I have been writing newspaper commentaries for the past several years.  My biggest sense of what is happening is that although the progress of political reform has been cautious in China, the channels of expression for "public opinion" have been rapidly growing and expanding.  In more and more domains, "public opinion" has realized itself through its expressions.

Prior history tells us that a rising force often divides society into two opposing camps with very little room for the moderate middle-of-the-roaders.  At the moment, the growing public desire for "social justice" is basically divided into the two attitudes of "scornful lip-service" and "lop-sided approval."  Those who hold the first viewpoint are certain government officials and members of the elite.  Because they hold the power and professional knowledge, they are used to regarding themselves as "saviors" who are contemptuous of "public opinion."  Those who hold the second viewpoint are represented by current affairs commentators who are popular with readers and therefore they tend to believe that the majority opinion is always correct.  These people are then imbued with a strong sense of moral superiority and they believe that they are speaking for the interests of the majority of the people.

I hold my reservations about these two viewpoints.  I believe that "public opinion" should be classified into two different levels.

The first level is the "desire" that is expressed in the public opinion, as in the kind of reasonable society that the majority want and their demands for improvement of the things that are of interest to them.  This portion of "public opinion" is always right.  They ought to be seriously heeded by the rulers as well as society as a whole, and these demands should be met in time.

But the problems are usually not that simple.  This brings us to the second level: "public opinion" not only expresses certain desires, but they often include views and means of how to satisfy those desires.  Most people do not have a basic framework of professional knowledge and therefore this portion of "public opinion" may not be correct, or perhaps they may not feasible to implement.  These wishes should be heeded and valued, but they should not be carried out so easily.  It is most reasonable to address the discontent of the people.  But very often, people approach the issue purely from their selfish interests and look for the most simple and direct method to achieve the goal, and that is where problems can occur.

I don't mean to indicate that I am contemptuous of ordinary people.  I only want to say that every person has some kind of specialization based upon their education and occupation.  Ruling the nation requires specialization.  When we go to the hospital for treatment, that is the job for the doctor and it is unreasonable for us to tell the doctor what to prescribe for us.  There is not much qualitative difference between solving societal problems and curing diseases, because society and human physiology are both complex and require professional specialty.

So why is that when it comes to a "societal problem," the sufferers suddenly become irrational and often demand the government to fill out a prescription according to their demands?  The main reason is that people do not trust the "society doctors."  They believe that those professionals who hold the power to formulate and implement policies are either uninformed charlatans or, worst yet, profiteers who have their personal rather than the patients' interests in mind.  At this time, such feelings are common as well as reasonable.  But that does not mean that the ailments should be treated according to prescriptions written by the "patients" themselves.  The ailments can only treated by increasing the "supervision" and "encouragement" of the "doctors."

Clearly, nobody knows more about the ailments than the patients themselves. These first-hand experiences have the effect of increasing the demand and motivation for societal improvement.  But they offer no substantive help on how society can actually solve the problems in an effective manner.

There is something else the majority cannot easily detect.  In China today, there are many instances of special interest groups who cleverly exploit "public opinion" in order to disrupt the free market and gain improper profits for themselves.  We should be able to discern the same logic in our own daily lives: unethical doctors are those who oblige every wish of the patient, whereas the ethical doctors are those who listen carefully to the description of symptoms by the patients and decide afterwards based upon their own judgment.  In dealing with "societal diseases," we should similarly remember the saying that "good medicine tastes bitter."

At the same time, the so-called public opinion (which is the will of the majority) is only appropriate if they affect domains of public affairs but not into the private domains.  For example, the majority presently think that food prices are too high right now, and they want to see the prices held constant or even lowered.  This is an understandable desire.  But if the majority wants the state to use its administrative power to force the rice merchants to hold the prices constant, then we must firmly oppose it.  In a market economy, the price of rice is based upon the operating profits of individual rice merchants.  The majority does not have the right to impose a price that they believe is reasonable and then compel the rice merchants to sell at that price.

Logically, the "public domains" should be the areas where "public opinion" are most significant.  Unfortunate, those issues are relatively more complicated and therefore they often elude "public opinion."  Even more regrettably, "public opinion" skips over those things that it should have kept a close watch on and instead prefers to interfere in private matters about which it has no right to interfere with.  As Professor Qin Hui has pointed out repeatedly, it is widespread practice today to "steal money in order to start business deals."  Today, some people are busy trying to prove that "stealing money for investment" is unavoidable, while other people are busy trying to condemn how "doing business deals" is destroying the "spirit of humanities."  But very few people are fighting for the citizens' legal right to "conduct business deals" while also making a just struggle against "stealing money for capital."

Recently, many reporters have called me to ask which are the major issues for the upcoming Legco elections.  Will it be the inflation?  Will it be double universal suffrage in 2012?

When asked these questions, I usually tell my experience with the 1998 Legco elections.  That was the time of the Asian financial crisis.  Some people thought that the people's livelihood issue should be played to alleviate hardship.  But pretty soon, people discovered whenever one candidate list suggested measures such as relieving real estate taxes, income taxes, public housing rents and so on at a debate forum, the other candidates will adopt the same measures at the next forum.  Nobody has exclusive rights to these measures, and everybody (whether they were for or against Tung Chee-wah or for/against the establishment).  So livelihood issues became moot during those elections.

Therefore, whether an issue can become an election issue does not depend solely upon its objective importance.  Rather, the issue has to be able to differentiate different candidates.  The inflation problem is like the Asian financial crisis.  Everybody (whether they are for or against the establishment) can use it, unless you raise it to the level of attacking the evil business people (such as the supermarkets).  Otherwise, you won't be able to use it to differentiate yourself from your opponents.

Of course, double universal suffrage may be one issue that differentiates those who are for and against the establishment.  But the central government announced a schedule for universal suffrage last December and the citizens are mostly willing to go along with it.  So this will be hard to heat up.  Furthermore, there are between three to eight lists from the pan-democratic camp in the election districts and this will make it hard to emerge from these lists.

Therefore, the biggest challenge to the candidates is to emerge from the various similar candidate lists.  In the final stretch, the candidates will have to cement their votes to make sure that they are not eroded by "friendly" candidates who share the same issues.  Thus, issues such as local district work, image (such as youth and gender) and even crisis declarations may be more important.  In some of the districts, it may take less than 10% of the votes to gain the last seat.  Therefore, it may be more important for a candidate can secure a particular stratum, group, geographical area or demographic, that may be more important than emphasizing certain grand themes.


The candidates reach the voters most broadly through the debate forums on television and radio.  But when an election district has more than 10 candidate lists, it becomes impossible to have a meaningful debate when the television and radio stations have to adhere strictly to the principle of equal time for all.  The debates will be fragmented and reduced to either vicious mutual name-calling or pleas for "emergency" votes.

This is how Hong Kong-style elections turned into farce.

(Li Gan's blog via DWnews)

In 2004, the Chongqing Dahonghu Water Produce Limited Company sued citizen Yi Dade for overreaching on his fishing ground.  But the Chongqing City Middle Court Number One ruled that this was an uncertainty involving the border between the Changshou district of Chongqing city and Shuiyuan county in Sichuan province.  As such, the status quo should be maintained until as such time as the definition of the border is defined.  Previously, Yi Dade had rented the area for almost twenty years already.  At the time, there was no dissent against the court ruling.

On July 1, 2008, the Chongqing Dahongwu Water Produce Company unilaterally removed the fishing nets in Yi Dade's territory, causing several millions yuan in damages.  Yi complained to various levels of government departments without result.

On the morning of July 29, Yi Dade began to cast nets again at the original location.  At 11:20am, the Chongqing Dahongwu Water Produce Company organized almost 100 crime gangsters armed with machetes, axes, poles and rocks to attack the Yi family.  During the process, Yang Dade's second son was beaten to death and the four others suffered serious injuries and are now hospitalized for treatment.

The Chongqing Commercial News witnesses the crime and called the police at 11:20am.  The police should have been there in 15 minutes, but they only arrived at 12:00 noon.  By that time, the perpetrators were long gone.

A total eclipse of the sun a week before the Beijing Olympics will spook the superstitious but Chinese authorities have no reason to fear for the Games, astrologers and feng shui experts say. The phenomenon was once seen by China's emperors as a portent of disaster, and astrologers predict some turbulence this time too, probably on the stock market and maybe even on the streets. However, any trouble will not be powerful enough, they say, to disrupt the world's largest international sporting event or unduly worry China's rulers.

Mak Ling-ling, one of the most renowned feng shui and astrology experts in Hong Kong and author of many books, said the eclipse might bring small-scale political turbulence and problems to the transport and communication networks in Beijing during the Games. "Protests and chaos on the street are very likely but they will not do any permanent harm to the Chinese authorities," she told AFP.

China may play down any association between the eclipse and the Olympics to avoid being mocked for being superstitious -- but Mak said it had a long-time practice of consulting feng shui experts when selecting athletes. "The national teams give me the date and time of birth of the athletes and ask me to calculate and identify the ones with a strong will and a real chance of winning international games," she said.

"No Olympics teams have consulted me about the eclipse but I believe if the authorities are really worried about it, they would seek help and do something discreetly without letting outsiders know."

A total solar eclipse total solar eclipse is caused when the moon blots out the sun by passing directly between it and the earth, and has traditionally been associated with misfortune.

The latest eclipse is set to traverse half the earth over the course of two hours in August 1. The path of the moon's umbral shadow, some 10,200 kilometres (6,375 miles) long, will begin in Canada and extend across northern Greenland, the Arctic, central Russia and Mongolia, before ending in northern China. But it will not cross Beijing.

It will make its final stop at sunset in Xi'an, capital of China's Shaanxi province and site of the famed terracotta army. "In ancient times, Chinese people believed that a celestial dragon or dog was devouring the sun during an eclipse," said Peter So, another top feng shui master in Hong Kong.

"The belief gave rise to their practice of banging drums and pots -- their idea of using loud noises to frighten away the animal," added So, who hosts TV shows and has a client list numbering many of the city's rich and famous.

Solar eclipses were regarded as heavenly signs that foretold the future of emperors. Legends have it that two Chinese astrologers were beheaded in 2300 BC for failing to predict one. In ancient times, western astrologers also believed eclipses had the power to start and stop wars, solve scientific puzzles, and trigger earthquakes and floods.

Nowadays, the natural phenomenon is often associated with a volatile stock market, said So. "It is not surprising. Some people become reluctant to invest in the market after learning about all the theories on solar eclipses." He predicted big market swings during the Olympics but said China's bourses would recover and remain strong until August 2009.

Raymond Lo, another prominent fortune teller and astrologer in Hong Kong, said the start date for the Olympics -- August 8, 2008 -- on the Chinese lunar calendar had a tendency to trigger water disasters, which could be reinforced by the eclipse. "It is the year of the Rat, the month of the Monkey, and the day of the Dragon. We had the same combination of animals on the day when the tsunami struck in 2004," he added.

The Chinese zodiac is based on a 12-year cycle, with each year represented by an animal. Fortune tellers base predictions on the relationship between the zodiac animals and the characteristics of each.

But a sceptical Cheng Kai-ming, a physics lecturer at Chinese University of Hong Kong, said any disasters were mere coincidence. "There are so many natural or man-made disasters every year," he told AFP.  "Any total solar eclipse is bound to occur before, during, or after one of these events."

There is the official version of the music television video <Beijing Welcomes You> with the superstars and extravagant production values.


Then there is this alternate version from thirty music students at the Senior Citizen University, Heze city, Shandong province.  The thirty students range in age between at least 50 and almost 80.  This is the version that is called the "most inexpensive, most spirited and most powerful music television video ever made in China."


(My1510.cn)  Praise or Celebrate.  By Li Puman.  July 30, 2008.

The Olympic song <Beijing Welcomes You> is suddenly red-hot on the Internet, and the thanks go to the 30 music students at the Senior Citizen University in Heze City, Shandong province.  They did not all sing flawlessly, but they drew a more enthusiastic response than the big stars.

Many netizens said that they were moved when they watched this video because this was about real people welcoming the Olympics and expressing their sincere patriotic sentiments.  I cannot deny the enthusiastic patriotism of these grandparents, uncles and aunts but I would like to contemplate this affair from another perspective.

As I watched this video, I was reminded of another group of people.  In my hometown, my mother and some friends have formed a drum-dance troupe which performed dances, singing and drum music around the village, plus other folk art events.  They sing many revolutionary and patriotic songs such as <The waves of the Hong lake>, <I love my China>, <Entering the New Era> and so on.

I was home one Labor day.  My mother and her team were planning another performance.  Although they stay in a rural village, they know the importance of political utility and fashion.  Therefore, this show was going to be a report on behalf of the farmers on Labor Day.  Actually, all their previous performances were about reports on behalf of their farmer friends anyway.  On this day, the show took on a seemingly lofty goal: to praise the laborers.  But the show was no different from the usual ones.  These programs including the dances and drum music were designed to delight the audience as well as the performers.  More importantly, the spectators did not feel that they were being praised -- in fact, their vocabulary probably did not contain the word 'praise 歌颂.'  But their happiness was genuine and came from the bottom of their hearts.

Of course, the music students frequently displayed banners to celebrate the Olympics; of course, my mother and her friends frequently chanted slogans for the laborers.  So the passion showed by ordinary people for the Olympics and the laborers can be readily regarded as "praising" and "eulogizing."  This seems to be a constant refrain in Chinese thinking since ancient times.  If the earthquake zone residents cried when they see Premier Wen Jiabao, it is because they are moved by the Premier and not because they feel safe when they see him by their side; if I cry as an Olympic torch bearer, it is because I am able to participate in this grand festival and not because sand got into my eye.

We are always trying to distill a grand narrative from the most ordinary people, but we never pay attention to the most personal feelings of the ordinary people.  I think that my mother and her friends will sing these Olympic songs too; I may even do a video of them singing about the Olympics or the motherland.  But I prefer to think that they are delighted because they are doing this for themselves, because they are able to sing and because they are making a video.

More alternate versions at Daqi.

Related Link: Translation of Olympic Music Video “Beijing Welcomes You” with 88+ stars  CN Reviews

(Note: The police officers in the photo are Nepalese)

This tip came from a reader who wrote: "When I tried to comment on their mistake - they refused to show the comment."

Update: The new and improved page is now:

The relevant comments made at the Toronto Star were:

stop being bias

please stop being bias. Those are not chinese police. they are neplease paramilitary police.

Posted by KMU at 11:25 AM Wednesday, July 30 2008

Don't let press censorship go unnoticed!

First of all I applaud the Toronto Star for keeping us abreast of the latest developments with regard to Amnesty International's efforts in China. The topic of my next dim sum in Toronto Chinatown will certainly be press freedom and human rights. After all, isn't press censorship foremost on the minds of overseas Chinese in places like Canada and Kathmandhu. Speaking of Nepal, don't the blue uniforms in that photo beneath the headline kind of look like those worn by Nepal's police force and not China's? Perhaps that photo wasn't taken in Lhasa.

Posted by Spelunker at 9:13 AM Wednesday, July 30 2008

What exactly is it that Apple Daily publishes that scares the Chinese Communists so much?  Here is today's mainland China section in Apple Daily.  This exclusive story is about how hard it is to use toilets in Beijing.

Once upon a time, it was hard to find a toilet in Beijing.  This had been the worst nightmare for tourists.  Since 2001, Beijing has been planning for the Olympics with a toilet revolution.  They built, renovated and rebuilt more than 5,000 toilets in the city so as to increase the quantity and hygiene conditions of the toilets.  The public toilets at certain scene sites are even rates (for example, the public toilets at the Summer Palace were rated as four stars).

Yesterday, our reporter inspected the toilets at the principal Olympic venues as well as many other spots in Beijing.  It was still not easy to find a toilet.  On both sides of the two kilometers strip of Beichun East Road between Northern Fourth Ring Road and Datun Road, there were four clusters of the new mobile toilets, but only a small number were operational and the rest were padlocked.  On the south side of the Bird Nest (that is, the pedestrian walk on the Northern Fourth Ring Middle Road, there were such mobile toilets even though the pedestrian traffic was happy.

At the public toilet by the Olympic Village mayor's office not far away from the Bird Nest, it goes without say that watermarks, cigarette butts and sputum were abundantly present but the stench also reached into the heavens.  It is unbelievable that such an unhygienic toilet could exist so close to the Olympic core area.

In the old city district within the Second Ring Road, the squat toilets which used to be just one long row with unobstructed views are now separated by partitions.  There are also handwashing basins which are cleaned.  Unfortunately, these old-style toilets cannot be flushed independently and the ventilation is bad.  Therefore, many people were smoking continuously to cover the smell.

As for the star-rated hotels in the city, tourists used to be able to use the restrooms.  Now, the guests have to go past airport style inspection at the lobby and some hotels even require the registration of identification papers.

As for the toilets near Tiananmen Square, all 27 are squat-style with one being the western style reserved for handicapped pesons.

The "human flesh search" takes three stages: mobilization, search and publicity.

In the first stage, the initiator describes the search target as well as the reasons.  The more interesting the material, the greater the number of participants.  The most attractive targets have been people like "marriage crashers," "animal torturers," and so on.  Those targets were successfully located because the general public find their behavior morally reprehensible.

In the second stage, the Internet meets reality.  People sieve through the Internet information to track down the traces left on the Internet and merge it with real-life information.  Step by step, the target is approached until located.  But if this is a crafty person who has disclosed nothing whatsoever on the Internet or if this is a person who does not use the Internet, then there may be nothing to do.

In the third stage, the Internet person has become a person in real life with telephone number, home address, work information and everything else made public.  The person is now totally exposed and transparent without any chance to fight back.  Anyone can harass his family and work department.

Thus, while some netizens condemned Runner Fan, other netizens used the "human flesh search engines" to locate his wife and daughter and harassed them.  This turned a discussion between Runner Fan and netizens into thuggish violence against which Runner Fan was totally defenseless.  In turn, this created public sympathy and support for Runner Fan as a result.

Why do "human flesh search engines" always begin with a moral judgment and then end up in immoral chaos?  That is because the "human flesh search engine" is a disordered, unprincipled and undisciplined act of anarchy.

The Internet is a virtual space.  When people exchange ideas and debate, they deal with thoughts and viewpoints.  People can can accept or ignore what was said, so verbal abuse does not cause great harm.  At worst, people ignore the comments or even stop using the Internet.  But when the moral condemnation travels from the virtual space into real life, this becomes a face-to-face argument which can easily switch from a debate of the issues to personal attacks.

When the personal information becomes public, what happens next is beyond the control of any single person.  Anyone can jump in in the name of justice and morality and impose vicious punishments.  This is a private form of punishment that is immoral and possibly illegal in itself.

"Human flesh search engines" should not be allowed to proliferate because the result would be the formation of "Red Guards" in the Internet era.  A moral storm

On July 21, a netizen posted at NetEase a set of four photographs taken inside a bus.  The photos showed an old man standing and a person in uniform sitting down and totally oblivious to the existence of the old man.  The netizen said that he took the photos because he was outraged by what occurred immediately before.  Someone had gotten up to yield the seat to the old man, but the uniformed person grabbed the seat quickly.  Netizens are now calling for the "human flesh search engines" to locate the "seat-hogging policeman."

The usual number of sarcastic comments appeared:
- Let the policeman sit because he would be beating people otherwise
- The policeman should be applauded for being environmentally friendly because he is taking a bus instead of driving a car
- The policeman deserves to sit because he had just worked very hard to put away a small group of people with ulterior motives

Immediately, the 50 cent gang went to work with all sorts of chaff:
- Nowadays many security guards wear uniforms that look like police ones, so who can tell?
- There is no photographic evidence that he seized the seat; the only evidence is that he did not yield his seat.  This is very different.
- When you are that old, you should not be going out, especially taking crowded public buses.  You children should have given you the money to take a taxi.
- This is clearly a fake story because who has ever seen a policeman with his trouser legs pulled up for filming?



I make this comment because of the incident between Li Yapeng and Hong Kong journalists at the Bangkok airport. 


TVB (Hong Kong), in Cantonese

The public is not completely siding with the Hong Kong journalists on this.  According to an Internet survey at Global Times (see ifeng.com), more than 90% of netizens that they can either "understand how Li Yapeng wants to protect his daughter" or "seriously despise the reporter." 


Li Yapeng and his singer wife, Faye Wong, arrived in Bangkok with their two daughters on Wednesday for a transfer flight back to China, after attending Tony Leung and Carina Lau's wedding ceremony in Bhutan earlier this week.

There, the family was quickly surrounded by throngs of Hong Kong entertainment reporters waiting there for glimpses of celebrity guests from the wedding. A male photographer rushed over to two-year-old Li Yan, the younger daughter who has been protected from media exposure, where he was attacked by her angry father.

Li Yapeng punched another male reporter in the chest and caused a female photographer's camera to drop twice, according to reports.

"Haven't you seen him pestering my kid? The camera almost touched her face! You can shoot me, but keep away from my kid! Not just this time - next time I'll react the same way. I'll protect my kid by any means," Li told a TV reporter in footage of the incident.

The photographer later reported the incident to the local police, who investigated Li Yapeng Wednesday night.

Upon his arrival in Beijing on Thursday afternoon, Li Yapeng said, "(The case) is settled, otherwise we wouldn't be here. I hope the media doesn't try to hurt my kids in the future."  Faye Wong did not offer a comment.

Faye Wong married Li Yapeng in 2005 and gave birth to Li Yan in 2006. The girl was born with a cleft lip and has had several surgeries to correct it. Shortly after her birth, the celebrity couple founded the Smile Angel Foundation to help children with cleft lips whose families cannot afford treatment.


The antipathy towards the reporters is that this incident is being construed as an intentional provocation to create a story.  The Global Times/Global Times transcript is:

Male reporter: "Are you going to hit me?  Are you going to hit me here?"
Li: "So what if I hit you?"
Male reporter: "Why don't you hit me again, stupid!"
Li obliges.
Male reporter: (silent)
Female reporter: "Call the police!"
Li: "You go ahead and call the police" (walks away)
Male reporter: "Did you get everything on film?"

The main event is at The Battle of Beijing - Part 1

Yesterday, <Beijing News> published an interview with former Associated Press Beijing-based reporter Liu Heungshing.  The story appeared in page C15, and belongs to the series about thirty years of reform.  The title was <I used photographs to record the path that China went through>.  Next to the story is a photograph that Liu took during the June 4th incident in 1989.  The photo showed a couple of wounded civilians being spirited away in a tricycle cart.  Reportedly, the authorities recalled all copies of <Beijing News> after they realized what had happened.  The story has also been removed from the online edition of <Beijing News>.  It is expected that many people at <Beijing News> including the reporter, the page editor and senior editors will be punished.

<The Wounded>

In the interview, Liu Heungshing expressed his views about what Chinese media went through over the last 30 years.  He made no mention about anything related to the June 4th incident in 1989.  As a pioneer foreign correspondent, Liu said: "At the time, there were many restrictions.  The Chinese people were very cautious about what they say in front of the foreign media.  When I photographed people, I find that they also photographed me."

Liu said that while the American media can criticize political parties, they keep the national interest in mind.  The so-called "freedom" refers to allowing all sorts of ideas and thoughts to be presented in the media, which means that both mainstream and marginal ideas co-exist.  The bottom line is that marginalized ideas can exist, but they will not be able to overthrow the mainstream.

Related Link: The Beijing News takes a giant leap over the red line  David Bandurski, China Media Project; The Tiananmen Paper  Jonathan Ansfield, Newsweek

Qing Gang of the China Media Project
on Chinese Media & Political Reform

Yung Chingching, aka Mary Jean Reimer Lau

Lung Ying-tai

Leona Wong

Perry Lam

Erica Yuen

Dorame Yuen Pui-yee, Next Magazine for the Extraordinary People interview: 天外有天:宋以朗
Question: Can you spot my photo on the front cover?

(SCMP)  Democrat called a traitor for going it alone.  By Ambrose Leung and Albert Wong.  July 24, 2008.

A veteran Democratic Party member who quit the party yesterday to run as an independent in September's Legislative Council election has been condemned as a traitor. His rebellion could dilute the party's support on Hong Kong Island.  But Lai Chi-keong, who had failed to receive his party's support to stand, said there was no hidden agenda nor a vendetta against the party. He said he just wanted to serve the community.

"In fact, it was my constituents who forced me to stand for election. They asked me, `have you got the local residents' interest at heart, or just your own party's interest?'" he said after making the announcement.  Mr Lai was supported by about 20 residents as he handed in his nomination form. He said some members of the Democratic Party also supported his move but it would not be appropriate to name them.

Mr Lai's move sent shockwaves through the party leadership, which is to hold an emergency meeting tonight to discuss the implications for the party's ticket, headed by Central and Western District councillor Kam Nai-wai. Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan condemned Mr Lai, saying he had split the party.  "He has betrayed his party, betrayed the Hong Kong Island supporters and betrayed his own belief in democracy."  Yeung Sum, Mr Kam's running mate, said: "Nobody who supports the Democratic Party will vote for him because he is not a Democrat."

With Mr Kam's campaign already in danger because of the various lists fielded by other pan-democrats in the six-seat island constituency, Mr Lai's entry to the race will draw critical support, particularly in Eastern District - a Democrat stronghold.  Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said the more pan-democrats there were in the race, the less chance any of them would have of winning under the proportional representation system.

Political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung queried Mr Lai's motives, saying that he had no chance of winning.

(Apple Daily)

Within the Democratic Party, the word was that Lai Chi-keong is being backed by pro-Beijing elements.  A certain member of the Hong Kong Island branch of the Democratic Party said privately that Lai Chi-keong's actions showed that Kam Nai-wai has not been able to win the support of the various factions and it is still an unknown whether the other local "lords" will support him wholeheartedly at election time.

Certain Democratic Party insiders are circulating the word that Lai is being supported by some pro-Beijing local people to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars for his election fund.  The purpose is to dilute the votes for Kam Nai-wai so that the Democratic Party will not win a single seat on Hong Kong Island.  "These pro-Beijing people know that Kam Nai-wai can only be contesting for the fifth or sixth seat.  If Lai grabs 1% or 2% of the votes from Kam, then the latter may lose."

But Lai Chi-Keong pointed out that these rumors are being spread to smear him.  Since June 4th, 1989, Lai has been a member of the Alliance To Support Democratic Movements in China.  "If the central government even wants to buy people like me, then everybody in the Democratic Party should be able to travel to China a long time ago."  He admits that certain local residents has said that they would raise money for him, although he declined to disclose the sums.  He said that these local residents are not pro-Beijing people.




Satisfaction rate for the job performance of President Ma Ying-jeou:
38% satisfied
40% dissatisfied

If you can vote again in the presidential election, whom would you vote for?
54% Ma Ying-jeou
34% Frank Hsieh

Every time that a natural or manmade disaster strikes, one is led to the following song about not wanting to be born Chinese: "Do not be a child in Kelamay City, Do not a child in Shalan town, Do not be a child of Chengdu, Do not be a child in Henan province, When they get hungry they'll eat you ..." (see, for example, Do Not Be A Chinese Child)










This leads to Q35b below: Where would you rather be, if not in China?

But if you go to the United States, will you find yourself among the 23% who think the country is going in the right direction and the 20% who think that the economic situation is good?

Q1.  Do you think that inflation relief package proposed by the Chief Executive is helpful to reducing the pressures of inflation on you?
12%: A lot of help
12%: Of some help
42%: Of a little help
30%: No help
  4%: No opinion

Q2. Which of the inflation relief measures from the government is the most helpful to you?
  6%: MTR student discounts
23%: Payment of public housing rent
  6%: School subsidies
  5%: Senior citizen subsidies
  4%: Subsidies for welfare recipients and senior citizens
  5%: Domestic helper tax relief for two years
39%: Electricity subsidies
  3%: More short-term food aid services
  5%: Freezing of government fees
  2%: Providing information on item prices
  2%: No opinion

Q3. In the upcoming October governance report, which would you like to see the Chief Executive bring out in order to relief the pressures of inflation on the citizens?
30%: Cash payment to everybody
  5%: One-time-only subsidy
16%: Tax reduction
16%: Increase subsidies to low-income people
23%: Accelerate economic development
  6%: Other
  3%: No opinion

Q4. How much impact do the rising food prices have on you?
55%: A lot of impact
32%: Some impact
10%: A small impact
  1%: No impact
  2%: No opinion

Q5. How much impact do the rising prices for electricity have on you?
40%: A lot of impact
37%: Some impact
19%: A small impact
  1%: No impact
  3%: No opinion

Q6. How much impact do the rising energy costs have on you?
38%: A lot of impact
35%: Some impact
22%: A small impact
  2%: No impact
  3%: No opinion

Q7.  How much impact do the rising transportation costs have on you?
45%: A lot of impact
33%: Some impact
19%: A small impact
  2%: No impact
  1%: No opinion

Q8. How much impact do the rising housing costs have on you?
38%: A lot of impact
25%: Some impact
24%: A small impact
  9%: No impact
  4%: No opinion

Q9. How do you think the pace of inflation the second half of 2008 will compare with the first half?
48%: Even higher inflation
38%: The same rate
10%: Slower inflation
  4%: No opinion

Q10. Which method will you use most frequently to cope with inflation?
  9%: Decrease outside travel
24%: Decrease leisure activities
21%: Decrease dining out
13%: Pay attention to prices
22%: Purchase more items on sale
  5%: Invest to increase wealth
  3%: Other
  3%: No opinion

The above chart shows the trend of the ratings for Hong Kong SAR CE Donald Tsang, where respondents are asked to provide a rating (that is, a number between 0 and 100).  It is customary in Hong  Kong schools to regard 60 or above as the passing grade.

As for the confidence question, Tsang received 43% vote of confidence on July 14-15 and 48% on July 16 for a +5% rise (his vote of no confidence went from 34% to 30% for a 4% drop).

As for the satisfaction rate of the performance of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region Government, the satisfaction rate went from 28% on July 14-15 to 35% on July 16 for a +7% increase (the dissatisfaction rate went from 28% to 20% for a 8% drop).

Q1.  Who was the perpetrator?  When the explosion occurred, people asked whether this was a terrorist attack linked to the upcoming Beijing Olympics?  Was this carried out by Tibet and Xinjiang seperatists? 
A. According to Du Min, head of the Kunming public security bureau and the city's vice-mayor, the evidence gathered at this point did not indicate that this was a terrorist attack.  As the case investigation progresses, there should be a clear indication.
[Note: The existing evidence does not support any theory of a terrorist attack by Tibet separatists, Xinjiang separatists, rubber farmers or anyone else.  But this is not the same as saying that the existing evidence establishes that this was not a terrorist attack by any of the aforementioned groups.  Thus, it is inaccurate for the South China Morning Post to present the headline: "Explosions 'not linked to terror or Games.'"  The text of the SCMP story says: ... "We're still carrying out investigations, [but] at the moment, this case has not been linked to Tibet separatists or any particular person. It's also not linked to the Beijing Olympics," said Mr Du ... ]

Q2.  Why was the route 54 bus targeted?  This is the hottest discussion topic at the Internet forums.  In 2008, the many major incidents and disasters are believed to be related to unlucky numbers.  In this case, the number '54' (wusi) sounds like 'I die' (我死 wosi).  Therefore, some netizens think that this was an unlucky number chosen by the criminal.
A. The public security bureau replies that the decision to target the route 54 bus (and not some other route) will be one of their major leads in the case.

Q3. Where did the nitroamine explosives come from?  Yunnan is one of the Chinese provinces with the richest mining resources.  Nitroamine is used at many mines.  In recent years, there have been many attacks with explosives over mining disputes in Yunnan.  Some people speculate that the administration/management of the explosives had been sloppy at some mine and the criminal was able to procure the nitroamine.  Alternately, this was another case of mining dispute.
A. The public security bureau is analyzing the nitroamine used in this case and they will identify the producer and the distributor as quickly as possible.

Q4. Was the second explosion avoidable?  Some netizens believe that the two explosions were almost one hour apart, so that the second explosion was totally unavoidable.  They question why the authorities had not ordered all buses to stop running after the first explosion.
A. After the first bus explosion, the Kunming public security bureau set off its emergency plan.  Police were sent to investigate at the scene and the bus companies were noticed to take precautionary measures.  However, there are several thousand buses running in Kunming, and it took time and effort to notify everybody.

Two public buses exploded during the Monday morning rush hour in the city of Kunming, killing at least two people and injuring 14 others in what the authorities described as deliberate attacks as China is tightening security nationwide and warning of possible terrorist threats in advance of next month's Olympic Games.  The blasts struck city buses at 7:05 a.m. and again at 8:10 a.m., state media reported. Public security officials in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in southwestern China, provided no information about whether the explosions were coordinated, nor did the authorities say whether they were the work of terrorist groups or disgruntled individuals.

By Monday afternoon, the police were still searching for suspects. Checkpoints were set up on highways, while the police were tightening security at Kunming's airport and train terminal, according to the Web site of the provincial public security bureau. A photograph of one bus posted online showed shards of a shattered window spread across a street but also suggested that the blast had not been powerful enough to inflict catastrophic damage.

Two public buses exploded during the Monday morning rush hour in the city of Kunming, killing at least two people and injuring 14 others in what the authorities described as deliberate attacks as China is tightening security nationwide and warning of possible terrorist threats in advance of next month's Olympic Games.  The blasts struck city buses at 7:05 a.m. and again at 8:10 a.m., state media reported. Public security officials in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in southwestern China, provided no information about whether the explosions were coordinated, nor did the authorities say whether they were the work of terrorist groups or disgruntled individuals.

By Monday afternoon, the police were still searching for suspects. Checkpoints were set up on highways, while the police were tightening security at Kunming's airport and train terminal, according to the Web site of the provincial public security bureau. A photograph of one bus posted online showed shards of a shattered window spread across a street but also suggested that the blast had not been powerful enough to inflict catastrophic damage.

... [some non-Kunming information is excised here]

In Kunming, the first bus blast killed Wang Dezhi, a 30-year-old woman, while injuring 10 others, according to the provincial public security Web site. The second explosion followed 65 minutes later on a different bus that was following the same route. In this blast, a 26-year-old man, Chen Shifei, died and four people were injured.

Witnesses on one bus told Chinese newspapers that a short man in a black shirt and gray pants boarded the bus before the explosion and sat behind the driver. After the bus stopped and then prepared to keep going, the man suddenly jumped up and yelled for the driver to let him disembark, the witnesses said.

Witnesses told a joint reporting team from the Yunnan Information Daily and the Southern Newspaper Group that the man had left a black leather bag on the bus. About 30 seconds later, the bus exploded. Witnesses on the second bus told Chinese journalists they had also seen a black bag.  Wang was returning with her husband to celebrate the birthday of their 5-year-old daughter. Her husband suffered minor injuries in the explosion.

The follow-up by Jim Yardley for the New York Times:

On Tuesday, the authorities in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, offered a reward of 100,000 yuan, or about $14,660, for information leading to arrests in the case. Meanwhile, a leading Chinese newspaper, the Southern Metropolis Daily, reported that some residents of Kunming received a cryptic text message on the same morning as the explosions.  “Listen up, ants,” the text started, according to the newspaper. “If you receive this message, please don’t take bus route 54, 64 or 84.”  However, Kunming Vice Mayor Du Min later discounted the report. “There was no such message,” Mr. Du said, according to Xinhua, the official state news agency.

But if the media outlet is a (newsweekly-affiliated) blog, there is some leeway as in Mary Hennock's blog post for Newsweek's Countdown Beijing:

     Watching this incident blown into a major news story it, it became a little easier to sympathize with China's Olympic security ring of steel, which includes surface to air missiles outside the main Olympic stadium, 100,000 anti-terrorist police to guard the Games, and half a million volunteers watching neighborhoods. Beijing faces the usual Catch-22: security measures are always demanded when they've failed and ridiculed when they don't. Despite the tragedy of any sudden, violent death, this was nonetheless a relatively minor incident. In China's case, it's reputation as a country that blocks free speech, jails internet journalists, and human rights activists has led to a tendency to see any security as over-kill, and much mockery.

     Which brings us to the question of who might have set the explosions. Frankly, there's simply no information. Western media were quick to draw a link - albeit cautiously - between the explosions and riots by rubber farmers elsewhere in Yunnan province, in which two farmers were shot dead by police two days earlier. The police came off badly, however; out of the 54 people injured, 41 were police. But there is no proven connection.

     The Foreign Ministry has denied any evidence of a link to the Olympics or to terrorism, and Kunming police are offering a US$14,666 reward.  


       There is a bright spot in all this, which is that the official Xinhua news agency of the explosions was surprisingly detailed. Given: a crime was committed, and people died, there's nothing controversial and the authorities want to be seen to be doing everything possible. But contrast with the Shanghai explosion, official media reported the names and ages of the victims (a 26-old man and a 30-year old woman) and eye-witness interviews from passengers.  

       But for some who predicted a return to tight constraints on the media after the temporary openness that followed the Sichuan earth, the picture remains if not clear at least only moderately hazy. A bit like the skies over Beijing, in fact.

"Frankly, there's simply no information."  Well, that wouldn't stop Apple Daily from publishing the standard editorial to cast blame on the Chinese authorities and the system of government.

The serial bus explosions in Kunming exposed three serious problems.

First, the two explosions that occurred on the same bus line one hour apart showed that the perpetrator was ruthless and the authorities were useless.  When the first explosion occurred, the authorities could have used the electronic media and SMS to disseminate the information and increased alertness and then the second explosion could have been averted.  It is regrettable that Kunming obviously does not have an emergency plan to deal with bus explosions and therefore became helplessly lost.

Second, on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, the authorities claim that security is being tightened up because of information about possible action by the East Turkestan independence terrorists.  As a result, Beijing is living in fear because the security arrangements are disrupting the lives of the civilians.  When all the anti-terrorist forces and experts are concentrated in Beijing, the other cities become vulnerable blind spots.  It is also reported that more than 3,000 electricity maintenance engineers from 16 provinces have been summoned to Beijing, and that means local repair work would be impaired in the event of breakdown or sabotage of the electricity supply network.

Third, it is especially important to point out that China has been suppressing dissident voices in the name of anti-terrorism.  They are violating human rights in the name of "maintaining stability" during the Beijing Olympics.  More and more citizens have nowhere to go with their petitions and therefore civilian-police clashes are occurring more frequently.  Yang Jia slaughtered police officers in Shanghai, but he is being regarded as a hero by some netizens.  This is a clear indication of popular dissatisfaction.

With this social background and regardless of the Beijing Olympics, some people will take drastic measures to take revenge against the government and even society as a whole, so that innocent people get hurt.  To reduce these cases, the local governments and officials need to raise their awareness of human rights and the rule of law.

Meanwhile, there are two very disturbing photos (via Tianya) that do not show in mainstream media.  The first shows part of the carcass of one of the deceased.  The second shows the extent to which a photojournalist is willing to go in order to film the medical assistance given to one of the injured persons.

When this second photo was published, some netizens issued a "human flesh search engine warrant" (see Tianya) on the photojournalist responsible for taking this photo.  The reason: this photo may be real, but it is also socially irresponsible (and personally irresponsible to the injured person).

(Washington Post)  In China, Fine Line Between Response and Overreaction.  By Jill Drew.  July 23, 2008.

Some residents of the city of Kunming awoke Monday morning to find they had received a cryptic text message on their cellphones: "The general mobilization of ants," began the warning. "Hope citizens receiving this message will not take bus lines 54, 64 and 84 tomorrow morning."

The message, presumably written Sunday night, didn't mean much to those who received it, until two bombs exploded on a pair of buses during the Monday morning commute, killing two people and injuring 14 others.

The goading note was a stark reminder that connecting all the dots before an act of violence and providing an ironclad protection against it is nearly impossible, experts said, despite all the steps China has taken in recent months, including anti-terrorism drills, calls for citizen vigilance against suspicious activity and high-profile arrests.

Du Min, Kunming's deputy mayor and director of the local public security bureau, said Tuesday that police did not receive the text message before the blasts, nor had anyone telephoned them about it. Police are now investigating the message -- which was reported by the Web site of the Yunnan Daily, a state-controlled newspaper -- along with several other leads culled from interviews with surviving bus passengers.

No arrests have been made, and although police have drawn sketches of two men potentially involved, Du declined at a news conference to name them as suspects or release the drawings to the public. Instead, he sought to broaden the net of information, offering the equivalent of $14,660 for clues that lead to solving the case. He appealed especially to passengers who took Route 54 buses between 6 and 8:30 a.m. on Monday, taxi drivers near the sites, and shopkeepers and passersby.

Du said there was not enough evidence to say the bombings were the result of terrorism or to link them to the upcoming Olympic Games, which will be hosted in Beijing starting Aug. 8. China has warned that the threat of terrorism is its biggest concern as it prepares for the Games, and in the name of security, it has taken several steps to bring attention to possible dangers.

Experts said that even if the bombings are found to be an act of individual rage or revenge, the public response shows how difficult it can be to strike a balance between prevention and overreaction.

For example, Du described his thinking after learning of the first bombing at 7:10 a.m., about six minutes after the blast. He immediately sent officers to the scene with orders to first rescue the injured, then control the site, set up roadblocks around the area and contact the public health department to make sure the best hospitals and doctors were available to treat the wounded. He also made sure someone alerted the bus company. His action plan, he told reporters, "proved totally correct."

Except he didn't anticipate the second blast, which came about an hour later, leading some to ask why he did not order all the city buses to be stopped and searched after the first bombing.

Li Wei, manager of the safety service department of the Kunming Bus Group, said there are 2,900 public buses operating on 188 routes in Kunming. To order a shutdown, he would need to get the permission of top government leaders. "We have to go through all the procedures," Li said in an interview. "First I will report to the leaders who are responsible for transportation and wait for their orders."

Li said he alerted his direct boss as well as the deputy mayor in charge of transportation after he got a call at 7:23 a.m. about the first explosion. After the second explosion at 8:05 a.m., Li asked for permission to stop running buses along that route, and his request was eventually approved. The Route 54 buses were returned to operation around 8 p.m., after safety checks had been conducted.

Zhang Jiadong, a security expert and assistant professor at the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said that if Li and Du had ordered all the buses to stop operation after the first bombing, whoever was behind the blasts might well have found another target.

Public transportation systems are particularly difficult to protect, Zhang said. "The public expectation for the government response is above the government's capabilities," he said.

Still, Chinese state-controlled media outlined the many steps Beijing has taken to increase protection at its airports and railway and bus stations in recent days to prepare for the Olympics.

Douglas Paal, director of the China program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said the Olympic Games always pose a formidable threat of terrorism. In China's case, Paal said in an e-mail, "I think the counter-terror measures being taken are also formidable, and perhaps insuperable except for individual acts of self-sacrifice that are hard to prevent."

Paal said that given China's vigorous security, "foreign terror groups should be viewed as less a worry than domestic sources, because the latter, though fewer and less well-organized, have the advantage of blending in."

The term "picking up decent women" (泡良) has become a red-hot term on the Chinese Internet, especially for certain human flesh search engines.  To be precise, "picking up decent women" means seducing women with decent and respectable backgrounds.  Those men who share this hobby describe themselves as the "Pickup Artist Tribe (泡良族)." 

The "Pickup Artist Tribe" are men who go after decent and respectable women, seduce them to enter into a sexual relationship and dump them afterwards without any remorse.  Some married women may be feeling that the aura of their spouses is gradually fading and they feel disengaged.  Meanwhile the husbands are too busy with their work and unaware of what was happening ... in this way, the men become more indifferent, while the women become more dissatisfied.  This leaves the space for the handsome, romantic and caring "pickup artists" to enter. 

The "pickup artists" pretend to be "romantic" but they are actually only interested in "scoring women."  They leverage the social networking features of the Internet and update the traditional romantic techniques.  The standard outcome is that the lives of the spouses are thrown into turmoil, while the "pickup artists" walk away after satisfying their appetites.  The "pickup artists" can be said to be a "marriage virus in the Internet era."

At some places, the "pickup artists" have set up organizations that specialize in the art of seduction.  According to reports, these organizations have large numbers of members, they have regular meeting places and they have a complete set of operational plans that are as sophisticated and precise as any regular company departments.

When you enter the term (泡良)  into Google, you get 488,000 results.  According to a survey, 12% of male netizens have picked up women before, while another 35% wanted to but have not yet.  The survey also showed that among women who got divorced in the second half of 2006, 7 of them had their marriages broken up due to an encounter with a "pickup artist tribe" member; in the first half of 2007, the number has risen up to 22 out of a 100 ...

There are special Internet posts about the analysis of "Why do men want to become pickup artists?"  Supposedly, these men are naturally lascivious and they regard it as glorious and pleasurable to conquer respectable women.  This is an assignment with a high degree of difficulty that is comparable to assaulting a well-defended fortress, and the reward is a sense of accomplishment.  Some of these men are single and use this as the safest way to satisfy their sexual needs.  Other men have had their own marital problems, and they are doing this to exact revenge on others.

This is no doubt that such activities will be met with moral condemnation.  At the Paopao forum, a post about the "The truth about seducing decent women" was based upon the earliest "pickup artist tribe" in Nanjing city founded near the end of year 2003.  The author emphasized that he is not a tribe member, but he does not deny that his friends and neighbors might be involved.  The author defended the "pickup artist tribe" with this clarification: "There has never been any unmarried member.  They are all divorcees.  Basically, they have good jobs and incomes.  They apparently do not have any other moral flaws.  Basically, they don't use the Internet much, so they do not have any QQ groups.  They do not exchange or expose the private secrets of other people."

Some netizens would rather stop the pointless verbal abuses and reflect instead on why such groups could emerge and exist.  They also want to reflect on how a inter-gender relationship could resist an intrusion, or whether an attempted seduction is the essential way to test an emotional relationship.

Former president Chen Shui-bian was kicked as he entered the Taipei District Court yesterday to defend himself in a defamation lawsuit filed by personnel connected to the purchase of Lafayette frigates in 1990. ... as Chen entered the district court with security guards at 9:45am, a 65-year-old man named Su An-sheng managed to get close enough to kick Chen in the hip. 

Su was held by security guards and police officers arrested him and took him to a police station for questioning, ...  Su is a member of the pro-unification Patriot Association.  ...  Su would be charged with causing bodily harm if Chen filed a lawsuit against him.  In the meantime, the Taipei District Court has detained Su for three days for violating the Social Order and Maintenance Act. Su can appeal the decision.

(Apple Daily; Apple Daily)



65-year-old Su An-sheng has a prior criminal record that included murder.  Last month, a Taiwan fishing boat sunk after a collision with a Japanese navy ship.  When Taiwan's representative to Japan Koh Se-kai returned to Taiwan, Su pushed him in the street..

(Apple Daily) (615 persons were interviewed by an automated telephone interviewing system drawing on listed telephone numbers)

61.5%: It is wrong to kick anyone, so this action should be condemned
25.2%: That was a good kick on behalf of the aggrieved people
13.3%: Don't know/no opinion

They have been called the “Fifty Cent Party,” the “red vests” and the “red vanguard.” But China’s growing armies of Web commentators—instigated, trained and financed by party organizations—have just one mission: to safeguard the interests of the Communist Party by infiltrating and policing a rapidly growing Chinese Internet. They set out to neutralize undesirable public opinion by pushing pro-Party views through chat rooms and Web forums, reporting dangerous content to authorities.

By some estimates, these commentary teams now comprise as many as 280,000 members nationwide, and they show just how serious China’s leaders are about the political challenges posed by the Web. More importantly, they offer tangible clues about China’s next generation of information controls—what President Hu Jintao last month called “a new pattern of public-opinion guidance.”

But is there any example of the work of the "Fifty Cent Party"?  Here is one possible example given in A Reporter Visits Weng'an.  The background is this:

The Internet action created a different kind of worry for the local officials.  They organized to counterattack.  Although they were reacting passively, they nevertheless achieved decent results.

Certain posts that counterattacked the rumors began to appear on the Internet.  These posts came mostly from the "Group for policy discussion and law publicity" in Weng'an county.  More than a dozen teachers who were familiar with the Internet were selected and transferred from the county schools and they acted systematically and purposefully to dispel rumors and calm people down with comments on the Internet.

The leader of this publicity team is the Guizhou provincial party committee publicity department deputy director Zhou Xiaoyun.  According to the presentation of a local official, the principal mission of this publicity team is to organize personnel to make Internet comments, "and use the Guizhou media to affect national opinion."  Since the government website office was destroyed by arson, the workers worked on the second floor of the Telecom Building.  The dozen or so workers from the relevant county departments and schools worked daily to collect information and followed up with comments on inaccurate information.

Now take a took at what appeared on the Internet (see The Weng'an Mass Incident):

One of the first Internet versions was this:

The son of the Weng'an county deputy mayor and another youth raped and killed a 15-year-old female middle school student named Li Shufei and then tossed her body into the Ximen river aferwards.  The police detained the suspects for five hours and released them without charge.  The police said that the girl had committed suicide by leaping into the river.  The relatives of the girl went to complain to the police.  Instead of getting justice, the relatives were assaulted.  An uncle of the girl was beaten unconscious and eventually died.  The uncle was a teacher himself, and his students went to demonstrate down at the police station.  It seems as if the entire population of the county are outside the public security bureau office building.

This Internet version contains information that was later shown to be false: there was no involvement by a son of any Weng'an county deputy mayor; there was no rape; the uncle did not die ...  But that is not the point here, because the more interesting is this later Internet post:

I am a Weng'an resident and I am one of the few people who know the entire story from beginning to end.  My information comes from official sources, civilian sources and even people who have ulterior motives.

At just past 8pm on June 21, Weng'an middle school Form 4 female student Li Shufen and apprentices Liu Yantao and Chen Guangquan from a certain aluminum alloy factory dined at a friend's place.  At 11:30pm, the four went down by the Simen river.  Li Shufen sat on the bridge and said: "If I jump down from here, will I die?"  The other three people thought she was joking and did not pay too much attention.  She said: "If I don't die after I jump, I will try to lead a good life afterwards."  At that time, Chen Guangquan was chatting with another girl and Liu Yantao was doing push-ups.  At 00:10pm June 22, there was the sound of a splash.  The three looked and saw that Li Shufen had jumped into the river.  Liu Yantao jumped in immediately after her, and then Chen Guangquan did so too.  But by the time that they got in, Li Shufen was nowhere to be seen.  Liu Yantao called aloud for help too.  So Chen could only save Liu first and then they called the police.  Half an hour later, the fire brigade retrieved the body of Li Shufen.

The Weng'an county medical doctor determined that Li Shufen had no signs of physical trauma except for a mild injury on her forearm from brushing with the sand in the bottom of the river.  There were no signs of sexual violence, so that there was no possibility of rape.  The results of the medical exam and the verdict of the public security bureau were handed over to the parents of Li Shufen.  At the time, the parents did not object. 

On June 24, through the insistence of other family members, the parents took the body of Li Shufen in front of the public security bureau and demanded that Liu Yantao and Chen Guangquan be arrested for raping and killing Li Shufen.  Since there was no factual basis, the public security bureau officers refused.  According to information, the Li family wanted to extort money from the families of the three persons (Liu Yantao, Chen Guangquan and the other female student) and this was the excuse.

At 10am on June 25, Li Shufen's uncle led the family members to the office of the Criminal Investigative Bureau on the third floor of the county public security bureau building.  The officer on duty was Zhang Ming, who asked them: "What are you here for?"  The uncle said: "Nothing.  Can't we just come in?"  Zhang Ming said: "This is an office.  If you don't have business here, please leave."  The uncle refused and Zhang Ming attempted to push him out.  But as soon as Zhang Ming touched the uncle, the latter fell down on the floor and screamed: "The police is beating me!  Save me!"  The aunt and another woman took off their high-heel shoes and hit Zhang Ming with them.  Zhang Ming considered his own status and did not fight back.  As a result, he suffered some minor injuries.  Other police officers heard the commotion and arrived to restrain the two women.  A video-taped interrogation of the three individuals was made in the presence of an education department leader.  The uncle admitted that he and his family had assaulted Zhang Ming (there is a signed statement as well as videotape as evidence).

At 16:30 on June 25, the uncle completed his testimony and left the building.  Outside the public security bureau office, he was assaulted by the friends of Liu Yantao and Chen Guangquan. (This was based upon the testimony of the uncle and other family relatives in the form of signed statements and videotapes).  The uncle was admitted to the Weng'an County Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a mild concussion.

At 6am on June 28, the uncle and other family members placed the body of Li Shufen by the Simen river with big-character posters to appeal to the central government.  All those who wish to view the body was charged 5 RMB apiece, and almost 20,000 RMB was collected.

On the afternoon of June 28, the uncle and his sister (who was a teacher at the Number Three Middle School in Weng'an) instigated the students (who are as young as eight years old) who did not know the truth to march and demonstrate in order to magnify the impact.  But certain criminal elements used the opportunity to gather almost 10,000 people together.  These criminal elements prepared rocks, bricks and gasoline and went to the public security bureau building where they smashed and burned all the police vehicles in front.  They also set fire to the first floor office and destroyed files and computers.  Several dozen police officers were injured, including one in critical condition.  The first three floors of the buildings were in flames.  The rioters then turned to attack the armed police, whose leader fired one shot in the air and stopped the mob.  The rioters then backed out of the public security bureau building and turned their attention to the Weng'an county government building, where they smashed all the cars and set fire to the courtyard.  Next the rioters turned their attention to the private cars parked in the basement garage of the Civic Affairs Bureau.  The rioters went over to the Telecommunications and Postal Building and destroyed the communication structures.

From start to end, none of the militia or armed police officers was seen using violence.

I personally witnessed these incidents and I am willing to accept legal responsibility for what I wrote.  But I would like to say a few more things.

1. According to the uncle, Liu Yantao and Chen Guangquan are family members of people working in the Weng'an county public security bureau and that was why no full autopsy was conducted.  (Later on, one of the two was said to be the son of a deputy mayor of Weng'an county; this morning, he had become the son of the provincial public security bureau director).  The Guizhou provincial county public security bureau has done its own investigation and their findings are identical to the initial one.  There is no possibility of secret help to Liu and Chen, who were found to be farmer children presently working as apprentices at an aluminum alloy factory.  Therefore, the facts are inconsistent with the allegations.

2. According to the uncle, Li Shufen was raped and then tossed into the river.  Three separate medical exams showed that the deceased had not been sexually violated -- she was still a virgin.  So how could she have been gang-raped?  Besides, nobody heard any cries of help or sounds of struggle that night.

3. According to certain people with ulterior motives, the armed police assaulted the masses.  As for 23:00 on June 29, no Weng'an hospital has come across a single person who was injured on June 28.  Instead, the hospitals have admitted more than 30 seriously injured police officers.  More than 100 other police officers had their wounds treated and bandaged and then released.  You  can check out all the photos on the Internet and there are no scenes of the police officers attacking the rioters.

4. If this was just dissatisfaction with the police action, why were the government, political consultative conference and telecommunications buildings also set on fire?  Why vandalize the private vehicles parked in the underground garage?

5. You have all seen the photos on the Internet.  These photos were of high resolution and did not come from mobile camera phones.  Many of them were taken from above.  How do these photos come about from a suddenly breaking incident?  Also, the incident took place at the center of the county town.  Where did the crowd find all the rocks and bricks?  Where did they get the gasoline and machetes?  All of this shows that this was a well-organized, pre-planned riot.

6. This incident is analogous to the 3.14 Tibet incident in that certain people who did not know the truth were incited to "hit, smash and loot."  The uncle and the aunt could not have started something on this scale.  I cannot preclude the possibility that organized criminal elements are involved in the planning and execution behind the scene.

The above is based upon the facts that I experienced personally.  If you disagree, please provide your counter-evidence.  Or else you should not mislead people with rumors to further the interests of those with ulterior motives.

This Internet version is still not completely accurate, but it contains certain ingredients of the eventual official version below.  Please note that the Internet version appeared before the press conference took place to provide the official version.

According to the Guizhou provincial public security bureau information office spokesperson, the Weng'an county public security bureau received a call at 00:27 on June 22, 2008 that someone had jumped into the river.  The command center ordered the Yongyang town police station to send militia police officers to the scene and also notified the fire department.  The militia police arrived at the scene and began to search for the body.  Since it was dark, it was around 3am that they finally fetched the body of the drowned girl.  The emergency medical crew determined that the girl was already dead.  The police then interrogated the three persons (Liu, Chen and Wang) who made the call to 110 (the police telephone number).  The police learned that the drowned girl was named Li Shufen, who was born in July 1991 and is a Form 2 student at the Number 3 Middle School in Weng'an county.  The Yongyang police also inspected the scene, examined the body and conducted the investigative work.

According to the investigation: At around 20:00 on June 21, Li Shufen and her girlfriend Wang went out.  They had dinner along with Wang's boyfriend Chen and Chen's friend Liu.  Afterwards, they strolled down to the bridge over Simen river to chat.  During the chat, Li Shufen suddenly told Liu: "I might as well as kill myself by jumping into the river.  But if I don't die, I will try to lead a good life afterwards."  Liu immediately grabbed Li and stopped her from doing so.  About 10 minutes later, Chen said that he was leaving.  Liu saw that Li had calmed down and so he began to do push-ups.  By the third one, Liu suddenly heard Li said: "I'm going" and then she jumped into the river.  Liu jumped in after her immediately.  Wang phoned Chen and then she began to cry for help.  Chen raced back to the riverside and jumped in to help search for Li.  Liu was exhausted, so Chen had to drag him back to shore first.  Wang and Liu called the police and notified Li's elder brother.

According to information, Chen is a resident of Yanmen brigade, Naxiang village, Caotang town, Weng'an county.  He is presently working at a paper factory in Weng'an county.  His parents are villagers of the Yanmen brigade, Naxiang village, Caotang town, Weng'an county.

Liu comes from the same villager as Chen and is presently working at a paper factory in Weng'an county.  His parents are villagers of the Yanmen brigade, Naxiang village, Caotang town, Weng'an county.

Wang is a Form 2 student at the Number 3 Middle School in Weng'an County.  Her parents are villagers of the Jiajiabo bridage, Jiajiabo village, Tianwen town, Weng'an county.

According to the investigation conducted by the Weng'an public security bureau, Li Shufen committed suicide by jumping into the river.  This was not a criminal case.  They informed the family which refused to accept the conclusion because they believed that this was a rape case.  They asked for a DNA analysis.  On the afternoon of June 5, the southern Guizhou public security bureau sent a medical examiner to conduct another examination and the conclusion was that this was death by drowning.  At the time, the family accepted the conclusion.  However, they indicated that they would not bury the Li Shufen yet and they asked the public security bureau to order Wang Jiao, Liu Yanchao and Chen Guangquan to pay restitution to the amount of 500,000 RMB.

On June 26, the family of Li Shufen said that they agreed with the mediation recommendation by the county workgroup and promised to sign an agreement on June 28.  On June 28 at 16:00, the family invited more than 300 people to march in the streets of Weng'an with banners.  This was a Saturday and there were many people in the street, some of whom began to follow the procession.  At 16:30, the marchers assembled in front of the public security building.  The police set up a police line, but the marchers in front got emotionally excited.  At the incitement of a small number of people, some criminal elements threw water bottles, rocks and bricks at the police.  They broke through the wall of police officers and charged into the first floor lobby, smashing the equipment, setting fire to the vehicles and assaulting the police and firemen.  They grabbed the fire nozzles and they cut up the fire hoses.  The firemen were forced to withdraw.  At about 20:00, the criminal elements hit, vandalized, looted and burned the Weng'an county Party and government office buildings.  They even charged at the county detention center.  The whole incident took almost seven hours.

It does not seem possible for the Internet version to emerge autonomously on its own.  This person had access to certain inside information (such as the testimonies of the three principals).  Nevertheless, the person was wrong on other aspects (such as the involvement of the uncle and aunt in the procession) and also overstretched about the implications of the high-resolution photographs taken from the rooftop across the street. 

Is this any way to run the "Fifty Cent Party"?  You can think about the strategies and tactics.  Should the "Fifth Cent Party" preview the official version down to a dot?  If they did that, the downside is that this netizen (as well as this type of information) would be tainted forever afterwards.  Or should the "Fifty Cent Party" do the above -- present the key aspects of the official version before its public release with some embellishments that make it look like a grassroots forum post?