(Xinhua)  China vows to defend islands

During a Wednesday news briefing, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was asked whether the US supports Japan's rival territorial claim over the Diaoyu Islands, which belong to China.

Nuland said that the US does not have a position on the sovereignty of the islands, yet she reiterated that the US see the islands "falling under the scope" of Article 5 of the 1960 US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, a defense pact that promises Washington's needed support to help Japan protect its "territory".

Geng also confirmed that US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will visit China in mid-September, but did not provide the exact date.


Chinese journalist: What is the official name for the Senkaku Islands for the United States? Is it the Diaoyu Islands or the Senkaku Islands? Or both are okay?

Victoria Nuland: I'm going to my special little rocks cheat sheet here because this is getting quite complicated with different things here.

Journalist: Yes, do you have one?

Nuland: So, make sure I get it right here... So... As we've said... we call them the Senkakus, if that's the question that you're asking. We don't take a position on them, as we've said all the way through.

Journalist: So you don't take a position on them, but on the other hand, you think that the islands are covered by the defense treaty between Japan and the United States, right?

Nuland: Yes, we've consistently said that we see them falling under the scope of Article 5 of the 1960 US-Japan Treaty.

Journalist: Do you think that is contradictory? For me, that sounds contradictory. You said you don't have a position on the sovereignty of the islands, but on the other hand you said it's covered under the Treaty, which only protects Japanese territory.

Nuland: But this is because the Senkakus have been under the administrative control of the government of Japan since they were returned as part of the reversion of Okinawa since 1972.

Journalist: So let me rephrase my question. Do you regard the Islands as Japanese territory?

Nuland: Again we don't take a position on the Islands, but we do assert that they are covered under the Treaty.

Journalist: So you think the Islands are under the administration of...

Nuland: I think I've answered the question. Let's move on...

(m4.cn)  By Ran Wei, Xinhua Washington DC Bureau

On August 28, I posed several questions about the Diaoyu Islands to US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland at the regular press conference at the US State Department.  Our Q&A have draw lots of attention after it was aired on television (in China).  In the following, I will tell you about how it all happened.

Several days ago, I was writing a related article for Xinhua and I interviewed an American foreign policy expert.  When he came to the subject of the official American government position on the Diaoyu Islands, he made this observation.  On one hand, the American government said that they do not hold a position on the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands.  On the other hand, they also say that the US-Japan Security Treaty covers the Diaoyu Islands.  Such a position seemed to be self-contradictory.  This expert believed that the the US-Japan Security Treaty is applicable to Diaoyu Islands only if America accepts that the Diaoyu Islands are Japanese territory.

His assertion drew my interest to the issue.  The Diaoyu Islands issue has been a hot news item for the longest time, but I was unsure about the American position.  My sense was that America was being deliberately vague on this matter.

So I got on the website of the US State Department to search for previous statements by American officials.  I found out that the American position contained two points.  First, the USA does not have a position on the ultimate overeignty of the Diaoyu Islands.  Secondly, the US-Japan Security Treaty is applicable to the Diaoyu Island, because the Diaoyu Islands were handed over to Japanese for administration in 1972 along with Okinawa.

Next I got on the English-language website of the Japanese Foreign Ministry to look up Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Traty.  As said before, the joint defense covers the territory under "Japanese jurisdiction."

So the American position means that they are indirectly admitting that the Diaoyu Islands are under Japanese jurisdiction, but at the same time American does not hold a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands.  So, this American expert thinks that America is actually admitting that the Diaoyu Islands are Japanese territory.  But neither the stated position of the American government nor Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty will allow one to determine whether America accepts that the Diaoyu Islands are Japanese territory or not.  This seemed to be playing with words but it is definitely an important issue that has been ignored before.

So this was how I came to ask the American spokesperson for clarification at the press conference.

On August 28 local time 1pm, the US State Department held its regular press conference.  I went there to cover.  When the press conference began, the US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland announced that Hilary Clinton will be visiting a number of Asian countries.  Then the reporters from various major media outlets asked questions about Asia matters, covering China, the South Seas, the Diaoyu Islands, Japan, South Korea, etc.  Since the relevant issues were being brought up, I thought that I could raise the question that I came up with.

I began to raise my hand as soon as the Q&A started.  But Nuland did not call me.  I think this was probably because I had not asked many questions in previous press conferences and she did not know me or my name.  After raising my hand five to six times, she finally called me.

My first question was: "What is the official name for the Senkaku Islands for the United States? Is it the Diaoyu Islands or the Senkaku Islands? Or both are okay?"  The reason why I asked this question was that I could not remember if the US State Department had an official position, and so I wanted the spokesperson to state the American position clearly.  But I did not expect that Nuland could not give me a clear answer.  Perhaps she was not sure about what the answer was, or perhaps the question was too sensitive.  She began to stammer and said: "This question is rather complicated."  Then she began to leaf through her notes.  After some moments of embarrassed silence, she found the answer.  She said that the official American name for the island follows the Japanese pronunciation of "Senkakus".

Nuland added: "We don't take a position on them, as we've said all the way through."

But what she added was precisely where I had my doubts.  So I followed up: "Do you think that is contradictory? For me, that sounds contradictory. You said you don't have a position on the sovereignty of the islands, but on the other hand you said it's covered under the Treaty, which only protects Japanese territory."

She immediately said: "But this is because the Senkakus have been under the administrative control of the government of Japan since they were returned as part of the reversion of Okinawa since 1972."  Nuland's statement was consistent with the past American position.

The two of us then tried to speak at the same time.  After a short pause, I followed with the question that I wanted to ask most of all, which was also the question that I wanted most to clarify: "Do you regard the Islands as Japanese territory?"

Nuland did not address the question directly.  Instead she reiterated the American government's constant position.  I asked: "So you think the Islands are under the administration of..."  Based upon my understanding, the American government indirectly accepts this position, but they have not acknowledged this directly due to the sensitivity of the issue.  As expected, Nuland quickly stopped the dialogue and went ahead to answer questions from other journalists.

After the press conference, an assistant of Victoria Nuland came over and asked for my business card, saying that an official in charge of the relevant issue will contact me in order to respond to any questions that I have on this issue.

Indeed an official from East Asia Division of the State Department called me that afternoon.  She asked me about my questions.  Her answers were the same as whatever the United States government had said before.  After responding to my questions, she said that she knew some of my colleagues but she did not know me at first.  She asked me many questions about my circumstances, such as how long I have been in Washington DC, how often I have attended the State Department briefings, which Xinhua publications I wrote for.  She said that she was looking forward to meet me.

I said that I have been in Washington DC for some time already, but the decision has not yet been made as to which Xinhua publications I will write for.

The major television networks (such as Phoenix TV and CCTV) all have the videos of the State Department briefings.  After the press conference was over, I walked out of the State Department building and I received a SMS from a friend at Phoenix TV.  He said that he watched my dialogue with Victoria Nuland, and thought that it was very exciting.  I did not pay much attention.  But I did not realize that CCTV would aired this Q&A segment and the video would also go viral on the Internet.  I never anticipated that.  I did not reckon that the questions and answers would go this way, and I did not imagine that it would draw the attention of so many people.

It may be that the attention that people paid to my dialogue with Victoria Nuland was due to the interest in the Diaoyu Islands issue.  My bureau chief always encourages me to attend these briefings and raise questions actively.  Of course, the reason that I raised these questions this time was because I have my own questions on this issue.

Another point that I wish to emphasize is that my questions were relatively basic and objective ones.  My questions were not ideological, and I carried no rancor or personal emotions.  I did not do so to vent any emotions.  I stuck to the principles of being calm and rational.  I think this principle is very important to professional journalists.

On August 26, there was a major traffic accident in Yenan City, Shaanxi province involving multiple deaths.  What struck Chinese Internet users was the photo of a smiling man at the scene of the accident. 

They wanted to know what kind of person could possibly keep a smile on his face in view of the human tragedy around him.  So they went ahead to run a "human flesh search" to track down the identity of the man.  Very quickly, they determined the man to be Shaanxi province Safety Supervision Bureau chief Yang Dacai.

Next the Chinese Internet users searched for other photos of Yang Dacai.  The following showed five photos of him.  Sharp-eyed Internet users took an interest in his wrist watches. 

Previously, the Nanjing city Jiangning district Housing Property Bureau chief Zhou Jiugeng had offended the public with a remark on house ownership.  Chinese Internet users looked up photos of him, and noted that he smoked expensive cigarettes and wore expensive watches that are beyond what his nominal income affords.  An ensuing investigation led to his eventual conviction for corruption.  This time, the Chinese Internet users are saying that the five photos of Yang Dacai showed him to be wearing five different expensive watches.

According to Fifth Avenue Luxury Items' chief executive officer Sun Duofei through her microblog, she asked experts who said: "Photo #1: a Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch worth around 65,000 RMB; photo #2: a Omega watch worth between 35,000 to 40,000 RMB; a mechanical Constantine Vacheron 18K rose gold watch worth between 200,000 RBM to 400,000 RMB; photo #4: an Omega worth between 30,000 RMB and 40,000 RMB; photo #5: a Radar Ceramos watch worth around 30,000 RMB."

Another Internet user 花总 who is said to be a civilian specialist for appraising watches said that Yang's watches are "second-rate and not top class and mostly basic models" that value to under 200,000 RMB (assuming that they are not counterfeits).  This Internet user 花总 had been tracking the watches worn by various officials for quite a while, and has made a reputation for himself.

In the Qilu Evening News, the editorial said that there was no need to overblow the significance of a single photo that reflected one instant in time, because it may not represent what was really going on.  However, the allegedly expensive watches on the wrist of the "smiling bureau chief" should draw attention.  Based upon their nominal salaries, most government officials should not be able to afford luxury items.  In the past, many cases in which government officials owned luxury items turned out to have "stories" behind them.

At a time when the assets of government officials are largely unknown, it is common for people to pay attention to their luxury items in order to detect corruption.  Although this kind of haphazard activity can occasionally uncover individual corrupt cases, there is an element of luck involved.  Only by bringing in a system in which government officials are required to declare their assets and bring all their incomes and expenditures into the sunshine can corruption be stalled.

On August 17, the Internet user 山牛夫 posted a number of photos about the Zhengzhou city landmark Central Plains Fortune Tower Plaza.  One of those photos drew comments, because Internet users thought that the two cartoon pigs were engaged in an indecent act.

According to 山牛夫, this particular statue was frequently climbed up and down by children.  Internet user thought that such a statue was surely very embarrassing for children, and they gave the name "hooligan pigs" to the two figures.

The Zhengzhou city urban management department responded to inquiries that there are 21 stone statues in Central Plains Fortune Tower Plaza, including ones of small monks learning martial arts; children reading books; children picking carrots; a polar bear carrying a small bear.  The particular statue of interest is that of a "small pig giving his mother a back rub" under the theme of filial piety.  As for calling the statue "hooliganism", the urban management department worker said, "This shows that the tourists have humorous perceptions and entertaining ideas."

Yesterday our photojournalist Yu Zhiyong (microblogger "Seven O'Clock 001") made a microblog post: "The red hot stone statue of the two pigs in Central Plains Fortune Plaza was actually designed much earlier.  That particular statue copied the 'hooligan pigs' toy that was confiscated ten years ago."

"Ten years ago, the Department of Industry and Commerce raided a jewelry store on Jianghan Road in Wuhan City and confiscated a set of indecent objects in the form of 'hooligan pigs.'  Ten years later, the mutated 'hooligan pigs' now occupy a place in the plaza.  The following is the photo that I took ten years ago.  You can compare the photos and see if this is the same thing."

Yu Zhiyong's 'hooligan pigs' are indeed very similar to the stone statue in Central Plains Fortune Plaza, including the same looks, the same positions and even the same degree of nudity.  There were only slight differences in the facial expressions and hand actions.

Yu Zhiyong's post immediately raised the topic back to red-hot again.  Even some people who asked to let the two pigs go before are now demanding to know who the stone statue designer was.

The Internet user 楼市众生相 wrote: The same thing can become something different in ten years' time.  Ten years ago, these were the Wuhan 'hooligan pigs'; ten years later, these formed a portrait of filial piety in a Zhengzhou plaza.

When our reporter checked with the Central Plains Fortune Plaza about the origins of the statues, a worker there said that the statues were ready-made products purchased from Fujian, so that it is impossible to know who the designer was.  "At the time of purchase, we considered that it should be coordinated with the Children Experience Museum inside the Tower, so that the children can learn even as they play.  At the time, we never suspected that there would be an indecency angle."

The office manger was also surprised to see Yu Zhiyong's photo.  He said that he would consult with his superiors and the statue would be removed if deemed inappropriate.

At 20:25 on August 7, 2012, Jiaozuo city Wuzhi county Xitao town Jiaoxiepu village resident Lian Changsen was driving a road grader against traffic regulations down Tabei Road.  The vehicle went out of control and caused 4 deaths and 13 injuries.  This is a straightforward traffic incident, and there is no cover-up on the number of deaths/injuries.

Afterwards, a citizen named Feng contacted the families of the deceased and assembled fifty to sixty persons to rush the Jiaozuo City Government building at 7:38 on August 13, 2012.  They mourned openly, they set up funeral wreaths, they burned paper figures, they displayed wide banners and they set off firecrackers for about four hours.  According to the Jiaozuo police, "public order at the city government office was seriously disrupted and it was hard to death with."

According to the deputy director Zhao Laisen of the Jiaozuo city Tinghuo police station, citizen Feng was a Tianya forum webmaster with the nickname of "Jiaozuo veteran."  During the incident of August 13, Feng was detained due to extremist actions.  On August 15, police formally detained Feng for disrupting public order under Article 290 of the People's Republic of China Criminal Code.  Zhao emphasized that Feng was not detained for "blackmailing the government" as reported by certain Internet users.  On August 22, the police allowed Feng to post bail.

At around noon on August 22, the Tianya forum user "Jiaozuo veteran" posted a statement: "I am Internet user Jiaozuo Veteran.  I acted inappropriately and broke the state laws and regulations.  I was educated by the relevant government departments and I have recognized my mistakes and learned my lesson.  I thank the Internet users for their concern about me!"

However, Feng was not present at the Jiaozuo press conference on August 23.  He was also unreachable by mobile phone.

The Jiaozuo police also said: After "Jiaozuo veteran" was detained, two other Tianya forum webmasters "Central Plains Gunners" and "Night wolf in heavy snow" mobilized Internet users to go to Jiaozuo city to voice their support of "Jiaozuo veteran."  The two arrived in Jiaozuo city on August 20 and got ready to assemble 500 persons to march and demonstrate.  At the same time, the two released inaccurate information such as "The situation is even more grave than I thought -- seven family members of the deceased have been detained."

According to Jiaozuo city Shanyang police station criminal investigative division captain Wang Yuguang, it was sheer fiction about family members of the deceased being detained.  Therefore, the two Internet users may be guilty of incitement.

According to Wang Yuguang, the police summoned the two Internet users for interrogation.  Because there were no serious consequences yet and the two showed good attitude, the police released them after 24 hours.  But the two Internet users went and made more posts about not being allowed to use the restroom, not allowed to eat, being punched more than one hundred times and other forms of torture.

According to Wang Yuguang, the entire interrogation process was videotaped, and the two were not mistreated or assaulted.

According to Jiaozuo city public security bureau director Ting Baotong: The police welcome scrutiny and they welcome Internet users to come to Jiaozuo to find the truth.  But judgments should be based upon the facts as well as the laws, or else one can be misled.

1. On the evening of August 16, 2012, the Chinese microblogger "A Little Bit Of Cold Ice" made the following post:

[Internet reports that the plastinated Hagens human bodies were provided by Chinese police]  Among the photos of the bodies, one body resembled very much like the Renmin University student Li Ning!  Everybody pay attention!  On March 5, Li Ning was petitioning the Longkou City Petition Office over the wrongful death of her mother Li Shulian during the period between the two congresses.  This problem was unresolved for three years and the family had to flee their home province.  Li Ning knelt down naked in Tiananmen Square.  She disappeared mysteriously afterwards.

This microblog post was accompanied by a close-up photo of Li Ning, a video of her and a photo illustrating the dissected body parts of a female who looked like Li Ning.

Fortunately the aforementioned Li Ning actually has a microblog.  A photo of her was posted.  In the photo, she was shown to be holding a copy of front page of today's <Beijing News>.

Also relevant was famous investigative reporter Wang Keqin, who posted:

[Renmin University female student Li Ning being made into a specimen is a rumor]  Upon learning the mysterious rumor that Li Ning had been turned into a specimen, I (who have been in regular contact with her) spoke to her twice tonight.  Li Ning is presently staying tranquilly in Changping and working regularly.  Ever since her mother died an unusual death on National Day 2009, Li Ning has looked me up every several months.  After she knelt naked on Tiananmen Square this year during the Two Congresses, she called me.

[Statement!]  The original poster "A Little Bit of Cold Ice" replied: "I just received a threatening phone call from 13191171245 (China Unicom)!  A phone call requesting me to delete everything about the body plastination company Hagens.  I was asked repeated about what my name was!  Do they want to go across provincial boundaries and arrest me?  I make the following statement: All photos about Hagens come from their official website!  As to whether Li Ning is that person in the picture, I merely said that she very much looked like it.  I did not conclude that it was her!

Internet user comments:

- Fortunately this was a rumor.  I have deleted my forwarding post.  But whose specimen was it?  Did the deceased voluntarily donate her body?  Did her relatives know and agree?  I am afraid that a rumor was squashed even as the truth is covered up.

- The more sensational a news story is, the more one should doubt its veracity.  We must determine the reasonableness based upon motive.  We must never forward or comment without thinking.

- Over the past couple of days, many people have seen the photo of the dissected female and begun to think that such a body exists.  That's okay, but it is ridiculous to tie this in with the young female petitioner.

- Rumors stop with wise people.  Not only should the target of rumors be calm, but each person who come across such information should use rationality, intelligence and knowledge to analyze.  We will not believe the rumors and we will not propagate them.

- Just as I guessed, this was a rumor.  We must evaluate carefully before we decide to believe or not.  We cannot just be "outraged" at first hearing.  Rumor mongers know what righteous people like to hear.  They will accordingly manufacture the appropriate information to satisfy the need for righteousness.

- The rumor has been deleted, but the wrongful death of Li Ning's mother remains the same.

Why the current interest in the plastinated bodies?  Because Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai may be involved (see ABC News: The 'Body Show' Battles: Rival Exhibits Square Off in Court and NDTV: Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai and China's Black Market Body Trade.

Are Bo and Gu involved?  I don't know and neither do you.  But the Hagens company was said to be getting the bodies for USD 200 each.  So how many bodies did Bo/Gu have to sell in order to make the USD 7 billion that they are said to have stashed away in overseas bank account?  Let me suggest that this business is just too small for these big-timers (if they are indeed big-timers).

(Reuters)  Zhou Kehua, Chinese Serial Killer, Shot Dead After Massive Manhunt.  August 14, 2012

Chinese police in the southwestern city of Chongqing shot dead a fugitive serial killer and armed robber on Tuesday after a massive manhunt aimed at reassuring people the government would continue a crime crackdown begun by sacked party boss Bo Xilai.

Zhou Kehua, 42, who was responsible for nine deaths across several provinces, was finally cornered and shot dead at a Chongqing shoe factory around dawn, the official Xinhua news agency said, in a case which has gripped the country.

Keen to put on a show of strength after the sacking earlier this year of Chongqing's controversial Communist Party head Bo, who led a high-profile crimebusting campaign, authorities mobilised thousands of police to catch the killer.

Zhou had been implicated in robberies and killings in three provinces dating back to 2004, and resurfaced last week to shoot dead a woman outside a Chongqing bank, Xinhua said. Authorities described Zhou, who targeted people withdrawing money from banks, as "ruthless and extremely dangerous".

"Police ... confirmed that the Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau was praised and honoured by China's Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu immediately after the operation," Xinhua added.

Chinese news portals showed a lurid picture provided by the police of Zhou sprawled on the ground with blood streaming from his head.

The hunt for Zhou has been the most popular topic on China's Twitter-like microblogging site Sina Weibo for the past few days, and has dominated the news.

Here are some of the "lurid pictures":

Photo 1

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 7

Conspiracy theories:

  1. In photo #2, there are three men standing close to the downed man.  These men wear the same type of light-colored shirts, dark-colored pants, black leather shoes and shoulder bags as the downed man.  Therefore, they must belong to the same group as the downed man.  Since these men were allowed to stand inside the police line, they must be plainclothes policemen.  Their facial expresses contained sorrow and anger.  Therefore, this is conclusive evidence that the downed man was a fellow plainclothes policeman who was shot and killed in a case of mis-identification.
  2. In photo #7, the downed man's belongings contained a bus ticket from Chongqing to Changsha.  The fugitive Zhou Kehua could not have obtained a bus ticket which requires real-name registration, nor could he be expected to leave safely by bus because all the bus stations were being watched closely.  Therefore, in conjunction with Theory #1 above, the killed plainclothes policeman must be a manhunt reinforcement from Changsha but was shot and killed when the local Chongqing police officers failed to recognize him.
  3. In photo #1 and photo #3, the downed body had only a gun, a mobile phone and a pair of sunglasses by his side.  This was before the crime scene was examined by the experts.  In photo #5, photo #6 and photo #7, there is a black plastic bag in the background, with various objects laid out on the ground.  This proved that these objects were planted there after the shooting.  By whom?  The police, of course, because nobody else can cross the police line.  Photo #5 showed a policeman in the act of planting the evidence.  Among the objects are one first-generation identity card under the name of Zhou Kehua and two other second-generation identity cards under some other names.  Why would a most-wanted criminal like Zhou Kehua carry an identity card with his own name?  He would have destroyed everything that could link him as Zhou Kehua.  This showed that the downed man could not be Zhou Kehua.
  4. In photo #2, there is a pair of glasses away from the head of the downed man.  In his belongings, they also found a pair of sunglasses.  The mugshots of Zhou Kehua showed that he did not wear any glasses.  Therefore, the downed man must be someone else.

Of course, the more relevant question is why these conspiracy theorists would bother with these fantastic speculations.  Each of these theories can be easily explained away.  But conspiracy theorists would never stop when there is a logical explanation -- they have already concluded that a conspiracy is going on, and what remains is to fit every piece of fact in the framework.

Conspiracy theory #1: The downed man was carrying a fanny pack, whereas the three men were carrying shoulder-strapped bags.  How would you dress if you are Zhou Kehua?  You are an experienced fugitive and you know that there is a massive dragnet out there.  Everywhere you can spot the plainclothes policemen dressed in like manner.  You would surely adopt their dress code and look like one of them, because they are everywhere.  As for why the men look grim, wouldn't you look like that after a police shooting in which the two officers escaped with their lives?  If the downed man was a plainclothes policeman, then he must surely have friends, relatives and colleagues who would raise the alarm immediately.

Conspiracy theory #2: Would a plainclothes policeman stalked by two unidentified men suddenly turn around and fire his gun at them without any identification?  If he turned around and identified himself first in accordance with police procedure, would the two policemen have shot first?  If the downed man was a policeman, then his weapons (an old imitation 54 handgun and an old 9mm handgun) are definitely not standard police issue (which are normally 64 handguns, 92 handguns or revolvers).  Also, the police was operating in teams in their search for a criminal known to be armed and extremely dangerous.

Conspiracy theory #3: The black bag was used afterwards to collect the evidence, not to plant the evidence.  One photo in time cannot distinguish whether an empty bag was being used to collect assorted objects, or a full bag was emptied of its objects as planted evidence.  The second scenario is unlikely because there are numerous spectators at the scene, including photographers such as the one who took these photos.

Conspiracy theory #4: Mugshots of Zhou Kehua are posted publicly everywhere.  Would Zhou Kehua walk around looking like his normal self?  Or would he use some disguise (such as a different haircut or wearing eyeglasses)?

Post #1: If the stinking Chinks dare to come again, the Japanese Self-Defense Force cruise missiles will be awaiting.  The several hundred thousand Chinese persons living in Japan will be dead soon.  If China dares to harm the Japanese companies, Japan will arrest all the Chinese persons living in Japan and execute them.  Stinking Chinks, you are not a worthy enemy.

Post #2: Your people coming to protest the Diaoyu Isalnds will be given feces to eat.  They won't be given water to drink.  They will be dead for sure.  We will send the corpses back to Hong Kong.

Previously this microblogger had been posting in English and Japanese without drawing much attention.  Another post to pray for Liu Xiang be amputated due to unsuccessful surgery was also mostly ignored.  But this time, the two new posts are drawing attention.

(Xinhua)  Japan arrests all 14 Chinese activists over Diaoyu Islands issue.  August 16, 2012.

Japan in total arrested 14 Chinese activists on Wednesday including seven who landed on the Diaoyu Islands at around 5:30 pm local time on suspicion of illegal entry, and would later detain the vessel, according to police from Japan's Okinawa. Police earlier arrested five from the seven activists who landed on the islands. Two other managed to return to the fishing vessel, police said. The other nine people were arrested later Wednesday.

The 14 activists were on the Hong Kong fishing vessel seeking to assert China's claim to the Diaoyu Islands. The vessel departed from Hong Kong on Sunday, according to previous media reports.

"The activists ignored warning from Japan before landing on the islands. But none of the arrested were hurt," police said, adding that the arrested activists will be transferred to Naha, a coastal city in the southern part of Okinawa, which is also the capital of Okinawa. "They may be transferred to the Immigration Bureau of Japan later and sent back to Hong Kong," a spokesman from Japan Coast Guard (JCG) told Xinhua earlier.

Here is a photo from the scene, sourced here from Phoenix TV.

The man in the centre of the photo is carrying the flag of the Republic of China.  The other two flags above and below are that of the People's Republic of China.  Here is how the Xiamen Economic Daily front page with a politically corrected photo:

(South China Morning Post)  Newspaper apologises for altering Taiwan flag image    By Laura Zhou    August 17, 2012

A mainland newspaper apologised for doctoring a photograph of activists landing on the disputed Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, to omit the fact that one of them was carrying a Taiwanese flag.

The altered photo published by Xiamen Economic Daily changed the Taiwanese flag held by one activist into the five-starred red national flag, creating the impression that all three flags carried ashore were national flags. The activists were from Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland.

After internet users noted the change, the newspaper apologised to its readers for what it called an error and inappropriate use of a photo edited with Photoshop.

"As a responsible media organisation, [we] should not allow such mistake to happen," Xiamen Economic Daily said in its Sina Weibo microblog.

Only a handful of newspapers, including the Global Times - a tabloid published by the party mouthpiece People's Daily - Shandong's Yimeng Evening News and Gansu's Tianshui Evening News published the original photo of an activist actually holding Taiwan's flag.

Some newspapers disguised or obscured the Taiwanese flag, including the Beijing News, cropped out the middle section of the photo, in which the Taiwanese flag appeared. The Beijing News further obscured it with a headline reading: "Seven guardians landing Diaoyu Islands, Foreign Ministry demands Japan release [activists]".

The Sunshine Daily, based in Shenzhen, and the Wuhan Morning Post in Wuhan , also used large headlines to obscure the Taiwanese flag. The Chongqing Times omitted the Taiwanese flag, using a half-page photo of the five-star red flag on its front page as a background to a small island, with a small cropped image of one red flag and a small part of the island.

Internet users expressed anger and disappointment at the media's depiction of the day's events.

"You are accustomed to hiding facts," one microblogger wrote. "Safeguarding the truth is as important as safeguarding the territory," another microblogger wrote.

Singer/actor Eason Chan is married to former actress Hilary Tsui.  Together they have a daughter Constance Chan.  Last week, the Chan family went from Hong Kong to Vancouver (Canada) for vacation.  They were dining at a local restaurant when someone recognized them and came over to take photos.

This was the photo that was posted on the photographer's microblog.

Hilary Tsui, Constance Chan, Eason Chan

According to eyewitnesses, Eason Chan was engrossed in playing with his daughter and ignored the intruders.  But Hilary Tsui was not amused.  Later she made a microblog post:

(translation) Ill-mannered Chinese people!  Our family of three is on vacation and having an ordinary lunch.  You couldn't stop filming filming filming!  You didn't even bother to ask!  You don't know how to respect others!"

Hilary Tsui also took photos of those uninvited photographers and posted them on her microblog:

Little did she expected that the phrase "Ill-mannered Chinese people!" would draw the ire of the Chinese Internet users.  They cursed her and said that she was just a "Hong Kong Chan" (the word Chan 燦 is a derogatory term which means poor character and ethics) and not "Chinese".  Within hours there were tens of thousands of negative comments on her microblog.

Hilary Tsui realized that she was facing a public opinion tidal wave.  Hilary Tsui tried to defuse the situation by deleting this microblog post.  Instead she posted a photo of ducks swimming in a lake in order to put out the fire.  She wrote: "I am enjoying a tranquil Sunday with my family, from a different angle."  But Chinese Internet users kept dogging her with this parody of Tsui's original post: "The very ill-mannered Hilary Tsui!  The duck family of three is on vacation and having an ordinary swim.  You couldn't stop filming filming filming!  You didn't even bother to ask!  You don't how how to respect ducks!"

An hour later, Hilary Tsui made another microblog post:

(translation)  To those who are cursing me: I am Chinese too.  I wish that our people will have better qualities and give some private space to everybody everywhere.  We had a rare vacation together, but this person kept filming us.  This is really hard to take, and that is why I said it.  Shouldn't we be upset when our own nationals lack manners?  I and my colleagues encounter this type of problem frequently.  Nice words won't stop them.  Why can't I be angry?  (Note: there were 100,416 comments at the time when the screen capture was made)

Here are some of the comments:

- She has a problem with her intelligence quotient.  She was not wrong, but this is how it came out!
- I can't say before whether I like or dislike her.  I only knew that she is Eason Chan's wife.  I didn't feel anything one way or the other.  But what she wrote made me aware that this woman is not someone that I will respect.  She was wrong herself too, but she kept emphasizing that other people were wrong.  She insisted that she has good quality and she was right.  Anything can happen in society today!
- Disgusting.  She still feels deep in her heart that she is not Chinese.

More comments:
- The person who made 50 mistakes is scorning the person who made 100 mistakes.  That woman was wrong to film you without permission, and you can complain about it.  But you took her photo and posted it on your microblog.  How is your behavior any different from hers?  She may not know that it was wrong.  But you knew that it was wrong and you still did it.  I don't think you should be condemning other people.  Your quality is no better.  Please also pay attention to your choice of language.  If you are so contemptuous of the Chinese people, you should show some backbone, immigrate to somewhere else, never step feet in China again, and refuse to earn another cent (from the Chinese people).  Go away!

In recent years, Eason Chan has been earning big money through his concerns in mainland China.  His "DUO Eason Chan 2012 Concert" has been held so far in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hefei and other cities.  Between September and November, he will be performing in Hangzhou, Nanjing, Foshan and other cities.  This particular incident may affect ticket sales.


As of now, all the relevant posts have been removed from Hilary Tsui's microblog.  Comments on her microblog requires special permission.

On the afternoon of July 21, a "once-in-60-years" rainstorm ravaged Beijing.  At the time, 34-year-old Ding Zhijian was talking business with friends.  Several hours later, this editor of the children magazine <E E Bear> was trapped in floodwaters in the Guangqumen area.  Nobody could have guessed that his life would end here.

At around 7:40pm that night, Ding Zhijian called his wife Qiu Yan many times for help.  At around 8:20pm, Qiu Yan arrived at the scene.  But she could not spot her family car in the floodwaters underneath the bridge.  At around 10:30pm, the rescue crew and other people finally pulled Ding Zhijian's car out from 4-meter-deep waters.  By that time, he had been under water for more than 3 hours.  The rescuers bashed the windows open, and the water rushed out from inside.  By the time that Ding Zhijian was extracted through the car window, he was near death.  He would expire an hour later despite resuscitation efforts.

On July 25, the funeral ceremony for Ding Zhijian took place in Babaoshan (Beijing).  On that afternoon, Ding Zhijian's wife Qiu Yan went to the production studio of Hunan Satellite TV.  This was her first time facing the media, and she emphasized: "If it weren't for the vicious comments on the Internet, I would never have appeared on this program at this crucial moment."

Q: Can you retell how it happened?
A: I can.  It was around 7:40pm when he first called home.  I could not get to the phone in time.  He made a second call and I took it.  He told me: "Qiu Yan, my car is trapped in Guangqumen ..."  He told me very clearly that he could not open the car door, and water was entering the car compartment.  I told him to call 110 immediately and also to try to get out of the car.  He said alright, and he hung up.  In about a minute, he called me again.  He said that he could not get through to 110.  At the time, he was very excited.  He said: "Qiu Yan, I am unable to open the car door ..."  I said, "You have to get out.  Open the skylight window!"  But the skylight window was also stuck.  I thought about it and I said, "You can get to the rear compartment trunk through the car and there are tools there..."  He said alright.  He also said, "You must come quickly to save me."  I said, "You wait for me.  I am going bring the hammer."  My neighbors took me towards the scene.  By the time we reached Tongwei River, traffic had stopped.  I ran on foot.  I didn't have any other way.  I really didn't.  I got there around 8:10pm or 8:20pm.  I could not see our family car.  But I was sure that there were cars under the water.  I have traveled on this road with my husband many times before, so I knew the spot that he was talking about.

Q: What did you see on the scene?
A: I came onto this program to clarify certain things.  My husband was out on business that day.  His last three calls were made to me.  I went to the scene as quickly as I can.  I am not going to explain the business about the "lover" (note: in reference to Internet rumors).  On the Internet, people said that he did not how to save himself; they said that he was stupid to use his head to ram the window.  I wanted to say that the wound on my husband's head was accidentally caused by the rescuers when they smashed the window.  I and my neighbors witnessed that.  My husband was in very good physical shape.  He did one hundred push-ups every night.  He began driving in 2007, so he was not a novice driver.  On the Internet, they said that he was stupid or that he was physically unfit and therefore unable to save himself.  That is preposterous.

On this day, many people came to Babaoshan to send him off.  Some of them came from outside Beijing.  All the unit leaders were present.  I feel that everybody thinks that he is an excellent and smart person.

I want especially to thank one person.  He is the Jiaotong Bank worker Wei An.  He took off his clothes immediately and leaped into the waters to search for my husband.  He stayed with me to wait for the outcome.  He came to the hospital to check on my husband.  I found him through Weibo and I expressed my gratitude.  He said that he could not accept my gratitude.  He was rueful that he did not save my husband.  He is the person that I want to thank the most.

Q: I gathered that your child is only 3 years old.  Does she know that her father has passed away?
A: Frankly, I still cannot believe that it happened.  Many of his things are still kept at home, including the razor and shaving cream.  I still feel that he has only gone away on business.  That is what I tell my daughter.

My mother-in-law has returned in sorrow to her hometown.  Before I left home to try to save my husband that day, my daughter saw that I was very excited and she asked me what happened.  My mother-in-law said that mommy was going out to save daddy.  Later I heard my mother-in-law said that my daughter was crying and wanted to go to save daddy too.

I still remember that when I came out of the delivery room with the newborn, my husband's first words were: "How can you hold such a small baby until she grows big?"  He was afraid to hold her because she was so soft and he was afraid of hurting her.  They got along very well.  My daughter wanted daddy to tell her a bedtime story every night.  My husband was better educated than me, including having a great imagination.  He can make up all sorts of stories.  My daughter knew that other people are unable to come up with these stories.

In the memorial service for my husband, the first bouquet was placed by my daughter.  I was ambivalent at first about letting my daughter to attend the service, but I did not want her to have any regrets later.  I wanted to tell her that daddy has gone to heaven to become a star.  If you listen to mommy, daddy may become a huge star watching over you.  If you think about daddy, you can look at the stars in the sky.  The star that is smiling at you is daddy.  I think that I will wait until she understands what life and death are about before I tell her the truth.

Q: What did you feel worst about?
A: My husband was a fellow student of my cousin.  So we knew each other since when we were small.  We became first aware that we were in love when I was 20 years old.  But for various reasons we split up.  In 2005 we re-established contact.  In 2006, we got married.  Each night before we went to sleep, he would tell me, "Qiu Yan, I love you."  But I was usually embarrassed and I only said, "So embarrassing."  My final regret was that I did not tell him that I have never changed my feelings about him over the years.  So my final words in front of his portrait were, "If we have another life, we will still be husband and wife."

At the studio, Qiu Yan declined donations from concerned people.  She said, "First of all, I have a very united family.  I believe that they will help me.  Besides, the government and the work unit will not ignore us."

China has always been strong in the sport of women's weight lifting.  At the London Olympics, there was a farce in which a series of doubts has to raise the question of how a gold medal was lost.

Even before the competition ended, the reporters were already in the interviewing area to seek answers.  On the Internet, a controversy arose as to how the list of competitors came about.  Even more inexplicable was that the eventual champion Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan is actually of Chinese origin.

In the 48 kilogram weight class, Wang Mingjun took the gold medal.  Therefore everybody had great expectations for the unexpected competitor Zhou Jun.  Yet when the list of competitors was published for the 53 kilogram weight class, everybody was surprised to see that supposedly in form Zhou Jun was in Group B.

According the the rules, whenever there are more than 10 competitors, those with the better results are placed in Group A and the rest in Group B.  According to the list published by the London Olympics Organizing Committee, Zhou Jun was not only in Group B but her claimed result of 150 kilograms was last among the 18 competitors.

This was the first time that a female Chinese weight lifter was placed in Gropu B.  This immediately drew the attention of everybody, including the officials of the International Weight Lifting Union.  The Chinese weight lifting team quickly responded that this was a deliberate decision.  "We arranged for Zhou Jun to be in Group B where the opposition is weaker and the pressure on the 17-year-old is lesser."  Ma Guangwen said that Zhou Jun does not have much experience in big competitions, and her training results are ordinary.  Therefore she would find it more advantageous to compete in Group B.  But Zhou Jun would end up with three failed attempts to snatch 95 kilograms and ended up with no weight.

There is another detail worthy of attention.  Zhou Jun was given placed onto the Olympic team and arranged to attempt 95 kilograms immediately.  She did not have a choice.  According to an informed source, she was rooming with Wang Mingjun in the Olympic Village.  On the night of July 27, she was "chased off" to sleep in the living room so that Wang Mingjun could get a good sleep.

"I couldn't open up.  I couldn't open up the basic move.  I don't know why this happened."  This was Zhou Jun's explanation of her three failed attempts.  As to why the opening weight was 95 kilograms instead of the previously decided 90 kilograms, Zhou Jun had a simple but perplexing answer: "The coaching team planned it."

The term "planned" has far too many meanings as far as Chinese weight lifting goes.  When the roster of the Chinese weight lifting team was announced on July 10, there was already the smell of being "planned."  In this list, the 2012 World Champion in the 48 kilogram weight class and winner of the 2012 Olympic trials Tian Yuan was replaced by the Olympics trials runner-up Wang Mingjun; in the 53 kilogram weight class, the unknown 17-year-old Zhou Jun pushed aside the 2011 World Champion Ji Jing.

Even more astonishing was the fact that the General Administration of Sport of China's Wresting and Judo Center director Ma Wenguang said that he was not optimistic about Zhou Jun's chances, as she did not have the ability to compete for an Olympic gold.  If so, then why was she included on the Olympic team?  Ma Wenguang explained that the Olympic trials winner was Ji Jing from Hubei province.  Therefore the slot belonged to Hubei province where Zhou Jun came from.  Since the Hubei Administration of Sport thought that Zhou Jun was in better form than Ji Jing during the lead-up to the Olympics, Zhou Jun was considered to be more suitable.  "We respect the opinion of the Hubei Administration of Sport."

Does the local Administration of Sport decide the roster of the national Olympic team?  Since the London Olympics was not happening yet, everybody gave the Hubei Administration of Sport the benefit of doubt (namely, that they had the ability to foretell the future).  However everybody kept a question mark on their minds.

Zhou Jun should not be condemned.  As a 17-year-old, she probably had no idea how she became a member of the Chinese Olympic team.  Those who put her on the Olympic weightlifting stage are the ones who should be held responsible for the embarrassing outcome.

I have never heard that a province Administration of Sport can freely arrange which athlete to participate in the Olympics.

The roster of the Chinese Olympic team is considered sacrosanct for many people.  How can it be such child play?  Does that mean that if eventual champion Chan Yanqing qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics but the Jiangsu Province Administration of Sport favored another athlete, then Chan Yanqing could be replaced on the team?

I think this is preposterous.  But it happened in London 2012 with the Hubei Provincial Administration of Sport.

But why did it happen?  Even if Hubei Province has the right to recommend, the ultimate power to decide is not in their hands.  This list has to be approved by the Wresting and Judo Center first, and finally okayed by the leaders of the General Administration of Sport of China.  Did every leader believed that the rookie Zhou Jun could pull off a surprise win?  At this time, Zhou Jun is not even among the top three weightlifters in China.

So what happened?  I cannot figure it out.  Perhaps that extraordinary speculation was actually true.

This speculation has to do with the deal over Zulfiya Chinshanlo.  The purpose is to let Kazakhstan gain a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.  In return, Kazakhstan promised to support China in a certain vote at the International Weightlifting Union.  Of course, this is an absurd rumor (because Zulfiya Chinshanlo set a world record in her win).

When Zhou Jun first replaced Ji Jing, Ma Wenguang gave an explanation -- because Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan is so strong, there was no way for Ji Jing to win in Group A.  But the fearless Zhou Jun may bring a joyful surprise.  Actually, as soon as the order of appearance was announced, everybody knew.  In various past weightlifting competitions, there has never been a gold medalist coming from Group B.  The best performance ever by a Group B competitor was a bronze medal, and that had happened only once before.

At the same time, Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan looked like a Chinese person.  Director Ma Wenguang said that Zulfiya was Chinese and was exchanged to Kazakhstan in her youth.  According to an informed source, Zulfiya Chinshanlo was originally named Zhao Shangning and from Hunan province.  This informed source was unwilling to say why such a strong competitor was placed in an exchange with another country.

(Metro Times)  An apology to Zhou Jun.

[in translation]

Dear Sister Zhou Jun:

As a 17-year-old, you stood on the world stage.  You had to carry much heavier weight than 53 kilograms with your 17-year-old hands.

Other 17-year-olds may be still sleeping in bed during summer vacation and waiting for the fine good that their parents will make.

As a 17-year-old, you went through three failed attempts.  You were solemn and calm.

We were once 17-year-old, but we are no longer 17-year-old.  Back then, we were in tears when we run into some setback in life.

Regrettably our editorial department failed in our job when we came up with a very wrong headline to say that your failure in London was "the most shameless loss ever for the Chinese female weightlifters."

Actually, we know that you tried hard enough.  We also know that you are still a child.  We forgot that it people win or lose all the time.  In sport, it is the spirit of seeking to be taller, quicker and more powerful that is the most valuable point.  You were in the competition and you tried your best.  You are already our heroine.

Sister Zhou Jun, we apologize solemnly to you for our bad mistake.  We wish you a bright future.  Most importantly, we wish you happiness.  We will keep watching out for you.

Apologies from Metro Times.

July 31, 2012.

"Two Chinese athletes: Yishiling won the gold medal and Yu Dan won the bronze medal, but their treatments were vastly different.  The congratulatory telegram from the State Council did not list Yu Dan's name; CCTV did not even provide one close-up shot of Yu Dan; when the reporters remembered Yu Dan after having interviewed Yi Shiling, Yu Dan had already departed quietly.  In this disrespectful nation, nothing is great except for the gold medal itself."

This inaccurate microblog post was forwarded more than 100,000 times.

The London Olympic Games is at the center of world attention, and the Internet is the fastest transmitter of information about the Olympics.  But the strongest voice among Chinese Internet users is not praise; instead it is "lack of calm."

At the time of the deadline of this report, there were 18,406 comments to the above microblog post.  Many Internet users did not bother to verify the information.  They went ahead with angry condemnations: "Only gold medals", "chilling", "China lacks the Olympic spirit."

Many people forwarded comments such as "A nation that cares only about gold medals most likely does not care about people's sports."

Other Internet users elevated the issue: "Isn't this the reason why China finds it hard to gain a foothold in the world stage?  China always thinks that it is smart.  But they are far lacking in universal values, sometimes even opposing it.  China is not people-oriented!"

Others commented: "Our education is inhumane this way", "This country is beyond salvation", "This country has a profound inferiority complex" ...

But none of these Internet users bothered to ask: "Is this microblog telling the truth?"

In truth, it is inaccurate to say that "the congratulatory telegram from the State Council did not list Yu Dan's name."  The Chinese Communist Party Central Political Bureau member and State Council member Liu Yandong represented the Communist Party Central State Council in immediately sending off a congratulatory telegram to "the medal winners Yi Shiling, Yu Dan and the Chinese Sports Delegation."

And this London Olympics bronze medalist did not "depart quietly" either.  She was interviewed by many Chinese media outlets.  CCTV and other news portals made reports about her, including the press conference, and interviews with Yu Dan and her coach.

Perhaps some Internet users discovered these facts, but that microblog post continued to be wildly disseminated.

The Internet user 陈柏龄 commented: "The congratulatory telegram is to celebrate the first gold medal, so it was naturally sent to the gold medalist Yi Shiling.  But Yu Dan also received a separate congratulatory telegram addressed to her personally.  It is not the nation which is disrespectful; it is certain irresponsible Internet users who are being disrespectful."

At the same time, it was ironic that far fewer voices were praising athletes such as Yu Dan than paying attention to that microblog post.

"Apart from the champions, we should not forget the silver medalists, the bronze medalists and those who failed to gain any medals.  Yu Dan in the shooting event, Li Xuanxu in the swimming event ... 0.1 seconds? 0.1 rings? 0.1 meters?  They missed the gold medal by just that much, but they also paid in blood and sweat.  They are heroes even if they didn't win any gold medals!"

This other microblog post was forwarded more than 10,000 times, being the most popular of the microblog posts in praise of the non-medal-winners.  But it was swamped by the voices about "nothing is great except the gold medal!"

The microblog post about "Yu Dan's gratitude towards her parents touches the British reporter" was only forwarded more than 5,000 times.  "'Daddy and mommy, I want to thank you!  It was not easy on you...'  Yu Dan's comment after winning the bronze medal in the air rifle competition drew applause from the Chinese reporters at the scene.  The translator repeated Yu Dan's comments in English, and the foreign reporters applauded loudly too.  The female British reporter who posed the question had tears in her eyes.  This scene bristled with human emotions and was very moving!"

For this microblog blog, the voices that harped about "the disrespectful nation" were largely absent in the comments.

The Internet user 听觉动物免小免 commented: "A bunch of people who could not even name one bronze medalist in the previous Olympics are contemptuous of other people's lack of human concern."

The Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games was also placed on the table for judgment.  After 4am on July 28, there were many "comparative" comments made about the London and Beijing opening ceremonies.

The Internet user 上海滩 commented: "Two reactions after viewing the Olympic Games opening ceremony: Firstly, the British people are open, relaxed and free whereas the Beijing opening ceremony was fake, tiresome and rigid.  Secondly, the British people are seen everywhere as individuals vibrant with life; the Chinese people are organized everywhere, and individuals are merely cogs.  The difference is too vast."

At the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games, 500 construction workers greeted the final torch exchange.

The following comment was widely circulated: "London mayor Boris Johnson publicly stated: 'I thank all the construction workers for the Olympics, because you built England's news pride.'  I searched all over the Internet, and I did not see even one close-up photo of any 2008 Beijing Olympics construction worker.  Many of those people were chased away from Beijing that year because they did not have temporary residential permits!"  "500 English construction workers participated in the opening ceremony, but the construction workers who built the Bird Nest were sent back home to watch television!"

Many Internet users who saw these comparisons praised England as "civilized and unlike the nouveau riche."  "England is surely the epitome of western civilization, for they showed us what freedom, democracy and civilization are.  Even if you are one of the four ancient civilizations, you cannot match their civilization.  This is really so sad."

The Internet is making it easy for people to express their viewpoints, but some of these viewpoints are too easily taken down.

Indeed a rumor-busting microblog post became popular: "The London Olympics invited 500 construction workers to the scene, and you say that this was humanitarian concern.  At the Beijing Olympics, the names of the Bird Nest construction workers were etched onto every steel beam, and you can't remember that.  Is this selective memory?"  This microblog post was forwarded more than 20,000 times.

Celebrities also became the "targets": "Contemporary China has no solid basis, no personalities, no J.K. Rowland, no Mr. Bean, no David Beckham."

"China does not have J.K. Rowland, it has Han Han; it does not have Mr. Bean, it has Guo Degang; it does not have David Beckham, it has Yao Ming ... it is hard to list everyone."

At the other extreme of the comments, many Internet users showed some rare rationality.

Many people think that Chinese and western cultural styles are different, so that it is hard to say which opening ceremony is better or worse.  "I expected that someone would jump out to curse the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony immediately after the London opening ceremony was shown.  But comparability does not exist.  They are talking about being happy at will in England whereas China is talking about solemnity and profundity."  "The points of emphasis are different but they are equally excellent.  Don't you get tired of comparing back and forth?"

The idea that "Beijing should learn from London" was questioned and challenged.  "England dared to display negative figures such as Death and Voldemort, but China's opening ceremony is surely not going to feature the White Boned Devil and the Lord of Hell."  The following microblog post made fun of the notion that "Beijing should learn from London": "If the Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony were to use the theme of urban construction since the reforms began, it should be playing popular songs like "Iron Blood, Loyal Heart", "Yearning", "Springtime Story", "The Boat Tracker's Love" along with the dances featured in the CCTV Spring Gala Festival.  Then they should stage the drama "Beijing Love Story."  Finally they use a wide screen to broadcast 3D segments of "Hulu Baby" and "I Love My Family".  Don't you think that everybody will curse the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee to death?"

Phoenix Sports columnist Cui Hong's comments about the open ceremony was also controversial: "The idea that the individual must obey the masses originated from the Cultural Revolution.  Changing grey, blue and green for multi-colored uniforms do not change its individuality-killing nature.  Changing colors cannot cover the fact that individuals are unseen.  Zhang Yimou lacks understand and identification with traditional Chinese culture, and he showed ignorance as well as fearlessness."

The Internet user 王欣 disagreed: "I don't think that it is necessary to negate one method in order to praise another method in order to give strength to your argument.  Isn't the use of group movements also stunningly beautiful?  Each method has its own beauty, and the world becomes fuller and exciting because of the diversity!"

"Any city which hosts the Olympics will have its own unique characteristics, irrespective of the size of the city or the number of participants.  Western culture seeks a certain happy, entertaining atmosphere as in a party.  There is a cultural difference from the uniformity and grandeur in Chinese culture."

After the debate began, many Internet users have begun to reflect.

"The Chinese people should not be so hypersensitive.  After an NBA game, they don't interview the worst player either.  This does not prove anything."  The Internet user 付春愔 made this comment against the "only gold medals matter" argument.

"Among the participants, the first three get medals and the fourth place finisher gets nothing.  During the award ceremony, the fourth place finisher is nowhere to be found.  His name is not announced.  On this planet which does not know respect, the Olympic Games represent the presence of contempt."

"Obama and McCain are two American politicians.  Obama won the election and McCain lost.  Their treatments were vastly different.  The congratulatory notes from the various heads of state do not mention McCain.  The Oval Office in the White House does not even have one small desk reserved for McCain.  Even as reporters mobbed the winner Obama in Chicago, McCain quietly departed for Arizona.  In this country America which does not know respect, nothing matters except the president himself."

"Spain and China are two soccer playing nations.  Spain won the World Cup while China could not even get past the qualifying round.  Their treatments were vastly different.  China's name is not etched onto the FIFA World Cup trophy.  FIFA did not issue any medal to China.  Even as the reporters surrounded and filmed Casillas and Torres, the Chinese team sat quietly in front of the television set far away from fame and achievement.  In the soccer sport which does not know respect, nobody is great except for the champions."

Internet users also made fun of the "everything is the fault of the system" them:

If I were to say that the Chinese athletes performed brilliantly, he would say: "The Chinese athletes are gold-medal-winning machines created under the national system, and they do not enjoy the competition like the Americans do."  If I were to say that a foreign athlete faltered, he would say: "Even though he did not win the gold medal, he managed to smile happily during the award ceremony.  It was fortunate that the foreign athlete faltered, because the Chinese was able to save face."  If I were to say that China has many athletes as 'double insurance,' he would say: "Whenever there are two Chinese athletes, the media will rush to report on the gold medal -- this nation does not know how to respect."  If I were to say that I don't know why, he would say: "You lack analytical ability ever since childhood, because the government officials are unwilling to change the system of university entrance exams which emphasize test-taking skills!"

As the angry Internet hype recedes, the sports competition has to return to its true self in the end.

The Internet user 听觉动物免小免 commented: "I only wanted to watch a grand sports meeting.  I want to watch the mighty athletes win gold medals, and I want to see how the non-winners failed to perform.  It is good to see breakthroughs, but it is also normal to have breakdowns."

Related story: The Ceremony and the Swimmer: China Watches The Olympics.  Evan Osnos, The New Yorker.

I am an editor with the Olympics reporting team at Sina.com.  I am lucky to be reporting on the Olympics for Sina.com.  I am presently responsible for the handling of news photos, headlines as well as the early Olympics reports.  Therefore, I am more or less familiar with every athlete.  I also have information from the frontlines.  The following is an account of the London Olympics that I know about (I went to sleep at 9am today and I got up at 12:30pm.  I hope I won't drop dead suddenly.)

Let me tell you a story about China.  The story is very simple: Two foreigners lost their bicycles in Wuhan city, and the police found the lost bicycles for them.

Immediately, people started to whine on the Internet.  "Oh, how come the police didn't help me when I lost my bicycle?  If I lose my bicycle again, I am going to identify myself to the police as a foreign national."  Then the matter gets elevated to nationalism: What happens and what cannot happen to a people with such an inferior complex?

Yao Ming is working as a CCTV commentator.  He went to London.  At his hotel, the bathroom door is 2.2 meters high, so that Yao Ming has to bend down each time that he goes in to use the bathroom.  Yao Ming did not say anything.  But the British people who has an "inferiority complex" took the initiative to rip away the bathroom door and raised the height of the entrance.  They did so in order to keep Yao Ming staying at this hotel.

Ha ha (light laughter), so will the angry young men and public intellectuals immediately reverse their tune and praise London as a city of gentlemen?

Here is another story.  There is a powerful sporting nation at the London Olympics.  Their athletes are not housed in the Olympic Village.  Instead, the athletes, officials and associates stay on a luxury cruise ship.  Wow, and they are spending the taxpayers' money!

Unfortunately, that nation is not China, so that the Chinese angry young men and public intellectuals do not have the chance to curse their government and nation.  That nation happens to be Germany, whom you all regard as "prudent".

Ha ha ha, you say all the time that the Germans are prudent.  How many Germans have you actually met?  Do you think that the Germans are produced by machines?  Do you think that every German has the same personality?

But the comments for this story are: "Oh!  What class!  Oh!  Germany is so wealthy!  Oh, the Germans are so awesome!"

What?  How come you are not saying that this was wasting taxpayers' money?  Where did all the Chinese angry young men and public intellectuals go?  Please come and see what your masters are up to!  The European Union is in the midst of an economic crisis!

Next let me show you this microblog post, wherein all the hardworking Chinese athletes are branded Chinese traitors with the exception of those who won gold medals.

[Yi Tian V: The gold medals have nothing to do with me.  I feel absolutely no honor or pride.  Of course, if you feel something about them, then I admire you!
Comment: With so much taxpayers' money spent, China should sweep all the gold medals.  If they don't, then they are derelict in their duties and they are all Chinese traitors!]

They said that Yu Dan only got a third place.  Therefore CCTV ignored her because they are only interested in good news.  Thus, no reporters interviewed her and she departed quietly alone.  Then they began saying that only gold medals count and human rights are not respected.

Ha ha, how do you know that?

When the competition ended, CCTV began by interviewing the gold medalist Yi Shiling.  That is for sure.  Shouldn't they interview the winner first?  Then CCTV broadcast that interview.  But CCTV cannot interview every athlete and they cannot air every interview that they taped.  If they broadcast every interview, the Olympics coverage would be one very long press conference.  Yu Dan did not leave.  She was interviewed by many Chinese media outlets.  Sina.com used three of those media reports -- one was a press release, one was a personal interview, and one was an interview with Yu Dan's coach.

The Chinese angry young men and public intellectuals may still insist that there was a difference, because Yi Shiling received better treatment than Yu Dan in that she got air time but Yu Dan did not!

Ha ha, let me ask you: Do the American media treat Kobe Bryant and Lebron James the same way that they treat the American table tennis players?  Are American table tennis players on air all the time?

Here is another big story.  The South Korean swimmer Park Tae-Hwan was disqualified during the qualifying race.  The South Korean media threw a fit.  They said first that Park Tae-Hwan was wrongfully disqualified.  Then they reviewed the videotape which seemed to show an infraction.  So they said that Park Tae-Hwan slipped but did not gain an advantage.  Even Park Tae-Hwan's father came out and ask for a re-match.  Fuck, do you think that this is a television serial drama which can be excised and re-filmed?

Even more absurd things happened: The South Korean media said that the judge who was monitoring Park Tae-Hwan was Chinese and he disqualified Park Tae-Hwan (so that the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang can win) ... fuck, such shamelessness ...

There were two Chinese judges at the swimming center.  One was working on women's swimming, and the other was working on individual medleys.  What the fuck has that to do with men's free-style swimming?

The frontline reporters immediately investigated the situation.  The judge monitoring Park Tae-Hwan was American.  Did the Chinese buy off that American?

Ultimately, the South Korean delegation pleaded repeatedly until the International Swimming Federation (FINA) reversed the judge's ruling ... this was the first reversal by FINA in more than twenty years ... the South Koreans are good with their public relations.

Immediately the South Korean media reversed their stance.  They said, "Oh, we are sorry to have wrongfully blamed a Chinese judge."  They boasted that Park Tae-Hwan would surely be the champion after this.  They even conducted a public opinion poll, in which 94% of South Koreans said that Park Tae-Hwan will win ... if the Olympics depend on public opinion, then China will surely sweep all the gold medals.

Everybody knows what happened afterwards.  South Korea had its face slapped swollen ... of course, it may have lost its face.

Finally I have to say that our media respect every athlete.  The athletes are the symbols of our nation.  For example, Pang Wei finished fourth in the Men's 10 Meter Air Pistol competition.  He was interviewed by CCTV afterwards, and we reported on him with many photos and videos.  But time and space are limited, and we cannot spent so much effort on each and every athlete.  But this should not be an excuse for the Chinese angry young people and public intellectuals to spout their criticisms.

Nowadays, is it a quick way to gain fame by challenging the lower limits of intelligence, manufacturing rumors and cursing indiscriminately?  Does this make you a knowledgeable and important opinion leader?  Does this show that you have more learning, democracy and freedom?

(Shanghai Daily)  10 victims but rumors of 378 persist.  By Xu Chi.  July 7, 2012.

Tianjin City in northern China yesterday published a list of 10 victims who died in a shopping mall inferno in a bid to refute rumors that at least 378 people died in the fire.

The city government's list, posted online yesterday, shows that nine of the 10 victims were shop assistants working on the fourth and fifth floors of the mall. Only one customer is said to have been killed in last Saturday's blaze. The 10 women were aged between 25 and 44.

The list was published after the Sing Pao Daily News, a Hong Kong-based newspaper, reported that an investigation by the Tianjin prosecutors office confirmed that 378 people were killed in the fire. The newspaper said the death toll at the five-floor mall in Tianjin's Jixian County was so high because security guards had locked the doors after fire alarms sounded to prevent customers leaving without paying their bills.

The official death toll is also being questioned by Jixian residents after witnesses claimed they saw people jumping from the burning building and that local hospitals were full of the injured while dead bodies were "queuing up" at mortuaries.

The fire is said to have begun at the Laide Shopping Mall at about 4pm last Saturday and lasted for at least five hours. It is thought to have been caused by an overloaded air conditioner which caught fire, with the flames spreading rapidly throughout the building, the Southern Metropolis Daily said.

The city government said yesterday that in addition to the 10 victims, 16 people had been injured. No one was missing, officials said.

The Sing Pao Daily News said the mall was busy as it was having a sales promotion. Many parents brought their children as some retailers required customers to show student ID cards to enjoy discounts, it said. A man surnamed Xue who survived the fire told the newspaper that an air conditioner went on fire on the ground floor at about 3:30pm but a manager made a "stupid" decision to order guards to lock the doors at the two entrances.

The manager told the guards that only customers who had paid their bills could leave, and he arranged for other staff to put out the fire, Xue said. But the fire spread quickly, the report said, and it was only after the ground floor filled with smoke that the manager told a guard to open the doors.

Firefighters were quickly on the scene, other witnesses said, but found the water pressure too low and they spent a lot of time adjusting their equipment. Meanwhile, clothes and cosmetics in the mall fueled the fire.

Witnesses also told the newspaper that some people were trapped on the third floor or higher and had to jump out of windows. Some men and women jumping off the building died at the scene, the report said. "Some parents on the second floor desperately threw their babies from the building, asking other people to catch them," a witness said. "A female shop assistant jumped from the fifth floor but died at the scene."

On Weibo.com, people claiming to be Jixian residents said hospitals were full with the injured and mortuaries packed with bodies. Shanghai Daily called the Funeral Parlor of Jixian County but an official refused to comment. There was no response when the reporter phoned the Jixian People's Hospital and the local fire bureau.

Jixian officials told Chinese media they would give other responses to online rumors after investigations were complete.

The above report sourced Sing Pao Daily News of Hong Kong.  Is the information therefore credible?  Not really, because this is a small newspaper that has re-printed online rumors and did not conduct any original reporting work.  If you want to know more than online rumors, you have to look towards investigative journalism.  Two such investigative reports follow.

(Yazhou Zhoukan)  The truth was incinerated in the Tianjian conflagration.

After the fire at the shopping mall in Jixian county, Tianjin city, the authorities stated that 10 persons died including one customer.  The statement came under wide suspicion.  The authorities blocked off the hospital and the funeral parlor, placed strict controls on mobile phone text messages and the Internet, arrested several rumor mongering Internet users and mobilized the masses to be wary of reporters.  There are other claims that 378 or 35 were dead, but they were hard to verify.

At just after 9am in Maguantun village, Jixian county, there was a funeral procession ... ten days after the fire, Liu Fengli finally got her 'rest'.  The village and town cadres watched the procession from afar and her family members declined to be interviewed, saying only that "they are satisfied with the arrangements."

Liu Fengli is the only customer among the 10 persons who were officially identified to have died during the fire.  On the day of the fire, she and her husband Huang Jingsheng and her daughter who had just finished her university entrance exams were shopping in the Laide Shopping Mall.  When the fire began, the family ran up to the fourth floor first, then back down the second floor to seek shelter.  Smoke filled the building.  Huang tried to break the window with his bare fist unsuccessfully at first.  Then he picked up a high-heeled shoe and continued.  The spectators spotted the action, and brought a ladder out. This spontaneous rescue action resulted in four persons being saved.  The daughter was the last one to get out, but Liu Fengli did not make it ...

The Tianjian media collectively lost their voices.  It was only until July 5 that a 170-word bulletin titled "The medical treatments in the Jixian fire is in progress in an orderly manner" appeared.  Yet, the government did not realize that just because they covered up the bodies in the buildings did not mean that they could cover up the people's doubts.  Many sensationalistic Internet posts with titles like "The number of deaths is 378" and "more than 100 children attending after-school tutorial died" showed up on the microblogs and chat services.

Our reporter checked through many channels and found that there was no children class inside the Laide Shopping Mall.  Although the shopping mall was next to the Cultural Palace, these are separate buildings.  "More than 100 children dead" should be treated as a rumor. Yet with the cycle of "rumor manufacturing-rumor busting" continuing, distrust and nervousness kept growing.  On July 6, the seventh day after the deaths, the authorities 'finally' published a list of 10 victims. All of them were women, of which Liu Fengli was the only customer.

... At the Baidu post bar, an Internet user made the post: <The post to collect information on the deceased: Eleven persons already known, please add>.  Many informed persons posted more information about the victims.  By July 5, this list had already 35 names.  One Internet user questioned on microblog: <Where are the Jixian Garden's Qiu Guli and her sixth-grade son?>.  On July 8, our reporter went to visit this old building that is right behind the scene of the incident.  There were no police cars around.  The residents were in the courtyard playing chess and cards.  The atmosphere was quite relaxed.  Our reporter knocked on the door and got no response.  One neighbor said that nobody has seen the mother and son after the fire.  Another neighbor said that the two had not been seen for more than 10 days (that is, before the fire).  Since our reporter could not contact the two, there was no way to confirm whether their disappearance was connected to the fire or not.

Our reporter decided to track down the list of ten deceased persons that the authorities published as well as the list of 35 names published on the Internet.  As expected, local residents shook their heads and became nervous when the name "Laide" was mentioned.  The most frequent answers "No such thing here" and "What are you doing here?"

On July 9, our reporter was in Zhuangziling village, Yuyang town and ran into the older brother of Yang Hongxia, who was one of the 10 deceased persons.  According to the published information, she worked as a saleswoman on the fifth floor of the Laide Shopping Mall.  Yang's brother was excited to see the reporter and invited him home to conduct an interview.  The family was eating in the courtyard at the time.  When Yang's brother introduced the reporter to the family, two other family members objected strongly.  The reporter asked for the reason for the strong reaction, and got the response: "Don't come here.  Everything is settled and done."  The reporter asked whether the compensation was 610,000 RMB as rumored on the Internet, and the other party confirmed and expressed satisfaction.

During the dispute, two men on motorcycles came up to the reporter and wanted to examine his press card.  The reporter asked them to identify themselves and explain why they can examine him.  The two men claimed to be the village party secretary and village director.  They said: "You are not going to get away.  I have already summoned the town people."  Several minutes late, several middle-aged men who claimed "I am in charge in Yuyang town" came, registered the information about the reporter, consulted with their superiors and warned "Don't show up again" before chasing the reporter out of the village.

After the reporter was found, the village sent out vans with loudspeakers to remind people not to speak rashly.

Our reporter spend several days interviewing Shuilixin village, Baimaquun town and Hongshui village which were listed on the Internet list of 35 deceased persons.  The reporter encountered the same situation in which villagers were nervous and said that they did not know anything.

It has been more than ten days since the fire in Jixian.  The "number of deaths" and "the cause of the fire" have been officially announced, but public skepticism continues with Internet questions and comments.  On one side, there is "harmony and stability above all" with information control and busting rumor mongering; on the other side, there is rumor manufacturing, rumor distribution and the difficult civilian investigation.  Both sides distrust each other.  The authorities do not seem to want to speak to the people on equal terms.  "More than 10 but definitely fewer than 378" may be a common consensus but its lack of a foundation merely pushes people to one side or the other.  Maybe the fire and the deaths will fade away slowly in people's memory, but many Jixian residents will still wonder why their mobile telephones did not work and they could not access the Internet on the afternoon of July 6.

(China Youth Daily)  The Investigation of the "100 Person List" Of The Jixian Fire.

On the afternoon of June 30, the Laide Shopping Mall in Jixian county, Tianjin city suddenly caught fire.  On that day, the authorities gave a preliminary count of 10 deaths and 16 injured persons.  Yet there was an immediate Internet campaign to count the number of deaths.  Among the various versions, the one with 378 deaths drew the most attention because it was more than 30 times the official count.  Shortly afterwards, a "100 Person List" showed up to cause more rumors.

A Jixian county government workers said, "We released the casualty figures immediately.  But the people don't believe it.  Instead they very much believe in those rumors.  We don't understand why either."

From July 7 to July 12, our reporter visited more than 20 villages.  The total distance traveled was more than 300 kilometers.  Our reporter checked the clues in the '100 Person List' one by one.  The investigation showed that the list of 10 victims were reported in the "100 Person List."  Eleven of the 100 persons were double-counted and another 17 clues involving more than 80 persons were denied by the villagers or relevant departments that the reporter spoke to.

When the government announced on the night of June 30 that there were 10 deaths and 16 injured persons, people did not believe this figure.  They spontaneously began a campaign to collect information on the deceased and missing persons.  The Baidu Post Bar on Jixian county saw its membership count rose suddenly from 2000 to 4000.

People gathered their information in a very simple manner: Whenever they heard that someone was dead or missing, they posted the information on the Internet.  But nobody verified whether it was true or not.  Some of the information sounded very shocking.  For example, "Twenty corpses found in the restroom," "Eight dead persons embracing each other on the fifth floor," "A family of seven went to relax at the shopping mall after the child finished middle-school exams; all are dead."  An Internet count of 378 deaths rushed ahead of the official count, which was more than 30 times less.  Then a more detailed "list" that provided gender, address, state of death, cause of death, even name and work location.  This 'list' had about 100 persons on it.

On July 8, an old woman in Hongshui village, Jixian county told our reporter: "We all mind our own business.  It does me no good to lie to you.  Nobody in our village died in the fire."  In the "100 Person List," two persons from this village were reported to have died.

It was market day in Hongshui vilage on July 8.  A female villager was chatting with the owner of a clothing material store.  When asked whether anyone from the village died in the Laide fire, she said directly: "Not in our village.  Absolutely not."

She said that the villagers know everything about everyone in the village.  "Never mind something as big as a death."  This villager said that the merchandise in the Laide Shopping Mall was relatively expensive, and the villagers here would not go to shop there.  "Who can afford to buy there?  A pair of shoes costs several hundred yuan."

In Hongshui Village, our reporter interviewed four to five villagers.  They all said that nobody from the village died in the fire.

The same thing happened in Zhuangziling village.  In the "100 Person List", a villager named Chen Hongxia died.

"There is nobody with family name Chen in this village," said that female owner of the store at the village entrance.  This was confirmed by two other customers at the store.  According to female owner, a villager named "Xiao Na" escaped from the fire unscathed.  That woman happens to live right across the store.

According to what our reporter found out, this "Xiao Na" is named Zheng Yanna and she worked at the Laide Shopping Mall.  She escaped from the fire on that day.  Her in-laws live in Zhuangziling village.

"A salesperson from Sanbaihu village" and "one woman from Nanpang village, Wubaihu town."  The Sanbaihu village and the Nanpang village in the "100 Person List" are both located within Wubaihu town, which is at least 33 kilometers from the scene of the fire.

"We haven't heard of anyone dying in the fire.  Absolutely not."  A villager who was repairing a car pointed a finger, "There is one in Nanpang village.  Our two villages are next to each other."

Our reporter proceeded to Nanpang village.  A shepherd said that he was aware that the daughter-in-law of the Chou family died but he did not know her name.

"Wang Xiaohong.  Yes, that's her.  It was on television.  Her family called her 'Xiaohong' all the time."  A woman at the village entrance said that, and it was confirmed by several other villagers chatting with her.

In the official casualty list, there was this description: Wang Xiaohong, 39 years old, address: Jixian count, Garden New Village district.

"A man from the Dagang Oil Field was severely burned, a woman is missing."  The '100 Person List' pointed right at the Dagang Oil Field.  "A married couple from Dagang Oil Field may have been caught up.  They seemed to be rich.  They are not ordinary people."

Dagang Oil Field, Tianjin is about 177 kilometers away from the scene of the fire.

On July 12, our reporter drove to Dagang Oil Field.  Just like Jixian county, public transportation is either buses or unlicensed taxi cabs.  Yet, the normally informed unlicensed taxi drivers have not heard of anyone from Dagang Oil Field dying in the fire.  "Never heard of it."  One unlicensed taxi driver waiting for business in front of the hospital told our reporter.

Our reporter conducted interviews in three residential districts.  Nobody has heard about it.  At the Dagang Oil Field headquarters, a worker told our reporter: "We haven't heard about it.  If this really happened, we would have reported it."

"... a thirty-something-year-old mother was still embracing her son.  By the time of the clean-up, their bodies were already burned into charcoal."  The Jixian County Fire Department denied that they saw anything like what the "100 Person List" said.

Although there is no further detailed information about the mother-and-son, many people link this with this other microblog post: "Where is Qiu Guli and her sixth-grade son?  They in Room 203, Unit 1, Building 6, Section 2, Jixian Garden.  The neighbors have not seen them in a week.  Telephone calls aren't being answered."

At around 2pm on July 8, our reporter went to Room 203, Unit 1, Building 6, Section 2, Jixian Garden.

Nobody answered the door when the reporter knocked.  A woman in Room 202 confirmed that Qiu Guli rented Room 203.  "She is tall, long-faced, pale, very pretty."  This woman said that Qiu Guli's son attended school in Jixian county city.  "I have not seen them for more than 10 days.  Maybe they went home because the child is on vacation."  But this woman did not know where Qiu Guli's hometown is.

At the same time, the woman did not know where Qiu Guli and her son were on the day of the fire.  On July 11, the workers at the relevant department in Jixian county said that they have not been able to locate Qiu Guli yet.

After five days of investigation in the field, the reporter went through the "100 Person List."  The 10 victims identified by the authorities were on this list, but the information is unclear.  "Liu Hongyun," "Wang Xiaohong," "Zhang Lixia" and "Hou Chunhua" appeared twice on the list under different guises; "Liu Fengli" appeared three times.  Another 17 clues covering more than 80 persons were denied by the villagers and relevant department workers that the reporter interviewed.

On the Internet, someone said that the shopping mall management was worried that customers may flee without paying and therefore they rolled down the gates to prevent people from leaving.  This information was even reported in the media, raising popular concern and anger.

On the evening of July 9, a number of surveillance videos began to appear on the Internet.  The videos showed that the salespersons organized the customers to evacuate in an orderly manner.  The gates were also open.  On July 11, more videos showed up.  Each floor had two surveillance cameras taking videos.  The videos showed that there were not many customers in the shopping mall at the time.  Here are some of those videos.





On July 7, Jixian County TV published a bulletin: "Recently, certain persons with ulterior motives used the Internet, QQ and mobile phones to spread rumors.  They exaggerated the number of deaths and injured persons.  They also spread rumors that there will be a mass commemorative event at the Gulou Plaza today.  The public security bureau has identified that the individuals named Wang, Liu, Li and others were responsible for spreading rumors and has summoned them in accordance with the law."

On July 10, the three young rumor mongerers were interviewed on Jixian County TV.  They admitted that they were not at the scene, but they forwarded the information in anger.  In the video, the female Liu said that she was home on June 30.  Over QQ, she read the Internet posts.  She was very angry and emotional, and she forwarded the posts "in order to speak out for the victims and pray for them."  The male also named Liu admitted to have made the post "The Laide Shopping Mall boss paid each victim family more than 800,000 RMB."

At 1pm on July 6 at the south gate entrance of Chaoyang Park, Beijing, China Political and Law University associate professor Wu Fatian was surrounded and beaten by twenty to thirty persons including Sichuan TV's Beijing reporter Zhou Yan.  The assault lasted almost 20 minutes.  Afterwards many renowned scholars, media workers, law professionals, entertainment celebrities and other so-called public intellectuals expressed their views on microblogs.  They twisted the facts and lauded the assault.  Apart from Tencent's "Topic of the Day," the other media reports and commentaries contained more or less inaccuracies.  The worst was NetEase's "The Other Side."  Fortunately, the history of the incident is documented by the microblogs, including videos taken from different angles by the numerous eyewitnesses.  So we know the truth of the incident.

The public intellectuals thought that since Wu Fatian set up an appointment with Zhou Yan for a fight, he deserved to be beaten up.  According to the microblog records, Zhou Yan has been saying on her microblog since January 6 this year that she wants to beat up Wu Fatian.  On July 4, she asked Wu Fatian "to pick a location if you have the guts.  I won't slap you to death.  Don't be a turtle who hides his head."  Wu Fatian selected the time and place, but he stated that he wanted "to debate"; "discuss and understand the law"; "this is a verbal struggle, not a physical struggle"; "I guarantee that it will be a rational debate, I guarantee that there won't be a fight with a woman"; "all controversial topics can be discussed"; "netizens can watch and videotape."  On July 5, Zhou Yan posted on her microblog: "Very much welcome China Political and Law University professor Wu Fatian to debate the law at South Gate (Main Entrance), Chaoyang Park."  That is, superficially she confirmed that Wu Fatian wanted to debate the law.  Maybe Zhou Yan thought that "debate the law" is hidden code for "hold a brawl," but when Wu Fatian wrote about the "guarantees" and "all controversial topics can be discussed," he was not preparing for a fight.  Even as the other party started to assault him, he kept asking to debate and he never fought back.  Before he went there, he posted several times on his microblog that he was going to debate.  But the public intellectuals claimed that he changed his mind once he saw that he was outnumbered by Zhou Yan's side.

According to NetEase's "The Other Side," Wu Fatian set up the fight and then wanted to have a verbal debate instead of a physical fight.  Therefore Wu Fatian must bear major responsibility for changing the substance of the contract.  But even if Wu Fatian wanted to set up a fight instead of a debate, he has the right to cancel the fight once he got there.  For example, if Wu Fatian and Zhou Yan set up a tryst but Wu Fatian changed his mind once he saw her, does that mean Zhou Yan can rape him and make him bear the major responsibility?

Taking a step back, even if Wu Fatian set up a fight with Zhou Yan and this is irrevocable, then this is a matter between the two of them.  So how can the people that Zhou Yan brought with her and the other spectators take the opportunity to assault Wu Fatian?

It is risible that Wu Fatian wanted to debate but Zhou Yan's people said that they were not there to debate.  Instead they assaulted him.  When the police showed up, these people changed their tune and said that it was a debate and not a fight.  When they got back on the Internet, they changed their tune again and said that it was a fight and not a debate.

The public intellectuals think that since Wu Fatian cursed Zhou Yan as a "bitch," a man who insults a woman deserves to be beaten.  At the time Zhou Yan and the people with her all angrily asked why Wu Fatian called her "bitch."  Actually, Zhou Yan was the first to use obscene language in cursing Wu Fatian and she used far more obscene insults.  On June 13, Wu Fatian criticized Li Chengpeng's essay on food safety and Zhou Yan cursed him this way: "Wu Fatian looked like a runt who wants to be cursed and slapped.  It would be a waste of the stinking sperm that his father ejaculated not to curse him."  Thereafter she insulted Wu Fatian as a "castrated man" and "useless material."  Are women allowed to curse men with obscene language, but men cannot rebut in kind?  When men rebut, do they deserve to be beaten up?

The public intellectuals think that Wu Fatian violated Zhou Yan's privacy by posting photos of her on his microblog, and therefore he deserves to be beaten up.  Zhou Yan held Wu Fatian to account that day at the scene.  Actually, Zhou Yan had posted those photos on her own microblog first, and Wu Fatian collected them for posting.  Perhaps Wu Fatian had malicious intent (according to Zhou Yan, Wu Fatian concentrated on collecting those photos in which she looked bad).  But since Zhou Yan posted those photos onto the Internet herself, this is not an invasion of privacy.

The public intellectuals think that Wu Fatian had said that nobody died during the Great Leap Forward and the molybdenum-copper alloy project in Shifang carried no pollution, so he deserved to be beaten.  Actually, Wu Fatian only said that nobody died in his village during the Great Leap Forward and he never denied that many people died during the Great Leap Forward.  He re-posted the Shifang government's open letter on the molybdenum-copper alloy project and he asked for help in rumor busting and/or scientific assessment.  He had his doubts and he sought help in clarification.  Even if Wu Fatian denied that anyone died during the Great Leap Forward and claimed no pollution came from the molybdenum-copper alloy project in Shifang, these are not reasons to beat him up.  Don't those experts who made the environmental impact assessment for the molybdenum-copper alloy project in Shifang deserve more to be beaten up?

The public intellectuals think that nobody hit Wu Fatian and he faked falling down and being injured.  This is inconsistent with both what Zhou Yan said and what the videos show.  Zhou Yan personally posted on her microblog: "Two eggs in the face, three kicks in the back, three kicks on the lower body."  The videos showed Zhou Yan throwing an egg in Wu Fatian's face, and kicked his lower body at least twice.  Wu Fatian was knocked down on the ground three times.  After he fell down, several persons rushed up to kick him.  While debating with someone, a woman in black sneaked behind him and kicked him.  At the climax of the incident, a "big bearded man" suddenly jumped out to hit Wu Fatian in the face.  There were loud cheers at the scene.  A 16-year-old middle-school student from Canada who said that he does not hit people jumped out to grab Wu Fatian by the neck and wrestled him to the ground.  Someone in the crowd yelled "Strangle him to death!  Strangle him to death!"  When the police showed up, the "big bearded man" took refuge in the park while saying: "He won't dare to show up in daylight, fuck!"  The woman in black said: "Beat him to death next time!"

The public intellectuals think that Wu Fatian brought a bodyguard with him.  At the scene, one man was protecting Wu Fatian the whole time.  This man was hit in the back with a brick.  Someone said that he was Wu Fatian's bodyguard; some even said that he was a plainclothes policeman.  But this person later clarified on microblog (Huyanglin717) later that he was a spectator who stood up to defend Wu Fatian.  He has been interviewed by the media, and he also been subject to the human-flesh search by Wu Fatian's opponents.  His work information, home address and telephone number have been posted on the Internet.  This man is neither bodyguard nor plainclothes policeman.  And even if Wu Fatian was naïve enough to bring one or two persons along with him, they were vastly outnumbered by the people that Zhou Yan brought with her.  I don't know why the public intellectuals want to talk about this point.

NetEase's "The Other Side" not only prettified the fight but it also prettified Luo Yonghao's threat to dump feces on me.  They said: "This is actually a rational decision, even a courageous decision."  "Why not if you balance defending your rights against the legal consequences?"  According to NetEase's position then, all crimes are rational decisions, even courageous ones.  I wonder if the NetEase managers are willing to be beaten up and have feces dumped on them?  If they were attacked and had feces dumped on them, would they still think that it was a rational and courageous decision?

Someone said that Wu Fatian set up a trap.  I don't know why he would want to entrap an unknown such as Zhou Yan.  Could he have known that famous pubic intellectuals such as "The Big Bearded Man" and "Wuyuesanren" would be there?  If Wu Fatian set up a trap, then he not only fished out the violent nature of his attackers, but he also fished out the bloodthirstiness and hypocrisy of the public intellectuals.  The microblog coming out under the name of "Han Han" typically realizes two characteristics: distorting the facts and admiring the violence:

"A man insults a woman in public, and gladly agrees to go to an appointment for a fight.  Such a man deserves to be beaten.  Since this is World Kissing Day, he deserves to be beaten even more so.  This has nothing to do with public intellectuals, democracy or the Cultural Revolution.  There is no need to blame others and falsely claim to be surrounded and beaten.  Rolling on the ground is the sure sign of someone faking it.  It comes down simply to this: he deserves to be beaten.  This has nothing to do with democracy.  Even if you are Jiang Jingguo, you deserve to be beaten."

When you have a verbal disagreement with someone on the Internet, you call for the person to be beaten up.  You don't even spare the long-since-dead Jiang Jingguo.  Obviously these are "stinking public intellectuals" who have nothing to do with democracy and law.  Looking at a public incident that has so much written and video evidence, the public intellectuals nevertheless make irresponsible remarks.  What would they say about incidents that are less well-documented?  Would anyone dare to believe what these public intellectuals say hereafter?

(Associated Press)  China: Plane hijacking foiled in west, 6 detained.  June 29, 2012.

Passengers and crew foiled a hijacking attempt by six people on a plane in China's far-western Xinjiang region Friday, a regional airline and state media said. An overseas rights group, however, denied a hijacking attempt took place and said a seat dispute triggered an in-air brawl.

The Tianshan regional government's news portal said the alleged hijacking attempt was made just after the plane took off from Hotan in southern Xinjiang for the regional capital of Urumqi and the six suspects were detained after the plane returned safely.

Tianjin Airlines said on its website that the plane returned to Hotan 22 minutes after takeoff. Tianshan did not give further details, such as how many passengers were on the plane or what was known about the suspects.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the German-based World Uyghur Congress, said local sources in Hotan told him that the plane turned back after Uighurs and Hans began fighting after a disagreement over seat assignments.

Hans are China's ethnic majority, while a large population of ethnic Uighurs (pronounced WEE'-gurs) lives in Xinjiang. Hotan has been the scene of recent clashes between authorities and Uighurs resentful of government controls on their religion and culture.

(The Wall Street Journal)  Passengers Foil Hijacking Attempt in China   By James T. Areddy.  June 29, 2012.

Sky marshals and passengers aboard a plane in China's restive western province of Xinjiang on Friday overpowered a group of six people attempting to hijack the aircraft, official media reported.

Minutes after the Tianjin Airlines flight with 101 people aboard took off from the city of Hetian in southwestern Xinjiang, three passengers in the front and three in the back stood up and announced a hijacking, according to the reports.

They were tackled by police and passengers and tied up with belts before the plane returned to the airport and landed safely. Several passengers and crew members were injured subduing the alleged hijackers, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

A spokeswoman for Xinjiang's government said six suspects are in custody, all of them members of the Uighur ethnic group, a Muslim Turkic minority.

Witnesses on the plane distributed photos of the attempting hijacking to Chinese microblogs. One showed a man being subdued in an airline seat. It was unclear whether the six were armed, though a witness said in an Internet posting that one had boarded using a crutch and clutched a detonator-like device.

China's Civil Aviation Administration said the plane was an Embraer 190, with 92 passengers and nine crew members. It was flying between Hetian and Urumqi, the provincial capital. The plane had returned to its destination within 16 minutes of takeoff, the regulator said.

(Global Times)  Two Xinjiang hijackers die in hospital.  July 2, 2012.

Two of six suspected hijackers have died following a botched attempt to commandeer a flight from Hotan to Urumqi in China's far west Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Friday, local authorities confirmed to the Global Times. The two died in hospital from injuries received in a fight with passengers and crew during the attempted hijacking of a Tianjin Airlines' flight. Two other suspects, who reportedly mutilated themselves, are being treated in hotpisal in Hotan, said the region's press office.

The six hijackers, who ranged in age from 20 to 36, are from the city of Kashi, Hou Hanmin, a spokesperson for the region's press office, told the Global Times. The men were quickly subdued as they tried to break into the airplane's cockpit with a crutch, and their attempt to ignite explosives was foiled, witnesses told the Global Times.

The flight had 92 passengers and nine crew members onboard, 10 of whom were injured. A local official handling the case say only six police officers were on the passenger list. Four of the officers were from Luopu county and two other were from Hotan. "Nearly all the officers are Uyghur people, who took fast action after distracting the hijackers," the official told the Global Times.

A number of officials confirmed with the Global Times that explosives had been brought onboard and that passengers managed to defuse them before they could be detonated. How the hijackers managed to smuggle explosives and a crutch past security checks is under investigation, officials said. "Whether it is negligence has yet to be determined," an official told the Global Times.

A Tencent microblog user by the named "luotuo" said his friend who was onboard helped resolve the crisis. "My friend tied the hijacker up with his leather pants belt," he told the Global Times.

The above reports are in English.  If you read Chinese, you get something much more.  The following are samplers.

(Global Times via m4.cn)  July 2, 2012.

"Airplane hijack!"  Just six minutes after Tianjin Airlines flight GS755 took off from Hotan to Urumqi, first-class passenger Liu Huijun broke the silence with a loud shout.  Liu's seat was next to the door leading to the pilots' cabin.  At the time, three passengers sitting in economy class rows 6 through 8 suddenly stood up.  One "physically handicapped" person took out his metal crutch, split in up into several sections and distributed them to his two companions as well as three other passengers sitting in the middle section.  They used local dialect to shout and charged towards the pilots' cabin door.  "They wanted to use the metal rods to pry the cabin door open."  A commander in charge of handling the case told our reporter on June 30.  "Everything happened so suddenly that the cabin crew, sky marshals and passengers did not have time to react.  Therefore Liu Huijun's shout was a wake-up call that deserves credit.  Then Liu knocked off the explosive material that one of the hijackers was trying to light."  Unfortunately Liu was attacked by the thugs and suffered a severe head injury.

When the thugs failed to pry open the cabin door, they wielded their metal rods to attack the passengers and facilities.  They took out what appeared to be "remote control devices" and they passed matches and lighters to their cohorts in the middle section of the airplane.  The plainclothes sky marshals and some passengers reacted and fought with the thugs.  "The fighting was very intense.  Even the cabin storage bins were damaged!"  According to the Internet user "Camel" who was the first to post about the incident based upon information from his friend on microblog, "My fellow student and friend of more than 20 years had never been in a fight before, but he jumped in this time.  At the time, he was thinking: "I am going to die one way or the other.  If I fight, I may just survive!""

"Apart from the sky marshals, passengers and cabin crew, there were four police officers on business from Luopu county to Urumpqi and two Hotan police officers who were effective against the thugs!"  According to the local commander in charge of the case, only one or two of these police officers were Hans and the rest were Uighurs.  This local commander mentioned a critical detail in that the Uighur police officers understood what the Uighur thugs were shouting about and that was important towards the subduing of those thugs.

... "They wanted to destroy the airplane and all lives on board.  They did not want to hijack the airplane to elsewhere."  This local commander told our reporter: "One of them pretended to be physically handicapped and passed through safety inspection on crutches."  The six thugs brought more than "one set of crutches."  Other passengers said that the thugs held detonators and other explosive materials.  The local commander told our reporter: "Apart from the metal crutches, the suspects had matches, lighters and six explosive devices.  We are studying whether these are restricted detonators or homemade explosives."  This local commander said: "Fortunately these devices took time to detonate.  The passengers and security people reacted quickly and boldly to prevent the unthinkable from happening."


"In the Internet era, the speed with which we publicize the facts as to match the noise coming from persons who are either irresponsible or have ulterior motives."  The government officials told us that to win the war against terrorism, they must not only subdue the suspected terrorists quickly but they must publish the facts as quickly and detailed as possible in order to reduce the noise.

As in many other terrorist incidents in China, some foreign media often put emphasis on what certain overseas forces assert.  Agence France Presse quoted the spokesperson of the World Uyghur Congress: "The Uighurs are certain that the hijack incident is a lie."  Previously, this same person was interviewed by NBC and claimed: "It was a fight because of a dispute over seating arrangements between Uighur and Han passengers."  The Times of India quoted the World Uyghur Congress: "The incident occurred just before the 'sensitive' date of July 5 three years ago.  Therefore, the atmosphere in the Hotan area is 'particularly tense.'  The Chinese authorities are exploiting this incident to oppress the local people."  These noises even created certain rumors and unfounded speculations on the Chinese Internet.

Here are some Chinese microblog posts.  The first three posts allegedly contained photos from the airplane.

Held down on the airplane.
They rushed the pilots' cabin but couldn't get in.  A security guard was seriously injured.  Reportedly the cabin doors were reinforced after 9/11.
Hi, was your friend on the plane?  Is there a video?
Yes, but he is still being questioned at this time.

Squatting on the suspect in the airplane

Back at the airport


@桔子树小窝 (2012-06-30 10:34) There are many times of hijackers.  Some do it for money; some do it to flee; and some do it for terrorism.  It is possible to compromise with the first two types, because money is less important as living.  But terrorists are seeking to die.  The result of non-resistance is more dying; resistance may lead to a break.  This distinction must be made in order not to make the mistake of 9/11.

@桔子树小窝 (2012-06-30 10:45) //@幽幽幽冥:  How do we distinguish between the first two types of hijackers and the terrorists?  Reply: Terrorists will normally chose to breach the pilots' cabin directly and hold the pilots hostage.  They will barricade themselves in the pilots' cabin and they won't discuss any terms.  Therefore the pilots must be protected at all costs.  The terrorists must not reach them, or else it is all over.

@桔子树小窝 (2012-06-30 11:13)  //@信力建://@诗风:  I just saw the foreign media reports.  What happened was not like this.  It was a simple ethnic conflict which lead to a mass brawl.  //@冷月-孤灯:  I am more inclined to believe in a brawl, because there can't be such stupid hijackers.  Reply: I was wondering how people could be so stupid, but when I saw your comment I was relieved.

@李国生记者 The Sina microblogger @奢兰堂 told us yesterday about his/her friend's personal experience on flight GS754 from Hotan to Urumqi.  I have rearranged the microblog post for your reading.

The airplane was wobbling heavily.  The crew member had to disperse the passengers because the airplane may lose its balance if everybody charged up front to join the fight.  Many people were terrified silly.  My friend shouted out on the airplane: "All women stay still.  All men go up and fight!"

The stewardess was calm at first over the broadcasting system: "The passengers please maintain order."  Then she began to sob and said: "Male compatriots go up and subdue the thugs ..."  Then she began to cry!

There weren't 20 policemen on the airplanes.  At most, there were five or six police leaders and detectives who were returning after inspections in Hotan.  They did not identify themselves at first.  Therefore it was the passengers who were the main force in subduing those thugs.  The power of the people is the greatest!

My friend said that when the airplane landed and stopped at the Hotan airport, all the passengers stood up to cheer: "We won!"

Two of the persons tried to commit suicide by biting their tongues.  One of them was still alive after being sent to the hospital.  My friend was very angry: "The Hotan security inspectors are all Uighurs, who allowed those long crutches to be brought onto the airplane.  The passengers were very angry.  They almost broke into a fight with the airport people."

More details: The passengers in the first-class cabin included a leader with the Xinjiang Food Bureau, an elderly legal scholar and so on.  They were ordinary passengers and not policemen.  They were the ones to resist the hijackers together with the security staff.  The thugs were stopped before they reached the pilots' cabin.  The thugs turned around to the back of the airplane.  The passengers in the back learned what was happening only then.  Therefore, a salute must go out to those ordinary passengers first!  They suffered severe injuries!

@桔子树小窝 (2012-07-01 09:37)  //@啫喱Jolly美国代购:   So that was how it happened.  They relied on the people in the first-class cabin and not the so-called persons who won't identify themselves.  //@董藩:  A salute to those who fought against the thugs!  //@任志强:  They just won't tell people the truth?  Reply: This the person is the most typical Internet user who believes an Internet rumor and then blames the government for fooling him!

@桔子树小窝 (2012-07-01 09:52)  The Xinjiang hijacking was along defined by the authorities as "criminal elements being subdued by the crew and passengers."  Most of the stories were Internet fiction, including the passengers communicating in Shanghainese dialect (which the Uighurs didn't understand), one hijacker not undoing his safety belt, 20 SWAT officers on vacation, etc.  I can understand that this incident ended up to the delight of everybody.  When people get high, they want to make up stories.   It is alright if you believe it.  But you shouldn't believe it and then turn around to blame the government for rumor mongering.

(South China Morning Post)  Pomp and protest for Leung  Peter So, Tanna Chong and Cheung Chi-fai   July 2, 2012.

As Leung and Hu met, tens of thousands of protesters were gathering in Victoria Park to express a range of grievances, from anger at the slow pace of democratisation to concern about human rights on the mainland. Many called for Leung to quit on his first day in office after the discovery of illegal structures at his home raised questions about his integrity.

Rally organiser Eric Lai Yan-ho, of the Civil Human Rights Front, put the turnout at 400,000, while police say 55,000 people started the march in the park, with the total peaking at 63,000.

The last protesters were only able to leave the park at 7pm, some four hours after the march was due to begin. Some took as long as six hours to reach government headquarters in Admiralty. A minority of the protesters continued to the central government's liaison office, where they were involved in a tense stand-off with police before dispersing at 11.30pm.

Lai said the huge turnout, reminiscent of the massive rallies of 2003 and 2004, showed Hongkongers had no faith in Leung.

Paul Yip Siu-fai, a University of Hong Kong, statistician, estimated the turnout at between 70,000 and 90,000 based on an on-site count. The University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme put the figure at between 98,000 and 112,000.

Here is the report from the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme.  The team has 34 research assistants counting the number of persons over the eight lanes underneath the pedestrian overpass at the intersection of Hennessey Road and Arsenal Street in the Wanchai district.  They estimated that 68,442 persons passed through between 16:20 and 20:40.  For the purpose of estimating the number of persons who left before or entered after this location, results from telephone surveys from last year were used.  Out of 6,848 interviewees, 467 (6.8%) said that they participated in the 2011 July 1st march, of which 65.6% said that they passed under the pedestrian overpass at Hennessey Road and Arsenal Street.  Thus, the HKU POP this year was 68,443 / 0.656 = 104,000.

(Ming Pao)

Paul Yip Siu-fai said that nine students counted the number of marchers.  In Causeway Bay, they counted 50,000 persons marching by.  At Admiralty, they counted 69,000 persons marching by.  They interviewed about 1,000 of the marchers at admiralty and found that 46% did not pass through Causeway Bay.  Therefore, the estimated number of marchers overall was 50,000 + (0.46 x 69000) = 82,000.

Previously on June 27, 2012, there was an article about Paul Yip Siu-fai's lonely quest.

(South China Morning Post)  'Don't blame me for low rally figures'   By Adrian Wan.  June 28, 2012.

Counting the number of July 1 marchers is difficult for those who want to do it right because, as statistics expert Paul Yip Siu-fai puts it, whatever he announces, everyone says it's wrong.

The University of Hong Kong social work professor said he had thought seriously about not counting this year's marchers.

It has been a thankless task since his first one in 2003, when half a million took to the streets against the controversial national security bill, which was eventually shelved. "Whatever I do, people politicise it," Yip said. People were obsessed with the biggest number, he said, so the party releasing the largest figure should be viewed with scepticism.

"Everyone likes the big numbers, including your newspaper. A big number is a good number because it's sensational. I have considered not doing it … it's hard to swallow people's accusations, especially when they aren't reasonable," he said, referring to some rally organisers' remarks in previous years that Yip had "deflated the number". But after much consideration, Yip decided he could not abandon a job he has done for nine years.

His method involves counting the number of people who pass a certain point in Causeway Bay and Admiralty for a minute at 15-minute intervals. However, this does not cover protesters who start at Victoria Park and leave the march before Yip's first checkpoint in Causeway Bay.

His team found that in last year's march, about 200 people passed a certain point in a minute. And since the rally took five hours, his final estimate was 60,000 to 70,000 people. The police said 54,000 marched. "[The organisers] said there were 218,000 people, which meant 1,000 people passed through a place in a minute. That's impossible. It doesn't make sense," Yip said. "The media and those who don't like my findings do whatever they can to bad-mouth me. That's why I insist on releasing my findings in academic journals."

His methods have been detailed in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Statistics and Significance. His doctoral thesis involved estimating the number of birds in a forest, and he said he was confident he could estimate the number of jelly beans in a jar, given the right sampling method. "Our count has its limitations, but it is the most verifiable of them all. But when people don't like the number, they connect it with my being part of the [government think tank] Central Policy Unit," he said.

The method used by HKU's public opinion programme involves six researchers counting protesters as they pass a footbridge in Wan Chai.

The Civil Human Rights Front, the rally's organiser, deploys 10 volunteers at four points along the route of the march, and the average of their results is taken as the final count.

A police spokesman said officers used the size of the venue and how crowded the rally was to reach an estimate.

[ESWN comment: Methodologically, Paul Yip Siu-fai's method is better than the HKU POP method, because the adjustment factor was obtained by intercept interviews on that particular day.  HKU POP relied on data obtained for last year's march and cobditions may be different this year (e.g. hot weather, congestion, etc).

As for the statement "The Civil Human Rights Front, the rally's organiser, deploys 10 volunteers at four points along the route of the march, and the average of their results is taken as the final count", this has no scientific validity either on a theoretical or empirical basis.

On a theoretical basis, you can deploy volunteers at four points along the route to count the number of people who passed by.  If you average their counts, you obtain the average count alone the route.  You do not know who passed by one, two, three or four of the locations.  Therefore, you do not know what the total number of unique persons who marched on this day. 

You can make some assumptions.  The most extreme assumption would be to assume that none of the people who passed through one location passed through any other locations.  That is, 100,000 persons passed through location 1 and then left the march; another new 100,000 persons passed through location 2 and then left the march; another new 100,000 persons passed through location 3 and then left the march; another new 100,000 persons joined right before location 4 and finished the march; therefore, a total of 4 x 100,000 = 400,000 unique persons were in the march on this day.  But there is no empirical support for this kind of assumption.  Besides, it isn't obtained by "the average of their results."

Replication/reproducibility  is one of the main principles of the scientific method.  The police estimated 50,000 leaving Victoria Park and 63,000 at peak time; HKU POP counted 68,000 in Wanchai; Paul Siu's team counted 50,000 in Causeway Bay and 69,000 in Admiralty.  Their results replicate/reproduce each other closely.  But according to the Civil Human Rights Front, their volunteers at four points had an "averaged result" of 400,000.  Someone doesn't know how to count here.  You are entitled to denounce the police and two academic teams as conspirators to jointly suppress the crowd estimate.  But you would be questioning the integrity and/or competence of the two academic teams.  This year the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme has listed more than 30 researchers in the crowd size estimation project; and Paul Yip Siu-fai said that he had nine students working.  A massive fraud involving many students over all these years is not sustainable.

This crowd size issue is present almost every year of the July 1st march.  The worst case occurred in 2004 when the Civil Human Rights Front actually disclosed its calculation method and was found to have made an elementary school-level arithmetic error (see link).  In 2005, the Civil Human Rights Front used an open methodology and their results tracked the other sources (police and academics) (see link).  At the time, Apple Daily reported: "The July 1 march organizer Civil Human Rights Front announced at one time that the number of marchers was 45,000 and then suddenly revised the number downwards to 21,000.  This caused many march participants to complain because they believe that the Civil Human Rights Front understated the number.  Some people even called our newspaper to express their dissatisfaction, and said that unless the Civil Human Rights Front change the persons in charge, they will not participate in the July 1 march again."  In the following years, the Civil Human Rights Front began to report numbers that were often several times higher than the other estimates which track each other.  So this is where we are.

Now all of this is very well known, especially to newspaper reporters and editors who cover the event each year.  What is interesting is how this knowledge gets published (or not).  Some newspapers will simply parrot the propaganda of the big number; some newspapers will put down the multiple sets of estimates ("he said, she said") and refuse to take any position; some newspapers will completely ignore the event.  Thus, this event is a good indicator of the "positional bias" of any newspaper.]

Here is what the Hong Kong newspapers have on their front pages with respect to the "400,000-person demonstration" (or not have).

<Apple Daily>
First day in office
400,000 persons marching in the streets
C.Y. Leung becomes lame duck

<Headline Daily>
Page 1: Spain rules; two Euro championships in four years
Page 2: New team takes over; big July 1st march pours it on; C.Y. sweats due to nervousness over new job

<Ming Pao>
Leung takes over
Number of marchers third highest ever
[ESWN Comment: This article accepted the claim of 530,000 as the highest number ever, even though it was later found to contain an elementary arithmetic error.]

<Hong Kong Economic Journal>
C.Y. Leung takes over
400,000 chants for him to quit
[ESWN Comment: This title assumed that all "400,000" marchers are demanding C.Y. Leung to quit.  Some of the marchers may be so demanding, but there is no proof that everyone of them wants this.]

<Hong Kong Daily News>
Number of demonstrators: 400,000 versus 110,000
Hot weather + Raging anger
Many people hit by heatstroke during march

<Oriental Daily>
Hu Jintao offers direction to govern Hong Kong
Four hopes, three firm positions
Observed oath of office of new team
Emphasized vigilance against outside interference

<Sing Pao>
Hu Jintao watched sworn-in
Offered four expectations
The era of CY arrives

<Sing Tao Daily>
Secretary-General Hu makes four demands to the Leung team
Implement <Basic Law>, improve livelihood, social harmony

<Hong Kong Commercial Daily>
C.Y. Leung takes oath of office
Hu Jintao raises four hopes

<Wen Wei Po>
Chairman Hu: Four hopes to encourage Hong Kong -- promote harmony and stability; defend and protect the Basic Law; enhance the grooming of talented people; raise competitiveness

<Tai Kung Pao>
Attending the Return of Hong Kong celebrations and swearing in the new team,
The Chairman has four hopes
Deep love for the people of Hong Kong

Here are some foreign media reports that included crowd estimates on the same event.

(China Real Time Report - WSJ)  Protesters Fill Hong Kong As New Leader Sworn In

Tens of thousands of protestors in Hong Kong hit the streets on the 15th anniversary of the handover back to China, with much of the focus on new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Hong Kong’s political future – plus a special role for cartoon character Hello Kitty.


Police estimated that 55,000 people left Victoria Park during the course of the afternoon. Organizer estimates, which are typically much higher, were unavailable.

(Wall Street Journal)  Protests Greet New Hong Kong Leader  By Te-ping Chen and Chester Yung

Organizers estimate that 400,000 people took part in the protests, which by their count would make it the highest turnout in the annual demonstration since 2004 and double last year. The police estimated the rally's size at 63,000 during its peak. Such disparity in estimates happens every year, with analysts saying that the true number typically lies somewhere in the middle. The University of Hong Kong, a more neutral party, estimates around 98,000 to 112,000 people took part in the protests.

(CBS News)

Organizers said more than 400,000 participated while police estimated there were 63,000 at the procession's peak.

(NPR)  'Political Crisis' Faces Hong Kong's New Leader   By Louisa Lim

Organizers say 400,000 people took to the streets, though the police figures were much lower.

(Reuters via Times of India)  Defying China, thousands of pro-democracy protesters take to streets of Hong Kong

After the morning swearing-in ceremony, demonstration organisers put the number of protesters at 400,000, while police said the figure was 65,000. Hong Kong University said up to 112,000 took part.

(Bloomberg Businessweek)  By Michelle Yun and Crystal Chui.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to Hong Kong’s streets in a largely peaceful demonstration hours after incoming Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pledged to do more to address poverty and boost public housing.

As many as 112,000 people marched in the hours after Leung, 57, was sworn in early yesterday at the same venue used to mark the end of British rule 15 years ago, the University of Hong Kong estimated, according to the South China Morning Post.

(New York Times)  Protestors March as New Hong Kong Leader Is Sworn In.  By Keith Bradser and Kevin Drew.

The Hong Kong police said that the number of people in the park at the beginning of the march had been 55,000. Organizers said that 400,000 people had participated in the march, including many who joined along the nearly two-mile route.

Ivan Choy, a Hong Kong politics analyst at Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that the crowd’s size relative to Hong Kong’s population of seven million would make it harder for Mr. Leung to preserve his political legitimacy. “We have 5 percent of the population asking him to step down and focusing on his integrity,” Mr. Choy said.

(The Telegraph)  100,000 march in Hong Kong on 15th anniversary of handover   By Malcolm Moore

One hundred thousand protesters marched in Hong Kong on Sunday, voicing their anger at Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, on the 15th anniversary of the island's handover back to China.

(BBC)  Mass protests as Hong Kong marks 15 years under China

According to Paul Yip, a demographic specialist at the University of Hong Kong, some 82,000 people attended the rally - about 20,000 more than last year's demonstration.

Organisers, meanwhile, put the figure much higher, at 400,000.

(Agence France Presse via New York Daily News

Organisers put the crowd at 400,000, their largest claimed turnout for eight years and almost twice their number last year. But police said only 63,000 attended -- although that was also their largest figure for eight years.

(Agence France Presse)  By Beh Lih

Organisers said 400,000 people took to the streets Sunday to protest against Leung Chun-ying's leadership and Beijing's interference in local affairs, hours after Leung was sworn in as chief executive before Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Police gave a much lower turnout of 63,000 at the rally and march, which took place on the 15th anniversary of the former British colony's return to China. But both estimates were the highest respective figures for eight years.

(CNN)  Thousands protest Hong Kong's China-fication

Hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded Hong Kong's streets Sunday, shortly after the city's new chief executive was sworn in during a ceremony with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty.

Despite the humid weather, organizers reported that 400,000 protesters turned out for the annual July 1 protest against what they say is the ever-encroaching hand of the Chinese central government in the city's affairs and freedoms.

It was the largest turnout since the estimated 500,000 protesters who marked the same date in 2003. Police put the figure at a much lower 63,000 people.

[ESWN Comment:  CNN uses "thousands" in the title and "hundreds of thousands" in the opening sentence.  Also CNN is not counting the 530,000 claimed estimate in 2004 as <Ming Pao> did in their front page headline.]

(Voice of America)  Mass Protests as Hong Kong Marks 15 Years of Chinese Rule    By Ivan Broadhead

Civic action culminated Sunday with one of the largest protest marches in recent memory. Organizers estimate 400,000 people took to the streets to express their discontent on a range of issues.

(Asia TImes)  One country, two (failed) systems.  By Pepe Escobar.

At least 400,000 Hongkongers, snaking all over Central in absolutely sweltering heat, from early afternoon until deep into the night, and from all walks of life (tycoons excluded), all of them expressing their anger at Hong Kong's new CEO, pro-Beijing property developer Leung Chun-ying; the notion of "one country, two systems"; their impossibility to actually vote; and last but not least, motherland China.

... Definitely this is not what Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping envisaged - as Hong Kong celebrated the 15th anniversary of the handover; 400,000 people, in a city of 7 million, is immense.

(Asia Times)  Can't Buy Me Love in Hong Kong.  By Kent Ewing.

While organizers said there were 400,000 protestors, police put the number at 55,000 and the University of Hong Kong estimated there were 112,000.

[ESWN Comment: SCMP reported :"Rally organiser Eric Lai Yan-ho, of the Civil Human Rights Front, put the turnout at 400,000, while police say 55,000 people started the march in the park, with the total peaking at 63,000 ... The University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme put the figure at between 98,000 and 112,000."  So how this is get written into "police put the number at 55,000 and the University of Hong Kong estimated there were 112,000"?  If you must, one correct way is to say: "police put the number at 63,000 and the University of Hong Kong estimated there were 105,000."

As a social group, public intellectuals are not an unfamiliar phenomenon.  As a concept, they emerged only after the 1990's.  But since its appearance in the 1990's, the term has now become a pejorative one in a short period of only 20 years.  Everything goes through gestation, birth, development, climax, decline and death.  That is not unusual.  The public intellectuals have not died away as a group, but its social reputation has gone in reverse.

If you can remember, there was a grand debate on the humanistic spirit in the 1990's in China.  As the tide of market economy rolled in, intellectuals either went into business or retired back into the old papers in their studies.  They looked much less formidable in boldness of vision than their forebears in the 1980's who were trying to enlighten the ignorant masses from ten thousand meters above ground.  That was why people were decrying the loss of the humanistic spirit.

Later the academic world basically fell into two camps over this debate.  One side felt that intellectuals should concentrate on their own expertise first.  The hubbub of the 1980's was quite shallow, and one should establish one's expertise first before anything else.  The other side felt that intellectuals should always maintain a concern about the real world (that is to say, to have the humanistic spirit) irrespective of the state of their expertise, because they could not be intellectuals otherwise.

Many people joined in the debate.  Basically any person born before the 1960's and actively involved in academia were more or less engaged.  Like many other debates afterwards, this one did not yield any results.  But there was certainly many talks on the "humanistic spirit", and books such as <Attending lectures at Peking University> showed up in the bookstores.  Many people who didn't want to be left out came out of their studies.  They either gave talks on the humanistic spirit to enlighten people or they commented about current affairs in newspapers and magazines.  Thus, they formed a group of "public intellectuals."

We do not want to get into whether this debate succeeded or failed.  But intellectuals found a way to become "famous scholars."  It did not matter whether one was making significant contributions to one's field of study.  As long as one posed with a humanistic spirit, one will be praised by the media and lauded by the audience.

Those who participated in the debate had been "young scholars" in the 1980's.  In the debates over the next twenty years, they also figured prominently even though they are 50-to-60 year old "famous scholars" by now.  They are now big shots in academia, they are professors, thesis advisors, school leaders, government advisors, etc.  But if you want to evaluate their academic achievements, you may have a hard time.

For example, Fang Zhouzi looked at the academic achievements of the renowned scholar Peking University Law School professor He Weifang.  Over the last 20 years, he did not publish a single academic article.  All he did was a list of "opinions" that were published in various newspapers and magazines.  This may be "humanistic concern," but it is up to the academic world to decide whether short articles and talks appearing in mass media should count as academic achievements.  Fang Zhouzi's questions drew a lot of criticisms, as the defenders of He Weifang said that publishing an article in a journal that nobody will ever read is less significant than concrete opinions on problems such as "rotating the soldiers into the courtroom."

This situation is not restricted to the case of He Weifang alone, for there are many other similar cases.

In the eyes of the supporters of He Weifang, the value of "public intellectuals" such as He Weifang depends on whether his opinions are able to effect reforms and progress.  Towards this end, the expertise or contribution of He Weifang to his field of study is totally irrelevant.

Is this view reasonable?  Of course it is.  But the problem is that "public intellectuals" are public persons as well as intellectuals.  It is noted that most such intellectuals work at higher education institutions and state social science research institutes.  In other words, they work "within the system."  Their regular job is in teaching and research, and their appearances in the mass media are sideshows.  If they express their opinions, they ought to be talking about their field of study and their opinions on public issues should be based upon their expert knowledge in that field.

More importantly, most people value and even trust the opinions of the public intellectuals on account of research ability and knowledge.  Because the "public intellectuals" are experts, they can be trusted.  So when economists speak about economics and legal scholars speak about the law, the public think that these opinions are more authoritative.  But we should remember that each field of study has different sub-fields.  For example, a famous scholar on contemporary literature may not be trustworthy on classical literature; a micro-economist may not have researched macro-economics; criminal law experts may not have researched civil law.

At this time, we are facing situations in which many people are commenting on domains that they are completely unlearned in.  For example, the popular economist Chen Zhiwu had specialized in finance at Yale University, but his published works in China are mostly opinion pieces in newspapers that do not come as the result of any research.  Chen seldom publishes in economic journals.  So are his opinions on China credible?  This may seem obvious but nobody can say for sure.

Worse yet, in China today (especially in the mass media), not only are contemporary literature professors talking about classical media and criminal law scholars talking about civil law.  More frequently, we can see literature professors talking about economic issues, economists talking about political and social problems, and legal scholars talking about history.  The more they do so, the more likely that the media and citizens will see these intellectuals as being imbued with public concern.

It is no exaggeration that these public intellectuals have become omnipotent gods who know and do all.  An earthquake takes place in Japan, and they expertly discuss the problems with nuclear technology; a drought is happening in southwestern China, and they immediately switch to discuss irrigation and water conservation; there is a protest against forced demolition, and they become experts in the Three Peasant issue; there is a widely discussed crime story, and they become legal and forensic experts.

In the Internet era (especially post-Web 2.0), public intellectuals are no longer content with expressing their opinions in the traditional media.  They move the battlefield to the Internet.  Compared to traditional media, Internet media is characterized by being freer in expression.  The intellectuals can now act without restraint.  At the same time, this also means that they can be completely irresponsible about saying whatever they feel like saying.  Whereas the traditional media try to be more cautious because they care about their trustworthiness, Internet media hold no compunction whatsoever.

Freedom of speech also means being responsible for one's speech.  Yet on the Internet, there is no cost to this called freedom.  There is no need to think about whether the piece of information that one just saw somewhere is true or not.  One can instantaneously express one's views and direct the criticism against the 'system.'  On the Sina Weibo, there are numerous identity-verified experts and scholars who regularly manufacture and pass on rumors.  When someone criticizes them for so doing, the media come out to say that rumor manufacturing is essential towards forcing the truth to come out.  By this time, the term "public intellectual" has become a strongly pejorative term.  The respect that was gained with all the hard work in the 1990's is  now gone.

In the 1980's, the intellectuals were engaged in the discussion of the problem of culture irrespective of their domains of expertise.  That was the era of culture.  In the 1990's, the market economy rolled in, and intellectuals either went into business or research projects.  The term "public intellectual" came about.  Since the year 2000, globalization came on schedule.  Public intellectuals are still public figures, but they are less and less intellectuals.  Instead, they have become poseurs.

But whether the intellectuals of the 1980's, the public intellectuals of the 1990's or the poseurs of the 2000's, they are the same group of persons.

The important point is not about their arguments and reasoning.  Instead it is about their pose -- whenever anything happens in China that can be connected to the government, they will jump out immediately to voice their opposition.  That is how they become public intellectuals.  In truth, while they often voice criticisms of the government, they have become the beneficiaries of the system over the years.  They are the hegemons in their various fields of study.  Not only do they enjoy the benefits that accrue from the system, they enjoy the benefits from the "market economy."  For example, it was a scandal recently to discover that an economist was also serving as the outside director of a publicly listed company.

Whether they joined the culture discussion earlier or become a professional opposition member later, this is only business for them.  No matter how high and mighty they sound, it is ultimately about making a buck.

(South China Morning Post)  Pressure Grows In C.Y. House Scandal.  By Peter So and Dennis Chong.  June 24, 2012.

Hong Kong's chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying is facing growing pressure to disclose all the facts about illegal structures at his Peak home after a government official and his pro-Beijing allies warned his ability to govern is at stake.

Facing the media after a policy forum in Sai Ying Pun yesterday, Leung said: "I don't want to get anyone else involved. I will take full responsibility. At the end of the day, I am the owner of the house and I will take responsibility - that is to clear the illegal structures starting on Monday."

As calls mount for Leung to give a full explanation, health minister Dr York Chow Yat-ngok said it was vital he addressed the scandal. "I am a bit disappointed. Politically speaking, it is a crisis," Chow told a radio show. "Now this may affect opinions regarding his integrity and raise doubts about his sincerity."

However, Leung - due to be sworn in as Hong Kong's third chief executive in nine days' time - did not answer calls to explain why Buildings Department inspectors discovered illegal structures at his HK$500 million home on Peel Rise despite earlier claiming he had employed an "authorised person" to confirm the property was clear of irregularities when he bought it in 2000.

Leung - a surveyor by profession - sidestepped media questions about calls for his resignation from pan-democrats, saying: "I will do my job well." He also avoided giving details of previous inspections, only confirming he had sought advice from legal and surveying professionals. A total of six illegal structures - including a 240 sq ft basement that Leung said "existed when I bought the property" - were found by the Buildings Department after two reports in Ming Pao Daily prompted scrutiny of Leung's property. On Thursday and Friday Leung apologised, saying he had "not intended" to install illegal structures. He promised to rectify the irregularities as soon as possible, but his responses failed to satisfy politicians.

Former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen - Leung's main opponent in the chief executive race - lost the contest in large part due to an illegal basement found at his home in Kowloon Tong. He is currently under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Chan Yuen-han, of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, who voted for Leung in the election for the top job, called for a full explanation. "Now there is a row that puts his integrity in serious doubt, he needs to make a full revelation. Otherwise, Hongkongers will find it unacceptable," said Chan.

Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing told Commercial Radio that Leung looks to have displayed "serious negligence", but did not believe he had tried a cover-up.

Pan-democratic parties staged protests at Leung's office in Central yesterday calling for his resignation.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the New People's Party chairwoman who is tipped to join Leung's Executive Council, said: "Integrity matters the most for those running for public office, therefore the illegal structure row is a serious problem."

(Oriental Daily)  Cow Ghosts And Snake Spirits Emerge To Exploit The Case Of The Illegal Structure In C.Y. Leung's House.  June 24, 2012.

The Democratic Alliance For Betterment Of Hong Kong is nicknamed "the Alliance For Building Illegal Structures."  Previously DAB members in the Legislature Council -- Cheung Hok-ming, Wong Yung-kan, Chan Kam-lam -- were reported to have illegal structures inside their homes.  In the case of Chan Kam-lam, he was even reported as removing the structure at first but re-building it again afterwards.  He can only be said to be lawless.  In the cases of Cheung Hok-ming and Wong Yung-kan, they have not removed their illegal structures so far as they claim that they can only need to rebuild and report the conditions to get approval.  If DAB chairman and Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said yesterday that the illegal structures in C.Y. Leung's house constituted "serious negligence," then why is he keeping mum about the lawlessness of his party colleagues?

Chan Yuen-han of the Federation of Trade Unions is just the same. Yesterday, she attended the Kaitak River Green Arts Festival.  Maybe she was too ecstatic or maybe she wanted to wet her feet in the river, but she seized the moral high ground to criticize that C.Y.'s claim of "unintended" mistake.  She demanded a clear explanation.  But Chan Yuen-han has a fellow party member Wong Kwok-hing (nicknamed West Rail Guy) who was reported to have an illegally built glass verandah which he quickly dismantled after complaints.  In this case, Wong Kwok-hing is a "neighborhood guy" who takes time out from "stealing chickens" to act as the "security monitor" instead, and Chan Yuen-han wants to chime in as well.

As for New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, she said that integrity matters the most for persons holding public office.  She also said that an illegal structure of 200 square feet is just as bad as Henry Tang Ying-yen's 2000 square feet. She seemed to have forgotten that her fellow party member Dr. Louis Shih Tai-cho was revealed last year of encroaching on 8000 square feet of public land with his Sheung Shui mansion.

While the pro-establishment camp faked amnesia, the pan-democrats chose to have selective memory.  Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan and Civic Party head Leung Kah-kit that having illegal structures involves an integrity problem.  They demanded that C.Y. Leung resign immediately after he assumes the post of Chief Executive.  We go back to the cases of Democratic Party member Wong Shing-chi and Civic Party member Ronny Tong Ka-wah who were revealed to have illegal structures inside their respective homes.  How come nobody asked them to resign from the Legislative Council at the time?  Or could it be that integrity does not matter for the Legislative Council?

Among the many cow ghosts and snake spirits, Food and Health Bureau secretary Dr York Chow Yat-ngok was the worst.  Now that he is leaving his job, he has no problems with pointing his finger and expressing his disappointment with C.Y. Leung.  He said that C.Y. Leung had better explain clearly or else there will be a political crisis.  Only last month our newspaper exposed in an exclusive report that Chow "Yat-wok" [note: In Cantonese, "chow" sound like "week," "yat" is "one" and "wok" is "trouble/disaster."  Chow was given the nickname of "a disaster each week" for the persistent problems at the Food and Health Bureau.] had an illegally built fully-enclosed glass wall on the verandah in his Mount Kellett Road home.  So he has the nerve to criticize C.Y. Leung when he was no better himself.

It was amazing how this case of illegal structures allowed us to see the true faces of all these cow ghosts and snake spirits.

On June 12, Cao Linhua (according to information, he is the Beijing correspondent for Southern People Weekly) made a microblog post: "Two men and one women went up into space.  What happens if she is found to be pregnant after they land?  Is this the state's plan on how to cultivate astronaut?"

On June 18, Liu XX (according to information, he is the top reporter at the Nanchang Daily News) made a microblog post: "Dad, why send a female astronaut into space?"  "Because neither Mengniu nor Yili milk can be consumed."

These two microblog posts drew the ire of some Internet users.

Comment #1: "Concerning how reporters Cao Linhua and Liu XX insulted the astronaut Liu XX, I want to say that this is really too despicable, shameless and base if true.  It is hard to hold myself back.  Not only should they be relieved of their reporter status, but they should be banned from all culture-related matters for publicly saying such things."

Comment #2: "Even though I have my reservations about the the emphasis on the space program, I am still very angry about what these reporters say!  No matter what, China is carrying out a serious project.  We can analyze it from the theoretical and practical points of view.  You can even criticize it.  But you cannot hurl insults, especially at the individual astronauts!  Such reporters are really shameless!"

One Chinese Internet user organized an Internet vote on whether the two reporters ought to be fired from their jobs.  "Recently, the Shenzhou 9 space ship linked up with Tiangong 1 in space.  No matter what, this was an important milestone in the history of progress of the Chinese people.  But at this time, rumors abound everywhere on the Internet.  First, someone made up the rumor of the 'sky-high price' of the rocket fuel, and that was reported.  Then came many other rumors from overseas to smear, debase and scorn the Chinese space program.  It is remarkable that those who are taking these dirty tricks are actually all Chinese, including many Chinese elites and reporters at major media outlets.  Today, we found this reporter teasing and insulting the female astronaut Liu Yang.  I hope that everybody give their opinion here!  I strongly urge that these two reporters be expelled from the ranks of reporters.

As of the deadline of this story, 2373 Internet users (91% of the total) have made the choice: "Shameless to the extreme!  We strongly urge them be expelled from the ranks of reporters!"  Only 216 (9% of the total) said that they disagreed.

On the afternoon of June 19, the Nanchang Daily News reporter apologized through our reporter.  He explained that he drank too much and forwarded a post without thinking.  Now he thought that this was really bad for the principal and her family, and so he is sincerely apologizing to the principal.  At 19:00 this reporter posted on his microblog: "Apology: Last night I drank too much and got high.  I forwarded a microblog post that I should not have forwarded, and that has brought the principal some impact.  I apologize to the persons so affected."  He also deleted the blog post which insulted the astronaut Liu Yang.

On June 20, our reporter made contact with the Southern People Weekly reporter Cao Linhua.

Q: I want to ask you what your original purpose was in making that post about Liu Yang?
Cao: Tease.  Do you understand that?

Q: Do you think that it was appropriate for a media worker to make such a comment?
A: I made that microblog post as an ordinary citizen.

By the deadline of this story, Southern People Weekly reporter Cao Linhua had already deleted the insulting comments about astronaut Liu Yang.

(NetEase Women Channel)

Many angry young people interpreted these insults against the female astronaut as being emotional catharses against the government.  The government spent a lot of money on the space program but it refused to invest more money on social welfare.  However, this line of reasoning is not logical.  There were three astronauts who are wasting public money.  Why did only the female astronaut become the target?  Why were not vicious jokes not directed at the government budget?  And they didn't even question her job competence.  Instead they made not disguise that they were going after her sexual identity and biological characteristics.

The true malice in these two jokes was that they completely ignore or negate the professional status and achievements of women in society.  Instead women are defined strictly through their bodies which serve only as tools for sexual intercourse and reproduction.  In these two jokes, Liu Yang is not an astronaut with professional spirit and ability, even though her occupation is an astronaut and she carries out her duties in space.  In these two jokes, she was merely a tool for the male astronauts to vent their lusts and to provide milk as sustenance.

These two jokes attempt to use an unabashed, disgusting attitude to force women (no matter what their jobs are in society or what they have accomplished in their duties) back into the positions in a patriarchal society: they are biological bodies to be used for sexual intercourse and reproduction.  They asserted that these are the only things women are good for in society.

Two years ago, there was the Internet story about "80% of female doctoral candidates trade sex for diploma."  This is similar to these two jokes about the female astronaut.  That story was not address the problem of sexual harassment within academia.  Instead they insinuate that women have no academic skills.  Instead they only have their bodies to give and if they have academic accomplishments, this was only through trading with their bodies.

In a patriarchal society in which women are biological beings used for sexual intercourse and reproduction, a female astronaut has succeeded where more men cannot hope to attain.  The entire state apparatus supports her.  This is something that many men find impossible to accept.  This is particularly when the state apparatus is not quite fair.  Thus many lower-class males are hostile to her.  Angry young people cannot tolerate government missteps.  This is not just a matter of the huge expenditures on the space program.  What is more, the government has permitted a woman to become an astronaut.  She is just a piece of meat, an inflated rubber door, a lactating tool and a reproduction machine.  But now she is elevated to a height that they can never ever aspire to.


Reporter Cao Linhua said that he was just "teasing" against the powers-that-be.  This is alarming and disappointing.  When he proudly proclaims that he acting as a "citizen" to "tease" the government, he is totally oblivious of his own gender discrimination that hurts the principal as well as all women.  This is normal among our "public intellectuals": they often appear to be resisting authoritarianism and that has a certain popularity.  But their awareness of gender identity is often shockingly lacking.  A "public intellectual" may be mouthing off pretty words like freedom and quality, but I have to be suspicious about his stand when he thinks that one half of humankind is below the other half.

Finally, let me make clear that defending Liu Yang is not singing praises of the government.  I am angry and critical about the two reporters insulting a successful professional woman through the lens of gender discrimination.  This of behavior is intolerable.

(Boxun)  Statement Concerning Zhang Ziyi's lawsuit against Boxun: Her Political Intentions Are Clear.  June 20, 2012

The Boxun Editor-In-Chief Wei Shi was notified by the California court on June 18 (local time), including the document filed by the lawyer hired by Zhang Ziyi.  In the near future, Boxun will not be answering media inquiries.  Boxun will announce important developments to the public.  So media colleagues should pay attention to the Boxun reports and information.  Although Boxun has never used the term "prostitution" in the relevant reporting, the English-language media (including the court's information department) have all been using the term "prostitution."  Today Boxun will set up a special hotspot topic entitled "Zhang Ziyi's 'Prostitution Gate'" for the convenience of the readers.  The title of this hotspot is taken from the English-language reporting, and does not come from any reports by Boxun.

This brief statement from Boxun includes:

1. The formal complaint document shows the political purpose of this case.  The goal was not only to attack Boxun, but also to attack China Free Press (CFP) where Wei Shi works.  CFP is a non-profit organization that is completely independent from Boxun.  It has an independent board of directors as well as strict financial management.  It files its taxes independently.  Its business and personnel are completely unrelated to Boxun.  CFP has its own website (canyu.org), and its editors and reporters are independent.  The only connection is that Wei Shi is temporarily the executive director of CFP, and Boxun and CFP share the same correspondence address.  CPF promotes freedom of speech in China, and has always maintained a low profile while contributing towards freedom and democracy in China.  Zhang Ziyi and her appointed lawyer emphasized that CFP is connected to this case, and they claimed that the defamation will not stop until CFP is shut down.  Zhang Ziyi and her appointed lawyer should not have brought an unrelated entity into this case.  This complaint therefore shows that Zhang Ziyi's case against Boxun is a political affair and not just a civil case.

Boxun has verified the conspiratorial nature of this case through at least two different channels.  This is widely known within certain circles.

2. Boxun's report about the social public figure Zhang Ziyi fills in an important detail about a political affair -- the Bo Xilai case.  Boxun has neither motive nor interest in exposing Zhang Ziyi's private life.  In the relevant reports, Zhang Ziyi was involved in corruption and the trade of power for money.  As a socially responsible media, Boxun has the duty to publish this matter for the public to see.

3. In the reports on Zhang Ziyi, Boxun was serious and responsible.  The Boxun editors have no doubt about the veracity.  Ever since Zhang Ziyi claimed that she would be suing Boxun, Boxun has received more details about the relationship of Zhang Ziyi and more politicians and businessmen, involving more than 10 persons.  If this case should move into the court trial phase, Boxun will go over these cases with Zhang Ziyi in court.

Boxun has always firmly believed that rumor mongering hurts the media the most.  Boxun has no motive to manufacture any rumors against any person or group.  But because of the political black box operation in China today as well as the oppression of media reports, certain evidence and witnesses cannot be made known in public.  The Boxun reporting will be able to withstand the scrutiny of the law as well as history.  We are confident that the political conspiracy to bring down Boxun will not succeed!

(China Daily)  Tainted-apple report sparks investigation.  June 13, 2012.

Shandong province authorities are investigating allegations of illegally covering apples in orchards with pesticide-filled bags to protect the fruit from insects and damage from branches and weather. Farmers usually use the fruit bags to cover and protect growing fruit from the insecticides that growers spray on fruit trees. Putting pesticides in the bags is illegal.

Agricultural authorities opened the investigation after a newspaper reported that some farmers in Yantai, China's major apple growing area, were illegally using pesticides in the bags. Beijing News reported on Monday that individual growers use bags that are contaminated with hazardous chemicals inside.

"We haven't come to any conclusion yet in the investigation," said Yang Lijian, director of the pesticide inspection department of the Shandong Agriculture Bureau, when reached by China Daily on Tuesday. However, Yang said the government pledged to end the use of apple bags contaminated with pesticide-like chemicals if they are found, and to close any workshops that made them.

According to Yang, an investigation of pesticide residue on the ripe fruit from local farmers in September 2011 revealed that some farmers were using bags with pesticide inside. The Yantai government found in 2010 that some orchard workers applied diluted pesticides inside fruit bags. The pesticides included tuzet and asomate, which are prohibited from such usage. The government then conducted a rectification upon the illegal use of the bags afterwards to better regulate the industry.

According to Wang Jingyan, an expert in fruit trees from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, proper amounts of chemicals such as corrosion inhibitors are acceptable in the fruit bags because they can protect the fruit from seeding disease. However, an excessive amount of chemicals or certain pesticides, like asomate, which can cause cancer when consumed, should be strictly prohibited.

"The farmers should be responsible to the customers," he said. Yang believed only a small number of farmers are using covering bags contaminated with chemicals in the province, while the majority of the orchard workers abide by the law.

Ministry of Agriculture inspectors concluded in 2020 and 2011 that pesticide residue on apples from Yantai was 100 percent within acceptable levels, according to the Yantai government. The local government held a new conference on Tuesday afternoon in response to the fruit bag scandal. No quality issues were found with any of the 217,000 tons of apples exported in 2011, the government said.

On Tuesday, an official from the logistics management department of the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce told China Daily, on condition of anonymity, that pesticide residue on Yantai fruit has never been found to exceed acceptable levels.

The Beijing News report sparked concerns, as well as objections from the public and local farmers.

"My family and I might stop eating the Yantai apples for now," said Liu Shibin, a driver in the capital. "Even if the fruit was peeled, I would feel uneasy after seeing the report." Many local farmers expressed their dissatisfaction and doubt about the report.

Zou Renhe, an orchard farmer from Yantai's Penglai county, said that strict local inspections would prevent farmers around his village from using chemical-contaminated bags. He said he had always been proud of the apples from his hometown. "You can pick an apple from my tree and take a bite simply after wiping it on your clothes," he said.

Peng Yongbo, another apple orchard owner in Penglai, agreed. "We have always been very careful about the amount of pesticide used with fruit," he said.

(m4.cn)  Who gets the last laugh in the "fruit storm"?  June 13, 2012.

Recently a <Beijing News> reporter went to Zhaoyuan and Qixia in Shantong province where the Yantai Fuji apple is principally grown.  The reporter interviewed two farmers who used pesticides.  The news report carried the title <Yantai Fuji grown inside pesticide-filled bags>.  The shocking title and the horrifying description of the production process hit the people at a time when they are already nervous about food safety.  This "heavy-weight report" surely stunned many people.

Of the edible fruits, the apple is the most popular among the people.  Among apples, the Yantai Fuji apple is known as "the King of Apples."  But now this fruit seems like it is going to move from an featured item on the TV show <Eating in China> to the "periodic table of elements."  People are beginning to estimate how many Yantai Fuji apples they have eaten, especially those that were eaten without peeling off the skin and hence the amount of pesticide accumulated within their bodies.

But if people are upset about being fed pesticides, the Yantai apple farmers are having a bad time.  The new fruits that were just shipped out had no takers and the year's work all fell for nought.  In the end, the unpicked apples will simply rot in the orchards.  As the <Beijing News> reporter noted, more than a billion kilograms of apple are produced annually in Zhaoyuan and Qixia.  The case of the "pesticide-filled bags" is going to strike a tremendous blow against the local economy's mainstay, as many apple farmers will be staring at ruin.  Furthermore, the Yantai Red Fuji is a brand that was carefully groomed and improved over several generations but it is now destroyed overnight.

But when I revisited the news story, I found out that <Beijing News> has quietly changed the story title.  The original title was <Yantai Red Fuji grown inside pesticide-filled bags>. 

The revised title is now <Some Yantai Red Fuji brown inside pesticide-filled bags>.

In the report itself, the reporter chose two farmers in the entire area to interview.  These two farmers happened to use the "pesticide-filled bags."  Do these two farmers represent all farmers in the area?  What proportion of the apples from this region is grown inside these "pesticide-filled" bags?  The fact is that it is normal to cover fruits with bags in order to shield from bacteria, but the report does not mention this important information.  After reading this report, how many people will equate "anti-bacterial bags" with "illegal pesticide-filled bags"?

In 2008, there was the instance of the Sichuan tangerines.  Last year, there was the instance of the Hainan bananas that were artificially ripened.  This year, there were the inoculated Hainan watermelons and the super-sized red bayberries of Zhejiang.  Each instance was either a rumor or an isolated instance.  Nevertheless the media magnified the cases into major public panics that destroyed the livelihoods of the farmers in those areas.  For that year, the farmers lost everything and then the next year the price of those products soared because nobody was growing them anymore.  Same old trick, same old ending.

Individual rumormongers and evil-minded farmers either intentionally or unintentionally make a gesture like a butterfly flapping its wings, and suddenly the media blow it up into a storm that swept away farmers and consumers alike.  At a time when the technology for storing fruits is becoming more sophisticated and cheaper, will competitors and speculators spot the "business opportunities" to exploit the situation, perhaps even directly creating such a "storm" for profit?

(South China Morning Post)  Zhang Ziyi files lawsuits against Apple and Next  By

Film star Zhang Ziyi formally filed defamation lawsuits in Hong Kong and the United States yesterday against media which reported last month that she had sex with disgraced former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai for money.

In Hong Kong, Zhang has hired law firm Haldanes and senior counsel Jason Pow, renowned for handling defamation cases, for her suits against Apple Daily and Next Magazine, according to China News Service and her spokesman's Sina microblog. She is also suing a US-based Chinese language news portal, which the China News Service report said was the source of the allegations.

An earlier letter sent by Haldanes to Apple Daily, and posted on Zhang's Sina microblog, said the allegations that Zhang was under investigation, banned from leaving the mainland and had sex for money, had seriously damaged the actress' reputation and caused her considerable distress.

''Sometimes, justice might arrive late, but it will definitely arrive,'' a message posted on her spokesman's microblog account said yesterday. Zhang briefly visited Hong Kong on May 30.

The reports, slammed as ''absolute libel'' by Zhang, claimed she began sleeping with Bo in 2007, under an arrangement made by Xu Ming, a Dalian-based tycoon and one of Bo's close allies. They said the relationship lasted until last year. Zhang was further accused of making money from sleeping with other senior mainland officials and businessmen.

Repeated calls yesterday to Apple Daily and Next Magazine for comment were unsuccessful.

Zhang Ziyi sues Apple Daily and Next Magazine for defamation

... The plaintiff emphasized in the complaint that the aforementioned reports constituted severe defamation and insult using totally inaccurate descriptions that will cause readers to be misled that Ms. Zhang is a prostitute who traded sex for huge amounts of money with businessmen and government officials, including being investigated and prevented from traveling overseas.  The plaintiff claimed that these reports have caused serious damage to her reputation, creating tremendous personal mental pressure and external social pressure.  Since Ms. Zhang is an international celebrity, these defaming reports were carried in many other newspapers, magazines and websites around the world, including the renowned American magazine The New Yorker.  As a result, the plaintiff has suffered even more so.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant either knew that the information was inaccurate or never cared whether it was accurate or not.  The plaintiff pointed out that the the defendant identified the source as the Boxun website, which stated that its information came from an anonymous source.  That website is run as a civilian news website, so that the defendant must know that the information has not been independently verified and therefore its veracity is suspect.  Furthermore, that website is censored in China, so that any of its China-related reporting is even less credible.  The defendant did not conduct any independent verification.  In particular, the defendant did not seek a comment from the plaintiff and went ahead to publish.  From this, it can be inferred that the defendant deliberately sought to damage the reputation of the plaintiff in order to attract more readers.

(Oriental Daily)

According to the lawyer Daniel Wong Kwok-tung, the compensation amount is likely to be an "astronomical figure" if Zhang Ziyi should be able to win her case.  Zhang Ziyi's current income level, her celebrity and her personal influence (which got her into Forbes' Chinese Celebrities List) means that she will have a basis to calculate her economic losses.  When mental suffering is tagged on top, the number is likely to be "astronomical."  "You report the most important aspect of an actress -- her virtue -- and she is going to count how many film roles, commercial roles and spokesperson assignments she lost, and you will have to pay a lot."

Wong Kwok-tung emphasized that the media defendant in a defamation case normally have two lines of defense: one, you prove that the contents are accurate; two, you prove that the reporting was fair commentary.  The important thing is that you can't just say that you are quoting someone else.  "When you publish someone else's report, you have to try to seek confirm at the source level.  You can't get away from just publishing the same thing.  Fair and balanced freedom of press still requires you not to injure other people."

Meanwhile Boxun has no reservations about issuing a response.

Boxun respects Ms. Zhang Ziyi herself as well as her accomplishments in the film industry.  But as an electronic media based in America, Boxun strives to provide fair contents about China and the world to its readers.  The reporting on Ms. Zhang Ziyi in Boxun did not contain any insulting language.  Boxun merely published information that it believed to be accurate.  That information had come from anonymous sources, which is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and other related laws.  Boxun is obliged to keep the identities of those sources confidential.  For this reason, Boxun will not delete any of the relevant reports, it will not apologize, it will not disclose the sources of the information and it will not pay any compensation.  But Boxun will be glaf to publish any statements or explanations from Ms. Zhang Ziyi concerning this matter.

USA-based website DWnews has its own say (or Schadenfreude).

... A Chinese-American lawyer said that Boxun's statement is "feeble."  By saying that it "published information that it believed to be accurate," Boxun is saying that the information is accurate only according to its belief without regard to the actual veracity.  In practice, Boxun is indirectly admitting that it had published information that is not based upon any evidence.  In other words, this is the so-called sensationalistic "exposé" that Boxun and other websites typically produce.  According to a person who has direct contact with the overseas Chinese democracy movement, there are many Chinese-language media outlets which claim to be promoting democratic reform in China and holding up the mantle as representatives of "justice."  In practice, they say whatever they want against China under the Communist government in the name of justice.  Most often, they aim to release their emotions irregardless of the facts of the matter.

Ultimately, this caused most information and journalism to be tainted with subjectivism and biases.  As such, these media outlets have lost their objectivity and accuracy, and become propaganda tools.  They are no different from the Communist propaganda that they criticized for lack of objectivity and facts, becoming two sets of extremes.  The result is that many readers who are interested in learning about the truth in China are tired and disappointed, and this is detrimental towards democracy inside and outside China.

(Lao Duan's microblog)

Before the Internet, blogs and microblogs appeared, being an intellectual was an esteemed occupation.  In particular, the public intellectuals are closest to the people, because they serve to enlighten and guide public opinion.  Once upon a time, it was hard to become a public intellectual.  But the Internet has changed things and we now have the ability to engage in mass production of public intellectuals.  We can transform an ordinary person into a qualified public intellectual in the shortest time possible, even if that person is only semi-literate.  We can bring the contents of the ivory tower into ordinary homes.  Friends, are you ready?  Are you confident?  Well, let us being with the lessons.

Lesson 1: Why become a public intellectual?

Simply put, you attract a lot of attention as a public intellectual.  Your fans will increase geometrically.  You can make a microblog post about there not being any toilet issue when you used the bathroom, and several thousand persons will forward, comment upon and share your post.

Secondly, you will be able to hold the moral high point.  That is to say, you can curse and smear anyone you want, and your target won't be able to do a thing to refute.  You may even have the privilege of "rumor mongering" at will without bearing any legal responsibility.  If anyone tries to stop you, that person will be assaulting freedom of speech.  Another major privilege is that you are entitled to "be suspicious without bounds."  That is, you can freely cast doubt on anyone and anything.

Moreover, if you do your job well, the American Embassy may invite you over for tea.  Maybe some democracy foundation will offer you a sizeable subsidy in American dollars.

Finally, even without the aforementioned benefits, the honor of being a "public intellectual" should be satisfying enough.

Lesson 2: The minimum requirements to become a public intellectual

With technological advances, the minimum requirements to become a public intellectual has reached historical lows.  In terms of hardware, you only need a crappy computer and an Internet connection.  In terms of software, you need to know the basic skills of typing, making comments, posting to blogs/microblogs, forwarding and using PhotoShop.

But you don't need to know too much about logic and reasoning.  This is the reason why public intellectuals come mostly from the humanities.  But you must know enough about psychology, because you must try to understand the attitudes of your fans: What do they want to read?  What do they hate?  What do they respect?  What are they jealous of?  If you don't even know about these things, you will be going naked into battle.

Lesson 3: Seven keywords for entry-level public intellectuals

In the past, it was necessary to read a lot of books and documents in order to become a public intellectual.  But nowadays you only need to use seven keywords effectively in order to become an entry-level public intellectual.  These seven keywords are:

1. Freedom
2. Democracy
3. Human rights
4. Political system
5. Constitutional politics
6. Vote
7. Universal value

As long as you keep bringing up these keywords in your blog/microblog posts, you are a public intellectual in form.  To the ordinary Internet user, you have instantly acquired sufficient reasoning, you have transcended cheap vulgarity and you are a person with independent character and thinking.  In your thinking, you need to be highly conscious that these seven keywords can solve every problem in China.  You need to be totally convinced yourself before you can go out to convert others.

But it is not enough to invoke these keywords.  You must also deploy them effectively.  For example, there is the method of comparative shopping.  So you must regularly compare China with USA.  Here are some examples:

You went to the bathroom and you found that the toilet issues have run out.  An ordinary Internet user would surely write: "Fuck!  The tissues ran out just when I went to the restroom, damn!"  A silly Internet user would write: "I went to use the restroom, but there were no more tissues.  There must be something wrong with the way I use the restroom!"  A photo would then be uploaded to show the situation.  But as public intellectual, you cannot write that way.  The proper way of writing is:

Chinese restrooms run out of toilet issues frequently.  When I was in America, there was always toilet issues in the restrooms.  What is wrong with our society?  There must be a problem with our political system.  Why are the expenditures for the restrooms not transparent?  Where do the taxpayers' money go?  Trillions are spent by government workers on eating and drinking, but they won't pay for a roll of toilet issue?  I haven't even gotten into a detailed discussion of China-made toilet issues, because the inside story is too frightening ...

As a public intellectual, you cannot post the above because you won't get too many forwards.  Instead, you must use a photo, such as the strongly contrasting below:

You do not need a lot of words to accompany this photo.  You merely hint that the restroom in the top half is Chinese and the restroom in the bottom half is American.  You will be astonished by the number of forwards that this combination of photo+text can get.  I recommend you to open a microblog and write a post using this "public intellectual"-style.  Very soon you will be enjoying the delights of being a public intellectual.

Lesson 4: The self-improvement of a middle-level public intellectual

As a middle-level public intellectual, you need to promote your own ideas.  But more importantly you need to deprecate everything about your opponents.  There are three natural targets, and you can do no wrong when you debase them.  These are:

1. Despotism
2. Totalitarianism
3. Tyranny

You need to mention these three words all the time, as if they are your most hated enemies.  You denounce them day and night, year in and year out.  Even if there is no provocation, you must bring them out for a thrashing.

The aforementioned are invisible enemies.  But you may also have visible enemies, such as Internet users who make critical comments on your blog/microblog.

If this critic is young, you can call him an "angry young man," you tell him to go and read more books and you can ignore him thereafter.

If this critic supports a certain existing government policy, then you can do no wrong by calling him a "fifty-cent gang" member.  You can add a rebuttal such as: "You get fifty cents to make a post, but will it help you to buy a house?"  If this person persists, you tell him: "Running dog, you eat shit!"  Then you blacklist him from reading/commenting your blog/microblog and you can ignore him afterward.

If this critic is nostalgic about the China 30 years ago under Mao, you can call him "Maoist leftie" and add: "How come your dad wasn't starved to death?"

When your critics are just fraying about, they are easy to dispose with.  It is harder with those more reasonable people who can bring up evidence.  It is very simple to deal with these people too.  Here are some standard tricks that you need to learn quickly.

Example:  In the news, it is reported that there is a debt crisis in Europe with many Europeans marching and protesting in the streets.  Many Europeans are bankrupt and some have committed suicide.  So someone tells you that democracy is not a panacea.  If you discuss the facts on Europe, you lose.  So you must immediately bring the focus back into China.  You can say that China actually has many more crises that have not imploded yet, that China has even far more local debt problems.  You must always remember that your readers are all inside China.  They don't care what happens outside China, they only care what happens around themselves.  They want to vent, and you help them vent.

Example:  In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese team got the highest number of gold medals.  This was a huge improvement compared to China's first appearance at the Olympics.  If you discuss the facts on the Olympics, you lose.  So you must immediately bring the focus back to the problem about the system.  You insist that the results based upon a national sports system are not worth any discussion.  Since a national system is evil itself, any achievements by that evil system must be bad.  Therefore the more gold medals that China gets, the worse China is.

Example:  In the news, it is reported that Chinese students achieved the best scholastic test results compared to students elsewhere.  In particular, Shanghai students have the best results among all nations.  There are two possibilities.  First of all, the tests were organized by the Chinese.  So this is simple, because you need only to say: "Can you trust anything run by the Chinese?" and you dispense with the matter.  The other case of the tests being organized by foreigners is more complicated.  So you take aim at the Chinese education system.  You insist that because the Chinese education system prepares students to take examinations, these students only know how to achieve good marks but the system is worthless otherwise.  Although Americans achieved poor marks, their system is not designed only to prepare students to take examinations.

Example:  On television news, it is reported there are many homeless persons in America.  Many American college graduates have no jobs while still owing huge student loans.  You need to immediately direct the attack against China.  You say: America may have poor people, but their definition of the poverty line is far higher than in China.  In America, poor people have refrigerators, color television sets and even cars.  In America, poor people have the right to vote, and they can select the president that they like.  No such thing exists in China.

Example: After China joined the WTO, its exports grew rapidly and took large shares of the western markets.  China has even been called "the factory of the world."  You need to say: "... but China is only taking the low-end market.  China can sell a few billion underpants but that won't even buy one Boeing jet."  Although it is a fact that China's biggest exports is electronic products and not clothing accessories, you don't care -- if your readers don't know, you don't need to inform them.

Example: America is stuck in quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, and spends trillions a year in military expenses without any tangible result.  America has also slaughtered many civilians over there.  So you need to link this with universal values -- America is trying to promote universal values all over the world, and that is why America has undertaken this most burdensome task.  Even though many people don't understand this, the American military is the symbol of justice.  Universal values are not easily acquired, and there is not reward without sacrifice.  Therefore, the deaths of those civilians are worth it.  Besides the American military has suffered heavy casualties itself.

There is a principle here.  No matter how bad things are outside China, you must insist that things are ten times worse inside China.  If you cannot do this, then you will have a hard time becoming a public intellectual.  You cannot be a public intellectual if you don't have a thick skin.  You need to realize that there is a heaven and a hell in every religion.  Heaven is about telling the people what the good things are if they follow what you say; hell is about telling the people what the bad things are if they do not follow what you say.  If the western world is not far more superior to China, then your entire ideological edifice will collapse.  Therefore, even China in the Republican era is far superior to China today.  The very existence of public intellectuals depends on this understanding, so you must not treat this lightly.

Actually, only entry-level public intellectuals go into debates themselves.  Higher level public intellectuals will have a bunch of followers to carry out mass brawls.  But you still need to learn these basic methods, just so you don't slip up in case you have to chime in.

Lesson 5.  Public intellectuals must learn some psychology

A must-read book is Gustave LeBon's <The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind>.  As individuals, people can have low or high intelligence.  As a crowd, people have relatively low intelligence.  A crowd is immune to reason; it is only affected by "emotions."

With respect to motivating, mobilizing and inflaming crowds, no one is better than Mao Zedong.  Peers are rivals, so Mao is the biggest enemy of public intellectuals.  If you want to seize turf from Mao, you must thoroughly negate him.  The good thing is that Mao is disadvantaged by the fact that he is dead.  Nowadays young people won't bother to read Mao's works.  Therefore their understanding of Mao is based upon your presentation.  You are advantaged by the fact that Mao has transgressed against many people in his time, and so you will have countless allies who will provide you with free promotion.

When you want to go against the government, you need to use populism as your weapon in order to fuse with the netizens.  But when your personal interests are in conflict with the people, you will negate populism totally and you invoke the rule-of-law and the inviolability of private property to defend yourself.  For example, the government raises the salaries of public service workers and the state-owned enterprises are dispensing benefits to their employees.  You must immediately attack them with populism.  But when you are ready to divvy up state-owned properties among yourselves, you know that people won't be happy.  So you drop populism and you promote the rule-of-law and private ownership.  You tell the people that private ownership is the most efficient economic system.

Public intellectuals fall into different levels.  Senior-level public intellectuals want to take every advantage within the system while pretending to the unpaid spokesperson for the people.  But no matter what their levels, public intellectuals have the same goal: to pay the minimum price to procure the maximum public goods.  So you should never criticize for the sake of criticizing.  You must always remember to procure public goods from which to maximize profit.

Finally, I want to remind you that there are five things in the world that you can attack and smear at will: China; the Chinese government; the Chinese people; Chinese officials; Chinese state-owned enterprises.  You can do no wrong no matter how you attack them; you will be able to seize the moral high point.  But you must never provoke Fang Zhouzi.  You can't complain that I didn't tell you.  How can you be more awesome than Han Han?

Now that you have become a qualified public intellectual, I recommend that you apply your knowledge and write your first "public intellectual"-style blog post to condemn this society and gather fans.  You may just be the next Han Han!

ESWN Comment:  I have not been blogging much recently due to a variety of health reasons.  But this item was too good to pass.  It began a few days ago when a friend pointed out an <Apple Daily (Hong Kong)> report about how Chinese movie star Zhang Ziyi made 700 million RMB as the mistress of the businessman Xu Ming, who is supposed to be a pal of disgraced former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai.  I glanced through that article and I immediately pronounced it to be fabricated.  But my friend said, "Well, if it is reported in a newspaper, then there must be something to it.  Besides, I have find it difficult to see how a woman can earn 700 million RMB as a mistress ..."

So here is the rundown on the story.

(Boxun)  Xu Ming: Shared several dozen woman with Bo Xilai, including famous actress Zhang XX, and television host Ni X.  April 26, 2012

Boxun: According to reliable information, Xu Ming has confessed during interrogation that he dispatched more than 100 women to Bo Xilai, including several dozen that they both slept with.  Most dramatically, the famous movie star Zhang XX is one of those women.  According to Xu Ming, Zhang XX called him several times a day before his arrest to push for marriage.  Xu Ming said, "I am not stupid.  Zhang needs a formal husband and several wealthy boyfriends."

Xu Ming also disclosed that Zhang has a boyfriend who is a CCTV television host.

In addition, Xu Ming also disclosed that renowned CCTV television hostess Ni X was also one of his girlfriends.  Boxun has not been able to verify whether Xu shared Zhang and Ni with Bo Xilai.

(Boxun)  Xu Ming and Zhang XX's last night on the yacht in Hong Kong; he gave her 35 million RMB.  May 9, 2012.

Boxun: According to information from the Chinese Communist Party Central Disciplinary COmmittee, Xu Ming has confessed just before he went in his private airplane from Singapore to Beijing for the last time, he stayed in Hong Kong and spent the night with famous movie star Zhang XX on his yacht.  He also confessed that he gave 35 million RMB to Zhang XX last year to compensate her for keeping company with senior party/government officials.

(Sharp Daily (Hong Kong via Google cache))  Embroiled in the Bo Xilai case, Zhang Ziyi under investigation for "flesh peddling" and banned from leaving China.  May 29, 2012.

The overseas Boxun website cited an exclusive source yesterday that famous mainland Chinese movie star Zhang Ziyi has been confirmed to be involved in the Bo Xilai case.  She is being interrogated by the investigative team, and banned from leaving China.  The source also said that Bo Xilai's financier Xu Ming (chairman of the Shide Group in Dalian) has confessed not only to have many sexual encounters with Zhang Ziyi, but he also arranged for Zhang Ziyi to go to bed with Bo Xilai.  The payment for the first occasion was 10 million RMB.  According to information of the Chinese Communist Party Central Disciplinary Committee, Zhang Ziyi has earned at least 700 million RMB over the past ten years by selling sex.

Boxun previously disclosed that Xu Ming confessed after his arrest that just before he went in his private airplane from Singapore to Beijing for the last time, he stayed in Hong Kong and spent the night with famous movie star Zhang XX on his yacht.  He also confessed that he gave 35 million RMB to Zhang XX last year to compensate her for keeping company with senior party/government officials.

Yesterday Boxun named that movie actress Zhang as Zhang Ziyi, and indicated that Zhang is confirmed to be involved in the Bo Xilai case.  Zhang is being interrogated by the investigative team and banned from leaving China.  The report also claimed that Xu Ming confessed that he gave Zhang Ziyi 6 million RBM as the compensation for their best sexual encounter in 2007.  He went to bed with her many times afterwards.  In that same year, Xu Ming arranged for Zhang Ziyi to go to bed with Bo Xilai in exchange for 10 million.  Between 2007 and 2011, Bo Xilai and Zhang Ziyi went to bed for at least ten times.  During the same period, Xu Ming also offered Zhang Ziyi to two other senior party/government officials whose names are not being announced for now.

This Zhang Ziyi story was also published in <Next Weekly>, whose owner Next Media also owns Apple Daily and Sharp Daily.  The magazine version has more lurid details (such as Bo Xilai biting off the nipple of a female announcer named Yu at Dalian TV).  The Zhang Ziyi team may not even be aware of this expanded version, or else their lawyer would have surely sent a letter to the magazine already.

(China Review News)  May 29, 2012

China Daily reports that in the microblog age, the truth and rumors are both magnified without limit so that people are confused.  This specially crafted rumor fell upon Zhang Ziyi.  This morning, the calm Zhang Ziyi left some words on her micrblog, which communicates a message in a very tone tone: This piece of fakery even reaches up to the skies.

Zhang Ziyi's microblog post: It is rainy season in Guangdong province now.  Every afternoon, there is thunder, lightning and downpour.  But at night, the stars shine brightly in the clear sky.  We have been filming at night recently, but the script called for rain scenes.  This created a problem for the scenarist who has to artificially make rain.  People joked: This piece of fakery even reaches up to the skies.  Another colleague disagreed: What is big deal about this piece of fakery?  At the highest level, you hear the wind blow and you know that it is raining -- you don't even have to fake it, because you only need your imagination!  To be blunt, this is mental masturbation!"

(South China Morning Post)  Zhang mulls libel action over paid-sex allegation    By Shi Jiangtao   May 31, 2012.

Film star Zhang Ziyi said she visited Hong Kong yesterday, following media reports she had been barred from leaving the mainland because of an alleged relationship with disgraced princeling-politician Bo Xilai .

On Tuesday the actress issued an angry rebuttal on her Sina microblog account of allegations she had been paid to have sex with Bo under an arrangement made by Xu Ming , a Dalian-based tycoon and one of Bo's close allies.


On her microblog yesterday, Zhang said she had met her lawyers in Hong Kong to discuss possible legal action against Apple Daily, which published the rumours based on a report that ran on the US-based Chinese-language news website Boxun.com.

The site reported that Zhang began sleeping with Bo in 2007, for which Xu paid her 10 million yuan, and that their relationship lasted until last year. Zhang was also accused of making 700 million yuan by sleeping with senior mainland officials and businessmen, including Xu. Zhang's assistant called the report "extremely absurd and slanderous" and "an absolute libel with an ulterior motive" in a statement, and said Zhang was forced to formally respond and seek possible legal action.

(Apple Daily)  Zhang Ziyi makes a high-profile appearance wearing a shining gold dress.  April 31, 2011.

[Direct from Haikou city]  On the evening before yesterday, Zhang Ziyi issued a statement to deny  involvement in the Bo Xilai case.  Last night she attended the film awards ceremony held in Haikou ... Zhang Zi was previously reported by the overseas Boxun website to be involved in the Bo Xilai case.  On the day before yesterday, she wrote on her microblog that she is presently making the Wong Ka-wai directed movie on Ip Mon in Kaiping (Guangdong province).  Last night she attended the 12th Annual Chinese-language Film Media Awards in Haikou city.  On that day an Internet user posted a photo that was taken at the Hong Kong International Airport early in the morning, allegedly showing Zhang Ziyi transferring between planes.  yesterday afternoon, she posted on her microblog that she had been in Hong Kong early in the morning:  "I am not fighting alone.  I met with my lawyers this morning in Hong Kong to discuss how to defend my rights.  I just landed in Haikou."

The film awards ceremony began at 6pm.  As the publicity ambassador, Zhang Ziyi showed up in a low-cut golden nightgown while wearing diamond earrings.  Before she got interviewed on stage, there were some technical problems.  First, when she tried to sign her name, the pen was out of ink.  Then the microphone went dead and a replacement had to be found.

The Apple Daily article today makes not mention of which of her rights Zhang Ziyi wants to defend.  All Apple Daily/Sharp Daily has done so far is to remove the previous article from their websites.  However, that article can be still be found on the Google cache.

The details of Zhang Ziyi's actions are given in her lawyer's letter to Apple Daily.  This was published of her Sina microblog along with an open statement from Zhang Ziyi's team.

(Oriental Daily)  May 31, 2012.

Zhang Ziyi was very angry about the <Apple Daily> report.  After reading the newspaper, she instructed her lawyer to send a letter to the newspaper.  Yesterday she made a special trip from Guangzhou to Hong Kong to meet with her lawyer.  She stayed in Hong Kong for just two hours.  At around 1030a, she showed up at the Hong Kong International Airport with her lawyer John P. Mclellan and his assistant to get ready to go to the Haikou to attend the awards ceremony.  She wore an eye-catching bright red top, grass hate and sunglasses.  She was friendly to our reporter, and gave an exclusive interview.

Q. Did you come to Hong Kong especially to meet with your lawyer?
A. Yes.  We just finished our eeting.

Q: Do you want to sue <Apple Daily>?
A: We have sent a legal letter to them.

Q. Do you want to sue them all the way?
A. (nods her head).

Q. How do you feel now?
A. This whole thing perplexed me at first, then I got angry.  Myself, my friends, other actors and actresses beside me and many others want me to stand up.

Q. Are you very unhappy?
A.  These make-up stories.  No matter what they are about, they will make you feel uncomfortable.

Q. Are you acquainted with the mainland tycoon Xu Ming?
A. (slight nod of her head)  This matter has entered the legal phase.  Therefore, I want it to go through normal procedures.

Q. Have you ever met Bo Xilai?
A. No.

Q. What kind of compensation are you asking from <Apple Daily>?  A public apology?
A. It is all clearly written down.

Q. Does the lawyer have any advice for you?
A. I am still working as usual.  I cannot let such matters affect my regular work.  I just came early this morning from Kaiping (Guangzhou) where I am shooting <Master Ip Mon>!

Q. Concerning certain "intimate" relationships in the report, what is your response?
A. (sneers with a look of disgust) If that ... this is all handed over to my lawyer.  I feel that there will eventually be a ... how shall I say?  We hope that the law will give us justice!

Q. Could someone be deliberately targeting you?
A. (Sigh) ... the lies are surely ... actually they have never stopped all these years.  My personal attitude has been that the virtuous person will come clean.   But this time I couldn't stand it anymore.  If you continue to tolerate this, your virtue will be the cause of bullying.  So I had to do this now.

Q. You were reported to be banned from leaving China?
A. (laughs self-confidently)  Ha, so where am I now?

Q. Are you going to meet with your lawyer again?  Will you be coming to Hong Kong or will your lawyer go to see you?
A. It depends on the situation!

Did Boxun retract its original report?  No.  The reports about Zhang XX are still available on the website, but the report about Zhang Ziyi not going to the Cannes Film Festival because of an international travel ban is gone.  A new Boxun report has just been posted.

(Boxun)  Zhang Ziyi is only banned from exiting China.  May 30, 2012.

Boxun: May 31 information correction: Zhang Ziyi was banned from going abroad, but that order has been rescinded.

Boxun has been able to confirm through different information channels that the story about Zhang Ziyi's relationship with Bo Xilai via Xu Ming is true.  In fact, these information sources provided Boxun with the names of five celebrities/movie stars, of which two are with CCTV.

Informed sources disclose that whether Zhang Ziyi appears at the Zhuhai Awards Ceremony tonight does not shine any light on Zhang Ziyi's trouble.  This is because Zhang Ziyi is only a potential witness.  As such, she is only free inside China and she is only restricted from going abroad.  In the past, several other female movie stars were involved in various graft cases.  Normally they don't go to jail but they have to return the money in exchange for their freedom.  If this Awards Ceremony were held in Hong Kong, it would be a miracle for her to attend.  Zhang Ziyi's most simple and powerful refutation of the veracity of this report is to show her face in Hong Kong or USA.  All other efforts are futile.

According to information, Zhang Ziyi's publicity team has established relationships with the media and websites over the years.  On this occasion, they may use a Xinhua editor to release a short news report to the effect that Zhang Ziyi is clean.  But this won't clear up anything.  According to informed sources, Zhang Ziyi's legal threats have always been "lots of thunder but very little rain."  For example, the notorious "Beijing ink-spill gate" ended with nothing, not even an explanation.  This "tiger head, snake tail" action is due to the fact more secrets about Zhang Ziyi, including the confirmation of the "rumors", may be revealed in the course of the legal process.

Comment on the Boxun report: First of all, Zhang Ziyi was going to the Haikou Awards Ceremony, which is very faraway from Zhuhai (Guangdong province).  Secondly, Zhang Ziyi just made an appearance in Hong Kong on the morning of May 30.

Technical comments on the numbers: I was skeptical about this story when I first read it.  Zhang Ziyi is alleged to have made 700 million yuan over 10 years.  That means 70 million yuan per year over this period.  Most Internet rumors about fees for actresses/models/prostitutes provide estimates of not more than 1 million yuan per night.  Let us assume that Zhang Ziyi commands 1 million yuan per night.  This means that over the past ten years, she has to turn 70 tricks per year.  Where does she have time to make movies?  By the way, do you know how much time an actor/actress spend on a typical movie?

(Liu Haorui's blog)  The birth of a world-class joke -- The previous and current lives of the fake news story about Chinese men reaching up to touch Kate Winslett in <Titanic 3D>. 

Audiences and media are questioning why the scene in which Rose bared her top for Jack to paint in <Titanic> was allowed to be shown in mainland China in 1998, but censored in the 2012 <Titanic 3D>.  Recently the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television provided this explanation: "Considering the unique characteristics of 3D movies, we were concerned that the audience will reach up to touch during this scene.  In so doing, they may hit the heads of the front-row audience, thus causing conflicts.  For the purpose of constructing a civilized spirit in society, we decided to remove this scene.

This particular report exploded like a bomb to spread everywhere.  At first, it was limited only to the Chinese-language Internet.  More recently, it has appeared among foreign media.  I just watched a clip of director James Cameron being interviewed on a talk show during which he said: "They were afraid that the Chinese men will reach out to touch the screen."  When Cameron emphasized that "This is true," I knew that this is one of the most successful fake stories in recent years.

Although this report is so popular that I cannot even believe that I was the one who made it up, the truth is that facts are facts and lies are lies.  And the truth is that this report was the result of a spoof created out of boredom by a person who is about to graduate from university.

The creative idea behind this fake story came from the satirical American website "The Onion."  If you want to learn about "The Onion" quickly, you can watch the 2008 American film <The Onion Movie>.  I came across this particular cultural style through a Chinese Internet user "Huang Puma", who has written a series of original fake news stories.

People should note that all fake news stories carry the tag #Monologue# for identification purposes.  When I published my fake news story, I considered the fact that the Chinese people are not familiar with The Onion's culture, so I used the tag #Fake News Story# so that people won't misunderstand.  On April 8, I posted the fake news story on my Renren page and my microblog.  I don't have many microblog followers, so that post was quickly forgotten.  But the Renren page was forwarded repeatedly and became widely known.  Ironically, the report achieved popularity because people began to omit the #Fake News Story# when they forwarded, so that the later recipients were misled.

On the night of April 8, I found that the number of comments at the Renren page was shooting up, including the photo of Kate Winslett.  So I got curious and I searched the Sina.com microblogs.  I discovered that the story was growing exponentially like microbiological organisms.  I was astonished that the official China Business News microblog was forwarding my story minus the #Fake News Story# tag but plus their own #Top Commentator# tag.  On one hand, forwarding fake stories is detrimental to the reputation of a media organization.  On the other hand, I am an ordinary university student who does not deserve to be crowned as a "top commentator".  So I immediately sent a private letter to the China Business News microblog editor.  I provided them with the links to my original Renren and microblog posts, and I emphasized that this was a fake news story.  The editor responded immediately, apologizing to me and deleting their post.

I am a film lover.  Over the past two years, I have watched more than 100 movies per year.  In the sea volume of movies, <Titanic> easily ranks among my best ten movies.  I think that all those people who have watched <Titanic> will agree about the importance of Rose wearing the Heart of the Ocean for Jack to paint.  After all, the sketch retrieved from the ocean was how the love story could be retold.

But the news from the initial screening on April 6 was that the nude scene has been excised.  In 1998, the scene had been shown in full (addendum: it has been pointed out to me since that this is an inaccurate statement).  I believe that we are more relaxed and tolerant in economics, politics and culture today, so this decision by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television is incomprehensible.  Therefore I used my imagination to speculate on the rationale behind the SARFT's decision and I manufactured a story to satirize cultural controls.

I became concerned that my fake news story would create more misunderstanding as it spreads.  I tried to contact the Sina.com microbloggers who were forwarding it to their large followings.  I was hoping that they could clarify the truth.  But I found that the story was spreading through Twitter, NetEase, Tencent, Sohu and other microblogs as well as the BBS forums.  When a bomb has gone off, it is useless for you to stand at ground zero and hope to clear things up with a bucket of clear water.

On the next morning, I found out that Phoenix Entertainment published a news report using my story as if it was the official SAFRT response.  But they deleted the information shortly afterwards, possibly because they found out by checking.  But in the interim, other websites such as Xinmin forwarded that news story.  By this time, the "fake news story" (or simply "rumor") has gone from being "forwarded" to being "believed."

I don't mean to be critical of China Business News.  On the contrary, I was impressed by the fact that they responded immediately late at night.  Furthermore, they admitted that they had not been rigorous.  They said that at a time when the original source of a story is buried under a sea of information, they could only depend on whether the forwarders were verified individual or organizations.

There is something else that makes me want to forgive these pathetic media.  "Considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people's viewing. To avoid potential conflicts between viewers and out of consideration of building a harmonious ethical social environment, we've decided to cut off the nudity scenes."  This was the first time that I ever saw my own writing being translated in English in such a meticulous and solemn manner.  When I Googled this paragraph, I saw that the Guardian (UK), the Daily Mail, NBC, Foreign Policy and other highly trusted foreign media had carried or are still carrying this fake news story on their websites.

As the original manufacturer of this rumor, I can even discern a chain of relationship: Myself -> Essay -> Fake News story -> Internet -> Chinese media -> Foreign media -> director James Cameron.  I found that once the "fake news story" was able to reach from the "Internet" to the Chinese media, then it becomes very difficult to dispel the rumor once the media start quoting each other.

This is a drawback to the rapidity of information transmission.  If we want to enjoy the convenience of technological developments, we must get used to this disadvantage.  If we tried to have an anti-technology revolution to counter these drawbacks, it would be an unbearable consequence for society.

Finally, I want to say something for the satirized and insulted SAFRT.  Actress Fan Bingbing once said, "If I want to accept a lot of praises, I must be able to take as much abuse."  I want to modify this saying for you: "If you can accept a lot of abuse, then you should look forward to getting even more."  Many years from now, you may explain that your present actions are necessitated by the limits of the times as well as the political pressure.  But I have no sympathy for you for those moments when you did not have to apply the scissors.

Related Link: Beijing Cream Today In Shitty Journalism: MSNBC, E! Online, Mail Online, And Hollywood Reporter Are Among Those Who Got Trolled By Fake Quote

(Huffington Post)  China Censors Kate Winslet's 'Titanic 3D' Breasts.  By Chris C. Anderson.  April 11, 2012.

James Cameron's "Titanic 3D" censored? At least in China according to Offbeat China. "Titanic 3D" is taking in big crowds despite some being upset that a few of the film's raciest scenes having been censored by China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

What was SARFT's reasoning behind the cuts? One satirical Chinese news story interpreted what a SARFT official could be thinking:

Considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people’s viewing. To avoid potential conflicts between viewers and out of consideration of building a harmonious ethical social environment, we’ve decided to cut off the nudity scenes.

Considering the social unrest in the U.S. resulting from unwanted head massages during viewings of "Titanic 3D," we could only applaud SARFT's foresight in preventing such chaos in the PRC if this were true, which based on previous film "edits", it might not be far from the truth.

Correction Notice: The original version of this article stated that the comment from the fictional SARFT official above was an actual official response. It wasn't. There has been no official response as to why the nude scene was cut.

(South China Morning Post)  Cafe menus cook up 'discrimination' row   By Low Wei and Tanna Chong.  April 3, 2012.

Bosses at a new branch of the agnes b. Cafe LPG chain will change menus that use simplified Chinese characters after being accused of discriminating against Hongkongers. The cafe apologised on its Facebook page yesterday after an online outcry over what internet forum users dubbed the "invasion of simplified Chinese" at the new branch in Tseung Kwan O's PopCorn mall.

Internet users were angered to see that menus adopted the simplified characters normally used on the mainland, rather than the traditional Chinese used in Hong Kong, for items such as salad and chocolate. The row comes amid months of tension between Hongkongers and those from the mainland.

Cafe staff apologised on its Facebook page yesterday, and a company spokeswoman said management had decided to replace the wall menus at all branches, but said the company had been using simplified Chinese since at least 2008.

"The Times Square branch - one of the first shops we had - only offered English menus and we received complaints. So we have also included simplified characters at every branch since then. The Tseung Kwan O branch was not the only one," the spokeswoman said. "In light of the complaints, we will replace all our wall menus to include only English and traditional Chinese. Simplified Chinese will be listed alongside the two languages in the printed menus," she said.

Traditional Chinese characters are understood by both mainlanders and Hongkongers, Dr Chin Wan-kan, assistant professor of Chinese language at Lingnan University, said. "It is not right Hongkongers should have to accommodate mainlanders [by changing the characters]," he said.

Character simplification has been used for centuries, but the mainland started to promote simplified Chinese to improve literacy after the Communist Party came to power.

Sai Kung district councillor Gary Fan Kwok-wai says it is unfair to Hongkongers that more shops and restaurants are targeting mainland tourists. "It's disrespectful and discriminatory," he said.

One blogger wrote on HK Golden forum: "[The] mall is for mainlanders. The use of simplified Chinese is normal [there], Hong Kong's businessmen have no dignity." Another wrote: "Chinese people should use simplified Chinese".

(Apple Daily)  April 4, 2012.

In addition to using a different character set, the agnès b menu also used different translations.  Whereas Hong Kong people call "chocolate" as 朱古力, mainlanders have a different transliteration as 巧克力.  Also salad is 沙律 as opposed to 沙律.

The successful defeat of simplified characters depended on the rapid response by District Councilor Gary Fan Kwok-wai.  He said that the best protest method was a boycott by Hong Kong consumers.  One Hong Kong Internet users has set up a group known as "Grand action to search for restaurants with menus that do not contain traditional Chinese characters or English."

(AM730)  It is a crime to use simplified characters.  By Tsang Chi Ho.  April 5, 2012.

Hong Kong people are increasingly hostile towards the Great Nation.

In the recent "agnès b menu with simplified characters" incident, somebody found that the said menu contained only English and simplified Chinese characters but no traditional Chinese characters.  This touched the nerves of Hong Kong Internet users.  Even a District Councilor came out to call for a "boycott."

The Hong Kong Internet users quickly determined that this was a re-run of the D&G incident, the "mainlandization of Hong Kong" and "the erosion of traditional Chinese characters by simplified Chinese characters."  That is to say, this is no longer considered the action by a business to facilitate tourism.  Instead this is a conflict in the process to join Hong Kong with China.  All those who supported the restaurant are denounced as "Hong Kong traitors who are trying to curry favor with the Communists by giving up the special characteristics of Hong Kong."

But this is how the matter should be understood: Using simplified characters is not necessarily an affirmation of simplified characters.

Offering simplified characters is like offering a foreign language interpretation service in a court of law.  The service is provided to facilitate communication, and does not imply embrace of that foreign language.  Many mahjong houses in the Mongkok district have their rules of the game posted in simplified characters for mainland tourists.  Does this mean that Portland Street is fawning upon the Communists?

Secondly, what is the use of simplified characters discriminatory against the local Hong Kong people?  The Hong Kong Internet users say that it was because the menu did not contain any traditional Chinese characters.

If that is the case, then how come nobody ever complains against the many famous restaurants (including those with Michelin stars) which carry only English-language menus (sometimes Italian) with nary a traditional Chinese character?  That is not because the Hong  Kong people adore foreigners, but because we are already used to the English language which is part of our daily lives.  Nobody ever complains that the Lan Kwai Fong bartenders can't speak Chinese.

Previously, these famous restaurants only carry English-language menus.  As more and more mainland tourists come, the restaurants assume that these tourists are not skilled in English and therefore they provide translations in simplified characters.

In the past, Japanese tourists were a mainstay in Hong Kong and the restaurants provided Japanese translations in their menus.  Are we going to denounce these restaurants for catering to the Japanese and discriminating against the local Hong Kong people?

Making it easy on others does not hurting oneself.  Should the Hong Kong people be scared at every slight movement and think that it is "curtain call for traditional characters" every time that they spot simplified characters somewhere?  It is those people who invoke "Hong Kong has fallen" at every opportunity who are responsible for the fall of Hong Kong's self-confidence.

Selected comments at the HK Golden Forum on Tsang Chi Ho's opinion article.

  • English is an official language in Hong Kong, but simplified characters is not.
  • He thinks that he is exceptional and pretends that he has certain points, but in fact he is confused and vacuous.
  • Let us ignore him.  He is worth half of fifty cents.  Everything he does makes me puke.
  • So it is like this: Simplified characters are not the problem; the problem is that they did not show any traditional characters.  Why didn't they post English plus both simplified and traditional characters?
  • Brother, this is Hong Kong.  You can use simplified characters, but you must have traditional characters first.  Anything else besides English and traditional Chinese characters are bonuses (such as simplified Chinese characters, Japanese, French, etc).
  • I think that it is disrespectful to have simplified characters but not traditional characters.  If you think that we locals are not worth your while to put another character set on your menu, then I can only respond by boycotting you.
  • There is no problem with using English.  First of all, those restaurants serve western food.  Secondly, Hong Kong is an international metropolis and international=English.  I have never heard anyone assert that international='simplified Chinese characters."  You can eliminate the controversy by eliminating all Chinese characters (simplified or traditional) and use only English.
  • Using the emasculated Chinese characters is not discriminatory against the Hong Kong people.  The emasculated Chinese characters are an insult to Chinese culture, they betray Chinese culture, they are malignant tumors in Chinese culture, they are disrespectful to the Chinese.  In order to defend mainstream traditional Chinese culture, it is necessary to eradicate the emasculated Chinese characters.  The people of Hong Kong must turn things around and regard all those who support these ugly characters as Chinese traitors and running dogs.
  • The problems are (1) more than 1 billion people use the simplified character system; (2) the region that uses this particular character system is rapidly rising economically recently; (3) the region is in close proximity to Hong Kong; (4) there is a resemblance and relationship between the simplified and traditional characters.  Therefore, if this instance (of using simplified Chinese characters as well as mainland terminology for food) is allowed to stand, the local linguistic and cultural ecology and the consciousness and core values will be looking at total collapse.
  • Tsang Chi Ho is an underground Chinese Communist Party member.
  • Is he stupid?  The simplified and traditional characters are the same language, whereas English and Japanese are used because foreigners don't understand Chinese.  If they are using simplified characters because they are worried that mainlanders won't understand otherwise, then do they care whether Hong Kong people understand simplified characters?
  • You still don't get it.  Hong Kong people do not want mainland tourists to be the mainstay.  In fact, people everywhere in the world discriminate against mainland Chinese tourists.  Sooner or later, the whole world will have signs that say, "Mainland Chinese and dogs are now allowed."

(South China Morning Post)  New Test 'simpler but no surprise'  Dennis Chong   April 3, 2012

After a controversial build-up, 70,000 high school pupils sat the first liberal studies exam yesterday, coming to grips with thorny issues and, in some cases, toning down their answers to avoid "agitating" markers.

Liberal studies became a compulsory subject for upper secondary pupils under the new Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. There are no model answers for the subject, which is supposed to encourage pupils to express their own views. But liberal studies has sparked sharp debate among observers, with one education group warning that the failure rate could be between 30 and 70 per cent.

Yesterday's exam tested critical thinking on various topics, including globalisation, gender tests for sex-selective abortions, and whether children should be legally forced to support elderly parents. They were also asked to comment on the credibility of political parties in Hong Kong.

Most pupils questioned yesterday said the questions were generally what they had expected. Some said the questions seemed to have been simplified after a practice paper in January was criticised for being too broad and lengthy. Many still thought they would get higher marks by toning down strong opinions, despite assurances to the contrary by education authorities.

Exam-taker Cheung Chi-chung admitted moderating his answers to avoid "agitating markers". "I want to play safe because the person who marks your paper may have subjective feelings towards something. If I answer too conservatively or radically, it may agitate the marker," he said.

Officials have repeatedly said that as long as students' answers make sense, they will score well. Also, at least two teachers will mark each question, to ensure fairness.

Zaref Khan, another candidate, said he avoided questions that required technical knowledge. "I didn't choose a question that asked about the third airport runway in Hong Kong, since it is too broad," he said.

Candidate Kevin Chan, from Kwun Tong, said he could have used 20 more minutes to finish the test.

There was no shortage of commentators on yesterday's exercise, with one education professor saying exam markers would have difficulty setting aside their personal opinions on "extremely controversial issues". Cultural commentator Mathias Woo Yan-wai warned about the advanced nature of the exam. "Every question could be an exam question for university students. I don't even know whether those who grade the subject have enough specialised knowledge of political philosophies."

Political analyst James Sung Lap-kung faulted one question, on Hong Kong's political parties, saying it was problematic because it was based on a survey done last year. "The political situation could have changed a lot from last year to this year," he said.

Dr Leung Yan-wing, who teaches educational policy at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, said that on controversial questions, markers would no doubt find it hard to exclude their personal views. "If the issue involves fundamental core values, it will be difficult for markers to exclude any personal views," he said.

A full review would be conducted after the exam, the Examinations and Assessment Authority said.

Commentator Woo said that rather than being a compulsory subject, liberal studies should become an elective, while more school resources should be used to improve students' understanding of philosophy, literature and history.

(The Standard) 'Your stance won't hurt'  By Eddie Luk and Candy Luk.  April 3, 2012.

For thousands of nervous students, it was an exam question they were not expecting - their views on party politics. The topic cropped up in one of three questions in the compulsory liberal studies subject that students taking the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exam faced yesterday. Some students now fear their results may be adversely affected if their views do not tally with those marking their papers.

This is the first year students have sat an exam in liberal studies, a core subject dogged by controversy since being launched.

In paper one of the exam, students had to give their opinions on population policy, tobacco control policy and party politics. In paper two, students could choose one of three questions on building infrastructure - the third airport runway - the impact of globalization on Chinese culture and ethical issues concerning DNA tests on fetuses and abortion.

On politics, students were given results of a survey that showed 40 percent of respondents said none of the local parties could safeguard their interests. Students were asked to analyze the implications of the survey and whether they agreed that local political groups could help enhance governance.

Lily Ng, a Secondary Six student at Amoy College, said: "I did not expect our knowledge on party politics to be tested. Indeed, we have not been taught the development of local political parties. "We were only taught the core concepts of the Basic Law, the functions of the Legislative Council and operation of the executive-led government." Ng fears she may not score a high mark as she is not interested in politics but thinks her other answers could see her pass.

Janice Mok, who studies at Fukien Secondary School, also found the questions challenging. Mok said she agreed that local parties have played a key role in monitoring the government and she did not think she will be penalized if her views differ from those of the examiner.

The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, however, said a candidate's views will not affect their marks.

"We are trying to test our students on their understanding of party politics, it is a social scenario that political parties are playing a role in governance in which students doing liberal studies should have to know," said Lo Ka-yin, senior manager on assessment development. "No matter what views the candidate may take, a good answer should be presented in a logical flow and be capable of demonstrating critical thinking with solid examples to support."

Sing Yin Secondary School liberal studies teacher Kong Ping-wah said he did not expect such a question in the exam paper. "It would be hard for a student to score a high mark unless he or she had a clear understanding of the different ideologies of the political parties," Kong said.

However, Hui Shing-yan, president of the Liberal Studies Teachers' Association and a teacher at Sun Kei Secondary School, is in favor of bringing up politics. "As politics has become part of the daily life of Hongkongers, secondary students should have a better understanding of the political scene and particulary the issues relating to the 2017 chief executive election and universal suffrage."

Democratic Party lawmaker Wong Sing-chi said such questions will push students to pay more attention to local politics and encourage social participation. But Ann Chan, whose son is in Form Six, thinks otherwise. "It is understandable for party politics to be part of liberal studies but the authority should provide better guidelines as such a question is confusing both the teachers and students."

(The Standard)  Hundreds of markers hired to handle first papers.  By Candy Chan.  April 3 2012.

The exams authority has hired 700 markers to assess the papers of 72,000 students taking the first liberal studies exam.

"Each marker will only assess one question while every question will be scored by two markers," said Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority general manager Christina Lee Wong- wai. "This is to make sure the assessment is carried out in a fair and just manner. "Only the two closest marks will be considered if a third marker is needed."

A third marker will be brought in if there is a wide gap between the first two. Lee said that online assessment has been adopted to help the authority monitor markings and record every mark.

A marker's experience on assessments and knowledge of certain subjects were considered during recruitment. "For liberal studies, a marker with previous experience in A-level liberal studies will be at an advantage."

(South China Morning Post)  New exam puts system to the test.  April 4, 2012

What sets the new compulsory senior secondary school subject of liberal studies apart is that it comes without model answers from textbooks. It is instead an exercise in reasoned thinking and debate. Hopefully this will enrich our students' education and, indeed, their adult lives, by freeing them from the bonds of traditional rote learning.

Exam questions in the subject for the new diploma of secondary education should therefore invite honest, reasoned expressions of views. It is doubtful that a question asking for comment on the credibility of our political parties met those criteria. Even chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying would answer that one diplomatically. It would not be surprising, therefore, if some students did so out of concern that pro- or anti-establishment views might have affected marks awarded by a teacher with different views. Given that liberal studies are compulsory, people setting the questions need to be aware of sensitivities arising from divisions in society. Indeed, after the exam, students confessed that they had toned down their answers to a number of thorny questions to avoid the risk of "agitating" the markers. Despite assurances to the contrary by officials, some educators say it will be difficult for teachers to exclude personal views. That tends to suggest that the introduction of liberal studies is an overdue reform of a rote-learning environment. It has to be a worry when future citizens say they feel compelled to self-censor their views lest they offend the people who are supposed to be teaching them how to think critically.

We trust that if students' answers make sense they will score well, whatever stance they take on topics like gender tests for sex-selective abortions and whether children should be forced to support elderly parents. In a planned review of the subject after the exam, the examinations authority should bear in mind that some teachers can apparently benefit from some more reasoned thinking, too.

(Apple Daily)  April 3, 2012.

The Liberal Studies "Exam of Death" took place yesterday.  The question dreaded by teachers and students about political parties made a surprising appearance as a compulsory question in which examinees have to analyze the impact of political parties on governance.  Liberal Studies teachers characterize this question as the hardest one for students to answer.  One student said frankly that "it will be hard to achieve a Class 2 result," thus affecting the chances of university admission.

72 thousand persons signed up for the Liberal Studies exam.  Paper 1 contained three compulsory questions accounting for 50% of the marks while Paper 2 involved one out of three choice questions accounting for 30% of the marks.  The remaining 20% of the marks were for text assessments.  The questions cover issues such as ageing population, smoking bans, the third runway at the airport, the cultural impact of globalization and gender testing for pregnant mainland women.  The question that troubled examinees is the third question in Paper 1 about political parties.

This particular question had three parts.  First of all, the examinees are to analyze the attitudes of Hong Kong people towards political parties on the basis of a public opinion poll about "which political organization in the Legislative Council best represents or protects their interests."  Then a news report about the dichotomy between the pro-establishment camp and the pan-democrats is to be used to justify the preceding analysis.  Finally the examinees are to explain whether they agree or disagree with the assertion that "the existence of diverse political parties in Hong Kong improves the governance of the Hong Kong government."

After the exam, the Exams Authority issued a brief statement about the assessment process.  In the third part of the aforementioned questions, the examinees are asked to point out that the political parties represent different public opinions and supervise the government.  Examinees are also entitled to hold the opposite opinion to the effect that political parties may negatively affect governance because of their diverse goals and interests.

Many examinees shook their heads at this question.  A Newman Catholic School Form Six student named Lee said that he was handicapped because he lacked knowledge about political parties.  He said, "Among the political parties, I only know about the League of Social Democrats and People Power, because they are relatively radical.  I don't know the rest."  He said frankly, "It will be hard to get a Class 2 result."  Since a Class 2 or better result is required for university admission, he is worried that he won't be able to enter university and therefore he is thinking about getting a Yi Jin Diploma instead.

The Teachers Association asked four Liberal Studies teacher to analyze the exam.  They thought that the exam was adequate in its depth, with the third compulsory question on political parties being the one to differentiate among students because "it requires background knowledge, the representativeness of political parties in Hong Kong, the democratic system in Hong Kong, the system of accountability, etc."

One teacher said that the Liberal Studies curriculum contained a unit "Hong Kong today" of which half was about party politics in Hong Kong.  However, the teachers may not have covered the topic adequately, even though they may not be purposefully avoiding it.  Another teacher said that political news is "unavoidable" in class, because "if you are evasive about the lampooning political photos on the Internet, they will say that you have been 'harmonized'."

Table A1. Which political parties do the people of Hong Kong believe represent and protect their interests?
11%: Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong
11%: Civic Party
  9%: Democratic Party
  4%: Confederation of Trade Unions
  4%: New People Party
  3%: Federation of Trade Unions
  2%: Liberal Party
  2%: League of Social Democrats
  2%: People Power
12%: Don't know
40%: None

Table A2. Satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the performance of political parties within the Legislative Council (Very dissatisfied%/dissatisfied%/satisfied%/very satisfied%/don't know%)
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (16%/31%/34%/3%/16%)
Civic Party (11%/24%/40%/4%/21%)
Democratic Party (16%/32%33%/2%/17%)
Confederation of Trade Unions (10%/24%/43%/2%/21%)
New People Party (6%/21%/37%/2%/34%)
Federation of Trade Unions (15%/29%/37%/3%/16%)
League of Social Democrats (36%/27%/18%/2%/17%)
People Power (30%/27%/15%/2%/26%)