The arrest of a rural businessman who antagonized government officials but earned a loyal following among peasants has created a sensation in Beijing, where influential academics say he showed how to improve life in the vast, backward Chinese countryside. \nThe businessman, a bold and politically artless one-time farmer named Sun Dawu, is in jail awaiting trial in Hebei province in northeastern China on charges that he ran an illegal credit cooperative and lured millions of dollars in deposits away from state banks. \nIn opinion columns and popular Web sites, though, liberal-leaning intellectuals have portrayed Sun as a modern Robin Hood. They say he battled state finance and trade cartels that they view as draining the savings of China's 800 million peasants to support urban development. \nLawyers for Sun and supporters in Beijing's academic circles are pressing the government to scrap or define more clearly the scope of the law Sun is accused of breaking. The loosely worded article gives the authorities broad discretion to charge businessmen who fall out of favor with a catch-all crime called illegal fund-raising. \n"It's well worth considering what this case is really about," said Jiang Ping, the former president of the Chinese University of Politics and Law and one of China's most prominent legal experts. "Perhaps the government is violating the law and has wrongly accused him. If this isn't handled properly, it will greatly affect rural economic development." \nThe support for Sun is part of a broader effort to bring about gradual political change by pressing top leaders to apply their sometimes high-profile promises to real situations. Even the state-controlled news media increasingly highlights individual examples of abuse by local governments in the provinces, prodding the authorities to make good on pledges to respect the rule of law. \nSun's supporters include many of the same people who campaigned to have the migrant law overturned. \nSun, who is 50, grew up in a farm family. He joined the army and then worked at the state-owned Agricultural Bank of China. In 1985 he went into business, leasing wasteland and using it to raise chickens and pigs. His company, called Dawu Farm and Husbandry Group, has since expanded into food processing, cattle breeding and grape growing. \nHe initially had cordial relations with the authorities, who appointed him to the local branch of the People's Congress, the Communist Party-controlled legislature. \nBut even as Dawu Group grew to employ 1,500 people in Xushui County, a poor area, he had trouble raising money from state-run banks. Typically they lend only to larger companies that have state ownership or to entrepreneurs who give favors to bank officers. Sun arranged one loan in 1994, but was repeatedly denied credit in subsequent years, state-run newspapers reported. \nTo raise money, Sun began offering banking services to his own workers. He accepted their deposits, paying interest rates slightly above what state banks offered. \nThe cooperative became so popular that local farmers who did not work for Dawu also made deposits. Sun eventually collected about US$22 million from 4,600 area households, official newspapers said. \nSun promoted a quasi-collectivist philosophy, steering some company profits into roads and schools. \nRelations with officials deteriorated. Sun had not been shy in making charges about his difficulties getting loans. He publicly accused bankers of lending only to people who bribed them, which he said he refused to do. \nAs troubles mounted, Sun cultivated ties to a circle of academics who study rural issues. He made speeches at top universities, arguing passionately that the nation's financial system effectively subsidized rich coastal cities at the expense of the interior. He posted these polemics on his company's Web site. \nThough some of his speeches were detached and analytical, he also tested the limits of debate. He once said the Communist Party presided over a "fake republic." \nThe Hebei provincial authorities detained Sun in late June and charged him with illegal fund-raising last month. His son continues to run his company, though many of its workers have been laid off and the bank was dissolved.
Furthering the growing interest in unidentified flying objects (UFOs), or what the US government refers to as unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), the US Department of Defense on Thursday confirmed that photos and videos of UFOs leaked in the past few months were legitimate and taken by US Navy personnel. Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough confirmed to CNN that images and footage of a blinking triangular object in the sky, along with other aerial phenomena that were categorized as a “sphere,” “acorn” and “metallic blimp,” were taken by navy personnel in 2019. Gough told CNN that the department would not comment further on the
DRAWING DISMAY: Giving a forum to the coup leaders at the 10-country bloc’s talks in Jakarta this weekend would legitimize their rule, democracy advocates said Burmese Army Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is to join a special ASEAN summit on the weekend in his first official trip since masterminding a coup which deposed Burmese State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday. The Feb. 1 coup triggered a massive uprising in Myanmar, bringing hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets to demand a return to democracy, while civil servants have boycotted work in a bid to shutter the junta’s administration. The Burmese military junta has deployed lethal force to quell the anti-coup movement, killing more than 720 people and
AMID NEGOTIATIONS: Tehran for the first time confirmed that there was an explosion at its main nuclear facility on April 11, but denied that it was caused by a cyberattack Iran on Saturday named a suspect in the April 11 attack on its Natanz nuclear facility that damaged centrifuges, saying that he had fled the country “hours before” the sabotage happened. While the extent of the damage from the sabotage remains unclear, it comes as Iran tries to negotiate with world powers over allowing the US to re-enter its tattered nuclear deal and lift the economic sanctions it faces. Already, Iran has begun enriching uranium up to 60 percent purity in response — three times higher than ever before — although in small quantities. The sabotage and Iran’s response have further inflamed
China could see its number of births fall to less than 10 million annually in the next five years if the government does not quickly abolish its policy of limiting families to two children, an expert was quoted by media as saying. China’s total population might also fall in a few years, Guangdong Academy of Population Development director Dong Yuzheng (董玉整) told Yicai, a Chinese financial news outlet. The number of babies born in China fell by 580,000 to 14.65 million in 2019 and the birthrate of 10.48 per thousand was the lowest since 1949 when present methods of collating data