Lew wins praise for thrift
Netizens yesterday praised US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew for eating a cheap dumpling lunch after meeting President Xi Jinping (習近平), comparing his modest bill to the lavish spending of local officials. Lew met Xi in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on on Tuesday and later had lunch with two colleagues at the Bao Yuan Dumpling House near the US embassy, where the bill came to 109 yuan (US$17.50). “Chinese officials — take a look at what the Americans do and blush,” one online post on Sina Weibo said. “They pay their own bills, while our officials use tens of thousands of yuan of our money.” “Some people will say this is putting on a show, but from our officials we do not even get that,” another said. “Mr Treasury Secretary, you are not afraid of our gutter oil? You are so brave! Our officials never go to such small restaurants,” one blogger said, referring to cheap recycled cooking oil made illegally from leftovers and material scooped out of restaurant drains.
‘Chinese Girl’ nets US$1.5m
A picture dubbed the most reproduced fine art print in the world sold at auction in London on Wednesday for ￡982,050 (US$1.5 million), a record for South African artist Vladimir Tretchikoff. Chinese Girl was bought by Graff Diamonds International chairman Laurence Graff, Bonhams auctioneers said. “It’s a new world record for Tretchikoff,” a Russian emigre who settled in South Africa, Bonhams head of communications and marketing Julian Roup told reporters. Graff, a British jeweler, will put the iconic painting on public display at the Delaire Graff Estate at Stellenbosch, outside Cape Town. “The picture is going home to Cape Town, where Tretchikoff painted it. It’s rather wonderful,” Roup said. Chinese Girl is a simple charcoal drawing on brown canvas illuminated by an iridescent green-blue face, luscious black hair and bright golden tunic.
Bangladeshi president dies
The body of Bangladeshi President Zillur Rahman was flown to Dhaka yesterday following his death in a local hospital, Bangladeshi airline Biman said. Rahman, 84, a veteran politician from the ruling Awami League Party who was named to the largely ceremonial post in 2009, died on Wednesday. A special flight carrying the leader’s remains left the city-state shortly before 10am, Biman manager Mohammad Arif Ullah said. Rahman, who was suffering from kidney and respiratory problems, was flown to Mount Elizabeth Hospital by air ambulance on March 10 after his health worsened. Bangladesh declared three days of mourning after his death and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called it “an irreparable loss to the country and its people.”
Raided politician cries foul
A top opposition politician accused the government of launching a “vendetta” after police raided his home yesterday, a day after his party left the ruling coalition. M.K. Stalin, a key powerbroker in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, reacted furiously after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) searched his home in Chennai. Bureau spokeswoman Dharini Mishra said the agency was searching 19 locations in and near Chennai as part of a probe into the illegal import of cars worth US$3.7 million. As the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party denounced the raid as a “blatant” abuse of power, even Minister of Finance P. Chidambaram voiced his unease: “I strongly disapprove of CBI action. It is bound to be misunderstood.”