Earthquake hit Xiamen

According to Xiamen Seismological Bureau, a Richter magnitude 4.4 Earthquake shook Xiamen at 9:36, July 5, 2008. The epicenter (24°5’N-117°9’E) was between Xiamen and Longhai. Most of Xiamen area felt the temblor.

Did you feel it? I am wondering if Xiamen is vulnerable to a tsunami when a major earthquake strikes.


Officials Admit Existence of Grievances Before Violent Protest

Here is the official explanation to the protest happened last week, which was sparked by the controversial death of a young female student:

At a panel discussion on the protest on Wednesday, officials from the provincial and local governments said local authorities in Weng’an County had failed to solve disputes over mines, demolition of homes for city building, relocation of residents for reservoir construction, reform of state-owned enterprises and many other issues.

“Some legitimate interests (of the people) were not effectively protected, and some people bore grievances,” said a Guizhou Daily report on Thursday.

The quotes are from a post in Xinhua, the state news agency.

The next question to ask, after admitting that some people’s legitimate interests were not cared for, is who was responsible and what to do next.


A Plugin to Show Tag Clouds in Animated Flash

I stumbled upon a cool WordPress plugin called WP Cumulus. It animates the Tag Cloud widget using Flash, and renders tags into a rotating sphere. I am a little tired after an overhaul of my blog a few days ago, so I’ll bookmark this plugin in this post and implement later. It appears to support WordPress 2.5.

Download: Flash based tag cloud frontend

Update: I finally implemented this Flash Plugin on my site. It can’t show Tags in Chinese, and I hope it has an option to display Tags in a cube. Other than these minor complaints, it is easy to install and configure, and certainly make your site look cool.


Chinese Netizens Breathe New Life into Common Phrases

“Who cares, I am just buying some soy sauce” said a pedestrian, when he was asked of his opinion about the leaked porn photos of Hong Kong celebrities. Perhaps because of the public attention on the widespread porn photos, the man’s response sounded very funny for netizens. Now the saying “I’m just buying some soy sauce” is attached with new meaning, suggesting a cynical attitude toward the major events happened in China. It also carries a sense of the silent protest on the part of observers – by claiming to distant oneself from the event while silently paying attention to it.

The official description at the press conference about a young girl, whose suspicious death triggered a riot last week in Wengan County, created another popular phrase among Chinese netizens — doing push-ups. You can read my post Rape or Push-up exercises to see what happened. The focused public attention on this event again contributed to the instant popularity of the phrase “doing push-ups”, suggesting some netizens’ disbelief about the official explanation that the young student drowned herself, instead of being raped and murdered.

The creative Chinese netizens have made some caricatures about the soy sauce phrase on the Internet.

The young man told the reporter: who cares, I am just buying some soy sauce.

The words read: Soy Sauce guides the People. Indicating an attitude of ‘detached involvement’ toward social events and issues


Rape or Push-up Exercises?

I am very surprised to read about the large-scale riot happened in Wengan County, Guizhou Province on June 28th. Not believing an incident like this happened again in this already troubled year of 2008, I did some googling about the news. As expected, I received the “Connection Interrupted” error prompt in my browser, reminding me of the powerful presence of the Great Fire Wall. So I fired up a VPN connection and continued my search.

The riot or protest (you choose one word) was caused by the death of a fifteen year old girl who was a high school student in Wengan County. There are several versions about what actually happened, and I will start with the version from the official press conference (my rough translation):

At about 8 pm on June 21, Li Shufen (the victim) went out to dine with Liu Yantao and Chen Guanghan in the house of their mutual friend,a girl from another high school. Both Liu and Chen worked as interns of a local aluminum factory. At 11:30 pm, the group of four people went to the riverside to play. On the bridge, Li sat on the curb of the bridge and said, “Will I die if I jump over the bridge?” The other three persons present thought she was joking, and paid little attention to it, after casually persuading Li. Li went on, saying “If I didn’t die after the jumping, I will live a worthy life”, as Chen sat down chatting with the other girl, and Liu was doing some push-ups on the bridge. At 12:10 midnight, they heard the sound of water splashing, and found Li jumped into the water from over the bridge…

So according to the officials, the violence was organized by local gangsters and the mafia society harboring malicious intentions, along with the disgruntled families and relatives of the dead girl. Officials claimed in the news conference that all the three suspects are from rurual areas, and none of them have any connections with the party secretary of the county.

The description in the official report about the suspects doing push-ups instantly became a catch-phrase among Chinese netizens. The sudden popularity of the phrase “doing push-ups” suggests the some netizens’ doubt about the official news release, and the possible sightings of an on-going rape on the bridge by witnesses.

There are two versions on the Internet about what happened:

It is said the other girl at the scene is affiliated with some local official. Wang previously asked Li to help her cheat in an exam, but was refused by the victim, resulting the revenge by Wang. The local police dismissed the death of the girl as a suicide case, and released the suspects without thorough investigations. The angry students from both high schools (No. 4 and No. 1) demonstrated in the street, joined by locales and clashed with the police at several government buildings.

Another version goes like this:

The uncle of the girl tried to blackmail the three young persons who were with the girl when she committed suicide. He asked for a compensation of half of million Yuan (about $70,000) from them, but was refused. He then went to the local police station to report the crime, argued with and possibly attacked a policeman on duty. The uncle of the girl was beaten up and hospitalized by some people of unknown identities soon after he left the police station.

The highway from Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou to Wengan County are said to be closed afterwards due to a “road cave-in”, according to some netizens who saw the road closure sign.

I am just writing here what I read on the Internet with a filtered and firewalled connection, and I don’t assume any responsibility for the accounts of these incident widely available on the Internet. A reader I am, and a reader I will continue to be.

Photos are from dwnews, and they have more on their site. More photos on this page.


Obama will Become the Next President

It is not wise to predict the future, but I will predict anyway…

I am pretty certain that Barack Obama will win the presidential election and become the next President of the U.S. Why?

  1. The mid-term election in 2006 showed that voters did not like the War in Iraq, and Democrats took over the majority of the Congress mainly because of their anti-war position.
  2. The general people of the U.S. are now facing a very high gas price due to the unprecedented surge of oil price. This will affect the voters’ attitude toward the oil tycoons and Bush administration.
  3. U.S. economy is in a recession and a bad economy usually means the doom of the incumbent party in the presidential election.
  4. McCain still followed his old hawkish republican route, claiming this is ‘dangerous world’ and America needs more military power to defend itself. Well, he will see how many voters actually buy this talk. Even if he wants to play the role as a tough guy, I doubt there will be resources available for military expansion, with a costly war going on in Iraq.
  5. Yes, Obama is black, and the undercurrent of racism in American society will still cast a shadow on his historic campaign. But he presented himself not as a member of the disadvantaged black community, but as ‘Obama for America’. This will more or less avoid a racial election. No doubt more blacks will vote for him, but in the meantime, his campaign strategy as a reformer and change-bringer eased the racial negatives.

In summary, McCain will lose because of its hawkish, war-mongering stance which is no more convincing to the population at large. In contrast, Obama will win the election because his promise to bring ‘changes’ and his focus on domestic concerns and issues hungering for attention.