Are humans born good or evil? Why do we sometimes need to feel good about ourselves by putting others down? Why is a sense of superiority needed to boost our ego? Regional discrimination is common in China and that has become evident during the Sars outbreak. Sars makes us wear masks as a protective measure. At the same time, the disease helps unmask our true nature, normally hidden behind the soft veils of personalities. Now, every raw emotion is exposed. As usual, Niuniu logs on to a popular Internet chat room to gather information for her stories and sees a heated debate raging. It started with a provocative message from someone called 'Hong Kong Babe'. Hong Kong Babe posts the chat room message on the Web site owned by a mainland company. The message reads: 'You mainlanders make the Chinese look bad in front of the world. You mainlanders are so backward! We Hong Kong people have to suffer with you now. We want to go back to British rule!' As probably expected, or hoped for, Hong Kong Babe's message creates a stir. A guy called 'Northern Love' responds: 'You must be a skinny flat-chested babe who is not civilised enough to speak Putonghua. Don't you know the whole thing started because people in your region eat anything with legs but tables, anything that flies but airplanes, and anything that swims but ships. Because of your eating habits, we - the Northerners - get the germs from you who get the germs from animals!' Before Hong Kong Babe can reply, a message from 'Spring Ocean' appears. 'Hi, anybody from Taiwan? I'm from Taipei. I think the reason our situation in Taiwan is not as bad as Hong Kong is because we aren't cramped; we have more space. We aren't as bad as the mainland because Taiwan is more advanced, medically and politically.' Hong Kong Babe finally posts a message: 'FYI: I live in the Mid-Levels on Hong Kong Island. Here, life is better than on Kowloon-side. Those who live in old, dirty, and inexpensive places are more likely to get infected. The area where I live has many foreigners.' Surprisingly, Hong Kong Babe does not draw more hostile responses. Instead, the message board evolves into a tug of war between two mainland cities. 'Louis Vutton' (sic): 'Hi, I'm from the mainland. To be specific, I'm from Shanghai. I feel safe living in Shanghai. Once again, we've done a better job than Beijing.' 'Magic Dragon': 'Beijing's situation is so bad because so many sick people from out of town have come to Beijing to get treated in the hospitals. When they need help, the first place they think of is Beijing, not Shanghai. Beijing people have never been as selfish as the Shanghainese!' Seeing the situation disintegrate, someone named 'American Passport' posts his message: 'Guys, stop fighting. It doesn't matter if you are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Beijing or Shanghai, you are all deemed the same here in America! Nobody is better than anyone else. Do you know that many US Chinatowns' business has dropped severely? So has the business in the Japanese enclave near my house. Some of my American co-workers think everyone with an Asian face might have relatives who live with pigs.' Following American Passport, Niuniu posts her own message. She gives herself a name, 'China Doll'. China Doll: 'A Taiwanese author once said that each Chinese individual is a dragon, but when the Chinese group together, they become a fat worm. Do you know why? The Chinese have never been united. They always try to categorise themselves and others. The city people look down on the country people, the rich look down on the poor. It is so stupid!' 'Domestic Love' posts a response: 'Who are you? Writing slogans here? Where are you from? How dare you refer to the Chinese as they? How dare you call us stupid?' Niuniu feels funny but being attacked online doesn't upset her. Instead, it is entertaining for some reason. She understands why Hong Kong Babe has written those provocative messages. She must be bored and wants attention. Under a new identity, you can do anything you want and say anything you want. So China Doll writes: 'I'm a Beijing-born Chinese-American. My family tree consists of a Taiwanese father, a stepmother from northeast China, and a Beijing mother who married an American. In one word, I'm Chinese.' Louis Vutton: 'This 'China Doll' sounds suspicious with such a complicated background. Might be an American spy. We'd better report her to the online police.'