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On Belarus and China

Economic and trade cooperation between Belarus and China has been strengthening, as Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko welcomes massive foreign direct investment from China. Analysts believe that Belarus needs capital from China to assuage current difficulties accompanying increased prices on oil imports from Russia. Belarus under Alexander Lukashenko remains a Soviet-style planned economy. For a sense of hope, Belarus is looking to the China model, a highly centralized political system together with an economy marked by high growth. At the same time, the two countries are building closer military collaboration.

Report from Voice of America on January 9, 2008: [1]
“President Lukashenko of Belarus said on Wednesday that huge potential exists for collaboration with China in areas of the economy, trade, and investment and that Belarus will create the best conditions to welcome investment from China. He added that his country has felt enormous interest from Chinese investors in the Belarusian economy, and that there will be not be a single obstacle to Chinese investment. Lukashenko gave the above speech when meeting with Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of China’s central bank. President Lukashenko also thanked China for providing support and help. He said that Belarus will become a real fortress for China in Europe. Lukashenko stressed that RMB has become the foreign exchange reserve currency at Belarus’ central bank.

“Russian media reported that after Putin’s government significantly raised the export price of oil and eliminated economic subsidies to Belarus, Belarus has been facing a series of problems. This has lead Lukashenko to actively cooperate with China, Iran, and Venezuela, so as to obtain more resources to procure energy from Russia. Therefore, high-level Chinese official visits are always welcomed and are conducted in a high-profile fashion.

“Former President of Belarus Stanislav Shushkevich criticized Lukashenko for not conducting economic reform and allowing the economy to remain as a Soviet-style planned economy. He added, ‘the leadership of Belarus governs the country as a farmer on collective farms. For many years, the economy is heavily dependent upon cheap energy from Russia. Lukashenko is bringing the whole country to a dead end with an anti-market economic policy.’”

Report from Voice of America on October 26, 2006: [2]

“China and Belarus have been increasing their military cooperation. Belarusian President Lukashenko recently expressed that arms trade between the two countries is very important. On cooperation in military technologies, Belarus signed 210 agreements or contracts with China, with 190 of them implemented. According to the Defense Ministry of Belarus, the size of the bilateral arms trade amounts to 250 million U.S. dollars over the past 10 years. The figure, although very small compared to the arms trade between China and Russia, is very important to Belarus.”
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“In mid-September, Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan led a large delegation to Belarus. Cao was treated with a high standard of hospitality. President Lukashenko issued a ‘People’s Friendship Medal’ to Cao, complimenting his outstanding contributions in supporting the sharing of military technology between the two countries. During the four-day visit, Belarus displayed for the Chinese delegation everything they wanted to see, including newly developed weaponry. A large group of Chinese experts are also part of the China delegation to Belarus. This is a sign that the two sides are discussing details of arms trade deals. According to Belarusian Defense Minister Leonid Maltsev, Belarus has submitted a package of plans for implementing this military and technological cooperation. Once the China side has responded, the plans can be carried out before the end of next year.”

“Military experts believe that Belarus is more proactive than China on the issue of arms trade.”

“Russian media reported that Belarus is promoting a newly developed super short range air-defense missile system which is used to attack precision cruise missiles in their last leg of flight. … Additionally, the Chinese military is also interested in Belarus’ mobile radar system, automatic power control system, etc.”

“Belarus hopes to alleviate its isolated predicament on the international stage by sharing China’s military technology. The Lukashenko regime is deemed as the last dictatorship on the European continent. The United States and the European Union are imposing various sanctions against Belarus while its key ally, Russia, has recently pressured Lukashenko for political and economic benefits. Under the current situation, Lukashenko announced China as its primary foreign policy target in his spring State of the Union message, delivered earlier this year. He complimented China for supporting Belarus on many issues.”

“During Lukashenko’s visit to China at the end of last year, the two countries agreed to set up a bilateral military equipment and technology coordination commission. The two sides also decided to strengthen cooperation and exchange in military science and technology, including joint R&D on weaponry. At present, dozens of People’s Liberation Army officers are accepting advanced training in Belarus.”

Endnotes:
[1] Voice of America, January 9, 2008
http://www.voanews.com/chinese/w2008-01-09-voa42.cfm
[2] Voice of America, October 26, 2006
http://www.voanews.com/chinese/archive/2006-10/w2006-10-26-voa35.cfm

Innocent Victim Beaten to Death after Filming City Officer’s Violence

Wei Wenhua, the manager of a water resources construction company in Tianmen City, Hubei Province, was beaten to death on January 7, 2008, by dozens of Municipal Law Enforcement officers known as chengguan in Tianmen, Hubei. He was beaten after using his mobile phone camera to film the officers in a violent clash with protesters. The death of Wei triggered an outrage from local residents. Municipal Law Enforcement chief Qi Zhengjun was fired because of Wei’s death. This is one of the few cases where Chinese official media covered social injustice and large scale unrest in a high profile way.

The following are excerpts from articles published in domestic and overseas Chinese language media.

On January 11, 2008, Chengdu Daily reported that,[1]

“Tianmen is a mid-sized city in the Wuhan metropolitan area, with a population of 280,000. Although the city generates more than 10, 600 cubic meters of trash every day, the city has to bury the trash in the open as it has no trash management facilities. In 2005, the Environment Protection Bureau signed a two-year contract with the village committee of Wanba in the suburbs of Tianmen to assign two fish ponds for burying the cities’ trash.

“Villagers living near the ponds did not agree with dumping trash into the ponds because of the strong foul smells, swarms of mosquitoes and flies, and deterioration of the water quality. Starting from January 1, 2008, the villagers blocked the garbage trucks from entering the area.

“Around 3 pm on January 7, the villagers blocked the garbage truck again. Around 5 pm, staffers of the local Environment Protection Bureau reported this to the chief of the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau, who sent more than 50 officers to the spot. The officers, also known as chengguan, confronted the villagers. Several villagers were hurt during the fight.”

“According to Wang Liangfa, Vice Mayor of Tianmen and a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party of Tianmen city, the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau has 80 formal officers, all of whom were hired following a process of competitive examinations. Wang testified that those who participated in the fight on the 7th were all official employees.

“Around 5:10 pm, Wei Wenhua, General Manager of the Tianmen Water Conservancy Construction Company, was driving back to downtown Tianmen city with the company’s party chief, Wang Shutang. Because the confrontation blocked traffic Wei got out of the car and taped the clash with his camera phone.

“According to Wang Shutang, while taping the incident, Wei was surrounded and beaten by a dozen of the chengguan. Wei lifted his arms and the chengguan grabbed his camera phone away. They attacked him for five minutes.

Wang recounted that the chengguan beat Wei from the east side of the road to the center of the road, and then from the center to the west side of the road, until Wei collapsed. Because Wei was not breathing, Wang asked the chengguan to send Wei to the hospital. According to the doctor at Tianmen First People’s Hospital, Wei was already dead when he arrived at the hospital.

“At present, over 100 related personnel, including Qi Zhengjun, Deputy Secretary-General of the city government and chief of the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau are under investigation. The Public Security Bureau has charged 24 suspects and detained four on criminal charges.”

Xinhua News Agency reported on January 12, [2]

“Currently, (the Public Security Bureau) has detained four suspects on criminal charges including Sun Daibang, chief of Discipline Inspection of the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau. Qi Zhengjun, Deputy Secretary-General of the city government and chief of The Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau was fired and is under investigation.”

Radio Free Asia reported on January 11 that, [3]

“After Wei was beaten to death, hundreds of villagers and Wei’s relatives took his body to the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau, and then paraded to the city government office. The body was placed in front of the city government building, and thousands of people surrounded the building. The government, fearing the situation would get out of control, decided to snatch the body. According to Wei’s relatives, more than 100 fire fighters, military police, special police, and plain clothes police rushed to grab the body. Wei’s family confronted them and attempted to protect the body. Finally the police succeeded in seizing the body.”

In an article from Voice of America on January 10, [4]

“Critics said that violent enforcement of the law has been abhorred by the Chinese people, but nothing could be done about it. This type of direct violation of citizens’ personal freedoms and even life has become common practice. These cases are not newsworthy in China.

“When the law enforcement personnel use violence against the public, China’s official media usually play down the story. However, beating Wei Wenhua to death for merely filming the violence of the law enforcement officers triggered enormous anger among the people. This time, official media reacted quite differently in from the past.”

“Qing Geng, a Chinese writer, said that the anger shown by official media is quite funny. It sounds as if this type of violence by law enforcement officers is something foreign, instead of the regular occurrence that it is in China.”

“He added, knowingly violating the law is not a new phenomenon. Why didn’t the official media express anger? Why does it come so late?”
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“Observers pointed out that although the official media responded to the death of Wei Wenhua, it has been avoiding a critical issue: the key to the violation of basic human rights of the Chinese people by chengguan or government/party officials is that the power of the party/government is not subject to public constraint and scrutiny.”

Endnotes:
[1] Chengdu Daily, January 11, 2008
http://www.newssc.org/gb/Newssc/meiti/cdrb/gnyw/userobject10ai1368436.html
[2] Xinhua News Agency, January 12, 2008
http://news.xinhuanet.com/newscenter/2008-01/12/content_7411213.htm
[3] Radio Free Asia, January 11, 2008
http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/01/11/chengguan/
[4] Voice of America, January 10, 2008
http://www.voanews.com/chinese/w2008-01-10-voa44.cfm

Demolition of a Symbolic Bulletin Board, the Sanjiaodi, at Peking University

On October 30, a bulletin board, once called the Democracy Wall and also called Sanjiaodi, at Peking University was demolished. The wall witnessed decades of significant historical events of Chinese history. Its demolition has received both local and international media attention.

The Beijing News reported on November 11, 2007:[1]
“Students of Peking University get information on housing/room rentals, lectures, and job openings through the Sanjiaodi bulletin board. Looking for information at Sanjiaodi has become a characteristic of Peking University. Student organizations will put out display boards at Sanjiaodi to announce campus community news.

"Mr. Wu from class of ’99 said that the Sanjiaodi is famous because it’s a place for information sharing and cultural exchange. Wu added, “Having such symbolic role, how can it be demolished so lightly? We cannot forget her place in our heart.”

Xinhua News Agency reported on the same day: [2]
“Peking University’s news spokesperson Zhao Weimin indicated that, the Sanjiaodi bulletin board had been around for many years. The demolition is due to regulation of the campus environment.

"Zhao said with the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games, the campus environment needs an overall renovation. This bulletin board, which was a platform for information dissemination, is not functioning as it should, as it mostly posts housing rentals and other advertisements. As the campus computer network is well developed, information exchange can be done through the network. He said the future site plan for the Sanjiaodi is under discussion.”

Voice of America reported on December 29, 2007: [3]
“Zhao Yong, a Beijing Normal University professor raised a question in his recent article: What is really being demolished at Sanjiaodi? Zhao’s article, in addition to mentioning several concerns regarding the demolition, asked a few more questions: Who made the proposal? Who authorized the demolition? What procedure was followed? Why wasn’t the discussion disclosed? Zhao questions, ‘Isn’t that Sanjiaodi, although no longer a platform for exchange of pure ideas and thoughts, a reflection of an important cultural phenomenon with the contents switching to overwhelming commercial information?’

"Zhao further connected the demolition to the Chinese regime’s ideology of ‘destroying an old world and building a new world.’ In 1957, despite the opposition from renowned architect Liang Sicheng, the Chinese regime dismantled the ancient city wall of Beijing. … In order to build a new Beijing and a new Olympics, Beijing is also making an all out effort to demolish Siheyuan. [4] Not only Beijing, all the cities around the country are demolishing and rebuilding, giving up traditional characteristics."
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An article titled ”Peking University’s Sanjiaodi Bulletin Board Fades Out in History” was published by Zaobao (Singapore) on November 12, 2007: [5]
“The demolition of Sanjiaodi did not stir any reaction among the students. If the media had not reported, it would have gone unnoticed.”

“One Peking University graduate of the class of 1981 said that back then all the students would take a look at the bulletin board when they passed by. At that time, there was only one television for each dormitory building. With very few newspapers and magazines available, Sanjiaodi, was on the only way to the classrooms, became part of campus life.”

“The removal of Sanjiaodi is not only for political reasons. Starting from the 1990s, when the Internet became popular, the bulletin board function of Sanjiaodi was replaced by the Internet. A few political dissidents who once studied at Peking University, including several human rights attorneys and political commentators, have  expressed their opinions mostly through the Internet instead of Sanjiaodi.”

“However, the BBS site Yitahutu, through which Peking University students discuss current affairs, fell in the battle earlier than Sanjiaodi. Yitahutu, established in 1999, gained immediate popularity among the students. Its ‘Sanjiaodi‘ online section (following the name of the bulletin board) was famous for free discussion of political affairs. When the site was shut down in 2004, Peking University lost the platform for free expression.”

“Since the university computer network is well developed, any information exchanged or discussed can be done through the network.”

Nanfang Daily reported reactions from students on November 2, 2007: [6]
“The demolition made a great stir at mitbbs.com. [7] Many students raised questions: who proposed the demolition? Who authorized this? What procedure was followed? Why is everyone in the dark?”

“‘The Weiming Lake, Yabo Tower, Jingyuan Grass Land, and Sanjiaodi are all symbols of Peking University. How can it be casually demolished? Will Yabo Tower be torn down tomorrow?’ asked some students emotionally.”

“October 31 on the BBS, an extensive discussion appeared to be against the demolition. Most people were against the demolition with very few showing support.”
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“Many students voiced their opinion that the Democracy Wall has both spiritual and historical significance and their opinion should have been sought and respected before any decision for the demolition was made.

"An internet user said that ‘Sanjiaodi was already dead, but a dead Sanjiaodi still has its historical significance and a special place. How can it be casually destroyed?’

"It’s reported that an electronic board would replace the demolished wall. However many feel that this means the Peking University’s administration will have full control over the information on display and hence restrict any free exchange of information."

Endnotes:
[1] Beijing News, November 11, 2007
http://www.thebeijingnews.com/news/beijing/2007/11-01/011@082357.htm
[2] Xinhua News Agency, Novemerb 11, 2007
http://news.xinhuanet.com/edu/2007-11/01/content_6986454.htm
[3] Voice of America, December 29, 2007
http://www.voanews.com/chinese/w2007-12-29-voa1.cfm
[4] Siheyuan (四合院) was a type of residence commonly found throughout China, but most famously in Beijing. The name literally means a courtyard surrounded by four buildings. Throughout Chinese history, the siheyuan composition was the basic pattern used for residences, palaces, temples, monasteries, family dwellings, businesses, and government offices. The history of Siheyuan goes as early as the Western Zhou period (1122 BC to 256 BC). Siheyuan carries the most outstanding and fundamental characteristics of Chinese architecture.
[5] Zaobao, November 12, 2007
http://www.zaobao.com/special/newspapers/2007/11/taiwan071112c.html
[6] Nanfang Daily, November 2, 2007
http://www.nanfangdaily.cn/southnews/jwxy/200711020505.asp
[7] A popular online BBS for Chinese students.

On China’s Newest Administrative Reform

During the Chinese Communist Party’s (NCCCP) 17th National Congress, the party chief Hu Jintao said the party would “step up our efforts to streamline government agencies, explore ways to establish expanded departments with integrated functions, and improve the mechanisms for coordination and collaboration between government departments.” [1] A plan for the sixth administrative reform, called the “greater departments system,” is now under evaluation and will be sent to the State Council.

The followings are excerpts from the Epoch Times report on January 15. [2]
“The ‘greater departments system’ refers to having one single department to conduct the central administration of all state affairs that have similar functions and scope of business in the framework of government bodies. The benefits of this system are: avoiding the overlapping of government and multi-level management, improving administrative efficiency, and lowering administrative costs.

Although the news of combining of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), and the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) at the end of 2007 was negated, Zheng Xinli — deputy director of Policy Research Office of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (PROCCCCP) — said that a greater department was considered to have been established for the financial sector.

Signs indicate that the ‘greater departments system’ brought up in Hu Jintao’s Report to the 17th NCCCP will be the focus of China’s reform in 2008.

There have been reports that the State Council will set up a Ministry of Energy to consolidate the energy related functions from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), the Ministry of Water Resources (MW and the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC). The new Ministry will also administer the state-owned energy giants such as China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China Petrochemical Corporation (SINOPEC), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC).

Experts predict that if the Ministry of Energy will be established, a new round of reshuffling of administrative officials will occur during the Two Conferences (the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) in March.

The Chinese government’s administration cost is gigantic. Under the State Council, in additional to the General Office, there are 28 Cabinet Ministries, one special agency, 18 Departments directly under The State Council, 4 Offices under That State Council, 10 State Bureau Administrations under various Ministries and Commissions, 14 Institutions directly under The State Council, and more than 100+ coordination agencies.
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In contrast, there are only 13 Cabinet departments in the U.S. and 12 ministries in Japan. German’s Bundesregierung (Federal Cabinet) is composed of 15 ministries and Her Majesty’s Government in the UK has 18 ministries. The number of ministries in China doubles or even triples those in some other nations. The huge management cost is as high as ten fold other governments, with a gigantic number of public servants.

However some experts doubt the effectiveness of this reform. Ren Jianming, the director of the Anti-Corruption and Governance Research Center at Tsinghua University said, "It seems that five years has become a cycle for government reform. The 1998 and 2003 reforms, which were centered around streamlining these agencies, failed to stop the cycle of expansion-after-streamlining. The ‘greater departments system’ is faces the same problem.

It’s said that the biggest issue that faces the ‘greater departments system’ reform is how to prevent the concentration of power and the consequent corruptions.

Fan Yafeng, a fellow at the Law Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Science believes that the ‘greater departments system’ reform belongs to administrative reform, while the transformation of the functions of the government is the deeper issue. The reform that the government needs is to be under the rule of law. The expansion of the powers of the government together with the distribution of the rights to taxation and fiscal expenditure need to be processed under the rule of law too.”

Endnotes:
[1] Full text of Hu Jintao’s Report to Seventeenth National Congress of Chinese Communist Party on October 15, 2007
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-10/24/content_6938749.htm
[2] The Epoch Times, January 15, 2008
http://epochtimes.com/gb/8/1/15/n1977583.htm

Turmoil at a University Campus

During the evening on December 24, 2007, a car accident occurred near Nankai University in Tianjin, China. It eventually led to a protest by a crowd of about 1,000 students. They clashed with the police and destroyed the police car. None of the official media in China reported or commented on this incident. The following are sections of reports by the Central News Agency in Taiwan.

Central News Agency, reported from Taibei on December 26th. [1]
 
“Due to a car accident in Nankai University in Tianjin, China, there was a major incident of students gathering and protesting. Nearly 1,000 students clashed with the police and destroyed their police car. It was reported that after the police took away the student who they considered the leader of the incident, the school has a list of the students who posted articles on the BBS that called for help, which had led to the protest. These students are facing punishment by the school.

According to an anonymous source, the incident began around 8:30 p.m. on December 24, and continued until about 1:00 a.m. The event started when a female student riding a bicycle was hit by a Buick near the Student Union building. The driver refused to apologize and instead began cursing the bicyclist. The driver later called the police to demand an apology from the student.

The driver called a few thugs for help who then beat some students. The police reacted by forcing the students into police cars, while letting the thugs go free. This sparked further anger amongst the students who witnessed the event. A group of students surrounded the police car, smashed the car, and turned it upside down.

According to the anonymous source, the police arrested the student who led the assault on the car and was charged him with destroying private property. The school also inspected the website where the students posted articles that called for support. The school authorities took down the names of these students and they are facing punishment by the school.”

Beijing human rights defender Hu Jia said that although the vice president of Nankai University, Zhang Jing, promised publicly at the incident site that the school would not investigate the students, privately (to ensure the situation is under control), the school authorities have been pressuring and threatening the students.

Hu Jia said that nowadays the Chinese regime is extremely sensitive to college students’ gatherings, especially at the major universities. There are specific personnel within the Ministry of State Security that monitor and control student activities.
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Hu Jia said that when their personal interests are affected, quite a large number of college students stand up and defend their rights, but the Chinese regime completely covers up such news. For example, last June in Zhengzhou University, Hunan Province, thousands of students protested violently because they could not get their graduation certificates.

Hu Jia said this time, the students’ purplose was to resist what they call ‘privileged cars’ that have existed for a long time, and also to help the female student bicyclist who was hit. It was for a just cause. This kind of support happens quite often now on the streets in China. For instance, when urban management personnel, also called ‘chengguan,’ beat up small business people, a mass of people will surround the site.”

The following is from another reporter of the Central News Agency in Taibei on the 26th. The title was “Violent Incident of Tianjin Nankai University; Students Again Picked Up Their Anti-Japanese Spirit.” [2]
“Nankai University was established in 1919 and is a renowned university in China. Many famous people came out of this university in the modern era, like Wu Dayou, formerly, president of the Academia Sinica of Taiwan, and Zhou Enlai, formerly, the premier of China.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Nankai University was the leader of anti-Japanese activities. People from Nankai organized activities, such as boycotts of Japanese products. In 1937, Japanese troops attacked the city of Tianjin. Nankai University was seen as a base of resistance and thus, all buildings – lecture halls and student dorms – were heavily bombed and almost totally destroyed.”

After an incident involving a bicycle crash, a student posted an article on the Internet, which said:

“We Nankai University students were together and we sang our school song!  When the school song echoed in the air, all Nankai people were united. You must know that back then, the Japanese military bombed our campus, but even that could not destroy our unity!”

In recent years, the incidents of crowd gathering and protesting have spread to other college campuses. Two months ago, another renowned university in China, Fudan University, had a protest of more than 300 people. But, again, it was suppressed by the school and the news was supressed.

Endnotes:
[1] Central News Agency, December 26, 2007
[2] Ibid.

Hu Ziwei’s Embarrassing TV Speech, the Olympic Games, and China as a Great Nation

On December 28, 2007, China Central Television (CCTV) announced the renaming of its sports channel to the “Olympic Channel” at a press conference which was held at the studio of its sports channel CCTV5 and hosted by well-known sports anchor Zhang Bin.  At 3pm, Zhang’s wife Hu Ziwei promptly walked to the microphone and interrupted the conference to expose her husband’s affair with another woman. The family drama played out during three minutes of footage which was widely shared on the Internet.  Soon afterwards, major Chinese Internet portal sites deleted almost all reports of the  incident.  The government and official media have not made any announcements.  Our readers may peruse a compilation of news and editorial excerpts on the incident from overseas Chinese media and websites, listed below.

Hu Ziwei’s speech, as recorded in a December 29, 2007 article posted on The Epoch Times website [1]:

“… Before host Zhang Bin could introduce the ping pong athlete Wan Nan and bring him to the stage, a woman suddenly appeared. A sharp-eyed reporter on the scene recognized her as an anchor of a Beijing TV station, Hu Ziwei—Zhang’s wife.

“Hu wanted to speak, [but was] held back by Zhang Bin. Hu Ziwei said, ‘just give me a minute.’ She then freed herself from Zhang Bin, took up the microphone, and began to speak: ‘2008 is coming. All of you will have a happy new year, but Zhang Bin and I can’t.’

“Thereafter she disclosed that Zhang and another woman were having an improper affair. CCTV’s deputy chief Jiang Heping and several others hurried up the stage to urge Hu away.

“Hu: Today is a special day for the Olympic Channel, for Mr. Zhang Bing, and for me, too. Two hours ago, I found out that Mr. Zhang Bin has been involved in an affair with another woman.

“Hu: Next year is the year of the Olympics. All eyes will be watching China. But a French foreign minister said that if on the point of human values, Chinese people have no … (off-camera voice: no video taping) then what’s the meaning of all this? What meaning does it have?

“Hu: (struggling continuously) I will finish my last sentence. Let’s be polite. But that French foreign minister said, ‘Until China can export human values, [it] won’t become a great country.’ In front of us, [we] face such a sanctimonious … when Zhang Bin can’t face himself … even can’t face his wife, hurt by him. I feel, China, as a … become a great country… In the end do you have any conscience?! You let go! Still too far away from a great country.”

Excerpt from a December 31, 2007 Voice of America Chinese report entitled “From Hu Ziwei Farce to Talking about China as a Great Country” [2]:
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“Serendipitously on the same Friday, China’s Global Times published a report, [which] stated that the number of people who believe China to be a strong world power is decreasing. More than 50% of the people surveyed do not see China as a strong world power.

“In an in-house survey of 1,300 regular residents from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Chongqing, results showed that 18.40% of the people believe China is already a strong world power, compared to the 2006 survey, where the figure was 19.7%. 55.72% of the people surveyed believe China isn’t quite a strong world power. Last year this figure was 50.8%. The percentage of those believing China to be a strong power is declining.

“Additionally, the survey found that most people didn’t think that China is lacking in its diplomacy, economy, or military strength, with over 50% of the people believing China has the strength of a major power in terms of its economy. Those surveyed believed that the major problems damaging China’s image include corruption, morality, and ‘civilization.’”

A January 1, 2008 report on the aftermath of the incident from Taiwan’s FTV [3]:

“Hu Ziwei’s irrational behavior immediately resulted in her suspension by [her] employer, Beijing Satellite TV. It is said that afterward [she] was arrested by the police for damaging the [country’s] Olympic image. Although China continues to go to great pains to block this news, the footage of Hu Ziwen stirring up the ruckus at the press conference has already been posted on social networking video websites. Chinese Web surfers can see it as long as they are online.”

In addition to news reports, the incident has been a hot topic for Chinese commentators. An analyst from New Tang Dynasty TV wrote the following [4]:

“Some people have referred to Hu Ziwen’s words as a ‘New Year’s Dedication Speech.” Of course, the reason these words have caused a nationwide convulsion is because 1) they touched upon prevalent social, moral, and ethical questions that everyone can reflect upon; 2) they burst upon the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece and highlighted a real scandal, a thrill—everyone wanted to watch CCTV’s drama; 3) they dealt with issues from family matters to China’s international status, and even spoke to the values and cultural and spiritual essence behind China’s rise; [it] is grand enough and thought-provoking.”

“Currently the entire country is submerged under the Olympic heat wave, [as if] this is the most important priority. The emergence of the Olympic Channel is just one such manifestation. The Olympics is no longer sports, but the driving force of a ‘patriotic movement,’ a monster, and a business machine. Everywhere there are various countdown celebrations. Souvenirs of various kinds can be found as can various trains of thought on investment and Olympic projects inundating the market. The Olympics has become synonymous with drumming up political propaganda. …and it has taken hold in China as a fever which, like a huge mechanical monster, is capable of pulverizing any call in question.”
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“The Olympics became the CCP’s greatest element in the political machinery which violently orbits around the CCP’s will. And, precisely under the drive of the CCP’s political Olympics, the entire country is rapidly slipping off the cliff of moral desecration. Amidst this national excitement, the underprivileged and marginalized groups have been cast aside—frequent civil rights violations and persecutions in various places have been cast aside; live harvesting and the profitable resell of organs go unnoticed. What are the Olympic Games about for the world? They are about human rights, about equal participation.  The Olympics is meant to be a grand athletic gathering free from political persecution and the games stand as a symbol upholding morality, harmonious family support, healthy bodies and minds, prosperity for nations and strength among the nations’ peoples. All of these have been twisted by the CCP’s political motives while this year’s Olympic excitement is evolving into a dangerous fever.

“Kudos to Hu Ziwei, who has the courage to call a stop to the dangers of the political Olympics and to the nation’s big slip. Hu Ziwei, in fact, was saying, ‘Without upgrading individual, family and national values, without moral guidance, without respect for human rights, this kind of Olympics has no meaning. Like a beautiful home, even if it seems to have the best living environment, with a husband like Zhang, the family no longer has meaning.’”

In a New Century blog, “View Beijing Olympics Risks from Hu Ziwen Incident,” Qi Ge [5] wrote the following:

“As far as the incident itself is concerned, it should be understood as an unprecedented, impromptu incident directly related to the Beijing Olympics. Precisely because the incident took place during the press conference [announcing] the name change of the sports channel to the “Olympic Channel”… it made people pay attention and think deeply. People will have to ask in the next several months, ‘Will these unprecedented, impromptu events again take place? If they do, will it be more serious than this?’ … [If] we look into the current China behind the Beijing Olympics, perhaps the situation is more serious than we imagine. This implies that the Beijing Olympics hasn’t given people enough reason to believe that those risks associated with the Olympics have been effectively evaded.”

“What can really cause people to be anxious, cause the Olympics to be associated with risks, are those problems special to China. These problems are rare elsewhere in the world, but they happen every moment in China. Any one of these problems can cause sudden incidents, and can even cause civil commotion. Take massive petitions as an example—this is a standard China problem with the number of petitioners reaching 400,000! Under a crippled legal system and unjust judicial system, petition became the last resort for people living at the bottom as well as a major outstanding China problem.
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“There are also other similar problems which pose far greater uncertainty and spontaneity. They are large scale social unrests. The causes of these incidents are mainly unemployment and loss of lands. For example, the Hanyuan Incident [6] was caused by the forceful occupation of farmers’ land for the construction of irrigation projects without fair compensation. All of these problems are unique to China and are deeply rooted in the political system. If one wants to resolve them, it definitely won’t be a day’s effort. [For Chinese government], can those headaches be cracked down with an iron fist? Maybe it was possible in the past, but now it’s too difficult. Aren’t we going to host the Olympics? Hosting the Olympics is to attract guests from the world, attracting the eyes of the whole world to our prosperity and to our national power. … Among the guest, there will be 30,000 to 40,000 journalists. Over ten thousand of those reporters are authorized to report the Olympics. According to the State Council, many reporters are authorized to interview ordinary people who want to be interviewed. For a government that habitually controls media, this undoubtedly is a new problem. In the history of PRC, the event with largest gathering of foreign reporters was Gorbachev’s visit in 1989, when over 2,000 reporters came. But this time, the number of visiting reporters is many times higher than it was back then. Under this kind of circumstance, any sudden unexpected incident will become the focus of the world, and can even cause serious problems.”

Endnotes:
[1] The Epoch Times, “Web News: Famous CCTV Anchor Wife Makes a Ruckus During Olympic Channel Press Conference,” December 29, 2007,
http://epochtimes.com/gb/7/12/29/n1958452.htm
[2]Voice of America, “From Hu Ziwei farce to Talking about China [as Having] Major Country Status,” December 31, 2007,
http://www.voanews.com/chinese/w2007-12-31-voa13.cfm
[3] FTV, “Expose Husband’s Affair, Hu Ziwei Arrested,” January 1, 2008,
http://news.ftv.com.tw/
[4] The Epoch Times, “Li Tianxiao: Hu Ziwei ‘Straight Words Straight Talk’ Beats New Year’s Editorial,” January 2, 2008, http://epochtimes.com/gb/8/1/2/n1962129.htm
[5] New Century Net, “View Beijing Olympics Risks from Hu Ziwei Incident,” January 1, 2008,  http://2newcenturynet.blogspot.com/2008/01/blog-post_4963.html
[6] Hanyuan Incident took place over a course of several months at the end of 2002. Tens of thousands of villagers, who were to be relocated due the Yangtze River dam construction, protested against the lost of their homes, businesses and land. Authorities responded by sending over 10,000 armed police and military personnel to crush the protest with force. The number of protesters reached as high as 150,000. Unknown numbers of civilians were injured or killed. China’s official media gave no coverage of this incident.

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