Last week, Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) reported having detained 22 individuals involved in an illegal online sports betting operation. Four ‘computer engineers’ and 18 accomplices are accused of operating over 20 China-facing gambling sites that allowed punters to bet on sporting events, including pro baseball and basketball. Turns out the principal ‘engineer’, a man named Kuo, had formerly operated a high-tech company that had been shut down by the authorities in July 2009, also for operating online sports betting sites. If nothing else, give the man credit for perseverance.
Over on the Chinese mainland, yet another crackdown is set to begin on the “four evils” – “black workshops” that make and sell bogus food and medicine; “black factories” that make other counterfeit goods; the “black markets” that sell these goods, and “black hideouts” from which porn, drugs and gambling operations are allowed to function. (So it’s more of a ‘blackdown’ than crackdown.) China Daily reports that “stage one” of the Ministry of Public Security’s crackdown involves bringing high-profile cases to justice this year, while long term solutions will focus on getting the police to sustain their day-to-day efforts and thereby eliminate the need for annual ramped up crackdowns.
Over at China’s culture ministry, the blackdown has a blacklist. Chinese music websites have been ordered to remove 100 songs deemed to be harmful to “national cultural security” or face criminal prosecution. While most of the songs are from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, Lady Gaga scored an impressive six songs on the banned 100 chart, while Beyonce, Katy Perry and the Backstreet Boys notched one song apiece. The inclusion of the Backstreet Boys I Want It That Way is a bit of a puzzler, as (a) it’s over 10 years old, and (b) while the lyrics are insipid syrup, they’re neither overtly sexual nor do they call for the overthrow of the Chinese state (unless the “we are two worlds apart” line is a coded reference to Taiwan’s split from the mainland in 1949). Or maybe the Chinese cultural Gestapo just have good taste?
Good taste or no, anyone hoping that the authorities would eventually start loosening their kung fu grip on Chinese morality should read some of the US diplomatic cables recently published by Wikileaks. In one, US diplomats describe Xi Jinping, who is presumed to be taking over President Hu Jintao’s role in 2012, as “repulsed by the all-encompassing commercialization of Chinese society, with its attendant nouveau riche, official corruption, loss of values, dignity, and self-respect, and such ‘moral evils’ as drugs and prostitution.” (As noted above, gambling falls into the same ‘evil’ category.) The cable goes on to say that once Xi assumes the presidency, “he would likely aggressively attempt to address these (moral) evils, perhaps at the expense of the new moneyed class.” Great. Just what China needs – their own Tea Party candidate.