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Chinese Citizens Comment on New Regulations to Ban Pornography

The Chinese communist government has recently published new regulations for recreational businesses. The new regulations bar all gambling, pornography, and other illegal activities in Karaoke bars, massage parlors, and other recreational venues. The regulations also prohibit government officials and their relatives from running recreational businesses. How do ordinary people regard the regulations? Will the regulations work? Below are reactions from VOA’s (Voice of America) audiences toward the new regulations.

Regulations Are Only a Superficial Formality

Mr. Wu from Liaoning Province said that the government published such regulations merely as a formality. People are very clear about this. Mr Wu said, "Service businesses with pornography are all run by people having connections with power. These people either have money or connections with government officials. If police make an arrest, someone will manage to get the person released immediately. Some people are so special that no one dares to arrest them—they are above the law. Do you know how much money they give to officials every year? No one dares to touch them. The laws are only a show for the outside world. Everyone knows that the laws cannot be enforced. We should learn from the West and restrict the (pornographic) services to designated areas. This practice is good for social stability."

Legalized Pornography Good for Social Stability?

Mr. Zhao from Hebei Province believes that the Chinese government should legalize prostitution, as it will be good for social stability. He said, "I suggest that prostitution be legalized. China’s family plan has caused a huge imbalance in the gender ratio. Many men will never find a wife; if their demands for sexual relations cannot be met, it will cause social disorder."

For Every Government Policy, People Have a Counterstrategy

Mr. Shi from Shanghai used to work as a security officer in an entertainment house. He said the regulations in the entertainment business have always been strict. But for every government policy, there is a local strategy to bypass it—all the rules are useless. He said: "I have lots of work experience. I worked in a dance club and later in an Internet café. I think the government policies all look ok. But again, for every policy there is a strategy. Take the Internet café as an example. The rule says no students allowed; another rule says business must close at 3 a.m., 24-hour service is not allowed. But the place where I worked, every day it was open for 24 hours. Karaoke, dance clubs are even more so. All owners are very liberal; no one really follows the rules. They must have inside connections to the government."

Many Entertainment Businesses Have Government Connections{mospagebreak}

Mr. Du from Zhejiang said that many entertainment businesses have connections with the government. Therefore, they are hard to control; in fact no one can really control them. He said: "The Chinese government issued the regulations to control the businesses. In reality, they don’t really know how to control, nor canthey control. Why? It is because all the entertainment businesses and underground gambling shops are run by people with (government) connections. Why can’t they control—because the police are collecting protection fees from the businesses. Of course, they don’t call them ‘protection fees,’ they called them ‘security fees.’ If the government cracks down, everyone will close their businesses; then the police’s supplemental income will be gone."

Mr. Du believes that the sex industry will eventually be legalized. He said: "Years ago, laws and regulations against pornography and organized crime were all published. From Deng Xiaoping to Jiang Zemin, until now, every year, the government launched some campaigns to eliminate them. But China’s reality is that people look down on poor people, not prostitutes. Sex shops, beauty saloons, gambling houses are all over the place. In the past, people still had objections and didn’t like them. Now few make a big deal out of it. So it’s better to legalize them."

According to Mr. Zhang from Shanghai, "I believe that the measure (new regulations for the entertainment business) is claiming that (the sex industry) will continue. It’s like the fight against counterfeiting: The more you fight, the more counterfeits are made. I once read in a magazine that, sometime ago in Beijing, the government closed all the sex shops one night. If they really wanted to control it, they could do it immediately. But right now they don’t really want to control."

Translated by CHINASCOPE from http://www.voanews.com/chinese/archive/2006-02/m2006-02-18-voa49.cfm

2005 State Council Report on Violent Conflict Between Chinese Citizens and the Police

The number of unauthorized mass protests and gatherings in China in 2005 reached almost 100,000, involving over eight million people, according to Trend magazine, a monthly Chinese periodical. Over 3,000 of them involved incidents of violent conflict between the police and Chinese residents. Almost 10,000 were injured.

On January 25, 2006, China’s State Council released the Summary Report of Mass Protests and Gatherings in Rural and Urban Areas in 2005, originally compiled by the Central Committee for Comprehensive Management of Public Security. Below are details from the report:

The number of unauthorized mass protests and gatherings across the country totaled 96,408, with 8,208,600 people involved.

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Truth Will Prevail

The 17th anniversary of the 1989 Pro-Democracy Demonstration and the June 4th Tiananmen Massacre in China is drawing near and for 17 years, I have been looking forward to the day of truth in China. Today, those of us who lived through the dreams and tears as protesters striving for a free China, and those who survived the massacre, prison, and exile are still fighting to have China acknowledge what really happened during that tragic time.

It was a life-defining moment for myself and for the people of my generation. It was my first realization that Chinese all over the world, whether they are from Beijing or Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Taipei, all share the dream for a free and democratic China and it was the first time for the world to learn of this dream. It was this dream that scared the communist regime to such a depth that it would use extreme violence to maintain power with utter contempt toward human life. The Chinese communist regime attacked its own capital with brute force, senselessly killing an uncounted number of peaceful demonstrators. Tens of thousands were subsequently put into prison for expressing their own opinion in the following persecution and for 17 years, anyone who dared to talk about the June 4th Massacre in public or on the Internet, faces years in prison. Why is such a powerful regime so afraid of what happened 17 years ago? Only because such a regime lives in the shadow of bloody murder and lies.

I was fortunate to be a part of this Demonstration. Throughout the whole event, I was inspired by the peacefulness and discipline of the protesters, in spite of the strong oppression from the communist government. On the morning of April 22, tens of thousands of students waited on Tiananmen Square for the memorial service of Hu Yaobang, the former leader who had a reputation for political openness. In front of the Big Hall, the students proposed seven requests calling for more political and economic freedom. We asked for a direct dialogue on issues such as corruption and press freedom. That was the time when I first realized that all of us on Tiananmen Square want a better China with freedom and democracy, and believed that our collective voice would be heard. Within the Big Hall, all the ranking leaders of the communist regime were present. Yet, besides a failed attempt from the police to charge the crowds, there was no answer to the protesters who had been on Tiananmen Square since the previous evening. The protesters decided to go back to school and continue protesting. So overwhelming was our common belief that tens of thousands of students, without a formal organization, acting as if we were one person, could overcome the threat of oppression. It was such a powerful surprise to the ruling old men—including the mastermind of the Tiananmen Massacre, Deng Xiaoping, who was seen visibly shaken on TV inside the Big Hall while attending Hu’s memorial service. This contrast remained throughout the whole protest until the bloody massacre: new against old, peace against violence, hope against desperation, love for freedom against fear of losing power.
{mospagebreak}
On May 17, the day of the "Million People Demonstration" in Beijing, the majority of Beijing residents became involved in the student-led protest. I was a member of the Beijing Alliance of Independent Student Unions, the leading body of the protest. We built an efficient broadcasting station covering the whole Tiananmen Square. People from all walks of society came to show their support. Journalists from the official media carried the slogan, "No more lies, we want to tell the truth." Government officials came to our station to urge the ruling old men to talk to the students. Judges chanted, "Rule by law, end corruption." Even monks came to plea for the regime to show their humanity. Later, famous rock star Cui Jian wanted to sing with the students. Protesters poured from all corners of Beijing into Tiananmen Square. At the same time, over 1,000 students were on a hunger strike, and we set up traffic control maintained by volunteers. Almost every minute there was an ambulance going through this huge crowd, carrying the students (including myself at one time) to emergency care. It was a miraculous feat that all of the hunger strikers were taken care of by volunteers during these activities. The state media reported that even the crime rate in Beijing dropped to a record low. This fact was a testimony to the peacefulness and devotion of the protesters. A postal worker delivered hundreds of telegraphs of sympathy from all over the country to us many times during the day. One day he asked me, "You have been here on Tiananmen Square for days. Do you have a word for your family?" So I wrote, "I am on Tiananmen Square, together with a million common Chinese like me, I have no fear of the tyranny."

My family was worried, so were all the families with college kids in Beijing. As early as April 25, without any due process, Deng Xiaoping declared that he would crush the protesters with armed troops. By May 20, 1989, the day Li Peng declared martial law in Beijing, 14 army groups encircled Beijing. The total number of troops deployed to attack the civilians of Beijing was more than that of all the U.S. army in Operation Desert Storm. In the morning of the 4th of June, I was among the last group of students who were driven out of Tiananmen Square by tanks and guns. I saw guns firing and heard gunshots all night long. Beijing was on fire and smothered in smoke. Fuxing Hospital near Muxidi, was filled with civilians who were killed or wounded. I saw another 40 or so bodies left in the garage area. One of them was Zhong Qing, a student at Tsinghua, the same university that I was from. The exact number of deaths could never be confirmed. I was put on the "most wanted" list and arrested on June 13, 1989.

Today the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre still face persecution by the communist regime. During all these years, Professor Ding Zilin and the Tiananmen Mothers have been calling for an investigation of the Massacre. At the same time, the regime still uses all its force to purge people’s memory of 1989 and instead, the Chinese have been forced to accept only the official statement. Fang Zheng, who lost both legs to the tanks near Tiananmen Square, was not allowed to participate in the Special Olympics.{mospagebreak}

Outside of China, we will carry on this fight for truth and justice. Each year, people around the world gather in memorial. Feng Congde, one of my fellow student leaders, set up the website, 64memo.com to collect photos, tapes, and articles about the Demonstration. In the year 2000, I was one of the plaintiffs who sued Li Peng in the United States for his actions against humanity during 1989. The other plaintiffs are Zhang Liming, whose sister was killed in the Tiananmen Massacre, Liu Gang, Wang Dan, and Xiong Yan, former student leaders on Tiananmen Square. I hope that one day we can do the same in China. It is a long journey, but truth and justice will always overcome lies and violence.

Zhou Fengsuo, the fifth most wanted student after the June 4th Tiananmen Massacre, was imprisoned but never tried or sentenced. At the time, Zhou was physics major at Tsinghua University and a member of the Standing Committee of the Beijing Students Autonomous Union. He was finally released after a year in prison. Today, Zhou resides in California.

The Forgotten Teachers Of Rural China

In rural China, substitute teachers are a neglected class of teachers who struggle below the poverty line. Substitute teachers are those in rural schools who are not included among the regular faculty and teach only on a temporary basis. They used to be called "local teachers." Those who had taught on a temporary basis before 1984 were either moved up to regular teachers or simply dismissed.

Starting in 1985, in an effort to improve the quality of teaching in elementary schools, the Ministry of Education banned the use of temporary "local teachers" across the country. However, regular teachers do not want to teach at schools in poor, rural areas, so these schools have to hire temporary teachers to fill the vacancies. They are now called substitute teachers.

As reported in Southern Weekend in April 2005, Dong Jianping, Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Committee in Weiyuan County, forwarded a report addressing the issue of substitute teachers’ income to his deputy Li Yingxin and asked Li to conduct a thorough survey. Li then launched a week-long investigation.

Three months later, Li sent his report entitled A Survey of Substitute Teachers in Weiyuan County to the CCP Committee and to the Department of Education of Gansu Province. However, he never received a reply from either one.

On July 28, 2005, Gansu Daily published Li’s survey. In Gansu Province’s Weiyuan County alone, there were close to 600 substitute teachers. Their monthly salaries ranged from 40 to 80 yuan (US$5 to US$10). Seventy percent of them made only 40 yuan per month. According to Li’s survey, some of them had not had a raise in 20 years.

For the Sake of the Kids

One in every seven to eight teachers in Zhangjiabao Elementary School, in Beizhai Town, is a substitute teacher, and some of them are the key resources for the Beizhai District. The first person Li interviewed at the school was Wang Zhengming.

The 62-year-old Wang is the oldest substitute. With his wrinkled face and hunched back, he looks like an old farmer. He was the first teacher in Zhangjiabao Village when he started teaching in 1958.

Wang proudly tells Li, "The generation of grandchildren in the village are my students; their parents are my students; even their grandparents are my students."{mospagebreak}

Li asks in surprise, "According to state policy, you should have been promoted to regular teacher because you started to work before 1984."

"I missed the opportunity," Wang replies with a humble smile.

When Wang started teaching, there were wolf packs in the vicinity of the school. He would teach during the day, watch the school at night, and do farm work when he had spare time. Regular teachers came and left. Wang was the only one who had taught at the school for more than 20 consecutive years until 1984, when he was let go after the school received several regular teachers.

In 1985, he was called back when there was a shortage of regular teachers. However, his previous years of service did not count. That’s why he was not moved up to a regular teacher later on. Wang has since taught at the school for another 20 years and has made 40 yuan a month during all these years.

The low pay became particularly hard for Wang’s family during the 1980s and 1990s, when his two sons went to college. The family still has to rely on whatever they can make from farming the family land. His wife has to do all the farm work by herself.

"Since I have to teach, my poor wife has to do all the man’s jobs. My daughter had to quit school to help out," Wang says with tears in his eyes.

"What’s your purpose for doing this all these years?" Li asks.

"Nothing. Not for money. Simply for the sake of the kids. I had to quit school when I was young, so my lifelong dream is to make sure that kids can go to school," Wang replies matter-of-factly.

300 Yuan (US$37) a Month Is a Dream

For those middle-aged substitute teachers who have kids in high school or college, their meager incomes have put them in serious hardship. "No matter which village you visit, as long as there is a subsititute teacher, he is for sure the poorest in the village," Li wrote in his survey.

Li Jianxin, who is almost 40, is a substitute teacher at Fuhe Hope Elementary School, in Luojiamo Village, Huichuan Town, Weiyuan County. Nearly half of the teachers in the school are substitutes. Li became a local teacher in September 1984, but for some reason he was not moved up to regular teacher. In Weiyuan County, although the regular teachers who have 20 years of service are making 1,200 yuan (US$150) or above per month, Li had been paid only 40 yuan a month until two years ago when he received an associate degree. Then his salary doubled.{mospagebreak}

Li Jianxin has received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the town and county multiple times. He still has last year’s county certificate for Outstanding Class Teacher hanging on his wall. Every year, he attends the teacher appreciation dinner given by his students who have been accepted by colleges. Although he’s short on money, he always manages to give each of these student five yuan (US$0.6) as a token.

"This year, Zhu Yanxia in our village has been accepted by a university. When I toasted her [at the dinner], she made a deep bow to me. I was very moved when I saw tears running down her cheeks. I feel that all my sufferings have paid off."

Yet, Li’s sense of accomplishment offers little relief to his hardship. Both his son and daughter attend middle school, and their tuition adds up to 3,000 yuan (US$370) per year. With his monthly income of 80 yuan, even if he does not spend a penny, he can save only at most 960 yuan (US$120) a year. He has to rely on the income from his farmland to just barely cover the tuition costs. "I have not bought any new clothes for either of my kids for more than 10 years," Li says with teary eyes.

When the reporter from Southern Weekend asked Li how much he would like for a monthly salary, he said he would like 300 to 400 yuan (US$40-$50), which is close to the figures given by most of the substitute teachers Li Yingxin surveyed.

Young Substitute Teachers Are Leaving

Liu Furong told the reporter from Southern Weekend that the only reason he could afford to get married and start a family was because of his parents’ savings. Many young substitute teachers cannot afford to get married.

This has to do with the betrothal customs in rural areas in northwestern China. Some young substitute teachers cannot afford a betrothal, which ranges from 10,000 to 20,000 yuan (US$1,250 to $2,500). With their annual salary of 400 to 500 yuan (US$50 to $62), even if they stop eating and drinking for 20 years, they can hardly save 10,000 yuan. They simply have to remain single.

Wang Weihong, 39 years old, is a substitute teacher in Beizhai Town. He’s also a key teacher in the Beizhai school district. He sadly tells Li Yingxin that while others’ lives are getting better and better, his is going from bad to worse. He is thinking of leaving after the semester either to pick cotton in Xinjiang or teach in a private school.{mospagebreak}

Yu Jianbang, the superintendent of the Beizhai school district, is deeply troubled with this situation. There are 101 regular teachers and 54 substitute teachers in Beizhai. Three schools in the remote villages are each assigned a teacher, but no regular teacher is willing to go there. Consequently, the work falls on the shoulders of the substitute teachers. Yu says that substitute teachers are sharing at least half of the teaching load in the district. If they leave, the district will fall apart.

At present, there are 32,000 subsitute teachers in the rural areas of Gansu Province. They represent 28.2 percent of all elementary school teachers. According to Wang Jiayi, Vice President and Professor of Education at Northwest Normal University, there are in total 506,000 substitute teachers in 12 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions in western China, which accounts for 20 percent of the total number of teachers in western rural China. He thinks that the condition of the substitute teachers in Weiyuan County is very typical in western China.

Helen Chou is a freelance writer based in New York.

Mainland Chinese Comment on Hu Jintao’s Visit to the United States

[Editor’s note: Chinese leader Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States in mid-April has drawn widespread attention. Many listeners in China called Voice of America and expressed their views. Here are some of their comments from a translation of the VOA transcript on April 28.]

Chinese Leaders Say One Thing and Do Another

Mr. Ye, Jiangsu Province: "President Bush is open and straightforward, but the Chinese authorities have always been inconsistent and play games with ulterior motives. They give empty promises and have done all evil things possible."

Mr. Xue, Chongqing City: "I think what China cares about the most is its image this time. As a matter of fact, the incident at the welcoming ceremony was not a bad thing. A country with such a large population has always carried one voice and one standard media report. Don’t you think that something is unusual? Hu has proposed the "Eight Honors and Eight Disgraces" with the emphasis on honesty. I hope he will take serious action in political reform. [I hope] he will not simply stage a show for the Americans or the whole world while still imposing strict control and dictating to his own people back home."

Mr. Zhang, Hebei Province: "I think it is good that President Hu Jintao talks to President Bush. I wish that Chinese leaders would not talk back when they are criticized. Take the human rights issue as an example. They should give honest answers, not pick on the minor errors and reject the criticism. Some Chinese officials always say, ‘The United States has many human rights issues. What right do they have to criticize China?’ They think they are being smart, but they act foolish."

The Protest by a Falun Gong Practitioner

Mr. Qiao, Shanxi Province: "I don’t think there will be much accomplished from Hu’s visit. The Chinese people don’t care much about his visit. He seems to be friendly with the United States, but he still jams VOA’s signal. He did not learn much from the advanced political structure of the United States on his visit. There will not be improvement to the political system at all after he returns. As to the protest staged by the Falun Gong practitioner, I felt this was not a bad thing. What’s wrong with having a different voice?"

Mr. Xiao, Fujian Province: "When President Hu Jintao was speaking, there was one Falun Gong [practitioner] protesting. I think the United States was behind this. Otherwise, how could a Falun Gong practitioner get in under such tight security? The United States must be driving it."{mospagebreak}

Hu Jintao Does Not Represent The Chinese People

Mr. Wang, Shanghai: "Frankly speaking, Chinese people are not too excited about Hu’s visit. Hu is not the leader we elected, so why do we care? The Chinese authorities continue to jam VOA’s signal. Is this a friendly gesture?"

Ms. Wei, Yunan Province: "In the welcome ceremony, Hu Jintao claimed that he represents 1.3 billion Chinese people. Mr. Hu, let me ask you, what makes you think that you can represent us? Which one of us voted for you to represent us in the United States?"

Will Hu Give in on Fundamental Issues?

Mr. Yang, Jiangxi Province: "It is necessary for our leader to visit the United States and exchange ideas with the U.S. leader. It is beneficial for maintaining the world’s stability."

Mr. Hu, Shandong Province: "Don’t think that the disagreement between the United States and China will disappear. It is obvious that China positions itself against the United States in all international affairs. I hope the United States does not "warm a snake at one’s bosom."

Mr. Li, Liaoning Province: "When China is seeking economic development and calling for human rights and democracy, [we are waiting to see] whether Hu as the leader from the new generation, can make wise decisions and completely change the dictatorship that has existed for several thousand years and advance China to a democratic society like Taiwan. If Hu has the ambition and courage, he may become a prominent leader in Chinese history."

Mr. Liu, Shanghai: "Hu is no doubt the leader of communist China. We saw him signing purchase orders for airplanes, but we also know he carries with him not only the carrots but also a baseball bat. He will not give in on certain issues."

Translated by CHINASCOPE 

Beijing Siheyuan, The Heavenly Style House

When we hear others talking about Siheyuan, we think of the heart and soul of Beijing. So what is Siheyuan? "Si," in Chinese, means the four-sides: North, South, East, and West. "he," directly translated into English means unity. And "yuan" means courtyard. The Beijing Siheyuans are homes that consist of a four-sided wall with an enclosed courtyard in the center. This courtyard is surrounded by buildings that are generally one story high.

This ancient style of Chinese architecture, which dates back 800 years, has been around for centuries. Beijing Siheyuans are so popular because of their originality and honorable reputation. This unique construction style has been used in building not only various temples and royal palaces but also many ordinary residential homes. Its designs are typically rectangles with the four sides facing the cardinal points. The classical roofs, decorated corridors, and old pomegranate trees exist in an atmosphere of grace, tranquility, and elegance that truly captures the hearts of visitors. From the outside, onlookers are able to see only one side of one building; however, once you walk through the courtyard gates, you enter a completely different world. Because the courtyard is very spacious, trees, flowers, and stone sculptures are placed to add to the serenity of the Siheyuan. Some dwelling compounds are built in the absence of steel and concrete and rely solely on the strength of bricks and wood. An architect in Beijing once said, "The design, layout and material reflect the ancient philosophy of harmony between human and heaven."

Traditionally, the head of the family would reside in the main house which is positioned to the North. Mini bridges and/or halls connect the four buildings. The rooms of the buildings adjoining the main house are referred to as the "side houses" and were the living quarters of the younger generations or less important members of the family. The gate to the courtyard is at the southeastern corner. A screen wall prohibits outsiders from seeing directly into the courtyard and also serves to protect the house from evil spirits. Outside the gate of some large Siheyuans, it is common to find a pair of stone lions. In the past, the lions were symbols of prosperity. In fact, a prince’s palace, in ancient times, was actually a combination of Siheyuan courtyards, with one lying behind another. There were only a few differences between a prince’s palace and an emperor’s palace. The buildings of the emperor’s palace were greater in number, height, and size. Additionally, dragon head patterns were not allowed on a prince’s palace.

Today, most of the Siheyuans have disappeared due to two major waves of demolition. One happened after the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949 and peaked during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). At the time, traditional culture was labeled as "feudal superstition." Mao Zedong, the former communist leader, enforced the "total elimination of influences from traditional values and old ideas." Many complexes composed of Siheyuans, together with other traditional Chinese cultural treasures including paintings, writings, plays, and books, were indiscriminately destroyed.{mospagebreak}

The second wave happened after China was open to the world for economic reform since the 1980s. The old structures have been giving way to modern high-rise buildings. Particularly in recent years, as the real estate market becomes a hot commodity, builders backed by corrupt officials seek profit with little consideration of cultural preservation. Subsequently, many new buildings have been constructed in Beijing at the sacrifice of old historic relics. Despite the outcries of many historians and environmental activists, little has been done to reverse the trend. According to Beijing’s Municipal Government statistics, an original 17 million square meters (20.3 million square yards) of Siheyuan buildings from the early 1950s, has shrunk to a striking 3 million square meters (3.6 million square yards) as of today.

The modern Beijing is looking more and more like an industrial metropolis than a historic center that symbolizes the tradition and wisdom of 5,000 years of civilization. Strict policies and regulations will have to be implemented to preserve the remaining cultural relics of Beijing and enable the Siheyuans to be a heritage of beauty for future generations.