ARE you the sort of megadealer who is prepared to gamble millions on the price of beans? If so, you should head across the border because in China, beans are hot. It's all thanks to last week's decision by mainland authorities to pull the plug on the nation's favourite casino, the treasury bond futures market. So, all the entrepreneurs and wheeler-dealers needed a new game to play. Apart from throwing some cash back at China's second favourite casino, the Hong Kong stock market, their big new game is commodity futures. Last Friday's trade in green bean futures on the Beijing commodity exchange alone was the equivalent of 3.2 million tonnes of beans - enough to give three kilograms of beans to everyone in China. In Dalian, the trade in corn futures was a popping 2.3 million tonnes on Friday alone - enough to feed everyone in China for at least a week. As for plywood futures, trade in Shanghai easily is passing the equivalent of 100 million pieces of plywood a day - enough to make every child in China a school desk. There are futures markets in everything, sprouting up across the country in bizarre places and on the most exotic commodities. Suzhou is trading dried cocoon futures, silk futures, and even polyester chip futures. In Shanghai, would you believe they even are trading sodium carbonate futures. Given that this is just pieces of rock, it might be expected to be pretty stable price-wise, but they are punting away anyhow. Physical delivery in some markets means it could be a trick to secretly corner the market - anyone hiding a million tonnes of green beans soon would be rumbled. The competition could start sniffing out your open position very quickly. It is inevitable there will be a clampdown on speculation, and we asked our source in China to investigate what mainlanders would speculate on next. 'I hear they are going to set up a computerised system for betting on which raindrop reaches the bottom of a window first,' he said. Big brother MUMBLINGS are being heard from the direction of the clubhouse at the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club over the decision to make Larry Yung Chi-kin its president. There are usually reckoned to be five things that qualify a member for such honour - building up the game, serving on the club's equivalent to the Politburo, and similar stuff. Some members say Larry does not really get a tick in any of the boxes. On the other hand, he has just become Hong Kong's most generously paid director, thanks to a $200 million payout on share options - thus earning about four times the total package of the president of General Motors. And, of course, his papa is friend to lots of people in Beijing. On the other other hand, Larry's papa is not getting any younger. Anyhow, it seems to be a bit late to change things. Members we have spoken to generally say it would compound the disaster to do anything about it. And there is the issue of the lease. The club is in the New Territories on large slabs of precious land which it does not own, and it has the occasional run-in with local villagers who dispute the club's absolute right to use the land. The alternative to having bouncing Larry as president might be losing some of the club's land some time after 1997 through lack of friends in the right places. Return trade LIKE many others, Desmond Wu of Happy Valley was enticed by the super-cheap mobile telephones currently being advertised widely at anyone who descends into the MTR. He bought one and it worked - for about three hours. At the service centre he found a long queue of telephone owners with similar complaints, and a sign listing the company's corporate goals: '95 per cent of our new customers will come back'.