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Commentary Wrap: Aliens, Debt & Snowden


June 14, 2013

Editors from the EO's Chinese website publish
 a daily collection of extracts from commentary pieces on topical issues that appear in the mainland press alongside reactions on Sina Weibo. Every Friday, the EO's English team translates a selection of these opinion pieces.
Original article: [Chinese]

Fake Alien
Background: Li Kai, a farmer from Shandong Province, claimed that he had electrocuted and killed an alien and then posted several photos of it online. Later, Li told police that the alien was actually made of rubber and iron wires. He was charged with creating fabrications and disturbing social order and held in custody for five days.

Free speech is one’s right and responsibility. People should use it carefully. We should also be careful when punishing someone and taking away their freedom. These punishments should only be used against speech that presents a real danger. This will avoid the so-called “chilling effect.”
- Beijing News

Compared to the pretty much harmless lie about the alien, fake sea cucumbers are more dangerous to society. As a consumer, I hope the local police can follow up on clues, follow the industrial chain and root out fake sea cucumbers. I hope they can help people with real problems rather than deal with issues like “aliens” every day.  
- Oriental Morning Post

If Li’s alien constitutes “fraud” then could those who build “historic places” for local governments also be guilty of fraud. When people attempt to make money through these so-called “historic places,” should they also face criminal liability?
- Guangzhou Daily

Edward Snowden’s Fate 
Background: Whistleblower Edward Snowden recently revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has carried out large scale telecommunications monitoring for years. He also said that the NSA has been hacking computers in mainland China and Hong Kong since 2009.

To a large degree, Snowden’s fate will be decided by both the American legal system, U.S. security policy and public opinion. This is more or less similar to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
- Beijing Times

If the United States charges Snowden with treason, there’s still no relevant national security act in Hong Kong’s law. So Snowden's behavior is not a crime in Hong Kong and there’s no basis for extradition.
- Beijing News

The key question is whether the U.S. congress or other institutions have overseen this surveillance. Why it is necessary to carry out this excessive monitoring? The U.S. not only owes its citizens an explanation, but it also owes the whole world an explanation.
- South China Morning Post


Local Debt Crises
Background: The State Auditing Administration recently published local governments’ audit results. The total combined debts of 36 cities in 2012 was 3.84 trillion yuan - 12.9 percent higher than in 2011.

The fundamental problem is how to react when facing an economic downturn. Currently, most local governments try to get short-term gains through stimulus policies. Economic restructuring, industrial upgrades and technological innovations are never the first choices for local governments.
- Yangtze Daily

If we link the balance sheet of local governments to the evaluation of local officials while unlinking it from investment projects, then officials would obviously make logical choices and debts could be effectively controlled. The problem can be solved if People’s Congresses at all level can limit local governments’ power to borrow and spend money.
- China Business View

The risk of local debts depends on the investment efficiency. It should not be measured by scale only. Risk is not necessarily a bad thing. The key to an investment is whether it has risk that matches its potential revenue.
- Oriental Morning Post



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