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Chinese media last week reported that the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) announced that they had detected excessive amounts of lead in a foreign skin care product: “Almond Delicious Paste”, a skincare exfoliant product sold by the French company L’Occitane en Provence. L’Occitane is a Hong Kong-listed French company. Read more
In the city of Huangshi in Hubei province there’s a lake called Cihu Lake. Situated close to the Yangtze River, the lake area appears to be an idyllic scenic spot. Yet, especially in light of recent events, Cihu Lake is blemished by the existence of ten pig farms that are situated on the south-western edge of the lake. After 108 pigs were fished out of the lake in the last few days and several thousand more in lakes and rivers elsewhere in China, the local newspaper Dongchu Evening News wanted some answers, so it sent a journalist to the ten pig farms on Cihu Lake to investigate. The situation the newspaper uncovered is startling. Not only were all the pig farms technically illegal, none of them had the proper paperwork, and the farms were falsifying the labels on their pigs’ ears.
Yet making this deplorable situation worse is the state of government regulation being applied to the pig farms, regulation which can only be described as messy and inefficient. So while we may not yet know the full details of where all the dead pigs in the rivers originated from, the out of control pig farms on Cihu Lake can shed a lot of light on the situation.
Has tragedy become farce? As the vile mystery of several thousand dead pigs floating down rivers in Shanghai continues to roil, Chinese newspapers today report that a thousand dead ducks have been found floating down a river in Sichuan, and fifty dead pigs (mostly piglets) have been found stranded on a shoal in the Xiangjiang River in Changsha, Hunan province.
Yet there’s no need to panic, the newspapers point out, the ducks and pigs have all been buried and no sources of drinking water have been polluted. No, only our own souls remain polluted with the stench of rotting animals cast into rivers to float out of sight and out of mind.
Rao Pingru (饶平如) has lived a long life marked by great hardship and perseverance. Yet Rao survived war, famine, incarceration, separation and illness, and lived his entire life with undying love for one woman. Now aged 91, Rao’s long life was characterized by all the trials and tribulations that the Chinese people experienced in a turbulent twentieth century. His story is anachronistic in our current age of self-absorption and fleeting love, and will soon fade back into the mists of time. But old though he is, Rao has determined to preserve his journey and the memory of his beloved wife of 60 years, Mao Meitang (毛美棠).
So ever since his wife died in 2008, Rao has been engaged in writing a comic book history of his life and lifelong love with Mao Meitang. After working on the project daily for five years, the comic book will be finally published in April this year under the title “The Story of Us” (我俩的故事).
The Oriental Morning Post (东方早报) from Shanghai today featured Rao’s comic book history on its front page. It is a deeply moving tale. The following are the news report and some excerpts published by the Oriental Morning Post today:
There is a little stretch of river in the city of Shenzhen in Guangdong province where black water meets an endless stream of human filth. The place apparently doesn’t have a name, but some online commentators have referred to it as Black Dragon River (黑龙江), substituting the name of one of China’s provinces to highlight the overwhelmingly black color of the river. The local people who endure living in this place have simply taken to calling it the Stinking Sewer (臭水沟). Located right next to a number of factories as well as an electronic wholesaler and resident blocks – all of whom disgorge their garbage straight into the river – Black Dragon River is already for years now a black, stinking hole.
Naturally online commentators have offered various amounts of money for the head of the local environment protection bureau to take a swim in Black Dragon River. Yet as one journalist from Shenzhen Evening News went to see for himself, people do live there, and have been doing so for years. All this time, Black Dragon River has been black and filthy. Read more
The holiday is over, and here’s some news to bring you right back to down to earth. Or even further down underneath the earth where its apparently pretty smelly. The front page of the Strait Times (海峡都市报) from Fujian province today reports that the groundwater of 90% of Chinese cities is polluted to some degree, and that of around 60% is “severely polluted”. These depressing findings were recently uttered by an official from the China Geological Survey (中国地质调查局) at an international groundwater forum.
Strait Times today also reports on the Weibo river campaign recently launched by Deng Fei on his microblog, and one man who took Deng’s campaign a step further by promising openly to give the head of a city environmental protection office 200,000 yuan if he swam for 20 minutes in a polluted river. Read more
The main theme on the front pages of China’s newspapers today is the record levels of pollution that convulsed China over the weekend and into this week. The front page of the Henan Business Times (河南商报) today displays the smog horizon over the city of Zhengzhou, and the newspaper has a special four page section on the pollution called “A city besieged” (围城). In this section the newspaper tries to make sense of why China is being plagued by such extreme pollution at present, and offers its readers the dubious consolation that although there’s basically nothing that can be done about it, it will eventually go away.
See below for a gallery of how a few other newspaper front pages covered the pollution bugbear today, and see also the Links and Sources section for links to a few other pollution-related stories in English.
With tomorrow being World AIDS Day, a handful of newspapers in China today ran special features and front page headlines on HIV/AIDS-related stories. This coverage came in contrasting styles, however. While most newspapers focused on informative education and prevention activities related to HIV/AIDS, Dongguan Times went straight for the proverbial low blow by focusing its front page story entirely on brave and nervous nurses at a local hospital while they treat AIDS patients who seem crazy and plague-ridden (and who are mostly outsiders [外地人] anyway).
Unmentioned in almost every other newspaper in the country, but right in the middle of the front page of the Ningbo Daily (宁波日报) today is a brief announcement: Ningbo will resolutely not have the PX project.
After protests all of last week against an expansion project at a plant in the city that residents fear will pollute the environment , the paper reports laconically today that, “after further research was carried out”… the project will not go ahead but will be halted to enable further refinement and adjustment of the project based on scientific analysis.”
Ningbo thus now follows in the footsteps of Xiamen, Chengdu, Dalian and Shifang where protests by residents have in recent years resulted in the cancellation of similar plans to build polluting plants. Yet if you read the newspapers in China today, you would not have found the news from Ningbo on any other front page except the Ningbo Daily and one other publication: the Qilu Evening News from Shandong. Read more
The front page of the Chongqing Economic Times (重庆商报) today features a glowing obituary to Lu Zijian (吕紫剑): Chinese martial arts expert, “Knight of the Yangtze”, “Swordsman of the North East”, “Three Time Knight”, fighter against Japanese imperialism, witness to three centuries and now dead at the freakishly old age of 118. Sounds like an awesome story of a modern Chinese hero, except that much of it might be pure fantasy.
This has been the year of the flash mob in China, the breastfeeding flash mob to be exact. In May, August and September of this year, Chinese mothers bared their breasts in public to help galvanize a tiny yet growing movement that encourages natural births over Caesarian sections and breastfeeding over infant formula. Read more
As millions returned to work after one of the most stressful holidays in years on Monday October 8, the Tenth Annual Guangzhou National Sex Culture Festival was finishing its last day. “Look at the time,” Professor Zhu Jiaming, one of the organisers, said delightedly. “Three hours before closing on the last day, and it’s still packed!”
For centuries, exercise in China has been defined by Taoist principles, but such notions are losing traction, especially among the young. Can traditions such as Tai Chi keep pace with newer Western forms of fitness? Read more