It may just confirm what we already know — the smog is getting worse: China’s Meteorological Administration says that there were more smoggy days nationwide this year than anytime during the past 52 years. In Beijing, that includes half of the days in the month of October.
As if number alone is not alarming enough, several media articles cropped up this week that added a sense of urgency to the issue. Some such stories may seem anecdotal. On Tuesday, China News Service ran a headline shouting “smog causes cancer; youngest patient is only eight years old”. The story tells a sad tale of an eight-year-old girl who was diagnosed with malignant lung tumor, a disease that is usually associated with smokers and the elderly. Though grounded on little more than speculation, the article suggests a a cause by describing that the child’s home was next to a dusty road. On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s South Morning Post published an article that the smog might have a role to play in police’s failure to prevent a terrorist attack, in which a Uighur man smashed his vehicle against one of the bridges in front of Tian’anmen, killing everyone onboard and several passers-by on his way. Low visibility caused by smog can blind surveillance cameras, says the newspaper.
Satan Lucky is the pen name of cartoonist and illustrator based in Beijing. He publishes some of his work on Weibo. His style is based on Ukiyo-e — literally “pictures of the floating world”, the traditional Japanese style of woodblock prints and paintings of nature, history, scenes from the theater and of geishas and other urban decadences.
Some of Satan Lucky’s cartoons depict fantastic beats that seem to have no connection with contemporary reality, while others can be read as critical commentary In the gallery below, for example, 404 (the error number most Web browsers indicate when trying to access a blocked site in China) is depicted as a beast that sits on the computer, blocking access to Youtube and Facebook, while Flesh Net Beggar refers to the way in which resourceful people can avoid paying fines to the Flesh Net Beggar and “jump over” the Great Firewall. Read more
When a Chinese teenager named Ding Jinhao (丁锦昊) in Egypt last week was revealed to have defaced an ancient frieze with the graffito “I was here” (丁锦昊到此一游), there was widespread condemnation of the teen vandal who did so much to damage the image of Chinese tourists abroad. Yet after conducting its own survey of the scenic spots in the province of Yunnan, the Spring City Evening News today reports that “I was here” and other graffiti can in fact be seen all over Yunnan. Ancient buildings and parks have been scarred by innumerable “black hands”, and the paper says that poor Ding Jinhao has now been given all the blame for what many others do all the time in China itself. In fact, the “I was here” graffiti tradition goes back all the way to the Monkey King in the classic fable Journey to the West (西游记).
Another public holiday in China, another mountain of trash. The front page of the Haixi Morning Post (海西晨报) from Xiamen today is one of a few newspapers around China looking back on a public holiday of gridlocked traffic, congested scenic spots and – inevitably – mountains of trash, again.
The newspaper Daily Sunshine (晶报) from Shenzhen in Guangdong province today includes a special section entitled “Evil returns from the grave” (恶的还魂) (or perhaps another translation could be “The recycling of evil”) as a “reflection on the relationship between animals and humans”. The largest part of the newspaper’s front page is taken up by a Xi Jinping headline and a large image on the ongoing standoff on the Korean peninsula. The top corner of the front page refers to the sudden cancelling of the Tarantino film Django Unchained. Read more
Just see Swallow in action – China’s champion search and rescue dog in the making. Read more
At the north-eastern corner of Anhui University’s old campus in Hefei, capital of Anhui province, there’s a scenic pond that’s inhabited by a bevy of black swans. The swans have been there for more than a decade already, and were – as the front page of local newspaper Star News (市场新报) laments today – an object of fondness for locals.
The black swans at Anhui University in happier times
Yet early this morning, five of these black and beautiful swans were found floating lifeless on the surface of the pond. The latest instance of floating dead animals in China – first pigs, then ducks, and now black swans – these mere five black swans became an object of heated discussion on the Internet right after the announcement was made.
How did they die? Was it a natural disaster or another man-made one? As Star News tells us today, upon hearing of the news yesterday it immediately sent a journalist to the scene to find out exactly what happened. What he found was just one more filthy pond filled with oily water and garbage. Read more
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.
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
When a user snapped and posted on Weibo a picture of trees mysteriously uprooted on a road in Ningbo and then left there to die, a journalist picked it up and decided to investigate. What he found was no massive corruption scandal, flagrant malfeasance or incompetence; just bad management and professional neglect that left all the many trees over a ten kilometer stretch of road uprooted, and slowly dying in the open, one by one.
Also, we mention a few other stories from China’s newspaper front pages today:
- From Beijing Morning Post (北京晨报): The first job fair in Beijing in two years at which 43,000 graduates turned up with only 18,000 jobs on offer
- From the Henan Business Daily (河南商报): China’s first female astronaut returns to her home in Henan saying she feels “warm inside”
- From Modern Evening Times (新晚报): A girl with a master’s degree takes a job as a street cleaner in Harbin and says she “likes it just fine”, and
- From Yangzi Evening News (扬子晚报): Do we eat 60 tons of food in an individual lifetime, or just nine?