By Steven Jiang, CNN Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT) January 13, 2015 Beijing (CNN)When it comes to smuggling, not all mules are created equal. Chinese customs officials on Sunday busted a Hong Kong man trying to sneak 94 iPhones into the mainland — by strapping them on his body. The man caught the attention […]Continue reading
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By Katie Hunt, CNN Updated 0753 GMT (1553 HKT) January 16, 2015 Hong Kong (CNN)Almost half of Chinese food-processing plants fail to meet internationally acceptable standards, new figures suggest. Quality control specialist AsiaInspection said 48% of the “several thousand” inspections, audits and tests it conducted in China last year failed to meet the requirements […]Continue reading
By Steven Jiang, CNN Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT) January 12, 2015 Story highlights A plane departing southwestern China was canceled after irate passengers opened three emergency exits Passengers were reportedly angry with the crew for turning off the air-conditioning during the de-icing process Beijing (CNN)Chinese-style air rage is now served both hot and […]Continue reading
By Naomi Ng, for CNN December 23, 2014 — Updated 1726 GMT (0126 HKT) STORY HIGHLIGHTS An unlicensed doctor has been charged over an HIV outbreak in Cambodia Police confirm the doctor re-used needles while treating patients Health officials say 106 tested HIV positive, with over 800 seeking to be tested Stay calm and don’t […]Continue reading
Radio Free Asia – 13 November 2014 Authorities in a southern Chinese province are holding two people following clashes earlier this week with thousands of villagers who tried to prevent their farmland from being taken over for development, local residents said on Thursday. Around 3,000 residents of three villages in Wushi township near the port […]Continue reading
By Anjali Tsui, Euan McKirdy, Esther Pang and Vivian Kam, CNN September 28, 2014 — Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT) STORY HIGHLIGHTS Student organizers call for the resignations of four politicians Tear gas, batons used by police against protesters HK chief executive: Government ‘is resolute in opposing the unlawful occupation” Demonstrators say China is […]Continue reading
By Tim Hume and Junko Ogura, CNN September 25, 2014 — Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT) STORY HIGHLIGHTS Four pods of Risso’s dolphins have been killed in annual hunt in Taiji, Japan The hunting season runs from September to March every year It draws international conservationist activists to the village to document the killing Locals […]Continue reading
By Katie Hunt, CNN September 23, 2014 — Updated 0132 GMT (0932 HKT) STORY HIGHLIGHTS Trade in torture devices by Chinese companies flourishing, says Amnesty International Exports of police equipment are fueling human rights abuses in Asia and Africa, it says. Much of the equipment is “inherently cruel” and should be banned. Some equipment has […]Continue reading
September 22, 2014 — Updated 0204 GMT (1004 HKT)
- 17-year-old Joshua Wong aims to incite youth civil disobedience in Hong Kong
- His goal is to pressure China into giving Hong Kong full universal suffrage
- Hu Jia, a Chinese dissident, says Wong could be arrested or jailed
- “The Communist Party is very scared” of Hong Kong, says Hu
Meet 17-year-old Joshua Wong, a skinny, bespectacled teen whose meager physical frame belies the ferocity of his politics. Over the last two years, the student has built a pro-democracy youth movement in Hong Kong that one veteran Chinese dissident says is just as significant as the student protests at Tiananmen, 25 years ago.
Echoing the young campaigners who flooded Beijing’s central square in 1989, the teen activist wants to ignite a wave of civil disobedience among Hong Kong’s students. His goal? To pressure China into giving Hong Kong full universal suffrage.
Wong’s movement builds on years of pent-up frustration in Hong Kong.
When the former colony of the United Kingdom was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, the two countries struck an agreement promising Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy,” including the democratic election of its own leader. But 17 years later, little resembling genuine democracy has materialized. China’s latest proposalsuggests Hong Kongers may vote for their next leader, but only if the candidates are approved by Beijing.
Wong is bent on fighting the proposal — and impatient to win.
“I don’t think our battle is going to be very long,” he tells CNN. “If you have the mentality that striving for democracy is a long, drawn-out war and you take it slowly, you will never achieve it.
Doubt him if you like, but the young activist already has a successful track record of opposition.
In 2011, Wong, then 15, became disgusted with a proposal to introduce patriotic, pro-Communist “National and Moral Education” into Hong Kong’s public schools.
With the help of a few friends, Wong started a student protest group called Scholarism. The movement swelled beyond his wildest dreams: In September 2012, Scholarism successfully rallied 120,000 protesters — including 13 young hunger strikers — to occupy the Hong Kong government headquarters, forcing the city’s beleaguered leaders to withdraw the proposed curriculum.
That was when Wong realized that Hong Kong’s youth held significant power.
“Five years ago, it was inconceivable that Hong Kong students would care about politics at all,” he says. “But there was an awakening when the national education issue happened. We all started to care about politics.”
Asked what he considers to be the biggest threats to the city, he rattles them off: From declining press freedom as news outlets change their reporting to reflect a pro-Beijing slant, to “nepotism” as Beijing-friendly politicians win top posts, the 17-year-old student says Hong Kong is quickly becoming “no different than any other Chinese city under central administration.”
That’s why Wong has set his eyes on achieving universal suffrage. His group, which now has around 300 student members, has become one of the city’s most vocal voices for democracy. And the kids are being taken seriously.
In June, Scholarism drafted a plan to reform Hong Kong’s election system, which won the support of nearly one-third of voters in anunofficial citywide referendum.
This week, the group is mobilizing students to walk out of classes — a significant move in a city that reveres education — to send a pro-democracy message to Beijing.
The student strike has received widespread support. College administrators and faculty have pledged leniency on students who skip classes, and Hong Kong’s largest teacher union has circulated a petition declaring “Don’t let striking students stand alone.”
China’s reaction has been the opposite: Scholarism has been named a group of “extremists” in the mainland’s state-run media. Wong also says he is mentioned by name in China’s Blue Paper on National Security, which identifies internal threats to the stability of Communist Party rule.
But the teenage activist won’t back down. “People should not be afraid of their government,” he says, quoting the movie “V for Vendetta,” “The government should be afraid of their people.”
Hong Kong a “seed of fire” for China
Chinese dissident Hu Jia has been under frequent house arrest for 11 years.
Compared to activists in Hong Kong, activists in mainland China face a situation far more grim.
Few understand this better than veteran human rights activist Hu Jia, 41. A teenage participant in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, he remembers witnessing the carnage in the aftermath of Chinese government’s crackdown.
“At the age of 15, it made me understand my responsibility and my mission in life,” he tells CNN in a phone call from Beijing. “The crackdown made a clear cut between myself and the system.”
Inspired to fight for change, in 2000 he worked to expose “AIDS villages” in central China, where unregulated blood trades were infecting entire rural towns with HIV. But he paid a price: authorities jailed him for three and a half years for “inciting subversion of state authority,” then placed him under frequent house arrest, where he remains today.
“Fear has been deeply rooted in our genes through the past 65 years,” he says. “The majority of China’s 1.3 billion people are not true citizens — most of the people are simply submissive.”
That’s why Hu thinks Hong Kong, with its relative freedom, is a perfect place for activists to spark a democracy movement that could sweep all of mainland China.
“You can form political parties in Hong Kong. You can publish books that are forbidden in mainland China. The media can criticize the central government and the chief executive of Hong Kong.
“Mainland China is a tinderbox that’s been physically suppressed by the authorities, and Hong Kong is a seed of fire.
“The Communist Party is very scared of this tiny bit of land, because if true universal suffrage can blossom in Hong Kong, it is very likely true universal suffrage will end up happening in the mainland.”
It’s a dream that Wong acknowledges. “I can’t say we students striving for democracy now will directly lead to universal suffrage in China,” he says. “But at least, universal suffrage in Hong Kong could be a pilot for the people in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and even the whole of China — it would let them know that a Chinese society under the rule of a Communist Party can still have a fair system.”
Because of the high stakes involved with challenging China, Hu says Hong Kong’s activists should prepare for the worst.
“Maybe the Chinese government will one day send troops onto the streets, or even tanks,” Hu says, though adding the possibility of the military actually opening fire would be “very small.”
More likely, says the elder activist, the Party might go after individuals like Wong himself.
“Joshua Wong could be arrested, or jailed,” Hu tells CNN. “I hope he understands this will be a battle of resilience. It is not a fight, nor a skirmish, it is a true war, in terms of the length of time it involves, its complexity, and the potential sacrifice it might involve.”
Reuters – WASHINGTON, Sept 17 Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:13pm EDT
(Reuters) – Hackers associated with the Chinese government have repeatedly breached the computer systems of U.S. companies, including airlines and technology firms, that are involved in the movement of U.S. troops and military equipment, a U.S. Senate panel has found.
The Senate Armed Services Committee’s year-long probe, details of which were made public on Wednesday, found that U.S. Transportation Command, or Transcom, was only aware of two out of at least 20 such cyber intrusions within a single year.
The committee’s investigation also found gaps in reporting requirements and a lack of information sharing among government entities. That in turn left the U.S. military largely unaware of computer compromises of its contractors.
“These peacetime intrusions into the networks of key defense contractors are more evidence of China’s aggressive actions in cyberspace,” Senator Carl Levin, the committee’s chairman, said in releasing the report.
The committee found that in a 12-month period beginning June 1, 2012, there were about 50 intrusions or other cyber events into the computer networks of Transcom contractors.
At least 20 of those were successful intrusions attributed to an “advanced persistent threat,” a term used to designate sophisticated threats commonly associated with governments. All of those intrusions were attributed to China. (Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Susan Heavey)
By Flora Zhang, CNN
September 10, 2014 — Updated 2122 GMT (0522 HKT)
- Artist Prune Nourry’s show, “Terracotta Daughters,” opens in New York on Wednesday
- Creating female terra-cotta warriors is a way to address the issue of gender imbalance
- Due to cultural preference for boys, China will have a big surplus of men, which is a problem
- Nourry worked with local craftsmen in China to make each female terra-cotta statue unique
Editor’s note: Flora Zhang is a producer at CNN Digital. Follow her on Twitter: @flozha
(CNN) — When Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, anticipated his death more than 2,000 years ago, he wanted an army of warriors to guard his mausoleum forever and protect him in the afterlife.
So he ordered the creation of some 8,000 terra-cotta soldiers, along with hundreds of terra-cotta horses and chariots, to be buried with him in his tomb. Historians speculate the soldiers were modeled after eight individuals. When the statues were discovered by workers digging a well in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, in 1974, the world was stunned by the spectacular funerary art and the legacy of the powerful emperor. Since then, it’s become a major tourist attraction and a World Heritage site.
Now, these soldiers have a counterpart: female terra-cotta warriors.
Prune Nourry, a Paris-born artist based in New York City, has created a small army of them. In “Terracotta Daughters,” 116 are featured in an exhibition at the China Institute from September 10 through October 4. The show’s U.S. premiere is presented by theFrench Institute Alliance Francaise and China Institute as part of FIAF’s Crossing the Line festival.
The difference is these female terra-cotta warriors are not out to protect any emperor, but were created to bring attention to the plight of girls in China.
“Terracotta Daughters” at Magda Danysz Gallery, Shanghai, in 2013.
“In China, there is a huge imbalance between boys and girls. I wanted to highlight the issue of gender preference,” said Nourry. “I needed a strong cultural symbol to base this project on, and a universal one that would speak both to Chinese villagers in the countryside and to citizens abroad.”
And, in a striking parallel to the terra-cotta soldiers, the terra-cotta girls will also become an archaeological project. After the exhibition, they will be buried in China until 2030, the year that, according to Chinese sociologists, men will have the hardest time finding a wife because of the skewed gender ratio.
The imbalance of the sexes is a serious problem for the Chinese. A 2010 census indicates there are at least 34 million more men than women. Due to the one-child policy and traditional preference for boys, as well as sex-selective technologies, China will have a huge surplus of men, which presents daunting demographic challenges for the world’s most populous country.
Perhaps for those reasons, Nourry didn’t encounter difficulties with the Chinese government in pursuing this project in China. She started working on the terra-cotta statues two years ago after finishing an installation in India that also explored gender bias.
In deciding on the size of the female army, Nourry chose the number eight because of its auspiciousness in Chinese culture. She created the first eight statues modeled after eight girls whom she met through an orphan charity in China.
Then, working with local craftsmen in Xi’an, 108 permutations of statues were made based Nourry’s original eight statues by combining the different heads, torsos and legs. “For Xian Feng, the main craftsman I worked with in China, my project seemed at first impossible since women ‘can’t be soldiers.’ But after we began the project, he changed his view and even turned one of the 108 combinations into a portrait of his own daughter,” said Nourry.
The local craftsmen of Xi’an are used to making copies of the terra-cotta warriors which are sold primarily to tourists. When Nourry asked them to give their artistic interpretation in sculpting the female statues, they were initially tentative. Over time, they lost their hesitancy and gave each statue unique faces. No two statues have the same features.
Each terra-cotta warrior girl stands nearly 5 feet tall and weighs about 260 pounds. Their hairstyles are contemporary, as are their uniform, which is modeled after the orphan girls’ school attire. Unlike the male warriors, they look approachable, friendly and even charming.
“It was a very enriching collaboration, based on exchange and mutual respect,” said Nourry.
Her favorite moment was when the eight girls saw the terra-cotta statues of themselves and were delighted. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the eight original statues will pay for the cost of the eight girls’ education for three years.
“Terracotta Daughters” is impressive in its artistic craftsmanship and social statement. It’s a refreshing reinterpretation of one of China’s national symbols. With these modern female warriors, Prune raises the pressing issue of gender discrimination without pointing fingers at anyone or anything. One looks at these amazing terra-cotta statues and feel compelled to ask — why aren’t there more of them? And why aren’t there more girls in China?
CNN VIDEO: TERRA-COTTA WARRIORS GET “SEX CHANGE”
From Andrew Stevens, CNN
September 1, 2014 — Updated 0324 GMT (1124 HKT)
- Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating panel can run to lead Hong Kong
- The city’s current leader insists it’s a step in the right direction
- Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy Central movement says it’s a move that stifles democracy
- Protesters take to the streets in Hong Kong and vow more civil disobedience
China’s powerful National People’s Congress Standing Committee voted Sunday to change the way Hong Kong picks its chief executive, ruling that only candidates approved by a nominating committee will be allowed to run.
A top Chinese official made clear the candidates all must “love the country and love Hong Kong.”
The city’s current leader insists it’s a step in the right direction.
“The majority of Hong Kong citizens, namely, the 5 million qualified voters of the selection of chief executive in 2017, will be able to cast their votes to select the chief executive,” said Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
But that’s not how Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy Central movement sees it. The group has vocally pushed for elections in which any candidate can run for chief executive. For weeks, protesters have taken to the streets.
n a statement on its website, the group slammed Beijing’s decision as a move that stifles democracy and blocks people with different political views from running for office.
“Genuine universal suffrage includes both the rights to elect and to be elected,” the statement said. “The decision of the NPC Standing Committee has deprived people with different political views of the right to run for election and be elected by imposing unreasonable restrictions, thereby perpetuating ‘handpicked politics.’ “
Under the “one country, two systems” policy, the 7 million residents of Hong Kong — defined as a “Special Administrative Region” of China — are afforded greater civil liberties than those in the mainland.
This reflects an agreement reached between China and the United Kingdom before the handover, which promised Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” for 50 years after its return.
But the decision to change the way Hong Kong picks its leader comes amid increasing fears that those freedoms are being eroded.
Currently, Hong Kong’s leader is chosen by an election committee selected mostly by Beijing loyalists.
Beijing brushed aside demonstrators’ demands for a fully open election in 2017, saying the decision to change the system is in line with Hong Kong’s basic law. Protesters demands are self-serving, one top official said.
“Those people’s so-called international standards are tailored for themselves,” said Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. “They are not the international standards, but their personal standards.”
Throngs of pro-democracy protesters rallied in central Hong Kong on Sunday to condemn Beijing’s decision and promised there would be more protests.
The threat of civil disobedience “is our bargaining power,” Benny Tai, the organizer of Occupy Central, told CNN earlier this month. “They take us seriously, though they will never admit that.”
After a massive rally calling for democracy in the Chinese territory in July, hundreds of demonstrators — including prominent lawmakers — were arrested.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators protesting Occupy Central marched in Hong Kong earlier this month. Local media swirled with reports of marchers getting paid or bused in to attend the pro-government march.
The march’s organizer said he took the accusations seriously and would investigate but maintained that no laws were broken.
Meanwhile, Fernando Chui Sai-on has been re-elected uncontested as Macau’s chief executive. Like nearby Hong Kong, Macau is a “Special Administrative Region” of China, following its transition from Portuguese control in 1999.
The territory has itself faced calls for greater democracy, though its constitution makes no mention of universal suffrage. A recent unofficial poll on this question was shut down by police and several pro-democracy organizers were arrested for allegedly breaching privacy laws.
CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet, Tim Hume, Zoe Li, Radina Gigova and Wilfred Chan contributed to this report.
CNN VIDEO: Beijing Says NO
By Wilfred Chan, CNN
August 26, 2014 — Updated 0436 GMT (1236 HKT)
- Authorities have seized over 30,000 tons of contaminated chicken feet
- Chicken feet are a popular snack in China
- Hydrogen peroxide is used as a disinfectant and bleach, but is harmful to eat
Hong Kong (CNN) — In the latest stomach-churning food scandal to hit China, authorities have seized over 30,000 tons of chicken feet contaminated with hydrogen peroxide, according to state media.
Thirty eight people have been arrested on charges of producing the tainted items, while 11 suspects remain at large.
Images on Chinese news websites show large troughs filled with chicken feet soaking in what authorities say is hydrogen peroxide, a colorless chemical compound used for sterilization and bleaching.
The chemical, which causes vomiting and other stomach problems if consumed, may have been used to give the chicken feet a whiter, cleaner appearance.
A report by official news agency Xinhua said the tainted items were first discovered in Yongjia County in Zhejiang, eastern China. A subsequent investigation revealed hydrogen peroxide was being used in nine factories in Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, and Guangdong, affecting several well-known brands of chicken feet sold in stores.
‘I want to throw up’
Chinese internet users are reacting with disdain and frustration.
A top-rated comment on a microblog run by state television CCTV asks: “Are there any Chinese foods left that are safe?”
Another fumes: “From now on, don’t tell us what we can’t eat — please tell us what we can eat!”
One commenter says: “Yesterday I ate a lot of these, now I want to throw up.”
Chicken feet are popular in China, where they are often available as a packaged snack. However, this is not the first time the item has found itself at the center of a safety scare.
In July 2013, police confiscated 20 tons of badly expired chicken feet from a frozen meat warehouse — some of the feet were reportedly 46 years old.
By Dayu Zhang and Zoe Li, CNN
August 22, 2014 — Updated 0554 GMT (1354 HKT)
- Residents in Beijing sick of water shortages, start digging wells
- Water authorities: Fixing the shortages is complicated
- Freshwater supply increasingly a problem in China
But a closer look reveals out-of-place pipes, mysterious pools of water and long hoses that run along the walls of nearby homes.
The “construction workers” aren’t paid laborers either — they’re local residents who have simply walked out of their homes and started hacking into the road.
For water. They lift tiles off the pavements and dig until they hit ground water.
“Who would dig up wells if there’s enough water? There’s just no water,” said one resident who would only give his surname, Yin. His family had been suffering from water shortages on and off for months until they decided to take matters into their own hands.
The Shuimo Community in Haidian district has grown rapidly and authorities have been unable to cope with the growing demand for water.
“We started receiving complaints from residents about water shortages since the end of July,” said Liu Zhongmin, head of the Water Resources Office in the Department of Water Affairs of Haidian District. “We’re aware of local residents digging wells to get water. These are illegal constructions and should be demolished.”
But any plans to fix the water supply problem have been delayed. “We don’t plan to do anything at this point as it’ll spark tensions between us and residents,” said Liu.
He explained that any work on the pipelines in the neighborhood would not be straightforward.
The community has grown from 1,000 residents to more than 8,000 in recent years, and new residents have occupied roads where pipelines are buried under their houses, according to Liu.
For the near future, residents see only one way out of the situation.
“Everybody knows we’re not allowed to dig wells here but what else can we do? Who can solve the problem?” asks Yin. He adds that a well costs as much as RMB 40,000 (about $6,500) to complete.
Freshwater supplies in China have been increasingly strained in recent years. A growing population, industrial development and widespread pollution pushes the lack of freshwater to crisis levels, according to China Water Risk.
CNN VIDEO: Pollution an economic concern in China
16 August 2014 Last updated at 15:41
According to police, at least eight children aged between 10 and 16 were made to donate blood to a company in Gansu province in north-west China.
Reports said the children had been beaten by the gang to make them comply.
Among those arrested was a blood centre official, who told police he had been under pressure to find more donors.
The schoolchildren were reportedly forced to donate once a month for seven months and the amount taken was three times the average amount for voluntary donors.
The gang, who netted 6,250 yuan ($1,000; £600) in the process, presented false identity cards at the blood centre to pretend the children were adults. Under Chinese law, blood donors must be over 18.
The scheme came to light when one of the youngsters sought help from his parents.
The deputy chief of the blood centre and six other men were arrested, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The company, Lanzhou Institute of Biological Products in the city of Wuwei, is one of the country’s biggest producers of blood products, Xinhua said.
By Euan McKirdy, CNN
August 7, 2014 — Updated 0854 GMT (1654 HKT)
- Blindingly simple idea sees Chinese police using headlights to punish traffic offenders
- Use of high-beam lights punished in Shenzhen with eye-for-an-eye punishment
- China’s netizens split on the subject with some complaining of police overreaching their authority
If you’re caught using your brights in the city, which shares a border with Hong Kong, police will sit you down in the full glare, not of an interrogation room lamp, but of their own full-beams.
A post on the Shenzhen traffic police’s Weibo account spells it out.
“Do you dare to use full-beam headlights anymore?” the post asks. “From now on, ‘uncle cop’ will have you stare at the lights for five minutes if they catch you abusing them.”
The stern warning is offset by an animated laughing emoticon. There is also the addition of a more traditional fine of 300 yuan ($49).
Responses on Chinese social media ranged from the amused and the approving, to those doubting the safety — and legality — of the biblical-style punishment.
User @chas125 said: “I wholeheartedly support this. Shanghai traffic police should adopt the measure, too,” while another user, whose weibo handle suggests a connecttion with the city, was even more enthusiastic.
“I’m hitting ‘likes’ with my hands and feet,” @shenzhenlaocui posted. “Full-beam headlights are evil. I suggest they extend the stare time to 30 minutes, splitting it into three time periods, and let people take a 60-second break in between.”
@Zhengxunlaoshi, however, was a little more phlegmatic. “People hate others who use full-beam headlights too much. I experience that unpleasantness as you do, and it is not safe,” the user said.
“But the police ‘educate’ the violators beyond laws — remember laws don’t authorize them to do so — illegally enforcing the law is more dangerous than using full-beam headlights.”
Indiscriminately using brights can be hazardous and can dazzle oncoming traffic. Given the rapid increase of cars and motor scooters on China’s roads as the country’s economy expands almost unabated, road awareness is an increasing concern.
CNN’s Shen Lu in Beijing contributed to this report
By Zhang Dayu and Katie Hunt, CNN
August 6, 2014 — Updated 0427 GMT (1227 HKT)
- Guo Meimei is one of China’s most high-profile social media celebrities
- Socialite made a startling televised confession this week after her arrest last month
- She detailed a life of illicit sex and gambling
(CNN) — A televised confession this week detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall from grace of one of China’s most high-profile social media celebrities and socialites.
Guo Meimei, 23, best known for showing off her wealth, looks and extravagant lifestyle on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, appeared on state television without make up and in orange prison garb after being detained by police last month for operating an illegal gambling den.
Guo said that she also made money by working as a call girl. She told police she would charge no less than 100,000 yuan ($17,400) for every encounter.
“I’m really not short of those who want to keep me as mistress,” she said.
“There are many who would spend money to sleep with me for a night, no matter the price.”
Guo’s Weibo account, which has almost two million followers, shows pictures of her posing by a jet ski in a bikini, and by a Lamborghini.
She was also starring in a film about her life called “I am Guo Meimei.” Guo invested in the project herself and production began last year.
It was careless posts to her followers that tipped off police about her illicit activities. Last month, she was arrested for breaching China’s strict gambling laws after boasting about her winnings from betting on World Cup matches.
She also admitted operating an illegal gambling venue at a one-room apartment in Beijing with her ex-boyfriend.
Guo’s startling confession has been splashed over front pages and gossip magazines but critics have warned that her trial by media may be premature, given that she has not yet appeared in court.
Some social media users said her case was being used to draw attention away from bad news stories such as an earthquake in southwestern China and a deadly factory explosion.
She first gained notoriety in 2011 after she posted photos of herself posing with luxury sports cars and designer bags on a Weibo account that identified her as a commercial general manager for the Chinese Red Cross.
Her ostentatious photos sparked widespread outrage about how a charity worker could sustain such a lavish lifestyle, leading to a big drop off in donations the following year, even though the Red Cross denied any connection with Guo.
In her confession, Guo apologized to the Red Cross and the public for fabricating her affiliation with the charity.
“Because of my vanity, I’ve made a very big mistake”, she said.
“I’d like to sincerely apologize to Red Cross, also to the people and especially to those who need to receive help but haven’t.”
On Monday, the charity called on donors to “please forget Guo Meimei” and provide help to people affected by the earthquake in Yunnan that has killed almost 600 people.
Zhang Dayu reported from Beijing, Katie Hunt wrote from Hong Kong
By Euan McKirdy, CNN
August 5, 2014 — Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
- Appearance of mystery sinkholes around Seoul have authorities baffled
- Holes near construction of the Lotte World Tower, the world’s 6th tallest building, have led to a review
- Following April’s Sewol ferry tragedy, safety has become a focus in South Korea
Residents of South Korea’s capital are alarmed by the increasing incidence of sinkholes — depressions, measuring up to several feet in depth and diameter, which have suddenly appeared around Seoul.
The first one was discovered in June, and since then several others have appeared, local media have reported. Now, in a climate marked by increased safety concerns, the construction of a huge skyscraper in the city has come under scrutiny.
Last month, two holes within a couple of meters of each other were discovered near the National Assembly in the Yeouido district of the capital.
Several examples of this unexplained phenomenon have occurred near the site of the Lotte World Tower, a half-constructed commercial and office development by Korean conglomerate Lotte which, when completed, will be the sixth tallest tower in the world.
Holes have appeared in at least two streets in the Songpa district, where the new tower is being built, including a 50 centimeter (20 inch) wide hole only half a kilometer (a third of a mile) from the Lotte World Tower construction site.
So far, authorities are baffled. “We do not know the cause yet,” a police officer told the Korea Times. “In cooperation with Seoul Metro and Seoul Metropolitan Government, we investigated the problem and only found that the holes have nothing to do with sewerage.”
A lake near the site, which appears to be shrinking, is also cause for concern. Water levels have fallen about 70 centimeters (27 inches), although Seulki Lee, a spokesperson for Lotte Group, told CNN that it would be “nearly impossible” for the water to drain into the tower’s foundations due to a slurry wall between the lake and the construction.
The spokesperson also said that the company was looking into the mysterious sinkholes.
“We are working on an investigation of sinkholes but it will take some time to figure out what’s going on,” she said.
She said that academics and engineers from Lotte have told the construction company that the sinkholes are not related to the site but it is “necessary to figure out what is going on” to provide assurance for the public.
Plans for the 555-meter (1,821-foot), 123-story tower were first put forward almost two decades ago, but planning permission was slow in coming, due to security concerns from a nearby military base.
Construction of the tower, designed by American firm KPF, is underway and more than half of the tower’s floors have been completed. The architecture firm was, at the time of press, unavailable for comment.
Professor Hong Gun Park of Seoul National University’s Department of Architecture and Architectural Engineering was a consultant on the project, completing an “outsider’s evaluation.”
He told CNN that the foundations of the building were solid, and that Seoul had no history of subsidence.
“People found sinkholes near the building site, (and) since there is a small lake, they are worried about the robustness of the foundation of the building.
“However, recently many sinkholes were found here and there in Seoul. Furthermore the foundation of the building is deep and is sitting on the deep hard rock. Thus in my opinion there is no problem (with) the structural safety of the building.”
He said that it was unlikely that the Seoul municipal government would halt construction without reasonable cause.
The safety concerns over the building come months after the country was shocked by the sinking in April of the Sewol ferry, which lead to widespread criticism throughout South Korea that safety was not a priority. Almost 300 people, mostly teenagers on a school trip, died when the ferry capsized. orv
By Sophia Yan @sophia_yan July 30, 2014: 1:51 AM ET
HONG KONG (CNNMoney)
The fast food chain’s Japanese unit said Tuesday that it will fall short of profit and sales targets for the year, after a longtime meat supplier was shut down last week by authorities for unsanitary practices.
As meat from the supplier has been pulled out of circulation, McDonald’s outlets in China, Hong Kong and Japan have stopped selling items such as Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets.
The scandal has led to “negative impact on sales and consumer confidence,” the company’s Japanese unit said in a statement. “Our sales and profit expectations have been reduced.”
The meat scandal began when Chinese television showed workers at a Shanghai food plant handling expired and tainted meat with their bare hands. Workers at the Chinese subsidiary of Illinois-based OSI Group said that the meat smelled bad, and they could be seen processing meat that had fallen on the floor.
McDonald’s (MCD) Japan had previously forecast sales of 250 billion yen ($2.5 billion) and net income of 6 billion yen ($59 million) for the year. The company said it isn’t able to provide new targets as the scandal’s full impact is still unfolding.
McDonald’s shares traded in Japan fell 2.8% Wednesday morning , and have shed nearly 4% since the food safety issue began unfolding last week.
McDonald’s has had a “challenging” year thus far in Japan, even before news hit over the bad meat scandal. The Japanese unit saw net income tumble 60% to 1.9 billion yen ($19 million) in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year. Sales at its directly owned stores and franchises dropped 4% after planned store closures.
Many companies have cut their ties with the supplier, but McDonald’s has largely stood by OSI Group.
CNN / REUTERS VIDEO: China Meat Scandal