- The Shaanxi Province government confirmed yesterday that photographs of the highly endangered South China tiger taken by farmer Zhou Zhenglong were fake. Thirteen government officials have been punished (China Daily reports them being reprimanded, given demerit points or fired) for promoting the photographs in an effort to boost local tourism. Zhou was arrested for alleged fraud and ordered to return his award of 20,000 yuan for his “discovery” of the tiger. Shi Ying, deputy head of the Shaanxi provincial academy of social sciences, told China Daily that the scandal demonstrated the growing importance of Netizens, who were the first to cry foul at Zhou’s photographs, saying that they were clearly fake.
- Representatives of the Dalai Lama headed to Beijing today to resume talks with Chinese officials. Samdhong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, stated that the talks will be a continuation of a formal dialogue begun in 2002. The Associated Press reports some experts’ belief that China has agreed to the talks under international pressure before the Olympic Games.
“Many Tibetans put a great weight on news of these talks and there’s some evidence that people inside Tibet will be generally reluctant to stage protests when there is still hope in this process,” said Robbie Barnett, an expert in modern Tibet at Columbia University.
- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice completed her visit to China today by discussing human rights issues with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing. Rice told reporters that she raised the issues of Chinese dissidents being detained by China, the Chinese government’s control of the Internet, the political crisis in Zimbabwe and efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs. The U.S. Secretary of State also said she was encouraged by China’s decision to hold further talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama. Rice’s talks with Chinese leaders came on her final day in China, after she visited Sichuan province on Sunday.
- China reassured Taiwan today that the first tour groups to the island will be on their best behavior. Reuters India reports some Taiwanese as worried that Chinese tourists will be too noisy, spit, cut in lines, and push their political views. Spokesman for China’s National Tourism Administration Zhu Shanzhong told Reuters that recently China has run several campaigns on “being a cultured tourist.” The first group of Chinese tourists will arrive in Taiwan at the end of the week.
Photo courtesy of China Daily.