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ZGBriefs The Weeks Top Picks, August 14 Issue

Two glimpses of China's past and the impending trial of a recent infamous murder top this week's list of items not to be missed.

24 images of the Flying Tigers training camp for Chinese pilots in Arizona (August 10, 2014, China Underground)

We at ChinaSource love history, so this series of photos published on the China Underground site of Chinese pilots being trained to join the Flying Tigers during World War II grabbed our attention. So much is known about Lt. General Chennault and his American flyers, but less is known about the contribution of Chinese pilots, most of whom were trained in Arizona. These photos are a fascinating look at and reminder of the Chinese contribution to the Flying Tigers.

The Chinese cult that kills 'demons' (August 13, 2014, BBC)

The BBC's Carrie Gracie reports on the upcoming trial of members of the "Almighty God" cult (formerly known as "Eastern Lightning") who attacked and savagely beat to death a woman in a MacDonald's restaurant in May. She does a good job of recapping the case at hand as well as showing the scope and viciousness of the group:

China is about to try one of the most notorious murders in recent memory.


In late May a group belonging to a banned cult beat a woman to death in a fast food restaurant. Her only crime was to refuse to give them her telephone number.


The cult in question is called the Church of the Almighty God and claims to have millions of members.


It was an ordinary evening in a small town McDonald's in east China until a family of six arrived trying to recruit new members to their Christian cult.


They moved between the tables asking for phone numbers and when one diner refused they beat her to death, screaming at other diners to keep away or they would face the same fate.


The savage murder was filmed on closed circuit TV and on mobile phones.


It shocked China. Who were these people prepared to kill over a telephone number?


Interviewed in prison later, one of the murderers, Zhang Lidong, showed no remorse and no fear.


He said: "I beat her with all my might and stamped on her too. She was a demon. We had to destroy her."

This case has prompted the government to launch another anti-cult campaign, which unfortunately sometimes snares other "underground" groups such as house churches.

Chinese TV series on former leader Deng Xiaoping offers rare glimpse of turmoil (August 13, 2014, Washington Post)

The Washington Post reports on a new docu-drama being aired on Chinese state television (CCTV) on the life of Deng Xiao-ping, the architect of modern China.

To much of the outside world, Deng is often associated with his sanctioning of military force against democracy activists in Tiananmen Square in 1989 a still-taboo topic avoided by the series. But within China, Deng is mainly known for jump-starting China's now booming market economy and opening it to the outside world. Deng died in 1997 at age 92.


Ostensibly, the show, which aired its first episode Friday, is meant to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Deng's birth. But given the opaque nature of the Communist Party, many have watched the series trying to parse hidden signals about shifts in the party leaders' thinking.


Some viewers believe the Deng series indicates a loosening of the party's white-knuckle grip on sensitive historical episodes. On Chinese social media, such proponents have pointed out how even leaders purged by the party including politically freighted figures such as one-time party chairman Hua Guofeng and liberal-minded former leader Hu Yaobang are depicted in the show.

Could this be the first baby step towards a reassessment of the Tiananmen Square Incident? It's ok to dream, isn't it?

ChinaSource Team

Written by members of the ChinaSource staff.  View Full Bio