporter obtained were taken by a neighbor from a distance.  As Zhong Rucui said, not a single uniformed person participated in any rescue activity.

The three injured persons were taken to the Yihuang County Hospital.  All three are in critical condition.  They were then moved to the Burn Center at Nanchang University Number One Auxiliary Hospital.

Zhong Rucui said that the entire family has gone to Nanchang city.  The house is still standing, with a sister-in-law and a nephew staying there.  She said that she can't sleep because she sees the sight of her mother and sister on fire whenever she closes her eyes, as well as hearing the sound of her mother crying for her.


(Guardian)  Kevin Pietersen fined by England for obscene Twitter outburst  September 6, 2010.

Kevin Pietersen has been fined over his foul-mouth outburst on Twitter last week. The England batsmen had reacted angrily to being left out of the England squad for the one-day and Twenty20 series against Pakistan, calling the decision a "fuck up". Pietersen was summoned to a disciplinary hearing at Lord's today and despite apologising for his behaviour was fined an "undisclosed sum".

An England and Wales Cricket Board statement read: "The ECB has announced that Kevin Pietersen today attended a disciplinary hearing at Lord's convened by Hugh Morris, the managing director – England cricket, and Andy Flower, the England team director. "The hearing considered two charges against Kevin Pietersen relating to recent comments made on Twitter following his omission from England's one-day squad for the series against Pakistan. Pietersen pleaded guilty to both charges and offered an unreserved apology to ECB and the England team management for his actions. The hearing considered his comments to be prejudicial to the interests of Team England and the ECB and a significant breach of the England player conditions of employment. He has been fined an undisclosed sum in accordance with the terms and conditions of his England Ccentral contract."

Pietersen's original tweet, deleted within minutes of going public, read: "Done for rest of summer!! Man of the World Cup T20 and dropped from the T20 side too.. Its [sic] a fuck up!!"

However, the batsman, who also used the message to reveal he had just signed for Surrey, later apologised. "It came out in the way that I didn't want it to come out," said Pietersen. "It wasn't meant for the public domain, I apologise for it entering the public domain and I also want to apologise for the language I used."

(Guardian)  Hampshire fine Dimitri Mascarenhas for Twitter attack on Geoff Miller   September 6, 2010.

Dimitri Mascarenhas has been fined £1,000 by his county, Hampshire, for his furious comments about England's national selector Geoff Miller on Twitter. On the day his former team-mate Kevin Pietersen was also fined over a similar outburst on the social networking website, Mascarenhas apologised unreservedly for his postings, in which he described Miller as a "prick" and a "complete knob".

Hampshire's chairman, Rod Bransgrove, said: "Having had the incident brought to my attention by the ECB yesterday, I discussed the circumstances overnight with the team manager, Giles White. As a result, I met with Dimitri Mascarenhas today and formally censured him, imposing a fine of £1,000. The fine has been set at this high level as I feel there is little point in imposing a ban, given the long-term nature of his injury.

"In coming to this conclusion I have taken into consideration Dimi's previous exemplary record. However, as the club captain he understands that his actions carry more responsibility than others. Hampshire regret the entire incident which, although thoroughly out of character for Dimitri Mascarenhas, breaches the club's code of conduct. Further, it will be warning all players about the dangers of conducting personal or private dialogue on publicly available media."

Mascarenhas was contrite: "I realise that my actions were stupid and irresponsible and I regret any offence I may have caused," he said. "I apologise specifically to Geoff Miller who has always treated me fairly. I also apologise to Hampshire whom I feel I have let down. This was a silly, late-night conversation that got out of control and doesn't reflect my true views on Mr Miller. I have learnt a great deal about the dangers of social networking sites and encourage other players to think carefully before signing up to them."

As noted before, there was that Eileen Chang book launch on September 3.  This got coverage in South China Morning Post, Xinhua and ... Apple Daily (but no 'animated news' because I didn't rape or kill anyone in the absence of witnesses).

(South China Morning Post)  Author's masterpiece set at HKU    Lo Wei    2010.09.04

The last of late renowned author Eileen Chang's unpublished books, The Book of Change, was launched yesterday at the University of Hong Kong, where a large part of it is set. Chang writes of her days at the university in the late 1930s and early 40s, an experience that influenced her early stories. Her happy student life came to a halt when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong. She tells of the brutality of war and remarkable human resilience.

Roland Soong Yee-long, the executor of Chang's estate, said: "It is a wartime story with no heroes, no detailed account of fighting but of the experience and feelings of a university student in Hong Kong whose roots were in Shanghai." Completed in 1963, the 300-page book, which scholar and cultural critic Leo Lee Ou-fan called Chang's masterpiece, is the second part of her fictionalised two-part autobiography. The first part, The Fall of the Pagoda, was published in April. The books were written in English and later translated into Chinese. Although sales of the English version of the first book were not particularly encouraging, Soong expects the second volume to be a success. "The first book was about Chang's childhood in Shanghai, but this time it's about her life in Hong Kong during a special time in history, which Hong Kong people will be more able to relate to," he said.

Soong, to whose parents Chang bequeathed her works, said he discovered the books' manuscripts last year. They were being published to coincide with Chang's 90th birthday and the 15th anniversary of her death. Chang, the author of more than 10 well-known Chinese novels, including Lust, Caution, which director Ang Lee adapted into an award-winning movie, started writing in English when she lived in the United States in the 1950s. After spending about six years to complete The Fall of the Pagoda and The Book of Change, she was deeply disappointed when they was rejected by all the American publishers she approached. Some of them found the characters in her books too unpleasant, Soong said. She gave up writing English books after that, and wrote more Chinese novels, including Little Reunion, which topped the best-seller lists in Hong Kong and Taiwan and on the mainland last year.

Chang's remaining unpublished materials are mainly letters to Soong's parents, Stephen and Mae Fong Soong, who were close friends of hers, and some of her relatives. Roland Soong is preparing the letters for future publication.

(Xinhua)  Eileen Chang's English semi-autobiographical novel debuts in HK    2010.09.03

A semi-autobiographical novel written in English by renowned contemporary Chinese writer Eileen Chang was issued on Friday in Hong Kong where the author had studied, to mark Chang's 90th birthday and 15th anniversary of her death.  "The Book of Change" was published by the Hong Kong University Press.

At the launching ceremony, Roland Soong, the executor of Eileen Chang's estate, said Eileen Chang initially wanted to published " The Book of Change" as a literary work when it was completed in 1963. "By publishing it today, we offer readers the choice to decide on its literary merits. I believe that the book is just as important as a historical document about Eileen Chang." He noted that "The Book of Change" stood between the 1944 essay "From the Ashes" and the 1976 novel "Small Reunions" and gave readers an intermediate point in her evolving thoughts and attitudes about the events in her own life.

Soong also donated a photocopy of the manuscripts of Eileen Chang's English novel "The Book of Change" to the university.

Likes its prequel "The Fall of the Pagoda" published in April, the novel also depicts the protagonist's childhood in Tianjin and Shanghai, as well as her student days in Hong Kong during the World War II. It provides a first-hand account of life in wartime Hong Kong following the Japanese invasion, with scathing details of widespread cowardice, as well as inspiring examples of human resilience. The protagonist bears a large resemblance to Chang during her student life at the Hong Kong University from 1939 to 1941.

Eileen Chang is now recognized as one of the greatest modern Chinese writers. She was the most popular writer in Japanese- occupied Shanghai during World War II, with English and Chinese stories focusing on human frailties.

Chang arrived in Hong Kong from Shanghai in 1939 and enrolled in the University of Hong Kong. Her childhood in Shanghai was a gothic horror tale in which she finally ran away from her father and stepmother. Her student life in Hong Kong was a happy interlude, but Chang soon found herself stranded by the war.

Chang was noted for unsociability and hypersensitive about her privacy. That she was found dead days after her death in 1995 testified her seclusion. Her work frequently dealt with tensions between men and women in love. Among her best known works were " Love in a Fallen City", " The Red Rose and the White Rose" and " Lust, Caution", which inspired Ang Lee's award-winning film.

Apple Daily


What next?  The Chinese translations of Eileen Chang's <The Fall of the Pagoda> and <The Book of Change> will be released in Taiwan on September 9th.  So I'll be even busier.

At around 9:40am or so on August 16, there was an explosion at the Lihua Enterprises Ltd Company in the Wumahe district, Yichun city.

Early morning on August 17, the Xinhua agency cited the Yichun government: As of midnight on August 17, the explosion has caused 19 deaths, 5 missing and 153 injuries.

On August 20, four days after the incident, the Heilongjiang provincial safety supervisory bureau) noted that the explosion caused 20 deaths, 4 missing and 153 injuries.  This meant that one of the missing was classified as deceased.

On September 2, the Xinhua agency cited the Yichun government: "The 8.16 Yichuan fireworks factory directly caused the deaths of 30 persons with three more persons missing, and indirectly the deaths of 3 persons." 

So why were the numbers so different between August 20 and September 2?

Yesterday our reporter called the Statistics Department of the State Safety Supervisory Bureau and posed the question.  A worker pleaded lack of knowledge about how the Yichun government counted the number of missing.

Our reporter called a leader in the Yichun Safety Supervisory Bureau.  He said that the investigation was conducted at the provincial level and told the reporter to contact them instead.

Our reporter called the Heilongjiang Provincial Safety Supervisory Bureau.  A worker said that he did not know the details of the case and told our reporter to the Hazardous Chemicals Department instead.  A worker there said that he does not know because the count was made by the relevant Yichun government deparment.

The relative of a deceased person told our reporter that on the morning of August 18, a Civil Affairs Bureau worker made a telephone call right in front of him and he heard him sayd, "23 bodies have been recovered so far."  He added, "It is for certain that the Yichun government had the data on the number of deaths.  They delayed until now before releasing the data."

After the explosion at the Huali factory, the number of deaths was subject to a lot of dispute.  During our investigation, our reporter spoke to the families of 17 of the deceased and they did not believe the official figure of 20.

The Taihua Wood Products Company is located next door to the Huali factory.  The families of those who died at Taihua told our reporter that 17 employees died.  As of the deadline for this article, our reporter verified 7 of those cases.  On September 1, our reporter interviewed the Taihua general manager Mr. Cao on the grounds of the factory and he insisted that only 4 employees died.

So what were the numbers so different?

The September 2 Xinhua report noted at the end: "According to the relevant regulations, the rise in the number of deaths has resulted in the incident being classified as a 'special major safety incident' to be investigated by the State Council and other relevant departments."

In order to build the Fengjie Expressway, the Fengjie county government needed to relocate more than 270 families from Zhuyi town.  Most of the families signed agreements with the government, received compensation and moved out.  But Chen Maoguo found the government offer of 392,000 yuan in compensation plus three houses totaling 270 square meters to be unsatisfactory.  Chen refused to sign any agreement or move out.  On December 26, 2008, Chen Maoguo's house was forcibly demolished.

On September 1, 2009, Chen Maoguo moved bricks, ropes, fertilizers, loudspeakers and an amplifier and set up a home on a tree next to the expressway.  He lived there for more than two months.  On September 17 and October 25, Chen Maoguo used his telephone as well as the loudspeaker to mobilize his relatives and other neighbors to blockage the expressway.  His wife Shen Zhenglan and others heeded his call and blocked the expressway so that vehicles cannot pass.  When the police came, these people refused to cooperate.  As a result, the expressway traffic came to a halt for one hour and four hours respectively on those two days.  Hundreds of vehicles were stopped by this serious interruption of traffic order.

On September 3, the Fenjie court announced its verdict.  During the trial, Chen Maoguo and his lawyer argued that he did not personally assemble the crowd or block the expressway.  Therefore, he was only guilty of an ordinary crime instead of the more serious one of assembling a crowd to disturb public order.

The court noted that Chen Maoguo himself and many witnesses confirmed that Chen used his telephone as well as the loudspeaker to call his relatives and other residents to block the car.  So even if Chen did not come down the tree to block traffic himself, he assembled the crowd to disrupt public order as well as resist the efforts of law enforcement personnel to carry out their duties.  Chen was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison.

Book Launch: Eileen Chang's The Book of Change

The Hong Kong University Press and University’s Project for Public Culture of Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC) will co-host a book launch for a noted contemporary Chinese writer, Eileen Chang's semi-autobiographical novel The Book of Change「易經」on 3 September 2010. The book launch also marks the 90th birthday and 15th anniversary of Chang’s death.

The Book of Change was written in English, and, likes its prequel, The Fall of the Pagoda, depicting Chang’s childhood in Tianjin and Shanghai. It provides a first-hand account of life in wartime Hong Kong following the Japanese invasion, with scathing details of widespread cowardice, as well as inspiring examples of human resilience.

Eileen Chang (1920-1995) arrived in Hong Kong from Shanghai in 1939 and enrolled in The University of Hong Kong. Her childhood in Shanghai was a gothic horror tale in which she finally ran away from her father and stepmother. Her student life in Hong Kong was a happy interlude, but Chang soon found herself stranded by the war. The Japanese occupation of late 1941 provided many brutal lessons on the fragile nature
of personal attachments.

At the launch, Dr Roland Soong, the executor of Eileen Chang’s estate will donate a photocopy of the manuscripts of Eileen Chang’s English novel The Book of Change to HKU and shares his views on Chang’s writing career. Professor Leo Ou-fan Lee, renowned scholar and cultural critic, will analyze the book.

All are welcome, the details are:
Date: 3 September 2010(Friday)
Time: 12pm noon
Venue: 1/F, Main Library, HKU
Language: English

Prof. SP Chow, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, HKU
Dr Roland Soong, Executor, Eileen Chang's Estate
Prof. Leo Ou-fan Lee, Renowned Scholar and Cultural Critic
Mr. Michael Duckworth, Publisher, Hong Kong University Press
Prof. Kam Louie, Dean, Faculty of Arts, HKU
Prof. Ying Chan, Director, Journalism and Media Studies Centre, HKU

The Book of Change can be ordered at:

For enquiries, please contact: Ms.Velentina Ma, Journalism and Media Studies Centre, HKU at or tel: 22194012

At around 0:00 on August 31, <Southern Metropolis Daily> reporter Zhang Peng received a tip that there was a dispute between a van driver and law enforcement officers in the Fumen area.  At around 0:30, he arrived at the scene together with a <Southern Daily> reporter.  He observed that there was a van by the roadside with its right front wheel being locked up.  The driver was in a state of emotional agitation.  Meanwhile several security patrolmen crouched by the roadside while a plainclothes bald-headed man sat on a motorcycle belonging to the local safety patrol team.

Zhang Peng went up and inquired about what happened.  The bald-headed patrolman asked, "What is your business?"  Zhang Peng replied: "We are reporters from <Southern Daily> and <Southern Metropolis Daily>."  He asked the man to identify his name and organization.  The man declined to cooperate.

At this point, the <Southern Daily> reporter took out his camera and attempted to take photos.  The bald-headed man dashed over to seize the camera.  He demanded that the reporter must erase all photos.  Zhang Peng took out his mobile phone to record this action.  But the bald-headed man grabbed that mobile phone with his hand. Zhang Peng said, "Under the circumstances, I had to take out my other mobile phone to record the evidence.  But at this time, the bald-headed man and other public safety patrolmen began to assault me."

"You can hit me back at too!  Come on!"  Zhang Peng said that someone kept provoking him during that assault.  One public safety patrolman even said: "I don't care if I lose this job.  But I am going to beat you up today."  This person rushed up to Zhang Peng and ministered several blows to his head, causing massive bleeding.

According to Zhang Peng, the assault lasted about 10 minutes.  Four or five men assaulted Zhang Peng in order to wrestle his mobile phone away from him.  It was total chaos there.

Afterwards, the Fumen town Communist Party secretary, the town party publicity director and the town public security bureau director rushed to the hospital to visit Zhang Peng.

According to the town Communist Party secretary, the attackers were members of the local public safety patrol team.  Due to the vicious nature of the incident, the public security bureau has been ordered to conduct a thorough investigation.  Those public safety patrol team members involved in the incident will be severely punished.  An apology has been offered to Zhang Peng.  At the same time, public safety patrolmen in Fumen town will be educated accordingly to avoid future recurrence of such incidents.

So far, our reporter has learned that all four Fumen public safety patrolmen involved in the incident have been dismissed.  Meanwhile <Southern Metropolis Daily> reporter Zhang Peng is under observation at the hospital.