In east China’s Shandong Peninsula (胶东半岛), there was a
city that had lush green trees inlaid with pitched red
roofs, and deep blue sea extended to meet the clear blue
skies. But this only represented half of its face; the
other half in the downtown area was the image of a town
It all started in 1891, when Chinese army set up a military
base at a fishing village by the Yellow Sea. Half a dozen
years late, the area was colonised by Germans who began
to construct Little Germany in the East, the result was
the splendid Eight Villas (八大处) and shabby settlements
of Chinese construction workers and labourers. After one
and half dozen years, Germany in the East was lost to the
Japan of the East. During the later stages in the city
history, it had been repeatedly liberated and re-occupied,
until 1949 when all the invaders were driven out of the
mainland China. By then Qingdao was a strange mixture of
astonishingly posh suburbs along the coastline where the
foreigners used to inhabit, and a slum downtown area that
alien occupiers made the locals to live. And this double-faced
city scene hadn’t changed much for next forty or fifty
Then a grand opportunity knocked its door. That is not
just because it has joined the rest of the country in China’s
effect to reinvent itself physically, but also because
it has been selected to host the sailing competition event
as part of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
And that finally and rapidly transformed the ugly half
of Qingdao to match the gorgeous half.
A happy ending seems. But soon many people have discovered
that its beauty is merely skin deep, beneath the dazzling
appearance the disease of serious malpractice and raging
corruption spreads. Right from the international design
tender for the Olympic Sailing project in 2002 to recent
global bidding invitation for the Cross-sea Bridge construction,
behind the complicated decision-making process was a simple
deciding factor: bribery.
As the result of mayor Du Shicheng’s active promotion,
the city of 6 million people has crowded with nearly 800
real estate development companies. In some areas the housing
prices doubled every year, well matching those in Shanghai
or Guangzhou. While as many as eight golf courses were
planed to be built, many city’s residents still have to
cram themselves into slum abode penghuqu (棚户区)
inherited from the occupation eras.
For this Qingdao is dubbed by the locals as Mop with Golden
Lace (金边抹布) – a slummy city surrounded by luxury outskirts;
and Mayor Du Shicheng is nicknamed Dusicheng (毒死城 meaning
citicide), reflecting what they think he has done to the
city, just like what pesticide does to pests.
When he was formally charged for property development
related corruption last Saturday, December 23, firecrackers
sounded everywhere in the city, and the web site of a local
news service was flooded with responses to the point that
the network was soon crashed. The locals viewed it as the
best Christmas present they’ve received.
For a man who began his career as a humble village teacher
in Confucian’s home province and rose to a position of
national prominence, sadly he has failed to deliver another
example of elevated humanity, but become a depressed footnote
to the history. And Qingdao, a double-faced legendary city,
has been transformed by him and his associates into a double-charactered
metropolitan, half angel, half devil.
Truth with School Uniforms
Are You Guilty?