Now that the Chinese New Year holiday is ending, there is another traffic peak for outside workers returning to Guangzhou.  The train stations and airport are bustling with people in the return phase of the Chinese New Year rush.  After a brief period of calm in Guangzhou, we are now back to the noisy daily life again.  Another media outlet in Guangzhou reported that a netizen posted at a forum that Guangzhou was so nice and quiet compared to the normal din that we ought to consider imposing controls on outsiders coming to Guangzhou for better quality of life.

It is one thing to say that individual citizens are making such pleas because this just represents their own preferences and prejudices.  But it was a mainstream medium that choice the moment of the return of the outside workers to make a focus report.  Although they seemed to be quoting from both sides, but it is enough to make someone gag.  The Chinese New Year is an important festival for all Chinese people.  Government organizations, social organizations and elementary/intermediate schools all close while the outside workers at various corporations leave Guangzhou to return to their hometowns.  Many Guangzhou residents go and visit friends and families, or go on vacation outside of Guangzhou.  The whole city went into half-gear and therefore the usual urban problems disappeared temporarily.  It is logically wrong to attribue the calmness during the Spring Festival solely to the departure of outside laborers.  For a mainstream medium to hype up an illogical issue with no public value in order to attrack eyebals can only be said to be an outburst of prejudice about urban-rural and outsider-insider differences.  Even though the expression may seem nostalgic and subtle, it is simply conservative prejudice.

What is most comprehensible is that the media have been able to pump up this issue successfully with reports about "almost 80% of arrested criminal suspects come from outside Guangzhou," "more than 70% of illegal curbside vendors are mobile population from the outside" and "Reseach shows: 70% of local Guangzhou netizens agree to raising the threshold for staying in Guangzhou."  All of these reports are making veiled accusations that only increase misunderstanding against the interest of the overall trends of history in China by providing a haven for the much-detected system of residency.  To propose the control of outsiders at the time of Spring Festival makes one wonder aabout the values, positions and reporting tactics of the media.

[in translation]

On the day before yesterday, there were several news reports about commercial deception.  Apple Daily reported: "Non-drowsy flu medication is deceptive; the manufacturer admits that it has no effect on running noses."  Ming Pao reported: "Overseas broadband access speed only 30% as advertised; we tested four ISP's and price bears no relationship to results."

Many people then piled on to condemn the businesses for deception.  Actually, what is the big deal?  As long as you take in the money, so what if you lie?  When the young girl Ah Dan broke the law and won HK$ 740,000 at the Macau casino, she held up a stack of $1,000 bills to pose for the cameras and thereby became a much admired heroine.  She now has fame and fortune.  In the Year of the Pig, the winner takes all.  Therefore, a successfuilly deceptive ad is a successful ad.

Of course, some people think that if you can successfully deceive foreigners, then that is delightful; but if you get deceived yourself, then it is a different story.  Oddly enough, advertising is already a form of "civilized deception."  In this age, it is incomprehensible that anyone would trust advertising (or the propaganda from the Party in the motherland).

Recently, I was reading Professor Lo Shi-kwong's <The Punishment of History> in which the civilized deception of advertising was discussed.  This deception is "civilized" because it has become part of the social life or system and we have grown accustomed to it without thinking that this might be problematic anymore.  In Chapter 8 (<The Concealment and Deception of Dreams>), he wrote:

"The basic purpose of advertising is a form of deception with a smiling earnestness.  Each and every commercial organization is trying to convince the consumer about the false promise in the ad that its product is the best product.  When it issues such a promise, it does not pay any attention as to whether the product meets the quality described in the ad.  They only pay attention to whether people believe it (in other words, if the consumers are enticed by the ads)."

That essay was written in 1963.  More than 40 years later, this kind of civilized deception is more persavive, with greater credibility and acceptability.  This is not unexpected, because a civilized tumor will probably take decades or even centuries to excise.

Ming Pao reported on the Chinese-language name change of the Tai Mei Tuk district in Taipo from the original 大尾篤 to the identical sounding 大美督.  The change came as a result of the Land Administration Office responding to the local citizen representatives' request.

The original 大尾篤 was named for an ancient village which considered itself to be at the far end of Taipo.  Thus refers to 大埔 (Taipo), refers to tailend and refers to the extreme tip.  In recent years, some villagers felt that it was unlucky "to be reaching one's end (of life)."  Thence came the request for a name change.

The new 大美督 sounds the same.  But can be taken to mean "grand" or "great"; is "beautiful" or "American"; is "supervisor" or "governor."  Perhaps it may be taken to mean that this location (which is a popular spot for holding barbeques) is beautiful.

The original name had a specific meaning about the location of the village with respect to Taipo, but the new name really does not say anything.  This can be construed as a destruction of historical values.  If the new name is used for another thousand years, there may even emerge a legend that the name came about in commemoration of the "Great American government" who invested in the construction of Plover Cove Fresh-water Reservoir just off Taipo.

This short of deceptive name-change is similar to the replacement of the word "China" by "Taiwan" earlier in Taiwan companies and organizations.  It was done for the same type of reason, but the effects were different.  Whereas we condemned Taiwan, we were all happy about the new and beautiful Tai Mei Tuk.  History is always revised by the powers-that-be.

[in translation]

It has been almost eighteen years since 'June 4.'  Over these eighteen yeras, many intellectuals and democracy activists had been forced to leave their own country, bid farewell to their families and take the path of exile.  During these eighteen years, they all look forward to return to their own country and meet with their families and friends again.  Of course, I am no exception.  Especially during a traditional festive day such as the Lunar New Year, I want more so to have New Year's Eve dinner with my family.  While the family reunion is a natural act for other families, I have not been able to do so for more than ten years already.

After studying in the United states for almost eight years, I am planning to enter another phase of my life in June this year.  As a doctoral student, the main professional choice is to teach.  If I have a choice, I want to find a teaching position in Hong Kong.  First of all, I have special feelings for Hong Kong.  During the June 4 period, the people of Hong Kong joined their fates together with ours.  It can be said that we shared the sorrows and pains of the time.  In addition, Hong Kong persists in holding large-scale June 4 commemorative activities each year and stood as a bright light in the long dark nights.  I want to do something in return for the warmheartedness of the people of Hong Kong.

Actually, there is another big reason why I want to work in Hong Kong, which is close to mainland China.  Ever since the solo travels started, family visits are easier to do.  Both my parents will be 70 years old this year.  Although they can come to visit me in the United States, it has almost been the case that the black-haired person should visit the white-haired persons and not the other way around.  Besides, the travel distance between China and the United States is so long and it is harder and harder for elderly people to undertake.  Therefore, the chances of them visiting me is getting more and more remote.  I obviously want to be close to them, especially my mother who is not in good health due to a heart condition.  As her son, I obviously hope to be close to her and take care of her.

So who amongst us does not have parents?  Today, I want to come to Hong Kong largely because of the wish of a child to be with his parents.  I can understand that the Chinese government (including the Hong Kong SAR government) may object on account of my political position.  But China has a cultural tradition based upon basic human feelings.  I do not believe that the authorities will abandon these feelings on account of political positions.  Today, the Kuomintang (KMT) may have had a blood feud with the Communists in the past, but the KMT chariman can visit mainland China.  Those KMT generals who killed innumerable Communists back then can also go back and visit their relatives.  I really don't understand that why those peaceful demonstrators who were demanding democracry back then could not be permitted to return to mainland China after eighteen years has passed?  If the Chinese Communists are afraid of even a student, then a big question mark must be placed on the stability of their rulership.

I noticed in your translation of the article on the Spring Festival Gala that you translated "做女人挺好" as "it's good to be a woman." This is the literal meaning, of course, but it's actually a reference to a joke in the movie 大碗儿, in which "做女人挺好" is the slogan for a brand of breast-enlargement cream -- hence, a pun on "." In the subtitles for the movie, it's cleverly translated as "it's not a bust to be a woman." 

The Pengshui county party secretary in the poem case is now assigned to become the director of the statistical bureau of Chongqing. Is that a promotion or demotion? This requires further investigation. If this is a promotion, what kind of Internet opinion is out there, given that he was removed from his job due to that pressure in the first place?

At issue was whether the government official who abused his authority was being promoted/demoted as a result with his recent appointment as Deputy Director of the Statistical Bureau in Chongqing city.  RFA Unplugged wrote Is you is or is you ain’t promoted? and I made Comment 200702#079.  But if you want a very thorough review of Chinese Internet opinion, you must read John Kennedy's Disgraced Party member promoted at Global Voices Online.  This is not just the usual keyboard-banging raving and ranting by angry young people, because some of the comments were based upon detailed research of the government system of official rankings.
So maybe you are not interested in what happened as a result of a SMS message from an ordinary citizen in a city somewhere in China.  What is the big deal anyway?  

The big deal is that the GVO post is just showing one case study in which Internet public opinion has taken a vibrant life of its own beyond the purview of either mainstream media or the notorious 30,000 Internet censors.  When such a topic shows up, the comments appears from all over the place.  These are reasonable questions, so neither the Internet censors nor the website administrators have real cause to stop them because they would end up with a much bigger controversy on their hands if they tried to stop it.  So the best bet is to keep a stiff upper lip and hope the storm will blow over.  The lesson for the next time is that no other official is willing to stick their necks out to 'promote' someone in that position (even if they did, they would not dare announce it publicly), because they have seen what happened this time.  This is called "watchdog journalism" or "supervision by public opinion" -- with a unique Chinese characteristic, of course.  This is one particular case, but there are so many other similar cases going on right now.  How to stop them?  They cannot be stopped (short of turning off the Internet) ...

December 5, 1951, Letter to Stephen Soong:

I ask brother Hsi to buy a few western men's pants for me.  In Shanghai, it is expensive.  The price for the cloth material is equal to that for woollen material in Hong Kong; besides, cloth material wear down easily.  Both my son and I work while we sit and so our pants wear down quickly.  Therefore, when he goes shopping, he should pick some more durable material.

September 14, 1954 evening, Letter to Henry Soong:

Brother Hsi:

... I asked to purchase Hindmith: Elementary Training for Musicians (two copies) but I have not heard from any news?  Can you please inquire again.  Also, if Paris' Daniélou wrote to you directly to tell you about the price, please remit the money as soon as you see the letter.  If I ask him to look for a book and then notify me afterwards, there will not be enough time.  Books in Paris are usually sold out quickly.  I suggested previously to use traveler's cheques but you have not told me if it will work.  Please write and tell me.

Also Fu Min has run out of violin strings again.  Please purchase 2 G strings, and D, A and E strings one apiece.  They should all be steelless stain ones.  Please mail them separately in two packages and write on the outside: "X number of violin strings" with the receipt enclosed inside.  I heard that custom taxes are required right now.  Therefore, I ask you to send it separately to two places so that the taxes do not get too high for one person.

[in translation]

I went home for the Chinese New Year and met with friends and relatives.  Some people would ask: How do you gather news in China?  Do the officials allow you to interview them?  Where does the information come from?  Are you worried about being arrested?

These questions usually make me feel awkward, because I don't know where to begin to talk about this.  But there is a question that is worth thinking about -- why did the family elders ask this way?  They do so because they have this impression that it is hard to obtain information in China and journalists can easily get into trouble.

At the end of last year, the Chinese authorities announced new regulations that relaxed the restrictions on foreign correspondents, who can now freely travel across provinces and interview anyone who gives his/her consent.  No permission is needed from the foreign affairs department and it is not necessary to have a local reception unit.  At the same time, the names and telephone numbers of several dozen national and local government spokespersons were published.  So the information channel has actually broadened significantly.  At the time, the Chinese- and English-language newspapers in Singapore published many reports on this development, but it seems that most people have the same impression about press control in China as before.  This shows that the cumulative impression and misunderstanding of the people will be hard to change in a short time.

So is it hard go gather news in China?  What is so hard about it?  Like foreigners doing business in China or actually doing anything, one needs assistance to find the channels and methods, to understand the hidden rules and, even most trying of all, to have the physical strength, stamina and willpower to invest for the long term.

Compared to before, the environment for news workers has really improved by a lot.  There are too many press conferences and forums for reporters to attend.  The experts and scholars are willing to deal with the media, and they speak openly without avoiding opinions that are outside of the mainstream.

Although the number of activities does not bear an absolute relationship to the value of the information and officials who hold press conferences do not always respond to every question from the reporters, one cannot say that there is no opportunity for asking questions.  There are many opportunities, but can you seize every opportunity?  Are you prepared and ready all the time?

Apart from press conferences, other information can be dug out.  Of course, there is much information that you cannot dig out no matter how hard you try, and then there is information that you better not even think about digging out.  It often takes a large amount of time and effort to dig out the information -- you must gain the trust of the people and the officials and you must gather the information a bit at a time.  In a transitional society, there are so many strange phenomena that can and should be spotted and followed up.  The information is in a semi-transparent state, with a great deal of confusion.  Therefore, your capability, experience, intelligence and investment are absolute prerequisites to do anything.

Since 2004, "China rising" has become a commonly used term internationally.  As this nation achieves economic growth and expands its diplomatic role, the transparency of information is slowly raised.  Within the space between transparency and opacity, the domestic and overseas media try their best to find the information.

In this environment, a person's actions and efforts seemed to be monitored tightly but invisibly while the payoff can be calculated in exact detail.  The difficulty for outsiders is that we can only use our limited viewpoints and experiences to imagine the vastness and complexity of China.  Yet, this difficulty is perhaps one reason why China has fascinated generation after generation of outsiders.

In response to the questions from my friends and relatives, I often say: There are more and more press conferences nowadays.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has two each week and the State Council Information Office has one or two each week, or even three or four.  Since last year, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Education and other departments have regularly scheduled press conferences every month or quarter.  I think that there are still some difficulties, but I can say that it is a lot easier now than before.

During the CCTV SPring Festival Gala, the skit <策划 Planning> had contained the phrases "博客白云飘飘 Blog WhiteCloudsFloating."

Previously, in the leaked script, Song Dandan's dialogue contained the phrase "  This led the blogger 双叶 (DoubleLeafBlade) to register the domain 白云飘飘博客.com (  But in the live broadcast, Song Dandan ended up saying ""  DoubleLeafBlade immediately attempted to register 博客白云飘飘.com (, but someone had already done so just seconds ago.

Who was ahead?  A Zhejiang netizen Zhang Wei said that he was watching the CCTV Spring Festival Gala.  As soon as he heard the dialogue, he registered the domain 博客白云飘飘.com (  According to the official record, the time of registration was 23:30:25, February 17, 2007.  The skit had not even finish at the time.  The cost of registration was 60 RMB.  Zhang Wei is considering selling the domain and the price that he has in mind is 10,000 RMB.  Zhang Wei claims to have bought and sold several thousand domain names already, and his income from those transactions is higher than his regular wages.

The body of 42-year-old hiker Lo Si-fai was found at the bottom of a cliff on Lantau Island on February 4 after a week-long search that involved more than 100 people. Lo's body was discovered only after telephone operators helped narrow down his mobile signal to around Ngong Ping, police said.

The government regulator hopes its cooperation with private operators to install base stations in Hong Kong's extensive country-park network will help prevent more accidents from occurring.  There are 12 base stations scattered throughout the territory and the government said new stations located in southern Lantau Island, Tai Lam Chung and eastern Sai Kung have been installed.

Although Hong Kong is relatively small, the area includes an expansive system of 35 parks and marine reserves. Hikers have long complained that mobile-phone signals are cut when they are walking in country parks, putting them at risk if an emergency occurs.  

But Hong Kong's hilly terrain presents a substantial obstacle for radio signals.  OFTA maintains detailed maps on its Web site outlining the quality of mobile reception at all points along Hong Kong's network of hiking trails, but also suggests hikers use walkie-talkies operating at 409 MHz for short-range communication.  It is "unavoidable that some locations [have] no or poor mobile-network coverage," OFTA said.  "Hikers should not rely solely on mobile phones to seek emergency help."

In Eastweek (issue 182, July 21, 2007), a completely opposite story was reported.  Why did it take a week to find Lo Si-fai's body?  According one of the volunteer searchers, "there are at least three groups of signal stations in Ngong Ping and the telecommunication company did not explain which group received the signal from Lo.  Later on, an industry insider told us that it came from the Ngong Ping market station.  That insider also pointed out that each signal station did not have 360 degree coverage; instead, the transmission angle was only between 60 to 90 degrees."

Ultimately, on the sixth day, the volunteer searchers brought their own measurement instruments to detemine the direction of the Ngong Ping signal stations and hence figured out that Lo must be on the west side of Lantau Peak (Phoenix Mountain).  Thus, the search area was reduced to just several hundred square meters.  Lo's body was found the next day.

The volunteer searcher said, "If we had sufficient information to begin with, we would have concentrated on the west slope.  There is only one perilous cliff there, and that was where Lo was.  Instead, the searchers had to start from the center of Ngong Ping market in a circle of two kilometer radius, including a number of streams which could not even receive the signals.  This was a waste of manpower and resources."
What about the detailed maps on the OFTA website?  Here is the relevant map.  Would this map help in a search?  No.

I first posed the question:

The Pengshui county party secretary in the SMS poem case is now assigned to become director of the statistical bureau of Chongqing. Is that a promotion or demotion? This requires further investigation. If this is a promotion, what kind of Internet opinion is out there, given that he was removed from his job due to that pressure in the first place?

From Dreamburo at RFA Unplugged comes: Newsdesk: Is you is or is you ain’t promoted?.  Here is the key paragraph:

“Promotion? No, no, no,” [a Pengshiu government official who would not give his name] told RFA’s Cantonese service. “It’s the same. Even if he was promoted he would still be the county chief. “Yes, that’s right, [Lan Qinghua] has stopped working here. I don’t know much about it. Perhaps you should ask the municipal work organisation department because I don’t know the details. Municipal-level governement would be behind any movement of local leaders, not the county level.”

Meanwhile, I found a sentence in a ChinaNews article at Sina.com行职级别反而由原来的正处升为副厅 (translated as: His administrative position was elevated from the original country-level department head to city-level department deputy head.  Now I am not familiarity with the classification of government officials in China.  I imagine a typical ascendant career to be something like: village cadre -> village committee head -> village mayor -> town department head -> town deputy mayor -> town mayor -> county department deputy head -> county department head -> county vice-mayor -> county mayor -> city department deputy head -> city department head -> city deputy mayor -> city mayor -> provincial department deputy head -> ...  If this were true, then "county mayor -> city department deputy head" is a promotion.

[in translation]

I've watched the movie <Casino Royale> twice.  I nearly fell asleep both times.  I saw it the first time when I was overseas and I did not feel anything other than noting that the western audience reacted to certain dialogue stronger than we do.  But when I saw the movie again inside China, there was an unexpected result: before the movie began, there was a condom advertisement which is of international quality.  A condom wearing dark glasses walked back and forth just like 007 and then he suddenly turned around and fired a shot at the camera.  This was an imitation of the standard James Bond movie opening.  The condom also spoke the classical self-introduction of 007 "I'm Bond, James Bond" as "I'm Bon, Jissbon."

This condom has a foreign name that sounded like 007: Jissbon.  The advertisement has an international flavor.  So I thought that this was an international brand, but I later learned that it was manufactured by a Wuhan company ... According to a Sydney Morning Herald, the president of the Australian company that obtained majority share in this company: "Jissbon (杰士邦) is the Chinese translation of James Bond."  His assessement seems inappropriate, so it is not clear who told him that.

Then I read on the Internet about how many Chinese moviegoers also saw this amusing ad and they also saw various models of yellow condoms in front of the cinemas.  A foreign girl wrote in her blog that she went to watch 007 in China and received three free Jissbon condoms along with the ticket.  She is astonished because she wondered if the Chinese need them when they go to watch movies.

Related Links: Jissbon condoms, James Bond and Durex  Jeremy Goldkorn, Danwei; Jissbon condoms' dodgy logo  Jeremy Goldkorn, Danwei

Chinese people are definitely familiar with leftists and rightists.  I personally understood the campaign against rightist restoration in the Cultural Revolution as an attempt to take the capitalist path.  Then I went to high school and my classmates called me an old Marxist lady.  In retrospect, this was because I was a good cadre who heeded my teacher and lacked the spirit of liberalism.  Today, there are still many instances in which people are labeled leftist or rightist.  When a person is called 'leftist,' it usually means that the person is ossified in his thinking and somewhat dictatorial.  More recently, there is a debate between the camps of the new left and new right in China.  But I must frankly state that I have not figured out the standards of definition.  In socialist China, aren't we all in the leftist camp?

The notion of left and right began in Europe and the division was even more accident.  Some people advocated one theory and others opposed it.  Thus, the left and right camps were formed.  Academically, there is nothing derogatory or commendatory in those labels.  In the 1990's, the rightwing camp won an electoral victory in Italy.  The Italian scholar Noberto Bobbio wrote an influential book: "Left and Right: The Significance for a Political Distinction."  He acknowledged that at different stages of development in a society, the distinction between left and right may differ.  He believes that both left and right have their extreme forms of belief: Communism versus Fascism.  These two ideologies are completely different, but they share a common point -- both reject democracy.  Both the left and right also have their moderate wings which accept democracy.  Liberalism exists in both the left and right camps.  The difference between left and right is based upon the interpretation of fairness.  The left does not accept an unfair society whereas the right believes that unfairness is natural and inevitable.

.... While the left believes that people are different biologically, it also believes that if the system is unfair, then it must be changed.  The right believes that people are born unequal.  Therefore they oppose any effort to obtain fairness via re-distribution under the system.  I still feel that it is the responsibility of the government to go through the system (such as using taxation) to re-distribute wealth and lessen inequality.  The government also has the responsibility to use tax revenues to provide basic healthcare and educational services.  If that is how it is judged, then I ought to be considered a leftist.

Television programme "Super Adult & Child" (超級大細路) broadcast on the Entertainment Channel of Hong Kong Cable Television Limited (HKCTV) on 4 November 2006 from 8:00pm to 9:00pm.

Three members of the public complained that the programme hostess' remarks that a child had "義氣" (loyalty/comradeship) with regard to the child's refusal to disclose the name of a wrongdoer in a game segment were irresponsible and would mislead children into thinking that dishonestly keeping secret for wrongdoers was a proper behaviour.

In the episode under complaint, there was a game segment involving three children. The three children were placed in the studio set individually with either the host, the hostess or the guest in the absence of their parents. The host/hostess/guest then deliberately broke one of the props (道具) displayed on the table in front of the child and then requested the child not to tell others what had happened. Later on, the children were separately asked by other adults to reveal the person who had broken the prop. Among the three children, two identified the culprits and one said she had no knowledge and claimed that the prop was already broken when she saw it. The hostess commended that the child who refused to tell had "義氣" (loyalty/comradeship).


HKCTV was advised to observe paragraph 1 (programmes be scheduled with an awareness of the likely audience in mind) and paragraph 8 (programmes are suitable for their likely audience) of Chapter 2; paragraph 1 of Chapter 3 (programmes be handled in a responsible manner); and paragraph 1 of Chapter 7 (likely effects of broadcast material on children) of the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Standards.

(SCMP)  TV show rapped for 'lesson in deception'.  By Sherry Lee.  February 17, 2007

Broadcaster and commentator Leung Man-to said the authority had gone crazy. "It is so trivial. If they found the remark problematic, a lot of other programmes have problems too. In TV shows and movies, robbers, because of `comradeship', often refuse to tell police the whereabouts of their accomplices. Would this be banned too?"

[in translation]

On February 14, the Guangzhou police publicly announced the results of its investigation into the sensationalistic "daze drugs."  Based upon the information that the police has, the street talk had covered three different kinds of drugs: "The first kind involves placing narcotic drugs into drinks or food and cause people to lose consciousness; the second kind involves using drugs that have components such as pepper gas, ammonia water and tear gas and spraying it into the face so as to cause strong stimulation in the eyes, nose and throat that results in temporary loss of the ability to resist; the third kind is the legendary 'mind-control drugs' which allows someone else to take control of one's mind through a pat on the shoulder, a handshake, a spray in the face or a sniff.  According to police information, criminal elements have used the first two kinds of drugs, but the police has not yet verified a single instance of the third kind of so-called 'mind control drug.'"  In simple terms, they have not yet found any 'mind control' drugs.

Previously, <New Express> published a series of stunning reports (e.g. you can buy 'mind control' drugs anytime; a white mouse was immediately paralyzed when sprayed; many victims recounted their stories; reporters tried the experience personally, etc).  With this police report, the newspaper needed to save face.  So on the same day that it reported the police statement, <New Express> immediately said: "We noticed that the police was reserved in their use of language.  They are saying that it is still possible to use 'mind control' drugs to commit crime.  It is just that 'the police has not yet verified a single instance.'"

The <New Express> reporter was very rigorous in the analysis.  If the police said 'not a single instance has been verified,' then the possibility still exists.  Furthermore, even if the Guangzhou police had said that "mind control drugs do not exist," the Beijing police, the Shanghai police, the American police ... have not said so; even if all the police around the world said so, the entire scientific community has not said so ...  Anyway, the possibility will always exist -- for example, on another planet or 1 billion years later on earth.  Therefore, <New Express>'s interpretation is absolutely correct.

... <New Express> wants to provide a better news product for the masses of readers.  Unfortunately, the quality of their product exceeds the ability of earthlings to understand.  How about learning some earthbound knowledge first?  A very simple piece of knowledge is what a drug dealer said: "If there is such a thing as a mind control drug, would we be doing this?"  If there are drugs that can control the minds of others, those drug dealers would not have to work so hard to earn the relatively piddling sums of money from drug-dealing.  They can just go and find a 'fat cat' like Bill Gates, tapped him on his shoulder, seize control of his mind and get him to transfer all his savings and stocks over to them.  Osama bin Laden would not need to recruit people to fly into buildings.  He can just shake hands with Bush and then take over the United States.

An Zhenya said: "When I first went to work in Hangzhou, I went to use a public restroom at West Lake.  I dropped my mobile telephone into the cesspool.  So I found a piece of magnet, tied it to a string and then drew the mobile telephone out again.  To my surprise, I found a few more coins.  I did not think much about that at the time.  In time, I came across several people who were using pipes embedded with magnet to suck metal coins from the restroom cesspools in West Lake."
So An Zhenya decided to do that as a full-time job that led him to travel all over China in search of high-yielding cesspools.  When away from home, he has to pay for room, board and transportation at about 70 or 80 RMB per day.  "Usually I can make 100 or 200 RMB per day, with a maximum of 900 RMB once.  After accounting for the expenses, I net more than 3,000 RMB per day.  This is better than working for someone."  During this spring festival, An Zhenya is patrolling the various restrooms in Ningbo train stations and he gets more than 500 RMB per day.
"In traveling all over the country, I have gained a lot of experience.  Although the southern coastal cities are more affluent, their restrooms are more sophisticated.  Two years ago, I went to Guangzhou where I stayed for two days, but I lost money.  Their restrooms are too modern and there are no cesspools."
"My wife and two kids live in Hangzhou right now.  The elder son is attending university and he is doing well.  I have wonderful kids.  They know that I work very hard.  When I return home, they help me clean out the rust on the coins.  The money retrieved from the restrooms enabled me to settle and feed my family.  After having worked this for so long, I don't feel the stench from the restrooms anymore.  I just want to make money so that my wife and kids will have better days!" 

[in translation]

Q. It there a contest with "leftist" ideas in the current debate?
A: In this debate, the socialism-versus-capitalism issue was raised again.  We were said to have transplanted capitalism and western liberalism over here, and the leadership has fallen into the hands of people who are groomed on western neoliberal economics.  So "leftist" ideas have become popular again.  In terms of overall policy, it is revolutionary to be "left" and therefore "leftist" mistakes are treated relatively lightly.  Rightist mistakes are usually severely punished.  Therefore, the administrative policies favor the existence of "leftist" ideas.  If you recognize the source, then "leftism" is dogmatism and the market economy and democratic governance in the reforms are naturally opposed to leftist dogmatism and therefore these things are grouped under capitalism.

Q: What is the difference between the so-called left in China versus the left in the United States and Europe?
A: The left in US/Europe are different from the Chinese left.  In the US/Europe conception of political governance, they presuppose market economy and democratic government and then they decide to balance between economic efficiency and social fairness.  The US/Europe leftists tend to pay more attention to social fairness, and they can advocate socialist democracy.  But the Chinese leftists are opposed to market economy and democratic government, and therefore they are very different.

Q: Don't the so-called Chinese leftists claim that they are "defending the interests of the socially weak groups"?
A: When the so-called Chinese leftists claim to represent the interests of the people and the socially weak groups, they are only shouting empty slogans because they never take any practical actions.  When they say that they represent the weak groups, they want to dump the market economy and return to the planned economy and they want to go back to the class struggles instead of democratic governance.  Therefore, this claim to represent the weak groups is not the same as the US/Europe leftists seeking social fairness.  What they want to do is to go back.  The twenty-eight years of reform proved that there is no future going back that path.  They are not talking about fairness or efficiency; their 'fairness' is based upon equal sharing of poverty.

Q: What is your assessment of the current censorship of websites, books and newspapers?
A: This is the manifestation of "leftism" in publicity, news and publishing.  At the Fourth Plenum of the 16th Congress of the CCP in 2004, the governance capacity and quality of the party were stressed.  In particulare, three principles about party control of ideology and publicity were described: scientific management, democratic management and management in accordance with the law.  It has been several years now, and I still have not see the related departments make any efforts or reforms following these three principles.  They are still doing the same old censorship thing, such as the <21st Century World Herald> incident, the <Southern Metropolis Daily> incident, the <China Youth Daily> Freezing Point incident, and the recent banning of the forums, books and websites.  Where are they showing any scientific management, democratic management or management in accordance with the law?
In recent years, administrative management techniques have been introduced in the area of ideological control.  But the publicity department does not study trends and developments in ideology in order to formulate policies that are favorable for the general situation.  Instead, they just adopt the administrative management techniques and assert detailed control of a newspaper page, an essay and even a headline.  The publicity department leaders take over the duties of the newspaper chief editors.  Then they found a bunch of old, retired journalism/publishing workers to form the so-called "Critical Reading Group" and use their opinions as the basis for determining correctness.  What is the scientific basis?  How is this democratic management?  So many media now treat the "Critical Reading Group" members to meals and this is a bad atmosphere.  There is also no legal basis for using their opinions as the standard. 

Bloggers can drop in when they have time, share ideas with other, steal ideas from each other, prevent pieces from getting translated twice, ask questions, answer questions, and even team up for larger projects if they were to ever feel the need. At ESWN's suggestion I've gone and set up Chinese Content at wikispaces.

On September 9, an essay titled: <Evaluating Deng Xiaoping by Translation: He Was Irreplaceable At The Critical Moment in History> was featured prominently at, Netease and other portals.  The writer was Doctor Gao Zhikai, who had been Deng Xiaoping's English-language translator in the 1980's.

Although he had translated English for Deng Xiaoping and thus accompanied Deng Xiaoping in meeting many international luminaries, the 45-year-old Gao Zhikai is unfamiliar to many people.  At the time, he was barely into his 20's, so by what right did he become the link between the world and the "Great Man of the Century"?
At the time when Gao became Deng's English translator, he was only 23 years old.  He graduated from what is now the Beijing Foreign Language University's English Department and had been working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for just two years.  
"It was both accidental and inevitable that I should become the translator of Deng Xiaoping.  It was accident because the Ministry of Foreign Affair's English Translation Office was much bigger than the offices for other languages.  The likelihood of being selecting from that office to translate for the top leader of the country was very low.  I was lucky.

"But it was also inevitable that I should translate for Deng.  First of all, I was a beneficiary of Deng's open reform policies.  In 1977, Deng decided to restore the university entrance exams.  At the time, I was 15 years old and studying in first year high school.  I entered the foreign language department at Suzhou University.  In my third year, I became a graduate student at the Beijing Foreign Language Institute; one year later, I was accepted in the training class for United Nations translators.  After I obtained my masters degree, I was assigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' foreign language translation department to work as a translator.

"At the time, our nation lacked skilled people.  When I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the forebears such as Zhou Wenchong and Si Yan had been working in the front lines for ten, twenty years.  They needed people to take their places urgently.

"Many people say that I have a talent for language.  But I understand that my accomplishments at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was due to hard work.  When I worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I lived at the typing room in the translation office.  There was a small bed inside.  During the day, I folded the bed away and I bring it out at night to sleep.  I did that for five years.  During this era, when my colleagues get off work, I continued to learn and work at the office.  Usually, I used my evening hours to work and study.  So I finished my written translation work for the next day beforehand.  So when my comrades come in the next morning, I was usually done with my work and I asked for new assignments.  This happened day after day.  The more I steeled myself, the more invaluable the results were.  During my time at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I was like a sponge that absorbed as much specialized knowledge and foreign policies as I could.

(in translation)

A certain women's magazine wanted me to say something lively about lover's talk before Valentine's Day.  I thought that this would be easy, but it took me half a day before I could think of an answer.
When I was young, I loved to read romance novels.  But I only tasted romance when I entered university.  I asked my first lover: "We will get married some day.  Will you turn your income over to me?"  He replied without any hesitation: "Impossible! Your money is yours and my money is mine.  We will bear out family expenses separately."
When I heard that response, a voice inside me said to me: "Do not marry this person."  I thought that money was extraneous, but this person was even so calculating about such extraneous matters and wanted to keep his distance.  It goes without say that he will have plenty else to keep away from me.
Later on, I met my second boyfriend.  We dated for several months and then I posed the same question: "If we get married some day, will you give me your income?"  This boyfriend said: "Fine!  Take it!"  At the time, he was earning twice as much money as I was.  In the end, we dated for six months and we decided to get married.  This is the tenth anniversary of our marriage.
I related this story to the female magazine reporter.  She was silent for a while and then she said in an excited way: "Your story ... what he told you ... it is really special ... it is really moving."  When I observed that overwhelming response, I asked: "Are you dating anyone?"  She said, "Not yet."  Then she asked me: "Did your husband actually gave you everything that he earned?"  I said: "Yes!"  She began to sob.
Love talk can be sweet, but it is not always realized.  If someone is willing to give you everything without holding back, then what are you waiting for?

Relevant Links (in Chinese):
最動人的情話  葉一知, 刁民公園
打倒貪婪情人!  Life is but an empty dream.....

[in translation]

On February 7, Xu Jinglei's commercial made for <Red Leaf Umbrella (红叶伞)> appeared on the video website YouTube.  The Chinese media screamed: "American website crowned Xu Jinglei as the Queen of Bloggers."  Immediately the "Xu Jinglei YouTube affiar" became an instant hot new topic.  Since a YouTube celebrity can become an Internet star, will the 70 million pageviews at Xu Jinglei's blog turn her into the number one Internet star?
The media that reported this news were "Daily Economic News" and "Information Times."  It cited industry insiders who said that <Red Leaf Umbrella> achieved more than US$1 million worh of advertising value.
... The reporter searched for "xujinglei" on YOuTube and found the advertisement.  The video runs for 45 seconds.  The first 15 seconds showed the English-language sub-title: "Who will be the first blogger to be read 100 millino times?  The Queen of Bloggers is a Chinese woman.  Here is Xu Jinglei's latest video!"  The advertisement has been seen 4,969 times at this time.  It was posted by netizen 'zbj110.'
The reporter contacts 'zbj110,' who is a Mr. Liao from Sichuan.  A friend sent him his video clip which was captured from television and he posted it on YouTube.  Mister Liao works at a television station and he is a loyal Xu Jinglei fan.  He added the English-language title.  Thus, YouTube did not assert that Xu Jinglei was "the Queen of Bloggers."  Instead, one of her admirers did so on his own initiative.
The reporter contacted manager Wu of <Red Leaf Umbrella> in Zhejiang province.  He said that he received a telephone call from an Internet planning company in Xiamen and the claim was that they could help him distribute Internet video commercials.  "I was busy in a meeting, so I asked him to send me an email.  I haven't read it yet."  That commercial was filmed in November 2006, and costs 1 million RMB to dake.  But the response only came within the last couple of days -- Manager Wu received inquiry calls from many reporters to the point where he was even perplexed.  Although he was astonished at the communication power of the Internet, his company does not plan to have an Internet video campaign at this time.

Relevant LinkThe Queen of Blog  YouTube

RM: hi roland! hope you're well. did you see this?
RS: yes, i don't know if this is going to do any good.  it is that faceless admin and they never show their faces.  the only effective option is for a MASS campaign to boycott blogs.  i doubt the celebrity bloggers want anything to do with that.
RM:  yes, that's true. but it may still be significant that they are publicly protesting such censorship, and raising awareness about it among chinese internet users.  out of curiosity, were you planning to translate that letter?
RS: i did not plan to do so at first, but i could.
RM: well, i am sure you are plenty busy with other things, but if you did decide to translate it that would save me some time :)  i think the fact that people are speaking out about this behavior by blog hosts is significant whether or not it has any immediate impact, and is good for the english-speaking world to know about.
RS: it is short.  i'll do it some time tonight.  i'm doing that state bureau religious affairs director's deleted essay about iraq right now.  i'm almost done.  
RM: wow, cool. that's a really good one to translate too.  thanks.  how are you doing? how is your mother?
RS: okay.  nothing going on around here.
RM: :)

What was going on?  I was helping out a friend.  It was easy for me to do a translation for a friend who had something to say but was pressed for time.  Is that so hard to understand?  Besides, my general philosophy is that the English-reading public should be told the full story.  In the case of this open letter from the lawyer-bloggers, are you satisfied with the summary/quotation/paraphrasing by mainstream western media (such as SCMP)?  Or would you rather read the entire letter?  Rebecca MacKinnon and Boing Boing apparently felt that having the whole letter was more powerful and compelling, and I enabled that to happen quickly.
You also noted my initial note of despondency.  I recognized that my translation of the open letter would probably achieve nothing.  However, I recognized that if Rebecca MacKinnon leveraged that letter, she may achieve a much more powerful impact than I can.  That was why I volunteered my services.  The fact that Boing Boing picked the item up proved that this was correct.
But no, instead a certain blogger prefers to make this an issue about media agenda-setting and undue influence by the ESWN blogger.  Would you rather that I reply to Rebecca MacKinnon: "Sorry, Rebecca, I'd love to do that translation but I can't deal with another diatribe from DTL"? 
My goal is to work towards a multicultural, diversified and tolerant blogosphere community. Therefore, I do not spend my time making personal attacks on other bloggers for opinions that differ from mine.  I do not make personal attacks against them by calling them names such as Chinese Communist shills, or CIA agents.  But there are some bloggers who seem to spend their whole time attacking other bloggers about everything conceivable without an inkling of the facts.  While this is not the kind of society that I care to live in, I let it go because I believe in the wisdom of the readers to decide for themselves about what they want.

It is one thing if this was just directed at me and I would not have cared to respond.  But this also involves the good names of Rebecca MacKinnon and Lfc,  That is why I have chosen to make this statement.  RM and Lfc do not necessarily agree with this response, which is purely my own.
If you believe that I have done wrong on the basis of this published record, you do not ever have to come back here.  It will not bother me because I cannot help but be true to my own self.  That is my essence.
Relevant link
Hong Kong bloggers, the SCMP, and influence on the Web  Rebecca MacKinnon, RConversation

Chronology of events:

June 2005: SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior) was established in Hong Kong, and began investigation of four mainland factories that produced merchandise for Disney.

September 2005: SACOM released its Phase 1 report on Disney and claimed that four factories were sweat shops.

June 2006: SACOM went to the Pearl Delta and conducted a second investigation of Disney-authorized factors, including Huang Xing.

September 2006: SACOM released its Phase 2 report to the media and Disney's Asia-Pacific headquarters.  Disney sent auditors to investigate Huang Xing.  Disney stopped its orders afterward.

January 31, 2007: The 18-year-old Huang Xing dismissed more than 800 workers and shuttered the factory.

February 1, 2007: Almost one hundred factories blocked the road at Huang Xing to protest.

February 6, 2007: SACOM protested at the Disney Asia-Pacific headquarters about the order stoppage that resulted in the workers losing their jobs.

When the more than 800 workers at Huang Xing Light Manufacturing Factory lost their jobs, they blamed the factory owner and they also detested an unfamiliar name: Vivien Yau (丘梓蕙).  The workers learned that name from the Internet as well as the explanation from the factory director.  "She is a Hong Kong girl who came last year to investigate at our factory and she published information unfavorable to our factory."  The factory electrician Mr. Qiu who had worked there for 15 years said that Vivien Yau cost them their jobs.  The 40-something-year-old Mr. Qiu will receive a compensation of just over 2,000 RMB after 15 years at the factory.  During the interviewing, many workers expressed the same views as Mr. Qiu.

How could the words of a Hong Kong female university student cause the factory in another city to shut down?  On the afternoon of the day before yesterday, the reporter met with Vivien Yau at the SACOM office in Hong Kong.  This 20-year-old girl is a Chinese University of Hong Kong student and she plans to do social work.  

During the summer vacation in 2006, Vivien Yau and fellow SACOM investigator/CUHK student Ah Bong showed up outside the Huang Xing factory.  At the time, the workers who were interviewed thought that the students were just doing summer work/study and therefore answered their questions about wages, overtime, benefits, etc.  "We work 12 hours a day; we get paid 3 RMB/hour for overtime ..."  While this was nothing unusual for the workers, it was excellent material that SACOM could use to condemn Disney for using sweat shops.  In September 2006, Vivien Yau published the investigative report on three exploitative factories used by Disney, including Huang Xing.

"Why do we protest against Disney?  Because they made an open promise to society that they will supervise the factories that manufacture Disney merchandise and they will make sure that all the products with the Disney label are not based upon exploitation.  But the reality was different."

The reporter also interviewed the factory manager, who does not want his name published.  Huang Xing was actually a Japanese-capital company which got its orders mostly from Disney Japan at razor-thin margins.  The manager said that the re-organization requirements reflect strong foreign values that do not correspond to Chinese reality.  "For example, there were issues such as providing free condoms and soap bars.  If these items were placed out there, they would be immediately taken by the workers, so that an infinite amount will be required.  The factory was also required to let the workers leave their work stations without registering or being fined.  The company did not think that it could do so.  While it is normal for workers to use the restroom, the requirements will mean that a worker can go to the restroom five times a day, half an hour each day.  This will make management and production impossible."  Since the factory felt that it could not comply with the requirements at the razor-thin margins, the decision was made to close. 

[in translation]

Last Friday, Vietnam premier Nguyen Tan Dung went on to the Internet to chat with netizens for 2-1/2 hours.  The subjects included democracy, freedom, privacy, etc.  This was reported widely around the world and the outspoken Southern Metropolis Daily wrote an editorial.  This led mainland Chinese netizens to wonder when they can get to chat with their Premier Wen Jiabao on the Internet.

Today, quite a few state leaders and major officials have done web chats or have blogs.  Wen Jiabao is well known to be personable and he has publicly said many times that he read popular opinion on People's Net and Xinhua Net.  So why hasn't he spoken directly with people on the Internet yet?

Concerning Wen Jiabao's web chat, the first problem is the technical barrier.  Internet blocking in mainland China must be the most advanced technology of its kind in the world.  The number of sensitive keywords blocked on web chats must also be the biggest in the world, and these include "Wen Jiabao," "Premier Wen," "64," "Zhao Ziyang" and "FLG."  Unless these blocks are removed, the netizens cannot even say, "Premier Wen, how are you?"  So what can they say then?  Things will only get excited after these blocks are removed, but it is not sure that the official websites can deal with it?

The second problem is a matter of face.  When Russian president Putin went on web chat last year, a 17-year-old Russian girl asked him about his first sexual experience.  Nguyen Tan Dung was asked about why he let his son go study in the United States.  For the Chinese leaders who never tell the media about their children, personal health or sex lives, they may not be able to overcome the fact that public figures have no privacy?

The biggest problem is the political one.  Vietnam is a one-party state like China (namely, ruled by a Communist Party) and there are large numbers of Internet dissidents in jail.  Nguyen Tan Dung was questioned by netizens for controlling the media and the Internet contrary to the reform promises.  If Wen Jiabao were to get on the Internet, he could not avoid being asked about the issues of democracy and freedom.

Actually, the last paragraph in the Southern Metropolis Daily editorial must irritate the authorities: "We look at the reform of the political system in Vietnam with expectations.  But the test of the outcome will depend on how power came about, how it is used and how it is put in check; it will depend on how the people can participate in political life; it will depend on the conditions of freedom of press and human rights."

If the word 'Vietnam' is replaced by 'China,' then this editorial is equally relevant.  Perhaps precisely for this reason, Netease has deleted this editorial from its website.  The netizen comments at and have also been deleted.  If even such an editorial is suppressed, then it is truly premature to expect Wen Jiabao to hold chat sessions on the Internet.

Another story was that Sha Zukun almost came to blows with the US Secretary of Health and Human Services while attending a WTO meeting.  The cause was about the Taiwan issue.

Reporter: What happened there?  Were the media reports accurate?
Sha: The media was inaccurate when they said that there was physical issue.  How could there by physical contact?  He had used some very rude language.  In the United States, there is a saying that is equivalent to us saying "letting out dog fart" in China.  The Americans say instead "BULLSHIT."  He said, "Don't do this.  I don't want to listen to this BULLSHIT."  That shocked me.  Then I became impolite too.  I said, "I used to think that I was the crudest person, the most uncultured person and the most boorish person in the world.  But after meeting Mister Secretary, I realized that you are someone who is even more uneducated, uncultured and uncivilized than I am.  I feel very relieved that you have become the top person, the number one in the world."

Reporter: How did he react?
Sha: He looked very embarrassed.  I said, "In spite of the fact that you were so rude, I'm still willing to explain this to you."  I continued to explain to the Secretary of Health and Human Services about the "understanding" that I had previously reached with the US ambassador.  After each article, I added "NO BULLSHIT."  When I finished, I turned and left.  "I don't care whether you listen to me."   Maybe he had never met a tough ambassador like me.  Afterwards, we became the best of friends.  He wrote me a letter.  There was a reception that evening and he embraced me warmly when he saw me.  He also rang the glass and asked for quiet in order to announce that we are the best of friends, NO BULLSHIT.

Reporter: Why was there such a drastic change?
Sha: I don't know.  I think this is probably the character of American people, especially his individual personality.  He was very public.  Once I made things clear with my explanation, our misunderstanding was eliminated.

[in translation]

... The Gini cofficient is a number based upon household income in order to summarize income distribution.  If all families receive the same income, the Gini cofficient is 0; if one family receives all the income and no other family receives anything, the Gini cofficient is 1.

The Gini cofficient is simple and direct, but it can be easily misinterpreted.  A basic and frequent misinterpretation is that if all families receive the same income, then the distribution is fair.  Yet, families have different number of members, different number of workers, different age distributions, different levels of education and so on.  Therefore, equality of household income is a different kind of unfairness.

Hong Kong has been moving from the large families of the past to more smaller families now.  As family size continues to fall, there is a slowdown in household income growth.  There are now many more elderly families or single senior citizens, and therefore the number of low-income families is rising quickly.  Many elders live apart from their children.  They live off savings or are supported by their children and they may receive social welfare subsidies.  Had these elders continued to live with their children, those kinds of families would not be considered to be low-income.

The Hong Kong economy has also been changing and creating values in the form of more high-paying job opportunities.  There are more professionals and managers with university education, and this has affected income distribution in several ways:

1. The income gap between high-paying and low-paying jobs has increased.

2. As the proportion of high-pay employees grows, the Gini cofficient rises.

3. The income gap among high-pay employees is greater than that among low-pay employees.

4. The median income of low-pay employees will decrease after middle-age whereas the median income of high-pay employees will increase after middle-age.  Therefore, the ageing of the population causes the income gap to grow.

During an economic downturn, it is more common for low-pay employees to face unemployment, underemployment or wage reduction than for high-pay employees.  This caused the income distribution to become more spread out between 1998 and 2003.  The economy bounced back in 2003, which increased job opportunities for the grassroots and the situation for the low-pay workers has improved.

The government also provides services in education, healthcare, housing and welfare which has the effect of re-distributing income.  Income and property taxes also re-distributes income.  Most Hong Kong families, including "middle-class families," should have higher incomes with these items were factored in than without.

Some commentators compare Hong Kong's Gini cofficient with foreign data.  Data from different places are based upon different definitions.  The Gini cofficient reported for Hong Kong uses ordinary family income along with welfare payments, but it does not deduct any income tax.  By contrast, many other places uses income data after various kinds of taxes have been removed.  There are also some places which will include the impact of government redistribution  Therefore, it is easy to come to erroneous conclusions if the Gini cofficient for Hong Kong is directly compared with foreign data.

In conclusion, the analysis of Gini cofficient and household income distribution must consider other factors such as society, family structure, population ageing, economy and others before a reality-based conclusion can be made.  For example, the number of low-income Hong Kong families is increasing.  If the main reason is that the number of elderly families is growing, then how shall their standard of living be improved?  Would you improve work wages?  Or would you improve retirement guarantees and other senior citizen benefits?

For example, if you read this collection on the death of news worker Lang Chengzhang:

then you should realize that some of the work was done through careful coordination to avoid unnecessary duplication.
As I have told some members of this 'secret network', "I have no idea that such a network really exists and I don't really care.  I only know that we each do whatever we feel like and we are able to find each other somehow through some common values and practices.  Without trying to figure out any clearly defined goal, let us just go ahead in a collaborative effort without wasting our limited resources while maintaining certain standards."

 (Associated Press via International Herald Tribune)  China's Olympic soccer team coach Ratomir Dujkovic termed as "unacceptable" a fight that broke out between his club and English team Queens Park Rangers during an exhibition game in London ... "That's the style of English soccer," Dujkovic told the Beijing sports daily Titan. "But no matter what they do, it shouldn't be a reason for fighting. I am really disappointed. It is not acceptable."  Titan reported that Chinese player Zheng Tao was knocked unconscious in the brawl and may have a broken jaw.  Chinese striker Gao Lin, who was involved in the initial incident that sparked the fight, is being sent back to China, Titan said.

(The Electric New Paper)  The China Olympic team was provoked into a fight.  So said a Chinese journalist who was in London covering the team's training tour.  Titan Sports' deputy editor-in-chief Ma Dexing witnessed the mass brawl between the Chinese and Queens Park Rangers players.  Speaking to The New Paper from London, he said it was an 'incident waiting to happen'.  'QPR players were playing a very dirty game. They were not just physical. They were rough,' said Ma.  'Their tackles were filled with bad intention and their manners were even worse.  They kept screaming abuse at the Chinese players. Perhaps they thought our players didn't understand, but actually they did.  The turning point came when we scored an equaliser through Gao Lin to make it 1-1.  It was a mistake by the defender (Patrick Kanyuka) that saw the Chinese player score the equaliser. After that, the player kept provoking Gao with crunching tackles.  At one point, Gao even screamed his concerns to the bench, saying, 'If we continue playing, we might get killed'.  Around 15 minutes before the end, after Gao and Kanyuka challenged for an aerial ball, Hao turned and swung his arm at his opponent.  It sparked off an argument that escalated into a shocking brawl.'

So it looked like the most talkative source at this time is Titan Sports, through its deputy-in-chief Ma Dexing.  Oh, yes, Ma Dexin is the journo-blogger who wrote The Big Soccer Brawl - Part 1.  So if Ma Dexin wrote something himself, he is biased.  When western media quote/paraphrase what Ma Dexin wrote/said, it is alright (because it appears in quotation marks).

But let's say that you don't like to talk to eyewitnesses because they might be biased.  Actually, even if you have access to the Chinese Olympic team, the Queens Park Rangers, the referees and the Football Association, you can bet that they will be biased for their own reasons.  For something totally objective, how about that QPR China Brawl video on YouTube?  

(Associated Press via International Herald Tribune)  Footage of the fight aired Thursday by Hong Kong's Cable TV showed Gao throwing downward punches after being picked up by a Rangers player. Both players fell to the ground, then others joined the fight.

(Telegraph)  This is what we see: after a couple of niggly tackles and off-the-ball shoves, the Chinese striker, Gao Lin, behaving as if he is an extra from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, suddenly leaps at a QPR opponent, wraps his legs around the player's waist and starts boxing his ears. As the Englishman struggles to free himself, the pair fall to the turf. At which point, not only do all the other Chinese and English players on the pitch join in, but so do half the members of the Chinese coaching staff. The scrap that ensues is far more aggressive than the standard push-me-pull-you of football handbags. When order is finally restored, the footage shows one of the visitors spark out on the ground. This, it turns out, is the defender, Zheng Tao, who was taken to hospital with a fractured jaw.

Well, the Chinese commentators are complaining that the video had been edited down (see the Chinese videos at and it does not show everything that was happening on the field before and then at the time.  In any case, do you get any of the context from a video alone?  So it looks like you are still going to have to read or talk to Ma Dexin.
Notwithstanding the fact Ma Dexin may be seriously biased, would you like to read what he wrote in full glorious detail?  Or some quotation/paraphrase thereof?  In addition, please remember that these two blog posts are the definitive eyewitness accounts.  Would you like to read most Chinese are presently being influenced by with respect to this affair?

[in translation]

Reporter: The issue of rich-poor gap and polarization is a hot topic for economists inside and outside of China . Some people are concerned about the tendency towards Latin Americanization.
Cheung:  That is just hogwash.  This was made up by the World Bank and many busybodies.  The Chinese peasants have improved their lot a great deal in recent years.  The gap is increasingly smaller.  That is obvious.  I don't understand where their data for polarization come from.  Since beginning in 2001, the rural sector has been improving rapidly.  It is undeniable and beyond doubt.  
The book <The Chinese Peasant Study> is wrong.  There may be such cases in isolated places and you write about the worst things.  But this is not true for all of China  In many poor rural villlages, nobody plants tomatoes anymore and the farmland lie fallow because everybody has left to work outside.  You tell me how many full-time farmers are left in China?  Most of them have gone outside to work.  You go out, you learn a few months, get a driver's license and you can get a job that earns more than 1,000 RMB per month.  This is definitely not hard.
The lives of the peasants are improving quickly.  I've been out to the rural villages to investigate many times.  I have seen that their lives are improving.  Things are different each year.  Of course this is not like the cities.  Of course they are still poor.  But we can see that their lives are improving.  That is the main theme.  But it is nonsense to say that China is polarized!  What kind of data is that?  Where did the data come from?

Reporter: The internationally established Gini cofficient.  The Gini cofficient for China shows that the wealth gap is very large.
Cheung: How was this calculated?  Who calculated it?  Have these people done any studying?  They are not even qualified to become my students.

Reporter: Are you saying that their method of calculation is wrong?
Cheung: Many peasants who go outside to work earn money but they do not pay taxes.  There is no way for you to count it.  You can ask him, but he will obvously say that he has no money!  Do you expect him to tell you that he earned a lot of money (note: in which case he may have to pay taxes)?  But you can still see it.  You can see what they eat at home.  You can see if they have a television set.  How many peasant families do not have television sets?  You can also see that they have electrical refrigerators.

Reporter: Do you think that the unemployment situation in China poses a serious threat?
Cheung: There is no problem whatsoever.  Because many of those who leave their jobs do so not because their bosses fired them; rather they fired their bosses.  A company is doing well if it only loses twenty percent of its work force per year.  A friend of mine has a software company in Dongguan and he loses 50% of his workers each year.  What can be done?  The workers want to switch jobs themselves.  The bosses don't want to fire them  So workers can leave anytime and they change jobs rapidly.  You cannot call these people jobless.

Reporter: But according to the government data, the unemployment rate is high.  Many university graduates cannot find jobs.
Cheung: It depends on how you calculate those statistics.  If a person really wants to find a job, he should have no problem getting a job at 600 RMB per month.  You go to Dongguan and you will find a job immediately.  If you don't want to work at a 600 RMB a month job and you want a 800 RMB a month job instead, you may have to spend two to three days looking for it.  As for the 1,500 RMB job?  It is a bit harder to find.

[in translation]

... For this Chief Executive election, Donald Tsang used the slogan "我要做好呢份工﹗!" (translated by Tsang into English as "I'll get the job done!").  When the slogan hit the streets the first day, the bad reviews poured in.  A scholar made the criticism: "Everybody has hopes and visions for the Chief Executive.  The citizens hate how the senior officials treat it as work -- they shirk their responsibility when things go bad but they claim credit when things go well!  This phrase creates negative feelings in people.  It is incomprehensible that Donald Tsang is actually using it.  This is his biggest mistake!"

But I hold a different opinion.  In 2005, Donald Tsang's slogan was "強政勵治" ("strong governance").  That created a certain loftiness and did not draw the public close.  So this time, he may be carefully crafting a phrase that citizens can easily use themselves. This will set a trend among citizens and create an image of a "Chief Executive of the people" which erases the image of the arrogant senior bureaucrat that the outside world accuses him of being.

This was just like twenty years ago when the government had its most successful slogan with Andy Lau saying, "In these times today, this kind of service attitude isn't going to work."  The most significant characteristic of this slogan is that it applies not only to government situations, but the citizens can also use in their daily lives.  People can also use it to laugh at themselves.  This became a social campaign that went deep into the lives of the citizens and became a part of the Hong Kong lifestyle attitude.

This time, the academics and some political elite disapproved of "I'll get the job done!"  But the fact is that its rate of communication and broadcast was very fast.  A radio host said: "I'll get the job done for this program hour!"  In Hong Kong Economic Journal, Tsiu Sio-ming wrote: "I'll get the job done for this column!"  Yesterday, on page A23 of Ming Pao, there were creative interpretations of this phrase by various sectors.  I believe that there will be t-shirts with this slogan on sale at the Chinese New Year's Eve markets.

Tsui Sio-ming also made the unique perception that intellectuals often evaluate those in power in terms of refined culture and lofty values.  But Donald Tsang chose to use common culture and phrasing to appeal to the masses.  Therefore the scholars, journalists and culturati do not have good feelings towards Donald Tsang.  Obviously Tsang must realize that.  To be close to the common folks and away from the intellectuals results in the price of having good public opinion polls and bad commentary.  In Tuesday's Ming Pao, 李先知's column reported that Tsang's public opinion polls showed that the majority of the citizens "accepts" this phase.

The above story showed that many academics and even political elite in air-conditioned rooms fail because they are too lofty and like to fancy wordplay.  While this makes them feel good, they do not realize that they are increasingly distanced away from the emotions and pulses of the masses.

The American political commentator William Safire once analyzed that a "good" political slogan begins with a good sense of rhyme and rhythm (simply put, it can be spoken smoothly); but a "great" political slogan has to touch people in their hearts and and tap into the unhappiness and anger inside, or else it has to release the lofty sentiments deep in the soul.

Using this as a standard, we find that Alan Leong's slogan "誰想去贏一場沒有對手的競賽﹖" fails.  It is not only difficult to say -- just about none of my friends could successfully say it -- and it is also out of tune with the daily lives of the people (it should be mentioned that the English version of the slogan is "Who wants to win a race without competition?"  That is at least smoother to say than the Chinese version.  I think the four barristers are used to thinking in English.  So they came up with the English slogan first and then made an awkward translation into Chinese).

[in translation]

... On January 19, Zhang Yihe made an announcement: "On January 11, 2007, the General Administration for Press and Publications called an "information" meeting.  At the meeting, deputy director Wu Shulin read out a list of 'books that were improperly published in 2006.'  Among the books named, 'Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars' was listed at the number three position."

The announcement also said: "Mr. Wu said (more or less) about the publisher Hunan Literature Publishers: '... you have the nerve to publish this ... this book was banned because of the author.'"  What followed was naturally the severe punishment meted out on the publisher.

Wu Shulin attended the forum on "Minnan dialect dictionary" organized by the People's Publishers.  Afterwards, a reporter asked Wu Shulin if he did say that "the book was banned because of the author."

Wu Shulin said, "I added 'Cannot' in front."  The reporter followed up: "Did you say that 'a book cannot be banned on account of the author.'"  Wu Shulin replied: "Yes!" 

Concerning the international controversy raised by the book ban, Wu Shulin said that the General Administration of Press and Publications had issued an authoritative clarification through Singapore's Zaobao.  "There is no need to clarify any further."  Wu Shulin has no comment on those debates.

The problem is this: the only way that they can convince the general public (Chinese or overseas) is to see new printings of these books in bookstores all over China.  More speeches mean nothing.

[in translation]

According to Southern Metropolis Daily, it has been suggested that various media reports have had bad effects on society.  Provincial People's Congress representative and Provincial Party Publicity Committee deputy director Hu Guohua responded: the number of reports is not connected to the reporters themselves.

Hu Guohua said: Guangdong is in the golden age of economic development, and therefore various conflicts are manifesting themselves.  The publicity department is extremely busy with dealing with the various kinds of problems that show up in the media reports.  There have been more social conflicts, and therefore more news reports.  Some of the reporters have created many problems because they did not grasp the direction and therefore made inappropriate decisions with respect to their understanding, presentation and positioning.  Every day, we receive telephone calls from various departments in various places not to allow the reporting of this or that.  Basically, we will consider their requests.  But in the long run, it is not a good management approach to disallow the reporting of this or that.  How can news management be done this way?

Some people have said that the increasing number of reported cases is related to the reporters.  The increase is related to economic development.  There are problems related objectively to the process of social development and that has nothing to do with the reporters.  From the viewpoint of news management, what are the reporters supposed to be doing?  According to party secretary Zhang Dejiang, he said to treat the media well, use the media well and to manage the media well.  Managing the media does not mean not letting them report on everything.

Hu Guohua said that it is impossible without public opinion monitoring.  Without public opinion monitoring, many social problems cannot be solved and vulnerable social groups have no speech rights.  These groups need public opinion monitoring to gain social attention and then get their problems resolved  The supervision of the People's Congress, public opinion, the masses and the internal monitoring systems inside the various government departments are important, of which public opinion monitoring is an essential part.   During the monitoring process, the quality of the media workers can be improved.

Hu Guohua said: "Some of the masses have complaints about certain judicial departments.  I think that is normal.  I think that it is normal that some newspapers may run exposés.  The leaders do not have to be held responsible for everything that their underlings do.  One report does not smear us."  He believes that the various departments should increase their ability to accept criticisms and pay attention to how they interact with the media.  Information transmission is well-developed in modern society, so that it is impossible to lock up all information.  This used to be possible, but not any more.  The Internet did not exist before.  But if you do not allow reporting nowadays, the information will appear immediately on the Internet.

  Tsang better Leong better Equally good Equally bad Don't know
/no opinion
Q4. Governance 72.7% 3.6% 2.8% 1.3% 19.5%
Q5. Leadership 71.2% 4.2% 3.3% 1.5% 19.7%
Q6. Trustworthiness 42.4% 14.4% 8.9% 3.9% 30.2%
Q7. Clear path of development for Hong Kong 58.2% 8.2% 3.7% 4.2% 25.6%
Q8. Better relationship with central government 88.4% 0.9% 0.6% 0.2% 9.6%
Q9. Closer to mainstream Hong Kong opinion 45.2% 26.5% 4.2% 2.3% 22.0%

Q10.  Which of the following items should the next Chief Executive give priority to?  (Read list of seven items in randomized order)
28.8% transformation of economy
- 26.6% inequality of wealth
- 12.5% education
-  9.3% environmental protection
-  6.4% food safety
-  5.7% development of democracy
-  2.3% housing
-  2.6% other
-  5.7% don't know/no opinion
Q11.  Who do you think will win the election?
89.8% Donald Tsang
-  0.8% Alan Leong
-  9.1% don't know/no opinion

(in translation)

Selena Chow (of the Liberal Party)

The "Sun Yee On" triad gang informs you right now that you must immediately expel Lam Chui-lian and Tsang Pui-kei from the Lberal Party.  You must immediately rescind the Liberal Party's subsidies to district councilors.  If you disobey, Sun Yee On will chop Selena Chow to death with knives and bomb the headquarters of the Liberal Party.  Signed "Sister-In-Law Number Seven."  [a utility knife was attached with the letter]

Note: Lam Chui-lian is an elected district councilor and Tsang Pui-kei is the instructor at social dance classes sponsored by district councilors.

Cheung Wing-ho, 29; Leung Kwan-ping, 44; Chan Chun-kit, 27; and Leung Fu-keung, 57, pleaded guilty at the District Court Monday to a joint charge of conspiring to wound Ho with intent ... Defense lawyer Henry Lok Hing-sun ... said Leung Kwan-ping, a mainland migrant and former construction worker, had organized the attack on the politicians and was the "pay master."  Leung in his statement to the police said he wanted to seek revenge against Ho after the politician failed to help him apply for public housing and social welfare.  He said that when he went to Ho's office in Tuen Mun last March to seek help in applying for public housing, welfare assistance and employment, he was asked to wait.  Ten days later when he called up Ho's office, he was given the same reply and had not heard from Ho since.  Leung said he became upset and decided to hire the other three defendants to help him assault Ho.  Lok described Cheung and Chan as "mere mercenaries," who were paid HK$8,000 and HK$17,000 for their roles in the assault.
Ho Monday dismissed Leung's claims as "incredible" and a "joke."  He said: "If Leung can pay others to assault a legislative councillor out of resentment, no one knows how many legislators or bureau secretaries would be threatened with their lives in danger."  Ho also questioned Leung's ability to bankroll the attack, pointing out that when Leung approached him for assistance, he claimed to have trouble even feeding himself.  "How's it possible that Leung has the money to hire people to ambush a legislator? I'm sure there are lots of inside information - the syndicate behind this may have been the mastermind."


Responding to Judge Kevin Browne's question of why Leung Kwan-ping had the money for his co-attackers despite his financial plight, solicitor for the defendants, Henry Lok Hing-sun, said the money came from jobs Leung undertook as a construction contractor after the attack.

(Ta Kung Pao)  [The following is a more detailed description about how it happened.]

On August 20, the mastermind Leung Kwan-ping learned from a newspaper that Albert Ho was going to participate in the anti-GST demonstration march.  So he arranged the three other defendants to meet in Kowloon Bay and then they proceeded in two groups to Wanchai.  At Wanchai, they got on a cargo truck.  Apart from the four defendants, there was a man named Michael who was the driver.  They inspected the march route first and then planned the attack process.  Then they returned to Wanchai.

The march began at Southorn Playground through Admiralty to Government Headquarters.  The march began with Albert Ho in front.  Leung Kwan-ping and Cheung Wing-ho marched behind Albert Ho and kept in contact with their fellows by mobile telephone.  When the procession reached Government Headquarters, they still had no opportunity.

After the march was over, Albert Ho went alone to a basement fastfood restaurant to meet another Democratic Party member.  Leung Kwan-ping thought that this was the ideal opportunity and quickly called the other two defendants to come.  When they arrived, Cheung Wing-ho, Leung Kwan-ping and Chan Chun-kit charged into the restaurant with police batons in hand, while Leung Fu-keung left on his own.  Leung Kwan-ping hit Albert Ho on his head, while the others also in the assault.  After about a minute of beating, Leung Kwan-ping said, "Go" and they left the scene.

Leung Kwan-ping and Cheung Wing-ho escaped to Kowloon Bay while Chen Chun-kit took a taxi to Sai Kung by himself.  The four met that evening at a Jordan restaurant.  Leung Kwan-ping said that he left his police baton at the scene.  The next day, they went to Shenzhen.  In October, they were arrested.

(Apple Daily)  [The Tao Kung Pao narrative is linear and smooth, but it was synthesized from the defendants' statements.  In practice, the defendants contradicted themselves in a way that was quite unbelievable.  Apple Daily points out the contradictions.]

According to Leung Kwan-ping, one or two days before the incident, he was borrowing money from Chan Chun-kit.  While inebriated, he complaint that Albert Ho refused to help him and he wanted to beat Albert Ho.  He also contacted Leung Fu-keung to help.  Through Chan Chun-kit, Cheung Wing-ho was also recruited.

According to Chan Chun-kit and Leung Fu-keung, eight days before the incident, Leung Kwan-ping had instructed them to keep watch outside Albert Ho's Tuen Mun office.  Leung Kwan-ping pointed to a Albert Ho poster and said that this was the target of assault.  Hereafter, the defendants and two more fugitives named PC Chung and Michael were kept watch each night between 6pm to 11pm in Tuen Mun, but they never saw Albert Ho there.

So did this thing start one or two days before or eight days before the incident?  Someone is not telling the truth.

P.S.  As for the mystery about which evidence helped most to solve the case (see Comment and Comment), (The Standard): Outside the court, the officer in charge of the case, Tony Ho Chun-Tung, said 200 recordings on close-circuit television taken from buildings in Central and Wan Chai had been the major source of evidence in their investigations.
P.P.S.  Here were the police sketches at the time:

Here is the Apple Daily court reporter's sketch:

Can you match them up?

Once upon a time, a fairy tale began when a pretty young Chinese girl named Ai Qingqing attempted to trade a paper trip for a villa (see Trading Places).  At the time, there were suspicions that this was just another commercial promotional project.  This project began on October 15, 2006 and had a planned lifetime of 100 days.
Eventually, the trades as recorded on Ai Qingqing's blog were:
(01) a paper clip
(02) a photograph of a pedestrian
(03) a jade buddha pendant
(04) a mobile telephone
(05) a pearl necklace
(06) a digital camera
(07) a set of stamps
(08) two bottles of wine
(09) a pipa musical instrument
(10) a pipa music CD
(11) a cosmetic mirror used by actress Irene Wan
(12) an original American poster
(13) a Korean buddhist script
(14) the publication rights for a photo album for Ai Qingqing's quest to trade a paper clip for a villa
(15) a jake bracelet worth 128,000 RMB
(16) a recording contract.
At this time, though, the blackhand behind the curtain has appeared in the form of the promoter Li Er.  He claimed, "If the trading act were a direct broadcast, then I am the producer and executive director."  Li Er claimed to have approached the Super Girl production company initially for one of the lower finishers to participate in this project, but they did not take him seriously.  But he met Super Girl contestant Wang Xiaoguang by chance and transformed her into Ai Qingqing.  The cousin who took the photographs was just a friend.  Li Er claims to have personally provided many of the trading items (e.g. the mobile phone).  As evidence, Li Er provided information such as the email account, QQ account and other things of the person known as "Ai Qingqing."  He claimed to have written most of the blog posts because Wang Xiaoguang did not like to get on the Internet herself.  He is coming forth at this time, because Ai Qingqing has reneged on her contract with him.

Photograph of Ai Qingqing (Wang Xiaoguang) with Li Er
(as provided by Li Er)
Some netizens were dismayed: "There are too many nice netizens in China, and this hurts."  "I feel like an idiot for being used.  This is shameful!"  "These people ought to go to jail for deceiving the people!"
Meanwhile Ai Qingqing stated on her blog: "I'm presently recording the Spring Festival Gala program for Shandong television.  My cousin did not come with me, and I am asking someone else to take pictures."

I did not read these books and translate excerpts just for fun.  I was trying to derive a logic for the censorship.  After all this work, I profess that I don't get it.  I can name any number of other books that should have been 'banned' as well because they were 'far more out there.'  In that sense, I don't understand any logic that would allow me to answer: "Why these eight instead of any of the hundreds of others?"
My other reaction about the censors is provided by Qian Gang:

Each of their bad deeds is enough to turn their superiors' most recent "enlightened" statement into an instant lie; they are the most effective saboteurs of international trust in the Chinese Communist Party.

After all, I know that I would not be reading these books without the General Administration of Press and Publications bringing them to my attention.  Qian Gang quoted the phrase 顾全大局 ("in consideration of the overall situation") -- this GAPP move could not be worse for the general situation!  If the GAPP people had attentive superiors, they would have come down on them like a ton of bricks.

Famous mainland writer Zhang Yihe decided to use the law to defend her freedom to speak and publish on account of her book being banned by the General Administration of Press and Publications.  She stated that she will use "her life to defend her words."  Although the affair is still development and the outcome still uncertain, the overseas media have reported on this book ban affair at great length and other mainland writers have offered public support.  As a result, the GAPP has lost face.  If the Chinese Communist leadership headed by Hu and Wen can examine the domestic and overseas reactions in a positive light and reflect on all the improper actions that the Chinese Communists have taken against the freedom to speak and publish since they seized power, this affair may turn a bad thing into a good thing and make China more open and enlightened.

The GAPP's ban on Zhang Yihe's "Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars" and several other books aroused attention inside and outside of China, and it severely damaged the international image of China.  But the outside world can see that today's China is not longer in the eras of the Anti-Rightist Campaign and the Cultural Revolution.  The current developments of the book ban showed the changes in China in which the Chinese Communists have moved towards a relaxation of control.  It this were the Anti-Rightist Campaign, the Cultural Revolution or even the ten years after June 4, the outside world would never have heard about Zhang Yihe's angry call about using "her life to defend her words, never mind about her getting volunteer lawyers to sue GAPP deputy director Wu Shulin in court.  Other well-known persons such as former Xinhua publisher Li Pu and famous Shanghai dramatist Sha Yexin offered righteous support to Zhang Yihe and asked the GAPP to "do more harmonious good things and fewer murderous bad things."

Faced with the strong attention from inside and outside China, the GAPP officials had to come out and clarify that "there is no issue of bans.  We did not ban a single book this time.""  No matter whether the denial is consistent with the truth, we have at least seen that the Beijing government agrees that any action to suppress freedom to speak and publish are universally unacceptable.

In conjunction with the Beijing Olympics next year, the government has given more freedom to non-mainland media.  Overseas reaction has been good because it is more convenient for the non-mainland media to gather news, but also because this will advance the reform of press freedom in China.  Outsiders do not know who or why the book ban was taken by the GAPP.  But this was obviously inconsistent with the desire to build a harmonious society that the Chinese Communists led by Hu wanted to build, and it is also inconsistent with the image of a good strong nation that the Chinese Communist leaders want to project.  We applaud the GAPP for denying that there was any ban and we hope that this is the truth; but if this is not the truth, then they have doubled their sins.

[in translation]

The ordinarily low-keyed, mysterious and private Next Media Group chairman Jimmy Lai held a rare public meeting yesterday afternoon.  The incisive Jimmy Lai said that he came to start a newspaper in Taiwan because the place was very democratic.  Then he switched gears and criticized the Democratic Progressive Party, even using the word "rotten " to describe it. 

In his first public speech, Next Media Group chairman criticized the government.  He said: "I'm very optimistic about Taiwan, even though their government is quite rotten.  But I think that even with this rotten government, your democratic system is running very well."

Six years ago, he came to Taiwan to start a newspapers at a time when the government changed hands and democracy was rising.  Jimmy Lai did not imagine that the newspaper industry would be re-organized because of him.  Jimmy Lai said: "When we came in, we saw the market situation and we found out that it was quite easy.  At the time, we were astonished.  Could it be so easy?"  The reporter: "Do you mean that your opponents were very weak?"  Jimmy Lai: "They have improved now."

Concerning about how his media people often photograph celebrities and irritate people, Jimmy Lai's response when he receives worried telephone calls is: "I said, 'Hey, you're the one who went out with the girl, not me.  You don't have to do it.  After you did it, you expect others to protect you.  It is unfair.'"

Since he refuses to succumb to friendly pressure, Jimmy Lai says that he does not have good human relationships.  He says that he has very few friends.  But his famous saying is, "If you have fewer friends, you get to read more."  The thoughts of a media madman is definitely out of the ordinary.

According to reports, this year's director of the CCTV Spring Festival Gala Jin Yue announced solemnly a few days ago that the media will be legally prosecuted if they divulge the contents of the television show beforehand.  At first, I was shocked; then I was amused.  It would seem that someone issued emergency warnings and imposed martial law for a "harmonious and celebratory" gala program.  They must think that they are the Pentagon.

Another piece of news say that the Guangdong province People's Congress has decided the government's budget proposal will no longer be stamped "secret."  The representatives can bring the reports back home and publicly discuss the amounts of money being spend on the various government departments.  While the government is getting more transparent, the Spring Festival Gala looks to be even more bureaucratic than bureacrats.

Although CCTV has many channels and they show many programs, the Spring Gala Festival is still its flagship program.  It has become a traditional and unmovable object.  But the world is flat today, and people can download American television shows for viewing; this is the era of web 2.0 in which everybody is his/her own small television station.  So what is getting increasingly unpopular?  Things that think that they are the most authoritative and important.

Fortunately, we are in Guangzhou and we don't care about the Spring Festival Gala.  Most Guangzhou residents have the custom of parading in the flower market on Lunar New Year's eve.  Besides, they can watch Cantonese-language programs.  They can watch programs from Hong Kong, and the local programs are getting better nowadays.  They don't have to watch the CCTV Spring Festival Gala.

I know that there are many people in China who still watch the CCTV Spring Festival Gala.  I know that the entertainment reporters will really go to dig up news.  But here is a more convincing -- in Guangzhou, we had other choices since more than twenty years ago and therefor people are no longer impressed by the Spring Festival Gala.  When people get more and more choices elsewhere in China, then can the CCTV Spring Festival Gala maintain its position (even if we factor in viewing habits and nostalgia) for long?

Finally, let us talk about the "ban."  Based upon my personal experience, the "bans" in existence are either "quick bans" or "slow bans."  As soon as my second book ("A Gust of Wind: Leaving us Melodies of the Centuries") completed its print run, it was immediately placed into storage.  That would be a "quick ban."  My first book ("The Past Is Not Like Smoke") was placed under a "slow ban," which means that "it was not to be re-printed after the current batch sells out."  Actually, the "slow ban" occurred at the same time as a "quick ban" because I have here a receipt from a Zhejiang city for a number of copies of "The Past Is Not Like Smoke."  As for the third book ("Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars"), the supervisory department made an announcement that said (more or less): "The Internet talk about the eight banned books is seriously erroneous."  But a Mister Dai called from Zhangjiagang city at 18:30 on January 28 to tell me: "A private bookstore just received a notice to turn in a number of books, including 'Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars.'"  Does it look like my book is being banned and I am being prohibited from publishing?  Your supervisor issued a statement to deny the existence of any ban, but you go ahead with the ban.  Aren't you slapping your supervisor in the face? 

[in translation]

Lee Teng-hui was interviewed on television on the day before yesterday (and he said the same thing later at a Taiwan Solidarity Union press conference) and he criticized Next Weekly for distorting the contents of his interview with the magazine.  Since this interview has created ripples of emotions across Taiwan, Next Weekly is obliged to publish the tape so that the people can decided whether Lee is backing off what he did say or the magazine is misleading its readers.

The clarifications made by Lee are very important for Next Weekly's quality and credibility.  Over the past two days, the broadcast hosts and newspapers have been discussing the change-of-mind by Lee Teng-hui.  If all this came about because of a weekly magazine's sensationalized sales gimmick, then everybody has been conned -- they need to apologize to society and Lee.

Conversely, if Lee indeed said it during the interview but reneged after he saw the huge outcry, then Lee should apologize about his dishonesty to society and the weekly magazine.  The tape recording of the interview is the only thing that can determine the truth.  So we ask Next Weekly to publish it for society to judge. 

First, Lee pointed out "the headings were totally inconsistent with the fact."  He said, "I did not say anything about wanting to see China."  He said: "There is something wrong with this report."  

Secondly, the weekly magazine reported that Lee wanted to give up Taiwan independence.  Lee said: "Taiwan is already an independent nation.  There is no need to pursue independence.  This has always been my position."  But he emphasized that Taiwan has to pursue normalization, a proper name and a constitution.  Therefore, the weekly magazine was not wrong about the part on not wanting to pursue independence, but the magazine did not emphasize the normalization part.  Therefore, the heading was partial.

Thirdly, Lee emphasized that he did not want to go to China.  After repeated questioning by the weekly magazine reporter, Lee replied: "They might want me to do, but the present circumstances do not permit this."  The reporter pressed again, so Lee told a joke: "Will I be arrested if I go there?"  If true, then the weekly magazine was misleading its readers . Lee said that concerning the route that Confucius used to visit the states, it was in response to the reporter asking where Lee would go if he were to travel.  Lee named the "North Road to the Deep North" in Japan (the subject of a novel), Egypt and Confucius route to visit the states.  At this time, this was not about any Chinese trip, but about overseas travel.

Fourthly, Lee advocated trade with China.  The weekly magazine said about the same thing as what Lee said in his clarification.  Lee pointed out that his views were consistent and the Taiwan Solidarity Union has not changed directions either.  But if his clarification is the correct version, but did he really not change?  Just the idea of trade exchange with the introduction of Chinese capital into Taiwan is earth-shattering already.

Who is right and who is wrong?  Next Weekly has the obligation to play the tape to correct the record.

[in translation]

... Several months ago at a dinner with a celebrity (of course, the celebrity was the guest and not yours truly), the conversation led to a discussion about Apple Daily.  In Hong Kong, Apple Daily is extremely tilted towards the democrats, whereas Apple Daily gives no quarters to either the blue or green camps in Taiwan.  These positions were not necessarily chosen in the name of social justice, but because they represented unoccupied market spaces.  There is no democratic universal suffrage in Hong Kong and there was no newspaper that dared to cross the authorities (including the family that brought us the oil fish); in Taiwan, the political parties have their own mouthpieces but there was no neutral newspaper.  Jimmy Lai is a smart businessman and he will take all the money that other media bosses dare not earn.  Supposedly, if Hong Kong should ever get universal suffrage and the democrats actually attain power through the elections, Apple Daily (Hong Kong) will adopt the Taiwan strategy and be critical of both sides.  The point is to satisfy the majority of the readers.  Apple Daily's winning formula is to become close to the people.  But are the people always right?  For example, there are certain cover stories that people all criticise even though they are fervently reading those stories in the meantime.  But there does not seem to be any dissent about the market-led philosophy of Next Media.

I don't have any dissent either.  I really don't dare to stand on the opposite side of the masses.  I don't dare to supervise/monitor the media.

Do you dare?  Never mind the mass media such as TVB or Apple Daily.  How about certain emergent Internet media groups such as HK Golden Forum, InMediaHK or even the newly emergent Mysinaglog?  Do you dare to discuss their collective partiality and biases?  It is not impossible, but you have to willing.  It can quite often increase your fame (although it is hard to say whether it will be positive or negative).  But the problem is that the process can be quite tiring.  The amount of courage and effort required to stand out an independent is unexpectedly large.

I sometimes feel that I am especially cowardly.  I would like to have some companions on the way.

With this much known, then there are some mystery as to what is showing up in western press reports.
Example 1: Hu orders quick investigation into journalist's killing.  By Howard French.  January 25, 2007.  "Lan and his colleague, Chang Hanwen, were set upon by as many as 20 attackers on the way to an interview with the mine owner, Hou Zhenrun, who has been accused of organizing the attack."  On January 17, 2007, the Datong city government had already issued a bulletin stating a total of eight attackers had gone from Datong to the mine in two vehicles a BMW and a Toyota Camry.  Of the eight attackers, six were named and two were described as still being under investigation.

Hou Zhenrun, male, 29, Huainren county resident.  A Datong city precision tools factory laid-off worker.  Presently living in a dormitory of the Datong city buildings committee.  Owner of an illegal mine.  Presently in flight.
Wu Qiang, male, 32, Datong Nanjiao district resident.  Unemployed.  Presently in flight.
Kong Quanming, male, 28, Ying county resident.  Chauffeur for Hou Zhenrun.  Presently in flight.
Cheng Wenping, male, 22, Datong Nanjiao district resident.  Unemployed.  Arrested.
Ma Li, male, 21, Datong Nanjiao district resident.  Unemployed.  Arrested.
Cheng Hongrui, male 28, Hunyuan county resident.  Employee of Hunyuan county Wucheng school.  Surrendered himself to police.

If there is a source that indicates 'as many as 20 attackers,' then this is a breakthrough.  It is unlikely that twenty people can fit into two small sedans, so the police must have gotten certain simple details wrong and this will challenge their entire investigation.  That is a significant development.  However, the number is just thrown out there without elaboration.  Why?

Example 2: Killing Puts Focus on Corruption in Chinese News Media.  By Howard French.  January 31, 2007.  One of the shortcomings of the investigative reports by Southern Metropolis Daily, Southern Weekend, China Economic Times, Oriental Outlook and China Newsweek is their inability to track down and speak to Lan Chengzhang's colleague Chang Hanwen.  Here is the breakthrough part from the New York Times:

The police report about the killing said Chang Hanwen, the beaten colleague of Mr. Lan’s who had teamed up with him in the coal mine reporting, had stated that Mr. Lan had promised that the mere display of press credentials at the mine would produce “at least 1,000” yuan, about $130, in payoffs. But in a telephone interview, Mr. Chang strongly denied that. “I don’t know where they got that from,” he said. “When I saw it on a Web site, I was really mad.”

But for everybody else, the biggest question is the job position of Chang Hanwen.  The China Trade News' Shanxi bureau apparently has a grand total of 5 employees.  According to what is known, Chang Hanwen has junior high education and used to work as a porter before being hired in January 2007 as the English-language news center director of China Trade News' Shanxi bureau.  Other reporters are extremely dubious about Chang Hanwen's professional status (and I am putting this quite charitably).  Since the New York Times was able to interview Chang Hanwen on an exclusive basis, one should think that it would be obvious to probe his command of the English language, because that would help a long way to explaining just what is going on there.  If Chang Hanwen had no English-language competency, then the whole news bureau must be a sham as other media reporters suspect.  The credibility of Chang Hanwen also depends on it.  But there is no indication that this important question was asked by the New York Times.  Why?
From the NYT article, we have:

In Datong, the city where he was killed, he was quickly labeled an imposter, the implication being that he had visited an illegal coal mine to shake down its owner, promising not to write about him in exchange for a payment. The city quickly threatened to start a campaign against “fake journalists.”

It is also clear from the Internet forensics that Datong had initiated the campaign against 'fake journalists' on the morning of January 10, before Lan Chengzhang was beaten and subsequently died.  "The city quickly threatened to start a campaign against “fake journalists”" is wrong unless there is new evidence.