Monday, August 06, 2007

From the China Daily

Some stories I've been meaning to write, and the details are now perhaps lost to me, but here you go:

Nisha and I became avid readers of the China Daily, an English language paper we got on most flights and in the occasional hotel. This paper was great not just because we were craving English language reading material, but because the contents were so often uninentionally funny.

For instance, they ran a piece about food safety issues and pointed out that the Chinese government had placed a ban on meat imports from the US for the very same concerns. It included the government's list of banned meat processors, starting with Tyson, and for the last one it said something like: "and Thumph foods, which we can only assume means Triumph Foods of Missouri."

Another great section was the one with local stories from around China. One said that the local government of a province was asking married couples to stop tearing up their marriage certificates every time they got in a fight, becuase they would then go get new marriage certificates and this extra paperwork was causing a back-up in the local administrative office.

Another featured a man who had deposited 400 yuan (about $50) some time ago in a bank, and was now trying to withdraw it despite having no records. He decided to wait it out at the bank in protest. The last line of the article was, "Who knows how long he will wait."

Another from around China was about a grandmother who combined her sense of right and wrong with her masterful kung fu skills to defeat would-be muggers and teach them the value of obeying the law.

There was an opinion section as well, with unbelievably strange points. My favorite was the one which argued that it was not good that rich Chinese people were now eating food with exotic ingredients. The argument was that there was no evidence that this food was any more nutritious than regular food, so why should they spend their money on that. In case we somehow missed the point, there was a cartoon accompanying the piece with a baby and his mother. The mother was taking away an egg, and was saying "No, no, I will get you something fancier." The baby's thought bubble said, "But I wanted to eat that." Somehow, I think the Chinese editorialists have suffered from not being able to comment much under the current regime (see also: Juliedelphia, Chinese government blocking of).

Finally, there was a fabulous notice on the front page of the paper one day. It almost resembled an ad, but was presumably some kind of government-placed piece. It informed readers that a man (can't remember his name) who worked as the Nigerian bureau chief for some Chinese paper had not reported for work in 40 days, and was now considered to have "abandoned his post." If the man did not report back within 90 days of the publication of this notice, "proper action would be taken".

I miss the China Daily, though the idiot columnists in the LA Times Sports section almost score as high on the unintentional comedy scale.


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