Tom Fearon

Professional communicator in Canberra

2011 News in Review

It's the end of the year as we know it in Beijing, but 2011 leaves us with some pretty peculiar stories and torrid tales. So as we prepare to bid the year farewell, Metro Beijing rewinds the clock to bring you a month-by-month breakdown of the most weird, true and freaky news that made the Roundup pages over the past 12 months.


28 Dec., 2011

By Tom Fearon

Compiling the list was no easy feat; there was a rapist who blamed a fortune teller for his evil deeds, a retired banker whose penchant for scratching cars was attributed to addiction, and an elderly man who was busted for a string of date rapes, proving you're never too old to be a creep. The Global Times scoured the archives to dig up the best of the bizarre that shaped the year.

January: Kleptomaniac guard steals from his own

A security guard named Zhao Hailong was caught after repeatedly stealing money from the police station in Fengtai district where he worked. The light-fingered Zhao confessed that he had stolen over 14,000 yuan ($2,125) in cash from eight officers' wallets and lockers, including the station's police chief.

Oddly, none of the policemen complained about the thefts for several months, unwilling to risk wrongly accusing fellow officers. In his defense, Zhao claimed he could not live on his 1,000 yuan salary per month.

February: Male escorts strip clients of more than just their clothes  

Five men stood trial in Xicheng district court for robbery after posting ads on gay websites to lure victims.

In contrast to the reputation of soft, gentle escorts lying on beds, as advertised on business cards wedged under apartment doors, these escorts added robbery to their services. After placing gay escort ads online, dolled-up gang members aged in their 20s fronted their "clients" at their apartments, then assaulted and robbed them. In a bizarre twist, the gang then stripped and photographed their victims.

The ring struck 11 times over four months, stealing more than 90,000 yuan.

March: Boy tries to sue grandfather

Filial piety suffered yet another blow in China when an 11-year-old boy from Fengtai district filed a lawsuit against his grandfather for refusing to provide his hukou (household register).

The boy claimed the holdup led to his failure in enrolling for an English test. Xiaofang (pseudonym) asked for a copy of his hukou to sign up for the English exam, but his grandfather (surnamed Zhu) refused, a story backed-up by his mother. Xiaofang filed for 9,800 yuan in compensation, while grandpa Zhu maintained he provided copies of the hukou.

The district court rejected Xiaofang's lawsuit as he could not prove his failure to register was directly linked to not having his hukou.

Since his case was rejected, it's alleged things have become extremely awkward around the family dinner table.

April: "Supremely" absurd billboard law

In a brilliant use of time and resources, the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce announced that companies would be fined up to 30,000 yuan for billboard ads that described a product as "extravagant" or "supreme."

The administration also banned the use of "fiefdom," "nobility" and similar phrases that promote lavishness, feudalism and a worship of Western culture that "do not square with the values of Chinese society," an anonymous official was quoted as saying. Advertisers will "self-examine and correct commercials or face penalties," it was reported.

Panicked real estate agents scoured dictionaries to find permitted adjectives that would allow them to lure buyers and tenants to apartments that were "cozy" (tiny) and "bright and sunny" (blinds not included) in "districts taking off" (Shunyi, next to the airport).


May: Teen slasher sentenced

A 14-year-old girl, who attacked her mother with a kitchen knife, was sentenced to two years in prison by a Fengtai district court. The mother surnamed Su physically locked her daughter Xiao Li (pseudonym) in their house after repeated runaway attempts. Xiao Li attempted a "prison break" by lacing Su's soup with sleeping pills. However, Su poured the soup out after thinking it tasted unusual. Things turned nastier later that night when Xiao Li slashed at her mother's head with a kitchen knife as she slept, and bit her on the arm as they struggled.

June: If this van's a-rockin', he'll come a-robbin'

A man posing as a cop was arrested after making a comfortable living by robbing couples getting hot and heavy inside their parked cars.

The man surnamed Yang was apprehended after robbing a pair of lovers in Haidian district earlier this year. Yang knocked on the foggy window with a handprint (ala Kate Winslet in Titanic), then flashed a forged police badge and fake gun. When the couple admitted they were both cheating on their respective spouses, Yang asked for 20,000 yuan in exchange for letting them go.

Yang robbed six couples using this trick between April and June, before police finally arrested him after he forgot his ID card in a taxi. 

July: Woman fails in attempted "sue-a-cide"

A woman surnamed Wang, who was recently fired from her job, attempted suicide by leaping from a bridge in Changping district. Her plan went awry however when she landed on a passing truck and only broke her arm. Wang tried to sue the driver and his employer's insurance company, demanding 150,000 yuan in compensation in a case heard at Changping district court. Unfortunately for Wang, the judge was not so sympathetic to her case.

August: Man arrested for fake terror reports

A man surnamed Zhang, who apparently only read half the story about the boy who cried wolf, found out the hard way that police don't appreciate time wasters.

Zhang was arrested for making fake terror reports, Xicheng district procuratorate said on August 6. 32-year-old Zhang called the police on July 2 saying that someone had placed explosives and firearms in a hotel in Guangan Hutong, Xicheng district. Police inspected the scene but found nothing. Zhang called another police station on July 5 using a different phone number to again create another false rumor.

He confessed after being arrested that he made the fake reports in an attempt to find a former hotel manager, who owed him 190,000 yuan and had disappeared.

September: "UFO" blamed for grounding flights

In a case for agents Mulder and Scully from sci-fi TV series The X-Files, Beijing Capital International Airport cancelled dozens of flights allegedly because of an unidentified flying object (UFO) on September 13, a story not supported by them, but by others.

Web users claimed that a UFO hovering around the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was responsible. However, the airport denied the allegations and insisted flights were grounded due to "bad weather."

Whether the eerie, glittering lights were some other-worldly spacecraft or merely the PLA Air Force testing out their state-of-the-art fighter jets, we don't yet know. However, the truth is out there.

October: Thief literally maps out clues for police

Xicheng district police detained a man in connection with a series of robberies in Wanfeng Jewelry City. China's answer to Thomas Crown netted more than one million yuan worth of cash and silver.

The suspect, surnamed Zhu, told police that he hid inside a box with cutting tools, and asked his friend to sneak him into the entrance on October 9 before picking him up the next morning. When the stores closed, he snuck out and robbed three of them.

Sadly unlike the fictitious Thomas Crown, the real Zhu was busted after he left behind a map at the crime scene, and one of the storeowners recognized the handwriting.

November: Spider-Man can't do whatever a spider can

Zhang Xixin, affectionately dubbed the "Shandong Spider-Man," was detained for seven days after he climbed to the top of the Television Cultural Center Tower next to the TVCC Tower.

Zhang, 21, scaled to the top of the 37-storey building with his bare hands on November 4 and waved to passers-by, who mistook him as a would-be suicide jumper. Police arrived 15 minutes later and persuaded him to come down before arresting him for disturbing social order.

Two policemen and three jailed inmates asked him for an autograph. Zhang claimed he would not give up climbing, and vowed to scale the Eiffel Tower in Paris within two years.

December: Decking the prison halls for foreigners

Who said the Christmas spirit was missing in Beijing this year? Police held a special festive celebration on December 22 with the city's foreigners in detention for the first time.

Foreigners and detention police officers staged a song and dance gala together in the Dongcheng jail. More than 80 percent of foreigners in China's jails are detained for illegal residence or immigration, said Ma Fengwu, head of the Dongcheng jail.

It's not exactly clear what police put in the laowai lawbreakers' stockings, but it could well be a one-way plane ticket home, if they are really lucky.

See the original article here.