Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Warlords Sparks Political Criticism

Hong Kong director Peter Ho-Sun Chan’s newly released movie, The Warlords, has generated not only tens of millions of yuan in box office revenue since its opening on Wednesday, but also comments from Chinese netizens regarding its political indications.

The movie, set in the Taiping Rebellion in the late Qing Dynasty, featured the love-hate story among three men: General Pang (Jet Li) and his two sworn-blood bandit brothers, Zhao (Andy Lau) and Jiang (Takeshi Kaneshiro). Pang persuaded Zhao and Jiang, who themselves were initially rebelling peasants, to fight the Taiping Rebellion for the Qing court. In the end, Pang, in his pursuit of legitimate power, betrayed Zhao and Jiang, murdered Zhao and was later assassinated by Jiang upon becoming a powerful governor of the Qing regime.

Some of the online comments may be reflections of real anger, suggesting that the movie’s somewhat positive portrayal of anti-Taiping Rebellion militants is offensive to some Chinese viewers, who have been used to the idea that the Taiping movement is a revolution against the corrupt Qing regime. Other comments, however, may simply try to reveal what they see as the political indication of the movie by pretending to criticize it, to avoid online censorship.

A post titled “11 College Students Appeal: Cracking Down on the Counter-revolutionary Art of The Warlords” has been circulating on the Internet in the past couple of days, accusing the movie of defiling revolutionary peasants by portraying them as helping the corrupt Qing Dynasty to suppress the Taiping Rebellion. The authors called for young students to wake up and resist the influence of such “counter-revolutionary and consumerism culture.”

Pretending to write a public letter to the Chinese government and calling themselves “a group of patriotic, progressive, reasonable and kindhearted college students,” the authors signed their names on the Internet, although it’s not hard to tell that the names, containing words like “wen ge” (cultural revolution), “hong xin” (red heart), and “wei dang” (protect the party), are fake and somehow satirical.

It is not entirely clear why these people, who apparently also assailed Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution in a similar manner, posted such a comment, but they are not alone. Several other netizens, some of whom have watched the movie, also posted similar comments at different times on different online forums.

A “Menglong Professor” wrote on Tianya public forum that a slogan highlighted in the movie, “rob food, rob money and rob women,” was telling people to rob whatever they did not have, which implied the Communist revolution. In the movie, Zhao and Jiang were betrayed by General Pang, which, according to Menglong Professor, meant that once the revolution was successful, one had to be careful because your comrades and leaders may attack you from behind. “Isn’t this attacking our great Party and people’s army by insinuation?” Menglong Professor asked.

Another commentator, named “Obligation of Life,” listed six “counter-revolutionary” points of The Warlords, including being against the Taiping Rebellion and promoting slogans like “rob food, rob money, rob women” and “he who wants to be a bandit should try to be the biggest bandit,” which would “severely undermine the rejuvenation of the Chinese civilization and impede the establishment of a harmonious society in current China.”

One netizen said he was angry at the movie because it “all but sang the praise of three Qing lackeys who murdered Taiping soldiers” and “The Taiping Rebellion was a great peasant uprising movement.”

Most viewers seemed to like this movie and some of them called those political comments nonsense, because after all, it was only a movie that aimed to entertain.

This article is originally published on China Digital Times

Online comments:

The Warlords website

News about The Warlords

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

HIV Test Accused of Discrimination

A newly implemented regulation requiring HIV test on Chinese citizens returning from overseas has received harsh criticism on the Internet, from people both in and outside China.

The new regulation, taking effect on December 1, requires Chinese citizens who have lived overseas for more than one year to receive HIV test upon their return to China, according to China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

Many people left comments on the Internet accusing the regulation of “nationality discrimination,” and questioning why the regulation only requires Chinese citizens, but not all foreign visitors, to take the test when they enter the Chinese boarder.

In fact, the regulation does require foreigners to test for HIV, but only when they intend to “stay in China.” Some people interpret “stay” as long term, or over one year, present in China. The regulation does not say that Chinese citizens returning for a short visit could be spared from the test, nor does it require all foreign visitors to take the test upon entering China. Some people suspect that this is because the Chinese government is afraid of human rights complaints from foreigners. Others see the newly added procedure as one way for responsible Chinese government agencies to make more income, because apparently people need to pay over 100 yuan for the test, out of their own pockets.

A commentator in the US called the regulation a “stupid decision,” a point concurred by a few commentators in China. As they point out, foreign countries are no longer the main source for the spread of HIV in China, but China itself is the origination most of the time. “Please ask these legislator masters to visit the night club next to their office or to the hair salons, and see what is going on in there,” one comment reads.

Meanwhile, some people see it as unreasonable to set Chinese citizens living overseas for more than one year as the target, because Chinese people who settle and try to live a life in foreign countries are usually “conservative,” while some Chinese officials on short business trips overseas are more likely to get HIV because they “think about going to the red-light district as soon as they come over [to a foreign country].”

Those supporting the new regulation say it is a responsible way to protect public health in China, although such voices are quite weak comparing with the criticisms.

News on the official website of AQSIQ website

The regulation (in Chinese)

Online discussion

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Control of Online Discussion Seems Tighter in China

Suspended with a notice on its homepage

There are signs that public discussions on the Internet in China have been put under tighter control lately, although the 17th Party Congress is over., a blog site featuring intellectuals’ discussion over political, society and cultural topics, is suspended. Currently on its homepage is nothing but one notice that reads: “Bullog is going through additional procedures, and will reopen very soon. Please don’t worry.”

The website does not articulate what kind of “additional procedures” it is going through, but it’s not hard to imagine that they are likely related to government regulations on blog sites. Essentially, this note is suggesting that Bullog has been ordered by the authorities to stop operation and has to gain permission to reopen, probably after some adjustments to its content.

As already mentioned in the previous entry, Tianya public forum has banned political discussions. But that’s not it. Opening the Tianya site, one can now see two cartoon figures: one female and one male police officer , floating on the page. Clicking on the cartoon leads to the website of the Network Security Alarm System of Haikou police. Tianya forum was registered in Hainan Province, where Haikou is the capital city.

The cartoon officer is an encouragement for site viewers to report to the cyber police any “insecure” web information and conduct. According to the criteria provided by Haikou cyber police, such harmful information and conduct include spreading computer viruses, attacking other computer systems, and publishing information that “harm national security and social stability.”

These incidents might be an indication that the government is still nervous about online political discussions in the wake of the 17th Party Congress and the creation of a new politburo. Popular online public forums and blogs in China are now full of celebrity gossip, personal life drama, love and sex, money making tip as well as lots of nonsense, while criticism of China’s politics and society is scarce.

Sohu blog
Sina blog
Haikou cyber police

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Internet in China Silent about Top Leader Reshuffle

The coverage of the 17th Party congress is very red

Despite extensive coverage in China’s news media of the 17th National Congress of the Chinese Community Party, discussion of the reshuffle among top leaders is absent, although it has been the focus of foreign media’s coverage of the congress. and, tow of the biggest online news venues in China, both carry special sections for the congress with abundant stories about the main sessions, side lines as well as representatives. Almost all of the stories, however, focus on singing praise of the Party’s achievements in China’s development in the part five years.

Public online comments, that is, those there are allowed to stay, follow the same tone, as demonstrated on Xinhua and Sina BBS. There are some sketchy mentioning of environmental problems and the income gap among people’s comments, but are mostly with a mild tone or uttering hope and support for the Party’s “wise decisions” to solve them.

The permitted theme of the coverage, including commentaries, across the board of Chine’s media is clear: celebrating, supporting and strengthening the rule of the Party.

There is no report or comment on one of the congress’ most important issues, personnel change among the top leaders, particularly the new politburo, on China's major news websites or BBS, at least so far. On one of the most popular Chinese public forum,, there is even no post about the congress at all. As a matter of fact, Tianya has banned since last month all posts regarding Party and national leaders and other political issues.

The silence suggests the sensitivity of the personnel issue, and the Party’s extreme caution in controlling public discourse of this matter in China. Unlike during the National People’s Congress earlier this year, the week of the Party congress is not so much a time for the public to voice concerns, debate policies and suggest solutions.

One of the few negative, sort of, messages stands out among the overwhelming positive reflections is anti-corruption, something the current leadership has vowed to contain.

Special web sections of the congress

Friday, October 05, 2007

Paparazzi and Celebrity Blogs Most Popular

One of Wei Jiaqing's blog articles has been viewed for nearly 1 million times

The most popular blog entries--the ones that have the most visits--so far this year on Sina blog ( are about celebrities.

The champion, with over 980,000 hits, is a short entry written by 25-year-old model and singer, Ms. Wei Jiaqing, who gained her national recognition after participating in the 2006 Super Girl singing competition. In the entry, she told her fans that she already ended a contract with the company that managed the Super Girl.

Among the eight blog articles that have been viewed for more than 500,000 times, six fall into the paparazzi and celebrity journal categories, written by celebrities themselves or by bloggers specializing in star tales. Sina hosts perhaps the largest number of celebrity blogs in China.

In one of the popular articles, which is from a paparazzi site, the blogger recounted the love story between famous Taiwanese actress Lin Qingxia (Brigitte Lin) and her three lovers. The entry is full of detailed anecdotes and old pictures, demonstrating the blogger’s rich knowledge about the super star.

The two non-paparazzi entries that reached the 500,000-hit mark concern nothing serious, either. One of them is about China National Geography magazine’s project of searching for people with peculiar family names in China.

In comparison, the most popular entries on, a blog site carrying more serious discussions about politics, culture and economy, only generated five-digit hit.

As much as the Internet has become an important political forum for Chinese public, it is an even more powerful entertainment medium. This is partly due to Chinese authority’s control over political discourse on the Internet, which results into abundant revealing beauty pictures but much less out-spoken expressions on Chinese websites.

A large number of Internet users in their teens and twenties, who are ardent followers of the celebrity culture, also helped to drive the popularity of celebrity blogs. Meanwhile, celebrity blogs have become an important part of pop culture in today’s China.

Some popular Sina blog entries in 2007: (Wei Jiaqing) (Rivalry between two female stars) (Peculiar Chinese family names) (Old picture of stars) (Brigitte Lin)

List of most popular articles in 2007 on Sina blog

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Experts Voice Worries over Chinese Education in Colleges, Once Again

English is one of the major courses in Chinese schools

Chinese language education is being “marginalized” in colleges and students could not use their native language very well, experts warned.

Some universities have canceled Chinese classes, and textbooks in use are of mixed quality. Today’s college students often pick the wrong expressions, confuse with characters and use poor syntax in their Chinese writing, experts say.

Such a situation is largely due to too much emphasis on English learning, says Wen Rumin, chair of the Chinese Department at Peking University. Many netizens would agree with him and expressed aversions toward too much weight given to English, calling it a big mistake of China’s education and mocking, “What’s the use of learning Chinese? Let’s just study English and talk to each other in English in streets.”

Indeed, English seems to be everywhere in Chinese people’s life. “How many companies turned down job applicants because of their Chinese? How many literature on advanced technology are written in Chinese? How many excellent Chinese movies are out there to satisfy our spiritual needs?” One poster asked.

But a couple of comments denied the notion that people’s Chinese skills are deteriorating. “Native language is something that we are using every day…and we never stopped practicing it.”

Chinese government has promoted a National Professional Chinese Test since 2003, to assess Chinese reading and writing abilities of professionals, especially those working for government agencies and schools. The test results are supposed to be used as a benchmark for hiring and promotion.

Meanwhile, the debate about whether too much attention has been given to English education over Chinese education is likely to go on. It’s not just about language learning. A large part of the debate has been related to the survival and development of Chinese culture in an English-dominating world.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Chinese Authorities Regulate Sexual Content in Broadcast

commercials with sexual implications are often seen on Chinese television

Prompted by some sex talk programs on several radio stations in Sichuan, China’s broadcast regulator has banned television and radio stations from planning, producing and broadcasting programs relating to sex life, experience or medicines.

Calling such programs “obscene,” the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said programs containing sexual content are not allowed for “any reason or under any name,” and vowed to punish those responsible for the programs on Sichuan provincial and Chengdu municipal radio stations, both run by local governments.

As Chinese broadcasters, all owned and supervised by the government, pursue higher profits, programs containing sexual content are gaining more air time, while the central authorities still take sex as a taboo in mass media like television because it “seriously pollutes the social atmosphere, harms the physical and mental health of the young and undermines the image of broadcasters.”

The SARFT has made several efforts in recent years trying to keep the air clean. Just last month, the administration issued a ban on commercials with “sex implications” in addition to those for sex improvement products.

Despite all the bans and regulations, Chinese public are only seeing more and more sexual content, in one way or another, in the media around them.

Friday, August 24, 2007

New Law to Prohibit Sex Selection Abortion

A series of legislation regarding the one-child policy is on the agenda of the State Council, to deal with the “distance between people’s wish to have children and the stipulations of law” and possible rebound of China’s low birth rate, Legal Daily reported.

One of these planned new laws will prohibit determining fetal sex unless medically necessary as well as abortion based on gender selection.

Experts have warned that the sex ratio of Chinese population is becoming increasingly out of balance, with more boys being born than girls. It is estimated that by 2020, 30 million Chinese men aged 20 to 49, roughly one tenth of this demographic group, will find themselves unable to get married because of shortage of women. Such situation might trigger more crimes such as prostitution and human traffic, some experts said.

New legislation

Unbalanced sex-ratio

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Chinese Authorities Trying to Update One-Child Policy Slogans

a slogan paint in a village, which reads, "daughters are also family descendants"

Chinese authorities recently launched a campaign to purge old, crude family-planning slogans displayed in cities and villages around the country and replace them with new, friendlier ones, after executing the one-child policy for 30 years.

Netizens posted online some of these old slogans that contain harsh, even threatening languages in urging people to have only one child, such as “better having ten new tombs than having one new person,” or “those who should but did not have an abortion would have their houses demolished and cattle taken away.”

“Some slogans are out of date, not good for the work of family planning and hurting the image of the nation and its one-child policy,” Zhang Jian, an official from the National Population and Family Planning Commission told Southern Weekend.

His agency recommended 190 new slogans that are much softer in tones, such as “control population, taking care of Mother Earth,” “Too many children will make a family less affluent,” and “boys and girls are all hope of the nation.”

Mr. Zhang Jian stressed that such changes only represent the adjustment of the approach and idea of carrying out the one-child policy, instead of loosening the policy itself. Mr. Zhang described such change as more “people-oriented.”

The central government required local governments to clean up and replace old slogans by the end of September, Xinhua reported.

One-child police slogans are everywhere in China, from billboards in big cities to giant characters painted on the outer walls of people’s houses in small villages. Some netizens derided the slogan effort as useless, since nobody cares about slogans anymore. But Mr. Zhang Jian said that in rural villages, “people are still reading them,” although slogans could indeed be abandoned in cities like Beijing.

Southern Weekend interview with Mr. Zhang Jian

Other news stories about the campaign

Some online comments

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Netizens Don’t Get New Web Vocabularies

Many Chinese web users found themselves nearly illiterate in front of a list of new vocabulary said to be mostly originated from the Web, which was released on Thursday by China’s Ministry of Education.

The list, containing over 170 new Chinese words, is compiled by language experts at the ministry, as part of its report on the use of Chinese language in 2006.

But a majority of the over 1000 netizens commenting on the new release, including some heavy web users, said they did not recognize most of these new words. Indeed, except for only a few terms, such as blog article, grassroots netizen, second-generation one-child family, and Gu Ge, the Chinese version for Google, the list is full of words that do not make much sense to even native Chinese speakers.

“I’m afraid it’s the first time for most Chinese people to see 90 percent of the words on the list,” one commented.

“I’m on the Internet for more than 14 hours everyday, but found half of the words unheard of…” said another.

Quite a few people saw such vocabulary simply as language pollution that should be tossed away instead of receiving official documentation. Some went on to criticize the MOE as being irresponsible in giving official release to such terms, since they might disappear very soon and would not stay in the daily language use in China’s fast changing cultural and social arena.

But some commentators supported the documentation of these new words and called for a more open attitude toward new trends in the development of Chinese language.

“I always welcome new words springing up like mushrooms after rain,” one poster said. “The mother tongue has a distant origin and a long stream, rich and deep, only because it is constantly changing and developing.”

Nevertheless, it seemed to be a common agreement that time will finally decide whether these new words, however ridiculous they might appear to be, will become permanent components of modern Chinese.

According to the MOE report on Chinese language use, the number of Chinese blogs has come to the third place right after Japanese and English ones. Blogs, Internet news, email, BBS and cell phone short messages have become the main origin of new words in Chinese, the report says. This is also the first time the MOE tried to document some of these new words entering Chinese people’s daily life in recent years, said Li Yuming, head of the ministry’s Bureau of Language and Information Management.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Today Show Goes to the Beijing Olympics

As Beijing celebrates the one-year count down to the 2008 Olympic Games, American television, such as America’s No.1 morning show, the Today show on NBC, is getting excited, too.

This morning, live scenes from the count down ceremony at the Tiananmen Square cut into Today’s regular programming from time to time. NBC correspondent Mark Mullen reported live from the square, making NBC the only western broadcaster to cover the event live, according to NBC producer Adrienne Mong’s blog.

Meanwhile, the show aired a series this week called "China Rising," with Today’s star Meredith Vieira reporting from Beijing on the changes taking place in the ancient city and the whole country’s ardent preparation for the big game.

Like many other overseas media institutions, the NBC depicts this Olympics as the “defining moment” for China in the 21st century, a sign of a “new China,” a chance for the country to increase its international prestige and demonstrate to the world that “China belongs to the 21st century.”

During Ms. Vieira’s trip to Beijing, it’s also noticeable that as a foreign journalist, she was allowed to access the construction site of the main stadium and interview Chinese Olympic athletes face-to-face during their practice at the National Olympic training center. She was even able to face a television camera right in the middle of the crowds on Tiananmen Square, something could have got her into trouble with Chinese authorities if done at a different time.

“There is still no freedom of press in China,” Ms. Vieira said on the square, but the Chinese government has loosened its control on foreign journalists' coverage of the Olympics.

NBC also mentioned a few hard challenges facing the Chinese government in hosting the big game, such as heavy pollution in Beijing. Mr. Mullen said he “would not be surprised” if factories in the city were ordered to be shut down during the game.

Today in Beijing

Related blogs

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chen Liangyu Expelled from the Party

Top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have decided to expel former Shanghai leader Chen Liangyu from the Party, and transfer his case to judicial departments, Xinhua reported today.

After almost a year of removing Chen from his official posts due to alleged corruptions, the Party finally announced such resolute handlings of Mr. Chen, and sent out a clear and loud anti-corruption message just a couple of months before the opening the 17th national convention of the Party.

“Anti-corruption struggle concerns wining or losing public support, the life and death of the Party, and the long period of peace and stability of the country,” Xinhua quoted an announcement released by the Party. “Within the Party, [we] need to make sure that at any time, no matter who, no matter how high the office, as long as someone violates the Party principles and the law, he will be seriously investigated and severely punished.”

The Party’s central disciplinary commission has found Chen Liangyu corrupt in many ways, including supporting illegal loaning of Shanghai social security funds to individuals and companies and therefore jeopardizing the safety of the funds, taking bribes in exchange for showing preference for certain parties when approving projects, as well as abusing his power for sex.

Support for Chen’s punishment has dominated online comments, and many netizens are calling for death penalty for Chen.

Xinhua report

Online comments

Friday, July 13, 2007

Chinese Netizens Hailed the Man who Once Sued Zheng Xiaoyu

Left: Gao Chun
Right: Zheng Xiaoyu

The execution of Mr. Zheng Xiaoyu, former director of China’s State Food & Drug Administration, did not stop the public from discussing the case on the Internet. On Friday, someone named Dongwufeng posted an article on BBS with the title: “Zheng Xiaoyu is dead; we can not forget a hero named Gao Chun.”

Gao Chun, a 41-year-old man from Hunan, gained his fame along with Mr. Zheng Xiaoyu’s fall. He was featured by mainland media as a hero who dared to challenge the corrupt system of Chinese government’s drug supervision and approval, despite his powerless status as a drug company pharmacist. People started to notice his story soon after Mr. Zheng was openly put under investigation.

For over a decade, Mr. Gao has kept reporting to authorities in Beijing, including Zheng Xiaoyu and his agency, about frauds he found with his company’s operation when seeking approval for new drugs back in the mid-1990s. For example, some of the “new drugs” were nothing but imported products from foreign drug companies, but were still approved to be registered as new products in China.

After many years, however, Mr. Gao never saw the head of the drug company received proper punishment and the SFDA never really responded to the alleged wrong doings. He lost his job, his pharmacist license and became a migrant worker. Still, he stuck to his course. In 2003, he sued to a Beijing court for the SFDA’s failure to do its job. The court refused to take the case.

Mr. Gao did not stop. One day in 2004, he called Mr. Zheng’s office. The then SFDA director yelled at him: “What right do you have to sue me? What right do you have to fight against me? I exercise power on behalf of the state!”

Mr. Zheng called Gao “the No.1 freak in the world” and Gao responded with calling Zheng “the No.1 corrupt official.”

Although Mr. Zheng’s fall had no direct connection with Mr. Gao’s unremitting petition and legal efforts, the public still admires his courage and perseverance.

“If we have many, many Gao Chun, corrupt officials will sure be scared,” one online comment reads.

There are also others who doubt people like Gao Chun would make much difference. One poster writes that so long as the entire system remains the same, people like Gao Chun could only be the targets of sever persecution by the powerful, or at best be hailed as hero after the fall of certain officials.

“While admiring Gao Chun, [I] feel sad for the country. Without proper check on power, kill one [corrupt official], more will come,” another comment says.

Public comments

Gao Chun’s story by Southern People Weekly

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Suicide Official Expelled from the Party

Mr. Song Pingshun

The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party has decided to expel Mr. Song Pingshun, a high profile official of Tianjin, from the Party, a decision coming nearly a month after Mr. Song killed himself.

Corruptions of Mr. Song were confirmed by the disciplinary commission of the Party, including keeping mistress and abusing his power to gain illegitimate benefits for his mistress, Xinhua reported. He committed suicide on June 3, the official news agency said.

Mr. Song, 62, was chairman of Tianjin Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a post he had held for more than four years. He was said to be the highest-ranked Chinese government official who committed suicide amid corruption investigations in 30 years.

After his sudden death, news about the incident mostly appeared in overseas media in early June. The time and manner of his death varied in different news stories, with some reporting he jumped off his office building, some believing he took overdose drugs, and one story even saying he cut his neck. The latest Xinhua release did not mention how he died.

Xinhua story

Thursday, June 28, 2007

National Television Turns to Online Forum for Revealing Extravagant Government Buildings

From top to bottom: a city government building in Zhejiang; government building of a poor county in Shanxi; government building of a small town

In a post titled “You are a citizen, but also a journalist,” the popular online public forum asks visitors to contribute photos of extravagant government buildings around them. The post says the China Central Television is calling for these photos to prepare for a program revealing how local governments waste tax dollars for lavish structures.

Nearly 100 pictures of such structures from all over China, provincial capitals as well as impoverished rural towns, have been posted by the public. Some of the buildings are shockingly huge and splendid, especially when they appear in a small city or town that is not economically advanced. Most of these buildings violated construction and spending limits set for official buildings.

Along with the photos are people’s harsh criticisms of government’s lavish spending of public money. One poster lashed out at the waste by composing a poem, and some of the lines read:

Using people’s money, constructing official building
Minding government’s face, forgetting people’s coldness

The more extravagant official building, the less affordable public housing

Officials laugh happily, the public frowns in grief
Corruption and waste uncontainable, how can people’s life not be difficult!

In April, The central government banned extravagant governmental structures, including office buildings, governmental hotels and entertainment facilities, and requested local governments to voluntarily report their own extravagance.

The deadline for self-revealing was June 20, but cover-up by local officials was suspected. Calling for revealing by the public via the Internet could be a powerful antidote to officials’ concealing efforts.

For more pictures and public comments

Central government’s ban on extravagant official buildings

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Local Governments Blamed for Unsuccessful Environmental Campaign

Rivers in China are facing serious pollution

A campaign launched by the central government to protect drinking water resources fell short of its goals and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has blamed local governments for not cooperating with the central authorities.

The campaign, a joint effort of seven state departments, requested that by the end of last year, every province should have drawn up the boundaries of protection areas of drinking water resources, and made sure that no waste discharge outlets existed in “first class” protection areas.

So far, however, only some of the provinces have decided their protection areas, and even fewer have lived up to the requirement of removing drainage from key protection areas, Legal Daily reported.

“Even a joint campaign by seven state departments got out of shape when reached the local level, which demonstrated that environmental protection orders from the central government really faces the embarrassing situation of being stalled,” a SEPA official was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Staff of local environmental agencies, however, complained that they were simply the scapegoat of SEPA’s poor job. In a comment on, a poster, who identified himself as a local environmental worker, criticized the SEPA for poor coordination among its own departments and making it difficult for local agencies to follow their directions.

Many other online comments called for stronger enforcement of state environmental policies. One poster said that it hurts to “watch rivers around us disappearing one after another,” and voiced hope for “iron strong” state policies and executions.

SEPA has long blamed local governments for failing to protect local environment but has not yet come up with efficient means to deal with the problem, since the agency has little power to control local finance or personnel. A scholar suggested that environmental protection should be included in central government’s evaluation of local government officials, to push them to do a better job.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Foreigners Working in China

the Central Business District in Beijing is one of the places in the Chinese capital that see a large number of working foreigners

Nearly 180,000 foreigners were registered as working in China by the end of 2006, double the number three years before, according to a newly released official report.

The United States, Japan and Korea are the main origins of the foreign workforce in China. Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou took in about half of the workforce by the end of 2006, and the other half mostly gathered in big cities in Eastern China.

Most of the foreigners working in China are well-educated professionals, working in businesses such as service, manufacture, information technology and computer software. Many of them are senior executives, the report says.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

No Dams in the Three Parallel Rivers Area, Yunnan Pleadges

The Yunnan provincial government has announced that there will be “absolutely” no dams built and no mines opened in the Three Parallel Rivers area, one of the World Natural Heritage sites listed by the UNESCO.

An investigation by Untied Nations officials of this area last year showed that the natural heritage site, inscribed in 2003, was facing serious threats, such as planned hydro-electronic power plants, mining and tourism. Some Chinese environmentalist also fought fiercely against such developments approved by local governments, who were eager to reap economic gains even at the price of the well-being of the environment.

Still, an official from Yunnan government told China News Services that a hydro-electronic power plant was planned for a site close to the heritage area, although the plan has not been approved by the central government. He also said there are scores of mines within the heritage site and need to be shut down.

The Three Parallel Rivers site, located in the mountainous area of north-west Yunnan, features sections of the upper reaches of three rivers: the Yangtze (Jinsha), Mekong and Salween, which run roughly parallel. “The site is an epicentre of Chinese biodiversity. It is also one of the richest temperate regions of the world in terms of biodiversity,” says the UNESCO.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Child Sexual Abuse in China Documented by Scholar

The book, titled "Shame of Sex ? Or Pain of Harm?"

The first social study report in mainland China about child sexual abuse was published recently. The author, education researcher Long Di, told Beijing Morning Post that the case of child sexual abuse is increasing in China.

There were 135 cases of girl’s rape reported to All-China Women’s Federation in 1997, and the number reached over 3000 in 2000, she said.

Ms. Long Di’s book documented the experience of six young girls from a northern China village who suffered sexual abuse. They were abused by their school teacher since the second grade for two years.

The six families finally reported to the police, but then some villagers started to gossip with exaggeration about the girls' experience, and some others prohibited their own children to socialize with those victims.

Ms. Long said in order to prevent sexual abuse of children, researchers need to study those sex offenders first, and listen to their stories. More education to increase the awareness of child sexual abuse among students is also necessary, she added.

Child sexual abuse has long existed in China but started to gain attentions from scholars and the public only in recent years. Victims, especially those in rural area, are often times too ashamed to report abuses to the police or officials in fear of losing their own and their family’s dignity. Many people still don’t see such abuse as a crime of the offender, but merely a shame of the victim.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New Development of China’s National Grand Theater Renews Public Criticism

The Grand Theater surrounded by the pool (top)
The Great Hall of the People is located to the east of the theater(bottom)

The newly constructed reflection pool surrounding the unfinished National Grand Theater of China did not turn around the disapproval attitude of the public toward the long-time controversial project, despite the apparent beauty added to the scene by the water.

Most of the over 700 online comments still hold a negative tone toward the construction, calling it too lavish, a ill-match with the Great Hall of the People standing beside, a waste of money and water.

“The water should be placed in the impoverished wild north west. It is too poor there,” one comment reads.

“Is it necessary to do something so extravagant?” questions another. “[The government itself] is still advocating frugality.”

There are also a few comments saying that the building is pretty and a testimony of China’s advance in architecture.

The 35,000 square-meter pool will need 14,000 cubic meters of water to fill up, and the source will be underground water, state media reported.

The grand theater, generally known in China as the huge egg shell, is a project of nearly 150,000 square meters floor area consisting of three theaters, plus huge parking facilities and surrounding landscape. It received a central government funding of around $340 million.

Since, and even before the construction started in 2001, the project has been widely criticized by the public and some academics as wasteful, damaging to the nearby scene of the Tiananmen Square area, and a poor architecture design of the building itself.

The theater was supposed to be finished and ready to have performances by 2005, but the construction is still going on.

Media reports about the pool

Online comments

Official website of the theater

Friday, May 04, 2007

Chinese People who Shape the World

the latest issue of Time magazine

The Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world features four figures from mainland China this year, one of the biggest pool of Chinese honorees in the past four years.

Chinese president Hu Jintao is on the list for the third time since 2004, and is the only Chinese figure appearing on the list for more than once in recent years.

Also on the list is Mr. Liu Qi, Beijing Communist Party Secretary and the head of the city’s Olympic Organizing Committee. He was chosen for his important and challenging role in organizing the 2008 Olympic Games.

Zeng Jinyan, wife of environmental activist Hu Jia, is listed as one of the “heroes and pioneers” for her bravery of keeping blogging about she and her husband’s battle against government oppression.

Internet pioneer Pony Ma, inventor of China's popular online communication service QQ, was selected, too. The online service has evolved into a 100-million-user network for online socializing and entertainment.

It’s also interesting to look at who else from mainland China were selected into Time 100 in recent years.

There were four in last year’s list, too. They were Chinese premier Wen Jiabao; Ma Jun, a journalist turned environmental advocate; blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng who filed a lawsuit against officials forcing women to have abortion or sterilization when enforcing the one-child policy; and business man Huang Guangyu, an entrepreneur who made a big fortune by building a discount electronics chain around China.

In 2005, Hu Jintao and actress Zhang Ziyi were on the list. Ms. Zhang Ziyi was called “China's gift to Hollywood.” A year before, again, Mr. Hu was on the list. Accompanying him were Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi and NBA star Yao Ming.

The annual Time 100 list provides a window to see the reach of some Chinese figures’ international influence, and as China grows, chances are there will be more and more Chinese faces appearing among “the people who shape our world.”

The 2007 Time 100
Hu Jintao,28804,1595326_1615513_1615464,00.html
Liu Qi,28804,1595326_1615513_1614661,00.html
Zeng Jinyan,28804,1595326_1615754_1616169,00.html
Pony Ma,28804,1595326_1615737_1615710,00.html

The 2006 Time 100
Wen Jiabao,9171,1187198,00.html
Ma Jun,9171,1187271,00.html
Chen Guangcheng,9171,1186887,00.html
Huang Guangyu,9171,1187472,00.html

The 2005 Time 100
Hu Jintao
Zhang Ziyi

The 2004 Time 100
Hu Jintao,9171,993962,00.html
Wu Yi,9171,993958,00.html
Yao Ming,9171,994049,00.html

Monday, April 30, 2007

Cartoon Channel Cancellation Received Mixed Reactions

While the cancellation of a cartoon channel in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan Province, may not be good news for young children, some parents were happy that it was no longer on air.

The parents complained that their children spent too much time, including sleep and homework hours, watching the cartoon channel, a subsidiary of Hunan Satellite TV and available in about a dozen Chinese cities.

One person, who called himself the father of a five-year-old, posted a comment on and said that his child often spent a whole day watching the channel. He also protested that a Japanese cartoon program on the channel had too much violent fighting and bloody scenes.

Another lady told China Youth Daily about her concerns. Her four-year-old daughter was fascinated by the suicide of a cartoon character and she was afraid that the little girl might mimic the act.

Officials of Zhengzhou’s television provider and Hunan TV, however, said the removal of the channel was due to conflict in distributing local channel resources but not out of concern of the content or parents’ complaints.

But the explanation did not stop the public from debating on the Web on issues such as cartoon industry, television culture and education.

Many wrote that parents should blame their own failure in education, but not the cartoon television, for their children’s problems, while insisting that the children should have the right to watch cartoon.

“I don’t understand why [parents] blame television when their children were not well educated and controlled,” one post reads.

Some suggested a rating system for cartoon programs in China, like in some other countries.

People also criticized that Chinese television programs are having more and more violent or sexual contents.

“Some bad commercials, bad cartoon and bad dramas are aired over and over again on many TV stations,” one poster wrote while suggesting stronger control of program quality. “[I] would rather have fewer channels than so much trash. ”

The discussion inevitably touched on the comparison between Chinese and foreign, especially Japanese cartoon productions, and quite a few commentators were not happy that Chinese cartoon production has lagged behind.

“Had China’s cartoon developed better, things would not have been like this—everyone loves watching Japanese cartoon,” one note says.

China Youth Daily story

Online comments

Hunan satellite TV cartoon channel

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dog Rights VS Human Rights

An incident of burning dogs in the city of Nanjing drew nearly 17000 comments from web users on Thursday and triggered a huge debate about dog rights.

The behavior under fire took place on Wednesday, when a couple of people poured gasoline on two puppies and their mother and set their cave on fire. The dogs were homeless and had stayed for a few months in a corner of a garden in these people's housing compound. One of them said the dogs’ bark disturbed people’s sleep, local newspaper reported.

A witness tried to stop the fire, but one puppy was killed. Residents later called police. Messages on online forums said the surviving dogs were taken care of.

Condemnation of the burning dominated online comments on this incident. People called the act cruel, utterly inhuman or barbarous. Some say those who set the fire could have gone to jail if they were in some other countries.

“You could not like dogs, you could even hate them, but you have no right to take their lives because of your discomfort,” one comment read.

Not long after the debate broke out, a post appeared on tianya club forum written in the name of an old lady, who claimed that the dogs’ barking had forced her to increase the dose of her sleeping drugs but still kept her awake at night. The poster admitted that it was her neighbors who tried to burn the dogs to help her and that she was sorry about their behavior.

“It is a good thing that people have more awareness of animal protection and animals now have higher status,” the poster wrote. “However, please consider here: animals have their rights, but shouldn't people also have their rights as human? When human rights were hurt by animals, whose rights deserve protection more?”

Nevertheless, other web users questioned the true identity of the poster and still could not forgive the burning.

“If [you] think the dogs are disturbing, [you] could contact people at animal protection center to take care of them, or find someone to adopt them. Why use such cruel method to burn them?” One post responded.

There are also a handful of comments that do not take the burning as such a big deal and insist that China needs to focus on problems of people instead of dogs and cats.

“Those who think about dog rights, have you thought about human rights?” One commentator asked, and listed a series of threats homeless animals could bring to human, including carrying disease, barking at children and dropping excrement everywhere.

A harsh debate for animal rights like this was unimaginable in China just a couple of decades ago, when most Chinese people were largely concerned of their own livelihood. Material shortage and relatively poor living conditions left people with little heart to care about how animals around them were doing.

Recent years have seen more and more Chinese people, mostly affluent urban residents, keep pets like dogs and cats. Animal hospital and shelter have been set up in many places, although such resources are still far from abundant. Schools also carried out the so-called “love education,” instructing children to love small animals and respect lives.

Local news report on the incident

Online comments

Monday, April 23, 2007

New Internet Publication Regulation to be Drafted

Xu Jinglei's online magazine

Drafting a new licensing rule for online magazines is on the agenda of China’s administration of press and publication, which will require online magazines to obtain license from the government before publishing, China Business News reported.

Online magazine has gained fast popularity in China in recent years, and it is estimated that there are a few hundred such digital magazines, run by companies or individuals, with viewers of nearly 40 million. A noticeable latest release of online magazine was that of popular movie star Ms. Xu Jinglei. The first issue of the bi-weekly online magazine, expected to make millions in advertisement income, was published earlier this month. Ms. Xu recruited a group of star writers to write for the magazine.

Most of China’s current online magazines did not have to obtain publication permits from authorities before making the content available online. But things will change after the new regulation is set up in the near future. No specific implement time, however, was indicated by officials from the press and publishing administration, and there was no word about whether the new stipulation will affect other online publications such as blogs.

Ms. Xu's online magazine overview

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Students Hope to be Away from Internet Porn

Bad Internet content harms students

Students around China have voiced welcome to a nationwide crack down on Internet pornography, a campaign launched by the Chinese government this month.

They knew they are an easily tempted group and some of them have already suffered from viewing too much unhealthy content from the Internet.

A secondary school student in Anhui was addicted to Internet porn and his grades suffered significantly. To pay for the fees he owed to an Internet cafe where he viewed those sites, he went so far as to steal machine parts from a factory.

Eighteen-year-old Beijing boy Liu Wei once had similar experience, and told Xinhua that he now hates those “dirty stuff” on the Internet.

Traditional media in China, including print and broadcast, are relatively clean of sexutal content because of tight control of the government, and no porn publication store is allowed in China.

In contrast, the Internet has become perhaps the freest media in China, both in terms of expressing people’s opinions as well as publishing conventionally deemed inappropriate or provocative contents such as exposing pictures.

Even on popular websites like, and, which are accessible to just about any Internet user, there are always a few sexually explicit video clips or photos on the home page, in entertainment section or blogs. Students can view such content easily, and if going to an Internet cafe, they can further log on to some porn sites without much effort and almost free of surveillance.

Setting up porn websites and publishing pornography on the Internet is illegal in China, but in recent years, there were several serious incidents where porn sites targeting viewers in China were registered on overseas servers, but those who ran the sites, for making money, were Chinese citizens, sometimes teenagers. Among about a million registers of these sites, most were Chinese youth, according to state media.

Statistics show that by June 2006, there were over 80 million adolescent web users in China, out of the total of 123 million, and about 30 million were elementary and secondary school students who are extremely vulnerable to Internet porn.

In addition, some young people got involved in the so-called “nude chat” on the Internet, using cameras. Lately, technology development allowed new channels for filthy content to reach students, such as porn video games downloaded to cell phones.

The government, schools and parents, including students themselves, have grown very concerned about the problem, but not enough has been done to cope with it.

In this crack-down campaign, which will last for six months, the authorities will “clean up” videos, photos or fictions on the Internet that contain pornographic content. Meanwhile, the authorities will also target online information that “disturbs social order,” as well as online forums, chat rooms and blogs that are deemed having grey area in “management responsibility.”

About the crack-down campaign

Other stories about Internet porn problem in China

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre Let Chinese Public Appreciate China’s Gun Ban

A photo on a Chinese news website with the caption reading "Chinese student suspected for Virginia Tech massacre"

The massacre at the Virginia Tech that left 33 people died has been one of the most discussed incidents among Chinese Internet users in the past 24 hours. Besides hundreds of comments expressing shock over the rampage and condolence for the victims, a large portion of the discussion touched on the issue of gun control.

Many Chinese people related the incidents to the widespread private ownership of guns in the United States. “[The U.S.] Better have ban on guns,” one commentator said.

They then started to feel fortunate that carrying gun is strictly prohibited for the general public in China, and the majority of the comments supported the ban.

“It is good that China has strictly controlled guns since the beginning [of the People’s Republic],” one wrote. “If China lifted the ban on guns, perhaps the number of people killed in China in one day will be equal to that in the US in a year,” another commented.

“Everyone having gun is just like everyone having no gun,” still another comment reads. “I don’t want that one day I walk on the street and get shot just because I take a look at a person who broke up with somebody.”

Although the United States remains an ideal society with democracy, freedom and justice for many Chinese people, quite a few posters used the massacre to criticize human rights situation in the US, since individual’s personal freedom and safety were not well protected even on a university campus.

“It is not heaven there,” one comment reads.

Earlier, a huge sensation rose among Chinese media and the public regarding a false speculation that the shooter was a Chinese student.

The gossip started with an article written by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed,
who wrote that a 25-year-old “Chinese national who arrived in the United States last year on a student visa” was being investigated for the shooting.

Before long, some Chinese newspapers in the United States and state-run China News Services picked up the story. Soon after, China’s major news websites such as and also posted the story that a Chinese student was regarded as the suspect.

Information online even provided two specific names of the alleged killer, one with the surname Jiang, from Shanghai, and the other with the surname Guo, from Liaoning. Apparently the news, especially those in Chinese, had made it seem real that the shooter was from China.

Upon receiving such information, people in China started to post comments expressing feelings like “very sad” and “ashamed.” Some even tried to assess the reasons for such “extreme behaviors” of Chinese students studying abroad in the US, such as pressure to excel and the disparity between their high self-esteem and humble reality.

Still, many people kept hoping that the shooter was not Chinese and waited for almost a whole day for the final confirmation.

“We were all misled [by the news],” a poster web-named Mu Mu wrote in an online forum soon after Virginia Tech police confirmed the identify of the shooter as 23-year-old South Korean Cho Seung-Hui, who was a permanent resident in the U.S.

“[I am] Greatly relieved after hearing the news [confirming the shooter],” another one wrote.

The news on the website of China News Services, and is now corrected. Some online comments based on the wrong speculation were also deleted.

Online discussions

Speculations on shooter being Chinese,CST-NWS-SNEED17.article,22049,21571821-5001021,00.html

Update (8:45pm, April 17):
The links to the Sun-Times column and the Times story have been updated to the corrected version regarding the identity of the shooter. But a Google News search by "Chinese, Virginia Tech shooting/massacre" can still reveal the original headlines.

Update (10:27am, April 18)
Here is the blog of Mr. Wayne Chiang, a Chinese American and student of Virginia Tech who was wrongly thought as the shooter not long after it was said that the shooter was an Asian.