The rocket man

I just noted this piece of news. A farmer in Hubei Province fired improvised rockets to defend his home against the property developers who wanted to demolish his home. Because of his nerves of steel, the authorities backed down and offered him RMB750,000 (US$110,750) as compensation for vacating his land.

AFP photo
Forced eviction to pave way for property development engineered by corrupt local governments has been a constant source of social unrest in China. This rocket man’s act reveals just how both desperate and determined the victims are in defending their homes.

China’s first web-based online travel agency

If you want to buy air tickets for the Greater China region, check out this website
www.travelzen.com. It claims to be China’s only web-based online travel agency. You can book flights departing from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, with instant booking and confirmation. This looks like a real convenience for travelers to China. Currently, China’s other major travel sites like www.elong.com are not able to provide instant web-based booking and confirmation.

I’ve tried the interface of Travelzen website and I like it so far.

According to its website, the “Travelzen Group Limited is a joint venture between Shanghai Ever Bright Town International Travel Agency Limited (SEBTI), China’s largest private air ticketing wholesaler and a reputable international private equity group”.

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia

China’ most prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo was sentenced by the court to 11 years in jail on Christmas Day.

This is the fourth time he has been imprisoned because of his political position and his writings. He was researching in the US while the student democratic movement broke out in China in 1989. He rushed back to China and gave support to the students. He was jailed afterwards by the Chinese government.  

But that marked only the first sentencing he, as a dissident, received of a series to follow. Each time he was released, he kept on writing and speaking his mind about how to make China a better and democratic country, and each time he was sentenced to imprisonment or a labour camp.  

How Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, supports him is touching. She married him when he was in the labour camp. She sent him books when he was in prison so that he knew what her thoughts were and it was a way of communication between them, Liu Xia said. They also wrote poems to each other.

After the latest jail sentence was announced, Liu Xia told reporters in a clam voice: “If he (Liu Xiaobo) can persevere in the face of the ordeal, so can I.” Liu will be over 60 years old when he is released, she said.

She has had her head shaved. She is such a strong and steel-willed woman, just like her husband.

Taxi conversation monitored in Beijing

If you are now in Beijing, and need to take a taxi, watch out! Every word you say in the taxi will be monitored by the police.

To enhance the security in the run up to National Day on 1 October, a secret machine is now installed in each of the taxis in Beijing to monitor conversation, according to Hong Kong newspaper Mingpao. The machine is connected through satellite and GPS to the police intelligence centre so every word you say will be listened.

Naturally, the authority will not announce this to its people – keeping them in dark so that those needed to be caught can be caught.

Why is it that a country that calls itself People’s Republic can be so afraid of its people and so secretive towards its people?

China’s long holiday

If you plan to travel to mainland China, you’d better avoid the so called golden week in October this year. This year the week stretches from 1 October to 8 October, including the day for Moon Festival which falls on 3 October, making the week slightly longer than usual.

During the golden week, many local Chinese will travel around in the country, making hotel booking and transportation harder to arrange. The major scenic spots will also be packed with visitors. Avoid it.