The Living Dead
A group of Chinese senior citizens
got the surprise of their lives recently when they discovered
that they were officially dead. The case came to light
when a 68-year-old man was shown his own death certificate
by an employee at a government insurance office, the
Shandong Evening News reports. The document, and others
like it, had been falsified by local officials in an
insurance embezzlement scam.
Zhang Xirong, a farmer from coastal
Shandong province, was supposed to receive a lifetime
annuity in compensation for the loss of a hand in an
industrial accident more than 20 years before. But in
1998 the payments suddenly ceased. In March of this
year his inquiries led him to the district government
insurance department, where he discovered that he had
been fraudulently declared dead and over RMB10,000 in
insurance payments had been misappropriated. Upon learning
of his falsified "death," Zhang filed a complaint with
A recent case of an unusually short man who
was poisoned, then choked to death and buried by his
wife and her lover eerily imitates the plot of a classical
A real-life love triangle murder
was solved earlier this month by police in the Sichuan
province city of Chongqing (formerly Chungking), the
Chongqing Evening News reports.
The case shares a number of parallels
with the famous tale of Pan Jinlian in the classic Chinese
novel Water Margin (Shui Hu Zhuan), a collection of
stories written during the Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1279).
The infamous Pan Jinlian was a beautiful adulteress
who plotted with her lover, Xi Menqing, to kill her
short and homely, but devoted and loving husband Wu
The Chongqing case involved a woman
known for her beauty named Shi Menqin and her diminutive
husband Liu Bangcai. Liu, 40, measured a mere 1.4 meters
(4 ft. 7 in.) in height, and was sarcastically nicknamed
"Wu Dalang" (after the character in Water Margin) by
villagers both for his height and his faithfulness and
devotion to his wife. Every morning Liu served his wife
breakfast in bed, and refused to let her do any hard
But a few years after they were married,
another man, Huang Changlin, a 60-year-old father of
four, began taking an interest in Shi, watching her
as she tended sheep in the hills. The two became lovers
and started to plan a way to get rid of the husband.
On Dec. 14 last year, the wife slipped
rat poison into her husband's Chinese herbal medicine
drink as the lover stood by feigning concern for the
man's health. While the husband writhed in bed, the
wife and lover choked him to death and then buried him
in a cabbage field. Neighbors quickly realized that
their own lovable "Wu Dalang" was missing and called
authorities. Eventually, the two lovers were arrested,
confessed to the crime, and led police to the body.
The two were formally charged with murder on March 16.
A cat burglar was arrested after getting stuck
in the ventilation shaft of a house he was trying to
break into. After the would-be thief realized he couldn't
get out he began to cry for help. Neighbors called the
police, who promptly arrived to fish the man out, the
People's Security Daily reports.
Caught in the act with the tools
of his burglary trade, the thief confessed to committing
this and over twenty other crimes in the Hunan province
city of Jin. Stolen goods included jewelry, mobile phones,
and cash totalling more than RMB200,000. The thief reportedly
readily acknowledged his crimes because he considered
his embarrassing capture a form of retaliation from
the heavens for his illicit livelihood.
Over 40,000 endangered and protected animals and animal
products have been
uncovered in south China. The sweep is part of the State
Forestry Department's ongoing crackdown on illegal hunting,
the New China News Agency reports. The results have
confirmed fears that poaching of endangered species
is on a rapid rise in China.
Local police authorities in Fujian,
Guangdong, Guanxi and Yunnan-hotbeds of animal trafficking-launched
a15-day campaign involving more than 50,000 police officers.
In total, more than 8,000 markets and restaurants were
raided, and more than 250 cases of illegal possession
of protected species uncovered. Live animals including
monkeys, reptiles and endangered birds as well as animal
products including snake skins and anteater meat were
Out of the 40,000 specimens retrieved,
more than 16,000 were protected species. In one factory
in Fujian alone, authorities snatched nearly 1,500 animals
intended for sale to zoos around China. Of these species,
76 were on the government list of protected animals.
The mild climate and lush greenery
of China's southern regions makes a comfortable home
for wild and exotic animals, several of which, like
bears and rare snakes, are protected. Illegal hunting
has been a serious issue in these areas for many years.
The animals are slaughtered chiefly for their fur and
skin. The southern appetite for rare meat is another
main cause of animal poaching.
An employee who prevented robbers from making off with
RMB250,000 during a bank raid was fired and expelled
from the Communist Party, the China Youth Daily reports.
Yao Li, a teller at the China Construction Bank, was
accused of negligence and carelessness although she
tried to call the police and set off the alarm after
thieves stormed the bank where she worked as a teller.
Employees at the bank's Daqing city
branch were eating lunch when two men suddenly started
battering the front door with a sledgehammer. Yao attempted
to set off the alarm, only to find it was not operating.
She then tried to call the police, but the phone lines
were dead. In a moment of panic her co-workers, who
had been cowering behind the counter, opened the door
to the robbers and allowed them behind the counter.
The thieves emptied the tills, then demanded that Yao
open the safe. She convinced them that it was empty
and they fled. In fact, it held over RMB250,000.
The following day, Yao took RMB13,000
of her own money to replace the cash stolen from her
till. However, she was later denounced by the bank director
for neglecting her duties and not acting in the true
manner of a Communist Party member. Yao was consequently
fired, fined and expelled from the Party. After presenting
her case to the trade union and courts, she was allowed
to return to work, but the fine stood and her plea to
be reinstated as a Party member rejected.
Copy Cat Kidnappers
Two 15-year-old boys from Shaanxi province who kidnapped
a 12-year-old boy for RMB100,000 ransom say they were
just mimicking their favorite gangsters on television,
the Beijing Youth Daily reports.
The boys began planning the kidnapping
on March 19 when they bought watermelon knives, masks
and tape for gagging their victim. Then, early the next
morning, they sat outside the local middle school scanning
the incoming students for a victim. The kidnappers saw
a 12-year-old boy on his way to school whose parents
owned the local convenience store, and chose him as
their victim. The kidnappers then followed the boy to
the front gate of his school, tied up his hands, gagged
him and threatened to kill him if he screamed.
At noon that same day the victim's
parents found their son's pencil box and a ransom note
requesting RMB100,000 from the family on their doorstep
and contacted the police.
Hours later, after a violent chase,
the kidnappers were arrested just outside of town, and
the boy was returned safely to his family.
The kidnappers were not hard to spot
because they wore white masks and carried knives. They
say their favorite pastime is watching cops-and-robbers
videos and that they were just imitating their heroes.
The two 15-year-olds now regret the
kidnapping and have been placed in a juvenile reeducation