LI YANG The me­dia ex­posed 2014 hor­ror sto­ries

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

The end of a year is al­ways a busy time for the me­dia. But it was an ex­cep­tion this year for me­dia in China, be­cause at least three re­ported news events in the last three weeks of 2014 may have changed the way peo­ple look at their coun­try.

In early De­cem­ber, a real es­tate company in Nanyang city, He­nan prov­ince, hired six AIDS pa­tients to threaten res­i­dents at the ac­qui­es­cence of lo­cal gov­ern­ment to move out of their houses on a plot of land the city gov­ern­ment had sold to the company. The AIDS pa­tients claimed that if the res­i­dents did not move be­fore the dead­line, they would in­fect the houses’ own­ers with the deadly virus.

Were it not for me­dia ex­po­sure, the story may have been un­known na­tion­wide. But me­dia in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter­ward showed that em­ploy­ing AIDS pa­tients, who are usu­ally short of money and medicine, is common in many parts of the cen­tral prov­ince, home to 100 mil­lion peo­ple.

He­nan was in­fa­mous for a ram­pant blood-sell­ing business in the 1990s, which makes it the prov­ince in China with the most AIDS/HIV pa­tients and car­ri­ers. The num­ber of pa­tients and virus car­ri­ers in China re­mains un­known.

The Chi­nese Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion’s lat­est state­ment on Dec 1, World AIDS Day, ex­poses the epi­demic in China is se­ri­ous.

There should be lim­its to China’s in­no­va­tion. It is shame for lo­cal gov­ern­ment to per­mit busi­nessper­sons to use AIDS pa­tients that way, which di­min­ishes pub­lic’s sym­pa­thy for them and ig­nites an­tag­o­nism be­tween the pub­lic and peo­ple who have AIDS.

On Dec 15, the su­pe­rior court in In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion ex­on­er­ated an 18-year-old worker who was ex­e­cuted it in 1996 for the rape and mur­der of a woman. The young man may have been tor­tured into con­fess­ing.

Most peo­ple han­dling the case in the pub­lic se­cu­rity and ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties had been awarded and pro­moted. In 2005, even after the woman’s ac­tual killer was found, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties con­tin­ued to ig­nore the young man’s par­ents’ pe­ti­tion for re­view of the case.

The me­dia’s in­ten­sive cov­er­age of the case, to some ex­tent, got the at­ten­tion of the cen­tral au­thor­ity, forc­ing of­fi­cials to re­view the case. The par­ents re­ceived about $340,000 in com­pen­sa­tion and an apol­ogy from the court. A lo­cal po­lice chief were sacked and in­ves­ti­gated.

At least four sim­i­lar cases were ex­posed in the past five years in Guang­dong, He­nan, An­hui, Sichuan, Hubei, Zhe­jiang, He­bei and Fu­jian. It is en­cour­ag­ing to see jus­tice was fi­nally done. But most of the re­spon­si­ble wrong­do­ers in pub­lic se­cu­rity and ju­di­cial de­part­ments are at large. Most of the cases are re­viewed only after the real mur­der­ers are cap­tured, and all of the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies have been paid heavy costs to re­dress the in­jus­tices.

China has a long way to go to be­come a rule-of-law coun­try. The ju­di­cial depart­ment should be in­de­pen­dent from the gov­ern­ment, and all peo­ple should be equal be­fore the laws.

On Dec 29, the Shen­zhen city gov­ern­ment an­nounced at 5:40 pm in a brief news con­fer­ence that the city would con­trol the num­ber of new au­to­mo­bile reg­is­tra­tions, as do Beijing and Shang­hai, to ease traf­fic con­ges­tion.

At 6 pm, almost all auto deal­ers’ stores were or­dered to close by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, and po­lice­men ar­rived sev­eral min­utes ear­lier. The Shen­zhen gov­ern­ment claimed ear­lier it would by no means make a sud­den raid, as some other ci­ties in China did, to con­trol the reg­is­tra­tion of new au­to­mo­biles.

It turned out that the Shen­zhen gov­ern­ment’s sud­den at­tack was the most suc­cess­ful one. A big­ger irony is that China’s top leg­is­la­ture an­nounced a day ear­lier that it would re­view the new Leg­is­la­ture Law, which re­quires the gov­ern­ment to find le­gal bases and peo­ple’s support for all of their poli­cies, rules and ac­tions con­cern­ing the pub­lic in­ter­est.

In 2011, the Shen­zhen gov­ern­ment drove off 800,000 “risky peo­ple”, mostly un­em­ployed non­lo­cals, in its prepa­ra­tion for the 26th Sum­mer World Univer­sity Games. Shen­zhen used to be syn­ony­mous with re­form and an openingup pi­o­neer in China’s re­cent his­tory, as the first eco­nomic spe­cial zone cre­ated in the late 1970s to tap into re­sources from the West through nearby Hong Kong.

Now, the city gov­ern­ment has set a bad ex­am­ple of ig­nor­ing laws and the peo­ple’s in­ter­ests and un­der­mined its own cred­i­bil­ity.

In the past year, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping gave his peo­ple a lot of hope for the fu­ture. For the first time in many years, more and more peo­ple be­lieve a Chi­nese Dream is so close to their own dreams, just as the peo­ple be­lieved dur­ing Deng Xiaop­ing’s ear­lier re­form.

Xi started the bold­est re­form in almost all needy ar­eas, car­ried out the harsh­est an­ticor­rup­tion cam­paign since the 1970s, and more im­por­tantly, he started build­ing the na­tion, so­ci­ety and the mar­ket ac­cord­ing to the laws of things, not thoughts or the­o­ries of any other great men. Xi firmly be­lieves that the peo­ple he serves are the ones, with their in­no­va­tion and hard work, who will shape the fu­ture of China, not a pow­er­ful gov­ern­ment.

But there re­mains a big gap be­tween what the peo­ple en­counter in their lives and what Xi promised to them. Not long after Xi de­liv­ered his New Year’s wishes to the peo­ple, on Dec 31, 36 peo­ple died and dozens more were in­jured in a stam­pede dur­ing a gath­er­ing wait­ing to ring in the new year in the Bund of Shang­hai, a model city in China claim­ing to be a fu­ture a global cen­ter city.

This year will be the most dif­fi­cult for Xi since he took power in 2012, be­cause he and his col­leagues must turn many re­form plans and prom­ises into prac­tice and re­al­ity for the peo­ple. It is time to show his ex­ec­u­tive power and abil­ity.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

A home­owner climbed to the roof of her house on Anyuan Road in Shang­hai in Novem­ber 2014 to pre­vent its de­mo­li­tion, be­cause the gov­ern­ment can­not meet its obli­ga­tion of mov­ing her back to the site of her old house in the fu­ture.

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