|Beijing Scene, Volume 5, Issue 7, April 30 - May 6|
Cannes Controversy Continues
Zhang, according to sources in Europe and China, submitted Not One
Less, which concerns teachers and students in rural China, to the festival
committee some time ago for consideration for the upcoming event.
However, festival representatives who saw the film reportedly felt
it was not up to the level of most of the director’s previous work and
were not forthcoming with an invitation to the competition, where Zhang
has had films included in the past.
In hopes of better luck, Zhang subsequently sent along his follow-up
picture, The Road Home, a 1950s-set drama, which similarly underwhelmed
Rather than wait, then, for the festival’s rejection to become obvious
when the official lineup was announced, Zhang apparently decided to
take matters into his own hands by announcing, "I have decided to withdraw
the two films and will not participate in this year’s Cannes Film Festival."
Further deflecting attention from any consideration of the film’s
artistic values, Zhang shifted the discussion to the political sphere,
blasting festival directors in an open letter for their "serious misunderstanding
about the movies," and attacking the West, which he suggested "has for
a long time politicized Chinese films."
Zhang’s last film, Keep Cool, was kept out of Cannes in 1997 by Chinese
authorities after the 1995 To Live was presented in competition without
Zhang may have been further motivated to make his pre-emptive move
against Cannes upon learning that Assassin, the new picture by his mentor-turned-rival
Chen Kaige, a film that was not well-received in China, was accepted
into the competition.
Beijing’s No 2 Intermediate People’s Court ruled that Ma Licheng and
Ling Zhijun, and their publisher, had a legitimate right to use excerpts
of an unpublished essay by Duan Ruofei, editor of a journal of Marxist
theory, to debate his views in their book, Crossing Swords.
Ma’s and Ling’s book became a standard-bearer of the liberal cause
last year. In it, the authors argued that China needed freer, more creative
thinking to keep developing.
Duan’s essay was one of four anonymous anti-capitalist tracts circulating
in Beijing in the months before a pivotal Communist Party Congress in
1997 that decided the course of reforms for the next five years.
At a one-day court hearing last November, Duan’s lawyers demanded
an apology, a stop to further printing of Crossing Swords and compensation
They discovered an ancient mummified man and dubbed him "the handsome
Yingpan man," because his beard, eyebrows and eyelashes are still clearly
His coffin, along with five others, has been shipped to Urumqi, the
regional capital, and has been kept at the Institute, unopened, awaiting
further research and studies. The researchers say that the mummy, along
with numerous artifacts, can be dated to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220
AD). The discovery was made at Yingpan near Lop Nur. The mummy is apparently
the remains of a 25-year-old male who stood 180 centimeters high.
The Yingpan man is deemed roughly comparable to a previous discovery
of the "beautiful Loulan woman," a 3,800-year-old female mummy. In 1980
her remains were unearthed in the Tiebanhe Delta, some 200 kilometers
east of Yingpan.
"You can’t run this kind of banking system indefinitely. Some day,
there’s going to be an event which causes a loss of confidence,’’ Lardy,
of the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., says. "This kind of
economy can turn on a dime.’’
He says the key problem is the failure to close loss-making state
By propping up industrial loss-makers, banks have little chance of
moving from government funding agencies to becoming competitive and
"They’re not closing down money-losing state firms fast enough,’’
Lardy says. "Until they’re really willing to cut, to have these companies
disappear, they are going to have continued problems in the banking
It is the growing private sector that is creating jobs, not the state
sector, he says.
Lardy says he does not believe the target will be met.
Lardy says government statistics that show the budget deficit is low
by world standards excludes much and obscures reality. He says China’s
total liabilities amount to more than 100 percent of Gross Domestic
Product, now at around US$1 trillion.
This sum includes non-performing loans among state banks, external
debts that are certainly higher than the official figure of around US$140
billion, plus unfunded pension liabilities.
In addition, the rate at which the government has become dependent
on debt for its spending has been one of the highest in the world, he
Director-General Renato Ruggiero says he has detected "encouraging
signs" since a recent visit to Washington by Chinese premier Zhu Rongji.
"I think that since the visit by China’s prime minister there have
been many encouraging signs and I believe we can have China in the WTO
by November, when the WTO begins its next trade round in agriculture,
services and electronic commerce,’’ he says.
Ruggiero’s comments were published as Chinese and European Union negotiators
began talks in Beijing over China’s application to join the Geneva-based
Ruggiero’s comments may cheer Chinese leaders but the Italian’s role
in any entry process will probably soon be marginal at best. He is due
to step down from the director-general’s position at the end of this
WTO member states have not yet agreed who should take over from Ruggiero
in the post. The two remaining candidates are Mike Moore of New Zealand,
a former prime minister, and Thai Deputy Prime Minister Supachai Panitchpakdi.
"Governments have to find a solution. It would be very damaging if
a solution is not found. We need a new D-G as soon as possible,’’ Ruggiero
comments, also stressing he would not agree to stay on any longer in
Ruggiero did not specify what he saw as "encouraging signs" in China’s
application to join the WTO.
Zhu made dramatic market-opening concessions in the hope of clinching
a deal in Washington. The US said it hopes to find an agreement to get
China into the WTO this year.
Though Zhu’s concessions in Washington were not enough to convince
the United States immediately, analysts say they could at least be making
gaining EU support easier.
EU Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan is scheduled to arrive in Beijing
on May 5 for a two-day visit to announce a deal that would pave China’s
way into the world trade body, an EU diplomat has said.