Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Shanghai Daily reports that the Shenyang Intermediate Court began hearings on May 25th in the case of Wang Fengyou, the former president of Liaoning Yilishen Tianxi Group, and 54 other suspects who face various criminal charges in connection with what was apparently a pyramid scheme involving ant farming. You would pay a certain amount to the company and in return get an ant-raising kit and a promise of regular purchases amounting to a 30% annual return. The ants were supposed to be ground up for use in an aphrodisiac manufactured by the company. (L.A. Times story here.)
When I first thought of blogging about this case, I planned on wondering here why nobody ever bothered about the fraud involved in claiming that ground-up ants could be an aphrodisiac, since to the best of my knowledge there is no scientific support for such a claim. But a little further research showed that Yilishen's product, touted as the "Chinese Viagra", was in fact probably just as effective, no more and no less. After all, according to the Food and Drug Administration in a warning, it was not just a harmless if useless herbal supplement: it contained prescription-strength quantities of sildenafil, the active drug ingredient in Viagra. The powdered ants were just a bonus, I guess.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Here are some links and translations from the China Digital Times. The CDT story includes some photos of performance art put on by some Beijing college students in support of Deng Yujiao. The characters in the photo here say, "Anyone could become a Deng Yujiao."
Meanwhile, Caijing reports on local-government shenanigans involving Deng's mother and the attorneys she retained for Deng. Apparently considerable pressure is being put on Deng's mother.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
There are studies out there purporting to show that Chinese citizens score their government higher on various measures of satisfaction and legitimacy than do citizens of many Western democracies. It has always seemed to me naive to take these at face value and to assume that they really measure something comparable; for example, Americans asked if they are satisfied with their government can easily conceive of an alternative - having the other party in power - whereas Chinese might well consider the alternative to CCP rule to be chaos and civil war. One's perception of the alternatives is going to shape one's answer. But even more telling is the unquantifiable but constant drumbeat of news stories indicating that dissatisfaction with officialdom goes way beyond what we see in the countries that score lower than China in these polls. It is hard to imagine something like the Yang Jia case in the US, for example - when popular opinion is overwhelmingly sympathetic to someone who goes into a police station and brutally murders several officers who had not personally done anything to him.
In any case, the lastest example of this is the story of Deng Yujiao, a waitress in an entertainment club - probably a dodgy karaoke of some kind - who fatally stabbed a local official who wanted sexual services from her. Below is the introduction to her story from China Elections and Governance; full text here.
This year's unlikely heroine is Deng Yujiao, a 21 year old waitress at an entertainment club in Badong County, Hubei. On Sunday May 10, she became the perpetrator in the stabbing murder of Deng Guida, a township level official, and she also injured his companion and colleague Huang Dezhi.