China Digest, September 18, 2012
Kenji Fujimoto was accepted into Kim Jong-il's inner circle during a 13-year stint serving North Korea's first family. The Japanese sushi chef gives Julian Ryall his take on the communist dynasty'...
Girl, 9, cares for sick mum
A nine-year-old girl in Hefei has been taking care of her quadriplegic mother for the past two years, the Xinan Evening News reports. The girl dropped out of primary school at the start of grade one to look after her mother, who is divorced and was paralysed in a traffic accident. She feeds and cleans her mother each day, and wakes up every two hours nightly to turn her mother in bed.
Official on bribery charge
A 49-year-old senior official in charge of an economic development zone in Suzhou appeared before a court in Wuhu on charges of taking bribes of 4.3 million yuan (HK$5.27 million) and US$15,000 in exchange for civil service positions and property bids, during his ascension from a small village chief. A verdict had not yet been reached.
Drive on duty-free
More duty-free shops targeting foreigners will open in the capital, the city's director of tourism development said on Sunday, Qianlong.com reports. The current duty-free stores at the airport and in downtown areas cater mainly to domestic tourists, as some shops require customers to show Chinese passports.
Students ill from exercise
More than half of the approximately 6,000 Peking University students who last month underwent two weeks of military training - required for all university students on the mainland - became ill. Some students fainted after long hours of physical exercise, China National Radio reports. The news sparked debate online about whether schooling on the mainland focuses too much on academics and neglects exercise.
Police head suspected
Shenzhen police are investigating the former head of a police station in Shekou district for allegedly taking 500,000 yuan to release 28 suspects, The Southern Metropolis News reports. In March, a local night club was busted for offering illegal gambling, and 28 workers were detained. The club's boss allegedly paid off the commanding officer, and the suspects were all released without legal proceedings.
Lover with price tag
A Guangzhou man has been charged in connection with the kidnapping and attempted trafficking of his 14-year-old girlfriend, People.com.cn reports. Police said the man, whose age wasn't given, desperately needed money in May, so he coaxed the girl to come from Chaozhou to Guangzhou, where he told her to stay at a bus station with his friend. Meanwhile, he tried to find a buyer on the street willing to pay 5,000 yuan. He said the girl could "do anything". A shocked passer-by called police and the girl was rescued.
Beauty contest protest
Two masked female university students smashed a 1.2-metre-tall vase on Sunday in Wuhan in protest against a beauty pageant that set stringent requirements for contestants' appearance, including a minimal breast size, the Chutian Metropolis Daily reports. In a public area at the university, the women destroyed the vase, which wasn't valuable, with a hammer. They said such pageants increased discrimination against female job-seekers with average looks.
Car sales slump
More than 11,000 cars were sold in Wuhan during the first eight months of the year, a 20 per cent decline from the same period last year. Sales of mid-level sedans shrank sharply while those of imported luxury cars slightly increased, the Wuhan Evening News reports, citing the China Automobile Dealers Association. No reason was given for the overall decline.
A pricey lesson
Parents in the impoverished Haiyuan county, under Zhongwei city, are complaining that they are being forced to pay relatively hefty fees to ensure their children are accepted into public primary schools, the China Youth Daily reports. Parents must normally pay around 300 yuan in fees each semester, but schools are charging an additional 300 to 500 yuan for admission. A local headmaster admitted that the fees were being levied because of a flood of applicants.
Crash victims improve
Two people who were critically injured in a deadly traffic accident in Guyuan on Friday have stabilised and remain in intensive care, Xinhua reports. A total of 11 people were killed when a minivan packed with 17 people lost control and drove into a ravine. Four others suffered less serious injuries.
Study room crush
A recent job advertisement, seeking a person willing to occupy a seat in a quiet study room at a university in Jinan in exchange for 400 yuan a month, has highlighted the fierce competition for such chairs, the Shandong Business Daily reports. Students have to line up as early as 5am to ensure they get a seat when the study rooms open an hour later. When the doors finally open, there is a mad scramble for seats. Some students complained that, after getting up early and rushing for a chair, they don't have enough energy left to study.
Magic money trick
A supermarket cashier in Jinan was duped on Saturday by a sleight-of-hand move involving a bag of cash, the Jinan Times reports. The cashier said a man counted out 3,000 yuan in front of her for a box of luxury cigarettes, and then put the money into a bag. But when the cashier opened the bag she was given, it contained only sheets of paper cut into the shape of money. The man had already left. Police were looking for the swindler.
Bank of mum and dad
A couple had to sell their apartment and buy a smaller one to pay off a 300,000 yuan debt racked up by their 30-year-old son, who owes the money to banks and loan sharks, the Shanghai Morning Post reports. During the past six years, the son managed to get 25 credit cards from various banks, which allowed him to borrow about 10,000 yuan at a time, even though he earns just 2,000 yuan a month. Two years ago, the father had called every domestic bank telling them not to issue his son any more cards. But in the following four months, the son still received 13 credit cards from nine banks. The father is negotiating a payment plan with the banks.
More beds for babies
Three major maternity hospitals in the city are adding 100 beds this year to help deal with a surge in the number of newborns, the Oriental Morning Post reports. The baby boom is attributed to the Year of the Dragon, which is considered auspicious on the mainland and results in more couples having children. Some hospitals have already converted administrative offices to wards and reduced space offered to wealthy patients.
Bad romance turns fatal
Police detained a man at the railway station in Zigong city on Friday for allegedly killing his girlfriend, the West China City Daily reports. The man told police the woman made him pay her 1,000 yuan every time they had sex. He claimed she was also in relationships with several other men. Police said he stabbed her to death with a fruit knife in July after she insulted him for not paying her after sex.
Record holiday travel
Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu will handle an estimated 800,000 passengers on more than 5,700 flights over the week-long National Day holiday, starting on September 30, the Chengdu Daily reports. Both figures would be airport records.