June 20, 2009

5 Months in Jail for Wig Removal...
Warning: don't try to remove a Taiwanese legislators wig, or you could be sentenced to five months in jail.
According to court spokesman Huang Chin-ming, “The judge thought Chiu Yi had the freedom to wear what he wanted, and Chiu felt the wig made him look prettier. The judge thinks that to remove it intentionally was to take away that right.”
See the full story: Man toupee for revealing bald truth

June 04, 2009

June 4...
Today is the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on the Tiananmen protests in the Spring of 1989.
It's an issue not widely discussed in China, and heavily suppressed by the government. Just before the anniversary this year, the government sent dissidents to the countryside, or stopped them from leaving their houses. Foreign journalists were forbidden from filming in Tiananmen square, plainclothes police threatened them in the streets around the square, and any foreign media coverage of the event is blacked out within China. There seems to be a new technique aimed at foreign journalists, which is rather clever. When undercover agents with earpieces see a foreign journalist's camera they walk in front of it and open umbrellas! There's a great video on the BBC (which often gets blocked in China). It's also interesting to read through comments left on stories about the Tiananmen Square massacre (most of the killing didn't actually happen in the Square, but in the streets around the Square). There's one comment that remarks how politely he was treated by the police for doing something that everyone knows is illegal in China (journalism?), and that he would've "being battened and ending up dead" in the UK for the same thing.
Of course some things in China have improved in the past 20 years -general education, the economy, and general access to the outside world. But there is still a lot to be improved, and it's a slow process for a country of 1.3 billion people. And it's slow from a government that has successfully quashed political interest in most of its citizens by promoting economics over other freedoms. Here's an interesting Economist article on the topic of The Party.