China's best English language website and weekly newspaper
16- 22, 1999
Six prominent Chinese novelists, former culture minister Wang Meng among them, are suing an Internet firm for publishing their work without consent, the official Shanghai News says. It is the first known case of a major Chinese Internet company being sued for infringement of intellectual property rights, although many websites carry literary works.
Readers could previously read entire novels, including Wang Meng's Hard Porridge, Zhang Chengzhi's Black Stallion and Bi Shumin's Appointment with Death, through Beijing Online's website at http://www.bol.com.cn.
The newspaper says the novels are no longer accessible on Beijing Online's website since the authors complaint.
Wang Meng, who was purged in the anti-rightist campaign in 1957, but later rehabilitated, was fired as culture minister in 1989. The other three novelists filing the suit are Liu Zhenyun, Zhang Jie and Zhang Kangkang. A Beijing court has accepted the case, the newspaper says.
The case has stirred controversy among lawyers in the absence of specific legal provisions against the dissemination of literary works in cyberspace.
Shanghai lawyer Yan Weijun was quoted as saying the concepts of "duplication," "dissemination" and "publication" under China's copyright law urgently need to be redefined for the Internet age.
The Internet has shown explosive growth in China with more than 2 million users nationwide at the end of last year.
Farewell My Concubine
The State Council has issued new Entertainment Place Management Regulations effective July 1. These regulations prohibit the activity of "san pei" or "three accompaniment' activities of young women. But it does not define what ³three accompaniment" activities should be banned. Some people argue that san pei refers to : drinking, dancing, and singing. Others argue that the three activities include: eating, sitting, and playing. Still others argue that the three naughty activities are: gambling, swimming and sleeping. So in this grey area between law and practice, the san pei profession has grown and blossomed to become a huge nationwide activity.
The san pei profession became so profitable that everybody wanted to get into the act. Despite its ban, the tax authorities have begun to tax women for their income which raises the further question of whether such taxation by the government provides a de facto recognition of the profession. Based on this new regulation banning san pei activities issued from the State Council, it appears that the tax authorities will have to begin looking for other sources of income to tax.
Is Nothing Sacred?
Southern Lake (Nanhu) was the sacred lake where the Communist Party of China was established when Mao Zedong, Dong Biwu, Zhang Guotao, Li Hanjun, Li Da, Liu Renjing and other revolutionaries escaped capture from the Kuomintang in Shanghai and in flight held the very first congress for the establishment of the Communist Party of China on a boat in the middle of Nanhu. For nearly half a century this lake has been the site of pilgrimages by dedicated Chinese communists.
Now along the banks of the sacred Nanhu in Jiaxing City in Zhejiang Province there are two little streets called "Nanhu Leisure Streets" where visiting journalists found "rows of red lanterns hanging from doorways on each side of the street" and "every 100 meters 40 beauty salons" where "girls with horrific make-up hang out in the doorways."
All of this evening excitement takes place from sundown to sunrise a mere 300 meters from the site on the lake where that sacred historic meeting took place. Meanwhile along both sides of the streets "the girls sell their bodies" and "grab the clients" with "taxis driving back and forth" and "the gates of beauty salons closing and opening and closing and opening" with "pimps and bosses sometimes fighting and smashing each others faces" and "condoms and wrappers strewn everywhere."
The "people complain and the police have come many times to make arrests but it still remains the same." The good residents complain, "this is the sacred heart of the revolution, how did it come to this?"
In a break from conventional military thinking, two Chinese army officers are advocating a novel strategy that would spare nothing at the disposal of a developing country to combat a high-tech-enabled enemy. In a book entitled Unlimited War, Colonel Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui observe that modern high-tech-based warfare has become prohibitively expensive for developing countries.
In the recent air campaign against Yugoslavia, NATO's aircraft commissioned to combat carry an average price tag of US$26 million, while missiles cost US$1.6 million a piece. It is therefore self-destructive, the book argues, for developing countries to take the enemies head-on in a high-tech shoot-out. Instead, the disadvantaged should try to exploit any weakness there is with their superior adversaries, availing themselves of every unconventional tactic to attack those weaknesses.
Qiao and Wang offer as a weakness the unwillingness of developed countries to sacrifice the lives of their own citizens in a war. To take advantage of such weakness, developing countries could resort to guerrilla warfare in the enemy's urban areas and to terrorist attacks to break the enemy's resolve to fight. Developing countries don't have to oblige themselves, the duo contended, to the confines of the enemyıs rules of engagement and the battlefield. Computer infiltration and economic warfare similar to what George Soros waged in Asia in 1997 should also be effectively utilized. In short, to fight an overwhelming high-tech power, developing countries should break away from any self-imposed restrictions.
Qiao and Wang's book has attracted wide attention in the Chinese army. Strategists in the PLA General Staff have reportedly completed a study of its implications in a Kosovo-like scenario.
A top State Department official will visit Beijing this week to discuss reparations for the victims of the May 7 NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, the department says.
State Department Legal Adviser David Andrews will follow up on a Clinton administration "offer of humanitarian payment" for the bombing victims and "discuss the issue of property damage" caused by the attack, a spokeswoman says.
Last month Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering traveled to Beijing to apologize for the bombing, in which three Chinese were killed and 20 injured, and detail the series of errors that Washington says led to the attack.
Pickering told Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan that a B-2 stealth bomber from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri dropped five 2,000-pound (900-kg) satellite-guided bombs on the embassy after a U.S. intelligence analyst mistook the building for Yugoslavia's Federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement, the intended target.
The confusion arose when the analyst improperly extrapolated street numbers from a 1997 street map of Belgrade to identify the target, the State Department said in the 14-page briefing paper Pickering used.
The paper also noted that U.S. military databases had not been updated to show the transfer of the Chinese Embassy to its current location from Old Belgrade in 1996, although many U.S. and NATO diplomats had visited the new building.
The bombing sparked days of violent anti-American protests in Beijing and other major Chinese cities. China also broke off talks on joining the World Trade Organization and froze military exchanges and a human rights dialogue with the United States.
After Pickering's visit, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said "the explanations by the U.S. side are not convincing." She repeated a demand that those responsible for the bombing be punished and said Beijing wanted compensation.