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China's best English language website and weekly newspaper

July 9 - 15, 1999



The fake-father business is booming in Zhumadian, Henan Province, according to the Beijing Youth Daily. A teacher in Zhumadian discovered the scam when she arranged meetings with her students' parents. A naughty boy in her class sent a father wearing glasses to the first parent-teacher meeting, but at the second meeting, the boy's "father" did not wear spectacles. After questioning by the teacher, the boy admitted that both fathers were hired for a fee of ¥15 per appearance. According to the newspaper, there are about eight men involved in the father impersonation business in Zhumadian. The "fathers" are expected to remember the real father's name and his job and to respectfully listen to the teacher's half hour criticism. Children with poor grades are very generous to the father impersonators, paying up to ¥50 to impostors who save them from trouble with their parents. Children in middle and primary schools are making use of this service.


A basketball star who plays for the PLA has been picked for a team in North America's National Basketball Association.

Wang Zhizhi, 21, became the first Asian player to be drafted into the NBA when he was picked by the Dallas Mavericks. Wang, who played for China at the 1996 Olympics, stars for five-time national champions, the Chinese Army team August First Bayi Rockets, in the Chinese Basketball Association league.

He was chosen as the 36th pick in the annual draft, a talent pool from which the NBA's 29 franchises select players from colleges, high schools and leagues throughout the world.

"Wang Zhizhi is a young basketball player with great talent," says Mavericks' head coach Don Nelson, who spent nine days in Beijing and Shanghai last summer carrying out a series of basketball clinics.

"I'm very happy China has produced the first Asian player to make the NBA," he says. Wang is 2.12 metres tall and weighs 115kg. He is known as "Big Zhi."

But it may be at least a season before he is seen in North America because of his commitment to the PLA. The Mavericks were aware of his military obligations and were willing to wait, Nelson says.

Wang, who just turned 22, has averaged more than 25 points playing for the Bayi Rockets. He led the league in blocking last season and was third in scoring, statistics that were instrumental in his team's five straight titles.

New Currency

China will issue a new series of yuan notes that are harder to counterfeit starting Oct 1.

The series will cover notes ranging from ¥100, worth about US$12, to ¥10, worth just over one US dollar, the State Council, or Cabinet, says in an order carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

The new notes will carry the same value as those now in circulation, and no businesses or individuals may refuse to accept the new notes.

The ¥100 note, the first of the new series to be printed, will be red and carry a picture of revolutionary leader Mao Tse-tung, Xinhua says.

On the current blue-colored ¥100 note, Mao and three other revolutionary veterans are grouped together in profile.

While the ¥100 note will be printed in October, the State Council did not say when the rest of the series will be issued. It also did not explain why the new notes will be more difficult to counterfeit.

Counterfeiting is so rampant in China most shops carry small machines to check the validity of notes. In the latest of the sporadic police efforts to stop counterfeiting, seminars have been organized to teach the public to distinguish between real and fake notes.

'July Killer' Virus Strikes in Asia

A computer virus that forces users to play a taunting game of Russian roulette‹named "July Killer" because it will delete all files on a user's c: drive if the current month is July‹has been found in Asia.

But it will almost certainly cause few problems in the western hemisphere. It can only infect computers running Microsoft Word in its Chinese or Japanese versions, according to virus company Data Fellows.

Security firm Trend Micro Inc. issued a security alert describing the malicious code as a macro virus which spreads through infected Microsoft Word documents.

Once an infected document is opened, according to Trend Micro, the virus checks to see if the current month is July. If it is, the game begins:

A dialog box with the text "A wake up call for the generation" pops up. If the user clicks "OK," a message appears that says, "You are wise, please choose this later again, critically² and "Congratulations."

But if the user chooses "Cancel" three times, another message appears: "Stop it! You are so incurable to lose three chances! Now, god will punish you."

Then the virus sets out to delete all files on the user's c: drive, where most users store their files. It does this by opening the computer's autoexec.bat file and adding the line "deltree/y c:". The next time a user reboots, the PC deletes all files in the c: drive. But the virus only spreads in Chinese and Japanese versions of Word‹that is, double-byte versions which support Kanji and similar character sets, according to Data Fellows' Mikko Hypponen.

Trend Micro, on its website (www.antivirus.com), says the virus is a Chinese virus, and "Unless users are running Chinese Windows or frequently exchange word documents with Chinese Windows users, this virus is not considered an immediate threat."

Unearthed Tombs Date Back 2,500

Years Chinese archeologists have unearthed 123 tombs, some as much as 2,500 years old, official media says.

The Xinhua news agency says the tombs in Liulin county, in northern China's Shanxi province, date to as far back as the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) and to as recently as the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Preliminary findings indicate 78 tombs date to the Warring States Period, 36 to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) and nine to later dynasties, Xinhua says.

Chambers in the Warring States tombs were three to five meters (nine to 15 feet) long. They were found at a depth of between four and seven meters (12 and 21 feet).

Most of the brick Han Dynasty tombs had been looted and heavily damaged, with only one containing recoverable relics such as carved doors and pillars, the agency says.

Archeologists did manage to recover some pottery, stone, bone, jade, bronze, lacquer and porcelain from the site, according to Xinhua.

Panda Expert Opposes Cloning

One of China's foremost panda experts has warned that attempts to clone the rare animal may detract from efforts to preserve the species in the wild, the official Xinhua News Agency reports.

Cloning will not guarantee the diversity and quality of panda genes and "will be of no significance to their conservation," Xinhua quotes Pan Wenshi as saying.

Only about 1,000 giant pandas survive in zoos and in six mountainous areas of western China, despite extensive breeding programs.

Chinese government-backed institutes began researching ways to clone pandas two years ago. Last month, scientists announced that they had grown an embryo that contains a dead panda's genes. The project leader says the breakthrough meant a cloned panda might be produced sooner than the three to five years initially envisioned.

Pan, who has studied pandas in the wild for two decades, dismisses the widely accepted theory that the panda¹s threatened extinction is due to declining fertility, Xinhua says.

"The damage done by mankind to its natural habitat is the main threat to its existence," Xinhua quotes Pan as saying.

While cloning may help produce better grades of livestock or animals for medical experiments, Pan expresses skepticism that cloned pandas will be able to survive in the wild.

He worries that cloning breakthroughs will absorb money that could be better spent protecting the panda's habitat.

"Why don't we devote our energy, time and money to helping giant pandas reproduce healthier progeny in the natural way?" Xinhua quotes Pan as saying.


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July 2 - July 8, 1999

June 25 - July 1, 1999

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June 4 - 10, 1999

May 28 - June 3, 1999

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