Red-Letter-Titled Official Document Approved "Grand Dragon"
(yWeekend) Red-Letter-Titled Official Documents Approved "The Grand Dragon of Central China". By Xu Ying (徐英) based upon an interview with CCTV's <Economy 30 Minutes> reporter Wang Yadan (王亚丹). April 19, 2007.
CCTV's <Economy 30 Minutes>
reporter Wang Yadan (王亚丹)
The "Grand Dragon of Central China" had been erected with concrete and steel beams in the Henan Xinzheng Forest Park over the past five years. But the public only realized that this was an illegal construction project after the media exposure. But could it be that the government had been unaware over the past five years?
The answer is NO. On April 5, CCTV's <Economy 30 Minutes> broadcast the program segment <Uncovering the Mystery of the Ancestral Dragon> that showed that the local Tourist Bureau promoted the construction and that it was supported by three documents from the City Development Committee and the Environmental Protection Agency.
So how did our investigative reporter obtain the key documents? When the project was called to a halt, was the contractor right in crying foul? <Economy 30 Minutes> reporter Wang Yadan told this newspaper about the inside story that he did not know whether to laugh or cry about the situation.
"The Grand Dragon of Central china" was not an exclusive story belonging to CCTV's <Economy 30 Minutes>. Before we received this topic, other media may given attention to it. Since we have to cover this, our angle will not be about the Grand Dragon itself but the story behind the news.
Many previous news reports have claimed that it was a personal action that the government was unaware of. Logically speaking, this is implausible. This is not just one person building his own home. This is about building this massive object in a national forest park over five years. It is impossible for this project not to be noticed by the local government. How can they say that they were unaware?
On early morning of March 30, we headed towards Shizhu Mountain. Shizhu Mountain is about 40 minutes from the city but it is complicated to go by car. We had to ride a public bus from the city to the bottom of the mountain and then we switched to a tricycle. Halfway up the mountain, there was an outpost for the scenic area where we had to switch to a special vehicle to go up.
The local villagers who shared the tricycle ride with us told me that many people thought that the dragon looked like a monster. The local people were superstitious to the point where they believed that the dragon represented bad fengshui. As we looked from the foot of the mountain upwards, we can see that there was an tall altar to the right of the mountain that was supposed to commemorate the Yellow Emperor; and the right of the mountain was exactly where the Grand Dragon was being constructed. The overall impression was that the Grand Dragon looked like a pregnant woman lying down by the side: the altar for the Yellow Emperor was near the head of the pregnant woman and the body of the Grand Dragon was right on the belly of the pregnant woman.
This was what it looked like halfway up the mountain. How did this thing get here?
On the way, we found some local villagers working by the road. In our chatter, we asked: "Which company is building this?"
"The Ancestral Dragon Company," said the villagers as they put down the hoes. The Ancestral Dragon Company is the company known as the Zhengzhou City Ancestral Dragon Enterprise Development Limited Corporation.
"Where is the company locate?" "The Xinzheng Hotel," said the local villagers.
"Does the government know about this project?" "They know. They were brought in by Guo Gengxin." Guo Gengxin was the former deputy party secretary of Xinzheng city. Later on, the Xinzheng city publicity department confirmed that and that was why this section was shown on the televised clip.
I was hesitant. In order to understand this matter, should I first contact the Grand Ancestor Company or the local government departments?
decided to contact the Grand Ancestor Company first. On the next day, we went to the Xinzheng Hotel to find the Grand Dragon Company's boss Li Shumin. But he had gone up the mountain.
Li Shumin was looking for someone to complain to: "I am not just bitter. I am very bitter!"
According to Li Shumin, when the Grand Dragon project first began in 2001, he and his company were just one of the contracted teams which were paid based upon how much work they did. After a while, Party A which signed the contract with him ran away and owed them more than 2 million yuan. During the process of negotiating for payment of the missing 2 million yuan, he ended up taking over the project and investing more than 20 million yuan.
"I put in the money that I saved for the burial expenses of my parents." Li Shumin complained. In his view, this was extremely lacking in filial piety. He said that he has sold six of his dozen or so villas in Zhengzhou.
"You show me the materials." I could not just accept his one-sided presentation. Li Shumin brought over many materials to me, including photographs of the deputy director of the City Tourist Bureau visiting the project site.
"How can you prove that your project passed review?" I sensed that something was wrong. He had told me that his project had gone through the process but the materials did not confirm this point. He was holding something back.
He looked troubled and he was silent for a while. "Do you have any materials for me? You bring them over and let me take a look." After thinking for some time, Li Shumin brought over the review materials for the Grand Dragon project.
These four documents came from the Xinzheng city party committee. They all agreed with the construction of the "concrete Ancestral Dragon" project. This first document was written in 2001 by the Tourist Bureau. At the time, the Tourist Bureau took the "Number One Ancestral Dragon of Huaxia" to the Ministry of Environmental Protection which replied that it "agreed in principle with the project" and asked the Tourist Bureau to make a proposal to the Development Committee which subsequently approved the project.
The second and third document for the "Grand Dragon project" came from the Grand Dragon Company itself. In 2005, party B which signed the contract with the Tourist Bureau ran away. Li Shumin took over the project, but a change was necessary. So while Li Shumin continued with the construction, the city Development Committee made the changes through Documents #72 and #77. In the Xinzheng city Development Committee document #72, the construction project was given approval. One month later in document #77, it not only agreed with the project but stated that the construction period shall be between 2005 through 2015.
The fourth document was dated February 5 of this year. The Xinzheng Development Committee made a proposal to the Henan provincial Development Committee for the Ancestral Dragon project. In that document, the Xinzheng Development Committee claimed that the total investment in the concrete Ancestral Dragon was 3.1 billion yuan. This proposal was not approved. On the next day, the Henan provincial Development Committee issued a directive that this proposal was not approved.
These four documents showed that the Ancestral Dragon project had been going on for years and that the local government departments were aware of if from the very start.
But Li Shumin did not seem to recognize the significance of the Grand Dragon.
Li Shumin took us along for an inspection. On the day before we went there, the Ancestral Dragon site had been locked up. Li Shumin consented to open the place for us to inspect.
Standing by the dragon, I measured the distance with my steps. It is 6 meters wide. According to Li Shumin, it is nine meters tall. The Ancestral Dragon was going to be 21 kilometers long.
"How does one traverse the 21 kilometers?"
"There will be a cable car," said Li Shumin.
"You can set up a marathon training course. It is the right distance if you run down and then back," I told him.
"Did you verify it?" In speaking with Li Shumin, I did not think that he was a bad person. He had strong nationalistic sentiments and he seemed to be under-matched for such a project.
"We verified it. We went to the Tourist Bureau to verify it."
I don't know whether to laugh or cry about it. Does the Tourist Bureau have the say-so for a project of this scale?
When Li Shumin took over the Ancestral Dragon project, the brothers Li Xiong and Li Wei did not have much impact. But when they wanted to become better known, they reached out to the media which exposed them.
The two brothers are from Yulin (Guangxi). They said that that the design of the Ancestral Dragon stole their creative idea. They had been prepared to reason with the people in Xinzheng who stole their concept. When they found out that the greater Ancestral Dragon was going to be built in Central China, they decided to stay behind over there. In 2006, they began to cooperate with Li Shumin. At the time, Li Shumin was responsible for constructing the Ancestral Dragon while the brothers Li Xiong and Li Wei stayed behind the scenes to raise the 3 billion yuan for construction.
They looked spirited. When they saw me, they began to tell me about their myth and they said that they wanted to count on the nationalistic sprit of the overseas Chinese to raise 3 billion yuan to construct the Ancestral Dragon.
When they saw that I was incredulous, they tried to show me some magical tricks. They claimed to know what card I held without looking.
"So let me ask you a question. Is your card a magical poker card?"
"Do you have special abilities?
They let me draw a card from a deck and then they told me that it was a red king of hearts. But I found that the card had beens marked. So they switched to another trick in which they found an iron pluck to place msuic for stringed instrument.
Regardless, we needed to verify the four documents provided by Li Shumin.
On the morning of April 2, we went to the Tourist Bureau. We were received by the Market Development director who told us to contact the Xinzheng city publicity department: "We don't know about this matter. You should go and asked the city committee publicity department!"
"But you are in charge with the operation. How can the city publicity department know about business issues?"
"Oh, you ought to go and ask them!"
More significantly, the person who was telling us to contact the publicity department would not disclose his name and status.
"Sir, what is your position in the Tourist Bureau?"
"I'm just an ordinary worker!"
"Can you tell me which department you work in?"
Some unknown person mumbled: "City Development Department."
When this person left, I looked at the desk and I saw a correspondence memo which was addressed to City Development Department director Yan Jun.
"He must be Yan Jun."
A female worker next to me said: "Wow, you didn't know? You didn't know him?"
"I don't know He must be Yan Jun."
Before 11am, we had visited the Xinzheng city Tourist Bureau, the Environmental Protection Agency and the City Development Committee. Collectively, they asked us to go to the city publicity department.
Since we got nothing from those three departments, we were prepared to return to Beijing on Monday afternoon. At around noon, the people from the Xinzheng city publicity department came to look us up at the Palace Hotel.
This is what I wanted to see. When I visited the Xinzheng city Environmental Protection Agency, the Tourist Bureau and the Development Committee, I left my business card at each department. I was hoping to get a response. Since we are here already, we should give them a positive interview.
The Development Committee and the Environmental Protection Agency were interviewed on Tuesday.
At the Development Committee, I saw four documents about the review and approval of the project. They were the ones that Li Shumin showed me earlier.
The Xinzheng Environmental Protection Agency deputy director Gao Xuepeng showed me two pages of material that are about half the size of an A4 paper. The words were: "After studying, the project was approved to sent to the city department."
"Is this the sum total of all your material about the Ancestral Dragon project?" "Yes."
"Since the project details are mentioned, there ought to be related materials. Accordingly, we would like to review those materials."
'I'll arrange for people to look for it."
"When can you give it to us?" I asked him
"I'll look for them for you." Gao Xuepeng said. By the time that we left Xinzheng city, the materials had not been located. Later on I found that that the Tourist Bureau had no time to receive us because they were busy with the Ancestral Worship Gathering!