Fire in the hole
In Beijing's Fangshan District a tourist discovered an old lady selling
goods from a large plastic bag. When the man went over to see what she
was selling, sure enough the goods on offer were army grenades-the same
type the tourist had seen in WWII movies.
The grenades were sold for a remarkably cheap price of rmb 1 each. The
tourist asked the old lady if the grenades were real. The old lady replied,
"If you doubt it, you can buy one yourself and test it." The man bought
one, pulled the pin, and tossed the grenade into the scenic hillside
nearby. Sure enough the grenade exploded, sending deafening echoes throughout
the scenic valley.
The old lady explained that "the grenades are made in a rural area of
Hebei Province out of raw gun powder and dirt," adding that, "many tourists
find it very 'exciting' to buy these and throw them!"
Journalists soon went to Fangshan to check out the story. To their shock
grenade dealers could be seen everywhere along the lakeside selling
grenades where many innocent people were swimming. The journalists asked
the park management administration why they did not do anything to control
the situation. The administration director simply replied, "I am too
Then the journalists asked the grenade sellers, "Isn't it illegal to
sell these grenades?" The grenade sellers scoffed, "Of course it is
illegal. So what?! The authorities do not dare to try and stop us."
- Beijing Evening News
If you are not getting married this month, then you are simply out-of-it!
Why? This is September-the ninth month of the year 1999. In Chinese,
nine-pronounced jiu-sounds like the word for longevity. So if you are
married on September 9, 1999, it is a sure thing that your marriage
will be long lasting-and presumably both spouses will have long lives
More than 30 percent of the marriages being held this year have been
booked for September 9, 1999. Aside from the nationwide traffic jams
which all the wedding processions this date is destined to bring-it
is estimated that each wedding will cost a nationwide average of rmb
10,000. In the end this may do more to stimulate domestic spending than
the new tax on bank savings.
- China Business Times
In Putuo District, Shanghai, there was a retired man named Yang who
played mahjong every day, and lost each time. Finally, after racking
up huge losses in a night of mahjong, he came home and was furious with
his wife who always prepared vegetarian cooking.
"I always lose because of your cooking," Yang shouted, referring to
wife's vegetarian cooking which in Chinese is su and sounds like the
word for lose. "You will cook no more vegetables (sucai). In the future
only cook meat (hun). Tomorrow you will cook chicken, beef, anything,
I just want to eat meat."
The next day his wife prepared chicken, beef, pork, everything except
vegetables. The result was that her husband lost another game of mahjong.
He came home furious and hollered, "So you cooked meat for me. But I
lost again because my mind was hun (the word for meat also sounds like
"dizzy" in Chinese)."
- Xinmin Evening News
In Anyang City, Henan Province, there is a new trend. Regardless of
whether it is a company, store, factory, school or even political and
legal organization, every entity will place two big stone lions at the
This occurs most commonly when two stores or organizations have their
doors face-to-face across a street. One will put out two stone lions.
The one across the street will add bigger lions. Then the lions on the
other side will get bigger, and so on. Then when they are too big, the
contest will shift into materials to see who uses the most expensive
materials. For example, one middle school in Anyang had a beautiful
pair of stone lions at its gate. When asked why the school had such
beautiful lions, the dean of the school explained that right across
the street was the morgue of the local hospital. "Every year, we have
many sick students in our school.
It is definitely related to having this place of bad fortune across
the street." The dean had requested many government departments to move
the morgue. But as nobody did anything about it, the school only had
the choice of buying two big lions to place at the gate across from
The gate lion trend seems to be growing in Anyang without stop. Of course
the business of stone lion carvers is booming.
- Beijing Evening News
A 700-year-old ruin found along China's ancient Silk Road route is believed
to be the site of the earliest Roman Catholic church in Asia, state
The ruins are located in the Inner Mongolian town of Abinsm, which in
Mongolian means "a place with many temples," 380 miles northwest of
Beijing, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reports.
Walls 50 meters-high mark the site, which is believed to have once housed
a huge main hall with two rostrums up to five meters high. A white stone
lion recently found under the ruins resembles those found in front of
Catholic cathedrals in Italy, and tile shards carry designs similar
to those found in Europe.
Archeologists had not determined the exact nature of the site until
the stone lion was discovered during recent excavations. Roman Catholic
missionaries traveling along the Silk Road, which passes from China
through Central Asia, were among the first westerners to visit China.
Abinsm was the site of the first synod held in China, during the Yuan
Dynasty (1271-1358), the report cited Japanese archaeologist Namio Egami
as saying. The town, home to a Turkic tribe known as the Wanggu, thrived
during the Yuan Dynasty.
Tragedy of the Commons
China's breakneck economic growth is threatening a national and global
ecological disaster, Greenpeace says in its first ever report on the
Greenpeace China says China faces "environmental meltdown" if it waits
to get rich before tackling its numerous grave environmental ills. Most
of the problems set out in the 32-page Greenpeace report, which draws
heavily on Chinese government statistics and reports from state-controlled
media, are well documented.
But if the message is not new-last year Chinese media reported with
unprecedented candor on the role of deforestation in deadly summer floods-the
messenger was novel in a country that takes a dim view of Greenpeace-style
Executive director of the Hong Kong-based group Ho Wai Chi issued a
report cataloging the environmental price China has paid for rapid economic
growth in the last two decades-recurring and worsening floods, acid
rain and foul urban water and air.
"China is emphasizing its development, and the environment is being
sacrificed," Ho says.
The costly environmental damage threatens not only China's 1.3 billion
people but the planet as well, the group says.
But Ho says Greenpeace China is "testing the waters" on the mainland
and will eschew the dramatic and confrontational protests it has used
to pursue its agenda in other countries.
"In different countries we have different styles of action," he says
in regard to whether Greenpeace activists in China will be chaining
themselves to trees or surrounding toxic waste boats in protest.
In China, Ho says: "The idea of an independent report from an NGO (non-governmental
organization) is unusual."
Greenpeace's first action in China-a protest against nuclear testing
in August 1995-was promptly repressed by police and jeered by Chinese
Seconds after five Greenpeace executives unfurled a huge banner in central
Beijing's Tiananmen Square that said "Stop all nuclear testing-Greenpeace,",
police seized it and hauled them away as onlookers
shouted "arrest them, arrest them."
Ho says two-year-old Greenpeace China has a "working relationship" with
the Beijing government and will share its expertise with the State Environmental
Protection Administration (SEPA), a cabinet-level body whose profile
is rising as China has come to recognize the extent of its ecological
Ho says the Chinese government has recognized the seriousness of its
pollution problems. "We acknowledge they have made a lot of effort,
but we want to speed up the process," he says.
"China, which uses seven times more energy to produce one dollar of
gross domestic product (GDP) than developed countries, must promote
cleaner and more efficient energy use and not wait until it gets rich
to clean up its skies and waters," he adds.
"If we have to pollute first and clean up later, that means we are paying
twice." Direct economic losses from pollution averaged three to five
percent of GDP in the 1990s, Greenpeace says, quoting SEPA data.
September 3 - 9, 1999
August 27 - Sept. 2, 1999
August 20 - 26, 1999
August 13 - 19, 1999
August 6 - 12, 1999
30 - August 5, 1999
23 -29, 1999
16 -22, 1999
9 - 15, 1999
2 - 8, 1999
25 - July 1, 1999