Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Chinese New Years From Not Another New England Sports Blog!

In what could be a promising sign for the Denver Broncos, January 31st marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year- with this weekend kicking off the year of the horse. According to the Chinese Zodiac, people born in the year of the Horse are characterized as outgoing, energetic and thrive when they're the center of attention.

These traits were probably what disgraced former Communist party official Bo Xilai was looking for in policewomen in the tourist hub of Dailan when he announced the formation of an all-female mounted patrol. During Xilai's meteoric rise to Chinese Communist Party Central Committee heir apparent, the all female horseback patrols were started with retired racehorses donated from Hong Kong in the early 2000s. The idea was to have the patrols become a source of civic pride and tourist attractions in their own right [apparently they even have their own reviews (in Mandarin) on Tripadvisor- NANESB!] but have come under scrutiny lately. The policewomen also give tours of the training grounds and equestrian performances during the warmer months, charging tourists ¥50 (or around US$ 8) for admission. However, under Chinese law, police officers aren't allowed to engage in business activities putting the policewomen at odds with some of the law's they're tasked with enforcing.

Then again, attractive women riding horseback on public dime was the least of Xilai's problems. The former mayor and governor was accused of keeping fellow officials under electronic surveillance, his own chief of police accused him of corruption and Bo's wife was implicated in the 2011 murder of a British businessman. In September 2013, Bo was sentenced to life in prison and stripped of all his assets.

As for the women on horseback, a retired traffic policeman in Dailan filed a request regarding the cost of maintaining the horses and the overall effectiveness of the unit. According to the released report, the monthly cost of feed and supplies is about ¥2500 (around $405) while the monthly salary of the policewoman ranges from ¥1800 to ¥3800.

According to Dailan's current mayor, there's been public criticism of the policewomen on horseback but said it's 'too soon to talk about cancelling it' and while admitting some of the criticism is valid, the program shouldn't be cancelled on a whim. Over the last decade, a number of other cities in China- such as Shenzhen or Baotou- have also followed Dailan's lead.

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