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Raymond Li

Like most young people today, Zhang Kun has spent a lot of time hanging out at internet cafes. The 26-year-old from Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, liked watching online porn as a teen, until one day he stumbled on a video link that prompted him to search for the truth, and eventually transformed him into a campaigner for civil society.

Xie Zhongchao, a dealer at an open-air scrap market on the northern outskirts of Beijing, is at a loss when asked what he will do after the site is soon demolished.

Former premier Wen Jiabao has insisted on his innocence and integrity in a letter to a Hong Kong newspaper columnist in a bid to contain damage from claims that his extended family accumulated massive wealth during his tenure at the top.

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The sudden death of China Railway Group's president has triggered investor concerns over the heavy debt burden of the nation's railway builders, which analysts say will be hard to shake off in the near term.

The Ministry of National Defence denied that the PLA was already moving ahead with plans to set up a joint command headquarters to improve co-ordination between different military branches, state media reported.

The massive vote-buying scandal that has already decimated the local people's congress in one Hunan city exposes deep-rooted problems in the country's legislative system, analysts said.

Li Chongxi, the chairman of the provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, is the third senior Sichuan official to fall under suspicion this year in what analysts describe as a widening investigation into Zhou Yongkang (inset) and his supporters.

When Mao Siping, a former rice farmer in Shaoshan in Hunan province, decided to try his luck at a local souvenir market touting memorabilia of the late Chairman Mao Zedong to tourists 20 years ago, he said at best he made 10,000 yuan (HK$12,600) a year.

The sight of a bust of Mao Zedong being worshipped alongside deities at shrine in local homes and restaurants is a startling reminder to visitors that they are in Shaoshan , birthplace of the late Chinese leader still affectionately referred to as Chairman Mao 37 years after his death.

From red pork dishes to badges and little red books, almost everything bearing the mark of Mao Zedong is popular on the mainland, as businesses try to make money from the man and his controversial legacy.

Comedians delight in offending. What makes them different from louts is their willingness to make fun of themselves. Sanctimony, in their eyes, is the only true blasphemy. But dancing on the grave of an enemy is hard to do gracefully, as performer Guo Degang has no doubt recently realised.

A deputy national police chief with close ties to former security tsar Zhou Yongkang has become the latest target in a widening corruption probe that has shaken the highest levels of the ruling Communist Party.

The national college entrance exam, or gaokao, has been a bittersweet experience for millions of mainlanders. Those lucky enough to have passed went on to college and left with a degree which for years has been a sure guarantee of a good career.

The air quality index in the capital was as high as 356 at 9pm, ending a week-long streak of blue-sky days. Anything worse than 300 is considered "severe", the highest rating on the six-level rating system.

Wang Yuanyuan, the director of the Beijing Dance Theatre, was traumatised when the mainland tour of her ballet production The Golden Lotus was suspended by regulators last year. She has now become much more cautious through fear of falling foul of the censors again.

China has referred to Nelson Mandela as an old friend of Chinese people in a tribute to the former South African president who died on Thursday at the age of 95.

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China could follow the dangerous path of several African countries where more women than men fall prey to the Aids epidemic if the country fails to enact powerful measures to tackle the problem, particularly among vulnerable groups, women's rights advocates warn.

Wang Weijun said he felt a kick in his stomach each time he saw his daughter sitting alone in the last row of her middle school classroom. But he said he always swallowed his complaints. Wang's daughter, Kaijia, is 16 and has lived with HIV since 1999.

Wang Peian, the deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said that allowing couples to have a second children when only one parent was an only child represented a minor change. He even disputed using the word "relaxation" to describe it.

Communist Party leaders across the country could eventually move into official residences as part of a plan to tackle official corruption, although experts said the change would mean little without greater disclosure of officials' wealth.

Beijing's initial US$200,000 donation to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines fell far short of both China's economic clout and its ambitions to be a major world player.

Many college students felt despair as they size up their chances of landing a government job. Despite positions in the civil service remaining as highly sought after as ever, with thousands often vying for a single opening, a growing number of vacancies are proving hard to fill.

Beijing's Uygur communities fear the fallout from this week's suspected terrorist attack in Tiananmen Square could disrupt their daily lives, damage their businesses and increase mistrust with members of the capital's Han majority.

An unusual bout of smog in Sanya has alarmed locals and tourists alike. They fear the resort city's reputation as a haven from the country's worsening air pollution may be at risk.

China Central Television has been rallying behind President Xi Jinping's "mass line" movement in recent weeks by turning its attention to issues likely to get a rise out of the average mainlander.

Frustration over their troubled relationship drove a man to kill his pregnant wife and six of her relatives - including a child and a 8toddler - police said yesterday after arresting him for the deadly rampage.

A joint initiative by People's Daily and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security to provide accredited courses for "public opinion analysts" is likely to be welcomed by thousands of mainland journalism graduates struggling to find a job. But the move is raising unease in some quarters amid Beijing's heightened controls over the internet.

The life sentence for Bo Xilai marks the end of a compelling drama - but both his admirers and his critics felt the case failed to tell the whole story. Huang Chengcheng, a Chongqing native who criticised Bo's brutal campaign against crime gangs, said Bo deserved his sentence.

Perhaps it is not surprising that another corruption trial involving a former railways official failed to attract much media attention at first.

Jin Jianping, who stepped down from the helm of Hong Kong-listed Tianjin Jinran Public Utilities at the start of this month, was placed under internal investigation by the Communist Party for "serious disciplinary violation" - often a euphemism for graft - Xinhua said in a brief report yesterday, citing the city's anti-graft watchdog.

As many as 1,000 section heads and higher-ranking CNPC executives were also ordered to submit daily reports about their attendance, and industrial accidents, even if none occurred, the Securities Daily newspaper reported yesterday citing an unidentified company source.

Ding Shumiao, a Shanxi businesswoman accused of colluding with former railways chief Liu Zhijun over projects worth 180 billion yuan (HK$226 billion), has been indicted on charges of bribery and illegal business activities, Xinhua reported.

Jiang Jiemin, director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (Sasac) and former chairman of the country's biggest oil company, is suspected of "serious discipline violations", Xinhua reported yesterday, using the party's euphemism for graft.

For much of his career, Zhou Yongkang glided among the most influential sectors of modern China - oil, land and eventually the national police apparatus. Much of his success can be traced to his membership of the so-called petroleum gang - top officials who began their professional lives in the industry as the nation pivoted from oil exporter to importer in the 1990s.

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The teenage son of a renowned army singer denied gang rape charges yesterday in a closely watched case that has aroused widespread anger over the behaviour of children of the elite.

Wang Yongchun, a deputy general manager of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), is being investigated for "gross violation of party discipline", Xinhua reported yesterday citing the Central Discipline Inspection Commission, the Communist Party's top graft-busting body.

The face-off between Bo Xilai and his former right-hand man provided a measure of satisfaction to some of those who suffered under their abusive "strike hard" campaign against crime in Chongqing . But others dismissed the event as just another act in a staged trial.

Despite efforts by prosecutors in Jinan to cast Bo Xilai as abusive and corrupt, the trial appears to have only increased his already substantial popularity in Chongqing, where he reigned supreme for five years.

A journalist turned whistle-blower working for Guangzhou-based New Express newspaper was taken away from his home in Chongqing by police on Friday, a month after he publicly accused a deputy director of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) of gross dereliction of duty linked to his handling of state assets several years ago.

People in Beijing living near the route of a high-speed railway line have rejected a revised construction plan that shortens the route, saying they still don't know enough about how the project will affect their environment.

Yang Zhizhu, an associate law professor at China Youth University for Political Sciences, told the South China Morning Post yesterday that he wrote to the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection about alleged irregularities implicating Tang Zhongyuan, an executive deputy director of Hunan police from late 2008 until July 2011.

For two decades, self-proclaimed qigong master Wang Lin led a comfortable life outside the media glare - until photos were leaked last week showing him receiving billionaire Alibaba founder Jack Ma Yun at his villa in Jiangxi's Luxi county.

Minutes after bribery, embezzlement and abuse-of-power charges were filed against the former Chongqing party chief in Jinan, Shandong, state media outlets went into overdrive denouncing Bo, praising the legal action and calling for party unity.

A woman was killed and three people, including a 2-1/2-year-old boy, were hurt in another indiscriminate attack in Beijing yesterday amid rising concerns over public safety on the mainland.

The hustle and bustle of the "summer summit" is back in the seaside town of Beidaihe. Punters had questioned whether this year's meeting would be suspended as part of the austerity drive ushered in by President Xi Jinping .

A petitioner in a wheelchair set off a home-made bomb near the international arrivals gate at Beijing Capital International Airport yesterday evening, raising security concerns at one of the world's busiest airports.

The eldest son of late party general secretary Hu Yaobang, a key reformist and liberal, has dismissed allegations that he has a hidden luxury home in an upscale Beijing estate, amid further allegations of his other siblings' ties to scandal-hit businesses.

During a visit last week to Xibaipo - the People's Liberation Army's headquarters at the end of the civil war - Xi reminded party members of Mao's so-called six nos, which barred officials from things like hosting birthday parties and exchanging presents.

Beijing businesswoman Ge Yue does not know whether her daughter will one day study abroad. But she believes the three weeks the 13-year-old spent on a study tour of Britain last summer was valuable to her development in today's globalised world.

The Communist Party's propaganda chief has unveiled a new plan for the broad realisation and promotion of the "Chinese dream" abroad, a campaign championed by party general secretary Xi Jinping.

A slew of high-profile scandals involving senior Communist Party officials in recent months prompted President Xi Jinping to call for a fundamental overhaul of the appointment and promotion regime for cadres during a recent national conference on the promotion of meritocracy.

A regional branch of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation in Henan province was back in the limelight last week as a demolition of a giant statue it built two years ago triggered a media outcry over a perceived waste of public donations.

Several of Zhou's former aides or close associates have been implicated in corruption or placed under Communist Party disciplinary investigation amid a stepped-up graft crackdown launched by the new administration under the leadership of President Xi Jinping .

At a meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Li Keqiang yesterday, the cabinet unveiled a raft of initiatives to spur economic restructuring and maintain balanced growth. The economy grew at a slower-than-expected pace in the first quarter.

The Communist Party, under new general secretary Xi Jinping, is delving deeper into the legacy of the late Mao Zedong for inspiration to help clean up its ranks amid rising disillusionment over widespread official corruption, analysts said.

Beijing has unveiled a basket of initiatives to deepen economic, cultural and social exchanges across the Taiwan Strait, following a high-profile meeting last week between President Xi Jinping and Wu Poh-hsiung, the honorary chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang.

Liberal economist Mao Yushi has cancelled a talk in a bustling Zhejiang city next week amid mounting pressure from leftist conservatives. Mao, 84, said yesterday that he had decided not to attend the business forum in Xiaoshan because he did not want to see a repeat of the chaotic scenes that have followed him in recent weeks.

Feng Xiufang was skinning the necks of poultry on the processing line early on Monday morning when she heard a supervisor yell out, telling everyone to flee the slaughterhouse.

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In recent weeks prominent liberal economist Mao Yushi has experienced first-hand the leftist revival taking shape on the mainland. First, Mao, 84, was bombarded last month by insults and even death threats by anonymous callers angered by his criticism of the party's patriarch, Mao Zedong.

Yang Biao has spent every weekend for the past two months at job fairs. The 25-year-old, who will finish a Chinese literature degree at Beijing University of Technology in July, has also sent out nearly 200 job applications.

News that yet another teacher has been accused of molesting students - this a time a primary school principal in Hainan - sparked soul-searching media commentaries on how the mainland's school system and the criminal law itself had failed to protect minors.

More than half of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on the mainland have heard colleagues use insulting language or tell offensive jokes about LGBT people, resulting in most choosing to stay in the closet, according to a report released in Beijing yesterday.

In recent days, tens of thousands of mainlanders have signed a petition to the US government's public website, We The People, calling on the Obama administration to intervene in the two-decade-old poisoning case and help bring the suspect, believed to be living in the US, to justice.