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From the Editor

In China’s TV market, the state-owned China Central TV Station (CCTV) has enjoyed a virtual monopoly since its creation and boasts nearly 70 percent of the overall market. For smaller players, gaining a significant market share is a daunting task. Before 2005, Hunan (Satellite) TV was a no-name regional channel that few outside its territory had ever heard of. After two bold and successful program launches this past summer, though, Hunan TV has become the darling of the industry, a model of boldness that may spark a revolution in China’s TV world.

One of the breakout programs was a singing competition called Super Girls or Super Female Voices, in which the selection process was conducted by viewers voting through mobile phone short message services. The program garnered tremendous interest and drew unprecedented participation from Chinese TV viewers. As a result, it raked in record revenues for the local TV station, and set a new standard for viewing rate and advertising price previously held by CCTV.

Flush with the success of Super Girls, Hunan TV bought the broadcasting rights for a 70-episode South Korean drama series called Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace) for a hefty 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) price tag. It was another blockbuster move. According to the Report of China’s TV Drama Market (2005~2006), China produces 40,000 episodes of TV drama series each year, with 7,000 eventually making it to living rooms across China. But none has come close to the success of Dae Jang Geum. As a matter of fact, many have criticized the industry for its predictability and lack of taste.

After Dae Jang Geum aired, it quickly drew tremendous interest across the nation and attracted audiences of all demographics. Commentators credited the series’ success to having traditional Chinese values at its core, presented in a package uniquely appealing to today’s audience. The drama highlights virtues such as honesty, love, dedication, compassion, and perseverance through a true historical story from the royal palace.

Although the programs’ success is indicative of what the Chinese people want, the airing of such programs is not going unnoticed, as both programs have irked some of the politically sensitive authorities. In the case of Super Girls, it reminds one of a democratic referendum, which is what the communist regime fears the most. As for the popular Korean drama, it poses the issue of "culture infiltration," another touchy subject in a Communist-governed society.

We are featuring an article about the phenomenon of a Korean craze brought on by Dae Jang Geum in this issue. We have also invited political analyst Dong Li to share his insights (page 22) on the Fifth Plenum of the 16th Chinese Communist Party Conference held on October 8 to11.

In the culture section, we have an article introducing one of the wonders of acupuncture-a needle to the ear that can relieve pain from any part of the body.

Provincial Officials to Receive Advanced Training in US

On December 27, the University of Utah accepted 23 officials from Hainan Province. In a week they will depart for a year and half long program resulting in an Executive Master’s in Public Administration (EMPA). As part of their five year training plan which will consist of 18 programs launched by Hainan Province, these officials were selected to receive advanced study so that they will obtain “leadership and executive ability; strategic and global vision; and financial management skills under the market economic environment,” said Wei Liucheng, the provincial party secretary of Hainan.

Source: Xinhua News Agency, December 30, 2007
http://news.xinhuanet.com/local/2007-12/30/content_7339313.htm

Emergency Fund Issued To Aid College Student Cafeterias

On December 29, the Ministry of Finance approved a 50 million yuan (US$6.8 million) emergency fund to provide temporary aid to college student cafeterias. It is to ensure that, prior to the upcoming winter break, students’ lives will not be affected by the increased price of raw materials. Earlier this year, the General Office of the State Council issued a notice to various levels of governments to provide financial relief to student cafeterias and those students who are on financial aid. In addition, the National Development And Reform Mission also requested the students’ receive discounts in college utility expenses.

Source: China News, December 30, 2007
http://edu.chinanews.cn/edu/kong/news/2007/12-30/1119587.shtml

Former Secretary of The Deceased Vice Premier May Face Death Sentence

Wang Weigong, former secretary of the deceased Huang Ju, Executive Vice Premier of China was arrested for corruption involving Shanghai’s social security funds and may face a death sentence. The scale of corruption was reported to be as high as 45 million yuan (US$6.1 million), which is the largest known amount of corruption. It was reported that Wang has refused to disclose any other names involved in this case including Jiang Mianheng, the son of Jiang Zemin, former President of China.

Source: Powerapple, December 29, 2007
http://news.powerapple.com/article/2007/1229/article_33729.html

News Briefs

AIDS in China Was Up 50 Percent Over Last Year

[VOA, November 28, 2005] Vice Minister of Ministry of Health Wang Longde reveals on November 28, 2005, that up to the end of September 2005, China has found 135,000 people with HIV, a 50 percent increase over a year ago. Yunan, Henan, Xinjiang, Guangxi, and Guangdong are the top five provinces with high HIV positive patients. The total numbers of AIDS in these five provinces are 77 percent of the total AIDS population in China. Among them, 40 percent are transmitted via drug use, 23 percent through illegal blood sales, and 9 percent from unprotected sex.

Group AIDS Infection in a Fujian Province Drug Rehab Center

[Radio Free Asia, November 11, 2005] Due to an oversight in monitoring drug abusers at a rehab center in Fujian Province, 54 people in the center were infected with AIDS. Trying to hide the truth, authorities ordered those infected with AIDS locked up as a punishment. Attempts by the victims’ families to appeal to the authorities to cover medical expenses and damages for the victims have been in vain.

Schistosomiasis Returns to Hubei and Jiangxi Provinces

[Xinhuanet, November 11, 2005] Schistosomiasis, a disease that was once declared annihilated in China, has returned in some parts of China. According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, schistosomiasis has been found in seven regions in Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, and Sichuan provinces. Snails are hosts for the oncomelania parasites that cause schistosomiasis. The wide spread of snails in China has created over 800,000 schistosomiasis patients, and is threatening 65 million people.

Thousands of Ex-Servicemen In Shenzhen Protest Unjust Compensations

[VOA, November 8, 2005] Thousands of ex-servicemen held a protest in Shenzhen, demanding the authorities solve their financial problems due to the reform of state-owned enterprises and the loss of state-owned assets. At one point, the protesters once blocked the mayor’s car, but were dispersed by anti-riot police.

Chinese Authorities Arrest AIDS Patients & Civil Rights Supporters

[The Epoch Times, November 10, 2005] Authorities in Henan Province reportedly dispatched thousands of police officers to arrest AIDS patients and block people from appealing for their rights during the National Conference on AIDS Prevention on November 7. The conference was held at Yellow River Hotel of Zhenzhou City, Henan Province, and sponsored by the Office of AIDS Prevention and Treatment of the State Council.

Mr. Hu Jia, a well-known civil rights activist who has been actively calling for protecting the rights of AIDS patients, was about to deliver his appeal letter to the authorities when the police arrested him. The police took him out of Zhenzhou City and put him under house arrest. Hu finally returned home in Beijing at 10 p.m. on November 9.

Canada’s Ministry of Health Warns Against Using Chinese-Made Weight-Loss Drugs

[Central News Agency, November 9, 2005] Several weight-loss products made in China contain the harmful substance sibutramine and therefore should not be taken, Canada’s Ministry of Health warns. The drugs on the warning list include Xianting Qianzhisu, Menze Qianweisu, Shou ShenDan-Xiao Nan Wan, RS Slim & Fit, Kartien Slimming Capsules, and Kartien Trimming Formula.

Almost 80 Percent of Reporters in China Want to Change Careers

[Legal Evening News, November 8, 2005] Chinese journalists today are facing increased levels of stress and anxiety, in part due to the highly scrutinized nature of their work, according to a survey conducted by the Legal Evening News at the Journalist Festival on November 8. The survey indicates that almost 80 percent of journalists have thought of changing their career.

According to the survey, the primary factors that cause journalists stress are: (1) deep anxiety for being unable to use the press to expose evil-doers or to encourage people to do good (23.7 percent of those surveyed); (2) the inability to fight back when their news reports are blocked (18.3 percent); (3) Less and less substantive source material for news reports (16.3 percent); (4) corrupt journalists damaging the reputation of journalists as a whole (10.8 percent); (5) fear of physical attacks and revenge as a result of their truthful reporting (9.7 percent); and (6) discrimination from the public (5.4 percent).

In addition, many felt that the routine travel and overnight work in the career have caused journalists prolonged stress, and that an excessive number of journalists throughout China is only exacerbating the problems all journalists face.

Shenzhen Legal Daily Ordered to Stop the Presses

[Boxun.com, November 7, 2005] The Shenzhen Legal Daily, an influential newspaper in China, was stopped from publishing on November 8. The authorities stated that the reason behind the stoppage is long-term financial losses. But according to people familiar with the matter, it is the frequent exposure of China’s negative side that angered authorities and became an important reason for its closure. The sudden closure brought some employees of the newspaper to tears in public.

China Is Short 20 Billion Kilograms of Grain This Year

[Central News Agency, November 7, 2005] China’s grain supply and demand will be in a state of "tight balance" for an extensive period of time with a shortage of 20 billion kilograms (20 million tons) this year, according to an official from China’s Grain Bureau.

Media in Hunan Province Choose the Top Ten People Who Dare to Speak The Truth

[Sina.com, November 6, 2005] Media in Hunan Province have recently become well-known for their audacious pioneering work on programs such as the "Super Girls" singing competition on Hunan Satellite TV. Recently, People in Focus Weekly in Hunan launched a selection process for the "Top Ten People who Dare to Speak the Truth." Among the people nominated were Zhang Baoqing, who harshly criticized corruption in the educational system; Li Jinhua, who launched the "auditing storm"; and Yi Xianrong, who criticized the real estate bubble. The editor of the weekly paper highly praised those who are brave enough to speak the truth, while lamenting how difficult it is for people to do so.

20 Billion Yuan Flows into Shenzhen Real Estate

[Central News Agency, November 5, 2005] Shenzhen, the first special economic zone in China, has witnessed a surge in real estate prices. The estimated overall increase in real estate prices will reach as high as 20 percent, as compared to the same period last year. A significant change in Shanghai’s real estate market has reportedly resulted in the shift of 20 billion yuan (approximately US$2.5 billion) to Shenzhen and is another reason for the surge in Shenzhen’s real estate prices.

Substitute Teachers in Northwestern China Earn 40 Yuan (US$5) a Month

[Nanfang Weekend, November 4, 2005] Over 600 substitute teachers in Weiyuan County, Gansu Province, earn a monthly salary of only 40 to 80 yuan (approximately US$5 to US$10). Seventy percent of the substitutes earn only 40 yuan. These findings were reported to the Gansu provincial government and to the Ministry of Education by the Associate Secretary of the CCP Committee of Weiyuan County, after a personal investigation. "Payday is the most painful day," many substitutes say.

Underground Clinics Swamped In Beijing

[The Epoch Times, November 4, 2005] With surging medical costs and drug prices, the lower-income class in China is seeking medical treatments from private clinics, and has become an enormous source of demand for many underground clinics. Medical practices without licenses, poor medical equipment, and poor hygiene in these clinics, among other things, have frequently caused malpractice deaths in recent years. Some of the accidents are resolved privately. The flood of people using underground clinics has become a serious social problem in China.

Veteran Plans to Sue PLA

[Central News Agency, November 4, 2005] Injured during his service in the Hong Kong-based troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), an ex-serviceman plans to file a lawsuit in a Hong Kong court against the Hong Kong-based PLA troops for compensation. After his injury, the veteran allegedly did not receive proper treatment, causing his injury to deteriorate. When retiring from the service, he received only 200 yuan (about US$25) from the PLA to cover his medical expenses. If the case is accepted, it will be the first one in Hong Kong’s history in which a veteran sues the Hong Kong-based PLA troops.

Wife of Attorney Zhen Enchong Files Lawsuit Against CCP Mouthpieces in Shanghai

[The Epoch Times, November 3, 2005] On Oct. 29, 2003, one day after the authorities in China sentenced attorney Zhen Enchong to three years in prison for allegedly providing foreigners with "state secrets," both the Jiefang Daily and Wenhui Bao in Shanghai published an article titled, "The Truth behind the Crowns: About Zhen Enchong." Zhen’s wife Jiang Meili accused the newspapers of distorting the facts, defaming Zhen, and bringing mental damage to Zhen himself and to his family. Jiang recently hired Pu Zhiqiang, an attorney in Beijing, to demand apologies and compensation for damages from the two newspaper publishers.

China and the United States Battle Over Renting Vietnam’s Military Base

[Oriental Daily, Hong Kong, November 1, 2005] During his visit to Vietnam, Chinese leader Hu Jintao requested that Vietnam rent the Ranh Bay Military Base to China, to reinforce its influence in Southeastern Asia. Ranh Bay is the best natural deep-water bay in Asia. If the information is confirmed, the billion-dollar rental plan proposed by the United States will likely be denied by Vietnam. Vietnam once reportedly held discussions with the United States regarding the latter’s proposed rental. Due to a warm-up in the Sino-Vietnam relationship, however, Vietnam has been deferring the decision in order to avoid offending China or becoming a "frontline" for the United States.

China Quietly Changes Western Borders in Xinjiang

[The Epoch Times, November 2, 2005] Compared with its January 2002 version, the new "Xinjiang Map" published in January 2005 by the China Map Publishing House has some major differences in China’s borders in Xinjiang Province. Despite the "Undetermined Border" near the Pamir Mountains, China’s borders with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan have been changed quietly. These changes can be viewed as new agreements with China’s neighbors. On the Sino-Kazakhstan border, there are at least two areas that have moved further back into China’s territory. Despite the changes, both the 2002 and 2005 versions are printed with the words, "The national borders are drawn based on the Map of China published by the China Map Publishing House in 1989."

A Large Poverty Zone Within 60 Miles Of Beijing

[Central News Agency, November 3, 2005] Surrounding Beijing and Tianjin is a "poverty zone," which includes 3,798 poor villages and 32 poor counties, with a population of 3.72 million in poverty, said Asian Development Bank in its recently published report "Study On Strategic Economic Development in Hebei Province." It is very uncommon for a large poverty area to exist within 60 miles of a state capital.

Nu River Project Underway Despite Environmentalists’ Anger

[The Epoch Times, October 28, 2005] Which one is more important to the Chinese people: a new source of electric energy or the environment? In the past three years, there has been intense, ongoing debate between the environmentalists and developers with regard to the hydroelectric project on the Nu River (Roaring River). To protest the secrecy in the decision-making process by the central government regarding the hydroelectric project, environmentalists in China tried to stop an official engineering conference for the Nu River project over the October 22 weekend. The developers, however, continue to launch the project, regardless.

The Nu River originates from the Thanghla Pass in Qinghai Province in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. As the canyon of the river is 3,000 meters (~1.86 miles) above sea level, the river literally roars as water flows through the steep rocky landscape, thus the name Nu (or Roaring) River. With its geological uniqueness, the great gorge of Nu River naturally becomes a haven for many species. With one of the most abundant varieties of biological species in the world, the Nu River region boasts over 25 percent of China’s species of rare plants and animals, including those on the brink of extinction.

Xinhuanet’s Report on the Trial of Saddam Hussein

Former Iraq President Saddam Formally Tried (first trial)

Saddam Entered into the Courtroom with Smile, Prayed for Peace and Scolded the Chief Judge

The hearing officially started at 10:27 am on November 28. Chief Judge Amin announced that the second trial for Saddam and other seven co-defendants had begun. This trial was still held within the heavily protected "Green Zone." Same as in the previous hearing, the broadcasting was delayed for 20 minutes although the trial was broadcast to the public. [detail report]

Former Iraq President Saddam Stood Trial Again

Fourty days after his first court appearance on October 19, 2005, former Iraq President Saddam appeared in the courtroom again for the second stage trial in the heavily guarded "Green Zone" in Baghdad. [detail report]

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U.S. military bases in Iraq under most serious attack

"Chemical Ali" was put on trial

More…

Prosecutor’s Position

+ Saddam faces six charges
{mospagebreak}
The six charges Saddam faces: Dujail massacre, Kuwait invasion, persecution against Marsh Arabs, the Kurds Massacre and ethnic cleansing, and political assassinations. If Saddam is convicted of those charges, the leader of former Iraqi regime will be sentenced to death.

Defendant’s Position

+ Saddam should have immunity from prosecution

Defendants believed that as head of state, Saddam should be immune from being prosecution and punishment and should be protected under sovereign immunity for the acts committed during his duty. "The Special Tribunal" was arranged and organized by the occupier. According to international law, the occupier has no right to change the legal system in the occupied territory.

Reactions from All Sides

Saddam states that he has been treated inhumanely during the second hearing; First witness provides videotaped testimony

Kidnappings and explosions accompany the trial of Saddam; Some Iraqis take Saddam’s trial as a "show"

Saddam trial resumes; Militias start bombing; Two Britons lose their lives.

Former Iraq Prime Minister rebukes the government: violating human rights like old Saddam

Saddam on second trial; Former U.S. attorney general comes to "protect Saddam"

Saddam’s attorneys requested for delay of the trial; Allawi says today’s situation is worse than before

Chief Prosecutor for the Dujail Village case: Saddam is unlikely to be executed immediately

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