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CHINA TIMES, ECONOMIC DAILY (Taiwan); XINHUA (China)

WUHAN - In a booming economy, even the dead can help you turn a profit.

Friday was Tomb Sweeping Day, or the Qingming Festiva, in China. Set officially as a national holiday on April 4 or 5, this has traditionally been a family day on which people pay respects to their ancestors by cutting the grass, tidying up the graves and conducting an offering ritual.

In the past, burning incense and fake paper money -- also known as Ghost money -- were common practices for venerating the deceased at this special occasion. However, in recent years China has seen more and more multifarious offerings to make sure that their loved ones have lots to enjoy in the realm of the afterlife, the China Times reported. The list of, well, goodies, includes papier-mâché items of consumer electronics, and even paper-girl figurines to symbolize mistresses of the departed.

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Photo by istolethetv

"Basically, the fashion in offerings follows that of the living. We sell whatever goes with the trend,” a shop keeper specialized in funeral ritual equipment said to Xinhua. Apart from the traditional items such as food or paper money, recent hot trends have included paper houses and cars, as well as faux techgadgets such as MacBooks, iPads and iPhones.

Since having a mistress is considered as one's talent by a lot of China's rich and powerful, burning the very imaginative paper-made girls is also one of the preferred new sources of homage by more open-minded family members.

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Photo by kanegen

But China's quick-thinking businessmen aren't done yet. Some have also come up with new services of paying respects to the tombs on behalf of the families, according to the Economic Daily.

A deluxe grave-sweeper’s service can include tomb cleaning, lighting incense to burn, putting flowers and paper clothes at the grave, and just some living company. "We'd even do the kowtow as long as you pay!", one valet sweeper assured. According to the Economic Daily, China's major cities are now full of agencies that provide these kinds of services to China's massive migrant worker population who can't make it back home.

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Photo by bfishadow

And now the latest addition to the grave economy, as some call it, has a digital-virtual component. With the help of the Internet, the netizens who can't make it to the real tombs can now just log on the online grave-sweepers platform to pay their homage. For as little as 40 Yuan ($6) visitors can set up their own virtual tomb and choose to leave a message, sing a song, light e-incense or candles, or offer pixilated flowers, wine, or anything else they fancy.

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Geopolitics

One By One, The Former Soviet Republics Are Abandoning Putin

From Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, countries in Russia's orbit have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war. All (maybe even Belarus?) is coming to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the Soviet empire.

Leaders of Armenia, Russia, Tajikistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan attend a summit marking the 30th anniversary of signing the Collective Security Treaty in Moscow on May 16.

Oleksandr Demchenko

-Analysis-

KYIV — Virtually all of Vladimir Putin's last remaining partner countries in the region are gone from his grip. Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war, because they've all come to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the empire, where their own sovereignty is lost.

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Before zooming in on the current state of relations in the region, and what it means for Ukraine's destiny, it's worth briefly reviewing the last 30 years of post-Soviet history.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was first created in 1992 by the Kremlin to keep former republics from fully seceding from the former Soviet sphere of influence. The plan was simple: to destroy the local Communist elite, to replace them with "their" people in the former colonies, and then return these territories — never truly considered as independent states by any Russian leadership — into its orbit.

In a word - to restore the USSR.

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