LI YANG The media exposed 2014 horror stories
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.
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.