(The Wall Street Journal)  China and Martin Lee.  October 29, 2007.

Earlier this month, we were pleased to publish an op-ed by Hong Kong legislator Martin Lee on democracy in China. Little did we know it would be seized by Beijing sympathizers as a chance to undermine freedom of speech in Hong Kong.

The assault, which has the flavor of a Cultural Revolution struggle session, stems from an October 17 op-ed, "China's Olympic Opportunity." In the article, Mr. Lee called on President Bush and other world leaders to "press for a significant improvement of basic human rights. . . including press, assembly and religious freedoms" and to use "direct engagement," rather than listen to calls from some quarters for an Olympic boycott. Mr. Lee was traveling when the op-ed was published.

Upon his return to Hong Kong last week, the political assault started. On Friday, a raft of pro-Beijing newspapers -- including Hong Kong's largest-circulation daily, the Oriental Daily News, as well as the Ming Pao Daily News and Sing Tao Daily -- ran leading stories attacking Mr. Lee.

Hong Kong's Beijing-controlled legislature added its criticism, while the chairman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong called for Mr. Lee to apologize. Several dozen people jeered Mr. Lee as he left the legislature. The Hong Kong government didn't muster a defense of Mr. Lee's right to free speech. Hong Kong's second-highest ranking official, Henry Tang, told reporters Friday that the Olympics shouldn't be "politicized."

This incident is extraordinary, and not only because it's the first time that a Hong Kong democracy advocate has been targeted so ferociously. In this case, the campaign was organized against something Mr. Lee didn't even say. Many of the articles suggested that he had called for an Olympic boycott, though he expressly didn't.

The pro-Beijing camp has many reasons for assailing Mr. Lee. Because he is Hong Kong's most eloquent and famous democracy advocate, his words carry weight in Western capitals, at a time when China is under pressure to improve its human rights record. China may also be trying to send a warning to its own citizens that anyone who links the Olympics with human rights or democracy will be treated harshly. Beijing wants the Olympics to be a showcase for nationalist pride, not domestic debate.

However, China's efforts to demonize Mr. Lee may backfire. Hong Kong citizens are sophisticated, educated people who treasure their freedoms and will recognize a mainland-style smear campaign for what it is.

When reached by telephone yesterday, Mr. Lee said he was "flabbergasted" by the attacks. True to form, he's fighting back by telling the truth about what he believes. As for China and its spokesmen, their heavy-handed assault will only draw more attention to Beijing's own lack of freedom.

(Ming Pao)  The Wall Street Journal, Please Get The Facts Right 事實勝於雄辯 請《華爾街日報》弄清事實.  October 31, 2007.

[in translation]

Hong Kong is a diversified society, and there are different views on Martin Lee's article.  But The Wall Street Journal essay took this affair as a diminishment of freedom of speech in Hong Kong, and it criticized the Hong Kong government for not standing up to defend the freedom of speech rights of Martin Lee.  These conclusions are subject to debate.

First of all, disagreement with Martin Lee's viewpoints is not equal to the diminishment of freedom of speech in Hong Kong.  This is not the first time that Martin Lee has created controversy with these kinds of speeches.  This has happened many times before, and Martin Lee was condemned each time.  But even though Martin Lee was criticized, nobody said that "Martin Lee must not be allowed to speak."  Ming Pao may have disagreed with Martin Lee's views in the essay.  But if Martin Lee's speech rights should be restricted, we will surely defend his right to speak, because it would be about our entire society and not just him alone.  Freedom of speech is a core value of Hong Kong.  Anyone who dares to limit or restrict it will be opposed and condemned.

The facts of the matter are that Martin Lee's views and interpretations each time were adequately reported by the media.  In the current affair, Martin Lee's essay drew attention last Thursday, and his explanations have been reported by the various media.  For example, Ming Pao published a full Chinese-language translation of Martin Lee's essay immediately.  On the various radio phone-in programs, Martin Lee made personal explanations.  Up to now, there is no evidence that the media were pressured not to report Martin Lee's explanations, or radio stations not letting Martin Lee speak.  Therefore, Martin Lee's speech rights have not been restricted, and he can speak as he pleases.  Therefore, we have no clue or evidence about "the opportunity for pro-Beijing people to curtail freedom of speech in Hong Kong" as asserted by The Wall Street Journal.

... Last Friday, Chief Secretary Henry Tang said: "We will try our very best to make the Olympics work.  I do not believe that the Olympics should be politicized."  Yesterday, Henry Tang responded to a reporter's question and emphasized that the statement about not politicizing the Olympics was appropriate.  He said that the freedom of speech in Hong Kong has improved over the past ten years.  "If freedom of speech had deteriorated, then much of what Martin Lee said would not have reached the public" and the media can verify that themselves.  Henry Tang is telling the facts.  If Martin Lee's speech rights had not been curtailed, then why should the Hong Kong government come out to defend Martin Lee's speech rights?  What was The Wall Street Journal referring to?

When Hong Kong was returned to China, the international media paid a great deal of attention to Hong Kong affairs to see how capitalist Hong Kong and socialist China would co-exist.  But after these ten years, "one country, two systems" has been implemented without much ado and the international media has gradually lost interest in Hong Kong.  The Wall Street Journal is one of the few international media that is still concerned about Hong Kong.  That is a good thing for Hong Kong.  But concern ought to based upon understanding.  If they make comments without grasping the basic facts and they hold biased positions, then it is not a good thing because it is bad for Hong Kong as well as the reputation of The Wall Street Journal. 

[in translation]

I was talking to Democrat A last night.  He is a core pan-democrat and he said that people with no political leanings are being influenced by the blanket criticisms of Martin Lee so that they think that he did something wrong.  For example, his sister is an ordinary Hong Kong person with no obvious political stance, but after reading the continuous media attacks on Martin Lee, she thought that he should not have gone overseas to ask people to boycott the Olympics over human rights in China.

Those critics of Martin Lee are still playing the game by invoking phrases such as "asking foreign countries to boycott the Olympics" and "demanding foreign countries to apply pressure on China."  In a society with freedom of speech such as Hong Kong, they have the right to "misrepresent" someone.  The most important thing is whether the people of Hong Kong believe them.

Although I am a supporter of Martin Lee, I don't mind people objecting to him.  The key is whether his critics are just repeating what they heard, or have they actually understood and thought about what happened here.  At the very least, have they read Martin Lee's original essay before coming to their conclusions?  Apart from Apple Daily, Ming Pao and EastSouthWestNorth have also published the original English-language essay.  There is the Apple Daily Chinese-language translation that is considered pro-Martin Lee, and there are the Ming Pao and Sing Tao Chinese-language translations that are considered anti-Martin Lee.  The people of Hong Kong can obtain the original English-language essay and then read the various translated versions.  When in doubt, you can consult a dictionary or search the Internet.  Then you read the criticisms from the leftists and Martin Lee's self-defense.  ...

I believe that anyone who has reviewed the entire affair has to admit that the critics of Martin Lee have obviously misrepresented him.  Where in that essay did Martin Lee call for Americans to boycott the Olympics?

This time, this may be a test for democracy in Hong Kong.  Do not believe what the media say, or what the democrats say, or what they leftists say.  Go and find out about the entire affair yourself.  Think about it and then come to a conclusion.  It does not matter what the conclusion is.  It is just that people have to think on their own.  Then no matter whether they agree with Martin Lee or not, Martin Lee will have won in the end.  If as a result of this affair, the people of Hong Kong know better to think on their own and to tell right from wrong, then they will not be afraid of homogenization of public opinion or Beijing control of the media.  

Even if the powers-that-be can control the Hong Kong media, they cannot control the media all over the world.  Even if they can control the television channels in Hong Kong, they cannot contain the Internet all over the world.  The Golden Shield system can block 99% of unfavorable information on the Internet, but it is not 100%.  In the future, the Internet will carry the information.  Unless the Chinese government locks down the country altogether, the information will be there.  The issue is about the people -- do they have the will and desire to seek the truth and will they think on their own?  If they can think independently, they will eventually see through the lies ...

When President George W. Bush accepted President Hu Jintao's invitation to attend the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Mr. Bush's press secretary said that he was going to the Games as "a sports fan, not to make any political statement." I too am a great sports fan -- especially of the Soccer World Cup -- but I would encourage President Bush to take a broader vision of the possibilities for the Beijing Games. He should use the next 10 months to press for a significant improvement of basic human rights in my country, including press, assembly and religious freedoms.

In China Daily, Xiao Ping wrote:

The despicable act of former Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee has served as a footnote to President Hu Jintao's recent speech which voiced opposition against foreign interference in Hong Kong and Macao affairs.  Only two days after the president delivered his speech, Lee wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal, urging US President George W. Bush to take the opportunity of the Beijing Olympics to pressurize China for an improved human rights situation.

Is 'to press' the same as 'to pressurize'?  Did China Daily deliberately distort the written words of Martin Lee to score some points?

From the dictionary at Answers.com, the verb 'press' has these definitions:

  1. To exert steady weight or force against; bear down on.
    1. To squeeze the juice or other contents from.
    2. To extract (juice, for example) by squeezing or compressing.
    1. To reshape or make compact by applying steady force; compress.
    2. To iron (clothing, for example).
  4. To clasp in fondness or politeness.
  5. To try to influence, as by insistent arguments; importune or entreat: He pressed her for a reply.
  6. To urge or force to action; impel.
  7. To place in trying or distressing circumstances; harass or oppress.
  8. To move (keys on a computer keyboard, for example) by applying pressure.
  9. To lay stress on; emphasize.
  10. To advance or carry on vigorously: “Far from backing down, he pressed the attack” (Justin Kaplan).
  11. To put forward importunately or insistently: press an argument.
  12. To make (a phonograph record or videodisc) from a mold or matrix.
  13. Sports. To lift (a weight) to a position above the head without moving the legs.
  1. To exert force or pressure.
  2. To weigh heavily, as on the mind.
  3. To advance eagerly; push forward.
  4. To require haste; be urgent.
  5. To iron clothes or other material.
  6. To assemble closely and in large numbers; crowd.
  7. To employ urgent persuasion or entreaty.
  8. Sports. To raise or lift a weight in a press.
  9. Basketball. To employ a press.

From answers.com, the verb 'pressurize' has these definitions:

  1. To maintain normal air pressure in (an enclosure, as an aircraft or submarine).
  2. To put (gas or liquid) under a greater than normal pressure.
  3. To design to resist pressure.
  4. To pressure-cook.
  5. Informal. To subject to excessive stress, strain, or vexation: an executive who was pressurized by a heavy workload.

Thus, the worst case for 'to press' is 'to place in trying or distressing circumstances; harass or oppress' while the best case is 'to try to influence, as by insistent arguments; importunue or entreat.'  The problem here is that 'to press' has multiple meanings.  Meanwhile, it would appear that 'to pressurize' is probably being used incorrectly for this situation.  But if China Daily had used "harass" or "oppress" instead, it cannot be said to be incorrect because that is one possible meaning of "press for."

The 'fight' over one word arose because the word 'press' has multiple meanings in English.  How do you know which was the intended meaning?  It is necessary to step back and read the entire essay.  To me, it is clear that Martin Lee meant nothing in the way of 'oppress' or 'harass.' 

Q1. With respect to Martin Lee's open request to the United States to use the Olympics to apply pressure to China,
17% approve
71% disapprove
12% no opinion
Q2. With respect to Martin Lee's action, 
61% were angered
18% welcomed it
21% no opinion
Q3.  Do you agree that the Olympics should be politicized?
  5% agree
84% disagree
11% no opinion
Q4. Do you want the Beijing Olympics to be successfully held?
89% yes
  4% no
  7% no opinion

Related link: Martin Lee in The Wall Street Journal

(Taipei Times)  

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Shih-cheng ( 王世堅 ) yesterday admitted that he had cheated on his wife.  "This is a mistake that every man in the world can make, including me," Wang said.  Wang made the remarks in an interview with SET-TV yesterday afternoon.

The story of Wang's extramarital affair broke last year, when Next Magazine published a photograph of Wang and one of his aides, surnamed Ho ( ), entering a hotel room together.  Wang said at the time that he went to the hotel with Ho to listen to an audio tape from a supporter, Chang Wei-chin ( 張瑋津 ).  The three of them, Chang, Ho and himself then listened to the tape, which was about "classified information" concerning last year's anti-Chen Shui-bian protests.  However, Chang on Tuesday changed her story. She told reporters that she had lied for Wang and said she had never gone to the hotel or listened to a tape at a hotel room.

Wang asked his wife Lin Hsiu-fan ( 林秀芬 ) to support him during a press conference at the DPP legislative caucus office yesterday morning.  "This is a private matter that concerns my family only," his wife told reporters.

Chang also held a press conference, saying she would confess in a court if necessary.  She said she had lied once and would not make the same mistake again.

Wang initially denied Chang's new story, but later confessed in the interview.  Wang said that Chang had been manipulated by his political enemies and he would "find out who."  "I think Chang was under political pressure to do this at this time," Wang said.  Wang also alleged that his constituency rival -- Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Justin Chou (周守訓) -- had been involved.

Wang also said that he had resolved the issue with his family, who had decided to forgive him for having an affair.  "I have told you many times that my family has decided to trust me and forgive me for this," Wang said.

Apple Daily: Wang Shih-cheng said that this was not a mistake that every man makes -- it is a mistake that some men (including himself) make.  During the press conference, Wang and his wife refused to comment on the extramarital affair or the veracity of the tape recording.  They also declined to answer all questions.  As for the 'evidence' about the 'black hand behind the curtain,' Wang placed a stack of papers on the table but refused to discuss what was in them.  His constituency rival Justin Chou said: "Wang ought to act like a real man and explain clearly what happened."  Meanwhile Chang Wei-chin challenged whether this was a family matter.  If that were true, why did Wang ask her to fake a recording.  "Legislator Wang, can you state to me whether the recording is true or false?  Will you come out and face me?  Didn't you threaten me previously?"

Is this truly a family matter and no business for the public or the media?  It would have been so but for the fact that Wang shih-cheng summoned the media and mounted a false defense in order to deceive the public.  Can you trust Wang Shih-cheng on anything anymore?
YouTube links:
緋聞風暴 王世堅偕妻現身說明
- 王世堅承認 犯了男人都會犯的錯
- 王世堅 談緋聞... 竟結巴
- 王世堅緋聞真假? 張瑋津證人翻供

The radical League of Social Democrats, with its unequivocal advocacy of grass-roots benefits and democracy, is training its big guns on Wong Tai Sin to try to seize power in the district from Beijing loyalists ... League secretary general Andrew To Kwan-hang, a councillor in the district for 16 years, is challenged by Angel Leung On-kay, a former disc jockey and an independent close to the DAB, in Chuk Yuen North.

Mr To said the democratic camp's share of the vote had gradually caught up with that of the Beijing-friendly camp.  "Promoting the league's platforms is easy here because our agenda, such as a minimum-wage law and increase in old-age allowance, are well received by grass-roots voters," he said.

He was criticised by Ms Leung for not putting his heart into district work, saying the elderly in the constituency badly needed a new councillor who was more caring.  "I can give them more love. The old people are just like children. You have to hold them and hug them," said Ms Leung, now a legal executive and pay-TV programme host.

She joined the Democratic Party in 1999 but soon quit and joined the Liberal Party before co-founding the now-defunct Justice Union Party in 2001.  Defending her changing party affiliations, she said: "What's wrong with that? David Beckham also changed from Manchester United and then Real Madrid, and now Los Angeles Galaxy."

Her base is also shifting. Having won a seat in Eastern District in 1999, she eyed a new seat in Sha Tin in 2003 but was defeated by a wide margin.  Asked why she had now switched to Wong Tai Sin, she said: "I think I have finally found the ultimate constituency. I feel like settling down."

She said she enjoyed a good working relationship with DAB legislator Chan Kam-lam, but denied they were allies. She also said she had similar relationships with friends in the Liberal Party and Democratic Party.

黃大仙區議會竹園北選區  is the video link to the televised debate between Angel Leung and Andrew To.

Q1. Performance of ruling Democratic Progressive Party
20% approve
57% disapprove
23% no opinion
Q2. Support to become next president/vice-president
50% Ma/Siew (KMT)
25% Hsieh/Su (DPP)
25% no opinion
Q3. Do you hope to join or return to the United Nations?
54% yes
12% no
33% no opinion|
Q4. Do you agree with the referendum to "join the United Nations under the name of Taiwan"?
36% yes
41% no
22% no opinion
Q5. Do you regard the 'referendum to join the United Nations' as state policy? or Democratic Progressive Party election strategy?
21% state policy
53% election strategy
25% no opinion
Q6.  Is it appropriate for the government to use a "join the United Nations" chop on private mail?
16% yes
57% no
27% no opinon
Q7. Is it appropriate for the government to use the "join the United Nations" logo on invoices and electricity bills?
19% yes
53% no
27% no opinion
Q8. At next year's presidential election, should the "join the United Nations" ballot be issued at the same time as the presidential ballot? Or separately?
25% together
50% separately
20% no opinion
Q9. Which do you care more about?  Joining the United Nations or improving the economy
  8% join the United Nations
76% improve the economy
14% no opinion
Q10. What is you view towards the future of Taiwan?
15% become independent as quickly as possible
  5% unify as quickly as possible
10% maintain the status quo and become independent later
  8% maintain the status quo and unify later
41% maintain the status quo forever
  1% other opinions
17% no opinion

What is your rating of the four major political parties' performances in the Legislative Council over the past three months? (1=lowest, 6=highest)
Civil Party 2.78 (from 2.92 in June 2007)
Democratic Party 2.71 (from 2.91 in June 2007)
Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong 3.05 (from 2.81 in June 2007)
Liberal Party 2.73 (from 2.94 in June 2007)
What is your rating of the four major political parties' performances in local district work over the past three months?
Civic Party 2.80 (from 2.72 in June 2007)
Democratic Party 2.84 (from 2.94 in June 2007)
Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong 3.15 (from 3.10 in June 2007)
Liberal Party 2.58 (from 2.80 in June 2007)

Due to an overwhelming response - over 5,000 visitors in just nine days - an exhibition of works by acclaimed Chinese writer Eileen Chang at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is to be extended until November 4, Sunday.

During the University Information Day and Open Day 2007 this weekend (October 27 to 28), members of the public can also visit the "Eileen Chang: Hong Kong Legend (1939-1941)"exhibition without prior registration.

Starting from October 27, Saturday, new exhibits will also be added. These include a Hong Kong-based short story of Chang, a second Chinese handwritten manuscript, and the original of Chang's essay, Stale Mates, published in a US magazine during the 1950s. At present, the exhibits on display are original manuscripts of Chang's work, including the handwritten manuscript of On Lust, Caution, her student records, photographs, personal documents, and various translated versions of her books.

Eileen Chang studied at HKU's Faculty of Arts between 1939 and 1941 where she excelled academically. When Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese, she was forced to suspend her studies and return to Shanghai. However, the two years she spent in Hong Kong were critical to her later emergence as a legend in the world of literature.

"Eileen Chang: Hong Kong Legend (1939-1941)"exhibition runs until November 4, Sunday at the HKU Library (Ground Floor Foyer). Pre-registration is required for members of the public who would like to visit (except for October 27 to 28). Please send names and contact details to maincir@lib.hku.hk or fax: 2517 4615, one day prior to your visit. HKU Library's opening hours:- Monday to Friday 8:30 am - 10:00 pm Saturday 8:30 am - 7:00 pm Sunday 10:00 am - 7:00 pm The exhibition is organized by the Project for Public Culture (PPC) which is a new project established by HKU's Journalism and Media Studies Centre. The exhibition is sponsored by Muse magazine and HKU's Culture and Humanities Fund. For enquiries, please contact Ms Velentina Ma, Journalism and Media Studies Centre, HKU on 2219 4012 / 9123 0252 or E-mail: velentinam@hku.hk

Ang Lee's <Lust, Caution> has created a wave of popularity for Eileen Chang, but how many people actually enjoy and research her works?  Yesterday, Hong Kong University Journalism and Media Studies Centre professor and famous writer Lung Ying-tai held a reading/interpretation session of Eileen Chang for more than 100 high school girls, but there were no sparks between the two sides.
When Professor Lung, the students fell totally silent.  The professor asked if anyone knew what was the purpose of literature.  For almost one minute, nobody dared to answer.  Then she asked if anyone knew the meaning of
燼 餘, the students had nothing to say either.  So the professor acted as if she was angry: "If you keep being expressionless, then I won't say anything either."
Lung Ying-tai was trying to get the students to engage in more discourse and cultivate the habit of critical thinking.  Lung Ying-tai said that the literary self-cultivation of Hong Kong students are lower than that of mainland or Taiwan students.  This is a disadvantage because more and more American corporations are hiring students who majored in literature and history, because such people are unique and brighter (that is to say, the corporations do not need technicians because they would have to provide company-specific training; instead, they need people who are perceptive about other people and able to sort out some logic to complicated events and relationships).

Here is a photographs of Lung Ying-tai with the DGS principal and a guest, about whom she said: "This guest has come to the wrong session.  He should have go to the master class, instead he has come to a junior class today."

The Republican Party leaders find themselves at an interesting moment, perhaps even a fulcrum point; their staid governing style, their reluctance to accept more openness and stronger checks on their powers and privileges, and most of all, their unwillingness to treat the public in mature rather than old-fashioned, deeply patronizing ways risks placing them increasingly out of synch with the fast evolving world of young people who grew up with the Internet.

No one is expecting an upheaval, certainly not now. What may be in store, however, is a steady erosion of legitimacy, which does not augur well for the medium and longer term.

This is what can happen, though, to authoritarian systems that constantly invoke the need for reform and never muster the courage to actually undertake it, and likewise to those who constantly promise to tackle corruption, while never actually moving beyond fingering scapegoats.

The signs of this slow fade in credibility could be heard in the voices of many New York City residents who were asked in sidewalk interviews this week what they make of the ongoing political show that is the Republican Party presidential primary election campaign season and how they see the future.

There was lots of grumbling about the high cost of food and housing, which was to be expected, but skepticism and outright disaffection loomed large, too.

A 50-year-old engineer who gave his name as Mike Dudley said he had paid "zero" attention to the Republican administration, because he felt politics were beyond people's control.  "Our lives are like bits of leaves blowing in the wind," he said. "We can only hope to land in a good place."

Many others focused on growing inequality, a theme addressed in many campaign speeches, but one which few here see getting better.

"Even their policies are made preferentially for rich people," said Joe Centrowitz, the owner of a small shop in downtown Manhattan. "What I see is people who have become rich through illegal means seeking ways to make their grabs legal.  How? Through policies and laws."

Why is this being posted here?  Read the whole thing at Letter From China.

(Taipei Times)  Rerouting of traffic from US Web sites tells all, Shieh says.  October 21, 2007.

China has shown its true colors by "hijacking" three major US-based Internet search engines, Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey ( 謝志偉 ) said on Friday.  Shieh was responding to foreign wire service reports that Chinese Internet users trying to search on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Web sites have been directed to the Chinese-owned search engine Baidu since Tibetan spiritual and political leader in exile the Dalai Lama was awarded a US Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday.  The reports said China is likely retaliating for the award and for US President George W. Bush's appearance in public with the Dalai Lama -- the first time a US president has met him in public.

Shieh said that although China is already notoriously authoritarian, it was nevertheless shocking that the leadership would dare to cut off the flow of Chinese visitors to the three major search engines.

The move also indicates the duplicity in the "peace overture" to Taiwan made by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in his speech at the 17th Chinese Communist Party National Congress, Shieh said.  Hu called for an end to cross-strait enmity and for a cross-strait peace pact under Beijing's "one-China" vision.

Beijing's methods of blocking freedom of information, such as redirecting traffic from search engines and blocking Web sites including YouTube and Live.com, show why China deserved its ranking at the seventh from the bottom of Reporters without Borders' 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index released on Tuesday, he said.

Related Link: Foreign search engines briefly redirected on some Chinese ISP's = mass confusion under heaven  Rebecca MacKinnon, RConversation

(Fu Jianfeng's blog)  The Biggest Gamble in China: Three Heads Are On The Line!  October 20, 2007.

[in translation]

Hey, brother, did you know that during the period of the seventeen party congress, some people are playing a game of life and death -- a third person has staked his life on it!

At this moment, the dying sun is bloody red ... but we still don't know whose heads will roll.

Let us talk about how the first head was put up.

About a week ago, the Shaanxi Forestry Department held a press conference to announce the discovery in the forests of Zhenping county of a wild South China Tiger previously thought to be extinct.  This was a world-stunning news, because the "China tiger" is very rare.

Their evidence was based upon some photographs of a South China tiger taken by the local peasant Zhou Zhenglong.

But as soon as the photograph was released, doubts soared.  From common netizens to animal experts, everybody was shouting that the tiger in the photograph was faked.  Many people concluded that a paper tiger was placed in a forest and filmed.

This caused the Shaanxi Forestry Department to be very unhappy.  The Animal Protection Bureau director Wang Wanyun gritted his teeth (I infer this because there was no photograph of this action) and told the media: "I am willing to guarantee the authenticity of this photograph with my head."

Actually, Wang Wanyun is being really cunning, because nobody is saying that the photograph is faked.  People are saying that the tiger in the photograph is a fake paper tiger.

In any case, the first head has been placed on the gambling table.

When that happened, the situation quickly spun out of control.  This was no longer a question of money; this was life and death.

And then the second head was placed among the stakes on the gambling table.

The second head came from the person who triggered all this -- the "hero who photographed the tiger," Zhou Zhenglong.

Previously, he was a famous hunter and impoverished villager.  Then he became the guide to the South China tiger search team.  The experts could not find a wild South China tiger no matter how they tried.  So they tapped Zhou on the shoulder and said: "Old Zhou, if you can take a photograph of a South China tiger, the provincial government will award you with 1 million yuan!"

So Zhou Zhenglong became a "tiger fanatic."  He dreamed about the tiger and the money day and night.  He kept going up the mountain in the hope of getting a tiger photograph.

Many days later, he announced that he has the photographs.

But he was disappointed that the Shaanxi Forestry Department did not kept its promise.  They were going to give him at most 20,000 yuan.

But he wanted one million yuan!  So he refused to produce the photographs.

At a dinner, I heard a metro newspaper leader tell us about what Zhou Zhenglong did.  Before the press conference, Zhou Zhenglong called this metro newspaper leader and asked: "I have photographs of the wild South China tiger.  I am willing to sell them to you for 1 million yuan.  Do you want them?"  The leader thought that the telephone call came from a mental hospital.

But a couple days after the telephone call, the Shaanxi Forestry Department announced the news that "a wild South China tiger has been discovered."

Yet, the doubts soared and the Southern Metropolis Daily published the editorial titled <There is doubt about the South China tiger and further investigation is warranted> about this gamble with unique Chinese characteristics.

Southern Weekend also sent out reporters to record this gamble.  Whereas Southern Weekend used to bide its time in reporting, it opted to use text, photographs and live digital video broadcasts at its new website http://www.infzm.com/ .

The principal character Zhou Zhenglong kept being asked by the reporters: Is your tiger real or fake?

Zhou Zhenglong roared with laughter and said, "If you want to look at one photograph, you pay me.  If you want to look at two photographs, you pay me more."

Two newspaper reporters probed, "How about 50 yuan?"  Zhou smirked and said: "How dare you offer that kind of price?  I received 1,000 yuan when I appeared on the provincial television channel's program."

After the reporters paid a lot of money, Zhou took out the photographs and let them peek at them.  But the reporters were still plagued with doubts and continued to question him.

So he made the bet: "I guarantee with my head that the photographs are authentic."

So two heads went on the gambling table because the situation was out of control.  Meanwhile, the netizens had plenty of saliva to give, but who amongst them will gamble his head?

A hero finally emerged in the form of top Academy of Sciences researcher and plant expert Fu Dezhi.

At the Internet forum Yuanmu Shanchuan, he stated: "I am willing to guarantee with my head that the tiger in the photograph is fake."

His evidence has to do with the plants that appear around the photographs.  From the photographs, the plants around the tiger were either oaks or hazelnuts.  The leaves of these plants should be about 3 millimeters long.  From the photographs, the leaf and the tigers were at the same distance away.  In order to cover up the face of a real tiger, the leaves have to be as large as a wash basin.  But here, a three-millimeter leaf was sufficient to cover up the head of the tiger.  So the only possibility is that the tiger was take.  The tiger should be a cropped photograph about 8 inch in size!

"If I identify these leaves incorrectly, then my two decades of plant research was wasted."  This scientist told the Southern Weekend reporter.

He then acted as if out of kindheartedness and offered three options to the gambler Zhou Zhenglong.

Option 1, you faked a South China tiger and deceived the world.  You should turn yourself in at the nearest public security bureau and confess that you did so to make a couple of yuan.

Option 2, you have the right to remain silent.  Meanwhile, you to up the mountain quietly and hope that you can find a real South China tiger quickly.  Or else, you ask God to come and help: Let there be light, and there was light; let there be a tiger, and there was a tiger. 

Option 3, you try to get away with continuing your deception until the police car comes to your front door.

In gambling, there is a psychological battle as both sides yell and holler.  The effect is stunning, but the consequences are serious.

Actually, during the period of the seventeenth party congress, there is no need to bet your heads; rather, you should say that you make this guarantee with your personal and party character.

Actually, people don't need their heads, they don't need to swear, they only need to know the truth ...