China Digest, August 31
Birth defects double
Only about 7 per cent of engaged couples in Beijing receive premarital medical check-ups, the Beijing Times reports. The city stopped requiring check-ups in 2003. The rate of birth defects has since doubled, as treatable diseases often go undiscovered, according to the municipal health bureau.
Botanists and agricultural officials have warned people in Beijing to avoid ragweed after a large amounts were found near a reservoir in Huairou district, the Beijing Times reports. They said pollen from the plant could do considerable harm to crops if the seeds spread, and many people were allergic to ragweed.
Restroom rest room
Quanzhou has set up a restroom where sanitation workers can take breaks, China National Radio reports. The facility on Aiguo Road is just two square metres, with a water boiler, induction stove, washing basin, chairs and an electric fan. Previously, cleaners took their breaks along the street. The city plans to build more such restrooms.
Sold twins returned
A 26-year-old mother had an emotional reunion with her twin boys in Nanan city on Tuesday, a year after they were sold by their father following their birth, the Strait City Daily reports. They were sold for 50,000 yuan each while the mother was unconscious after childbirth. The father was detained for human trafficking.
Yellow River dyke collapse
A 100-metre dyke along the Yellow River in Lanzhou collapsed on Wednesday night under the weight of flood waters, disrupting water supplies to two districts in the city, Xinhuanet.com reports. No injuries were reported, but water pipelines under the dyke were broken. Service was expected to be restored by Monday.
Projects avoid red tape
The province gave city-level governments approval rights yesterday for 41 types of projects, including production of grain, oil, vegetables and fruit, with budgets of less than 500 million yuan, in an effort to reduce bureaucratic red tape, the Lanzhou Morning Post reports. However, all energy-intensive projects must still be reviewed by the provincial government.
Kindergarten fee protest
A private kindergarten in a residential compound in Shenzhen sparked protests by angry parents on Monday after raising the monthly tuition fee from 1,500 to 2,000 yuan in the past two years, Xinhuanet.com reports. The fee jumped by 200 yuan recently, but the parents said they weren't notified in advance.
No funds, no parks
Several cities in the province, including Guangzhou, Yangjiang and Qingyuan , have failed to honour promises to construct public parks and green spaces, the Nanfang Daily reports. Some of the projects, including those planned by Yangjiang in 2001, have been indefinitely suspended because of a lack of funds. Many of the undeveloped sites have turned into wasteland.
Four children drown
Four primary school students drowned in a river in Hepu county, Nanning , Xinhuanet.com reports. The three boys and a girl were fishing at the time, but further details of the accident weren't given.
Official shows up in court
The deputy mayor of Beihai appeared in court on Monday to respond to litigation by residents over a land dispute. His presence was hailed as a move to help ease tensions and reduce conflicts between the public and government, as officials don't usually attend such hearings, the Nanguo Morning Post reports.
Big freeze hits crops
Zhangjiakou was hit hard by a rare cold snap last week, China National Radio reports, when the temperature fell to minus 3 degrees Celsius - the lowest for that time of year in 50 years. Corn, potato and bean harvests were damaged, resulting in at least 300 million yuan in economic losses.
250,000 Mao badges
A pavilion featuring more than 250,000 badges with images of former chairman Mao Zedong will open next month in Baoding , China News Service reports. Collected over 30 years by Shao Guowang, director of the Boye county education bureau, they range from about 1cm in diameter to 30cm and are made of aluminium, iron, porcelain, wood, bamboo or even sponges.
High school for free
Shaoshan city will begin offering free schooling for high school students in September, Xinhua reports. All 1,300 high school students in the city will no longer be required to pay the 1,000-yuan tuition fee each semester, but they still must pay for expenses such as books.
Arsonist dies from injuries
The retired worker who killed three people and injured another three in an arson attack on Monday died yesterday in a Shaoyang hospital, Xinhuanet.com reports. Police said Shi Yanfei burst into a conference room at a water supply company, doused people with petrol and ignited it because she was angry that the company arranged a job for only one of her two sons. She tried to kill herself by jumping out of the fifth floor window and was sent to hospital with serious injuries.
Kidney thefts denied
Jingdezhen officials denied an online rumour that nine kidneys had been stolen from patients at Xinhua Hospital, including during childbirth, and that the hospital director had been detained in connection with the alleged thefts, China News Service reports. Local police said they had detained two people for illegally selling kidneys this year, but no public hospitals in the city were involved.
14 detained over shooting
Fuzhou police said this week they had detained 14 people in connection with a shooting on July 23 that left four people injured, the Information Daily reports. Police discovered the gunman had plotted with seven others to shoot a man he had quarrelled with, but then shot the wrong people. The other six people detained allegedly helped cover up the shooting.
Compensation for crash
The families of eight people killed in a car accident on a highway in Guangan on Sunday were offered compensation by the city government yesterday, 250,000 yuan for each victim, the Chengdu Economic Daily reports. A total of 12 people died when a minivan crashed into a truck, but no compensation was offered to the family of the minivan driver and his three relatives who also died.
Bridge 'donation' row
Residents of three villages in Guangyuan say they were ordered to "donate" at least 100 yuan for construction of a bridge because officials said there was still a 1 million yuan shortfall for the 12 million yuan project, the Chengdu Economic Daily reports. Local authorities, however, denied that the donation was mandatory.