(Sina.com) January 19, 2012.
On January 15, the IT microblogger Mai Tian posted <Manmade Han Han: A Farce About "Citiizenry>" in which he alleges that the "miracle" of Chinese writer Han Han was created by his father Han Renjun and his marketing team. This blog post has been removed by Mai Tian since. But the principal evidence included a comparison of the times/dates when Han Han was supposed to be racing cars in competition and when certain blog posts appeared. Mai Tian asserted that Han Han could not have found the time to write during competition. Also Mai Tian asserted that Han Han won a major essay competition ("New Concept") because his father was a friend with the competition organizer Li Qigang who passed him the information about the subject of the competition beforehand.
At 04:14 on January 16, Han Han posted <A small lousy essay> to respond to Mai Tian. He wrote: "I personally wrote every word of mine." He offered an award of 20,000,000 yuan to anyone who can prove that Han Han was the front man for a team behind the scene.
At 23:10 on January 16, the actress Fan Bingging announced on her microblog that she is offering to ante up another 20,000,000 yuan on top of Han Han's offer.
At 19:59 on January 16, the microblogger Ouyang Menghou commented on some of Mai Tian's allegations.
1. Mai Tian said that Han Han wrote the essay <A Preface> in the middle of the November 4 2011 CRC competition. The fact was that the essay was posted at 04:51 on November 9 2011, almost five days after the competition.
2. Mai Tian said that Han Han made a blog post early morning on September 13 after the 2010 CTCC race on September 11-12. According to the official CTCC website, this particular race had been postponed to September 24.
3. Ma Tian said that Han Han wrote <Project Hopeless> on the night of June 30, just before the 2011 CRC race. The fact is that the 2010 CRC race was held July 2-4. July 1 was only the opening ceremony which was held at 21:00 that night.
4. Mai Tian said that when the Green Dam software was revealed by the media on June 9, Han Han was already in Nanjing ready for the CRC competition. So where did he find the time to write a 1,200+ word blog post? Mai Tian offered a link, but he probably never imagined that I actually proceed there. I saw saw the racers were required to do three things on June 10: (1) Road inspection 12:00-17:00 on June 10 and 08:00-12:30 on June 11; (2) car inspection, sealing by lead; labeling 14:00-19:00 on June 11; (3) pre-race press conference 20:00 on June 11. This means that the racers had nothing to do between 12:30 on June 11 and 20:00 on June 11, unless they want to do the "car inspection, sealing and labeling" themselves."
5. Mai Tian said that Han Han has a team behind him, and he mentioned the name Lu Jinbo many times. Ma Tian said that Han Han should not have the time to post on May 14 2010 because he was involved in the May 14-16 2010 CRC competition. So what was Lu Jinbo up to? On that day, Lu was at the Shenzhen Book City participating in a public function. A photo of him was uploaded at 21:44 on May 14. Han Han's blog post was made at 22:51. It seems that Lu Jinbo had even less time than Han Han on that day.
If you are writing an academic treatise, you need to provide the data to support your case. Han Han is not over and above suspicion. But if you modify the data and make up facts in order to match your pre-conceived beliefs, then this is very nasty. If Mai Tian were an academic scholar, he would be ousted from his job. Many people said that Mai Tian was rational in his essay about Han Han, because the data were solid. My response: Look at the data!
At 00:41 on January 17, Han Han's friend Wang Fan blogged about Mai Tian's listings of the times/dates of Han Han's competitions and postings. Wang Fan is a team mate of Han Han, and he had previously written a book titled <Han Han's H file> about those competitions. Thus, Wang Fan was simply comparing Mai Tian's information against his own previously published information.
1. A 2008 CRC race was held on May 30-June 1 and Han Han posted at 1:31 on June 1. The fact was that Han Han's car suffered mild damage soon after the race began and he had to withdraw altogether. Thus, Han Han was done on the morning of the first day of the competition and he had more than 15 hours of idle time until he posted this 2,000-word blog post at 1:31am.
2. A 2008 CRC race was held on September 6-7 and Han Han posted at 22:00 on September 5. The fact was that there was no super-short-course race on day 1 of the competition. Therefore the only thing that the drives need to do on the first day was to show up for the opening ceremony and the rest of the time was free.
3. A 2008 CTCC race was held on April 19-20 and Han Han posted at 15:48 on April 20. During the first round of test runs, the car of defending champion Han Han blew an engine. There was insufficient time to repair and there was no spare engine for replacement. Therefore Han Han was done with the race early that morning. Han Han had more than 30 hours to write that blog post.
4. A 2009 CRC race was held on June 12-14 and Han Han posted at 15:53 on June 11. The fact was that the official schedule did not include any activities for the racers on day 1 of the competition. The other two days were not particularly busy either.
5. A 2009 CTCC race was held on May 23-24 and Han Han posted at 03:03 on May 23. At the time, Han Han's new car was not ready yet. As of the evening of May 22, Han Han had no car to drive. Thus, he had all the time in the world that night to write.
6. A 2010 CRC race was held on March 13-15 and Han Han posted at 1:17 on March 14. March 13 was the first day, during which the drivers were only required to attend the opening ceremony and participate in a 2 kilometer super-short-course race. If a 2-kilometer was enough to wear out Han Han such that he could not tap on a keyboard, then he shouldn't bother showing up the rest of the race which runs for several hundred kilometers.
7. A 2010 CRC race was held on May 14-16 and Han Han posted at 22:51 on May 14. The same explanation as above.
8. A 2010 CRC race was held on September 17-19 and Han Han posted at 01:05 on September 18. The same explanation as above.
9. A 2011 CTCC race was held on May 28-29 and Han Han posted at 00:07 on May 28. May 28 was the least busy day of the schedule, because of car inspections and run-offs. The drivers tested their cars in the morning, and were otherwise free in the afternoon and night. Han Han had ten hours to write.
On January 17, Mai Tian explained that he forgot to consider the schedule changes at car races in his original post. Therefore, "the data were not very accurate." He provided a table of corrections. Mai Tian has now deleted this post as well.
At 11:12 on January 17, the microblogger Ouyang Mengzhou wrote:
According to Mai Tian, there was a sudden change in the subject of Han Han's blog posts in 2008. He produced a table showing:
2006 - Han Han made 260 posts of which 11 (or 4.2%) are about current affairs/politics.
2007 - Han Han made 168 posts of which 19 (or 11.3%) are about current affairs/politics.
2008 - Han Han made 112 posts of which 56 (or 50.0%) are about current affairs/politics.
Therefore he concluded that the team must have decided to package Han Han as a youthful commentator on current affairs/politics.
I went back to examine Han Han's blog posts for the year 2007. I found 37 blog posts on current affairs/politics:
1. 2007-02-11 A Chinese person wins the Nobel prize of Literature?
2. 2007-03-04 Family planning
3. 2007-03-11 Forced evictions/relocations
4. 2007-03-15 Wang Meng's sensitivity and hypocrisy (writer Wang Meng's speech at the national Communist Party Political Consultative Conference)
5. 2007-04-22 Police contact information on web pages
6. 2007-04-28 Police contact information on web pages again
7. 2007-04-23 The five-star hotel at Peking University
8. 2007-05-13 Social retrogression and government extortion
9. 2007-05-15 What did society do for me?
10. 2007-05-24 Shanghai traffic policies
11. 2007-05-28 Traditional virtues
12. 2007-05-29 Shanghai Maglev train
13. 2007-05-31 Police response time
14. 2007-06-01 The first group to join the Chinese Communist Youth League
15. 2007-06-02 The Chinese national flag is too erect and strong
16. 2007-06-08 Poison-free PX and poisoned GDP
17. 2007-06-12 Questions about the gasoline in the eastern section of the Sushan Expressway between Beijing and Shanghai
18. 2007-06-15 Students should not be made to write essays
19. 2007-06-17 "Very strange Chinese citizens"
20. 2007-07-12 I will censor CCTV starting today
21. 2007-07-25 If Lu Xun was still alive today
22. 2007-07-25 Response to young people and the Writers Association
23. 2007-08-11 Insulting China
24. 2007-08-16 Imitation Guinness world record
25. 2007-09-19 Isn't this is an internationally endangered species?
26. 2007-09-25 Mazda 6 cars lay siege to a Hummer
27. 2007-10-13 We do not violate rights, we are pinkish (note: about Internet copyright violations)
28. 2007-10-15 We should legalize prostitution before next year
29. 2007-10-27 Such imagination (calling the two police officer icons Jingjing and Chacha)
30. 2007-10-30 On how urban administrators catch dogs using science/technology
31. 2007-11-08 On royalties for writings
32. 2007-11-17 Partial gasoline shortages again
33. 2007-11-23 News about the increase in illegal Chinese immigrants
34. 2007-11-24 Gaosline prices
35. 2007-11-29 Sarcastic poem about current affairs/politics
36. 2007-11-29 On the 5-hour-long press conference about the fake South China tiger photos
37. 2007-11-22 Zhao Benshan, Ge Xiu and misleading marketing
38. 2007-11-28 Is the South China tiger extinct?
39. 2007-12-16 Certain unreasonable traffic arrangements in Shanghai
So my tabulation shows 39 essays about current affairs/politics, more than double the number reported by Mai Tian. If you insist, we can eliminate some of these essays. For example, Han Han is a car racer and therefore we eliminate the essays about gasoline prices; Han Han is a writer and therefore we eliminate the essays about royalties, Writers Association or the Nobel Prize for Literature. But that still leaves 33 essays.
P.S. Mai Tian also reported that Han Han wrote 168 blog posts in 2007. I counted three times, and I can only find 151 essays. What is going on with changing the numerator and denominator in the calculation?
I also did the same for the year 2006. I found 37 essays about current affairs/politics, compared to 11 reported by Mai Tian.
Mai Tian is asserting that 2008 underwent a sudden re-packaging in 2008, and he provided statistical data to support this contention. But Han Han's blog is always there for everyone to read. So why is Mai Tian making stuff up? Perhaps people always trust numbers, and they never think that data may be lies. In the case of Mai Tian, his data is just "a young girl who likes to look pretty."
At 15:54 on January 17, Li Qigang posted on the official microblog of the essay competition. He stated that he is not acquainted with Han Han's father Han Renjun. He also explained the process by which Han Han was awarded the Class 1 prize in the "New Concept" essay competition.
Anyone who has attended a university would know that it is unlikely for anyone to know all the schoolmates in a school with several tens of thousands of students. To be exact, there were 168 students in the class of 1978 at the Huadong Normal University which I attended, and there are still some among them that I cannot name.
Han Renjun was in the class of 1977. One month after he entered, he was forced to withdraw due to illness. Many members of the class of 1977 at Huadong Normal University do not know that they have a fellow classmate named Han Renjun. By the time I entered, he was studying at home already. Until I read that "peculiar essay" by Mai Tian, I had no idea that Han Renjun also attended the Huadong Normal University.
The essay also said that Han Renjun and myself were both "engaged in cultural work after our graduation" and concluded that we should know each other. Several tens of thousands of people are "engaged in cultural work" in the city of Shanghai. I can only say that Han Renjun is not among the several dozens of cultural workers that I know. In truth, if Mr. Han Renjun shows up in front of me today, I will have to ask, "Who are you?"
As for the subject of the essay competition, Han Han had to go through three rounds. In the last round, there were several other judges present (including a Fudan University Chinese Literature professor, a Xiamen University Chinese Liberature professor, the writer Ye Xiaoyan and the "New Concept" editor Zhao Changtian). The judges rated Han Han highly for his essays in the first two founds. On the day of the competition, the judges decided that I should make up the subject for the essay. So I pushed my half-filled glass of water towards him and said, "This is the subject." But I thought suddenly that this was too simple. So I said, "Forget that. Please pay attention to the full subject." I took a piece of white paper, crushed it into a ball and I threw it in the glass of water. I said: "That is the subject."
Han Han would go on to convert the soaking of the white paper in the glass of water into a story about a person being put into society. This essay was written in one hour, and it showed that he knew how to come up with a theme and structure an essay. The judges approved the essay strongly.
Mai Tian hinted that Han Han knew the subject beforehand. But the fact was that the judges decided only at the very last minute that I was the one to set the subject. And I had merely chosen a subject about how an action can be turned into art.
... Mai Tian's essay exploited the public antagonism against nepotism. In this case, there were two "daddies" -- one is Han Han's father Han Renjun and the other is me, who is Han Renjun's college roommate. So I got to "stand in" as the character who held certain powers and who bestowed certain favors on the son of a fellow student. I reserve my right to defend my personal reputation as well as that of the "New Concept" essay competition.
At 16:59 on January 18, Han Han posted <A normal essay> to respond to Mai Tian.
At 23:27 on January 18, Mai Tian published <A letter of apology to Han Han, Han Renjun and Li Qigang>.
1. After reading Han Han's latest essay <A normal essay> and then Wang Fan's microblog post later, I believe that my evidence against Han Han in the past few days is inadequate.
2. Because my essay had caused negative impact to Han Han, Han Renjun and Li Qigang, I express my regret. I apologize here and now! At the same time, I will delete all my blog/microblog posts in order to eliminate the impact, and I accept full responsibility of my actions this time.
3. I apologize to the readers of my blog/microblog about misleading you through my unprofessional doubts. I am deeply sorry!
4. Finally I have to make it quite clear that my doubts about Han Han was never ever motivated by personal gains or anything unspeakable. I had only one reason: there was really some things about Han Han that raised doubts. (Or else he wouldn't be writing such a long essay to rebut my doubts point by point.)
5. I am grateful for Han Han and other persons for spending so much time and energy to respond to me. I will carefully read the discussion of facts and I will not pursue any remaining points of doubt. But I am sorry that there were abusive comments about my family members and my personal life. I never imagined that this could happen when I first raised the issue.
6. At the same time, I don't think that it was a mistake to maintain one's independent character and judgment. I genuinely hope that our society should not have just one voice with blind followers. We cannot create a God, for society needs to have "sounds of opposition."
7. I am an Internet technology person, and I have nothing to do with the cultural or entertainment fields. My amateurish crossing into another domain was clearly quite unprofessional, but I did not so based upon the public interest and I used publicly available information. I will summarize the lessons, and I will dedicate more time and energy on my own work.
I wish everybody a happy Lunar New Year.
(Oriental Daily) January 23, 2012
Oriental Daily: "Barking dog" Kong bites back Hong Kong people
Yesterday almost 200 angry Hong Kong citizens gathered outside the China Liaison Office in the bone-chilling cold to express their dissatisfaction against Kong Qingdong. Some protestors brought their pet dogs or toy dogs to say that Kong Qingdong is "even worse than a dog." Others brought tablet computers to show various artistic presentations of Kong as dog.
The angry crowd began showing up at 3pm. By 4pm more and more people were showing. Someone sudden shouted out: "The criminal Kong Qingdong shall be brought in front of the dog-head guillotine!" Immediately the crowd got emotional. A man holding up yesterday's Oriental Daily front page lead the other citizens to chant slogans such as "Do not come here to buy infant milk formula, do not come here to take up hospital space!" "We oppose unqualified people having their babies delivered in Hong Kong" "Hong Kong people save themselves and protect Hong Kong's own existing culture" "Hong Kong people speak Cantonese."
An emotionally excited female demonstrator kept chanting: "Being a dog in Hong Kong is better than being someone like Kong Qingdong on the mainland!" This drew cheers and applauses from other demonstrator. At around 4:30pm, the demonstrators wanted to proceed to the front door of the China Liaison Office to express their dissatisfaction. The police imposed restrictions, such as allowing them to proceed twenty at a time. The police also warned the demonstrators that this assembly did not obtain a permit beforehand and therefore the demonstrators potentially faced arrest. Eventually the police relented and allowed the demonstrators to march across the front door of the China Liaison Office.
(Apple Daily) Interview with Kong Qingdong
Q: Do you have any reaction to the media reports criticizing you for saying that Hong Kong people are dogs?
A: I regret to say that I never said that. The video clearly shows that. Many Hong Kong and mainland media issued irresponsible reports. When did I say that Hong Kong people are dogs? How can anyone talk such nonsense? When did I ever say that anyone who doesn't speak putonghua is a bastard?
Many Hong Kong people are supposed to have received education? Many of these people do not track down the source of information. I think that these media should apologize to me. Many people are silly people who blindly believes the irresponsible reporting. Hong Kong has some economic problems and Hong Kong people may have some discontent with mainland tourists. This should be a family matter. Besides this is the government's business. What has this got to do with us common folks?
Q: But the video shows that you were cursing out Hong Kong people?
A: I have spoken to many reporters. Many reporters do not verify the facts. They only want to attract eyeballs. They only worry if there is no chaos under heaven. It should be clear if you bothered to watch the video once.
Q: Yesterday, some Hong Kong people protested against you down at the China Liaison Office. They want you to apologize.
A: What I say does not represent the government. Isn't Hong Kong a place that claims to have democracy and freedom? Doesn't it have freedom of expression? Isn't this action an effort to mobilize the power of the government to choke off the freedom of expression for an ordinary intellectual? Isn't this a naked fascist act? You feel good by cursing out the Communist Party every day, but now you want to borrow the knife of the Communist Party to kill someone. This makes one think that Hong Kong is a tiger whose butt must not be touched.
I curse out Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai every day, and it is not big deal? How come Hong Kong people live in paradise? If you say something about Hong Kong, their people are unhappy and they run to complain to the government. What kind of impression does that create? I think that this is a bad outcome for Hong Kong.
Q: If you can give your opinion again, would you hold the same opinion?
A: Which part of my opinions is inappropriate? Which sentence of mine was unfounded? From either linguistics or logic, which part was unfounded?
Q: Didn't you say that some people are dogs?
A: Isn't the original text available? Hong Kong is a good place with very well-developed media. But not a single media would come out to make a fair statement. Not a single media would report on the facts as they exist. This is very regrettable.
Q: We saw you in an old June 4th photo. You weren't purged after the incident?
A: How do you know that I wasn't purged? You need to have the facts before you comment. My work is very busy, and my time is very valuable. I am a lot busier than your Henry Tang. I rarely get to rest. I am resting at home, but I am actually working.
It all began with this unrelated video taken in the Hong Kong MTR subway system.
(Transcript, skipping the Oriental Daily commentary)
Male (in Cantonese): Get a worker here, please. A worker. (Uniformed subway worker enters) They are eating. They are eating with their snack noodle crumbs all over the floor. I told them. I told them eating is not allowed. Then they started to scold us. What? This is Hong Kong.
Boy (in putonghua) Mom is at fault.
Male (in Cantonese): No need to talk to them this way. Them mainlanders are like this. No need to talk to them this way. Get off the car!
On a V1.cn talk show, guest commentator Kong Qingdong (a Peking University professor) commented.
TV Hostess: Welcome back. Let us continue to read the news. According to Hong Kong MTR subway regulations, nobody is allowed to eat or drink inside the subway (that is, the area once you cross the turnstiles), including the platforms and train compartments. A violation may result in a fine of HKD 2,000. On January 17, a microblog post <Mainland tourists caused controversy for eating in the Hong Kong MTR> raised heated Internet discussions. Let us look.
TV Hostess: Welcome back. Teacher Kong, each side are making their own arguments in the video, using two different kinds of language. How does Teacher Kong look at this incident?
Kong Qingdong: Two different kinds of language. This detail that you mentioned is very significant. Two different kinds of language. One is putonghua, and the other is a dialect. Right? People who speak putonghua do not have the obligation and need to master any other dialect. Right? But the Chinese people have the obligation to speak putonghua. You are not obliged to speak the northeastern dialect, the Sichuan dialect, the Beijing dialect, the Tianjin dialect ... right? You may only master the dialect of the place where you grew up, your hometown's mother tongue. You have no obligation to speak the dialects of other places. But everybody is obliged to speak putonghua.
When you meet someone who doesn't speak the same dialect as you do, what should you do? Both sides should speak putonghua. What kind of person would deliberately refuse to speak putonghua? Bastard (note: literally, turtle egg). Some other motive must be involved.
For example, consider a Hong Kong person. You say that he is a Chinese person. According to what I know, many Hong Kong persons do not consider themselves to be Chinese. They often say, "We in Hong Kong, you in China." They are bastards. These kinds of people are used to serve as running dogs for the British people. Today they are dogs. They are not humans. I know that many Hong Kong persons are good people. But many Hong Kong persons are still dogs.
If the same incident were to happen to a Hong Kong person, what would be the result? The result would not be the same. Mr. Lu Xun had criticized these westernized fools a long time ago. Mr. Lu Xun said that there were these westernized fools in the streets of Shanghai. They specialized in harassing rural people who don't know the regulations, such as not understanding the traffic light system or littering in the streets. They would rush up immediately to arrest them. In front of the imperialists, these people are dogs; in front of the Chinese people, these people are wolves. These people represent the dregs of colonialism.
I have been to Hong Kong many times before. There are many good things about Hong Kong. For example, the rule of law. Speaking of the rule of law, the British brought it there and let it stay. How did the British deal with these Hong Kong dogs? They gave them a good lashing. They lash them harshly. Today, the Beijingers would say that these people fucking deserve a physical lashing. Today Hong Kong has been returned to China for so long already, but their hearts and minds have not returned yet. There are still plenty of running dogs for the colonialists. In front of the colonialists, they are dogs; in front of the mainlanders, they are wolves. In the language of how to describe how the Japanese used the Taiwan and Korean conscript soldiers, we say that these are "second-class ghouls." There are still plenty of "second-class ghouls" in Hong Kong now.
Hey, why? You look at the guy in the video. Does he resemble a human, even though you can't understand what he is saying? So a kid is eating in the subway train. You say, "Little friend, you cannot do this. There is such a regulation. What you are doing is bad." That is how it should be handled, right? Besides the mother had said, "We didn't know. We won't eat anymore. Is that okay?" But the incident did not come to an end. Also it was a group action by many persons. It was a group action. Is that how you treat another Hong Kong person? An American person? A Japanese person? Is that how you deal with American and Japanese persons? I have never seen you done that.
Do Hong Kong people have high quality? I think that the Hong Kong people have relatively poorer quality compared to people elsewhere in China. I have been to Hong Kong many times. I have seen many Hong Kong persons act without ethics. They steal, they cheat, they swindle, they defraud. There was nothing they wouldn't do. Not many Hong Kong tourist guides or salespersons have ethics. What right do Hong Kong people have to stand tall and proud?
Let me say again, many Hong Kong persons are dogs!
TV Hostess: Let us look at what Internet users are saying:
User 1: During the initial stages of the reforms (in China), Hong Kong took advantage of the mainland. Today the mainland is developing, so they are jealous. This is truly the small-mindedness of a British island colony.
User 2: Hong Kong people have a tradition of discrimination against mainlanders.
Kong: If that is the case, then Hong Kong should not bother to maintain any relationship with the mainland. We the mainland will no longer provide you with water and vegetables. You live on your own, or you can look to your British daddy.
User 3: Quantity without quality. This is the moral quality of the Chinese people. This way of thinking.
Kong: In any country, there are morally upright as well as morally defective people. In Hong Kong, there is a large group of morally defective people. This is based upon my personal experience. But why are they so forthright? This is just like when the colonized Korean look down on other nationalities. The Hong Kong people look down on the mainlanders similarly. Typical colonialism attitude. Children of westerners mentality.
User 4: The correct thing to do is to seek co-existence of differences. You shouldn't wink at mistakes, but you shouldn't ban them.
User 5: No eating in the subway? There are people drinking beer in the subway. It is better in China.
Kong: It is never good to eat in the subway anywhere (in the world). The problem is what do we do when we spot a child eating in a subway car. We should treat them equally. We shouldn't rush up to scold them because they are peasants. Is that right? Besides, you Hong Kong people should not presume that you have any superiority. Hong Kong has lost all its superiority. Hong Kong used to be a Special Administrative Region within China. But today Hong Kong does not have anything superior. You rely on mainland tourists to make a living.
TV Hostess: Supposedly the environment is cleaner in Hong Kong.
Kong: That is correct. Why is it cleaner? Because they rely on the rule of law. They do not rely on the quality of the people. Just like in Singapore, you get fined 5,000 dollars for smoking. When you have to resort to the legal system to maintain order, it shows that your people have no quality and no self-consciousness. You won't do what you are supposed to unless you get a beating. This is summarized in one word: Trash.
User 6: It is better for Hong Kong not to be returned to China. Mainlanders are hurting the chances of the Hong Kong people to become first-class world citizens.
Kong: Right, two million Hong Kong people live in pigeon nest buildings with apartments that are less than 20 square meters in area. What do you have to be proud of?
This got the professor front page news coverage in Hong Kong's top selling newspaper Oriental Daily (January 21, 2012).
Translation: Peking University professor: Hong Kong people are dogs
Here is an Internet spook of the professor:
(China Review) January 21, 2012.
Yesterday our reporter contacted Kong Qingdong to ask him to explain his assertion that "Hong Kong people are dogs." When Dong learned that his statement had caused many Hong Kong people to feel insulted, he asked our reporter: "Is there anything wrong with saying that 'some Hong Kong people are dogs'? I have previously criticized Shenzhen people, Shanghai people and Beijing people and it was no big deal. So is Hong Kong the tiger whose butt cannot be touched?" "In any place, some people are going to be dogs. Some New Yorkers are dogs, some Beijingers are dogs, so why isn't it the same with Hong Kong?"
kong Qingdong clarified that he did not say that all Hong Kong persons are dogs, "just some." He believed that "normal persons, persons who are educated and persons who consider themselves to be humans" will know clearly what he really meant. He said that some Hong Kong persons hold a sense of superiority as colonialists. But since the reforms and openings of China, the mainland cities have developed faster and Hong Kong needs to explore its economic development principles anew. "It is bad for Hong Kong people to keep bullying mainlanders." He advised those "superior-feeling Hong Kong persons" to reflect upon themselves.
Apart from charging Hong Kong people with self-importance, Kong Qingdong extended his criticisms to the Hong Kong academics and media. He accused some Hong Kong professors of "lecturing mainlanders all the time," and the Hong Kong media of "fostering the belief that they come from an advanced region." He said that if Hong Kong persists in fighting with the mainland, they will ultimately lose out. He criticized many Hong Kong persons for lacking nationalist consciousness, which has been buried by their sense of superiority. He asked the Hong Kong people to "have a conscience" and be smart enough to build up their nationalist consciousness.
Finally Kong Qingdong said, "As mainlanders, we don't feel any need to meddle with Hong Kong affairs. But you Hong Kong people keep wanting to lecture us." He asked the Hong Kong Tourism Board to examine upon service qualities: "Tourism depends on service. If your attitude is lousy, they won't come again."
He said that Hong Kong people do not appreciate their best attributes. "They keep wanting to lecture other people. The sooner these people wake up the better. It would be bad if mainlanders stop coming." Then he hung up the phone in a hurry.
There is supposed to be a demonstration down at the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong to protest the remarks of Professor Kong Qingdong. This is handing the China Liaison Office an opportunity for a smackdown: "Professor Kong is exercising his citizen's freedom of expression, and this office has no intention of interfering with his constitutionally guaranteed right to do so." Besides you really wouldn't want the Chinese government to step in and force the dismissal of a scholar (regardless of what he had done) because a few thousand people petitioned for his removal.
(Ming Pao) January 22, 2012.
The Hong Kong man involved in the incident is named Ken. Yesterday he was interviewed for the first time.
Ken said that the YouTube video did not show what occurred shortly before. He had started off by using putonghua to kindly remind the female mainlander about the MTR regulations against eating. Because this was not shown, "Kong Qingdong did not understand the whole situation. Therefore I felt that he was being indiscreet in his comments."
Ken said that many mainlanders follow the Hong Kong regulations over the years. "This was an isolated incident. I don't want to create the impression that all mainlanders are uncultured." He said that he was heaped with abuses from mainlanders over the past few days. But when he explained what really happened, the mainlanders understood. This showed that the mainlanders are not all barbaric and unreasonable. Ken also admitted that he was too rash and negative when he uttered "Mainlanders are like that!" and he apologized publicly for that remark. "But has Professor Kong said even half a sentence in apology?"
Ken said that he will not be participating in this afternoon's demonstration outside the China Liaison Office. "Kong Qingdong represents himself only. I don't want to instigate hostile feelings. The people of Hong Kong have their own refined qualities. If Kong was speaking on behalf of the state, it would be a different thing. But he is just presenting his own personal position."
At Facebook, almost 16,000 persons have indicated "Like" to a suggestion for people to take their dogs out for a stroll near the China Liaison Office. Other Internet users have called for a letter-writing campaign to Peking University to demand a public apology from Kong Qingdong. They also want "all Chinese wealthy people who intends to make donations to Peking University to withhold their donations indefinitely."
The scholar Chan Won wrote on his Facebook page that the position of Kong Qingdong is not necessarily the position of the official organizations (such as Peking University and the Chinese government). Therefore, any popular request to the China Liaison Office to sanction Kong Qingdong may be enabling the Chinese government to interfere with the freedoms of speech and academic research.
More Hong Kong front page news stories on January 22, 2012.
Hong Kong Daily News: Photo of Chief Executive candidate Henry Tang with quote: "Hong Kong people aren't dogs."
Apple Daily: Kong Qingdong offers sly justification
Once again accuses Hong Kong people of being mindless
Oriental Daily: Down with the trash-talking professor
Kong Qingdong has angered all of Hong Kong; 10,000 persons will surround the China Liaison Office today
Addendum: Professor Kong Qingdong is famous for cursing people out. For a previous run-in with a newspaper reporter, see The Professor vs. Southern Daily Group
Last year, "Red Cross" Guo Meimei made herself famous by showing off her wealth and possessions while claiming to be a general manager with an organization affiliated with the Red Cross of China. She did not seem very successful in launching a career in the entertainment industry, but she managed to decimate charitable donations. Here comes the latest wannabe.
Name: Guo Yue'er
Location: Chaoyang district, Beijing city
Number of followed microblogs: 106
Number of followers: 551
Number of microblog posts: 635
Sina.com verification (V): Employee of the Jilin City's liaison office in Beijing
Her microblog post contains many photos of up-scale products such as:
In theory, all Beijing liaison offices for other cities and provinces have been eliminated. So what is she working on for Jilin City? Where does she get all the money to buy the luxury items?
Oh, she was photographed in an Audi TT car.
Because of the attention, Gao Yue'er changed her photo from a young woman to a dumpster truck. But the verification (V) is still for an employee of Jilin City's Beijing liaison office.
And then the verification (V) got removed. Most of the microblog posts were removed and the remaining 24 are inaccessible now.
Xinhua interviewed Zhou Zhongbo, the director of Jilin City's Beijing liaison office.
Q: With respect to the Gao Yue'er affair, we want to ask first: Is such a person with the Jilin City's Beijing liaison office?
A: No such person.
Q: Are you sure that there is no such person here?
A: Definitely no such person.
Q: Could she be the family member of one of your colleagues?
A: No. Definitely not.
Q: Definitely not. Right?
A: Yes, yes, yes. There are very few of us, and we basically know about each other's family. She is definitely not with the Jilin City's Beijing liaison office and she is not a family member of a Beijing-based staff member. We don't know what motivated her to say so.
Q: So how shall we look at this matter? Ultimately, this matter will affect the reputation of our Beijing liaison office, right?
A: Yes, many of our colleagues are angry and want to rebut. Let me tell everybody: there are plenty of such people around, whether they want to gather attention or maybe they have some ulterior motive. There is no point in wrangling with such people. She does not work for our office. She has no idea of the purpose of our office or out work. She has no idea.
Q: So why does she say that she works for the Jilin City's Beijing Liaison Office?
A: I can't say. I don't know what is on her mind. At least, this person does not work for our office and she does not know much about us. There are many such cases. I wish the state can have some policies directed against these irresponsible actions and assertions. I want to see some policies and regulations, so that people will bear legal responsibility in such cases.
Later on Sina.com responded to this case and stated (1) Gao Yue'er is not an employee of the Jilin City's Beijing Liaison office; (2) her verification was based upon faulty information; (3) the Sina.com employee and his/her manager who are responsible for granting her the V (for verification) status have been docked half a month's pay; (4) Sina.com apologizes to everybody for making the mistake, and promises to be more rigorous in the future.
(Southern Metropolis Daily)
According to a Sina.com manager, the mistake this time occurred because their worker lightly trusted the recommendation of an acquaintance. "The applicant claimed that she was a worker with the Jilin City's Beijing Liaison Office, and somebody false provided false testimony on her behalf." He said that they have tightened up their verification process after the "Guo Meimei" affair, but someone still slipped up her.
The "Gao Yue'er" affair had collateral damage. One of her friends is a man named Shi Jiajun, who was verified by Sina.com as the office director of the Jifa division of the Jilin City Land Tax Bureau. An Internet user contacted the Jilin City Land Tax Bureau which said "No such person." The microblog for Shi Jiajun has been deleted.
But there is no shortage of people willing to jump on the bandwagon. Later in the day, the actor Sun Chaoyang (V for verified) wrote: <Exposing the true identity of Gao Yue'er> The true identity of Gao Rui'er who is causing such a stir by showing off her wealth is not an employee of the Jilin City's Beijing Liaison Office as stated in the Sina.com verified status. I know Gao Yue'er. In 2009, she applied for a job at the film company where I worked for. I was in charge of screening actors. We had a friendship. In reality Gao Yue'er is just a small-time actresses seeking to realize her dream in Beijing. I learned later that she became the mistress of some guy."
Why would you believe this Sun Chaoyang either?
(Oriental Daily (Hong Kong))
Front page story headline: Shenzhen police stepped over to Dongguan and killed
According to local information, a Shenzhen police officer was at a Chang'an (Dongguan) night club. After getting into an argument with security guards, he called to summon 40 fully armed SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) officers from Shenzhen to support him. But the security guards overwhelmed the SWAT officers who retreated in disarray. One SWAT officer fired his pistol in retaliation. A taxi driver waiting for passengers outside the nightclub was shot, and later died at the hospital.
This happened around 11:15pm on the night before yesterday. A bus pulled up in front on one of the top night clubs (Legend) in Chang'an town (Dongguan city). Thirty to forty Shenzhen SWAT officers wearing bullet-proof vests and steel helmets came out and charged into the night club. But within three to five minutes, the several dozen SWAT officers withdrew outside, being chased by a large number of men in black clothing carrying knives and rods. One SWAT officer fired into the air outside the night club, but the men in black kept coming. As this SWAT officer ran off, he fired three to four shots behind him. The taxi driver Luo Lijun was waiting for passengers outside the nightclub. He clutched his stomach and ran back towards his car. He collapsed near the front of his car. Others went up to him and saw that he had been shot in the stomach. Other taxi drivers took Luo Lijun to the nearby Wusha People's Hospital. He was later transferred to the better equipped Chang'an People's Hospital to undergo emergency surgery. But he died several hours later.
According to information from the scene, a Shenzhen police officer had an argument with a service worker in the night club. The security guards came in. The police officer was outnumbered and called his Shenzhen colleagues for help. The Shenzhen Bao'an Public Security Bureau dispatched several dozen SWAT officers to head to this other city in a bus. According to the local Dongguan police, the Shenzhen police did not inform them as required by the rules.
The Dongguan police came in to investigate and sealed the crime scene with armed police officers. Several witnesses were taken back to assist in the investigation.
Mainland Internet users decried the SWAT officers for being outdone by night club security guards, and even shot a passerby.
Because the case involved both Dongguan and Shenzhen, the Guangdong provincial public security bureau is paying a high degree of attention. A special case squad has been established to investigate the case. The SWAT officer who fired the shots has been ordered to surrender his pistol and undergo interrogation.
According to a Dongguan City Public Security Bureau bulletin on January 11, the 12 suspects involved in the attack on Shenzhen police officers on the night of January 9 have either been apprehended or turned themselves in.
After the incident took place, the police set up a case squad to hunt down the suspects on the run. Early morning on January 11, the police arrested the eight suspects named Zhuang (male from Leizhou city, Guangdong province), Zhang (male from Zhengzhou city, Henan province), Chen (male from Lingshan county, Guangxi province), Wang (male from Hushan town, Dongguan city), Chen (male from Chongqing city) andang (male from Hunan province) in Chang'an and Humen towns, Dongguan city. They also confiscated a number of weapons such as knives. At the same time, four other suspects including Zhao (male from Dancheng county, Henan province) turned themselves to the police. During the interrogation, Zhuang, Zhang and other suspects have admitted that they attacked the police with knives. The twelve individuals have been placed under detention.
Further investigation is being conducted for the case. The police is urging other suspects to turn themselves in for the sake of leniency.
(Southern Metropolis Daily)
At around 23:00 on January 9, Shenzhen City Public Security Bureau police officers and safety patrol members came to a certain night club in Chang'an town, Dongguan city to arrest certain crime suspects in an organized crime case. They were attacked by night club employees who were armed with knives. Six Shenzhen City safety patrol members were injured.
According to the police bulletin, the police fired warning shots upon being attacked. The attackers continued to chase and slash them. The police was forced to shoot in self-defense. The attackers quickly fled the scene. During the process, a taxi driver waiting for customers was shot by mistake in the stomach, and he died subsequently at the hospital.
After getting reports, the Chang'an Town Dongguan City Public Security Bureau dispatched officers to the scene, control the crime scene and provide medical aid to the injured persons. They assisted the Shenzhen police to take 38 crime suspects away for investigation. Of these two crime suspects in an organized crime case were criminally detained and the other 36 drug users were held for administrative detention.
2011 has gone by a few days ago. When I was still in school, I really hated the year-end summary reports. Each year, I always felt that there was no need to force an assignment to pour out your heart's contents. Besides there was nothing much to summarize. Later I realize that memory is not the most unreliable thing, so therefore I am willing to write things down. When I was young, I always thought that the original meaning of the word 'memorandum' is to record things on small books so as to jar the memory later. But ... isn't this how it is?
[... omitted are descriptions of car racing results and family life during the year ...]
In 2011, my essays underwent huge changes. These changes actually began in 2009 and 2010. At the time, I was writing essays to criticize current social ills and the government out of the sorrow and hatred within me. I am a person who detests restraints. If I see a pothole on the road at night, I would stop my car, call the police and guard the spot until they came. I am that type of person. I kept hoping that China would suddenly become a society in the style of the United States of America or Taiwan. I even thought that Hong Kong or Singapore are imperfect. The system was the root of all evil. The system necessarily carried huge flaws.
I received plenty of accolades for my essays. So I began to care about those accolades; I even unconsciously pander to them. But the pity and sorrow cannot prevent tragedy from recurring.
By 2010, many of my essays became attributions of sin and other variants of the standard essays -- the system is bad, the government is corrupt, tragedies occur, the people suffer pathetically. I think such criticisms will be popular in any society, because the rulers are being corrupt and greedy, and the government and the people are standing on opposite sides.
Yes, you can tell anyone anywhere: We are such a pathetic lot; your boss is an asshole; he ruined so many things; he drives a fine car and keeps a mistress; you deserve far better with your ability; that stupid cunt is not qualified to be your boss; everybody has the right to become bosses or to change bosses; everything that he owns should be yours. Apart from your boss, everybody else will think that you are saying what they are thinking too.
So I write those essays, adding a few wise cracks here and there too. People feel that I spoke very well. People labeled anyone who disagreed with me as "Fifty Cent Gang members," running dogs for the power-that-be and the enemy of the people. If you want to make a couple of critical comments about me, you better have a 1000-word pre-amble before you can put in a couple of critical sentences. Otherwise, you will be assigned all sorts of labels, just like those who I criticized were assigned all sorts of labels. Between the Left and the Right, there is never any compromise or negotiation. When I found that my critics grew fewer or else they became very cautious, I was naturally happy for a while. Then I thought that this was not right. No matter how right I am in what I say, I know that I must be mistaken sometime somewhere.
So I thought about this for a long time. I gradually felt that even as a good writer attacks the powers-that-be, he ought to criticize the masses as well. In some essays in early 2011, such as <Do we need the truth or do we need a convenient truth?> about the case of village chief Qian Wenhui, I began to change. Of course, when both sides are present in my criticisms, I would criticize the powers-that-be first. The reason is simple: the powers-that-be have gotten the benefits whereas the masses are the ones who suffered. But this does not mean that a good writer should pander to the masses without any moral compunction whatsoever.
You say that the people are so good, so gentle, so high-quality; the people deserves this and that; the people should enjoy this and that; the heavens gave various rights to the people; the people's eyes are not just bright as snow but they are also double-slitted ... These words are actually no different from what Mao Zedong said to pander to the people before he ascended to power. The masses were merely bargain chips for him to gain power and authority.
A few years ago, I was a determined revolutionary. I thought that the one-party rule must be overturned; that multi-party rule was the way to go; that direct elections are essential; that the separation of powers is essentia; that the military must be nationalized. At the time, friends argued with me: People will die; there will be chaos everythwere; the nation will fall backwards.
At the time, my view was: Not necessarily the case; how do you know if you don't try it? your views are the excuses offered by the ruling class; besides, anything comes with a price and if you don't become more extreme and radical, you can't eradicate the ills; grand peace can only come after great disorder; in a time of chaos, who says I won't be a person of influence? But I gradually discovered that this attitude is not that much different from certain dictators who say: "Who cares if the deluge comes after my death?" Extreme idealism that is divorced from reality is not qualitatively different from extreme dictatorship. In fact they are the same except that they raise different banners. It is possible that you can become the person that you once most detested.
Therefore, I don't want to be anything else. With respect to all the freedoms related to my work, I will follow the constitution. I will demand ceaselessly, no matter if I am sleeping, sitting, standing, walking, writing or speaking. I will demand ceaselessly until you want to quit. No impetus, no transformation. As for writing, I hope to write only what I like to hear and listen to in this new year. I won't try to please anyone other than my daughter. I will write what I want to write. If I don't want to write, I will use an apostrophe only.
@FreeLunch is a public donations program started by Deng Fei and more than 500 reporters, several dozen mainstream Chinese media outlets and the United Nations Social Welfare Foundation. The idea was to get people to donate "three yuan per day in order to provide free lunches for children from poor families."
At 1:09 on the day before yesterday, the microblog "Weibo World" posted: "According to reliable information, @FreeLunch is suspected of 'money laundering.' The Communist Party Central Disciplinary Committee's relevant office is investigating. The targets of the investigation include the core personnel of @FreeLunch (including the workers in the Beijing organization) and the accounting ledgers. According to information, @FreeLunch has solicited several tens of millions yuan in donations already." "Weibo World" followed with: "This information was obtained just this evening" and "the whole truth will be known soon, and the police should enter the case on a timely basis."
"Weibo World" is the official microblog of the magazine of the same name.
At 2:19, "Free Lunch" responded on microblog: "The Chinese Social Welfare Foundation operates in accordance with the rules and regulations, and is not under investigation by Central Disciplinary Committee. We have preserved the relevant evidence. The Free Lunch Foundation will be taking the necessary legal steps." This microblog links to the web pages of the previously published financial statements/budgets.
But "Weibo World" did not back off. "We welcome your lawsuit anytime anywhere. It is our wish that you disclose your books in court."
Surprisingly, "Weibo World" admitted at noon that the information was inaccurate. The information about @FreeLunch being investigated by the Central Disciplinary Committee for money laundering "has been deleted because there is no concrete information. We apologize for any inconvenience created for microblog friends and the relevant departments."
Our reporter interviewed "Weibo World" magazine chief editor Wang Ganlin, who personally oversees the "Weibo World" microblog. The reason for making the original post was that he was dining with some friends, when one attendee made the claim. "This friend has a relative who works at the Central Disciplinary Committee." But Wang Ganlin admitted that this friend also said that "the information has not been officially confirmed."
Wang Ganlin said that the microblog post was forwarded many times (note: the "Weibo World" microblog had 180,000 plus subscribers). Since he did not have the evidence, he has deleted that post. But he said: "Although I deleted the post, my doubts have not been removed. I have additional information on hand but this is not the right moment to disclose it."
But netizens were not as sanguine as Wang Ganlin. "It was like a rollercoaster," wrote one microblogger. @FreeLunch founder Deng Fei said that their volunteers and donors found this type of apology unacceptable.
More people were skeptical about "Weibo World"'s actions. Yesterday Wang Ganlin posted: "I and other Internet friends had previously posted our doubts about @FreeLunch but it did not draw much attention from either netizens or the relevant departments." He also characterized this affair as "viral marketing" of his ongoing campaign.
Wang's comments enraged some netizens. "@WeiboWorld manufactured such a big rumor without any concrete information that @FreeLunch was engaged in money laundering and under investigation by the Central Disciplinary Committee. This is far worst than the previous cases in which accounts were shut down."
At around 2200 yesterday, the official Sina.com "Weibo Rumor Buster" administrator announced that the @WeiboWorld account has been canceled for publishing information that it cannot provide any concrete information for.
[Background: France 24 has a report on Lao Rong entitled Phoney 'citizen journalist' exposed. Some people asked France 24 about the author/source of this report, suspecting that it was a Fifty Cent Gang member. The reporter responded that ESWN was the source (see AC Thin Air). Lao Rong has not yet responded to these challenges on his microblog, but he has given an interview to Yunnan Information News (YNXXB). The Q&A is translated below.]
Q: Have you ever been to Libya?
A: For reasons that everybody knows and understands, I keep my silence on this question.
Q: If you didn't go, aren't you embarrassed about receiving awards?
A: Whether I went or not is not the reason for giving out the awards. I think that they want to praise a spirit of "saying white is white." This is the spirit of "amateur media workers" on the microblogsphere.
Q: Where do the photos on the microblog mainly come from?
A: I have said repeatedly from the start that I only took one or two of them. I am not going to tell you which ones. Apart from <National Geographic>, which media only use their own photos or videos. Please raise your hands?
Q: At first, your microblog posts went out under the name of the Rongtong News Agency. Why didn't it continue later?
A: I was hoping that the Rongtong News Agency format would be used consistently. But it was no longer permitted. I had two choices: stop my work or use another format. It is a victory as long as the information gets out. Obviously I chose the latter. At the time when I made that decision, I made a statement in a post. Of course, the post may not seem to be serious. It was like a joke: "From now on, I will begin to write microblog fiction." Previousl to that, my microblog was delayed for almost a month. I could not post anything except advertisements. This was a compromise. Although it was hard to take, it was better than posting advertisements only. The most recent example was on January 1. I captioned a photo in a serious tone, and the post was deleted. I captioned the same photo in a somewhat facetious tone, and the post was deleted as well. Finally I packaged it like a gossip story, and the post is still there. But the information was still transmitted.
Q: It is proper to re-post certain photos and events as if you were an eyewitness?
A: Alright, I ultimately made 20,000 posts and uploaded 1,000 photos, not including videos. They spent so much time to find just 10 pieces of gossip. What does this say? Actually many of the photos were sent to me directly from other people. I can find many instances in which the photos that I posted appeared before they appeared on these other people's websites. I can't say enough. It is clear that there is nothing wrong with forwarding information. But I clearly issued the reminder: This is not necessarily mine. I made the statement in a post, and I repeated it so many times. Many more photos vanished after I posted them. I already told you that I was "writing fiction." So why can't you let me write in the first person? I am not as rigorous as running a real newspaper. From start to finish, I was just playing with myself. There is bound to be errors, possibly a lot. But I can confidently that these are all details which do not affect the judgment about the events. From March to December 2011, I would not be doing it this way if I were running a genuine news agency. Fortunately, I was not (running a news agency) and therefore I can make abnormal reporting. Actually, very very few of the posts were "fictional writing," only when I was warned. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't do that unless I had t0. Besides, I never release proper news using the "fictional writing" format, which is limited solely to embellishments. You can see that these are really only embellishments. Prior to March, I annotated everything. Afterwards, I repeatedly stated that I was citing foreign news reporting.
Q: Can you estimate how much "embellished content" you have?
A: Very little. More so after the victory. Very little before August 20, 2011. Too much would make it sensitive.
Q: But the questions over those photos have affected the overall credibility. Isn't it destroying everything before now?
A: Of course not, because the matter is basically over. The truth is now known about the facts that I narrated. The individual embellishments were merely for entertainment. I am actually very cautious about the "fictional writing" format. I make the statement up front and I repeat it continuously afterwards. Besides I only use it as embellishments on special moments, such as travel, dining, etc. You can see that it is all like that. The news of the apprehension of Qaddafi was not like that. Besides if those are not lies, then what can be wrong about the photos?
Q: You received so much attention last year. Did it affect and change you?
A: Yes, it left a deep impression. In the past, I don't understand reporters. Now I really understand them.
[Follow-up: Lao Rong has made a microblog post about the France 24 article on him. @Wensquare promptly contacted France 24 and received a completely different response.
Lao Rong: Replying to @860MHz: I am glad that someone from France 24 has personally called to apologize and expressing the willingness to issue a correction, even though I said that it didn't matter. Of course, I took the chance to pay my respect to the excellent report by France 24 during the Libya revolution.
[Follow-up: Lao Rong made a post to show the evidence that France 24 was reaching out to him to apologize.
Time: 17:10 January 5, 2012
Photo 1 (there may be a photo 2 or photo 3, depending on the situation. In any case, I am always the last one to post photos:))
The photo showed an email
From [Blacked out sender]
Time: 13:07 January 4, 2012
To: [Blacked out recipient]
Text: How are you? I am very embarrassed. I was the one who caused Lao Rong trouble. I am with France 24. I was responsible for that news story. Please tell me if you have a way of contacting Lao Rong. I want to apologize to him.
As you might expect, this post drew more scorn from Internet users. Who is the sender? Was it a hoaxer? You can't tell. Who was the recipient? Was it a hoaxer too? You can't tell. Is this whole email a hoax? You can't tell. But you know that this clarifies nothing whatsoever, and only digs an even deeper hole for Lao Rong.]
Background: China Daily Deciphering origins of the Da Vinci code July 15, 2011
It was about1 pm on Monday and the Da Vinci store on Shanghai' s Huaihai Road was open, but no customers were in sight. The company, established in Shanghai in2000, sells luxury furniture, which means overseas brands and overseas prices. " We sell high-end furniture, imported from foreign countries," a saleswoman said. " They are purchased globally." That' s how the label actually read- " globally purchased" - on a silk-covered couch priced around110,000 yuan($16,975). But the saleswoman could not say where it, or other pieces, had come from.
In Da Vinci' s case, country of origin has become an important issue.
Chinese Central Television( CCTV) reported on Sunday night that some of Da Vinci' s expensive furniture was not made abroad but in Dongguan, Guangdong province. And what the company called" rare wood" was, in some cases, partly polymer and other chemicals.
Early last year, a Beijing resident surnamed Tang spent more than2.8 million yuan($433,270) on about40 pieces of furniture from Da Vinci. She did not hesitate to pay that much for furniture labeled" Cappelletti made in Italy." She said the salesperson promised that the Cappelletti brand is world-famous and that all the furniture Tang bought was made from natural and high-quality materials. When the furniture was delivered, Tang said, it came with an unpleasant smell. The100,000 yuan bed she had bought for her daughter was1.2 meters wide, not the1.5 meters described in the contract. A sales manager at Da Vinci Beijing explained that China' s measurement standards are different from those in foreign countries, Tang said. Tang sent the bed and a television table for a quality check by the National Center for Quality Supervision and Inspection of Furniture and Indoor Environment. The furniture did not meet three of its quality standards. The TV table was rated substandard because it was made of high-density fiberboard, not solid wood.
On Sunday, CCTV broadcast its investigation of Tang' s case, and an employee of a furniture manufacturer in Guangdong said Da Vinci lied about where some of its furniture comes from. Video footage identified Peng Jie as the general manager of Dongguan Changfeng Furniture. He said his company receives orders from Da Vinci and ships the made-in-China furniture from Shenzhen' s harbor to Italy. The furniture later is delivered to Da Vinci' s storehouse in Shanghai as made-in-Italy products, he said. Peng said Changfeng has taken orders for Da Vinci since2006 and produced three" brands" of furniture- Riva, Hollywood Homes and Cappelletti. Their trade, unknown to the owners of the Riva and Cappelletti brands, totaled about50 million yuan last year, he said.
China Daily learned that Peng, the whistle-blower, was sacked on Monday" because he told lies to media about our company' s relationship with Da Vinci", a male employee at Changfeng furniture said on the phone. Peng was not Changfeng company' s general manager but a salesman, the employee said. He also said Changfeng used to provide accessories or components for Da Vinci, but not whole pieces of furniture.
Da Vinci Group released a public statement on its website Sunday night saying, " All the Italian brand furniture that Da Vinci sells in China was produced and imported from Italy."
At a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday, Da Vinci general manager Panzhuang Xiuhua insisted that all the Italian furniture displayed in her eight outlets" was truly made in Italy". Panzhuang, who burst into tears several times, said she was willing to buy20 tickets for journalists and customers to travel to Italy for a field study of her Italian suppliers.
She did say the" American furniture" pieces in her stores, including the Hollywood Homes brand, mostly were outsourced products made in countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Indonesia and China. She said the sales staff had told buyers about the places of origin. Panzhuang also said that Changfeng makes furniture for Hollywood Homes.
Tino Cappelleti, who was introduced as CEO of Cappelleti, said his company' s furniture is"100 percent made in Italy" and all its material meets the European Union' s quality standards.
The news conference was interrupted twice by an unidentified customer who yelled that he worried about the quality of Da Vinci' s furniture. He said he had bought some costing more than10 million yuan. The company did not respond to his comments, and he left. " I am considering returning all furniture and asking for compensation from Da Vinci," a customer named Ding told China Daily after the conference. He said he had spent nearly3 million yuan at the store.
(Caixin Century Weekly) The PR Trap January 2, 2012
The July 10 2011 airing of "The Da Vinci 'Code'" had a tremendous impact on Da Vinci Furnitures. In face of the crisis, the Da Vinci directors did not seek justice through legal redress; instead, they chose to follow the "hidden rules."
"We are Singaporeans doing business in China. We do not know any powerful government officials." Da Vinci director Huang Zhixin told our reporter. Through the introduction of the shareholder Fan Jichao at the Shanghai store, they found the vice-general manager Sun Guojun of a certain Beijing real estate company.
"On the morning of July 14, Sun Guojun called me and said that he has found 'those people'. He told me to hurry over." Huang Zhixin said, "He told me that these people will be coming over. There is no need to discuss anything. I can proceed directly to discuss money. When agreement is reached about the money, the matter will be over."
That noon, Huang Zhixin met with two men and one woman. They took him to the Ping'an International Finance Center across the Kunlun Hotel. There he met Cui Bin, the chief executive of a certain company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Cui had held senior-level jobs at many Chinese media companies and has lots of media contacts in Beijing.
According to our investigation, Cui Bin knows the undercover reporter "Li Zhong" who filed the "Da Vinci 'code'" report on <Weekly Quality Report> program. The two were part of a media group that went on an inspection trip in the USA in June 2011 under the sponsorship of a certain company. Huang Zhixin claimed that Cui Bin showed him photos of the trip as stored in his mobile phone. A public relations contract worth 3 million yuan was put in front of Huang, with the money to be paid in three installments. He understood that the conditions and the amount of money on that contract were "not negotiable." It took "about one hour" from the time that he met Cui Bin at 2pm to signing the contract to Cui sending a hireling to go with Huang to get the corporate seal stamped on the contract plus a check for the first installment payment of 1.2 million yuan.
In this "public relations consulting service cooperation contract," Party B was "Media China Net (Beijing Heli Media Advertising Limited Company," which is obligated to "hold in-depth communication with the various mainstream media to help Party A (Beijing Da Vinci Furnitures Limited Company) to resolve the media criticisms and to gradually erase the negative impact of the media reporting." The principal duties of Party B include: key public relations strategizing; communications with key media (communication with the CCTV Advertising Department and the key people in the television program team); Internet public relations service (Party B will act to eliminate the impact of the pervasive negative reporting).
The authorized representative for Party B is Chen Jinfang, executive vice-president at Media China; the cheque given on July 14 and the second installment of 1.2 million yuan from Da Vinci Furnitures were both received by the Beijing Heli Media Advertising Limited Company. According to information, this is a small private company registered in July 2002, and is one of the organizers of the Media China website, sharing the same office address. Cui Bin has no legal relationship with Party B in the contract.
However, Cui Bin was the person who did the actual public relations work. At just past 10pm on July 14 2010 after the first payment installment was made, Cui Bin came to the penthouse office of Da Vinci Furnitures at the Beijing Friendship Hotel and met with Panzhuang Xiuhua.
"We were most concerned with the progress of the discussions with CCTV and the reporter." Panzhuang Xiuhua and Huang Zhixin got this response, "The other side that the problem can only be solved if you and Tang Ying reach a settlement."
"We asked how we can settle? Cui Bin said that Tang Ying has connections. The CCTV people also said that they spent a lot of money on this story and they want Da Vinci to pay the bills." Huang Zhixin inquired directly about the amount. "Cui Xin made a phone call. He said that they want 8 million. After the payment is made, they can arrange to meet with our people."
Over the net two days, the Beijing Da Vinci store manager, Tang Ying's younger brother and the lawyers from the two sides held negotiations, but an agreement could not be reached.
On July 17, CCTV aired "Da Vinci 'code' 2." On the next day, the two sides quickly agreed: Da Vinci Furnitures paid 4.5 million yuan in "settlement payment" and agreed not to ask for any overdue payments from Tang Ying; Tang Ying abandoned his attempt to ask for 4.84 million yuan in compensation from Da Vinci Furnitures.
On the afternoon of July 19, Huang Zhixin's wife Zhou Caowen went to the China Agricultural Bank and wired two sums totaling 4.5 million yuan to Tang Ying's account at the Zhongguancun South Street branch of the Bank of China. On July 20 and 21, Tang Ying and Da Vinci Furnitures went separately to the Beijing Eastern District court to rescind their respective complaint and counter-complaint. The requests were approved by the court.
Our reporter called Tang Ying and his family to request an interview. On the first call, the other party said that they did not understand. On the second call, they hung up upon learning that the caller was a reporter.
On July 19, namely the evening of the day when Da Vinci Furnitures wired the "settlement fee" to Tang Ying," Panzhuang Xiuhua finally met the "CCTV person" -- Cui Bin addressed the the undercover reporter for "Da Vinci 'code'" Li Zhong as "Teacher Li."
The meeting was scheduled to take place at the Golden Lake Tea Restaurant near the Friendship Emporium. It was later changed to the more secluded Ruiji Hotel. As Panzhuang Xiuhua recalled, she asked immediately at the meeting: "We did not commit any counterfeiting. Why did you report that way? 'Teacher Li' said: Just because you didn't commit any counterfeiting does not mean that your Italian manufacturers didn't commit counterfeiting or individual employees of yours are not secretly selling counterfeits."
"'Teacher Li' kept saying that he had another 500 minutes of raw video footage. I was scared. I was not scared because I did anything. But I really could not endure the two 50 minute broadcasts so far." Panzhuang Xiuua said, "'Teacher Li' said that the 500 minute raw video footage can be aired or perhaps not."
"'Teacher Li' did not mention money. According to the recollection of Panzhuang Xiuhua, Cui Bing told her back at the company that night: "'Teacher Li' is offering to take money in order to pacify CCTV and not make a third report."
On July 25, Panzhuang Xiuhua got the answer: the amount was 1 million yuan. Since Da Vinci did not have the cash in China, she asked for the money to be wired from Hong Kong. Two days later, a China Trust Bank international account number was texted to her mobile phone.
On July 28, Huang Zhixin wired USD 155,200 (equivalent to 1 million yuan) to a bank account of the China Trust Bank branch located on the first floor of the Lippo Centre at 89 Admiralty Road, Hong Kong. The recipient was Ma Zheng.
Panzhuang Xiuhua said that she met 'Teacher Li' for four more times. Cui Bin was present each time. One one occasion, 'Teacher Li' requested to see her. On July 21, Da Vinci Furnitures posted a 62-page open letter to consumers. "'Teacher Li' was very angry and asked that we remove the document immediately. We immediately removed it." Another time, she asked 'Teacher Li' to meet at the Medea Hotel. "The media are still reporting on the case. What should we do? 'Teacher Li' wanted us to placate the consumers by sending sales people to the homes of our buyers to offer gifts of fresh fruit." Another time 'Teacher Li' asked to see her in order to tell her: "The Shanghai Ministry of Industry and Commerce asked CCTV for the 500 minute video but he did not comply in order to help us."
The final time was when when Panzhuang Xiuhua went through Cui Bin to ask for a meeting with 'Teacher Li' on September 2, 2011. She had already gotten the video/audio recordings made by the Italians on the CCTV reporter. This time, Panzhuang Xiuhua clearly had a different attitude. Right at the start of the meeting, she said that the other directors of the company did not agree with giving 1 million yuan to 'Teacher Li.' She took out the bank transfer slip to show Li. But Cui Bin interrupted her and said, "Everything took place between you and I, and it has nothing to do with him. You don't have to tell 'Teacher Li.' This has nothing to do with him."
From the tape recording of the conversation among the three, 'Teacher Li' was apparently surprised by Panzhuang Xiuhua's dogged mentions of the 1 million yuan issue." He said, "What? How come we are talking about this issue?" After the intercession from Cui Bin, 'Teacher Li' emphasized that this was a friendship issue in which he has done a lot already. He told Panzhuang Xiuhua: "Your husband is the legal representative (of Da Vinci). It is a fact that he is safe and sound, except for some business setbacks, right or not? This is because the matter was handled well at the time. If not, you tell me, Mr. Pan gets arrested by the police and possibly detained. How about that? I and Little Cui helped you out, right or not? Tang Ying is not a family relative of mine. But you listened to my advice and we dealt with it quickly, safely and soundly, right or not? ... Manager Pan, you can do wrong in business but you cannot do wrong as a person."
Panzhuang Xiuhua then requested "some positive reporting." "This is not asking you make something up. 'The Shanghai Ministry of Industry and Commerce has published the result of their investigation of Da Vinci and found no counterfeiting.' Just air this objective narrative one time." 'Teacher Li' did not answer directly. He merely strongly advised Da Vinci not to mention the counterfeiting case any more and to use the upcoming Italian Furniture Show to good effect. "In your promotions, you should de-emphasize the Da Vinci aspect and emphasize the furniture brands."
After the three left on their own ways, Pan Zhuang Xiuhua got a telephone call from Cui Bin who gave her an 'education.'
Cui: He will not admit that he took one cent from you. He will never ever admit it, you know. You said in front of me, "How can you say that?" ... You did this through me. I told you originally to give it to him directly, and this becomes something known only to you two? You did this through me, so this has nothing to do with him. He will never admit that there was such a thing, right or not?
Pan: Then I ask you Manager Cui about the money that we transferred into the Hong Kong account ...
Cui: Why was it transferred there? We have to keep it secret and not let anyone else know. It is that simple.
Pan: Didn't Reporter Li take it? Then you want him to help us.
Cui: You want him to help you. He didn't fail to help you. Didn't he come over today to help you ... Mrs. Pan, how your shareholders decide to split the cost has nothing to do with me. But you cannot say that he took the money or I took the money. You paid the money, that's it ... you transferred it, he came and helped you do what you wanted to do. This is the result that you want. He helped you to get the result that you want. That was the entire process ... I originally told you to set up a direct relationship, or I set up the occasion to set up a direct relationship. He didn't want to and you didn't want to either, right or not? Would you dare tell people that this was money used for bribery? Would you dare say it?
Pan: I am saying that this is bribery. But he ...
Cui: Then what is the money for?
Pan: It is what he wanted.
Cui: But didn't you want to give it? Were you willing to give it? Didn't it have to go through a middleman? ...
Through a text message from anonymous person, Panzhuang Xiuhua learned the name of 'Teacher Li' -- Li Wenxue. At the end of 'Da Vince 'code'', the credit listing showed that the undercover reporter was named 'Li Daxue.'
Did Li Wenxue take the 1 million yuan? On November 14, 2011, Da Vinci Furnitures filed a report with the CCTV Disciplinary Committee. In late November, they learned that the recipient Ma Zheng was not directly connected with either Cui Bin or Li Wenxue. Ma Zheng is the accountant of the Beijing Heli Media Advertising Limited Company. According to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Ma Zheng is one of the company's two shareholders as well as the general manager.
On December 9, 2011, Da Vinci Furnitures filed complaints with the General Administration of Press and Publications, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, the CCTV Disciplinary Committee, and the <Weekly Quality Report> program team. In the letters to GAPP and SARFT, Da Vinci pointed out <Weekly Quality Reporter> reporter Li Wenxue deliberately published false reports and covered up facts. Furthermore, Li acted in conjunction with Tang Ying and Cui Bin to extort Da Vinci and extract huge illicit profits. In the two letters to CCTV and its program team, Da Vinci asks the Disciplinary Committee to review its handling of the November 14 complaint and clarify the relevant facts in order to clear Da Vinci's name. Da Vinci also claimed to reserve their right to sue CCTV for defamation and ask for compensation for economic damages.
These complaints were accompanied by the certificates of authenticity from the Italian manufacturers and their business association, the CCTV interview by Zhu Feng of the Italian manufacturer Capolleti and telephone conversations, the investigation report by the Shanghai Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Customs Department, as well as the payment slips into the designated accounts of Tang Ying and Cui Bin. But Da Vinci did not include the recordings of conversations about the negotiating and paying money.
On December 12 and 13 2011, our reporter called up the CCTV Disciplinary Committee and the <Weekly Quality Report> program team, as well as sent out a request to interview the CCTV news centre. The CCTV Disciplinary Committee replied that it has received the complaint from Da Vinci and is investigating now. On December 17, the <Weekly Quality Report> program director told our reporter the following: they welcome the attention and reporting by our reporter, but they did not want to have a formal interview; the department believes that "The Da Vinci 'code'" program was objective and fact-based and not falsified; they believe that Da Vinci may have manipulated evidence so that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Safety Quality Inspection Department and the Customs Department came to different conclusions based upon incomplete information; they said that Li Wenxue told them that he was introduced by Cui Bin to meet twice with Panzhuang Xiuhua as follow-up to his reporting, but he denied ever taking any money. The program team said that if Da Vinci thinks that they have the evidence, they should go and report to the police.
The 240 million yuan public relations fee paid to Media China (Beijing Heli Media Advertising Company) (note: Da Vinci declined to pay the third installment of 600,000 yuan which was scheduled to be paid on September 15 2011), the 4.5 million paid to settle with Tang Ying and the USD 155,200 that "cannot be explained" totals to 7.9 million. Is this the 'rent' that Da Vinci paid to get rid of all its troubles? No, this was not even half of it.
In the panic, Da Vinci invested far more according to the "hidden rules." Panzhuang Xiuhua admitted that they also pursued a different line in the wake of the panic after the airing of "Da Vince 'code'". They went back to the original middleman Sun Guojun. "He quoted a high price for access fee to powerful personage(s) and government public relations fees. He got a total of 5.5 million yuan plus HKD 8 million."
Our reporter saw the relevant bank transfer documentary evidence: On July 21, 2011, Shenzhen Da Vinci wired 500,000 yuan from the Shenzhen Development Bank to the designated account at the China Industrial and Commercial Bank's Beijing World Trade Building branch, with recipient Ma Guizhen. On the same day, Da Vinci director Huang Zhixin wired HKD 6 million to a designated HSBC account in Hong Kong, with recipient Leung Kwo. On July 27, Huang Zhixin qeirws another HKD 2 million to Leung Kwo in the same account. On July 25 and August 5, Shenzhen Da Vinci wired 300 million yuan and 2 million yuan to Sun Guojun in his personal account at the Shenzhen Development Bank Beijing Fourth Ring Road branch.
"In late August, I met Sun Guojun at the Da Vinci office. He suddenly said that the matter was getting too complicated for him to handle. Then we realized that we had been swindled." Panzhuang Xiuhua said.
On November 15, Huang Zhixin called Sun Guojun. He said the Da Vinci board of directors believed that Sun Guojun had failed to perform as promised and therefore demanded that he return the money before 4pm the next day. In the taped conversation, Sun Guojun said: "The money has already been paid out. It is unlikely that I will be able to give it back to you ... Frankly, if I didn't reach out to the leader at the Ministry of XX to mediate, you wouldn't be able to go so far today. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce wouldn't spare you ... at the time, I didn't hold anything back. I used up all the money, one sum wired to Hong Kong and another sum wired to Guangdong. I basically didn't receive much money myself."
Huang Zhizheng emphasized that this was an ultimatum from the Da Vinci board of directors. If the money is not returned on schedule, Sun will bear all consequences. Sun Guojun said, "Old Huang, I am being very polite as it is."
Our reporter verified that Da Vinci Furnitures has filed a complaint with the Beijing Public Security Bureau's Economic Crime Division in the matter of Li Wenxue, Cui Bin and Sun Guojun for extortion and fraud.
On December 23 2011, Cui Bin agreed to meet with our reporter. According to his account, he was dining in July with the Heli Media boss as well as some former colleagues when they saw the Da Vinci report on television. Cui Bin said that he knew someone at the <Weekly Quality Report>. One of the former colleagues happened to be looking for help on behalf of Sun Guojun. The deal was quickly pulled together: Heli Media would accept the job with Cui Bin acting as a partner who was to receive a share. Cui Bin said that Heli Media has not paid him yet.
Concerning the 4.5 million paid by Da Vinci Furnitures to Tang Ying, Cui Bin said that after Da Vinci signed the contract with Heli on July 14, he contacted Li Wenxue to say that Da Vinci wanted to "settle the dispute with Tang Ying." But Cui Bin does not remember whether he relayed the requested amount of 8 million yuan. Tang Ying and Da Vinci held direct negotiations which Cui Bin did not participate in.
Concerning the 1 million yuan that Da Vinci claimed to have given Li Wenxue through him, Cui Bin denied it vehemently. He emphasized that this 1 million yuan went through Ma Zheng's Hong Kong bank account back into Heli Media's books. This was payment listed in the public relations contract, which contains a clause that the 3 million yuan fee did not include money required to meet with media personages. Ciu Bin said that when public relations people help a party in a public relations crisis to meet with media personages, "this was the standard fee." He said that so far Heli Media can produce "invoices worth more than 3.5 million yuan" for work performed so far on behalf of Da Vinci.
But Cui Bin's account contained an obvious flaw. In the "public relations consulting service cooperation contract," the major services to be provided by Party B (Heli Media) is to "communicate with the key media outlets," mainly the CCTV Advertising Department people as well as the program team people. In the contract, the first clause of the service fee is: "In this project, Party B will receive service fees totaling 3 million yuan. The fee does not include the advertising fees that Party A will pay to the media or the public relations fee to the relevant media personages." Cui Bin's explanation is self-contradictory. If according to his account, this 1 million yuan is supposed "public relations fee paid by Party A to the relevant media personages" and therefore not included in the 3 million service fee, then Da Vinci is paying Li Wenxue 1 million yuan in public relations fee through Cui Bin. If Cui Bin did not give Li Wenxue any money, then the 1 million yuan is an additional sum that Cui Bin got from Da Vinci in the name of paying relevant media personage(s).
Addendum: The named CCTV reporter Li Wenxue has come out with a public statement:
The solemn statement from CCTV <Weekly Quality Report> reporter Li Wenxue
1. On July 10 and 17, 2011, the CCTV <Weekly Quality Report> program aired <The Da Vinci 'code'> and <The Da Vinci 'code' 2>. I am the reporter for those programs which exposed the falsification of the place of origin, production materials and advertising in certain Da Vinci products. At the same time, I also reported the legal enforcement actions of the Shanghai and Guangdong Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Shanghai Quality Inspection Department. I accept personal responsibility with regard to the truthfulness in those reporter, and I did not collude with other persons to smear Da Vinci Furnitures.
2. In media interviews, Panzhuang Xiuhua claimed falsely that she gave me 1 million yuan. This is sheer defamation and libel. I am presently gathering the relevant evidence and I will seek legal redress to protect my legal rights.
3. The public relations fees that Panzhuang Xiuhua claimed to have made to the relevant companies have nothing to do with me personally.
4. I demand that Panzuang Xiuhua and others cease all illegal activities (including defaming and libeling me) and apologize to me.
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