Today’s China Readings June 5, 2012

Sina Weibo was a social network of the absurd Monday. The censors were in full whack-a-mole mode, as the Wall Street Journal explains in China’s Online Firefighters Snuff Discussion on Tiananmen Anniversary. But instead of silencing discussion of June 4 the government reminded most Internet users of the ridiculousness of the attempts to erase this event from history, and in the process furthered damaged its credibility in the eyes of many of its most sophisticated, middle-class citizens.

When will someone write the Unbearable Lightness of Weibo?

Someday we will see a reevaluation of the official June 4 verdict, though the politics and families involved make such a move extremely complicated and unlikely to be made in the near future. Zhengming “争鸣”, a Hong Kong magazine that occasionally publishes accurate stories, reports that three vice-chairmen of the National People’s Congress recently submitted a proposal to the Politburo to change the official June 4 verdict (三名人大副委员长要求平反六四 意见上报政治局 via 明鏡新聞網). True or not, there are a lot of people who know that the verdict will change, but the complexity, especially in this political environment, is so great that no one should expect an imminent reversal. But political and legacy points can be scored by making such a proposal.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange either has ghosts in the machine, is vulnerable to hackers, or is easily manipulated. On June 4 the Shanghai Composite Index opened at 2346.98 (read the last four digits from right to left) and closed down 64.89 points. In June 4 crackdown remembered in China stock index, or chance? Reuters suggests these numbers are just a coincidence. If you believe that I have a Beijing bridge over a pristine river to sell you…

Yesterday’s numbers are a further reminder that the Chinese stock market is still not to be taken too seriously. This kind of blatant manipulation calls into question CSRC chief Guo Shuqing’s reform efforts (See Stars align for a long-awaited China stocks bounce-Reuters). Perhaps there will be an investigation, but one we may never hear about. One question to ask would be if anyone shorted the index Friday in anticipation? Speaking of sketchiness in the stock market, Caixin has a disturbing article about the practice of domestic IPO candidates paying off media outlets to ensure they report no bad news during the IPO process. In IPO有偿沉默 Caixin writes that the fees can run into the billions of RMB per year.

Caixin also reports on developments in the corruption investigation of Agricultural Bank of China executive Yang Kun. According to Caixin the Yang Kun case is linked to a Beijing property developer, the Dalian Shide Group and a sacked PLA general (Original Chinese: 杨琨牵连多宗案). Wang Yaohui, the developer of Beijing’s Solana mall, was a whale and “several sources in Macao’s financial sector…said Wang Yaohui owes Macao’s casinos 3 billion yuan due to gambling debts.” (Remember the earlier comments about Macao casino collection problems?) Yang Kun appears to have been no slouch, as “one person close to Yang said the central government’s investigators have found that he had “an enormous amount of assets” that cannot be accounted for by his salary.” Caixin would not waste time on this case unless it were big. As they say here, 北京水深 (Beijing waters run deep.)

Before we all despair, it is worth remembering that China has some amazing, selfless citizens. Last month Zhang Lili saved two of her students by jumping in front of a school bus, losing her legs in the rescue. And now China has a new revolutionary martyr. Wu Bin, a bus driver in Hangzhou, was hit by by a piece of metal that flew through his windshield as he was driving on the highway, but in spite of his mortal wounds he safely pulled over, saving 24 passengers, before collapsing. Both of these stories blew up on Weibo before official media took over, so consider them real heroes.

The best way to see this blog is to subscribe by email, especially if you are in China, as Sinocism is still blocked here. The email signup page is here, outside the GFW. You can also follow me on @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop. Comments/tips/suggestions are welcome, and feel free to forward to recommend to friends, as the more readers I have the better the content will become. And of course if you are feeling generous donations are always appreciated. Thanks for reading.

The best way to see this blog is to subscribe by email, especially if you are in China, as Sinocism is still blocked here. The email signup page is here, outside the GFW. You can also follow me on @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop. Comments/tips/suggestions are welcome, and feel free to forward to recommend to friends, as the more readers I have the better the content will become. And of course if you are feeling generous donations are always appreciated. Thanks for reading.

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