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Taking a uniform approach

Taking a uniform approach
Jul 6, 2018 (WiC 416)

Founded in 1921, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will celebrate its centenary in three years time. The anniversary has ignited a boom in so-called ‘red tourism’, i.e. trips to places linked with the CPC’s history. No place has fared better than Yan’an, the remote city in Shaanxi where Mao’s Red Army finished its Long March in 1935. Yan’an then became Mao’s seat of power for his government-in-waiting.

Party officials across the country have been sending tour groups to Yan’an to take photos, shout slogans and meet in study groups to revisit the CPC’s humble beginnings.

Top business folk have deemed it worthwhile to pay visits to Yan’an as well. Earlier this month Pony Ma, Tencent’s boss, and Richard Liu, founder of JD.com, were spotted touring the revolutionary base together.

Photos doing the rounds on social media even showed the internet tycoons dressed up in Red Army uniforms. The images sparked heated debate online. “The Red Army set out to seize the land from tuhao [nouveau riche] but now the tuhao has joined the Red Army. I didn’t know that they now are in league together,” one internet user complained.

Comments like this one, together with the photos of the two tycoons, were soon deleted by state censors.

Height of frustration

Height of frustration
Jun 29, 2018 (WiC 415)

Disney’s theme parks like to be described as “the happiest places on earth”.

Try telling that to an irate father whose child was denied entry to the company’s newest park in Shanghai. He’s now suing Disney in a local court, according to China Youth Daily.

The trouble began when Liu Demin bought a parent-child package for Rmb499 ($76) online. But when he tried to get his 10 year-old son into Shanghai Disney in January his child was refused entrance. The problem: his boy’s height exceeded the maximum 1.4 metres for a child pass. He was told he’d have to buy him an adult ticket instead. (Adults pay Rmb399 off-peak and Rmb575 during holidays and weekends.)

Liu fumed to China Youth Daily: “Is the child pass sold to children or only to anyone below 1.4 metres tall? I am upset by the park’s unreasonable rules, which should be fairer, like the standards used at other Disney Parks.” For instance, a child’s ticket at the Disney park in Tokyo isn’t assessed by height, but available to anyone between the ages of 4 and 11. In the Hong Kong park the height is also irrelevant (a child is defined as 3-11 years-old).

Shanghai Disney also seems to have picked a fight with a guy who knows his legal rights: Liu is a judge with the Guangdong People’s Court. And he demanded his day in court even after Shanghai International Theme Park (the co-owner of the resort) had offered an apology and a refund. He is saying that he will only back down when Shanghai Disney revises the standards for child tickets and bases them on age rather than height.

Birthday boy

Birthday boy
Jun 15, 2018 (WiC 413)

With Vladimir Putin the world has become accustomed to tough talk. So it was something of surprise when the Russian leader bared his emotions to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV about his counterpart Xi Jinping. Putin was visibly moved as he described how Xi had celebrated with him his turning 61 at a summit in Bali in 2013.

“We finished the day’s work and he celebrated my birthday with me. This might seem irrelevant, but to talk about President Xi, this is where I would like to start,” he said in the interview, adding that he and Xi had enjoyed drinks and “sliced some sausage” together.

“I’ve never established such relations or made such arrangements with any other foreign colleague, but I did it with President Xi,” Putin told CCTV.

It does not appear Xi went so far as to sing happy birthday to Putin, but Xi did produce a cake. In return Putin got out a bottle of vodka, and over sausage sandwiches and shots they discussed their respective fathers’ experiences during World War Two.

Relations between the pair look to have strengthened further in the past five years, with Putin in Qingdao last weekend for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

According to the South China Morning Post, Xi has visited Moscow more than any other capital since coming to power and has met Putin 20 times.