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  All materials © 1999 
  Beijing Scene


Beijing Scene, Volume 5, Issue 27, September 24 - 30

I Love Wangfujing

Beijing's equivalent of Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, Wangfujing, has had a total facelift. The street is newly paved, illuminated by new lampposts, and flowers and trees are planted everywhere. 

Wangfujing Boulevard has been turned into a pedestrian mall, now closed to traffic, at the bargain basement price of rmb 13.5 billion. What do the people think of this wonderful public works project in the lead up to the National Day holiday?

Journalists have discovered that citizens strolling down Wangfujing spend most of their time, " Spitting and throwing garbage everywhere with cigarettes and plastic bags strewn everywhere together with fruit peels, some people take off their shirts and shoes and just sleep on the street while others who enjoy the flowers just dig them up and take them away with some 60-70 flowers having to be replaced a day imported flood lights which cost some rmb 1000 each have the copper cables inside stolen within one day of being installed with the thieves reselling the scrap copper, trash cans are burned by too many cigarettes, park benches are cut by knives, and gum is stuck everywhere." 

All of the above has occurred even before the official opening of the new Wangfujing Boulevard. It is said that penalties are being introduced with fines for spitting starting at rmb 50 per spit. 

-Workers Daily

Bounty Hunt

In Zhoukou City, Henan Province, one may spot rats running around without tails. At elementary and middle schools, students are required to bring rat tails to class. More than 20 elementary and middle schools are requiring students to produce rat tails. 

Why the infatuation with rat tails? At the end of August each school was given 15 kilograms of rat poison. But the county head needed some kind of proof that the rat poison was not being sold by the deans and teachers to farmers for their own personal gain. How to guarantee that the rat poison would be properly used to kill rats? The only evidence that anti-rat policies were being carried out 
properly at the grassroots level was to establish a quota system for collecting rat tails.

Fearing that they could not fulfill the quota, teachers required each student to collect rat tails and bring them to class. Failure to turn in the tails could mean low grades or even expulsion. So students have taken their precious study time and are running around thinking of every way possible to acquire rat tails which have now become a precious local commodity. Parents are even using their guanxi to try and source rat tails for their children to bring to school in order to prevent them from being penalized or suspended.

-Beijing Evening News

Banking on National Day

Banks will stay open on the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China on October 1 to issue new banknotes, one of which will feature a solo portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong, a central bank official says.

The new banknotes will be in denominations ranging from rmb 100 (US$12) to rmb .10. The Beijing Youth Daily says the rmb 100 note, now bearing profiles of Mao, the late Premier Zhou Enlai, late President Liu Shaoqi and the late Marshal Zhu De, will feature Mao alone. The newspaper did not give details of the designs of the other new banknotes, but said Mao's portrait on the rmb 100 note will be embossed, making them more difficult to counterfeit. The other side 
of the note will feature the Great Hall of the People, where parliament meets and major state occasions are held.

China has intensified a crackdown on the printing and trading of fake money. Officials have given no indication of how much bogus money is in circulation. Old bills and coins will continue to be valid.

-Beijing Youth Daily 

Flying Leopard Bomber

The first fighter bomber to be produced from scratch by China, the Flying Leopard, will make its debut over Tiananmen Square on October 1 to mark the 50th anniversary of Communist rule.

The appearance of the Flying Leopard, or FBC-1, will be the highlight of the gala anniversary event which will also include a massive parade through the streets of the capital, the Science and Technology Journal says.

" It is the first supersonic fighter bomber of the new generation, completely conceived and assembled in China, it will ennoble the Chinese people," the journal says, adding the aircraft has a range of 1,650 kilometers (1,023 miles) and is capable of transporting multiple air-to-air and air-to-sea missiles.
Produced in northern Xi'an, the aircraft, which is modeled after the Russian 
Sukhoi-24, was shown publicly for the first time in November at an aeronautics exhibition in southern Zhuhai city. The newly developed aircraft may also be destined for the export market, a Western military expert says.

The Flying Leopard took to the skies over Beijing last week during rehearsals for a spectacular military fly-over scheduled for October 1. More than 30 aircraft filled the sky, including mid-air refuelers, the Jian-7 and Jian-8 fighters (also known as the F-7 and F-8), Russian Sukhoi 27, now manufactured in China, and the Z9 helicopter, a Chinese version of France's Daulphin helicopter.

The Jian-8 fighter, manufactured entirely by China, is currently the most modern craft in China's air fleet while the military awaits the arrival of the Jian-10, a supersonic fighter based on the American F-16, developed under the utmost secrecy. A young engineer, Guo Min, was recently arrested for leaking information about the production of the Jian-10 onto the Internet. Some western military experts report that the aircraft currently exists only in prototype form. 

-Science and Technology Journal

Too Many Toilets

In quaint Shagang Village in Guangdong province, it was discovered that at the end of 1998 the village had some 90 public washrooms. Inspectors could not figure out why there were so many public toilets in a village that was so small. Inspectors asked village headman Liu what the reason for this over-construction of public toilets was. Liu explained, " We were going to build a big building that would be five floors high." 

The inspectors said the building plans indicate that the building will already have over 30 toilets, which is already over-capacity for a building only five stories high. So why does this little town also need another 60 public toilets?

In fact, the county Party secretary used the method of applying and reapplying to the county-level government above to build more and more toilets, because each time he applied the application would be approved. Over 15 years of applying for public toilets, he was able to pocket rmb 400,000. It took 15 years for the county government to catch on to the scam.

-Baokan Wenzhai


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Sept. 17 - 23, 1999

Sept. 10 - 16, 1999

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Aug. 27 - Sept. 2, 1999

Aug. 20 - 26, 1999

Aug. 13 - 19, 1999

Aug. 6 - 12, 1999

July 30 - Aug. 5, 1999

July 23 -29, 1999

July 16 -22, 1999

July 9 - 15, 1999

July 2 - 8, 1999

June 25 - July 1, 1999