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  Beijing Scene

Bill Spanks Wrong Bottom

Last year Microsoft sued the Yadu S&T Group for RMB150,000 after illegal copies of Microsoft 95 and other Microsoft software were found. The Haidian District Industrial and Commercial Bureau investigated, and found proof and witnesses onsite of the copyright violation. The company responded that the Bureau enforcement personnel hadn't gone to their offices and so the "proof" was fake. On November 18 in court, Yadu explained that the company that had the illegal software was not the Yadu S&T Group but its subsidiary, the Yadu S&T Co., Ltd. Thus, argued the Group, the Microsoft suit is against the wrong company since Yadu S&T Company Ltd. is a distinct entity from Yadu S&T Group. The court accepted that argument and found Yadu S&T Group not liable for infringement of Microsoft's IPR.

The Beijing Evening News went on to comment "The result of this court case surprised many people. Although Yadu S&T Group won the case, they cannot deny that the illegal software was being used in the Yadu S&T building. We don't know if Microsoft will now sue Yadu S&T Co. But there is no denying that illegal copying of software is widespread in China. People in the [software] industry say that China is still in the initial stages of development of a free market economy. Companies do not obey the rules. Piracy is widespread. But if China is to truly become a competitor on world markets and wants to do business on an equal footing with foreigners, then Chinese companies must obey the law and act in a self-disciplined manner."

Lee Sues Uncle Sam

Scientist Wen Ho Lee, being held without bail on charges of mishandling top secret nuclear weapons data, sued the US government, alleging violations of the 1974 Privacy Act. Lee, at the center of allegations of Chinese espionage on US nuclear targets, was indicted by a federal grand jury on December 10, on charges stemming from his alleged copying of computer files on the research, design, construction and testing of nuclear weapons.

But Lee hit back strongly, filing the lawsuit against the Justice Department, the Energy Department and the FBI. The Privacy Act makes it illegal for government agencies to willfully or intentionally disclose confidential and personal information in their possession.

"Government officials ought not to be allowed to make unlawful leaks and disclosures to the press, and try cases through the media," Lee's attorney says.

"Our system of justice is based upon the notion that the government should be playing according to the rules on a level playing field. We don't think that in this case they did. And with the use of unlawful and unauthorized leaks, distorted the case involving Dr. Lee."

According to the Privacy Act, each unauthorized disclosure made by a government agency, its officers or employees constitutes a separate violation subject to criminal investigation and fines. The suit seeks to make those government agencies and their employees accountable for a pattern of repeated Privacy Act violations.

According to the complaint, "selective leaks of private information" caused Lee to be unfairly portrayed by the media as a spy for China. Lee worked for nearly 20 years at a top-secret laboratory at Los Alamos before being fired in March after U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson launched an investigation into allegations of nuclear spying by Beijing.

Prosecutors allege Lee violated the 1954 Atomic Energy Act and the Federal Espionage Act, and caused severe damage to US military interests. His indictment stopped short of accusing Lee of actually handing secrets over to China or any other nation, and some investigators believe such charges can never be proved. Lee's supporters and leading members of the US Asian-American community have accused the government agencies of focusing on the Taiwan-born Lee because of his race.

Web Wiz Fights Prejudice

When government organizers dreamed up the idea of China's first "Miss Internet" competition, they envisioned a winner with the mind of a computer programmer and the body of a beauty queen. Smart and shapely, she would be a television role model to encourage more Chinese women to venture online. So when Chen Fanhong burst into contention, the organizers determined she must be stopped. Chen had sailed through the qualifying rounds with an easy mastery of Web design and a knack for surfing cyberspace. But she is disabled: a battle against bone cancer has left her temporarily wheelchair-bound. In words that hurt more than her excruciating cancer treatment, the official in charge told her sternly: "You have lost your spring bloom."

She could attend the finals, but only as a "specially invited" observer. How this frail 24-year-old used a laptop and modem to fight prejudice and ignorance, and eventually claim the winner's crown as the people's choice, speaks volumes about the power of the Internet to change China.

Having breezed through the Zhejiang provincial round of the competition - whose sponsors included Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson - Chen could hardly believe her ears when the organizer told her she was spoiled goods.
"He didn't even try sugar-coating," she says.

The televised final in Shanghai would require contestants to fish out obscure information from the Web, design and email a greeting card and answer trivia questions.

But, the official told her, there would also be aerobic exercises to "appraise the physiques of the contestants."

"How could you possibly try to compare yourself with normal people?" he demanded.

There was no room for people like her, he said, using a stock Chinese word for "disabled," which translates literally as "damaged and diseased."

Says Chen: "I cried for the first time since the operation."

Chen was ready to call it quits, and so were her parents. In July, she had undergone surgery to fit a steel replacement part into her pelvis, where doctors had discovered two large tumors.

Angry and humiliated, she wrote an impassioned essay and posted it on her Web site.

"The Internet is the Internet. It's no substitute for the real world. I thought I could walk into the real world through the Internet, but found that the door to the real world was shut."

A newly-minted chemical engineer when she was struck down by cancer, Chen soon came across medical uses for the Internet. On her back for six months last year recovering from a prior operation, she set up a Web site packed with information about bone disorders and persuaded doctors at a Shanghai orthopedic hospital to dispense advice in her chat room. Her other exploits as a 'Web Worm', as surfers are popularly known in China, included piecing together a digital mugshot from video clips of a man in glasses and fake beard robbing a bank in her home town of Ningbo, eastern China.

Within days the culprit was picked up at a gas station by police carrying a printout of her composite photo.

She has also began writing a novel modeled after the literary kungfu stories of Chinese author Jin Yong, to be first published - where else? - on the Internet.

So when she came across a Web announcement for a Miss Internet contest, she naturally signed up, inspired by the competition's stated goal of getting more Chinese women online. Of the 4.5 million Internet users in China, 85 percent are men.

After she was ejected from the competition, a newspaper in the nearby city of Hangzhou picked up Chen's essay and printed the story.

Dozens of newspaper and television stories followed. Emails poured in to Chen's Web site (http:/fchen.yeah.net), which registered more than 1,000 hits per day. Within a week, the beleaguered organizing committee had issued an apology and invited Chen back into the competition.

This month, when the finals were held, Chen traveled the few blocks to the television studio on her own, by wheelchair.

At the studio, during a lull in rehearsals, an exhausted Chen draped a scarf over her head to snatch a few moments of sleep.

Several hours later, a panel of 10 judges declared Chen "Miss Internet." Journalists swarmed the stage, where she sat calmly, clutching a bouquet of roses.

"An Internet friend had asked whether I'm able to stand up," she said. "Just now I did, and it was my happiest moment."

Previous Picks...

Dec. 17 - 23, 1999

Dec. 10 - 16, 1999

Dec. 3 - 9, 1999

Nov. 26 - Dec. 2, 1999

Nov. 19 - 25, 1999

Nov. 12 - 18, 1999

Nov. 5 - 11, 1999

Oct. 29- Nov. 4, 1999

Oct. 22- 28, 1999

Oct. 15- 21, 1999

Sept. 24 - 30, 1999

Sept. 17 - 23, 1999

Sept. 10 - 16, 1999

Sept. 3 - 9, 1999

Aug. 27 - Sept. 2, 1999

Aug. 20 - 26, 1999

Aug. 13 - 19, 1999

Aug. 6 - 12, 1999

July 30 - Aug. 5, 1999

July 23 -29, 1999

July 16 -22, 1999

July 9 - 15, 1999

July 2 - 8, 1999

June 25 - July 1, 1999