In the Dark
One evening in Shanghai a local man
surnamed Zhang walked past a private video shop advertising
"CDs - RMB15 for 2" and "VCD - RMB10 for 3" and "American
adventure and terror movies."
Since Mr. Zhang really liked to see the newest movies,
he entered the shop and found many customers busy selecting
CDs and VCDs. Suddenly, all the lights in the shop went
off and the entire store became black inside. The steel
door in the front came crashing down and was locked.
In the dark "there was chaos" with people shoving each
other and stepping on shoes. Then the crowd crammed
in the shop heard a voice say, "Everybody be quiet.
The police are coming. Just be quiet for a while and
we will release you!" The police came down the street
outside inspecting the video shops for porno flicks,
closing some down and dragging people off. As the steel
gate of this shop was down and the lights off, they
assumed that the shop was closed and did not even bother
knocking at the entrance. After the police passed by,
some half hour afterwards, the shop owner turned the
lights back on, opened the steel door and released the
crowd. Mr. Zhang sighed saying to himself, "I have watched
many American adventure movies, but now I have lived
through one. So I don't need to see anymore!"
Xinmin Evening News
In He county of Anhui province there
was a big public swimming pool. After nine days of operation
a rumor began to spread that anybody who went to swim
in this pool would catch a form of venereal disease.
Following the rumor of outbreak of venereal disease
in the public pool, everybody fearing that they caught
the disease ran off to the county "Women's Baby Protection
Clinic." Every person tested reported a "positive" result.
The conclusion was that "everybody had the disease"
which "had to be cured immediately!" Everybody had to
purchase special medicine to cure the disease at the
cost of RMB192 per bottle, which of course was sold
exclusively by the clinic.
Some people however, were skeptical wondering "How can
you get venereal disease from swimming?" A group went
together to Nanjing for serious medical tests at the
National Venereal Control Center. Following tests at
the national center it was determined that the results
of all of these cases were in fact negative. So what
An investigation found that the source of the rumor
was in fact the local "Women's Baby Protection Clinic"
which sought to increase revenues through medicine sales.
When confronted during the investigation a spokesperson
from the clinic explained apologetically, "You must
understand, our medical tests were only rough tests
to see the general results." A class action suit is
now being brought against the clinic.
Beijing Youth Daily
A company issued an advertisement
at an employment agency stating, "Hiring Secretaries
at High Salaries!" Within a few days several hundred
application letters were received. Following "each level
of leaders reviewing" the applications 10 girls were
selected for interviews. The girls were described as
"beautiful and talented."
On the day of the appointed interview each of the girls
paraded into the company offices for their interview.
"After a matter of moments each of the first nine girls
left the interview room with sad expressions on their
faces." All of these girls were from "brand name universities."
Why? The first question each secretary seeking a position
was asked was, "Can you drink liquor?" When the response
was "No" the person interviewing the girls systematically
kicked them out of the room. Only the last girl who
was from the northeast of China (Dongbei, notorious
for big drinking) became excited when she heard the
question realizing her opportunity had arrived. She
proudly responded, "My years of drinking liquor are
more than a dozen. I do not even bother using a cup
anymore, but prefer to drink right out of a bowl!" Nothing
more was said by the man carrying out the interview
except "Great! You're hired!" He then went on to explain,
"In our company we seek comprehensive talent. One hand
carries the diploma. The other hand carries the bottle.
You are a real genius and we appreciate your talent!"
Xinmin Evening News
Three Gorges Gaffe
After thousands of years of letting
their sewage flow downstream and out to sea, Chongqing
and other Yangtze cities now face the prospect of it
staying in the water that laps their shores. If completed
as planned, the massive Three Gorges dam will slow the
Yangtze river's flow, backing up water and concentrating
sewage and modern-day pollutants in its 600-kilometer
reservoir. A Chinese scientist from Chongqing predicts
it will be a "huge, stagnant, stinking pond."
Every year, Chongqing, a highly industrialized municipality
of 30 million, produces about 1.2 billion tons of wastewater:
900 million tons of industrial wastewater and 300 million
tons of sewage. The municipality, at the planned reservoir's
upstream end, treats only about one-third of its industrial
wastewater and almost none of its sewage before flushing
it into the river.
Paper, steel, silk, and chemical factories line the
Yangtze, often covering the swirling waters with white
foam or effluents. A 1997 study by Chen Guojie, a professor
at the Chengdu Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment,
part of China's Academy of Sciences, indicated that
seven pollutants, including petroleum, mercury, lead,
volatile phenol, non-ionic ammonia, phosphorus, and
colon bacillus already exceed permissible standards
in the water flowing past Chongqing, Fuling, Fengdu,
Wanxian and Wushan. This giant plume of greasy, polluted
water is expected to spread into stagnant bays off the
main reservoir after the dam's construction. The pollution
problem along the Yangtze is not new. After the Gezhouba
dam was built on the Yangtze in 1989, forty kilometers
downstream of Three Gorges, visitors described a river
full of sewage with garbage strewn everywhere and waste
oil from ships and factories covering its surface. According
to a Chinese journalist whose account was published
in the book The River Dragon Has Come! there was so
much oil on the surface of the Gezhouba reservoir at
one point that "nearby farmers would skim off a few
jars, pour it into their tractors, and drive off."
The pollution problem was overlooked in the official
feasibility studies for the Three Gorges dam, which
critics claimed overestimated the benefits and underestimated
the costs. The Chinese feasibility study, for example,
failed to study the dam's effect on the reservoir's
water quality. And the Canadian study which was conducted
for the Chinese government by five Canadian engineering
firms, and financed by the Canadian International Development
Agency acknowledged the problem but failed to include
wastewater treatment in their estimate of project costs.
The situation has become so desperate that Chongqing
has hurried plans to build 23 sewage treatment plants
with USD100 million in World Bank money. These facilities,
however, will not treat all of the sewage or any of
the industrial effluent. The World Bank, which stated
in 1988 that the Three Gorges dam is not economically
viable, is now considering a USD250 million loan to
Chongqing for wastewater and solid waste treatment -
the first phase of a long-term program.