China Digest, January 8, 2013
1m web articles deleted
Beijing municipal police deleted more than one million internet articles and arrested over 4,200 people for spreading false rumours, including discussion on the doomsday hysteria, Xinhua reports. Officials punished some 17,000 websites for violating rules and shut down nearly 20,000 online forums.
42-year record smashed
The subway's Line 10 ended Line 1's 42-year unbeaten streak as the capital's most congested line last week, transporting more than one million passengers a day on average, the Beijing Daily reports. The sudden increase in passengers was due to the opening of two new transfer stations.
Ban on new homes
Majiang county has banned residents from building new houses in an effort to keep the cost of seizing such land from rising, Xinhua reports. The government said new houses would increase the cost of its development plan because homeowners must be compensated per square metre of existing housing. Authorities said they would cut municipal services to all houses built in violation of the ban.
2,100 mines to close
The Guizhou government plans to close 2,100 mines by 2016 and cap the number of operating mines at 4,000, Xinhua reports. Most of the mines slated for closure are small privately owned operations, with outdated equipment and poor safety records. The government expected the restructuring would strengthen large state-owned mines and reduce the frequency of accidents.
Home prices fall in 3 cities
Three Hebei cities saw home prices drop significantly last month, with Shijiazhuang taking the biggest hit, the Hebei Daily reports. The average price of new flats in the provincial capital fell more than 3 per cent to 5,582 yuan (HK$6,859) per square metre. Tangshan and Qinhuangdao saw similar falls.
Farm homes razed for plan
The Handan government has demolished several farmers' homes and a temple to clear a historic site for a tourist development, Xinhua reports. The ruins of a 2,300-year-old city were recently discovered. Officials accused the farmers of hindering its bid to develop a tourist attraction on the site.
GPS catches bike thieves
Wuxi police credited GPS tracking devices installed on more than 5,000 electric bikes with helping them catch 16 bike thieves last year, Xinhua reports. The government says the sensors send the owners text messages whenever their bikes are moved without their knowledge. Officials said they would install similar sensors on other private valuables.
Fine for cellphone chat
A Nanjing man has the dubious distinction of being the first city driver punished for using his mobile phone, the Yangtze Evening News reports. Police, who fined the man 50 yuan on Sunday, said the force lacked the manpower to catch all drivers talking on the phone without a hands-free device, so high-definition surveillance cameras might be set up.
Firms to raise wages 15pc
Yingkou construction firms have agreed to increase their employees' salaries by at least 15 per cent annually after unprecedented government-backed talks, the Liaoning Daily reports. The talks on the wages of 20,000 construction workers were initiated in response to the Communist Party's call for incomes to rise.
Chimneys swept away
Faku county plans to demolish all chimneys in its urban areas this year to reduce air pollution and improve its appearance, the Shenyang Daily reports. Some residents expressed concern that the move would limit heating options in winter, but officials said they would build a pipeline to carry in hot water from coal-fired plants in a neighbouring county.
Air pollution warning
Xian environmental authorities advised children and the elderly to remain indoors this week as air pollution spiked to hazardous levels, the Xian Evening News reports. The level of potentially health-threatening fine particulate matter reached as high as 350 in downtown areas over the weekend and was likely to stay high for days. The rapid rise of cars and coal-fuelled heating has been blamed for the deterioration of the provincial capital's air quality.
Gas supply falls short
Xian's natural gas supply has failed to keep up with demand, causing widespread disruptions to residential heat and taxi services last week, the Huashang News reports. The government's natural gas company said it continued to get phone calls from angry customers, despite increasing the city's daily gas supply to eight million cubic metres. The government said it would consider rationing if the shortage worsened.
Free Wi-fi distracts drivers
Chengdu plans to install free Wi-fi on public buses this year, the Sichuan Daily reports. Although the project was still in a trial phase, some bus drivers have been accused of using their wireless connections to read news, scan Weibo or even watch movies while on duty.
2 hurt in 30-vehicle crash
Two people were seriously injured during a crash involving 30 cars at a Chengdu toll booth during heavy fog on Sunday, the Huaxi Metropolis News reports. Traffic authorities said that icy conditions contributed to the mishap. Similar weather forced several Sichuan highways to shut over the weekend.
15 deposit sites found
Xinjiang authorities identified 15 new mineral and energy deposits last year, bolstering the autonomous region's efforts to become a major industrial centre, the Xinjiang Daily reports. But the ability to exploit new resources, mostly coal, iron and nickel, was limited by a lack of water in the area. Authorities said more wells would be drilled.
200 drivers convicted
Nearly 200 drivers were criminally convicted and sentenced to up to six months in jail for drink-driving in Urumqi last year, the Xinjiang Daily reports. A local judge said that though many drivers were aware that this could lead to serious punishment, they relied on infrequent police checks.
A 26-year-old Wenzhou man was uninjured despite destroying his uncle's Rolls-Royce Phantom during a snowstorm in Ningbo on Thursday, the Qianjiang Evening News reports. Traffic police said the man lost control and struck a truck after setting the borrowed luxury car's cruise control at 100km/h while on his way to Shanghai. The car, worth 7 million yuan, was beyond repair.
Snowballs scare animals
Keepers at Hangzhou's largest zoo are worried that the animals may be traumatised after visitors pelted them with snowballs at the weekend, Xinhua reports. A witness said patrons threw snowballs at various animals, with a pair of African lions being repeated targets.