"The Wenzhou crash killed forty people and injured a hundred and ninety-two. For reasons both practical and symbolic, the [Chinese] government was desperate to get trains running again, and within twenty-four hours it declared the line back in business. The Department of Propaganda ordered editors to give the crash as little attention as possible. “Do not question, do not elaborate,” it warned, on an internal notice. When newspapers came out the next morning, China’s first high-speed train wreck was not on the front page." [How a high-speed rail disaster exposed China's corruption
Gu Kailai, the wife of senior Chinese party leader Bo Xilai
, has been arrested for the murder of an English businessman
. Bo, until his sudden fall from power this year
, one of the most popular politicians in China, the leading figure of the Chinese New Left
and Party Committee Secretary of the megacity of Chongqing, has completed his downfall by being expelled from the politburo and stripped of all party positions. The collapse started in February, when his top lieutenant, Wang Lijun, was suddenly demoted and then fled to the US consulate for a day
- supposedly, either attempting to defect or to give incriminating evidence on Bo and Gu to the Americans for safekeeping. [more inside]
Two Chinese bullet trains have collided
with two coaches falling off a bridge
after a lightning strike disabled the first train and signaling failed to alert the second in time. A few months previously the railways ministry expressed
and subsequently retracted
concerns that builders had ignored safety standards to complete construction more quickly. [more inside]
--- The role of Art in Chinese corruption (via MR).
Prison administrators in China have found a new use for forced prison labour: gold-farming operations
, in which prisoners play multiplayer games for hours on end, handing over the gold they acquire to the guards, who sell it online for real money.
A Glimpse of the World
All across Africa, new tracks are being laid, highways built, ports deepened, commercial contracts signed
-- all on an unprecedented scale, and led by China, whose appetite for commodities
. Do China's grand designs promise the transformation, at last, of a star-crossed continent? Or merely its exploitation? The author
travels deep into the heart of Africa, searching for answers. [more inside]
Imagine you're living in China, trying to work your way out of the family date farming business (which garners approximately $450 annually). You do all the right things. You apply for (and receive) Communist Party membership
. You study literally to the point of collapse, and despite coming from coal-town origins, you score high on your gao kao
("high test," more-or-less the only thing that matters in getting into a Chinese university). Your already-poor family goes deep
into debt to send you to college, and you even manage to come out with a degree. Classic rise-up-by-your-own-bootstraps tale, right? However, finally, when you go to apply for a job—your state-sanctioned educational, occupational, and political records are inexplicably, awfully gone
. What has happened to that plain manila folder (!) that serves as your only legitimate, official history in Chinese society? Probably stolen and sold so a party official's child can get everything you worked so hard for
. And then, of course
, your family is detained by party officials when your parents demand to know where the hell your life went. Of course. [more inside]
Some of the female Chinese
gymnasts are apparently under-age. It wasn't their skulls, their chins or their eyes that gave them away: it was the internet
Corruption Threatens China's Future
In a new report for the Carnegie Foundation, Pei Minxin
offers an estimate that official corruption in China may cost as much as USD86bln each year - 0.65 percent of GDP and more than the education budget. He calls for economic and political reform; his critics might say no surprise there
Power, corruption and lies.
An article in which one Will Hutton discusses China's weakness.
Death for embezzling?
The former chief of the state run Bank of China, Liu Jinbao, was given a suspended death sentence for embezzling 7.72M yuan (approximately 1M USD). His assets have been seized, and it is expected that his sentence will be commuted to life in prison. As China actively seeks to lure foreign investments, including banks, this is meant to send a strong signal about corruption in the financial sector.
Corrupt Chinese Officials Plan Escape Routes.
Why? Because they believe the collapse of the Chinese government is imminent. Their planning is premature, experts quoted here say. But we all know that experts can often be . . . well, not so expert. Wild headline, to say the least.