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Flat Earth: Toying with guilt

ANOTHER transparent tale from the Confucian East. It, the tale that is, actually unfolds in Grand Junction, Colorado, where 10-year-old Eddie Tucker was assembling a toy glider, made in Taiwan. Among the balsa and glue, out fell a note. 'Hey lucky friends,' it read. 'This toys make in prison Taiwan. I'm maker Liu Xin Ping . . .' The note urged the finder to inform the White House and called for Taiwan to be investigated for human rights abuses.

With so much attention on the export of prison-made products from mainland China, the Taiwanese government panics. A news conference is called at Taichung prison and reporters allowed to meet Liu.

Does he really object to the use of prison labour for state profit?

'Oh, no,' says Mr Liu, eyes widening. No, his objection was simply to the export of the products.' There is a big domestic market for these products, so why are they exporting them to foreign countries?' Rarely in the history of news conferences can the threat of an extra-judicial bashing for the wrong answer have hung so heavily over the proceedings.