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Why a Reporter Feels Sympathy for an Airport Bomber

Siding With a Man Who Commits a Terrifying Act is Normal When You Hear So Many Stories of People So Wronged They Lack the Will to Live

These past few years as a reporter, I have met some people with nothing left to live for and now another person can be added to the list. Ji Zhongxing, the disabled man who set off a bomb in a Beijing airport on July 20, is that person.

Ji and I are the same age. We were both born in 1979. Last night, when I read his story, I was grabbed by a strange feeling.

In 2005, we were both 26 years old. He was in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, on his motorcycle in the middle of the night illegally looking for passengers. He was working hard to earn a living, hoping one day to marry and have children. I was also in Guangdong, but I had already found a relationship. I fought with my parents about it and was too stubborn to give in, so I eloped to Beijing to be with my boyfriend.

In 2005, Ji’s life was destroyed. He was disabled, he says, when security guards in Dongguan beat him savagely. He could no longer marry or have children. For him, tragedy was a way of life; for me, tragedy was what I wrote about for work.

On July 21, around 1 a.m., I left Beijing Jishuitan Hospital and took a taxi home. This was several hours after Ji detonated his bomb. Before that, he shouted and asked people in the airport to stay away from him. The explosion injured just one person: Ji.

I had just seen Ji lying on a gurney, being taken into the operating room. I expected Ji to leave surgery screaming, but he did not. He was lying there very calmly. I saw the thick eyebrows on his gaunt face.

Doctors had just finished amputating his left hand at the wrist. “His left palm was blown to bits,” the surgeon said.

Ji once told his story on a blog. He says that on June 28, 2005, before dawn, he was giving people rides in Dongguan when a security guard beat him. Ji was left paralyzed. He tried to get justice through courts and petitions to the government, but this did not work. He went back to his hometown in Shandong Province, and his elderly father took care of him.

After the explosion at the airport, a picture of Ji from 2005 circulated online. In it, he is naked, his lower body covered with infected wounds.

How strange, after an explosion, to feel sympathy for the bomber. I think what he did was terrifying. My first reaction was that he did not mean to hurt anyone; he meant to take revenge.

Sitting in a taxi, under the wide Beijing night sky, I thought back to two other people I have interviewed who had nothing left to live for.

The Miner

His name was Li Aiping. I remember clearly. Every time I think about him, I ask myself: Is he still alive?

In 2009, I went to Wuhan Steel to investigate a lead pollution problem in the central province of Hubei. A man over 70 years old followed me the whole time. He could not speak Mandarin, so we communicated little.

After I finished my investigation, he led me into a villager’s house. The room was impossibly dilapidated, with nothing in it. In one corner, a man was lying on a filthy blanket.

Later, I wrote his story in a blog post. “I saw a miner who had been injured ten years ago. I didn’t know there would be a man lying in that empty room. I walked in and suddenly saw a man with long hair lying under a quilt … He told me to come in and after he found out I was a reporter, he told me about his life, a life he had long dreamed of ending. He struggled painfully to get up, so he could show me his spine and his legs, which had already lost all sensation.

I didn’t have time to close my eyes, so I had to take in the whole terrifying scene.

Afterward, this stranger started sobbing. Half lying on his bed, he lifted himself up to bow. I jumped up to stop him, thinking that if he bent his back, he would be in even more pain. This man was trying to bow even though two steel rods were supporting his spine!

I don’t know if it was to comfort him or myself, but I took a picture of the yellow, wrinkled verdict document he received from the court. I didn’t know, aside from taking that picture, what I could do for him.”

This man was paralyzed in a mining accident, but the mine owner refused to give him any compensation. The miner won his lawsuit, but the court was unable to enforce its verdict. He had no way of getting compensation. So he asked his wife to carry him to the court and the mine owner’s house, to let his pitiful body speak for itself. As in many other tragic cases in China, the miner’s attempt to defend his rights failed.      

In order to survive, the man sacrificed his dignity and let his wife marry another man who could provide for him. Adding to the tragedy, his wife’s second husband died a few years later in another mining accident.

When I arrived, he had already been paralyzed for ten years. He still hadn’t given in to despair, though, and he still thought the media could help him. After I left Hunan, he often sent me text messages. His language was extremely polite. You could tell he was educated.

Every time I got a text from him, my feelings about it were endlessly complicated. I used to think that if I could get in touch with a lawyer in Hunan, maybe he could help get the verdict enforced. I thought that I should find one of my old friends, who could get in touch with an important member of the Hunan court system and ask him why the verdict had never been enforced.

But I always thought of some reason I should not get involved. “It’s already been ten years. Am I really going to turn this case around all by myself? Besides, I would still have to go ask other people and persuade them to sympathize with Li too.”

Later, Li Aiping texted me less and less. I practically breathed a sigh of relief. But tonight, I am thinking about him again. Four more years have passed. Are those ruined, wounded legs any better? Is he still alive?

If he had been the airport bomber or if it had been any other person I’d interviewed, I would have to shoulder more of the blame. For instance, what if it had been that mother?

The Mother

When this woman’s daughter was just over five years old she was raped at knifepoint by an old man at her school. The thug was imprisoned, but just over a year later he was released early.

The girl’s mother was not satisfied. She sued the school, but lost her lawsuit. The school retaliated. She had three children at home, but after the lawsuit they could not go to school in the area.

The little girl grew up. Her little brother and sister neared the age when they should start school. Every day they watched their parents with eager eyes, eager to attend school. But the girl said to her brother and sister: “You two don’t want to go to school or learn to read. There are bad people at school and the bad people will chase after you with knives.”

In 2009, when I was doing interviews in Hunan Province, this mother brought her daughter to meet me. I felt awful, but again I did not know how I could help. After all, even if I went through her appeal materials, if I investigated and verified the old rape case, if I wrote an article revisiting this old news, would it really help her?

Over the past few days I have interviewed Tang Hui, a Hunan mother who made national news by petitioning on behalf of her daughter, who was forced into prostitution. Tang was wrongfully sent to a labor camp. She won her case and received state compensation. Talking with Tang, I thought back to this other mother. Four years ago, she wanted to come to Beijing so I could take her to the Ministry of Education to petition. I told her that every day a great many people come to the capital to air their grievances with the central government. Her petition would only be one more drop in the bucket. Ultimately, nothing would happen. Her child was so young and the petition would ruin her whole family’s future.

Later, I wrote a blog post about her called “The Common People’s Misery.” When the blog post came out, all it did was relieve my guilt. It did not do anything for that wretched family.

Only after I became a mother did I understand that a woman’s child is her whole life. When a child feels humiliation or pain, her mother feels it more.

I told Tang Hui that I admire her sense of reason because if I had been in her position I would have considered throwing bombs. I would never have been able to persevere for six years, using only reason to stand up for my rights. Despair and hate can twist a person’s mind. She replied that as a woman and a mother, she could not rely on her own strength to kill all the evil people she hates. She might kill one, but then she would not have a chance to kill the second. She could only go through the courts.

Yes, the courts should be the last line of defense for justice.

“Where have all the reporters run off to?

After the airport explosion, a respected lawyer posed a question on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. He wondered where all the reporters had run off to when Ji was beaten so badly he was paralyzed. Now that he has set off a bomb in the Beijing airport, the reporters are swarming all over him.

My conscience has been asking me the same question. If Ji had found me at the time, would I have told his story? The story’s chances of being chosen in a news pitch meeting would have been very small because it would not have been influential enough. It’s too common today. I remember a sentence from a news textbook: “Dog bites man” is not news; “man bites dog” is news. Ji’s experience was a “dog bites man” story.

Today, “man bites dog” news has become common. Tragedies happen every day. A reporter can only write stories that her editor will agree to publish, and different media outlets have different standards. This state of affairs is also a way of relieving our guilty consciences.

The media is not so big and strong. There’s a hand over our throat. Reporters have to race against official restrictions. Sometimes before our voices can be heard, the news has been drowned out. That’s just the way things are. The state’s information mechanisms are closed off. The dark side of a story is often hidden away. Certain people always figure out some way to prevent media supervision. They are unbelievably shameless.

I know from experience as a reporter that these people will never sacrifice their way of life for some idealistic sense of justice. I admit that I, too, am weak. I do not have the energy to spend my life struggling for justice.

My uncle is all alone and over 70 years old. His house has been demolished and he has not received a cent of compensation, so now he’s destitute and homeless. When I was on maternity leave, I represented him in a lawsuit. We lost twice. Still, I would not let this old man petition. I thought that pursuing the state’s empty promise of a right to petition was just a dead end.

I realized that when public rights are unfairly denied, it is too easy for a person in despair to fall back on private help. When I was in court, in front of the defendant, I wanted to use every bit of strength I had to slap him across the face. But unexpectedly, I stayed rational. I smacked the table instead.

The village elders all asked me: “Aren’t you a reporter? Why don’t you tell people what’s going on here?”
 
This was my answer: “These years, because of rampant demolitions, so many people have burned themselves to death or been crushed to death or jumped off buildings. Who’s going to care about my uncle’s story?”

After a man set a bus on fire in Xiamen in June, I interviewed Wu Boxin, an expert in criminal psychology from the Public Security University. He said that individual terrorists are often people with nothing left to live for.

“These people were not innately criminal. Most of them were originally workers or peasants. Our political system was founded on the power of the workers and peasants. How can we abandon them now?”

Caixin Media Company Limited is a media group dedicated to providing high-quality and authoritative financial and business news and information through periodicals, online content, mobile apps,...

This story by staff reporter Luo Jieqi was first published by Caixin.

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Caixin Media

11.05.12

Scenes from a Leadership Transition

CAIXIN

Jiang Zemin’s Lyrical MemoryCompiled by Caixin(Beijing)—A glance at off-hours correspondence between two veteran leaders has added a lighter dimension to the recent public appearances of former Politburo members in the run-up to the party’s 18th National Congress.Li Lanqing...

Caixin Media

11.05.12

Thanks, But No Thanks

CAIXIN

On the last day of Zhao Xiang’s short life, her request to donate every organ possible to save the lives of others was brushed off by the president of Shenzhen Liulian Hospital.Zhao, her parents, and transplant specialists from the Shenzhen branch of the Red Cross Society of...

Caixin Media

11.02.12

18 Reforms for the Party’s 18th Congress

CAIXIN

China’s leadership handover comes at a critical moment for society and the economy, and changes are in order.The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party this month comes at a critical time described by economist Wu Jinglian as “a tipping point for China’s economic...

Caixin Media

10.26.12

Below-Belt Blows in Kungfu Restaurant Battle

CAIXIN

The crestfallen former chairman of fast-food restaurant giant Kungfu Catering Management Co. Ltd. is awaiting a verdict after a trial on corporate embezzlement charges apparently instigated by his former business partner’s wife.If Cai Dabiao is found guilty in Guangzhou’s...

Caixin Media

10.19.12

Flying Splinters

CAIXIN

Liu Futang expressed a sense of foreboding just before his recent arrest by posting a microblog entry that began, “If one day I’m invited out for tea, please don’t worry about me.”“Drink tea” is a euphemism in China for an unwanted interrogation by government...

Caixin Media

09.28.12

Bo Xilai Ousted from Communist Party

CAIXIN

The Communist Party has expelled Bo Xilai, the former party chief of Chongqing, who’s been embroiled in corruption allegations since early this year.The Politburo made the decision on September 28, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Bo will next face criminal charges.On...

Caixin Media

09.28.12

Living on Dangerous Ground

CAIXIN

Fractures had long plagued the rocky mountainside next to Huang Daihong’s home. When an earthquake jolted Luozehe County in Yunnan province, Huang watched a large black boulder release a shower of stones that instantly killed her neighbor.The September 7 quake that struck the...

Caixin Media

09.20.12

Hit TV Show Sings Song of Media Model Success

CAIXIN

A reality-talent TV songfest popular in more than forty countries around the world has become an instant hit in China, underpinning enthusiasm for an experimental business model linked to media sector reform.The Voice of China’s debut show in July immediately won high audience...

Caixin Media

09.17.12

How a Protest in Beijing Stuck to the Script

CAIXIN

On the afternoon of September 16, rows of policemen and security personnel in black T-shirts lined Beijing’s Liangmaqiao Road near the Japanese embassy during protests over the Diaoyu Islands controversy. Security guards were visible everywhere, both in the middle of the road...

Caixin Media

09.14.12

Why War is Not a Possibility

CAIXIN

There won’t be a war in East Asia.The United States has five military alliances in the western Pacific. Its allies are South Korea, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore. And American battleships are busy patrolling the seas.Without a go-ahead from Washington, there...

Caixin Media

09.14.12

Moneyless Pensions Yield No Gold for the Old

CAIXIN

SHENYANG—Morning breezes turn chilly in late August, signaling fall’s approach in the Tiexi factory district.For the unemployed men and women standing on sidewalks between a labor bureau office and a park every day at 6 a.m., the change of seasons is a reminder that searching...

Caixin Media

09.07.12

Despite Regulations, Bus Travel Still Risky

CAIXIN

Thirty-six people died recently on a Shaanxi province highway when a double-decker bus slammed into a fuel tanker.The crash underscored ongoing demands for beefing up traffic law enforcement and improving the design of these often-crowded overnight buses, which transport nearly...

Caixin Media

09.07.12

Long Ride for Justice

CAIXIN

Lea Cao had his first inkling that something was wrong when he got a long-distance phone call from relatives in southeastern China.His family members in Fuzhou phoned Cao in New York to say that his parents and brother had failed to arrive at the local train station as scheduled...

Caixin Media

09.05.12

Making a Killing on Herbal Medicine

CAIXIN

Mushroom gatherers converge and crawl on hillsides in Qinghai province every March while foraging for wild caterpillar fungus.Theirs is not a garden-variety morel hunt. Caterpillar fungus is a hard-to-find parasite that infects and mummifies a host before forming a mushroom, the...

Caixin Media

08.31.12

Tall Order in Ordos

CAIXIN

A desert city infamously littered with new but vacant apartment buildings and idle construction sites is getting no relief in the parched climate for local government budgets.Ordos, where local leaders have been trying for years to build a thriving community almost from scratch,...

Caixin Media

08.25.12

Gu Kailai: Getting Away with Murder?

CAIXIN

Closer Look: Nearly Getting Away with MurderBy Zhang JianjingShortly after Bogu Kailai received a death sentence with a two-year reprieve, four former high-ranking Chongqing police officers were sentenced to jail terms ranging from five to eleven years. Each officer was convicted...

Caixin Media

08.18.12

Economist Lin Yifu on State-Sustained Growth

CAIXIN

Standing up to a wave of pessimism about China’s prospects for continuing high-level economic growth is no easy task.But economist Lin Yifu, who recently retired as a senior vice president and chief economist at the World Bank, is holding his ground with a prediction that China...

Caixin Media

08.13.12

We Make It Pour, Declare Cloud-Seeders

CAIXIN

Will it be clear or gray skies today? Increasingly, the answer in China may be decided by the government.The Chinese have been seeding clouds for decades. Airplanes equipped with rocket-launchers and chemicals for inducing rainfall are based in thousands of counties across the...

Caixin Media

08.09.12

Subsidized Cartoons, Comics Tickling Too Few

CAIXIN

Breaking into the animated film industry usually requires a basic plan for blending colorful images and clever storytelling in ways that entertain the public—and make money.Since 2006, however, animated film start-ups in China have done quite well with a lot less effort by...

Caixin Media

08.03.12

Queerly Not Dangerous

CAIXIN

Several authors of a “danmei” fiction website were recently detained by authorities. The injustice is so glaringly obvious that I can’t stop myself from saying something.Danmei (or “boys' love”) fiction is particularly interesting only to a minority. The idea comes from...

Caixin Media

08.02.12

Landlords of the Rings Push Urban Rents Higher

CAIXIN

A twenty-six-year-old woman who moved to Beijing from a distant town for work could be a poster child for urban China’s latest housing market phenomenon: skyrocketing rents.The woman, surnamed Fang, said goodbye to Liaoning province three years ago for a job that paid 2,400...

Caixin Media

07.31.12

Shedding Light on the Solar Crisis

CAIXIN

After Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd., a Wuxi-headquartered photovoltaic cell producer, went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005, China’s solar industry grew at an astonishing speed. More than 200 photovoltaic product manufacturers are operating in Zhejiang province...

Caixin Media

07.26.12

Mass Medal Preparedness

CAIXIN

China’s Olympic training system demands its athletes give their all—and not expect much in return.It’s a structured, planned, and government-funded system specifically designed to churn out winners.While other countries around the world build Olympic teams with professional...

Caixin Media

07.26.12

Buried Under Water

CAIXIN

Ding Zhijian, a 34-year-old editor at a children’s literature publishing company, was on his way home after meeting a colleague when a horrific rainstorm hit Beijing.Earlier that day, his wife had asked Ding not to leave the house. It was the weekend, after all, and rain had...

Caixin Media

07.19.12

Vineyards Pop Corks on Chinese Wine Investors

CAIXIN

Wine-tasting party conversations among investors in China are increasingly sounding like sour grapes.Some well-heeled wine investors have been anxiously debating whether a price bubble for investment-grade wine is getting ready to burst. Others complain that counterfeiters who...

Caixin Media

07.19.12

More than Medals for China’s Olympic Stars

CAIXIN

China’s best athletes have not only broken records but they’ve hauled in increasingly sizeable cash bonuses from central and local governments for their champion, medal-winning performances at Olympic events.Between 1984, when China re-entered the Olympics arena, and the 2008...

Caixin Media

07.11.12

Economic Ties that Bind

CAIXIN

Labor leader Wayne Swan has his finger on the pulse of the Australian economy as the nation’s deputy prime minister and treasurer, which means he’s well-equipped to explain factors defining the increasingly robust relationship between China and Australia.The period since...

Caixin Media

07.11.12

Railroaded into a Fast-Train Technology Trap

CAIXIN

The professional dreams of a team of locomotive designers and rail systems engineers sped along steel tracks through the countryside of northeastern China.The year was 2003, and high-speed track testing was under way between the cities of Shenyang and Qinhuangdao for the China...

Caixin Media

07.06.12

Land of Vanishing Lakes

CAIXIN

The last lakes in Hubei province are shrinking so fast that no one knows whether new government regulations—the latest leg of a sixteen-year-old environmental scramble—can reverse the disappearing act.The province has been losing its once-bountiful lakes for about a hundred...

Caixin Media

07.06.12

Fighting the Filth

CAIXIN

Has the division of spoils from China’s rapid economic growth become a one-sided affair? The answer is less abstract when one considers the state of the nation’s environment.Waterways are barricaded by garbage, mountains gouged with dusty pits, and the air in many major...

Caixin Media

07.06.12

Powering Down Coal-Fired Economic Expansion

CAIXIN

Slowing nationwide power demand and coal consumption, twin barometers for economic growth, suggest the Chinese economy may be sailing into the doldrums while at the same time changing its course. Electricity use in May rose a relatively mild 5.2 percent compared to the same...

Caixin Media

06.29.12

Barclay’s Diamond Offers an Optimistic Vision

CAIXIN

A calm, confident Robert Diamond discussed financial restructuring in Europe and economic options for the Chinese government during a June 14 interview—thirteen days before the British bank where he serves as CEO, Barclays Group, was fined for manipulating interbank lending...

Caixin Media

06.29.12

Shale Gas Race

CAIXIN

The shale gas revolution in the United States has led to a debate in China over shale gas development. But can the United States really achieve energy self-sufficiency? And if it can, what are the implications for China?Ever since the Nixon era, almost every American president...

Caixin Media

06.27.12

Cash for China’s Homegrown Smartphone

CAIXIN

Xiaomi Mobile Internet Co. has raised US$216 million, its CEO says, raising the total value of the upstart, homegrown Chinese smartphone maker to US$4 billion.If Lei Jun’s claim is accurate, his two-year-old company’s value is close to the market capitalization of Research In...

Caixin Media

06.20.12

China’s Food Fright

CAIXIN

There’s no denying that the gastronomic horizons of Chinese cuisines sometimes verge on the infinite. But on factors of food quality, there’s little subtlety or nuance for safety standards. In the past five years, the number of public food and drug safety scandals has hit...

Caixin Media

06.18.12

Recurring Dreams for the Rule of Law

CAIXIN

On the Beijing campus of the China University of Political Science and Law stands a dramatic monument inscribed with the words of legal expert and former university president Jiang Ping: “Rule of Law for Everyone.”Jiang’s words carry special weight, even from retirement,...

Caixin Media

06.14.12

Uproar over Aborted Fetus Photo

CAIXIN

A Shaanxi Province woman provoked an uproar with an online posting of a photo showing her with her seven-month-old fetus after what she said was a forced abortion.The gruesome photo was reposted across the Internet in China, prompting provincial officials to...

Caixin Media

06.08.12

Road Show Media Bandits Squeeze IPO Hopefuls

CAIXIN

Buying media silence is a common first step toward an initial public offering in China that siphons billions of yuan every year from companies seeking investors in Shanghai and Shenzhen. The phenomenon has been documented by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC)....

Caixin Media

05.28.12

Rail Builders Shift Interest to Overseas Mines

CAIXIN

After a three-year wait, China Railway Construction Corp. Ltd. (CRCC) recently won permission to launch a major copper mining project in Ecuador. The production agreement signed April 25 by Ecuador’s government and Corriente Resources, a Canadian company jointly controlled...

Caixin Media

05.25.12

Policeman Burned for Dealing With the Devil

CAIXIN

On March 17, the Chenzhou Public Security Bureau announced Huang Bailian had been removed as head of the police department’s drug squad. Huang offered a simple explanation for his sacking: “This is retaliation.” Three years earlier Huang, who is forty-eight years old...

Caixin Media

05.23.12

Identity Crisis Rattles Volvo’s Chinese Owner

CAIXIN

New models bearing the Chinese-owned Volvo badge shared a luxury spotlight at the Beijing International Auto Show in April with perennial stars Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus.But behind the diamond-studded presentation was confusion over the legal status of Sweden-based Volvo Car...

Caixin Media

05.18.12

Demography and Destiny

CAIXIN

China is facing a demographic reckoning that is approaching a nightmare.For thirty years, the government has been obsessed with keeping population growth down, often resorting to late-term abortions and other brutal measures. The panic now is that China is growing old before it...

Caixin Media

05.18.12

Message in a Bottle for Spirits Maker Moutai

CAIXIN

A glass of Feitian Moutai packs a wallop, which is one reason why the 106-proof baijiu is a hit among influential government officials.They also like Feitian Moutai because a single bottle, thanks to special arrangements between state agencies and distiller Kweichow Moutai Co....

Caixin Media

05.18.12

Era Ends for China’s Legendary Stock Picker

CAIXIN

Investors who closely followed the stock picks of one of China’s most successful brokers are wandering in the wilderness—and wondering what will happen next to their unemployed luminary Wang Yawei.In April, and without warning, Wang resigned from his position as a star public...

Caixin Media

05.09.12

Along the Xiang, It’s Toxic from the Tap

CAIXIN

Water flowing from the Xiang River into the faucets of Hunan Province homes has been dangerous for decades. The central government first classified the river’s water as toxic in the 1980s. But the river was being called the most polluted in China as early as 1978, years before...

Caixin Media

05.04.12

The Ruins of Yuanmingyuan

CAIXIN

On a balmy, moonlit evening in the autumn of 2010, I took my son out to Yuanmingyuan to wander among the ruins. The 150th anniversary of the destruction of “The Garden of Perfect Brightness”—often called the Old Summer Palace—was approaching and I wanted him to see what...

Caixin Media

05.04.12

Chinese Firms Try Scoring with Spanish Soccer

CAIXIN

When NBA journeyman Damon Jones signed a shoe deal with sporting goods maker Li Ning in 2006, he became the first in a long line of American basketball players to win a sponsorship from a Chinese company.Today, China’s Peak Sport Products leads other domestic companies in terms...

Caixin Media

05.02.12

Garish Flowers of War

CAIXIN

The Flowers of War begins December 13, 1937, with young convent girls fleeing for their lives through a besieged Nanjing shrouded in mist. The first words heard are those of the lead girl Shujuan: “Everybody was running that day but no one could escape the thick fog.”It feels...

Caixin Media

05.02.12

Yearning for the Yuan

CAIXIN

London is forging ahead with plans for yuan-based financial services by developing an infrastructure and banking services that match its ambitions for the Chinese currency. On April 18, the city welcomed the first yuan-denominated bond issuance outside China’s sovereign...

Caixin Media

04.25.12

Watery Grave for Yangtze River Fish

CAIXIN

(Beijing)—Fishermen along the banks of the mighty Yangtze River have long spoken of emptier nets and longer waits for a catch.On April 2, an unusual auction held in a downstream city in Jiangsu Province added weight to their bleak reports: A single, 325-...

Caixin Media

04.18.12

Unscathed by Scandals, Official Promoted

CAIXIN

(Beijing)—Although sacked once for the coverup of the 2003 SARS epidemic and a second time for blocking media coverage of the 2008 Shanxi mudslides, Meng Xuenong’s career has always bounced back.According to the website of the China Youth Political...

Caixin Media

04.06.12

China: The Worst Place To Retire

CAIXIN

China is facing a crisis over providing for the elderly as its population ages and the supply of labor diminishes. The Beijing News reported in late March that state-run homes for the elderly in the capital are overcrowded. One had 7,000 applicants waiting for a vacancy,...

Caixin Media

03.29.12

Give Wenzhou What It Needs

CAIXIN

The development of China's private economy requires financial support, especially private financial support. Wenzhou is the home of the private economy. With 99.5 percent of companies falling into the category of small and micro enterprises, one in three people in Wenzhou is a...

Caixin Media

03.19.12

Fair Trade

CAIXIN

A typically opaque investigation can begin with a tip from a Shanghai Stock Exchange official and end with a ten-year jail term for a businessman convicted of insider trading. What happens in between is a carefully guarded secret. Likewise hidden from the public eye are the...

Caixin Media

03.19.12

An Insider's Account of the Wukan Protest

CAIXIN

For months, thousands of villagers in Wukan, Guangdong Province, staged large protests over illegal land seizures, rigged elections and official corruption. The unrest started in September, and as the months wore on they attracted nationwide, then worldwide, attention. Finally,...

Caixin Media

03.09.12

Ex-Officials Battle Plan to Build Nuclear Plants

CAIXIN

Work on China’s nuclear power plants started picking up again about a year after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. But the meltdown in March 2011 was still fresh on the minds of four retired cadres in Anhui Province’s Wangjiang County. They filed a petition opposing the...

Caixin Media

01.20.12

Melodies of My Youth

CAIXIN

When I was a child, my family had an old-fashioned phonograph that had been passed down from my grandfather. It required hand-winding and used a bamboo needle, and it came with special silver tweezers for cutting the bamboo needles. On the side of the phonograph was a logo...

DISCUSSION

In China’s Gulag

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

Near the end of The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn includes a chapter he calls “The Muses in Gulag.” Most of the chapter describes the absurdity and uselessness of the Communist Party’s Cultural and Educational Section, but he also briefly reflects on the relationship...

The Risks of Witness

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

With this, the third book that Harry Wu has published about China’s forced-labor prison camp system, we can see that he has been moving on a discernible trajectory, one that has taken him from the world of reality to the world of appearance. In this, we might observe, he seems...

China’s Dirty Clean-Up

SOPHIA WOODMAN

Every year, millions of China’s poorest and most vulnerable people are arrested on the streets of the nation’s cities merely because the way they look or speak identifies them clearly as “outsiders,” not native to the city in question, or because they are mentally ill or...