Thursday, March 29, 2007

Young Blogger Took on the Coverage of Chongqing Nail House

Other homeowners protesting on the site of the Chongqing nail house (left)
Looking at the construction site from a nearby light rail station (right)

While the Chinese public is hungry for the latest update about the Chongqing nail house after the mainland media were largely squelched in their coverage, thanks to a young and restless blogger, people are now satisfied with on-site reporting published online.

Being perhaps the first non-journalist blogger in China to do original field reporting, Zola Zhou, a 26-year-old Hunan native, boarded a train on Monday and arrived in Chongqing early Wednesday “like a crazy rock,” on his own expense.

“News sensitivity and the desire to become famous overnight” brought him to Chongqing, he writes in his blog entry. By asking around, he found his way to the construction site where the nail house was still standing.

On Wednesday afternoon, he met Wu Ping. “Seeing her with my own eyes, [I] do not think she looks like a tough spicy girl [Chongqing women are nick-named “spicy girl” for their well-known pungent style], but an intelligent and well-mannered intellectual,” Mr. Zhou wrote. “[She] talked appropriately, like an experienced spokeswoman.”

He only had a two-minute conversation with Ms. Wu, who told him that despite the widespread rumor about her special background, the only background she had was “the law.” She also told Zhou to “be careful of health and safety.”

“Her heart is calm and strong, and deserves my trust and support,” Mr. Zhou wrote in his blog, published sometimes via his cellphone right on the scene.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Zhou met other home owners from Shanghai, Guangzhong, Zhuhai, Chengdu and Xi’an, who gathered at Wu Ping’s property site to propagate their own story of losing homes to redevelopment projects, since this place has attracted many journalists, domestic and foreign.

These people brought over pictures of their demolished houses, documents proving their legitimate rights to the properties and signs denouncing the government or claiming their own rights. A man from Xi’an even gave a public speech at the construction site, opposing the use of “nail house” on those who defend their properties, Mr. Zhou reported. Local people also told him that several cameras were installed in the trees and on the walls surrounding the site.

But what he reported is not as extraordinary as the reporting journey itself.

His action has won almost universal support in China’s cyberspace. Hundreds of people left comments on his blog and other sites that republished his posts, among which the words “support,” “be safe” and “be careful” appear most frequently. His readers apparently are concerned that he may get into trouble with the authorities.

Mr. Zhou is hailed by many as a grassroot hero as well as a “citizen journalist,” or “independent journalist.” Some praised Zhou as making history among Chinese bloggers by doing such original reporting, and called his endeavor revolutionary.

People expressed their disappointment and distrust of official media, while placing on Mr. Zhou their hope of getting the true story of the incident. “Now only such an individual media like you is trust worthy,” a web user named Jorin writes.

Another poster says he heard rumors that the house has been demolished, only to find the information untrue after reading Zhou’s report.

“Keep digging deep, looks like [I] can only know the truth from you,” a poster named HP writes.

People not only give him emotional support, but material one, too. By Thursday, supporters have wired about 1700 yuan (more than $200) to Zhou's bank card and telephone card. “I am not alone,” Zhou writes.

Currently not employed, Mr. Zhou has been spending a lot of time maintaining several websites of his own. He had received some computer skill training but never went to college. He described himself as an optimistic guy, “willing to help those who are really in need,” and aiming at becoming a “righteous, strong and dare-to-dream man with money.”

This young man has also been influenced by the entertaining spirit of the media culture in Hunnan, and claims his website to “entertain the mass,” a task he has well fulfilled with the field reporting from Chongqing.
(photos courtesy to Zola Zhou)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Chinese People Worried about Negligence of Chinese Language

Mr. Cheng Helin at the lecture

In a recent lecture in Hangzhou, Mr. Cheng Helin, deputy chief and a host of Phoenix TV Chinese Channel, faced a college girl’s question about her career problem as a Chinese major.

She said that while learning Chinese is gaining popularity overseas, college students majoring in the language find it hard to land a job at home.

In reflecting the event, Mr. Cheng wrote in his blog that it is true that while Confucius Institute is growing everywhere around the world, Chinese education is “facing embarrassing situation” at home.

Mr. Cheng’s advice to change the situation is to combine Chinese study with some specific career training, such as editing. Meanwhile, as he suggested, universities should remove their Chinese departments altogether and instead make Chinese a required subject for all majors, and “the status of Chinese class should be superior to that of English [class].”

Mr. Cheng is but one of an increasing number of Chinese people who have noticed the trend that English learning is more valued in China than Chinese, mostly because English skill is better appreciated in the job market. In hundreds of online comments regarding Mr. Cheng’s proposals, the concern is manifest.

A poster who identifies himself as a Chinese major in college was sad that a group of teenagers laughed at him when he told them Chinese is important. “I don’t know what does this show or mean…The fate of Chinese merits worries,” the student writes.

“Countrymen should examine their own conscience: should English be more important than Chinese? Ridiculous! A national will be over if its language is over,” another post reads.

People are also eager to call for more attention and respect for China’s native language.

“Most of the Chinese cultural legacy is passed down through generations by Chinese characters. If nobody studies the ancestors, where would our ancient culture go?” one poster asks.

A poster named “child-forever-loving-Chinese” writes: “as Chinese, if one can not master his mother tongue, what is the use to be fluent even in many other languages?”

“Without Chinese, we will have no language to face the world,” still another says.

Although quite a few comments applaud Mr. Cheng’s idea of making Chinese study a requirement for all majors, many don’t like the proposal of eliminating Chinese department in universities. Some even went so far as to warn that doing so could lead to the fall of the entire nation.

For some people, the problem is not just about Chinese education, but also lies in the entire country’s economic pursuit. On that front, English opens the door for working with foreign business, where a lot of money could be made.

Majoring in Chinese is not bad, but something is wrong with the social environment, as one poster points out, “Today’s society is too eager for quick success and instant benefits.”

And there is perhaps hope, too. “We have good reasons to believe that when our country’s economy advances to a certain stage, the state policy will favor the spiritual [cultural] realm,” one comment says.

Mr. Cheng's blog entry
Online comments

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Some Online Coverage of the Nailhouse still Alive

After the official ban on news coverage of the holdout in Chongqing was issued on Saturday, news broken by a Chinese blog, the special section about the incident on is no longer there.

However, a couple of websites covering the holdout is still accessible on, one of the major state-run gateway websites, which is supposed to follow official publicity guidelines.

Similar coverage is also available on some commercial websites like NetEasy and, by the time this post is published.

Here are the links:

other sites:

the ban on press coverage

Friday, March 23, 2007

Family Killed Officials and Refused to be Relocated

Ms. Wu Ping held an impromptu press conference next to her disputed property (left)

The house in question: the only one left on the construction site (right)

The episode of a Chongqing couple’s prolonged struggle of refusing to have their house demolished is not over yet, while a family in Jiangsu allegedly killed two people for the same kind of dispute: home demolishing and relocation.

On Thursday, Ma Xueming, a Suzhou resident, allegedly attacked and killed Zhang Jinlong, a manager of a relocation company, along with a female local community administrator, and injured another man from the company. The three people came to Ma's home to talk about compensation plan for demolishing his property and relocating his family due to a development project.

Mr. Ma were said to threw lime powder at the visitors and then stabbed them, witnesses told a local newspaper.

Police took away Mr. Ma, his wife and a teenager son right after the incident. The family was the only one yet to be relocated in the village, because they had not reached a compensation agreement with the real estate developer.

People who knew the family said they were quiet and honest people, and that it was “inconceivable” that they would take such “extreme actions,” local newspaper reported.

Upon reading the story, many web users point out that people in Suzhou are usually good-tempered. Now that even such nice people also start to violently resist relocation for real estate development is a signal that such practice has aroused huge public resent.

Most people don’t agree with the killing, but many express sympathy for the Ma family as well as their own hatred of government officials and relocation company personnel who often force people to move.

Many call the incident a tragedy, some compare Ma’s action with communist revolutionaries’ rebellion over half a century ago, and still some see the incident as yet another indicator of people’s fury against the government, who, as put in one comment, “has become the accomplice of real estate developers for the red and green paper [money bills].”

“The volcano is about to explode,” one posted a comment as saying.

“If real estate developers and local governments still don’t rein in on the brink of the precipice, more similar incidents will continue to occur around the country…and constantly undermine harmonious society,” another one writes.

“This is a typical case of [the result] of power overshadowing law. Grass-root people have no power and can only fight with death,” still another says.

The Suzhou incident was by no means the first time people died in conflicts regarding relocation. Two years ago, for example, an old couple in Shanghai was burnt to death in the house they refused to move out to make way for a development project. Shanghai government later announced that the arsonists were people from a local relocation company.

Meanwhile, a lot of public attention is still on the story in Chongqing.

The deadline of Thursday, which was set by a local court for Yang Wu and his wife Wu Ping to allow demolishing their house, passed without much happening. Construction workers have set up fences around Yang’s standing-alone property to stop people other than him, his wife and journalists from coming close. The couple tried to move back to live in the house a few days ago. They haven't lived there for about two years.

According to Chinese law, the court will enforce its ruling under coercion if Mr. Yang failed to obey it, but the court has yet taken any action. Court officials told state media that the court needed some time to carry out the enforcement. Wu Ping also told a dozen of journalists from around China that she was willing to give up her house if an agreement could be reached.

Suzhou killing

Online comments

Chongqing conflict

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Defend vs. Denounce: People Show Conflicting Attitude toward the Chinese Government on the Internet

When some Chinese people were using the Internet as the platform to voice dissent against the party-rule government, a 23-year-old college graduate posted a long comment on an online public forum, calling on the public to trust the state government, love the country and be unified to build a stronger China.

More comments to this post, however, deride it than support it, partly because web users in China are more used to making or reading criticism than complimentary of the government on the Internet.

The poster, named Shouxi Niuren ("The No.1 Man") on the forum, apparently was prompted to say something after reading too much denunciation of the government on the Internet.

"I just don't understand why we can't face [the government] with a fair attitude," he writes in the post, titled "We Have Reasons to Trust our Country and Government."

To him, it is understandable that there will be all kinds of problems coming up in the development process. He believes that the vast majority of government officials are "truly serving the people," and that China's country leaders could become leaders because "their IQ and capability are absolutely beyond ours."

Some commentators of this post called it sick, blind-talking, and "a nauseating high-school political education text." Another announced, "Only love the country, but not the Party, because there is no way to love it."

People also made their own political statements in their comments. One person made a list of things for the government to do to achieve democracy, including allow free speech, remove party organs from universities to allow free thinking, allow other political parties and universal suffrage.

Those who supported the post said people should be more positive about China's social reality, "in fact, is there any country and society that has no defects?" Others agreed with Shouxi Niuren that those who always condemned the government on the Internet did not have the right view of the country.

Some radicals in China already intended to stir public opposition against the Chinese government via the Internet. In one of the latest incidents, Zhejiang writer Zhang Jianhong, pen name Li Hong, "defamed the Chinese government and current social system and incited subversion of the state government" in over 60 articles published on foreign-hosted websites last year, Xinhua reported. On Monday, he was convicted of "inciting overthrow of the state government" and sentenced by a Ningbo court to six years in jail.

Whether or not to trust the government is also an ongoing discussion on other Chinese public forums. On huayue forum, for example, one poster says the Communist Party has been controlled by corrupt officials and some capitalists and lost the support of the people.

"But if we did not support it, who else can we support?" asks the poster, who is concerned that without the rule of the Party, China could be disrupted and fall into conflicts of regional powers.

"So long as it [the Party] holds fast to the interest of the country and the nation, I still don't want it to collapse, until the rebirth of a party that represents the interest of the people."

Shouxi Niuren post

Huayue forum

Zhang Jianhong sentence

Friday, March 16, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 12

Cultural Rise a Hot Topic at this Year’s Sessions

So much talk has been devoted to China’s cultural development in the past two weeks that it became one of the major topics at this year’s NPC and CPPCC sessions, which concluded on Friday.

Quite a few delegates demonstrated a sense of urgency in their discussion about China’s “cultural rise,” as well as protecting and reviving China’s traditional culture, and seemed to agree that it is time to strengthen China’s soft power.

“Today China’s peaceful rise is not only the rise of economy and politics, but also should be the rise of Chinese culture,” Pan Guiyu, a CPPCC member and vice director of National Population and Family Planning Commission, said in a speech to a CPPCC plenary this week.

“For China to achieve national revitalization, it is necessary to strengthen her cultural soft power,” said CPPCC member Gui Xiaofeng, who is also former vice director of China’s press and publication administration.

They see China’s huge “cultural trade deficit” as a major problem. “Chinese economy is gaining increasingly prominent status in the world, but China’s broad and profound traditional culture has little say,” said CPPCC member Liu Yunlai, a school-teacher-turned-politician.

Several delegates thus say China’s cultural security is at risk. Ms. Pan Guiyu is among those who urge protection. “Cultural security is the prerequisite for the country’s stable development and national revitalization,” she said.

How to protect? “We can’t always passively defend against the penetration of other culture. Chinese culture should walk out [into the world] with full confidence,” Ms. Pan said.

To advance Chinese culture’s international influence, Ms. Pan and her colleagues’ proposal is to develop China’s culture industry. She suggested the government to loosen control on culture industry and let it grow in the market.

CPPCC member Jin Man, a famous ethnic Korean singer, proposed the government to include culture export into its development strategy and provide more support. She also said it is necessary to learn other countries' tactics of marketing culture and train more talents in order to successfully promote Chinese culture overseas. Meanwhile, the delegates stated that they don’t resist foreign culture.

Meanwhile, the meeting delegates stressed the importance of protecting and reviving China’s rich cultural legacy. What makes them concerned, however, is the fact that traditional Chinese culture is waning in the wake of huge influx of foreign culture, such as Hollywood movies and Western pop music, which have growing influence on Chinese youth.

“Today our pupils can still read poems from the eighth century, which is a miracle in the world. But we ourselves seem not aware of it at all, as if our ancestors did not leave us anything, and instead pursue Western culture as something trendy,” vice chairman of the NPC standing committee Xu Jialu, a famous linguist, said during a media interview.

They contributed many suggestions to revive China’s traditional culture, such as making hanfu, the outfit of Chinese people in Ming dynasty (14-17th century) as the “national costume,” protecting historical sites like the Jing-hang Great Canal and establishing a Chinese Mother’s Day in contrast to American Mother’s Day, which has been celebrated by many Chinese people for years.

But most important is to educate the youth. The meeting members worry that Chinese children now regard the Superman or Spider-Man as their hero, but know little about China’s historical heroes like Yue Fei. They also see it as troubling that students put too much effort trying to master English while unable to use their native language very well, especially in writing. To tackle these problems, they provide ideas varying from bringing Peking Opera to campuses to better education of Chinese language.

The meeting delegates who advocate for cultural revitalization are mostly well-established artists, intellectuals and politicians, or in other words, social elites. But there are still many common Chinese who share their view.

“We should feel happy and proud that our ancestors left us so many beautiful legacies, and cherish and study them,” one public comment posted online reads. “Only this way, we can be real Chinese.”

Another poster is concerned that “today’s people don’t study China’s classics, don’t understand Confucius, but only like foreign movies and trash music.”

There are also people who don’t buy the reviving theory and call the delegates who proposed making hanfu the national costume as “nationalist” and such ideas as “feudalism residue.” Another denied that learning English or modern science and technology is being keen about Western culture.

Related posts
China in Transition: 2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 6
China in Transition: 2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 5

Pan Guiyu comments

Jin Man comments

Xu Jialu comments

Some public comments

Other proposals

The annual session of the NPC concluded on Friday and Premier Wen Jiabao met the press.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 11

Despite moving into a city, a rural resident still has to live with his social status as a peasant

Outspoken Comments

Stop Using “Peasant” to Avoid Discrimination
China should eliminate residence-based discrimination and stop differentiating between rural and urban residents, Ma Kening, a NPC delegate from Shaanxi, proposed to China's top legislature.

In the proposal, which Ms. Ma also posted on her blog at, she pointed out that rural residents, or nong min (peasants) as they are usually called, have not been granted full citizen rights as those who live in cities, including political rights, education and social security, such as government sponsored health care and pension.

“The word 'nong min' should not appear in China’s formal law texts. The term itself is a discrimination against citizens living in the rural area,” Ms. Ma wrote, and suggested the word be replaced with “rural residents” or “rural citizens” in the Constitution and other laws.

For almost fifty years, China has had a residence registration system that distinguishes between rural and urban residents, who hold different type of residence certificate. Those who hold a rural residence certificate are not entitled to many rights that are enjoyed by urban residents.

Nong min is not a social status but a occupation. The status should be ‘citizen,’” says one public comment on Ms.Ma's blog. “Now, nong min is treated as a social status, and [a nong min] is still a nong min even when he became a factory worker or entrepreneur. This is just wrong!”

Another comment said it is laughable that “one country has two kinds of citizen,” and complained that the current discriminating system “has given too many unfair treatments to rural citizens.”

Beside Ms. Ma, several other two-meeting members also brought up similar proposals, calling on abolishing the current dual structure of the residence registration system and replacing it with a uniformed one, although some experts said it is still not the right time to get rid of the system all together

Ma Kening's blog

Public Comments

Other similar proposals

The CPPCC concluded its session on Thursday after passing a political resolution.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 10

Homepage of NPC and CPPCC member blogs at

CPPCC Blogger Ambiguous about Blogging

Mr. Wang Xudong, a CPPCC member and university professor from Nanjing, suddenly faced a dilemma these days—to continue or stop his blog at after this year’s two meetings.

In his latest blog post, he said he doubted whether it was necessary to continue his blog. What prompted him to consider quitting was hostile comments posted on his blog after he said that dressing in ancient costumes is not the right way to revive China’s traditional culture.

He made the comment in a speech to a CPPCC gathering a few days ago, which was then widely reported by state media. Before long, hanfu (ancient Chinese costume) advocates dropped harsh comments on his blog, even cursing him with abusive language.

Mr. Wang was apparently hurt, and wrote, “As CPPCC members, we communicate with web users sincerely, and all we said are true words. But we are so ‘ill-treated’! What is that for?”

More NPC and CPPCC members started blogging the two meetings this year than last year, thanks to the hosting of, and, as well as some regional websites. Many of these bloggers hailed the new form as an efficient channel to hear people’s voices on relevant issues, through public comments on the blogs.

With a few exceptions, however, the content of these top legislators and political consultants’ blogs are not very rich or fresh. The posts are generally proposals and speeches they already delivered on the meetings, or published media covereage about them. Often short notes of just a few paragraphs or even sentences, the blog entries do not carry many edgy, outspoken or critical remarks.

Mr. Wang Xudong, in fact, is one of the few that frequently jot a few lines of criticism or personal thoughts. He started his blog during last year’s annual sessions and apparently had a good time doing it. But this year, he concluded that “today’s Internet environment is not very good.”

Related post

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 9

Staff workers for the two meetings

Extravagant Spending of the Two Meetings Questioned

A staff worker of the on-going NPC and CPPCC sessions revealed in his blog some wasteful occurrences during the two big meetings, such as the use of large amount of disposable paper cups for drinking water in the lobby of the Great Hall of the People.

There are nearly 3000 NPC delegates, more than 2200 CPPCC members, as well as around 1000 journalists and staff workers going in and out the Great Hall, and many of those cups were used for only one serving, Guangzhou-based New Express newspaper reported.

The staff worker is not the only one who criticized the wasteful manner of the two meetings.

In commenting yesterday’s news that China is considering drafting a “clean government law,” one person wrote on forum that every year, the NPC and CPPCC sessions “cost tremendous amount of human power, material and money,” both for its national conventions and the meetings of their local branches.

Citing the central government’s call on building a "frugal society," the poster asked whether the expenses of the annual conventions in Beijing could be published for public scrutiny, “so that the local government could follow the example of the central government.”

For blogger Jackson Hu, the Beijing sessions are nothing but a “grand festival in the official circle,” where many participating officials spend most of them time socializing with other officials, “accumulating political resources.”

Hu estimated the cost for the two sessions, including transportation, dining, lodging, as well as communication and security, could be as high as five billion yuan (about $600 million).

As a matter of fact, the meetings accommodate over 5000 people for about two weeks. Almost all of the participating NPC and CPPCC members, including many who actually live in Beijing, stay in high class hotels. Buffet meals are well served every day, which usually include fine drinks and cover different local flavors to cater the taste of representatives from different regions. Fresh fruits are delivered to every hotel room frequently, at least in some hotels. Special medical services are also provided. The cost of the annual sessions could indeed be sky-high.

On Tuesday, China’s chief justice Xiao Yang delivered the work report of China’s judicial system in 2006, and Jia Chunwang, procurator-general of China's Supreme People's Procuratorate, delivered the work report of China's procuratorates, including review of last year’s anti-corruption prosecutions.

China’s judicial work in 2006

China's procuratorial work in 2006

Monday, March 12, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 8

Outspoken Comments

Government Squander has to be Stopped
China’s annual government administrative fees shouldered by each tax payer increased 23 times in 20 years, and officials’ squander should be blamed for it.

This is the remark made by Feng Peien, a CPPCC national committee member, on Monday during a CPPCC plenary. Mr. Feng said that in the 20 years from 1896 through 2005, the amount that every Chinese tax payer paid annually for government operations increased from 20.5 yuan to 498 yuan (about $2.5 to $62), while China’s per capital GDP increased just 14.6 times in the same time period.

Mr. Feng related such unusual increases in government spending with government squander, such as wasting public money on officials’ vehicles, dining and overseas visits, all kinds of government meetings, luxury office buildings and energy wastes.

To curb such lavishing of public resources, Mr. Feng proposed the establishment of an “anti-squander law.” Targeting at the causes for such wastes, he made other proposals, including having more information openness on government operation and holding public hearings on spending tax dollars.

Interesting Ideas and Proposals

Public Officials should Reveal Personal Finance
A National People's Congress delegate called on China’s public officials to reveal their personal financial information to the public, as a way of checking corruption.

“Government officials are public servants of the people, and what kind of personal assets they have should be hided from the people?” Mr. Wang Quanjie, a NPC delegate from Shandong, made the inquiry. “Citizens’ personal property is privacy, but that of tax-payer-supported government officials is not.”

Meanwhile, NPC delegates told the media that Chinese authorities are considering setting up a “clean government law,” although officials said no state legislation plans have been made for it.

Nevertheless, the idea is welcomed by the public, as demonstrated in comments in forum.

“I finally see the hope,” one comment reads, referring to the anti-corruption course that most Chinese people are concerned about.

Not everyone is optimistic, and some people doubt how much difference such a law can make. “The problem is not establishing a law, but enforcing it,” on person writes.

In a related move, a national corruption prevention bureau has gained the nod from the central government and is expected to be set up within this year, high-ranking officials in NPC and CPPCC told state media.
Online comments

China’s Commerce Minister Bo Xilia and Governor of the People’s Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan held a joint press conference on Monday and answered questions on China’s international trade, financial system and its reforms.

Full transcript of the press conference

Sunday, March 11, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 7

Mr. Han Deyun

Suggestion on Abolishing “Illegal Cohabitation” Triggered Debate

The proposal of abolishing the notion of “illegal cohabitation,” referring to man and woman living together without legitimate marriage, has triggered harsh debate among China’s web-using public, who is widely divided on this issue.

Han Deyun, an American-educated lawyer representing Chongqing in the National People’s Congress, said during the meeting that “the concept of illegal cohabitation should now disappear from people’s life,” China Youth Daily reported.

He said that the term was coined at the end of the 1980s in order to denounce couples living together without marriage, and was more of a moral censure than legal judgment. At that time, when such cohabiting became a surging trend, the society was largely intolerant with such a behavior.

The notion of “illegal cohabitation,” according to Mr. Han, does not make much sense in legal terms and China’s Marriage Law does not prohibit man and woman living together without marriage. Mr. Han suggested replacing the term with “invalid marriage.”

Commenting on Mr. Han’s view in forum, people agreed with him almost as much as they did not.

Those applauded Mr. Han’s suggestion held that it is not reasonable to define as “illegal” something “so normal and widely existing.”

Indeed, Chinese society has been much more tolerant with dating couples, both not married, living together without officially tying the knot. “If based on mutual-agreement, it [living together] should be protected [by law],” reads one comment. “In the future, such a situation where a dating couple is deemed as illegally living together should absolutely never happen again.”

Another poster agrees, “Although [living together before getting married] contradicts old traditional moral views, it does not go against the new ones…. Such phenomena have been accepted by many parents.”

As put in one comment, many people now consider living together as “personal freedom” and “very romantic.”

Many other people, however, not only disagreed with abolishing “illegal cohabitation,” but proposed changing the Marriage Law to make cohabitation outside existing legitimate marriage “really illegal,” such as keeping mistresses. They said the concept should stay to identity those married people who live with someone other than their spouses.

There are also comments warning that learning too much openness and freedom from Western society is not good. “The West is advanced in science and technology, but not all culture copied from the West is good.”

Online Comments

Wu Bangguo, Chairman of NPC standing committee, delivered his work report of the standing committee on Sunday. He discussed issues like the supervising power of the NPC, and reviewed several law revisions, including the Compulsory Education Law.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 6

A group of Beijing youth dressed in antient style clothing, which they call hanfu, and paying respect to a historical figure.

Outspoken Comments

Dressed in Ancient Costume not the Right Way to Revive Cultural Legacy
To revive China’s traditional culture is not equal to do some restoration shows, said Wang Xudong, a CPPCC national committee member.

“There are increasing calls for reenergizing and reviving traditional culture, and all kinds of suggestions as well as practices are developing dynamically. But most of them are only superficial restorations,” Mr. Wang said, referring to trends like setting up old-fashioned private schools and wearing ancient style clothing.

He called on strengthening the research and education about China’s traditional culture in order to rediscover its essence and deeper meaning, which could be applied as a cure to “the decadency and degeneration brought about by material desires.”

One of the latest of such “restoration shows” was in earlier this month, when some newly enrolled elementary school students were dressed up in ancient costumes and worshiped Confucius in a local Confucius Temple, in a traditional ceremony for the pupils to start their study.

Er Dongcheng, commentator for, denounced the activity as having little actual meaning and pointed out that the ancient style costumes were an ill fit for little children and teachers with died bubble hair.

“To learn about traditional culture is not as simple as paying respect to the image of Confucius, or dressed in some ancient outfits,” Mr. Er writes. “What is most important is to guide children to know the deep spiritual value contained in China’s traditional culture while connecting it to the current time.”

In a relevant development, Jiang Honbing, a NPC delegate from Heilongjiang, said he has submitted a proposal to remove Starbucks from the Forbidden City in Beijing. He said simply taking off the sign of Starbucks is not enough to stop “the harm to national dignity.”

Ningbo pupils dressed in ancient costume

Interesting Ideas and Proposals

Law on Privacy Protection and Anti-corruption Urged
Businessman Peng Linji, a CPPCC member from Guangzhou, urged establishment of a law to protection personal information, like cellphone number and private car information. He warned that unauthorized disclosure and abuse of personal information are getting worse.

Another legislation idea, setting up an anti-corruption law, is brought up by CPPCC member Chu Yaping. He said the anti-corruption efforts need stronger legal support.

CPPCC national committee held press conference, focused on issues such as China’s aging society, pension system and social security.

Friday, March 09, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 5

Outspoken Comments

Don’t Push for China to Top the Gold Medal List at the 2008 Olympics
It is not appropriate to fan the fever for China to top the gold medal table at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, said Xu Kuangdi, vice chairman of the National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

“China’s per-capital GDP only ranks about 100 in the world. Our national power is still not very strong, and it will be good enough if China can finish top three in total number of gold medals,” Mr. Xu was quoted by as saying.

Deng Yaping, China’s ping pong world champion and a CPPCC member, also played down the importance of winning gold medals at the Olympics, and called on the public to view the issue with a “plain heart.”

British survey: China would win Olympic gold medal count

China’s Soft Power Roots in her Own Cultural Tradition
The soft power of a country has more power than tanks or cannons, because art could conquer people’s heart, said Chen Ailian, a famous dancer and CPPCC member.

On a CPPCC group meeting, she hailed the recognition of soft power in the annual work report of CPPCC standing committee, submitted for members’ review earlier in the current session.

To improve China’s soft power, Mrs. Chen urged people to seek roots from China’s traditional culture and criticized the trend of adopting too much from foreign countries.

“These years we have been too restless. There is a strong trend of underestimating ourselves and worshiping foreign things,” Mrs. Chen said in an interview with She reminded people not to forget cultural legacies from Chinese ancestors when striving for innovation.

Interesting Ideas and Proposals

Set Confucius Birthday as the National Reading Day
To encourage people to read more by advocating the Confucius’ teaching of persistent study, CPPCC member Zhu Yongxin has submitted a proposal on making September 28, the deemed birthday of Confucius, an official holiday: the National Reading Day.

This is the fifth time that Mr. Zhu submit the proposal, and the previous bids failed to gain government approval because the state government is not up to add any new official holidays.

Finance Minister Jin Renqing held press conference on Thursday.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 4

The NPC plenary on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People

Property Law an Encouragement for Making Wealth: Law Makers

In explaining the draft property law to lawmakers as well as the public, China’s top leader and some experts have been stressing the message that one aim of the law is to encourage Chinese people to create wealth.

Mr. Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, read an explanation of the property law to a NPC plenary on Thursday, telling around 3000 NPC delegates that the law protects private properties, including legal income, real estate, savings and investments.

“These stipulations,” Mr. Wang said, “are conductive in stimulating people’s initiative to create and accumulate wealth and promote social harmony.”

Similar claims were made by Wang Xiang, who was the first CPPCC member to submit a proposal on drafting a property law back in 2001, during an online-streamed interview with on Wednesday .

Mr. Wang Xiang said the property law is not about protecting the wealth of those who are already rich, but common people’s motivation to create wealth, including those who are poor for the time being.

This law “is to protect development, protect creation and the spirit of creation, as well as the result [of the creation]. Our country will have hope only when everybody is working hard to create wealth,” Mr. Wang said.

It is noteworthy, however, that the pursuit of wealth is something that was condemned or at least not encouraged in this nation for a long, long time.

Traditional Chinese values, such as Confucius teachings, do not take money making as an honorable goal for a person’s life. The conventional wisdom in China also discourages boasting one’s possession of wealth but prefers hiding it to avoid covet or harm from others. In those decades prior to and during the Cultural Revolution, particularly, being rich was deemed as sinful while “the poorer, the more honorable” was a widely accepted value.

Things have changed dramatically since China started to adopt development-oriented policies after the Cultural Revolution. Today, not only that Chinese people are passionately pursuing material fortune and personal wealth, but the state government is now recognizing and encouraging the pursuit in form of legislation, with the drafting and possible pass of China’s first property law as a significant milestone.

The law defines ownership of the state, the collective and the individual, and grants equal protection to these ownerships, Mr. Wang Zhaoguo explains.

Starting in 1993, drafting of the law has been through seven formal reviews by lawmakers, and the current reading by the on-going NPC session is the eighth review, setting a record in the legislation history of the People’s Republic.

Lawmakers are expected to vote for the law on March 16.


NPC delegates convened on Thursday to review two draft laws on property and corporate tax, respectively. The former addresses granting equal protection to state and private properties, and latter introduces a unified income tax for domestic and foreign-funded enterprises.

The delegates heard the explanation of the property law delivered by Mr. Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, and the explanation of the corporate tax law delivered by Finance Minister Jin Renqing.

The two drafts are expected to be voted by the lawmakers on March 16, when the current session ends.

----by Josie Liu

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 3

A building in Yong’an, Fujian, which is accused as the result of local officials’ "image project" and involved in corruption

Public Stunned by Local Official’s view on Administrative Achievements

A local official’s comments that it is hard to define the “right” or “wrong” idea of officials’ administrative achievements left the public stunned as well as eager to educate the official on that matter.

Mr. Xu Shaohua, the Party Secretary of Zhanjiang city of Guangdong and an NPC national delegate, made the remarks on Tuesday during an online interview with, the official news website of Guangdong.

“Administrative achievement is something that every government official will pursue,” Mr. Xu said. “But if you talk about what is the right or wrong idea of administrative achievements, it is hard to be clear-cut.”

For years, local officials’ pursuit of administrative achievements disregarding the real needs of local development has been under fire, denounced by the public and some media as officials’ bid for advance in personal political career at the price of public resources. A special term, “image project,” was coined to describe such endeavors that are widely seen from rural towns to large cities around China.

The notion, administrative achievement, has therefore become so notorious that many officials start to withdraw from emphasizing it in public.

Mr. Xu’s defence for the achievement was seen by many as courageous and honest, since it should be natural for capable officials to try to make achievements during their administration. But even more people criticized, or derided him for not being able to draw a line between the right and wrong idea.

“He even can not differentiate between the right and wrong and yet he became a government official. What a joke!” One comment reads on the forum, a view that was supported by many other posters.

While Mr. Xu might seem confused about the judgment, the public does not hesitate to make it clear.

“Let me teach you [Mr. Xu],” one poster writes. “The good achievement deals with issues that the common people most care about, and the bad achievement is something that the common people oppose.”

Over 300 comments left on the forum demonstrate that it is obvious to the public that benefiting the people is the right thing to do, and it is wrong to only benefit the officials themselves, such as demolishing homes to build malls simply because a big mall makes a place look modern and pretty.

Similar conducts are now a new problem in the “building socialism new villages” campaign, pushed by the central government to boost the development of China’s vast rural area, as warned by a couple of CPPCC members the day after Mr. Xu made his remarks on pursuing administrative achievements.

They said during an online chat with that some local authorities are using the money and resources allocated for infrastructure developments to build “image projects” like villas and some decorating architectures.

Mr. Xu Shaohua’s remarks during the online interview

Warning of image project in the village development drive

Online comments on Mr. Xu’s remarks

Interesting Ideas and Proposals

Official Gambling needs more Surveillance
More surveillance should be imposed on mainland officials’ overseas bank account activities, as one measure to crack down on officials’ gambling using public money, said He Yueping, NPC delegate from Tianjin.

Ms. He identified officials’ gambling as an increasing trend in recent years. Some of these gamblers have become key customers of some foreign gambling organizations. The money involved, a large portion of which is public money, often goes through these officials’ overseas bank accounts, which also provide convenience for receiving bribes.

Outspoken Comments

Juvenile Idlers Harm Social Stability
A large number of juvenile idlers, aging between 14 and 19, mostly middle schools graduate without a job or further school plan, could cause potential social disturbances, warned Mr. Zhou Tianmin, CPPCC national committee member from Shaanxi.

These young people, Mr. Zhou said, either living with their parents or wandering around, failed to continue school or find a job but spend most of their time in Internet cafes. In Xi’an, capital city of Shaanxi, such juvenile idlers are increasing by 80,000 people every year, Legal Daily reported.

Mr. Zhou called for more to be done, such as expanding compulsory education from the current nine years to 12 years in cities, to provide education or professional training for these lost young people.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Mr. Ma Kai, minister of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said China poses no threat to world energy security as the country’s consumption and import are low, despite its fast growing economy. He also admitted that the gap between the rich and poor in China is expanding.

----by Josie Liu

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 2


Foreign Minister Press Conference
China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing held a press conference on Tuesday. He expanded the idea of harmonious society to “harmonious world,” calling for more dialogue and corporation among different countries in the world. He stressed that Japan should admit its history of forcing women into military sex slaves during the World War Two. He also discussed other topics concerning China’s foreign policies, such as those toward Russia, Africa and India.

Man-made Lunar Satellite Ready to Launch
China has built its first man-made lunar satellite, which is expected to be launched to the Moon within this year, Xinhua reported.

It took three years for Chinese researchers and engineers to build the satellite from ground up, which is part of China’s moon expedition project, said project chief commander Luan Enjie, who is also a CPPCC national committee member.

Earlier on Tuesday, Huang Chunping, one of China’s top space technology experts, told Xinhua that China is technically capable to send astronauts to the moon in 15 years. Mr. Huang is also a CPPCC national committee member.

Outspoken comments
Feng Peien, CPPCC national committee member, denounced tremendous wastes and extravagant spending of public money by governments around China. He listed a series of shocking numbers, including: government agencies spend over two trillion yuan every year in operating a few million government vehicles, while only one third of the usage is really for official businesses; government officials spend trillions of yuan every year in dining and visiting foreign countries in the name of studying or training, but in fact mostly tourism.

Mr. Feng and other NPC delegates and CPPCC members called on holding officials accountable for lavishing public money.

----by Josie Liu

Monday, March 05, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 1

Top National Political Conferences Cause Grand Traffic Jam, and Information Explosion

The opening of the National People’s Congress (NPC) annual session in Beijing, aided by earlier heavy snow, caused traffic in the capital to a nearly full stop on Monday.

Many people were forced to abandon buses on their way to work and walked on their feet. It was estimated that about 27 percent of the city’s work goers were late on Monday morning, according to a blog kept by the staff of, a website affiliated with the State Council Information Office.

Beijing residents have been used to such traffic headache during the NPC and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference’s (CPPCC) conventions every spring, when the city applies various contemporary traffic restrictions to make way for hundreds of vehicles serving the two meetings, or lianghui as called in Chinese.

The NPC and CPPCC, meetings of the nation’s top legislators and top political advisors, respectively, bring not only extra traffic, but also so much press coverage that the entire nation would plunge into a kind of media frenzy during the two-week conference period.

Information about the two meetings, deemed as one of the biggest national political events in China, is simply overwhelming, and has become increasingly so.

All major news websites, including xinhua,,, China Youth Daily website, People’s Daily website, to name just a few, created separate sites for the meetings, covering everything from the Premier’s Government Work Report and related analysis, to sideline comments from individual delegates as well as appearance of good-looking female journalists in the Great Hall of the People, where the great meetings are held.

Special sections or programs about the meetings are also seen across the board of traditional media----newspapers, radio and television stations, national as well as local. News about NPC, CPPCC and their participating members are all over.

That is not it. As Chinese people and journalists are becoming more and more Internet savvy, blogs and online forums have joined the already overflowed reporting on the meetings.

Special online forums are set up for people to comment on the events, like the one hosted by Besides existing blogs, several websites, including xinhua and sina, set up new blogs for NPC delegates or CPPCC members, as well as reporters, to blog the two meetings.

In a way, the NPC and CPPCC sessions are just a big game for journalists from all over China, who devote all their passion, wisdom, skill and aggressiveness in covering the events. The general pubic, however, does not seem to let the political party totally consume their lives.

Outside those online forums set up just for discussing the meetings, in other online public forums, notably and, posts related to the meetings are far from dominant, scattering among all kinds of other topics, such as asking for suggestions of naming a newborn, discussion about classic literature Dream of the Red Chamber, and tips for seniors to surf the Internet.

Indeed, the NPC delegates and CPPCC members are not elected by the public, and most of their comments, either criticism of current policies or fresh initiatives of new ones, fell empty after the meetings. The exploding coverage of the meetings, however fine, fun or deep it is, does not arouse the public to be as crazy.
----by Josie Liu

Day 1, March 5, 2007

Premier Wen Jiabao delivered his annual Government Work Report to the general session of the NPC, stressing on improvement of common people’s livelihood and pledging to expand government sponsored health care and basic education to rural populations, among other policies favoring the low-income group.
Interesting Ideas and Proposals
NPC delegate Fan Yi, of Zhejiang Province, called on the state to abolish the College Entrance Examination. He said the exam has distorted China’s basic education to pursue only high test scores, oppressing young people’s creativity and creating a myth of universal fairness in front of scores.
Links: Special sections of the two meetings (complete and authoritative, with government authorized information) (one of the most complete collection)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Street Vendors Gained Permission in Major Cities: A Governing Approach Turnabout

Street vendors in China

The city of Chongqing is preparing to carry out new policies allowing street vendors to do their business, after decades of banning and cracking down on them, city newspapers reported.

The city government said recently that some back streets and alleys in the city will be open to street vendors within this year, with more than 10,000 spots already in plan, providing over 15,000 jobs. To get a spot, applicants should be laid-off workers of government or state-owned enterprise, low-income people and migrant workers, according to local newspapers.

The city government will obtain consent from local residents before setting up vendor spots in an area, and will set regulations for facilities and business hours of these spots. Certain procedures, such as road occupation permission and sanitation examination, are also required.

Just a few days ago, Shanghai government revealed similar policy initiatives, allowing street vendors in certain areas and certain hours, which is expected to take effect in the second half of this year, China Central Television reported.

The public has praised such a turnabout of the administrative approach of city governments, which have often handled their unfavored matters like street vendors with just one rule: prohibition.

In most Chinese cities it is illegal for individuals to just get out on the streets, set up a stand and sell stuff, because the city government says they block roads, cause traffic jam and create lots of trash, compromising the government’s efforts to beautify the city and improve traffic.

Tens of thousands of people, however, mostly unemployed urban residents and migrant workers, make a living by doing such trade. There are no less than 50,000 such street vendors in Shanghai alone, Xinhua reported.

For decades, street vendors and city patrol officers have been playing the cat-and-mouse game, mostly resulting in the vendors being chased away, fined, or having their goods confiscated. In several incidents, such confrontations evolved into assaults or violence, leaving either the vendors or the officers injured or even dead.

But the vendors keep coming back, because they lack other ways of surviving and they do have a market. Urban residents like the convince and great bargain offered by the vendors, who usually sell fresh vegetable, fruits or other small goods right in front of residential buildings, at very low prices.

“Actually many street vendors in residential areas are welcomed by residents,” a Shanghai city official was quoted by Xinhua as saying. “It is better to allow some options than to completely ban [street vendors].”

Most of the public reactions toward the new approach hailed it as a wise policy, a good move toward building a harmonious society, an idea fostered by President Hu Jintao.

“This is no doubt a return to the idea of serving the people,” writes blogger Zhou Minghua.

“Absolutely support!” Another poster wrote at forum. “This is an embodiment of [the government] letting the poor to survive.”

But not everyone likes the new policy. Some people posted comments on the forum to express concerns that the ban lift could bring dirty streets and traffic jams. There are also voices calling on the city of Beijing not to follow suit.

Still some are more reserved in singing the praise. “It is indeed a bit of progress, but it is too early to draw conclusion of the outcome,” one comment reads.

----by Josie Liu

Chongqing story

Shanghai story