Tag Archives: chengdu

A tale of murder, fog, beef noodles and the ‘greatest gangster in China’

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….

Bo, Gu and Neil

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Filed under Blogs, Bo Xilai, censorship, Communist Party, corruption, Dispute, media, News, Politics, Propaganda

Learning from Han Han

Han Han (韓寒) is the most popular blogger in the world, included in New Statesman’s “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures 2010” and a rally driver – but is his blog actually that good?  And why does he get  millions of hits per day while Brush Duck has only had 198 ever?

To find out I have translated his latest post from his blog Too Cold So Warm, a thriller with a social conscience:

Who are you, why are you asking this?

I remember last summer, when I went to a competition in Chengdu, I passed the City Government buildings.  Of course I did not know for sure that they were City Government buildings, but Chinese administrative buildings have a very distinct quality that you can recognise them.  Like when a girl stands on the side of the street you always know she is a prostitute.  At this time I said to my friend, who have these buildings been auctioned to?  My friend said one word; fart.

At the time of the 2008 earthquake of Wenchuan, the Chengdu Government proclaimed that the newly established Government buildings would be auctioned, with all the proceeds being put towards the recovery process in the disaster area, and this news had evoked a great level of interest and good feeling in the people.  I am a very naïve person, I thought this type of situation and this type of talk was genuine.  At that time I thought there must be a hundred large corporations that would purchase the buildings, to base their headquarters there, not only for the convenient traffic links, but also because if there were another earthquake they would certainly not collapse.  My friend said that the Government had already secretly snuck in.

Han Han wishing he wrote for a blog with film reviews based on trailers

Consequently I wanted to ask in the second issue of 独唱团 (Han Han’s magazine, Party, which seems to have folded after one issue) what the true reason was for the failure to auction the Government buildings, hoping to find a clear answer.  But in order to save the environment I will post it here.  Thanks go to student Cai Lei (蔡蕾) for his help.

I truly feel that if they wished to occupy the building they just should have. But to claim to donate more than 20亿* of Government building, but then only to contribute one piece of seemingly positive news is totally unfair.

At this point Han Han posts his article intended for独唱团


At the time of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, the Chengdu government said that it would put to auction its brand new buildings, with the proceeds going towards the disaster relief.  I wanted to know what had happened to the buildings – how much money had been raised?

The Chengdu journalist Zheng Mou (郑某) answered not one wisp of cloud.

The construction of the Chengdu administration’s new headquarters began in 2004, and was completed in 2007, occupying 255 亩**, costing around 12亿元*** (reportedly not including the price of the land), and incorporating a high grade conference centre, visitor centre etc.  Based on pictures leaked on the internet, it has been called ‘China’s most luxurious Government building’.

According to plans, the Chengdu City Committee, the National People’s Congress, City Hall, Municipal Administrations Courts, Prosecutor’s Office, close to 70 departments, would move into the centre in 2008.  However just as the relocation process was commencing, the Wenchuan earthquake struck.  On the 15th of July, a Chengdu City Committee member stated that the new Government building would be auctioned, with all the proceeds given to the disaster relief programme, but this was the last that Chengdu residents would read in the media about the new office building.

Ordinary companies would not be able to afford an office space taking up 255 亩, and ones who could would not be unlikely to deal with such a difficult situation, as the auction was by no means formal and seemed already to have fallen through.  At the current time, Chengdu City government departments have already stealthily occupied the building, while it is clear that the media has been forbidden to report on the Government building and the moving arrangements.

In the last few days I have telephoned the Chengdu administration’s general office, the dialogue was as follows.  Question: ‘When will the entire City Government more into the new building?’ Answer: ‘We are not clear about this’.  Response: ‘After the earthquake wasn’t the building to be sold, what’s up with that?’ Response: ‘Who are you? Why are you asking this?’ I respond: ‘I am an ordinary citizen, I want to understand the state of affairs’.  Response:  ‘We are not too clear’.  Question: ‘So who is clear?  I ought to speak with that department?’ Respons: I don’t know. (Phone hangs up).

Soon after I dial the Mayor’s hotline, 12345.  After hearing the call back tone, the phone informs me ‘the line you have called is busy’.  I called again in the morning, afternoon and at night, and everytime ‘the line you have called is busy’.   I also sent SMS messages to the Mayor’s inquiry mailbox, and at the time of writing have yet to receive a response.

* what? um think that’s 20 x 100 million rmb, so maybe £20,000,000,000

** mu! Unit of area equal to one fifteenth of a hectare.  So 38250000 square metres.

*** £12,000,000,000

At this point 6327 of the readers post their comments.

So does he deserve to hold onto his crown as blogger #1?  One comment would make me happy.  And not on the mistakes in my translation!

More thrilling yarns are available at http://blog.sina.com.cn/twocold


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