Call us old-fashioned, dear readers, but we like to think there was a time not so long ago in China when you could trust people. When you could be confident the guy selling you a fake diploma would get the name of the school right; when the sticker price of high-grade Maotai was only an exaggeration of a few orders of magnitude; when you could rest assured that the official in customs you’d dutifully sent a cash-packed red-envelope for the Lunar New Year would do you a solid, not sell you out to the authorities and put your package up for sale on TMall.
And it’s not just us! Look to the markets, dear readers, and you’ll find benchmark indices plummeting as confidence in Beijing’s ability to prop up stock prices in a meaningless display of wasteful face-saving expenditure crumbles before your very eyes. Why else would stock market margin debt have fallen to a 13-month low?
Look to the new economic growth target for 2016 set by the National Development and Reform Commission, which had so little faith in the prospects of its eponymous mission this year that it decided to set a growth range instead. Or train your eyes on Liaoning, up in China’s rust belt, where a propaganda official was forced to call publicly on local media to stop reporting negatively on the region’s crumpling industrial economy. Why, even the steel industry can’t be counted on these days, what with its production having contracted last year for the first time in three-and-a-half decades.
Or perhaps you’d care to cast your gaze toward the murky world of finance, wherein this week police arrested no fewer than 21 employees of the peer-to-peer financing platform Ezubao because they’d fleeced some 900,000 investors out of RMB50 billion and more than 95% of the projects hosted by said service were reportedly fake.
It’s getting so you can’t even trust a member of the party, we’re afraid. No, it’s true! Please, cease your protestations—we couldn’t believe it either, at least at first. Yet today we learned that the governor of Sichuan province had been stripped of his position and his party ranking for corruption and – audible gasp – disloyalty. And should you think blood is thicker than water, think again, as no less a personage than the brother of Hu Jintao’s former aide was reported this week to be leaking state secrets about nuclear launch procedure and the personal lives of top leaders to the spooks in DC.
It should come as no surprise, we suppose, that demand for Chinese demand for identity-confirming fingerprint tech in smartphones drove sales at one Swedish biometrics hardware firm up twelve-fold in the fourth quarter to a towering 1.35 billion kronor. With all this backstabbing going on we daresay it would at least grant us some peace of mind to know that nobody can get to all the sensitive photos on our own phone, dear readers. Otherwise how could we hope to blackmail anyone?