Read Chen Guangcheng’s piece in NY times
In a brief round up of news from the central kingdom:
- blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng might be allowed to go on a ‘gap year’ to the states
Chen had campaigned against forced abortions in his home province of Shandong and had met the brunt of provincial official brutality. Until he knocked on the US door of the US embassy….
- Weetabix are now 60% owned by Chinese company Bright Food.
The Sun have reported that the boss of Bright Food can only manage two Weetabix for breakfast…
either breakfasts in China will start getting better, or breakfast in England will be full of cadmium dihydrophosphodiesterase E4934.
I happen to like Weetabix but a head chef at the Savoy describes them as “cakes that you give to dogs”
Bright Food are also after United Biscuits, which makes Jaffa Cakes and Hula Hoops, and French yoghurt group Yoplait.
What next? Curly Wurlys and petit filous watch out..
This story is a Chinese Agatha Christie style murder mystery Cluedo on crack.
The backdrop to this tale of political intrigue is Chongqing, (think Gotham with dumplings) – an overpopulated, murky, fogged up city run by corrupt gangsters and even more corrupt officials.
In November of last year a 41 year old British ‘businessman‘ Neil Heywood was found dead in a hotel room and was swiftly cremated, with the official verdict being that he had drunk himself to death. Only Neil Heywood didn’t drink. Heywood was a Mandarin speaking ex public school (Harrow) businessman, Aston Martin dealer and freelance consultant for ‘intelligence’ agency Hakluyt, who seem to be rapidly distancing themselves from the story.
The death of Mr Heyman is one of the key events in the drama of the downfall of the Communist Party chief in Chongqing, Bo Xilai.
Bo had it all. Just a year ago, he was tipped to be one of the new leaders of China and now his political career is in ruins and his wife is being accused of murder. Bo was one of the rising stars of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and was lauded for his stints as Mayor in Dalian, Governor of Liaoniang and party chief of Chongqing. However, his stellar career has come crashing down after he was suspended from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) after his head of police, Wang Lijun was accused of trying to defect to the US at their consulate in Chengdu. Reports have suggested that Wang discussed the death of Heywood with Bo and suspected foul play. Then in a frightened state he tried to seek refuge from Mr Bo by defecting to the West. An article supposedly penned by Wang referred to Bo as the ‘greatest gangster in China’
Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai has been ‘transferred to the judicial authorities’ in relation to death of Mr Heywood. The relationship between Heywood and Bo is not fully clear. It has been reported that he was a ‘fixer’ for Bo’s family and helped his son gain a place at Harrow school in north west London. Whether the relationship between Bo, Gu and Heywood turned sour or not is unclear.
Bo made a name for himself in Chongqing with his no-nonsense approach to corruption and organized crime. Did he broke a few eggs too many in trying to make his omelette of Chinese power? Over the course of a few months he has gone from hot prospect to hot potato and has been dismissed from the Politburo and is now being investigated for “serious discipline violations”
This is being reported as one of the most significant political upheavals in China for 20 years . The British government have added their approval to the ongoing investigations into Heywood’s death. The reactions on the Chinese blogosphere are also interesting to note. In the censored and monitored world of the Chinese internet Chinese netizens often find their freedom to use language as they please is suppressed so they invent nicknames for people and events to make sure they can still talk about what is going on. In the internal struggles to remove Bo and Zhou Yongkang from power, bloggers reported the following:
In the 18th tugging war contest (18th National Congress) the “carrot ball” (Hu Jintao) led his team members “antenna baby” (Wen Jiabao), ‘learning machine” (Xi Jinping) and “wood seed” (Li Keqiang) to win against their rivals “Master Kong beef noodle” (Zhou Yongkang) who severely lost the game without support from “Tomato” (Bo Xilai).
The drama continues….
the image now known as “一虎八奶图” one tiger, eight breasts (I can only spot 4)
According to an article in the Guardian : Ai Weiwei is now being charged with spreading ‘pornographic’ images all over the web. Ai invited some 网友 (net friends) over to his studio, shot some nudies and put them up on the web and then forgot he had done so. The Chinese government view Ai as a tax evading dissident who is supported and praised by those in the west. The government are often cracking down on online pornography (they arrested 5,394 for disseminating online porn in 2009)
Ai told associated press: “If they see nudity as pornography, then China is still in the Qing dynasty,”
In a similar story the French government have removed works of Henri Matisse from gift shops all over Paris and put his grandson under house arrest.
Not since Aaron’s notorious idol misjudgement on Mount Sinai has a life-size aureate bovine caused quite such a stir. Jiangsu Party guy Wu Renbao’s decision to install a £31m solid gold statue of an ox on the 60th floor of rural Huaxi’s new 1,076ft supertower has been branded a gross extravagance by some, particularly as many of the farmers who live in its shadow earn low wages.
Villagers have reportedly started a helicopter business to give visitors a better view of the tower – which could be seen as indicative of the sort of Wu-instilled entrepreneurial zeal that has made Huaxi one of the richest villages in China and led to him to be decorated as a “Top National Contributor to Poverty-Alleviation”. However I am not convinced of the long term economic rewards of skyscraper one-upmanship.
So you want to know what its like being in a Chinese state prison? It is a bit like the Kafka-esque nightmare of trying to get a westbound cab on a street that only goes east. I tried to make Beijing my home. Built a nest.
But a bird like me needs a solid tree for my nest. Beijing is a withering polluted willow tree. Having said that, there are some great places to go for cocktails.
If you want a cheap and cheerful night in Beijing. Mix and Vics are a safe bet. Blu bar is pretty cool.
Lychee Martinis are excellent in Beijing. It is really hard to get a cab sometimes. In summer Beijing gets super stuffy. Aircon is a must.
Apartments are getting more and more expensive. You can pay a fortune in Chaoyang for a room that is barely the size of a cell. (I should know). The apple store can get really busy sometimes. er. Am I allowed to say that?
Crowds at the Apple Store Beijing
China Geeks review Kissinger’s new book ‘On China’. I think it is about China… need to pick up a copy to find out.
There is a disturbing trend of politicians getting their hands dirty and posing for the cameras none more than when it comes to sport. Here is Premier Wen showing us his hoop dreams:
This week Camron (as he now likes to be called) and O’bama posed like the best mates they are, playing ping pong in an attempt to show their solidarity in an attempt to say to the Chinese “we can play ping pong too”.
Latest reports suggest Beijing and Shanghai will be confused by Bob Dylan in April 2011.
The ministry said in a brief statement that Dylan – the writer of some of rock’s most iconic and politically charged songs – must perform “strictly according to an approved program”.
I assume this means no 80s material etc etc.