Home For the Holidays
Independent Chinese film director
Zhang Yuan has finally won approval from Chinese censors
to show one of his films on the mainland after years
of having his work banned, state press reports.
Zhang's film Guo Nian Hui Jia (Home
For the Holidays) won a special prize for directing
at this year's Venice Film Festival, and is now the
first of the director's five feature films to be allowed
to be seen inside China, the Beijing Morning Post reports.
The film, which tells the story of
a young woman's three-day return home after serving
17 years in prison for killing her stepsister, began
showing in Beijing last Friday.
Dark, dramatic, and moving, the picture
is one of the first to be filmed in a Chinese prison
where the prisoners in the film, most serving terms
of more than 10 years for serious crimes, played themselves.
Zhang's other films like Mama, East
Palace, West Palace and Beijing Bastards were also well
received in film festivals around the world, but never
allowed to be publicly screened in China - largely because
they show the dark side of Chinese society.
Mama was a moving documentary showing
the difficulties of a mother trying to raise a crippled
child. Beijing Bastards was about Beijing's disoriented
youth. And East Palace, West Palace explored homosexuality
in China. Zhang, 36, graduated from the prestigious
Beijing Film Academy in 1989.
Fares Rise in Clean Air Bid
Fares on buses and subways in Beijing
have doubled as part of the capital's effort to spruce
itself up for its bid to host the Olympic Games.
The cost of a single bus ride went
up to RMB1 from RMB0.5, and a single subway ticket increased
from RMB2to RMB3. A monthly bus pass went from RMB15
to RMB30, and a monthly subway pass from RMB40 to RMB80.
The Transport Bureau defended the
increases by pointing to the bid to host the Olympics
in 2008, as well as the World Student Games at a later
date, saying Beijing must improve its air quality.
It needs heavy investment in new
"clean-air" buses that are more expensive than present
models. Only half the 8,250-strong fleet emit what is
regarded as "clean air."
Even with the price increases the
bus operations would still lose money. Prices would
need to be tripled to bring the company into the black,
a city official says.
"After this, we will still need a subsidy," he says.
Dozens Tried in Piracy Case
In its biggest high-seas piracy case
in years, China is trying 38 people for crimes including
the slaying of 23 seamen who were bludgeoned to death
and dumped overboard, state media says.
Prosecutors allege that the 38 defendants
were members of a gang that posed as anti-smuggling
police to hijack three ships in 1998.
One of those hijacked was the Chang
Sheng, a freighter carrying coal cinders, state-run
Prosecutors say the pirates handcuffed,
tied up and gagged the ship's 23 crew members, the reports
say. The gang allegedly then bludgeoned the crew members
to death and tied heavy weights to their bodies before
dumping them into the sea, the state-run Beijing Morning
Members of the gang were charged
with crimes including murder, robbery, and possessing
weapons, drugs and explosives, the reports say. They
say it was China's biggest case of high-seas robbery
and murder in 50 years of Communist Party rule.
The trial opened in the Shanwei City
Intermediate People's Court in the southern coastal
province of Guangdong. It is expected to last six days,
the reports say.
Wife Enslavers Executed
Six convicted men were executed for
the crime of selling women as wife-slaves to love-starved
northern Chinese farmers, reports the official Legal
The flesh merchants were sentenced
and executed by the Intermediate People's Court in the
Shanxi province's capital city of Taiyuan, in a public
trial watched by 10,000 people. Prostitution, forced
marriages and woman-selling were outlawed by the communist
government of Chairman Mao in 1949.
Each doomed gangster was also impelled
to pay RMB20,000 yuan (US$2,400) before his execution.
Seven accomplices were fined RMB10,000 and were sentenced
to life in prison.
The wife-selling cartel was judged
guilty of tricking 52 impoverished young peasant women
into believing that the men would find them distant
employment. The hoodwinked maidens were gathered from
the marketplaces of Kunming and Guiyang cities in the
southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou. The enslavers
abducted them to rural Loushan and Jingle counties in
northern Shanxi, where farmers purchased the captive
brides for RMB3,000 to RMB6,000 each (US$361 to US$722).
Official Chinese figures indicate
that 88,000 Chinese women and children were stolen and
sold into marriage and slavery from 1991 to 1996. Human-rights
organizations believe that the true figures are significantly
"Eighteen-year-old Yang Wenfang╔
was lured to a riverside, and before she realized what
was happening, a man dragged her into a dilapidated
boat and took her far away. She was locked up for several
days╔ until a buyer came to inspect her."
Yang Wenfang claims that the first
peasant customer who examined her was "in his 30s and
very ugly, so I refused to go with him. The kidnappers
told me if I didn't marry him, they would find me a
man in his 60s and it would serve me right." When the
intimidated girl relented, she was purchased, locked
in the man's hovel, guarded by his kinfolk and eventually
coerced into being his breeder wife.
The demand for wives in China has
skyrocketed due to a gender imbalance: 100 females per
130 males. The number of girls, particularly in rural
areas, has been decimated by selected abortion and infanticide
due to the traditional preference for boys.