CNN Beijing Correspondent
While Bernie Madoff sits behind bars, contemplating life in prison perhaps he should consider himself lucky.
State media in China is reporting Thursday that Gao Qiuhe has been sentenced to death for a swindle which fraudulently promised high returns.
How much did Gao get away with? Just $17 million – spare change in the world of Madoff.
She was arrested in 2007, and when she couldn't give back the money, she was sentenced to death last week and all her assets were confiscated.
And this might be something for the Madoff family to consider – Gao's son, Bao Jianshu was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping his mother.
Program Note: Tune in to hear more from John Vause about how GM is doing in China tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
The president of GM China Group tells John Vause that General Motors is doing well in China.
While General Motors is facing bankruptcy, and asking for government help in the US and parts of Europe, in China the company is making a profit, and has been described as one of the last jewels in the GM crown. It has also sent a clear message to policy makers in the US that this is a company than can compete globally, it's a company worth saving.
CNN Asia Correspondent
In diplomacy, you never really know what might come back to haunt you. Last month, after U.S. President George Bush ducked a flying shoe during a surprise visit to Baghdad, there was this exchange at the regular Foreign Ministry briefing in Beijing with spokesman Liu Jianchao:
MOFA briefing Dec 16th 2008, Spokesman Liu Jianchao
Q: U.S. President George Bush's visit to Iraq has been overshadowed by an incident in which a pair of shoes was thrown at him by an Iraqi reporter during a news conference. How do you comment? Also, many of our interviewees in Beijing said they were not surprised, that the incident happened because the U.S. has been too aggressive. How do you feel about this?
CNN Asia Correspondent
It all sounds very creepy: Human Flesh Search Engines. That’s what they call the cyber vigilantes who trawl the Internet looking for information to publicly shame those who they believe have done wrong. Think black and white movie, angry mob with burning torches and pitch forks. It’s not unique to China, but it certainly happens here a lot.
Lin Jiaxiang ended up on the wrong side of the mob.
Earlier this year, security camera video was posted on line, showing him allegedly trying to force an 11 year old girl into a restroom at a restaurant. Internet users, or netizens as they’re called here, were further outraged when a transcript emerged of an argument between Lin and the girl’s father.
"How much money do you want, just tell me I'll give you the money," he says. "I have the same seniority as your Mayor. So what if I tried to grab a little child's neck."
The netizens went to work, and the human flesh search engine kicked in. It’s a bit like the old town square: someone has one piece of information, which leads to another piece from someone else, which leads to another, until there’s a clear picture of the person involved. Lin was identified and fired by the government within a month.
John Vause | BIO
CNN Beijing Correspondent
It just won’t go away.
The latest figures from China’s health ministry show that even now, more than two months after the melamine in the baby milk scandal broke, almost a thousand Chinese kids are still in hospital, and according to China’s health Ministry, almost 300 thousand were made ill and a total of six kids were killed.
It is not too much of a stretch to suggest that even these numbers, do not reflect the full extent of how many babies and infants were left sick and dying. Consider this: China is the same size geographically as the US, give or take, with four times the population, and once you leave the big cities and head west, you step back in time and about two worlds. Many in the small isolated rural areas probably had no idea their kids were drinking poison, no idea why their only precious child was screaming in pain from kidney stones. This scandal has been going on for years.
CNN Executive Producer, "The Row"
My family tries hard to avoid “Made in China” for the same reasons a lot of American families do – especially made in China toys and food. Is there lead in the paint? Is there toxic filler in the feed? It’s hard to know for sure. But now the Chinese government has announced that country’s growth rate is down 2.5 percent from last year – down to 9 percent. I’m not sad yet. But now I'm seeing things in a different light.
You’re looking at Chinese workers besieging the gates of a large toy factory that’s been shut down. Hundreds of Chinese workers at this factory lost their jobs. One of the main reasons the factory shut down is that Americans are spending less on nearly everything, including Chinese toys. These Chinese workers didn’t just lose their jobs. The factory fed them in the factory cafeteria. The factory housed them in factory dormitory rooms. Now, many of them have no place to eat or sleep.
You could say this is China’s problem, not ours. But it’s sad to see. And in this globalized world, one country’s problem has a way of becoming everyone’s problem.
You can watch this piece from our chief China reporter John Vause to get more details on the story and meet a new type of Chinese citizen. He’s called the house slave.
John Vause | BIO
Food security is a bit like Homeland security – you can only protect against what you know, and what you think the bad guys might do.
So, now we know they put the toxic chemical melamine in the milk – what’s next? It’s a pretty safe bet that people who poison baby’s milk for a few extra bucks, aren’t going to stop there.
Last year, melamine was found in the pet food which killed and sickened thousands of dogs and cats across the United States. Back then it was done for exactly the same reasons – melamine is normally used to make stuff like plastic, but when added to substandard pet food ingredients and water-downed milk, it can fake high readings of protein which means you can sell it for a higher price. A colleague of mine suggested maybe this time it was an innocent mix up . . . putting the plastic in the milk, not the milk into the plastic.
So, now melamine has been unveiled as serial offended, it begs the question – what other toxic chemicals are being added to what food to marginally boost profits?
Chinese is a very difficult language to learn, even when it’s in English. Often when officials here have said the air is excellent and all I can see is smog, I've been left scratching my head trying to work out how that could be. So, recently I’ve been emailing a lot with Dr. George D. Thurston, Professor of Environmental Medicine NYU School of Medicine. He spends a lot of time trying to work out what the Chinese statistics mean when it comes to air quality.