Wednesday, July 4, 2012

China Buzz

China Buzz

Zhang Yimou criticized for pocketing big cash from Ministry of Railways

Posted: 02 Jul 2012 06:50 PM PDT

Zhang Yimou criticized for pocketing big cash in producing promotional film for MOR

Recently, China's National Audit Office has released an auditing report of the Ministry of Railways’ annual budget performance and other financial income and expenditure. The report shows the MOR had invested 18.50 million yuan in producing its promotional film between 2009 and 2010, under the circumstance that the MOR did not follow public bidding regulations.

Netizens have dug out this 5-minute long film, and found that it was directed by Zhang Yimou (张艺谋). Since the film is in poor quality, netizens have severely criticized Zhang for pocketing such a huge amount of money for it.

May Daily posted the video and said,

Watch the video clip and judge for yourself whether it's worth 18.5 million yuan ($3 million).

Bear in mind, the money is double the production cost of the comedy blockbuster Love Is Not Blind (失恋33天), and 1.5 times the expenditure of the award-winning film A Simple Life (桃姐), which features "Heavenly King" Andy Lau (刘德华) and veteran actress Deanie Ip (叶德娴).

Naturally, corruption was involved.

On Monday, responding to the criticism, Zhang’s assistant Pang Li said in a phone interview that when Liu Zhijun was the railway minister, there was a production company coming to the director for the promotional film. But Zhang proposed to give suggestions only instead of using his name, which the production company had agreed.

Pang Li added, “When Liu Zhijun was expelled, the filming program had once been stranded. Later, when it was re-started, the program had been revised several times, which varied much from the director’s initial ideas. The director was not involved in shooting at all, but just raising some advice afterwards.

However, facing the questions that Zhang Yimou was paid very much high for the film, Pang said, they asked for similar costs for other advertisement shootings as Zhang is in this high level..

News reporter forced to resign after reporting corruption in Xi’an

Posted: 02 Jul 2012 02:21 PM PDT

News reporter forced to resign after reporting corruption

A Xi’an Evening News reporter has been fired, after he ran a story exposing that a county party secretary was spotted at a conference (to bestow elder party members in poverty) with a pack of infamously expensive cigarettes “Nanjing 95 Imperial (南京九五至尊)”.

It triggered a huge wave of public anger over the official’s “Imperial” power, when the incident was widespread on China’s online space.

The county’s top official ever made a response to the sensitive report, saying that there were only three sticks in the pack when a village head handed to him, and that he was not aware the cigarettes are this expensive.

But, why were they so hasty to force the reporter to resign?

As of now, the reporter’s superiors have not come forward with any reasons for dismissing him.

The luxury cigarettes have been growing fast in China like luxury liquor, mainly because the country’s corrupt political and social systems have provided the hotbed for them. The luxury cigarettes are usually used to curry favor with government officials.

North Korea exports its laborers to China to raise cash for the regime

Posted: 02 Jul 2012 12:16 PM PDT

North Korea exports its laborers to China to raise cash for the regime

According to The Seattle Times, China and North Korea has signed a deal to allow North Korea to export tens of thousands of North Korean workers to China to raise cash for the regime, said an article posted on Netease, one of China’s four largest web portals.

The labor deal has not been publicly announced by either Beijing or Pyongyang, but the first batch of North Korean guest workers have arrived in China’s Tumen city several months ago.

Reportedly, North Korea would send about “40,000 seamstresses, technicians, mechanics, construction workers and miners to work in China on industrial training visas,” and “most of the workers’ earnings will go directly to the communist North Korean regime.

Under the deal, each worker could earn around $200 to $300 salary per month, but they are likely to keep less than $50 because all the other part will be remitted to the regime. (“Nevertheless, the jobs are considered a privilege because wages at home are well under $10 per month and food is scarce for many families,” according to The Seattle Times.)

When picking its workers to work in China, the North Korean government made “a very meticulous selection process“. They must be very loyal, and in order to ensure that they will not run away, the government also requires workers must be married and have relatives working in the country’s Workers’ Party.

In fact, as disclosed by South Korean media, Pyongyang has exported its workers to far eastern Russia, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic before too, but “their contracts were canceled because of European human rights activists’ concern that they were virtually slave laborers.

China side did not publicize the labor deal, as it was said Beijing would worry that the public opinion in the county would be unfriendly to the communist North Korean regime.

For the Chinese employers, “There are no better employees than North Koreans: They are obedient, efficient and cheap.” But the public would not be in favor of the deal, as in this May a group of armed North Koreans seized 29 Chinese fishermen for almost 2 weeks for ransom.

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