(SCMP)  Suspected hit man tells court he had never heard of alleged target  By Joyce Man.  June 30, 2009.

A man accused of being a gunman hired to shoot media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and former Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming said he did not know who Mr Lai was and had never seen the photo of him found in his wallet.

Huang Nanhua, 50, was answering questions put to him by prosecutor Peter Chapman yesterday in the Court of First Instance. "Do you often keep photos of strange men in your wallet?" Mr Chapman asked.

Huang replied that the only photos he kept in his wallet were those of Mao Zedong , a certain Malaysian figure and his wife. He had not seen the photo of Mr Lai before and did not know who he was despite visiting Hong Kong regularly from Shenzhen. Mr Lai is publisher of the Chinese-language Apple Daily newspaper.

Huang also denied having seen papers, found in his bag, that contained information about the men. Huang has pleaded not guilty to carrying a firearm with the intent to commit offences including shooting with intent and kidnapping.

Police say they intercepted Huang at a roadblock in Dundas Street, Mong Kok, on August 14 and found a pistol with five bullets, information about Mr Lai and Mr Lee, and HK$20,000. Huang denied all knowledge of the gun in his bag.

A friend, Ho Wai-kam, stuffed a package into his bag with instructions to deliver it to an "Ah Wai", who would call, Huang said, adding that Ho told him the contents were electronic parts. Ho has pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of possessing a firearm.

Huang has accused police of forcing four statements out of him by covering his head with a bag, binding his hands, kicking and punching him, and forcing water into his mouth. When Mr Chapman asked why photos of his body showed only two marks on his chest, a scratch on his back and marks on his knee, Huang replied: "Maybe [the injuries] were not visible to the naked eye or did not appear right away."

Huang also said that when he was taken to Queen Mary Hospital, officers told the doctor to leave out certain details of their examination, which is why they failed to mention marks on his body. The trial continues before Deputy Judge Peter Line.

(Apple Daily)

Huang Nanhua said that he took a package from Ho Wai-kam on August 13, last year.  Afterwards, he went to North Point to purcahse Fujinese food for his aunt and therefore not "casing" out the office of Martin Lee.  He said that on the next day, the Criminal Investigative Department and Organized Crime Unit detectives put a hood over him and then poured water into his mouth (note: there is no Chinese term for "water-boarding") and pulled his pubic hair out.  He was forced to obey the orders to write out the provided answers in his statement.

Huang said that he has never seen the paper slips with the addresses of Martin Lee's office and Jimmy Lai's home before.  He also said that his wallet contains only a photo of Mao Zedong and a joint portrait with his wife.

(Ming Pao)

50-year-old Huang Nanhua said that he came to Hong Kong on August 13 to do some shopping.  He met the other defendant Ho Wai-kam in the Tsuen Wan district.  Ho said that he would repay his debt to Huang, but he actually borrowed 2,500 dollars.  Ho also handed a bag of "electronic parts" to Huang and asked him to forward it to his friend "Ah Wai."  Huang did not open the bag and therefore did not know that there was a gun inside.

Huang then went to Star House in the Tsim Sha Tsui district to meet with two mainland friends.  They suggested going to Macau, but Huang said that he was busy.  He accompanied the two friends to take the Star Ferry to Central, whereupon the two friends took the ferry to Macau.  Meanwhile, Huang took a cab to North Point.

The prosecutor charged that Huang was "casing" out Legislative Councilor Martin Lee's office, but Huang said that he only wanted to buy "native Fujinese food" (such as salted noodles and white sugar cake at the Chawah Market.  Huang said that he was hooded and beaten by the police many times after his arrest.  On one occasion, he was stripped, had his pubic hair pulled out and water poured into his mouth.  He asked to see a doctor, who was prevented by the police to make a record of his injuries.  Huang also denied that he had a clipping about Jimmy Lai in his wallet.  Huang said that he does not know Jimmy Lai, because "as a Chinese citizen, I have no right to know him."

(Oriental Daily)

50-year-old defendant Huang Nanhua said that he came on August 13-14 last year to visit his aunt and do some shopping.  When he arrived, he met with the second defendant Ho Wai-kam, who handed a black bag over to him.  Ho said that "Ah Wai" will contact him.  Huang said that Ho told him that the bag contained electronic parts.  Huang said that he did not inspect the contents of the bag.  Huang and Ho had known each other for four years, and so he did not want to say no to Ho.  He then went to Star House in Tsim Sha Tsui and met two friends that he made in mainland China in 2007 at the McDonald's restaurant.  Two men suggested going to Macau, but he did not go with them.  Instead he went alone to purchase Fujinese products in North Point as gifts to his aunt.

The defendant said that his friend Chen Yu-bo told him on the evening of August 14 that he would return some money in the Tai Kok Tsui district.  But Chen was busy, and he so he took a taxi to wait for Chen in a mahjong house in Yung Shu Tau.  The taxi was stopped by police officers who found a "piece" in his bag.  He had no idea what was going on.  The police cuffed him and took him back to the station.

He said that he was assaulted many times at the police station.  The police put a hood over this head they placed a telephone directory book on his body and pounded it with a hammer.  They stripped him and pulled his pubic hair out.  They stuck a hose in his mouth and poured water into it.  Huang said that he was unaware that he could demand videotaping of any interrogation.  He was afraid of being assaulted and so he followed the directions of the police and wrote a statement in accordance to the answers provided on another piece of paper provided by the police.  He said that the two slips of paper containing the addresses of Martin Lee and Jimmy Lai found by the police on his person did not belong to him.

The prosecutor wondered why Huang did not call his aunt whom he intended to visit on his trip to Hong Kong.  Huang explained that when he called his cousin and found out that his aunt was doing fine, he did not call the aunt.  The prosecutor wondered if Huang has the habit of carrying a photo of a male stranger in his wallet, he said that his wailet contained only a photo of Mao Zedong, a Malaysian currency bill featuring a head figure and a photo taken alongside his wife.  The prosecutor asked: "What about Jimmy Lai?"  The defendant replied: "I have never seen that hpoto and I don't know who he is."  He added: "I don't need to know.  I am a mainland citizen.  I don't have the right to know."

The internet has been polyglot since early days, but the rise of read/write technologies has brought issues of linguistic diversity to the fore. In our experience with Global Voices, we saw lots of people blogging in English as a second language until there were lots of their fellow speakers online… then we saw lots more bloggers in local languages. Once you’ve got an audience that speaks your language, it makes sense to blog, twitter or otherwise publish in that language. It’s extremely difficult to accurately estimate how many people are blogging in Chinese - figures from companies like Spinn3r or Technorati aren’t counting most of the China-hosted blogging platforms. The number is somewhere between enormous and freaking huge, and people who want to know what what Chinese netizens are thinking better hope we figure out how to clone Roland Soong sometime soon. (Roland and the EastSouthWestNorth blog are so important to English/Chinese dialog that I know of several folks who refer to plans for massive Chinese/English translation as “the distributed Roland Soong problem”.)

Photo from Southern Metropolis Weekly

At around noon on June 20, the size of the crowd assembled on the streets outside the Yonglong Hotel reached its peak.  Participants estimated that there were at least 50,000 people at the time.  Street rumors was that the upper levels of government has amassed large numbers of armed police officers and military soldiers for suppressive action.

That afternoon, a large number of procuratorate workers and plainclothes police officers joined the crowd and used mobile phone cameras and digital cameras and videocameras to gather information on members of the crowd.  Some citizens recognized them and quickly stayed away from them.  At around 4am on June 21, the government loudspeaker trucks traversed the city streets and claimed that a "settlement" has been reached with the family of the deceased.  Therefore, the spectators should leave quickly or else face the consequences.

But because of the message from the loudspeaker trucks, many of the tired people actually returned to the scene to await further developments.  The size of the crowd went back up to its peak again.  An hour later at 5am on June 21, there came the thundering sound of marching footsteps.  Someone shouted, "They are really coming."  The crowd then saw more than 10,000 policemen and soldiers coming down three streets and applying pressure on the crowd.  The policemen and soldiers were arrayed in rows and moved forward together.

After blocking off the streets, the soldiers took charge of the streets.  Their formation consists four rows of soldiers in each wave, with the waves about 20 meters apart from each other.  The soldiers were armed with batons and shields, and they chanted slogans at the crowd.  The crowd was gradually pushed inwards.  Panic caused the crowd to flee into the side streets and buildings.  Whenever the soldiers take over a street segment, they set up a police line and prevented people from entering or exiting.  Therefore, the crowd had to flee towards the side streets that were even further away.

At the same time, all mobile phone signals in the area were gone.  Someone recognized a government signal interference truck there.  At around 6am, the soldiers cleared out the streets and the government took charge of the refrigerator casket which held the body of the deceased.  A member of the crowd asked the soldiers what was happening.  The soldiers who came from outside Shishou said that they were ordered to suppress FLG rioters.  They had never heard of anything about the death, or the body, or the injustice, etc.  They were just carrying out orders.  On that morning before the sun rose, the Shishou crowd was completely dispersed.




(SCMP)  Australian held after cabbie dies in crash.  By Clifford Lo.  June 28, 2009.

An Australian man was arrested after the driver of a taxi he was in died after a crash in Central yesterday morning. A police source said preliminary investigation showed there had been a dispute between the two men before the taxi crashed through a road divider and into three other taxis at about 3.30am in Harcourt Road. After the collision, Kelsey Michael Mudd, 22, an Australian passport holder, suddenly drove off in the taxi as a paramedic was checking his condition and traffic police were carrying out inquiries at the scene, they said. He allegedly drove against the traffic for about 50 metres before colliding head-on with another taxi.

A police spokeswoman said the man was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving and taking the vehicle without authority. But crime squad officers were treating the incident as a possible murder and would seek guidance from the Department of Justice before deciding what charges would be laid, another police source said.

The crash happened as Wong Chi-ming, 58, the driver of the taxi in which Mudd was a passenger, was driving east along Harcourt Road. The taxi, seemingly out of control, suddenly went through a metal road divider and crossed into the opposite lane outside Hutchison (SEHK: 0013) House, where it collided with three other taxis, according to police. Wong was semi-conscious as he was taken from the taxi by paramedics. Mr Mudd and another taxi driver, 57, were injured.

TVB footage showed Mr Mudd sitting in the front passenger seat, his head bleeding, before suddenly changing seats and driving off, forcing a paramedic trying to treat him to step back. A policeman gave chase on foot as the taxi was driven away at low speed into oncoming traffic. It collided with another taxi outside the Bank of America Tower, about 50 metres away. The driver of the other taxi, 44, sustained head injuries but his two women passengers were unhurt. The footage showed Mr Mudd raising his hands and putting them behind his head as police arrive, then getting out of the taxi and leaning on it. He was ordered to return to the taxi's rear seat before being taken by stretcher into an ambulance.

The four injured men were taken to Queen Mary Hospital, where Wong was declared dead at about 8.30am. Police said the cause of death was unknown and an autopsy would be carried out. "We are investigating what had happened on board Wong's taxi and what caused the accident," a police source said.

Mr Mudd was being held in the custodial ward at Queen Mary Hospital. No charge had been laid. The five taxis were taken to a vehicle plant in Quarry Bay for inspection.

Postscript: Is this Facebook user Kelsey Michael Mudd for real?  I suspect not, because the photo could not possibly have been used by the real person himself.

At around 5:30am on June 27, an unoccupied building still under construction at Lianhuanan Road in the Minhang district of Shanghai city toppled over.  One worker was killed.  According to information, a 70 meter section of the flood prevention wall in nearby Dianpu River and that may have something to do with this building collapse.

But the high-resolution photos are really amazing.

(China Daily

Improper construction methods are believed to be the reason of last Saturday's building collapse in Shanghai, according to a report from the investigation team. The investigation team's report said that workers dug an underground garage on one side of the building while on the other side earth was heaped up to 10 meters high, which was apparently an error in construction, according to a report on eastday.com, Shanghai's official news website. "Any construction company with common sense would not make such a mistake," said an expert from the investigation team.

Earlier this week, there were also reports saying that cracks on the flood-prevention wall near the building, as well as the special geological condition in the water bank area, may be part of the reason for the collapse. "These factors are not the basic reason of this accident," said the expert.

Nine people linked to the building collapse, including the real estate developer, contractor and the supervisor for the project, have been put "under appropriate control", said the official Xinhua News Agency Sunday evening.

(SCMP)  Firm's ignorance led to toppling of Shanghai building, report says  By Will Clem and Lillian Zhang.  July 4, 2009.

An official investigation into the collapse of an unfinished building in Shanghai has said that the accident was due to the construction company's "ignorance", rather than flaws in the design or building materials. However, the report stopped short of apportioning blame, and has been criticised for failing to address key issues.

The report said the collapse was caused by earth, excavated to make a 4.6-metre deep pit for an underground car park alongside the building, being piled to depths of up to 10 metres on the other side of the structure. The weight of the pile created a "pressure differential" which led to a shift in the soil structure, eventually weakening the foundations and causing them to fail. This situation "may" have been aggravated by several days of heavy rain leading up to the collapse, but investigators would not say whether this was a crucial factor. The report said the construction company - Shanghai Zhongxin Construction - "did not consider clearly" that the earth pile could have such a devastating effect.

Investigators stopped short of saying whether the company's errors were negligent or easily avoidable. However, they stressed that the building's foundations and construction materials all complied with the city's building regulations.

Huang Rong , director of the Shanghai Urban Construction and Communications Council, said inspections had shown that none of the remaining 10 apartment blocks was in immediate danger. "The surrounding buildings are now stable," he said. "The safety inspection of these homes will be the second phase of our professional team's work."

Jiang Huancheng , an architect and a lead investigator for the report, said it had been an "enormous shock" to see the site for the first time. "In my 46 years in the industry, I have never seen or heard of this," he said. "To put it simply this was ignorance leading to rashness. We need to take this accident as an important lesson ... and ensure that it does not happen again."

Several days before the release of the report, Wu Hang , Mr Jiang's assistant, accused the construction company of incompetence and lacking "common sense". Mr Wu said the investigation had found there had been no structures to support the walls of the car park pit, and this had been a key factor contributing to the accident.

(1) An underground garage was being dug on the south side, to a depth of 4.6 meters
(2) The excavated dirt was being piled up on the north side, to a height of 10 meters
(3) The building experienced uneven lateral pressure from south and north
(4) This resulted in a lateral pressure of 3,000 tonnes, which was greater than why the pilings could tolerate.  Thus the building toppled over in the southerly direction.


First, the apartment building was constructed

Then the plan called for an underground garage to be dug out.
The excavated soil was piled up on the other side of the building.

Heavy rains resulted in water seeping into the ground.

The building began to shift and the concrete pilings were snapped
due to the uneven lateral pressures.

The building began to tilt.

And thus came the eighth wonder of the world.

(Xinhua)  Guangdong toy factory brawl leaves 2 dead, 118 injured

A dispute led to a fight involving hundreds of people Thursday at the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan City, a municipal government spokesman said. More than 400 police had to be called in to restore order. The injured were rushed to hospitals, but two workers died, the spokesman said. All the 118 injured were in stable condition, he said. No details about the dispute are available. Police are investigating the incident.

(Reuters)  Ethnic tensions spark brawl at China factory-report

Ethnic clashes between Han Chinese and Uighur workers at a toy factory in China's southern Guangdong province killed two people and injured 118, a newspaper reported on Saturday. In a massive night brawl at the "Early Light" toy factory in Guangdong's Shaoguan city, a group of Han Chinese fought with Uighurs from China's northwestern Xinjiang region who had been recently recruited to the factory, Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper reported. The violence lasted until the early hours of Friday morning and at least 16 were seriously injured, the newspaper reported.

About 400 riot police had to be deployed to quell the unrest as the rival workers battled, some with knives and metal pipes. The violence was reportedly sparked by a spate of crimes at the factory following the arrival of around 600 Uighur workers in May this year, the newspaper said. "Some people carrying metal pipes entered a dormitory to attack Uighur workers. But the Uighurs fought back with knives, leading to a fierce brawl involving hundreds," the newspaper said.

The factory was reportedly owned by Hong Kong tycoon Francis Choi, one of the city's leading toy manufacturers.

Xinjiang's majority Uighur population is a largely Muslim group with a culture close to other Turkic parts of central Asia. Many Uighurs resent Han Chinese rule, complaining they're marginalised economically and politically in their own land, while having to tolerate a rising influx of Han Chinese migrants.

What kind of news reporting is this when you don't want to deal with the reason for the massive brawl?  I know that such reporting should be verified, but can't you just say "unconfirmed Internet reports say that the reason was blah blah blah ...?"

Here is such an unconfirmed first-person Internet report:


At 22:00 on June 25, I came back from drinking with my colleagues and we found several police vehicles present at the factory.  At first, we did not know what was going on.  Then we learned that the Uighurs dragged one of my Han sisters into their dormitory and attempted to rape her.  This caused our Han compatriots to become outraged.  They wanted to go and beat up the perpetrator.  But the factory security guards stopped them.  Even when the female victim identified the perpetrator, the factory security guards still refused to arrest him.  This caused even greater public anger as the people upstairs tossed all garbage downstairs.

From the photos, it can be seen how angry we were.  We tossed everything that we could rip apart downstairs.  The factory security guards came upstairs to try to stop us.  A colleague was seriously injured during the two brawls of that process.

Half an hour later, the Shaoguan city government sent another thirty to forty anti-riot police officers as reinforcement.

Soon after the anti-riot police officers arrived, the Uighurs organized several dozen people and armed them with restricted knives and iron rods.  They charged out and assaulted all the Han men and women that they saw, causing severe injuries to many persons.  The anti-riot police officers did nothing.  Since we were unprepared for this eventuality, we retreated into the dormitories.  The Uighurs broke all our windows.

The Han began to search for weapons inside their dormitories.  They dissembled the beds and obtained iron rods and instruments.  Then they charged out of the dormitories and took raging revenge against the Uighurs.  They smashed all the window glass and car windows.  They assaulted every Uighur that they came across, one dormitory room at a time.

Many Uighurs began to flee into the back hill.  The riot continued until 4:30pm.  There were dozens of Uighur casualties.  The anti-riot police officers served only as spectators, eyewitnesses and body haulers.

By 5am, the city government sent in two divisions of anti-riot police officers to escort the Uighurs out.  The riot finally reached an end.

The following is a news report in a Hong Kong newspaper based upon Internet information.

(Apple Daily)

According to a QQ BBS report made by a factory worker, the Early Light factory had hired a large group of Uighur workers last month.  These people committed many robberies and raped a female worker on June 14.  The rapist was only fired from his jog.  Several days later, another female worker was dragged into the dormitory and gang raped.  The suspect was arrested by the police but released several days later.  A third rape occurred in the factory, but the management did nothing.

According to a former female Early Light factory worker, the first rape occurred in the woods behind the factory and the perpetrators were three Uighur male workers.  One week later, another female worker went out for a midnight snack and was dragged into the Uighur dormitory and gang raped.  When the security guards brought her out, she was stark naked.  The factory offered her 10,000 RMB to keep quiet.  This was the last straw for the Han workers.

On the night before yesterday, the Han workers in dormitory buildings number one and two began to chant: "Chase the Uighurs off!"  They began to vandalize things.  The space between the two buildings was littered with garbage receptacles and fire extinguishers.  More than one hundred people went wild and used wood sticks to break the window glass.  Some of them charged into the Uighur dormitory to assault people.  They dragged one Uighur after another one and beat them.

The Uighur retaliated with knives.  The Han summoned more than 200 people and the brawl got vicious.  Since this incident involves an ethnic minority group, the police acted very cautiously because they wanted to avoid a political incident.

The Ming Pao article cited by Reuters also included more details:

The "King of Toys" Francis Choi was interviewed by us yesterday and he said that this was an ethnic conflict problem, mainly because the Uighurs were not accustomed to the lifestyle habits of the Guangdong people.  He said that the government encourages the factories to hire poor people, which was why this factory hired these Uighurs.

... 118 persons were injured, of which 79 were Uighurs.  There were two deaths, both Uighurs.

(Reuters)  China police hold man over ethnic brawl-report    June 28, 2009

Police in southern China have detained a man accused of spreading false rumours of rape over the Internet that sparked a deadly ethnic brawl at a toy factory on the weekend. China's official Xinhua news agency reported late on Sunday that the man, a former worker at the Xuri or "Early Light" toy factory in Shaoguan city, Guangdong province, posted a message on a local website claiming, "Six Xinjiang boys raped two innocent girls" at the factory. Police said the unfounded claim was behind the massive Friday night brawl between a group of Han Chinese and Uighur workers from China's northwestern Xinjiang region who had been recently recruited to the factory.

The brawl was an outburst of long-standing tensions between Han Chinese and Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group with a language and culture close to the Turkic peoples of central Asia. In the fighting, two workers from Xinjiang were killed and 118 people were injured, Xinhua reported. The man, surnamed Zhu, "faked the information to express his discontent" over failing to find new work after quitting his job at the factory, said Xinhua. The brief report did not say what crime he has been accused of.

(Xinhua)  Rumormonger held over south China toy factory brawl     June 29, 2009

Police has detained a former worker at a toy factory for posting a web rumor that triggered a mass brawl in south China's Guangdong Province.

The fight Thursday night was between hundreds of local workers and workers from the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regionat the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan City. The brawl left two Xinjiang workers dead and another 118 injured. A post on a local website that said "Six Xinjiang boys raped two innocent girls at the Xuri Toy Factory" caused the brawl, a municipal government spokesman said.

Police found that the former worker of Xuri, surnamed Zhu, faked the information to express his discontent as Zhu failed to get re-employed after quitting the job. Police found no rape cases at the Xuri Toy Factory.






In this ad, the assertion of President Ma Ying-jeou about no need to have a referendum is contradicted by a filmed quotation of Premier Wen Jiabao: "Promoting the signing of a cross-Strait ECFA will certainly bring about complete unification of the motherland."  That's pretty damning evidence, isn't it?

Except it really tests your patience and ability to check the facts.  Your curiosity should be aroused by the stunning nature of the statement, and you have to wonder why nobody commented on it when Wen Jiabao first said it.  When did he say it?  You can go to Sina.com and watch Wen Jiabao's speech on March 5, 2009 to the Second Plenum of the Eleventh National People's Congress.  Yes, he said spoke about "promoting the signing of a cross-strait ECFA 推动签订综合性经济合作协议" and he spoke about "the complete unification of the motherland 就一定能实现祖国的完全统一."

Except that the two phases were pieced together from different parts of his speech.  The first part in the television was shown on four smaller television screens, and the second part is a close-up on one television screen.  They did not show the whole thing in one continuous stream, because it does not exist.  In the case of the first part, the full sentence is: "Promoting the signing of a cross-strait ECFA will gradually establish an economic cooperative system which has the special characteristics of the two sides of the strait 推动签订综合性经济合作协议,逐步建立具有两岸特色的经济合作机制."  In the case of the second part, the full sentence is: "When we have the Chinese sons and daughters on both sides of the strait unified and striving, we will accomplishing the complete unification of the motherland 有两岸中华儿女团结奋斗,就一定实现祖国的完全统一。"  This second part occurred 56 seconds after the first part.  There was no direct linkage of ECFA with unification, and that was why that speech did not draw any reaction at the time along the lines of the DPP ad.

Well, is it democratic and progressive to run a deceptive ad like this?

On June 21, 29-year-old Zhou Senfeng was selected as the new mayor of Yicheng by the People's Congress.

On June 22, the media reported the appointment.  Chinese netizens used the only tool that they own -- the human flesh search -- to obtain information about this young mayor, who was then immersed in a tide of favorable and unfavorable comments and speculations.

Wave 1: The first reaction was that the young mayor must have some kind of good political background.  Therefore the initial human flesh search were directed as his family background.  Since there was little or not media reports about him, very little progress was made. On June 23, a media report from Zhou Senfeng confirmed that he had a "clean background" -- his parents were rural peasants who still live and work out there.

Wave 2: The same media report also said that "his wife is presently a vice director at the Xiangfan city People's Congress Standing Committee.  This led to the assertion that Zhou is the son-in-law of a important provincial-level official.  Quickly, a media report confirmed that his wife was only a probationary vice-director of the internal judicial affairs sub-committee of the the Xiangfan city People's Congress Standing Committee.  Otherwise, her famly background is equally undistinguished.

Wave 3: Given the absence of family factors, the netizens became interested at to how Zhou Senfang was promoted so quickly in his career, possibly against the relevant regulations.  The government explained: "Cadres may be promoted quicker based upon exceptional talents or special job needs."

Wave 4: Netizens also searched for the career of the wife Huo Yan.  Her name came up as a result of searching for Zhou Senfang's and Huo Yan's master theses at Tsinghua University.  They dedicated the theses to each other in the foreword sections.  Netizens determined that Huo Yan was ranked 55th among the candidates for a test that was supposed to hire twenty positions.  So how did she get a job?  The local government then said "young cadres were put on one-year probation periods first and Huo Yan is presently still being trained at the Xiangfan city Petition Office practical training class.

Wave 5: On the fourth day, netizens found out that Zhou Senfang's masters thesis may be guilty of plagiarism due to significant overlap with another article which was published two years before his own.  Yet, Zhou Senfang's thesis clearly cites the preceding article in the reference section.  But he also spelled his own name as Zhou Shenfang and the name of his university as Qinghua University (instead of the official name of Tsinghua University).

Wave 6: Netizens came across a news report about the Hubei province Department of Animal Husbandry where they thought that the pack of cigarettes on the table was valued at 120 RMB.  Other netizens quickly pointed out that this pack of cigarettes actually cost less than 30 RMB.

At this time, human flesh searches are still ongoing.  It is impossible to tell who is winning or losing yet.

Related link: If the process is fair, even an 18-year-old mayor is fine  Alice Xin Liu, June 26, 2009.

Oops!  That photo is of some other person who is very well-known!  Here is the corrected story that is now available.  The correction occurred at around 10am, but not before the incident was broadly spread across the Internet forums.

(Ming Pao)  According to information, a certain People.com.cn editor is an admirer of the late chairman and he has a large collection of photos of his hero stored in his computer.  Yesterday, he committed the error in haste.  According to other information, the incident occurred due to the sabotage by outside parties.  In any case, the editor has been suspected from his duties and the People.com.cn person in charge has been ordered to conduct self-criticism.


(Xinhua)  Youthful Chinese mayor comes under fire for "inexperience"    June 23, 2009.

A 29-year-old man who is believed to be China's youngest city mayor on Tuesday admitted he understood the reasons for a heated debate on the Internet over his youth and alleged inexperience.

Zhou Senfeng, formerly acting mayor of central China's Yicheng City, was elected mayor Sunday in a secret ballot of the city's People's Congress.  Zhou told Xinhua by e-mail, "The concerns about my inexperience are reasonable, I should say.

"As a youthful mayor born after 1980, I lagged far behind senior officials in experience," said Zhou, a graduate of the prestigious Tsinghua University, known as a cradle of senior officials, such as President Hu Jintao.  "But what young officials need is the stage where they can perform. We will develop better given such a stage."

In a country where such officials are usually not elected till their mid 30s or even early 40s, Zhou pledged as his appointment to "live up to the people's expectations and be fully devoted to the development of Yicheng."

"I am inspired and moved when I knew I had been elected mayor," Zhou told Xinhua.   "As a young mayor, I will keep expanding my horizons and keep learning from people around me," he added.

... The appointment, however, sparked a heated debate in cyberspace,with the major disagreement centered on his age.   More than two thirds of the 20,000-plus respondents to an online survey by sina.com said they "accept Zhou's election as mayor at such a young age as long as the election was fair and square." "His age is not a problem as long as he is qualified for the job," said one posting from Beijing on Sina.com.

But a quarter of the respondents bombarded the young mayor withharsh criticisms, saying he was too young to be a mayor. "I have been a civil servant for 20 years and I am still a low level official," said one posting from the northwestern Shaanxi Province. "Zhou, who served in the government for only five years,must have connections to reach such a position so soon."

Many people requested the local government to provide details of the mayor's family background.   But Zhou said in his reply to Xinhua that he was born to an ordinary family and his parents lived in the countryside.  "Both of them are peasants and none of my relatives are officials," he said.

Other netizens accused Zhou of being too young and lacking experience.  "A mayor should be experienced and sophisticated to handle thorny issues such as corruption, poverty and social unrest," saida posting from Yicheng. "I do not think such a young man can handle it."

More than 90 percent of 2,300 respondents to an online survey launched by people.com.cn and the cpc.people.com.cn in April said they considered the experience of most young cadres was relativelylimited and they should have more experience of life before being given decision-making authority. "Age does not matter as long as he is able to handle problems such as social unrest and the grassroots problems in the countryside," said Gao Xinmin, a professor with the Party School of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China.

An official with the city government said Zhou was low-profile and down to earth, and wanted to downplay the news. A teacher from Yuzhou Third Senior School, where Zhou graduated,said the mayor had called the school, asking them not to give any information to the media.  "The mayor said he was under great pressure and did not want to be in the spotlight," said a teacher at the school.

(Apple Daily)

On June 22, the government pointed out that Zhou Senfeng was someone that they hired from Tsinghua University without any political family background.  The mainland media had found out that he came from an ordinary rural family who worked in the local ceramic factory.  He has a younger brother who is a graduate student at Tsinghua University.

But yesterday, the Cat898 Forum posted a photo of Zhou Senfeng inspecting farmland.  In the photo, he is smiling at the camera while two workers held up umbrellas for him.  This photo has been widely circulated in mainland Chinese forums with comments such as: "It was raining that day, so you must have very nice soft skin!"  "Such panache!  Is this how to show off your official authority?"  "He knew that someone was taking a photo and he assumed a pose.  This shows the kind of thinking that he has!"  "He is learning how to act officiously a bit too quickly?"

(Cat898 Forum)  The Youngest Mayor Zhou Senfeng plagiarized his masters' thesis at Tsinghua University.

In 2004, Zhou Senfeng published <An analysis of core competitiveness of real estate enterprises in the value chain> in <Business Research>.  This article has at least 50% overlap with the article <On the core competitiveness of real estate enterprises> published in <Economic System Reform> in year 2002.

For example, Section 3 of Zhou's article was: "There is a lot of information about real estate enterprises in the various value chains.  Only through systematic reorganization can the knowledge be turned into organic combinations which are linked tightly with the specialized capital of the real estate enterprises in a way that far exceeds the simple addition of the worker productivity to the enterprise project competence.  The efficiency of enterprise organization determines the efficiency by which core competitiveness is turned into competitive advantage."

Section 4 of the Wang Ningke article was almost identical word for word.

There are many more instances of overlaps.

We got into the situation today because there are too many smart people in China.  They always say, "What is the use of doing this?  So what if we do it?"  I suddenly understand a lot.  To make any fight here requires confronting not only power and violence, but also these even smarter critics.  They show their wiliness, circumspection and calculations everywhere.  They often sound lofty, learned, steady and disciplined.

Similarly, they are not good at doing things.  They lack imagination and a sense of humor.  After questioning everywhere, they go into hiding with their resignation.  Resignation and self-deception are the special characteristics under totalitarianism.  Without exception, they are self-exiles and self-intimidators.  These prophets tell people calmly: "It is stupid to do this because it is doomed to fail."  Before they get the premonition of failure and death, they announced first the need to abandon all efforts.  They give up before even the tiniest bit of resistance.  They go silent before making any sound.  Why bother if failure is inevitable?  This is their logic.  China does not lack such spectators.  They are truly the accomplices of the powers that be.  It is there sordid cunning and baseness that enabled the powers.  Which bloodshed did not occur under the teary well-intended gaze of these smart people?

Do these prophets have lives?  Isn't life the miracle of endless fights with death?  Isn't life the result of innumerable failures?  Everybody hopes that their efforts will give them the power to control life and death and they reject the obscene interpretations of these prophets.

Use your own language to erase the old formulae.  Use your own attitude to replace preconceived ideas.  Use a new way to expression to usurp the traditional method.  This is a new life because it is our way.

Among all the existing crises, the ignoble life without honesty and courage and the lack of belief in one's rights are the frightening premonitions of death.

The meaning of this world is manifested in the process of division and evolution.  There is no pre-existing meaning.  A pie is created by hand.  It does not fall out of the sky.  Civil rights and democracy are similar.

You can say that this pie does not taste good.  Then you go and make a better one, or you can go have a steamed bun.

Today, I am calling everybody to boycott the Internet on July 1st.  Do not make any explanations.  Do not count any losses.

(Liu Xiaoyuan)  There is no need for an Internet boycott, we should be thinking about how to use the Internet well

A reporter called up to ask me about my views on the "Internet boycott" that someone is calling for.

I stated clearly that that is a personal right.  Nobody can interfere with his right.  But I do not support the "Internet boycott."  The reason is very simple.  In the Internet age, the Internet has given us a speech platform in which people have relative freedom to speak.

Imagine we are still in an age with the Internet.  What right to know do the people have?  Many things will be at the say-so of the government.  They can mess around with you and there isn't a thing you can do about it.  With the Internet, we can set up our own blogs; we can go to BBS's; we can participate in online discussions.  It is harder now for the government to mislead the people or to turn the people into the ones "who don't understand the truth."

An Internet boycott is not like a job strike.  The Internet is a good thing.  We have nothing against the Internet.  We should not boycott the Internet.  We should be using the Internet to promote democracy, rule of law, people's livelihood and progressiveness.  The Internet has an inestimable usefulness.

The Internet should be completely open.  The administrative departments uses various reasons to control the Internet and limit its use as a watchdog.  Due to the special nature of the Internet, it is impossible to control the Internet completely ...

The "Internet boycott" is an emotional catharsis to release the discontent against government control of the Internet.  But I think the restrictions on the Internet are illegal intrusions on the freedom of speech.  If it inappropriate to use an "Internet boycott" to express your objectives.  When you boycott the Internet, you go silent.  The government officials may be laughing at our stupidity behind our backs!  The thing that they want the most to get rid of is Internet supervision/monitoring.

(ESWN Comment)

I must say that I also do not support any "Internet boycott."  From a pure marketing point of view, such an "Internet boycott" has no metric for measuring success.  Even if half of the Chinese netizens follow the boycott, nobody would know.

What is a metric for measuring success.  Let me give you an example from April 2008:  On April 16, 2009 many netizens were surprised to find a sea of red hearts when they opened up their MSN Messenger service.  Their friends have all added a red heart and "CHINA" in front of their names.  With the background of certain organizations and individuals proposing to boycott the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese netziens used their own method to express their support for the Beijing Olympics.  According to MSN, by 3pm on April 16, more than 2.3 million netizens have signed their names with Red Heart China.

There have been other noteworthy Internet anti-censorship campaigns such as those with pictures showing river crabs wearing three watches, grass mud horses, etc.  Success is observable.  By contrast, an Internet boycott is unobservable.

Yesterday there were new developments in the mass incident of Shishou.  Early morning yesterday, two rumors swept though Shishou.  The first rumor said that during the clean-up of the torched Yonglong Hotel, workers found two corpses in the drainage pipes.  The other rumor said that multiple corpses were found.  By daybreak, many local citizens gathered around the hotel once more.  By 8:30am, there were more than 2,000 people.  A small number of people charged inside the hotel to look for the drainage pipes in order to verify the rumors.

The reporter tried to locate the source of the rumors but had no success.  The reporter also contacted the Hubei province public security bureau and the Shishou city party committee, and was told that there was no such thing.  The local Shishou television station issued a denial last evening.

At 10am or so, several hundred armed police officers, public security officers and special police officers showed up to clear the crowd.  Construction workers then sealed the Yonglong hotel off.

The reporter also managed to contact Tian Wenbin.  At around noon on August 11, 2002, his daughter Tian Feng fell out of the Yonglong Hotel to her death.  At the time, the place was known as the Baihuayuan Entertainment City and the boss was the same Zhang Yonglong.

Tian Wenbin was working in Shenzhen at the time and he returned home the next day.  He saw the body of his daughter at the Shishou Funeral Parlor.  "At the time, she was wearing bra and panties only.  The bra was torn apart and the panties were snapped too.  Her fingers were bleeding.  She had wounds all over her body."

Tian Feng was born in 1986 and only 16 years old when she died.  The body remained at the funeral parlor for 14 days.  Tian said that the local government kept telling them to cooperate and cremate the body.  He said that the family was very restrained and made only two demands: "If this is a suicide, then a reason must be given for doing so; if this is a murder, then the murderer must be found."

By August 25, "the order came around that the body had to be cremated that day.  They had to sign.  Even if they didn't sign, the body would be cremated.  So the family signed."  The body was cremated at 10am that day.

Concerning Gao Ye's interview on <Focus Interview>, I think that it should be examined from two angles.

First, the issue of veracity.

Is Gao Ye's comments to the camera his own true thoughts or a pre-written script?  There are two types of pre-written scripts.  The script could have been written by the program director beforehand (I remember seeing a photo in which a TV reporter held up a piece of paper with big characters for the interviewed persons in the streets to read aloud).  Or the interviewee might have been told by the program director about the intent and told to cooperate.  The issue of veracity is a test of the honest of Gao Ye, the program director and the media.  The media organization where he works needs to clarify whether its frontline news reporters were engaged in "directing" news.

Second, the issue of conflict of interest.

Some commentators think that there is nothing inappropriate if Gao Ye said what he thought and he is indeed a university student.

But Gao Ye is an intern who has entered into a employer-employee relationship.  He is a temporary worker at this media organization.  More importantly, he is being paid by this media organization (and it would be a violation of the labor laws if he is not getting paid).  There is definitely a conflict of interest to interview an employee.

But this conflict of interest belongs only to the theory of journalism as part of a code of ethics.  Different media organizations have different requirements, some more rigorous than others.

A former colleague once interviewed street beggars.  It was hard because nobody wanted to go on camera.  In order to get the interview, the colleague paid money to a beggar.  For this colleague, he did what he had in order to get a beggar to speak out and hence complete his assignment.  When he finished, he enthusiastically told his supervisor how he did it.  So this episode was never aired.  Simply put, the supervisor that this had violated journalistic ethics because there must never be a financial transaction with the interviewee.  The issue is if this colleague had not brought this up himself, the supervisor would not have done so.  Most of the time, supervisors do not ask serious questions.  Basically, they have trust about how their journalists obtain their news stories.

There are many examples of abuse of trust.  For example, a reporter claimed to be broadcasting live when they are just watching local television in a air-conditioned hotel.  The New York Times published a letter from the mayor of Paris, which had never been verified.  When the frontline reporters abuse the trust, they hurt not just the readers but also the media.  Unfortunately, not every fraudulent act is exposed.

The requirements on media conduct were very high initially.  The media operators demand a lot from themselves because they take a long-term view.  Some of them continue to adjust those requirements based upon audience feedback.  In the case of Gao Ye, we see that the audience is demanding more and more.  If the media cannot hold themselves to high ethical standards, there will be public confidence crises.

It is more worrisome for Gao Ye, who may or may not have voluntarily cooperated with the interview.  Everything that he learned in class about journalism were either wrong to begin with or else completely subverted as soon as he got on camera.  If Gao Ye feels wronged now because he was only telling the truth, then it is sad that nobody taught him about journalistic ethics and theory, which ought to be an integral part of his coursework.  Even more sadly, his seniors never taught him by personal example, because such requirements and conditions do not exist in media today.

At around 8pm on June 17, the Shishou city public security bureau received a call that a dead man was found in front of the Yonglong hotel.  The militia police hurried over to the scene.  Upon investigation, the deceased was 24-year-old Tu Yuangao who had been the chef at Yonglong Hotel.  The police searched the room of Tu Yuangao at the hotel and found a suicide note.  Therefore, they excluded the possibility of murder by the hand of others.

Translation of the note: "Dearest dad and mom, your son has to tell you here that he is lacking in filial piety.  I don't know what is happening with me, but there seems to be a shadow pursuing me.  This may be my fate.  You should take the money that I have saved, as a small compensation for the two of you.  The debt that your son owes you for bringing him up will have to repaid in the next life.  As for my elder brother, we will be brothers also in the next life and he will have to take dare of my parents now.  Elder brother, please forgive your younger brother for leaving without saying goodbye.  I hope that you will have a great career.  Okay, this is it.  The unpious son kowtows to his parents here."  There is no signature.

The skepticism from the family relatives is based upon the fact that Tu Yuangao quit school after third grade in elementary school at age 13 and started to work.  Based upon his educational level, there was no way that he was capable of writing such a suicide note.

There were other suspicious circumstances.  The family had examined the body of Tu Yuangao.  They spotted strangulation marks around the neck and one of his testicles was swollen due to possible kicking.  There was another obvious physical injury on his chest.

It was more than 80 hours after the death of Tu Yuangao that the overwrought and fatigued family relatives agreed to have the body transported to a funeral parlor for an autopsy to be conducted.  The examination will be conducted by a provincial-level medical examiner.

The candidate from the government-loyalist camp won the district council by-election in Wan Chai yesterday. Jacqueline Chung Ka-man, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, polled 1,061 votes in the Canal Road, Wan Chai, constituency. Her rival, Gavin Kwai Sze-kit of the League of Social Democrats, received 544 votes. Turnout was 25.86 per cent.

They were contesting a seat left vacant by former Democratic Party member Kennedy Lee Kai-hung, who was convicted of fraud in February and is serving a five-month jail term. Heavyweights from both the camps fought it out during the day.

Although the by-election came just 10 days before the annual march for democracy, both camps focused on livelihood issues, with candidates saying political topics were not the main concern at district level.

Mr Kwai, general manager of a listed company, is a former government administrative officer. He became well known in 2004 for trying to stop an arsonist on an MTR train. His team distributed leaflets with the slogan: "Wan Chai person working for Wan Chai." Canvassing for Mr Kwai, league chairman Wong Yuk-man saw the race as a way to test the waters, as it was the league's first election since last year's Legislative Council poll. Other campaigning lawmakers from the pan-democratic camp included the Democratic Party's Albert Ho Chun-yan and Lee Wing-tat. The Civic Party's Tanya Chan also distributed leaflets for Mr Kwai.

Ms Chung, a social worker, appealed to voters citing her 12 years of work experience in the district. She was accompanied by DAB heavyweights Tam Yiu-chung and Ip Kwok-him, as well as independent legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.

(Derek Greyhound's blog)

In the light of recent news stories such as drug abuse among young people, salary cuts for public servants, the Christian Zheng Sheng College affair and the A/H1N1 flu, this by-election is clearly not as important.  However, this is a very important election for the League of Social Democrats as well as for the number one political party, the DAB.

The DAB has the upper hand coming into this election.  Therefore, they will want to do less in order to avoid committing mistakes.  Since their opponent is as strong as imagined, they can afford to consolidate the network connects and wait to reap the harvest.

The LSD finds it harder.  Their issues such as their candidate's Wanchai origins, the 45 district reform recommendations, academic credentials, public administrative experience, the sole pan-democratic candidate, etc do not seem to help.  This district has a lot of transients and renters, who are not overly concerned about community issues.  So this is hard for a new political organization with few experienced workers.

In the absence of any breakthroughs, I predict the turnout to be about 27% (between 25% to 30%).  The DAB candidate should win with between 900 to 1,000 votes compared to 550 to 650 for the LSD candidate.

It is easy for the DAB to complete their election campaign with a victory; it is a lot harder for the LSD to reverse their disadvantage without 'black' material on their opponent.

How about some passion?  Watch LSD's "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung campaigning for his candidate -- the heckler would complain that Leung molested her.