China Digest, January 9, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 6:10am


Taxi drivers shun jams

More than 10,000 of the capital's 66,000 taxi drivers refuse to work morning and afternoon rush hours, because profits are severely affected by traffic jams, People's Daily reports, citing its own investigation. One driver was quoted as saying that he could make about 24 yuan (HK$29.50) an hour when traffic was severely congested, but fuel and fee costs exceeded 30 yuan. "Only a mentally ill person would want to do that," the driver was quoted as saying.

City targets jaywalkers

A co-ordinated effort by the city saw more than 1,000 volunteers take to the streets on Monday, including celebrities and Olympic gold medalists, to prevent pedestrians from jaywalking, climbing road fences and walking in driving lanes, Beijing Daily reports. The government is trying to make roads safer and improve pedestrian behaviour.


Minivan death toll hits 9

Four more people died yesterday from injuries suffered in a minivan accident in Wushan county, Tianshui , on Monday, bringing the death toll to nine, Xinhua reports. The seven-seat van carrying 12 people lost control and rolled down a hill. The youngest victim was two months old.

Caves reveal games of elite

By analysing wall paintings in the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang , Gansu researchers last year discovered, and either named or identified, more than 40 games played by aristocrats more than 1,000 years ago, Xinhua reports. The caves feature many Buddhist art treasures, and several of the games are still played today. The most popular games included cockfighting, sumo wrestling and ball games.


Safety belt traps thief

A middle-aged man from Hunan robbed a female taxi driver in Nanjing on Sunday, but after taking the money could not unfasten a safety belt - which he had never worn before, Modern Express reports. The driver had assisted the would-be thief in buckling up when he got into the front seat of the car, effectively trapping him. She then drove the thief to her husband and the couple held him until police arrived.

Tunnel lights 'too dim'

Several drivers have complained that a tunnel in central Nanjing is unsafe because the lights inside were too dim, but the city government said drivers must adjust to the new, environmentally friendly LED lights, Modern Express reports. The Gulou Tunnel opened last year and uses 30 per cent less power than other tunnels, but some drivers prefer the old, bright-yellow lights.


Officials 'abused power'

The Leping city government recently sacked three environment protection officials who last year fined one of the city's largest chemical plants 30,000 yuan for allegedly discharging pollutants, Xinhua reports. The plant complained to the city's party secretary, and a criminal investigation was launched against the Environmental Protection Bureau. The three officials were found to have been "abusing their power" and their colleagues were told to learn from the incident.

Drink-drivers targeted

Nanchang traffic police launched a month-long campaign yesterday targeting drink and drug driving, with checkpoints being set up for the first time on roads in rural areas, Xinhua reports. Officers were ordered to work on weekends and forgo holidays to help reduce accidents ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. Random checks also have been held after midnight near some of the popular restaurants and nightclubs.


Ire over pregnancy checks

The Shangluo city government has doubled the frequency of mandatory pregnancy checks on female civil servants, from two to four a year to catch unwanted pregnancies sooner, so a fetus can be aborted with less risk to the woman's health, Beijing News reports. The policy has drawn complaints from workers.

Dry city 'was like Venice'

Shaanxi archaeologists announced on Monday that Fengxiang, one of the driest and poorest counties in the province, had resembled Venice, Italy, about 2,600 years ago, People's Daily reports. Evidence of ancient rivers, lakes, docks, bridges and a massive drainage system have been unearthed, suggesting that residents used to rely more on boats than roads for transport.


Gas blast kills seven

Seven miners were killed in a gas explosion on Monday at a coal mine in Jinzhong city, Xinhua reports. The victims were employees of the Yangquan Coal Industry Group, the largest anthracite producer in China. Authorities have not revealed details of the accident, and no managers in charge of the mine were immediately held responsible.

Farmers held for poaching

Luliang police have arrested four farmers for killing and trading wild animals in no-hunting zones last month, Xinhua reports. Investigators found the remains of more than 400 wild species, mostly roe deer and rabbits, in the homes of the suspects, who could face more than 10 years in jail. They allegedly sold most of the animals to restaurants frequented by local government officials.


Maid hurt elderly woman

A maid was detained by police in Chengdu on Monday for abusing her 84-year-old bedridden client, Tianfu Morning Post reports. Surveillance camera footage provided by the elderly woman's relatives showed the middle-aged maid using various methods to torture the woman, such as by hitting her with pillows and bending her fingers. The suspect defended her actions to police by saying the client was not her mother, so she was not obliged to treat her well.

Anger at sneak speed trap

Several drivers have complained about a speed trap that traffic authorities in Guanghan laid on a six-lane road in a suburban area, where the speed limit was set at 50km/h and enforced by hidden, radar-equipped cameras. The speed-limit sign was placed behind a tree, where drivers could not see it, Chengdu Business News reports. Drivers also said they were not notified each time they were cited for speeding, and several people said they instead received a notice from police saying they owed for multiple violations. One driver said that to his surprise he had been cited 120 times last year and owed 14,800 yuan.


Ice surge hits harbours

Fishermen say that the amount of sea ice that has moved into Tianjin's harbours is greater than during any winter in the past 20 years, and the amount of fish being caught is about half what it was last year, City Express reports. Marine authorities said there was about twice as much ice as the annual average, and they suspected it to be related to climate change.

Incinerator plan for waste

The municipality plans to burn all non-recyclable rubbish by the end of 2015, and construction of three large incinerators will soon begin to help meet the target, Tianjin Daily reports. Local authorities claimed that, compared with traditional dumping that may pollute underground water, burning rubbish was relatively harmless.