Fang Lizhi who helped to stir up the student protests of the 1987-1989 period after being expelled from the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) for the second time, died last month in the US at the age of 76.
After the army cleared Tiananmen Square of student protesters on June 4, 1989, Fang was smuggled into the US embassy in Beijing, where he remained for 13 months. He later became a professor of physics at the University of Arizona.
I interviewed Fang at his Beijing home in February 1989. His theme was "political reform." When I asked him if by "political reform" he meant multi-party democracy, he laughed, and said, "China won't be ready for multi-party democracy for a long time, if ever."
This remark highlighted an on-going struggle in China - between the CPC, which works to liberate the workers and peasants, and China's intellectuals who want to resume their traditional ruling role as mandarins.
This was the rationale behind the Anti-Rightist campaign in 1956, during which Fang was sent to the countryside.
The predictable eulogies in the Western press insist that Fang "continued to speak out on human rights" while teaching in Tucson.
They are silent, however, on what, if anything, he said about Guantanamo Bay.
Turf wars over recycling
The death penalty has been threatened by the Chinese authorities to crack down on crime in Zhengzhou, Henan Province.
The problem? A turf war over waste oil from restaurants.
Waste oil collectors from United Elites, the only government-authorised recycler of waste oil, face daily threats and beatings from rivals who also offer higher prices to the restaurant owners.
United Elites turns the oil into diesel fuel, while it is feared that the unauthorised dealers turn some of it into cooking oil, which is a serious health hazard.
New railways, new money
Private individuals will be allowed to invest in four new railway lines in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province.
The total cost of the projects is estimated at 80 billion yuan (about US$12.6 billion) and half is expected to come in the form of private investment.
The move comes as part of the municipal government's attempt to curb the huge "informal lending market" (loan sharks, see last month's Diary) and provide a supervised outlet for surplus cash.
Serious monkey business
A tribe of monkeys attacked taxis in front of a hotel in Sanya, in southern China's Hainan Province, after a taxi ran over and killed a young monkey. During the attacks some of the monkeys stood guard over the corpse until the police arrived and removed it.