If we are what we read, then Hong Kong is most concerned about investment, Taipei about politics and assassination, Beijing space exploration, and Shanghai the spread of contagious disease, according to a survey of new Chinese words. The ill-fated 'Link' investment fund set up by the Housing Authority emerged as the most frequently cited new Chinese word and phrase in Hong Kong media last year, according to an annual City University analysis of vocabulary in the four cities. In Taipei, it was the 'Truth Investigation Commission', which probed the election and the attempted assassination of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian. Beijing residents set their sights on outer space, as the 'Mars rovers' sent to probe the planet by Nasa, the American space agency, were most often mentioned. The Iraqi 'prisoner abuse' scandal was the most commonly cited in all four cities, followed by 'Spirit', the name of the Mars rover that has been returning dramatic images. Diseases were on everyone's mind. 'Japan brain', as in Japanese encephalitis, came fourth in Hong Kong; 'highly contagious' was top in Shanghai in the context of Sars. 'Jiangong', an abbreviation of the name of a Beijing hospital where a nurse contracted Sars last April, ranked third in all four cities, followed by IgG (immunoglobulin G) and IgM (immunoglobulin M), antibody groups which contain those against Sars, which appeared in English abbreviations. 'It is interesting to note that the four communities are concerned with different social matters and thus only a few items overlapped,' said Benjamin T'sou Ka-yin, linguistics professor and head of City University's Language Information Sciences Research Centre. 'But some issues also involved looking outwards such as the Mars rovers because the central government has great ambitions in space exploration.' The study used internet search engines and automated computer reading programmes to count about 70,000 new Chinese words or phrases appearing last year in newspapers and other media in the four cities. The words are either newly created, new abbreviations or old words given new meanings. Other often cited but cryptic new words included: 'double direct election', demands for universal suffrage in both the Hong Kong chief executive and Legislative Council elections; 'declare probity', the Communist Party's new corruption crackdown; 'control excess', a speed reduction campaign to reduce accidents on mainland roads; '40 per cent man', a ranking of baseball players in Taiwan; 'Proba', a European satellite whose pictures were mistaken as images of the Great Wall. Also mentioned are 'HISYS 1 chip', a high-performance computer chip which is made in Shanghai, and 'Combo-taxi', the mainland practice of picking up different passengers at the same time.