An old man named Mr. Chen lived in
an apartment in Shanghai by himself after his wife passed
away. After the funeral, his daughter was concerned
and said, "Daddy, we are worried about you living alone.
You should come to live with me and my family!"
Mr. Chen was very touched, and thought to himself, "In
the past my daughter was very selfish. Now she is very
concerned about me, her father. How nice!" Mr. Chen
collected his possessions and moved into the home of
After dinner one night, the daughter told her father,
"Daddy, when we were kids we loved to eat the food you
cooked. From now on, you can handle all of the cooking
of this household for us! Oh, by the way you can see
that we have decorated our home very nicely. So every
day you can dust all the decorations. This is good for
you because it is a form of exercise."
Mr. Chen was so upset at the realization that his daughter
only wanted him to live in her home to be the family
cook and maid that he insisted on returning to his own
"Oh," replied the daughter. "That is no longer possible.
You see, I have already rented out your apartment. Don't
worry, I used the initial rental deposit to purchase
a computer for your grandson. You should be happy!"
Mr. Chen fainted.
- Xinmin Evening News
Taking a Bath
A "Sauna for Losing Weight" was recently
opened close to Mr. Zhan's home in Shanghai. However,
business was poor, largely because this was a low-trafficked
district of Shanghai.
So the health palace issued an advertisement announcing
a special promotion that for "only RMB 15 one can have
a sauna." Mr. Zhan had never been to a sauna and thought
to himself, "This is really great because for only RMB
15, I can really enjoy myself." Mr. Zhan quickly went
to the bathhouse and paid RMB 15 to the man at the door.
However, in addition to the RMB 15 entry fee, Mr. Zhan
was also charged for each of the separate services in
the sauna. These services included: RMB 10 for each
drink, RMB 25 to borrow underwear to wear inside the
sauna, RMB 5 to borrow a toothbrush, RMB 10 for the
stones used in the sauna room, RMB 10 for the sulphur
used in the bath, RMB 15 for ginseng used in the bathtub,
RMB 10 for charcoal used in the sauna, RMB 20 just to
dip into the indoor swimming pool, RMB 10 for "ice steaming,"
RMB 15 for "hot steam"É the list continued on and on.
Mr. Zhan ran out of the sauna claiming that by looking
at the list he had already broken into a "hot sweat"
sufficient to match any sauna service.
- Xinmin Evening News
The U.S. and China agreed on a deal
that could make China a full-fledged member of the global
economic community, underscoring its emergence from
communist backwater to trading powerhouse with a seat
in the World Trade Organization.
After nearly a week of nonstop negotiations, U.S. Trade
Representative Charlene Barshefsky and China's Foreign
Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng signed an agreement that
is remarkably similar to one that the U.S. rejected
seven months ago. Chief among the differences is a key
U.S. concession: The April agreement would have allowed
foreign companies to own up to 51 percent, or a controlling
stake, in certain kinds of Chinese telecommunications
companies. The new agreement allows foreigners to hold
only a 49 percent stake in those ventures for now, increasing
to a 50 percent stake after two years. That's a clear
victory for conservative Chinese officials who worry
that foreigners will dominate what they see as a strategic
The deal clarifies some areas: It allows foreign investment
in Chinese Internet companies, for example. It makes
clear progress in others by promising banks the freedom
to do business in the local currency within a matter
of years. And in signing the agreement, the U.S. gave
its approval to China's bid to join the WTO, the body
that sets the rules of global commerce.
The European Union and several other trading partners
still must agree to China's application, and the deal
must be approved in the U.S. Congress, where both anti-China
and anti-Clinton sentiment run high. But the Clinton
administration's backing makes it extremely likely that
China will be able to participate in the WTO's new,
crucial round of talks to liberalize world trade. Those
talks begin Nov. 30.
That would make China, already one of the world's top
10 trading nations, a full participant in global commerce
after centuries of being sealed off from the outside
world and then riven by foreign conquest, internal strife
and utopian disasters. It also promises a more stable
bond between the U.S. and China, whose relationship
has lurched from one crisis to the next in recent years.
"An agreement of this sort with its emphasis on rule
of law can help to anchor the relationship in a most
fundamental way," says Ms. Barshefsky.
Chinese officials also see the deal as a much-needed
moment of accord between the two nations, with Mr. Shi,
the trade minister, calling it a "win-win" situation.
"This will help regularize trade between our two countries
and assist us in the reform and opening up of China,"
The deal is also contingent on Congress revoking a law
that requires an annual review of China's trade status
with the U.S. - an evaluation mandated in the spring
of 1989. The review, which ends with a congressional
vote on whether to renew normal trade relations with
China, has become a formality in recent years but remains
an unpleasant exercise for Beijing.
President Bill Clinton rejected last April's agreement
because he feared Congress wouldn't support the deal.
But that was widely seen as a tactical error, which
threatened to isolate China and dilute the WTO's relevance.
U.S. officials now say Monday's agreement achieved all
their goals and U.S. executives were quick to hail the
Under the agreement, banks will be able to make local-currency
loans to companies two years after China joins the WTO.
They will be able to conduct local-currency business
with individuals after five years and there will be
no geographic restrictions on their business. While
few foreign banks are expected to set up nationwide
banking networks to target retail customers, the banks
are expected to take advantage of the new rules to lend
to big corporate clients, many of whom now have trouble
getting loans in the local currency. "We want to be
a major player here, and this will give us a big boost,"
says Tom Schick, Country Risk Manager for Citibank NA.
Foreigners will also be allowed to own 33 percent of
fund-management companies, increasing to 49 percent
in three years. And they will be allowed to own 33 percent
of firms that underwrite stock and bond offerings. The
deal doesn't allow majority ownership in such companies,
reflecting the government's conviction that too much
foreign involvement in Asia's stock markets contributed
to the region's financial crisis in mid-1997.
Still, "the agreement takes an opaque situation and
makes it clearer," says Peter Alexander, Chief Representative
in China for Nationwide Global Holdings Ltd., a U.S.
insurance firm that recently opened a Shanghai office.
U.S. auto makers will also benefit from the deal. Within
six years of China joining the WTO, Chinese tariffs
on imported cars will drop from 80 percent to 25 percent.
While that is one year longer than what was agreed to
in April's proposal, it will radically change the auto
market in China, where imported cars are now so expensive
that they are out of reach of most buyers.
The lower duties will extend to auto parts, helping
auto manufacturers who have set up plants in the country.
And rules allowing foreign companies to offer car loans
will benefit all foreign car makers.