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  Beijing Scene

Beijing Scene, Volume 6, Issue 9, December 10 - 16

Fourth Reich?

In the Sichuan province capital of Chengdu, a new German eatery specializing in Bavarian cuisine is preparing to open. Journalists hungry to do a pre-opening review visited the restaurant, only to find that the taste of the decor was not so "tasteful."

Upon entering the journalists found two massive swastikas - the symbol of Nazi fascism - adorning the walls on each side of the entrance. Each swastika was more than one meter high.

In addition, the manager wore a tiny fake toothbrush mustache in imitation of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. With fascist gestures, he was busy commanding the staff in preparation for the restaurant's opening. The establishment will soon open with the alarming name Hitler Restaurant.

-National Defense News

Corn-Eating Bigfoot

Standing 2.5 meters (eight feet) tall, with long red hair and a taste for corn on the cob, Bigfoot is back and apparently running around a nature reserve in central China, state media says.

Chinese scientists are on the trail of the legendary ape-like beast after a hunter reported seeing a huge fast-moving creature covered in long, red hair in Hubei province's Shennongjia Nature Reserve two months ago.

The scientists found 40 cm. (16 inch) footprints, brown hair and chewed corncobs at the spot where the hunter said he saw the beast, and concluded they were not left by a bear.

Scientists have unearthed hundreds of fossilized teeth of giant apes in the area, and some speculate that Big Foot could be a descendant of such primates.

Fake Fags

China has launched a nationwide crackdown on fake cigarettes, state media says. Authorities in southern Guizhou province seized more than 2,000 cartons of cigarettes with forged trademarks and 53 cigarette manufacturing machines, says the State Quality and Technical Supervision Administration.

The state administration, which is overseeing the crackdown, also seized tons of tobacco leaves and packing materials.

The crackdown is aimed at restoring market order and protecting consumers' rights. The production and sale of fake and substandard cigarettes has been rampant in eastern and southern provinces in recent years, including Fujian and Guangdong, despite annual crackdowns.

Large-scale actions will also be launched in the provinces of Guangxi, Hainan, and Zhejiang, as well as in Beijing and Shanghai, which are all known as centers of fake tobacco products. Some manufacturers and distributors have set up cross-country networks to dodge crackdowns.

Senior state administration official Pan Yue says the operators evade about RMB10 billion (US$1.2 billion) in taxes annually. Domestic manufacturers of brand-name cigarettes also suffer from the scams.

Rising Star

The current Minister of Public Security, Jia Chunwang, previously served 12 years as Minister of State Security, making him one of the most powerful figures in China. He has maintained an extremely low profile until his recent outspoken stance against crime.

Jia's path to power led through the Communist Youth League, the Beijing municipal party apparatus, to Party Central. He is an engineering graduate of Beijing's Qinghua University, making him a member of the elite "Qinghua group" of China's leadership. It is interesting to note that Party Vice-Chairman Hu Jintao graduated in hydraulics engineering from Qinghua one year after Jia, and also rose through the Communist Youth League, where both served on the Chinese Communist Youth League Central Committee in 1982. Jia's star may continue to rise as a key member of the "fourth generation" of China's Party leadership.

Sina.com = $$$

Pursuant to a capital injection of US$25 million in the beginning of 1999, Sina.com recently attracted an additional US$60 million from investors to finance rapid expansion. New investors include Japan's Softbank, the US-based Dell Computer, Hong Kong's Asia Pacific Group, and several Japanese and Singapore banks. With strategic partners CBS Market Watch and the search engine Alta Vista, Sina's homepage attracts more than 200 million page views per month, and is the most popular Chinese website in the world.

-China Information News

Missile Envy

China will soon test the Julang 2, an intercontinental sea-to-surface ballistic missile with an estimated range of at least 9,000 kilometers (5580 miles). The new missile will improve China's nuclear deterrent capability, foreign military experts say.

"The test is imminent," says a foreign ballistics expert. "The missile is capable of hitting any city in the United States and Europe, and can be equipped with a small nuclear warhead."

According to the Washington Times newspaper, the transit of Chinese Golf class submarines from southern areas to the north of the country, carried out last month, signals the approach of the JL-2 test.

The newspaper estimates the range of the Jl-2 at up to 12,000 kilometers. The second generation Julang, which translates as "great wave," is the successor to the Julang-1, which was tested successfully in the 1980s from Golf submarines. The subs are powered by Soviet-made engines. The missile can also be launched from the Xia, believed to be the Chinese navy's only nuclear-powered submarine. The Xia's first successful missile launch of the JL-1 took place in September 1988, according to defense specialists Jane's Information Group.

"It was generally held that a JL-2 launch would be from the Golf, but it could also be from an upgrade of the Xia," Robert Karniol, Jane's Asian correspondent says.

China hopes to place the JL-2, also known as the CSS-N-4X, aboard a new generation of type 094 nuclear submarines, whose construction will begin during the next few weeks, says the Washington Times, citing American sources.

The newspaper says the submarine will carry a smaller underwater variant of the Julang-2, and could be operational by 2005-2006. No confirmation of the new submarine could be obtained from foreign military experts in Beijing, though they verify China has two nuclear submarine programs, one for attack submarines, the other for missile-launching types.

Some experts believe the JL-2 will be equipped with a 2.5 megaton warhead, however others believe it will be 10 times less powerful. A megaton is a unit of explosive power equal to one million tons of TNT.

According to American experts, the JL-2, like China's intercontinental surface-to-surface Dongfeng-31 (DF-31), tested successfully this summer, is equipped with technology adapted from the Trident D-5. The Trident D-5 is America's most modern missile and is equipped with W-88 miniature nuclear warheads.

Only China, Russia and the United States stock a full range of nuclear weapons, comprising surface, air and sea missiles. If the JL-2 test is successful, Karniol says, "China will have achieved significant progress in the modernization of its nuclear force."

"It will give China a second strike capability in the event of a nuclear war," he adds.

Apple G4 Blacklisted

Apple Computer will not sell its new desktop Power Mac G4 computers in China because of U.S. export regulations, Tony Li, a senior Apple executive says.

The U.S. government this year eased some restrictions on computer sales to countries such as India, Pakistan, China and Russia. With the easing, Apple could in theory sell the Power Mac G4 in China, Li, director of Apple's product marketing in Asia Pacific, says. But Li adds: "There is still a restriction. You need to be able to provide each user's identification. It would be difficult for us to account for each user.''

Apple is working on the matter, and hopes at some point to sell the Power Mac G4 in China. Li says the company will put a warning sticker on G4s sold in Hong Kong, telling people that they are not allowed to export the powerful machine to mainland China. Apple started selling the G4 in Hong Kong last month.

Smuggling between Hong Kong and neighboring mainland China is rampant, and Li was asked whether people would really refrain from taking the G4 personal computer into China.

"We can only do our best. If people really want to buy it they can buy it anywhere, not just in Hong Kong," Li says.

Hong Kong, a former British colony which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, has been accused, in a U.S. congressional report, of being a transit point for illegal U.S. technology transfers to mainland China. The report by U.S. Representative Christopher Cox says Hong Kong border controls are lax, and Chinese army vehicles move in and out of the territory unchecked. China denies the allegations.

Li says Apple will launch its iBook, the brightly-colored laptop computer that looks like a condensed version of the iMac, in China after coming up with a Chinese-language operating system. He gave no timetable for the launch. Declining to give details about its sales figures, Li says the response for iMac in China has been great. "We are very happy with the results," he comments.

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