In one of the largest environmental
disasters in Chinese history, more than 500 metric tons
of dead fish were discovered recently along a 200-mile
stretch of river in southwest China. Damages are estimated
at more than RMB10 million, or US$ 1.3 million.
Residents of Leshan, Sichuan province
first began noticing a few dead fish floating in the
Dadu River in mid-March. Within days, the river was
swollen with dead fish. After careful consideration
and much deliberation, engineers at the Fishing Regulatory
Body soon concluded that the fish were probably killed
by pollution. Extensive tests on the river and the surrounding
area were unable to pinpoint the source of the culprit,
a pathogenic bacteria.
Travelers from around the world have
long flocked to Leshan, which is famous for the Grand
Buddha, a 71-meter statue built into cliffs overlooking
the Min and Dadu rivers. However, in the late 1970s,
the area began developing into an industrial center
and a number of factories now line the banks of the
rivers. Since then, the level of pollutants in the waters
has increased dramatically.
This disaster comes barely a month
after a similar incident in Fujian province, where a
local factory poured toxic pollutants into the Shaxi
River, killing more than 100,000 fish.
40 Funerals and a Wedding
Forty people were killed and 36 injured
in a village in Shanxi province last month when a crazed
coal miner detonated a homemade bomb at a wedding ceremony.
Police say Liu Zhanjin, 34, who had
secretly murdered his wife and three-year-old son last
year, built the device during a period of mental depression,
the Yangcheng Evening News reports. In a jealous fit,
Liu had stabbed his wife to death after she tried to
leave the house to visit friends. Then he killed his
son, who had witnessed the incident. After ditching
the bodies in a cesspool, the father lied about the
mother and boy's whereabouts to his two daughters, who
were in school when the murders took place.
As his mental condition deteriorated,
the mere sight of others enjoying themselves filled
Liu with rage. On March 29, he set off several homemade
explosives outside a house packed with 100 wedding guests.
The bombs, which were disguised as sacks of rice, were
packed with nails, steel bolts, bicycle parts and scrap
iron. The 40 dead included 20 members of the same family.
Only 24 bodies were identifiable.
Soon after the bombing, Liu revealed
his motives, as well as the location of his wife and
son's remains, in a 50,000-word suicide letter to the
Hangzhou Tea Party
'Tis the season to harvest fresh
tea leaves. But tea farmers in Zhejiang province were
recently caught dumping thousands of kilograms of surplus
Longjing tea, one of China's most prized and expensive
varieties, into a river, after losing a lengthy battle
against the sale of cheaper imitations.
According to the Economic Daily,
the angry farmers hail from Meijiawu, a village near
the tea's birthplace of Longjing and not far from the
provincial capital Hangzhou. Although Longjing proper
produces the highest quality leaves, production has
tapered over recent years. Today 60 percent of the area's
premium Longjing tea, or about 70,000 kilograms, is
produced in Meijiawu.
But the tea's rising popularity has
been accompanied by a proliferation of farms producing
fake or inferior leaves that claim to originate in the
Longjing region. Unable to compete with these cheaper
alternatives, stocks of the genuine article have sat
untouched in storage for years.
Earlier this month bystanders watched
in disbelief as farmers disposed of large quantities
of unsold leaves from previous seasons, now deemed unfit
for sale, into a small river. Within hours the entire
river turned dark and fragrant, witnesses say.
As justification for their actions,
farmers pointed out to reporters that windows in shops
across Hangzhou bear signs boasting new shipments of
this year's top-grade Longjing tea, despite the fact
that the crop has yet to be harvested.
How Much For the Kid?
The average Chinese family now spends
more money on its single child than on parents and grandparents
combined, according to a recent survey.
In most cases over half of a family's
monthly earnings go toward raising the little one. The
survey was based on families with children aged 12 and
under from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xi'an, the
Beijing Youth Daily reports. Children in these cities
cost parents a staggering total of RMB3.5 billion, or
US$436 million, per month to feed, clothe, school and
generally keep happy. Of the high-priced tykes, those
in Beijing are the biggest wallet-breakers at RMB1.4
billion, or US$175 million, per month.
These spending patterns are largely
a result of China's one-child policy, initiated in the
early 1980s, as well as the new abundance of expensive
consumer goods and growing purchasing power among the
people. In addition to private English tutors, today's
Chinese parents are willing to pay for extracurricular
activities, including music and dance lessons, and sports.
And if securing a spot at the best schools means generous
cash donations, so be it.
Furthermore, an increasing number
of children are sent abroad for schooling each year,
with tuition costs as high as RMB150,000, or US$18,750.
England is particularly in favor now due to its reputation
for high standards in education and the image of Victorian
order, compared to the image of the U.S. as crime and
The Truck Stops Here
A policeman on a motorcycle was recently
killed while trying to pull over a speeding truck after
it ran a red light.
According to witnesses, the truck
was travelling more than 60 kilometers per hour and
showed no signs of stopping, the Yancheng Evening News
reports. The policeman chased after the truck, but when
he tried to cut it off the truck smashed into his motorcycle
killing the officer instantly. The truck driver, who
was hauling gravel for the Heng Tong Transport Company,
stopped and was arrested on the scene.
The tragedy follows in the wake of
a similar incident last December that drew public outrage
and calls for stricter measures against unsafe truck
According to sources in the trucking
industry, accidents are partly caused by supervisors
who value profitability over safety. One source said
most drivers do not receive technical training and only
hold basic driver's licenses.