Life is a Gamble
In a small county village in Henan Province, a young police officer
named Zhang was on duty at the local police station. Suddenly somebody
telephoned revealing a scandal, " The local village head is gambling
at somebody's home!" In a whispered voice, details of the address were
Young police officer Zhang ran off on his motorcycle with siren blaring
to arrest the local village head gambling illegally. Young Zhang was
very thrilled thinking that this would be his big-time arrest, a ticket
to promotion within his police station.
Clang! The door of the local village head's home flew open. Young officer
Zhang burst in ready to make the arrest. Zhang however, stopped short
in the middle of his police action. His jaw dropped when he saw who
was sitting in the room gambling away with the village chief "Hi!
Young Zhang, did something happen at the police station that you need
me to help you with?" said the chief of police as he turned his head
around looking at Young Zhang bursting through the door. The chief of
police-Zhang's superior-was busy gambling away with the village head!
In a southern China town this summer, a wild snake was found climbing
on the branches of a tree. Somebody with a sense of humor put a sign
up saying, " The Yellow Emperor Dragon of Heaven." No sooner had the
sign gone up then villagers began to show up at the tree, kowtowing
before the snake which was hanging from the branches.
Several days went by and the snake disappeared, probably back into the
forest. But the villagers kept coming to the tree to kowtow. Villagers
from outlying areas followed arriving one after another to kowtow before
Soon villagers used cement and bricks to build a small throne before
the tree upon which a plaque was cemented with the characters written
on it saying " The Throne of the Dragon Emperor." Others wrapped the
tree in yellow cloth, the imperial color. More and more people came
Soon all kinds of vendors set up stalls around the tree selling all
kinds of religious trinkets, fruits and commodities. Soon people driving
through the area heard about the sacred tree. Drivers of cars and trucks
parked at the sacred tree to pay homage to the tree. Soon there were
regular traffic jams in the area as people lined up for the privilege
Finally when the traffic situation became so serious after ten days
of devotees visiting the shrine, the concerned authorities came to control
the situation and stop all of the commotion, closing down the newly
proclaimed religious site.
Controversial Auteur in Venice
A movie by controversial Chinese director Zhang Yuan, whose previous
films have made waves at home, will complete the line-up for next month's
Venice film festival, the organizers say.
Guo Nian Hui Jia (Seventeen Years) is based on the true story of an
adolescent who kills his half-sister in a fit of rage and receives a
long prison sentence, but is let out temporarily to visit his family
over Chinese New Year.
The director, a graduate of the Beijing Film Academy, has upset the
government with his underground films Mama, Beijing Bastards, Sons and
East Palace and West Palace, which they tried to prevent from being
shown outside China.
" I am very happy that Zhang Yuan's film was ready There's no doubt
that this is a much awaited film," says festival director Alberto Barbera.
Zhang Yimou, one of China's most well-known filmmakers and director
of the acclaimed Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern, is also competing
for the coveted Golden Lion at the festival with his latest film, Not
The festival opens with the European premiere of the late Stanley Kubrick's
steamy film Eyes Wide Shut, which is showing out of competition.
Advertisers Lose In Beijing's Billboard Ban
Beijing has ordered all billboards and commercial signs along its main
thoroughfare be permanently removed-without compensation to advertisers-in
the run-up to China's 50th anniversary celebrations.
" All billboards and neon signs on Chang'an Boulevard will be completely
taken down by September 15 and never hung up on the street again," a
spokesman for the Outdoor Advertising Office of the Beijing Administration
" The dismantling of the signs is a government order so we cannot talk
about compensation right now," he says, but added the committee might
later " hold negotiations" with advertising companies.
Officials at Kodak and IBM confirmed that they had been told to remove
their advertisements along the city's main artery, but declined to comment
on financial losses.
An order released by the committee indicated that all neon signs, electronic
signs and roadside advertisements at the capital airport, the west and
central railway stations, major expressways and the city's two 'ring
roads' would be taken down temporarily, the Beijing Youth Daily reports.
The Commission released the order exactly 50 days before October 1,
which will mark 50 years of mainland Communist rule, as part of a campaign
to beautify the sprawling metropolis.
Committee Director Fu Bainan estimated there were now more than 5,000
outdoor billboards in the capital which have grown " somewhat out of
control" with a barrage of billboards set up illegally in recent years,
the Xinhua News Agency says.
" This has not only hurt the capital's image as a political and cultural
center, but also affected its traditional grace as an ancient city,"
Fu was quoted as saying.
But another article published last week quoted an official with the
Chang'an Avenue Renovation Office as saying the billboard removal would
be a " hard" task due to " profit losses the companies are likely to
experience." Local media reports estimated direct economic losses from
the order to register at around rmb 100 million (US $12 million).
Beijing has also ordered a complete makeover for both Chang'an Avenue
and Tiananmen Square. A full-scale military parade and fireworks display
are planned in the square itself, with plans to widen Chang'an Avenue
and install fountains along a central reservation well under way.
Order of the Court
More than 850,000 court rulings, involving more than US$31.2 billion
dollars, failed to be executed by the end of June this year due to interference
from various authorities, the official Xinhua News Agency reports.
At a national conference on Friday, Luo Gan, a State Councillor and
member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party, called
on the authorities to stop the interference to law enforcement. Authorities
include government bodies, armed forces, political parties, special
interest organizations and enterprises. No authorities should be allowed
to go beyond the limits of the law, says Mr. Luo.
Enforcement of court rulings has been difficult, due to overriding policies
and regulations, which are issued by local authorities based on departmental,
regional or economic interests. As a first step to abolish the local
protectionism, Mr. Luo says that local authorities must respect the
national law, which nullifies local policies and regulations that are
in conflict. He also emphasizes that those who obstruct law enforcement
and cause severe consequences will be punished. At the enterprise level,
immediate action will be taken against those responsible for tax evasion
and using workers to challenge law enforcement.
August 13 - 19, 1999
August 6 - 12, 1999
30 - August 5, 1999
23 -29, 1999
16 -22, 1999
9 - 15, 1999
2 - 8, 1999
25 - July 1, 1999