The space station, the Olympic pigs and white-collar wages
Shanghaiist scans thousands of China headlines every single day, and believe us, we do want to believe all the news we read here in China, but every now and then, we come across something that makes us remind ourselves to take EVERYTHING we read with a great pinch of salt, no matter how authoritative the source may sound. Just yesterday, for instance, China Daily reported that China will soon be building its own space station (h/t to Wired.com):
Long Lehao, a renowned academic and a leading designer of Long March 3A, the launch vehicle for the country’s first lunar probe Chang’e I, described China’s planned space station as “a small-scale 20-ton space workshop”. It is the first time a timetable has been made public for the building of the first space station, the third and final step of the country’s current manned space program, Long told China Daily.
Just a few hours later on the very same day came the denial — from Xinhua News Agency, no less:
“According to the national outline for mid- and long-term scientific and technological development, and the outline for space technology development during the 11th-five-year period (2006-2010) issued by the State Council on May 10 this year, China will focus on manned space flight and lunar exploration in the near future,” Li Guoping, the CNSA (Chinese space agency) spokesman, told a press conference. “No plans issued by the government so far has said we are going to develop a space station,” Li said.
And then there is the case of the Olympic pigs. In earlier stories, we told you of how the Beijing Qianxihe Group has been employed by the government to set up 10 pig breeding centres to ensure the safety of pork during the Olympics. The pigs would eat only organic food, be made to exercise a fair bit everyday, and even get to listen to soothing music while having their baths. The stories were taken for real because they were reported in such authoritative media outlets such as the Beijing Daily and copied all over the Internet.
Well, Associated Press says Olympic officials — as well as the Qianxihe company —are now saying ALL those reports are wrong:
News reports that pork for Beijing Olympics athletes will come from secret farms where pigs are specially raised on herbal medicine and daily exercise are wrong, organizers said… The reports in Chinese media are “false and an exaggeration,” and “resulted in a negative impact on society,” BOCOG said in a statement posted on its Web site. “It is absolutely unnecessary for the Beijing municipal government to require companies to produce so-called special Olympic pigs,” the statement said…
The president of Qianxihe, Liu Yanyun, never made the comments attributed to him in the articles, said a man who answered the telephone Wednesday at a number listed for the company. He refused to give his name or title.
And then, just TWO days ago, we told you just how much it takes for you to be a considered a white-collar worker in the various Chinese provinces today, according to research conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. China Daily reported:
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) released its findings over the weekend in the 2007 White-collar Workers Salary Standard in Major Chinese Cities – the first of its kind…
It could be as high as 18,500 yuan ($2,481) per month in Hong Kong or a mere 900 yuan ($120) in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, with about 5,000 yuan ($670) making the cut in Beijing…The benchmarks in some major cities at the upper end are: 8,900 yuan ($1,194) in Macao, 5,350 yuan ($717) in Shanghai, 5,280 yuan ($708) in Shenzhen of Guangdong Province, 4,980 yuan ($668) in Hangzhou of Zhejiang Province and 4,750 yuan ($637) in Guangzhou of Guangdong Province…At the lower end are: 1,300 yuan ($174) in Nanning of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 1,100 yuan ($148) in Yinchuan of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Xining of Qinghai Province.
Well, guess what, the academy has published an official statement, completely refuting the veracity of the report. On its website (Chinese only), the CASS said it has never conducted any research related to white-collar wages in Chinese cities.
Mystery solved. End of debate.
Photo of the Chinese lunar orbiter Chang’e I from Xinhua.