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People & Points
Print Edition> People & Points
UPDATED: November 25, 2008 NO. 48 NOV. 27, 2008

Wheelchair Warrior's Top Post

Zhang Haidi, a wheelchair-bound writer, was elected chairwoman of the China Disabled Persons' Federation on November 13, replacing Deng Pufang who will serve as honorary chairman. The election was held during the fifth national congress of the federation, which is engaged in the promotion and protection of the rights and interests of the country's 83 million persons with disabilities.

Zhang, 53, achieved nationwide fame in the mid-1980s after the media reported her courageous efforts to become useful to society despite paraplegia.

A spinal tumor paralyzed Zhang's body from the chest down when she was 5 years old. Though she never attended school, she taught herself to read and write and grew up to be an acupuncturist in the 1970s. She eventually earned a Master's degree in philosophy from Jilin University in April 1993.

Since 1983, Zhang, who is also fluent in English, Japanese, German and Esperanto, has published two novels, three essay collections and four translated works, which brought her several national literary awards. Her semi-autobiographical novel, Dream on Wheelchair, was also published in Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Japan's public broadcaster NHK named Zhang one of the world's most influential physically challenged people in 1997.

Chemist Takes Over PKU

One of China's top chemists and an alumnus of Peking University (PKU), Zhou Qifeng, has been appointed president of this 110-year-old university that tops Chinese higher learning institutions on the Times World University Rankings 2008.

Zhou, 61, took over his predecessor, 66-year-old Xu Zhihong, who retired this month.

Zhou graduated from PKU in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He obtained his master's degree in September 1981 and doctorate in February 1983 from the University of Massachusetts. The timespan of his doctoral studies, two years and seven months, is the shortest recorded in the history of the U.S. university.

A leading scientist in the field of polymer chemistry, Zhou invented the world's third approach of polymer synthesis, following American and German researchers. In 1999, he was elected to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Zhou ended his 16-year teaching career at PKU in June 2001. He has since held several high-ranking posts in the Ministry of Education until he was named president of Jilin University in northeast China's Jilin Province in July 2004.

Disgraced Photographer Gets Reprieve

Zhou Zhenglong, a farmer who claimed to have photographed a wild South China tiger, has received a lighter sentence in the final-instance trial after he pleaded guilty to faking the pictures in hopes of swindling money from the government.

A court in Xunyang County, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, concluded Zhou's case on November 17, giving him a two-and-a-half-year jail term with a three-year reprieve on charges of fraud and illegal possession of ammunition.

In September, Zhou was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on the same charges in the first-instance trail. Zhou appealed the ruling in early October.

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