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  Beijing Scene

One Chop Shop

A pregnant seamstress who had four fingers chopped off by supermarket workers after they suspected her of theft has been paid RMB200,000 in damages.

Qiu Caixia, owner of the IGA China supermarket in Dongguan, Guangdong, paid Lu Shanshui compensation plus RMB10,000 for medical expenses following a week of official condemnation of the incident.

Seven months pregnant Ms. Lu, from Hunan province, was detained by staff and accused of stealing a RMB72 pack of ginseng. She was strip - searched and, while being held down by at least four men, had her fingers chopped off by the chief store detective. Two fingers were later reattached by surgeons.

According to the Guangzhou Daily, Mr. Qiu was accompanied by his lawyer when he paid Ms. Lu the money after 30 minutes of negotiation. Ms. Lu was in tears when she accepted the money in her hospital bed.

Earlier, the city's Bureau of Industry and Commerce shut the store and cancelled its business license. IGA China also cancelled its license to the outlet, which had been open for less than a month.

The Dongguan Public Security Bureau, under orders from the provincial Department of Public Security, has mobilized two teams to arrest those involved.

UFO or Stealth Fighter?

There were many reports of flying saucers throughout China in December and January. Scientists said that these were not alien spacecraft. According to intelligence sources in Beijing, sources in the PLA Command and the Defense Academy of Sciences said that in the North, Eastern and Southern regions of China a Chinese stealth fighter codenamed Air Century 1 [Kong Shiji yihao] was being tested at that time and some UFO reports might be sightings of the Chinese stealth fighter. That the tests were run in the Nanjing and Guangzhou military districts has political as well as military significance. Development of the Century 1 Stealth Fighter began in 1991, and is the fourth on a list of 12 key development projects of the Defense Academy of Sciences.

The others are: Improved long - range ground - to - ground intermediate to long - range missile; A third generation nuclear submarine; A swept wing bomber.

The stealth fighter is supposed to have a ceiling of 25,0000 to 30,000 meters, a top speed of 2200 km/hr, all - weather radar, and an anti - missile laser - guided bomb system. The first experiment was conducted in southwestern China in May 1998. At that time, many cities in Sichuan province reported seeing a ray of light from a UFO. According to military sources, when the light is seen, the aircraft takes about 5 - 6 minutes to pass from view so it was travelling at about 200 km/hr. If the design requirements are met, the aircraft will go into service in 2005.

- The Asia Pacific Military and Spy Bulletin
www2.odn.ne.jp/~cae02800/emagazin/log2.htm#99 - 19

Cadre Currency Racket

Leaders of a village which printed and circulated its own paper currency have been sacked and punished.

Xingping, in Shandong province, began distributing the currency at the end of 1994 when its committee had no real money to pay villagers hired to build roads, the Economic Daily reports.

The party secretary decided to secretly print banknotes in various denominations which the inhabitants could use to buy meat and cooking oil in the village.

The denominations included 50, 10, five and two yuan notes, all stamped by the village Communist Party.

The notes carried a warning: "The use of this money is limited to the village only and is only valid with a [village committee] chop."

The paper said the villagers opposed the currency, which had no value elsewhere. They asked where the real money they paid as taxes and fees had gone.

"The villagers believed that the official money they handed in to the village committee ended up in the hands of the 'village emperors' who pocketed it themselves," the paper says.

Two villagers who tried to sue the committee were harassed and had their firewood burnt. Loudspeakers broadcast threats and warnings. When a female reporter went to investigate and spent the night in the village, bricks were thrown at the house she was sleeping in. Another reporter arrived to find thugs standing around warning villagers not to talk.

An Economic Daily reporter said villagers claimed that they had been beaten up for speaking out against village bosses. Residents said village chiefs had also levied local taxes. If they were not paid, they seized goods in kind.

After provincial authorities intervened, the bosses were punished and the peasants compensated for land or grain that had been seized. Some villagers had their goods returned.

Power Corrupts

Power being up for sale to the highest bidder has led to an irrational allocation of resources in China. Why are so many officials in China and other developing countries corrupt? It isn't just money since while officials have low salaries they still have enough to live comfortably. Corrupt officials take the risk of being caught just as a business person risks capital in a business enterprise. A corrupt officials who gets caught suffers a permanent loss of status while a business person loses capital but still has the abilities and contacts to try again and perhaps succeed next time. In the West, people often become officials after having succeeded at something else that satisfied their basic materials needs. In China some call for increasing officials salaries in order to reduce corruption. This is a worthwhile strategy, but it is not the most important one.

More important is to reduce official power over business so that officials will have fewer opportunities to sell their power. Most important is to continue economic reform in which there are several different types of ownership so that more and more of the high achievers will see that the way to make big bucks is not to be a corrupt officials but to be a business executive. This will open up new avenues for people to realize their personal ambitions. And it will change the structure and flow of human talent in China. It will help end the situation in which the entire Chinese society believes that "top flight talent must go into government." China is changing. Many people are going into business. Many of the best graduates want to work not for the Chinese government but for multinational corporations or for private high - tech companies. This is a very hopeful sign. As more and more of these people can find non - government means of satisfying their ambitions, corruption should become a less serious problem.

- Southern Weekend (editorial)

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