Is it us or have there been a lot of political news stories and incidents in recent weeks? A few weeks ago, the restive group of villagers in Guangxi rioted over fines relating to the one-child policy, a glimpse of which you can see in the video on the left. Then maybe on Thursday or Friday night of last week, hundreds of Zhengzhou students rioted in the streets, after a student vendor was beaten by some inspectors. Down in Shenzhen, thousands of workers protested outside a plastic Christmas tree factory, citing long working hours as the source of their discontent. (Note to self: get real tree and throw away plastic tree currently hidden in closet before December.)
Relatively speaking, those factory workers had it better than the 31 people rescued from a brick factory in Shanxi, where they were forced to work for a year as slaves, given only bread and water to survive. One of the workers was supposedly even beaten to death for not working hard enough. Others were so traumatized they could remember nothing save their own names.
The heavily polluted Taihu Lake has been all over the news recently, with officials now moving to punish the factories and businesses responsible for polluting the lake. Lesser known might be the fact that an environmental activist has been harping on this issue for several years. He’s being put on trial for extortion, but the trial has been delayed because of allegations that he was tortured.
For those of you that believe that capital punishment is a barbaric holdover from the dark ages (and we’d forgive you if you did), take heart: there was a 10% drop in official executions this year, no doubt due to the more stringent judicial review laws, which require that China’s Supreme Court take a look at cases a second time before criminals get a free bullet in the back of their heads.
Finally, we get back to all that fuss about some province in western China that so peacefully and willingly submitted to Han Chinese rule so many centuries ago that they damn well forgot to write it down and enshrine it in their history books! The spiritual leader of the ‘people’ who live in that ‘place’ recently made a trip to Australia recently, despite the fact that he’s not really into barbecue. One of the questions raised by his visit was whether or not he would meet with PM John Howard:
Several Australian leaders have flip-flopped over whether to meet with the D.L., with some saying it was not worth upsetting Australia’s lucrative trade relationship with China. PM John Howard has refused to announce whether he will meet with the exiled leader, saying only that he was checking his diary. The D.L. said it was “no problem” if Howard did not wish to meet with him.
Hey, can someone explain to us what the phrase checking his diary means? Does that mean just checking my schedule and having my people call your people? Or something more like “dear diary, should I meet with that exiled spiritual leader and incur the diplomatic wrath of the Chinese when I have so much other sh*t I could be dealing with?”