- - Wednesday, July 27, 2011


A rare publicity show has unfolded in recent weeks across China’s vast Communist Party-controlled news media, culminating on July 12 with the flight of jumbo aircraft between Beijing and the eastern port city of Ningbo. The plane was chartered by China’s top spy authorities to transport an urn containing the remains of communist female spy Zhu Feng, who was executed for espionage in Taiwan by the Nationalist government on June 10, 1950.

The flight was short but the send-off and reception ceremonies at both ends of it were extravagant. Zhu Feng was dispatched to Taiwan as a spy in 1949 and took a leading role in a military espionage ring during the short but crucial time period when Communist forces were preparing an invasion of Taiwan. Zhu, 45, was caught in February 1950. For more than 30 years, the Communist Party of China refused to recognize Zhu as their spy until 1983 when she was posthumously declared a “Revolutionary Martyr” by the Central Committee’s intelligence service, the Ministry of Investigation.

Over the years, locating her ash urn in Taiwan and returning it to mainland China became a high-priority issue for the Chinese government, involving efforts on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

In December, her remains were finally identified and flown back to China as a goodwill gesture by the present Taiwanese government. The urn was placed immediately at Beijing’s Babaoshan Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery. Now, the party has decided to return her ash urn to her hometown Ningbo.

Draped in a red Communist Party flag, the urn is now permanently displayed in a two-story revolutionary martyrs’ shrine, classified as a “National Security/Patriotism Educational Base.”


The latest high-speed train crash and derailment in Zhejiang province, killing at least 39 people, exposed China’s prevailing culture of safety negligence toward moving objects and machines. According to the World Health Organization, the leading cause of death in China for people between 15 and 45 is from traffic accidents. Some 680 people are killed each day in such accidents in China, six times more than the daily average death toll in the United States, which has four times more cars than China.

Yet the national obsession with driving fast and furious at the expense of safety has far-reaching strategic implications.

China’s high-speed trains are billed as embodying the most advanced technologies, yet the Zhejiang derailment was reportedly caused by a failure to simply have a decent signal system and a power backup mechanism. The result was a train smashing at high speed into a stalled train.

There also is an unusually high rate of military plane accidents as well, partly due to maneuvering irregularities.

The 2001 crash of a Chinese J-8 jet aircraft with a U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane was caused by the Chinese pilot’s jerky handling of the fast-moving jet, and he flew too close to the propeller-driven spy plane.

Though improvements have been seen in recent years, China’s civil aviation for many decades had safety issues too, as well as a high number of politically-motivated plane hijackings. In 1994 alone, no fewer than 10 Chinese planes were hijacked to Taiwan by passengers seeking political asylum.


Tibet’s Dalai Lama is world renowned for his unflappability. Yet in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine, the exiled spiritual leader was so upset at Chinese leaders relentless slandering of his character that he expressed anger.

“They want 100 percent negative,” the 76 year-old Dalai Lama said, “then they use these [slandering] words. They have no shame.” He then called the Communist Partys demonizing effort childish and “very stupid. No one believes them.”

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached a [email protected]



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