China Digest, February 6, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 5:24am



Two die at chemical plant

Two workers died from hydrogen sulphide poisoning on Sunday afternoon in a sewage-treatment pool at a chemical plant in Xuancheng city, reports. Two other workers remained in critical condition yesterday. One worker lost consciousness within a minute of entering the sewage pool, and the other three were poisoned while trying to save him.

Prison for taking bribes

Lu Denghong, the former director of a township hospital in Tianchang city, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking 134,000 yuan (HK$165,000) in bribes, the Procuratorial Daily reports. Lu received cash and gifts from pharmacies and medical-equipment retailers from 2007 to 2012 as kick-backs for purchases. Lu confessed but claimed he took just 30,000 yuan.


Fireworks get go-ahead

Fireworks went on sale in Beijing yesterday at 1,337 authorised retailers, amid calls for a ban on them during the Lunar New Year holiday as some people fear the fireworks will worsen the already dismal air quality seen in recent weeks, China Radio International reports. The city's meteorologists said they will advise the public when it is particularly unsafe to set off fireworks - such as during heavy wind or on very smoggy days - but no ban will be imposed.

New rules on air pollution

Beijing is expected to publish new regulations on air pollution prevention by the end of this year, the standing committee of the city's People's Congress said on Monday, the Beijing Morning Post reports. The regulations are currently being drafted and will be reviewed by the city's legislature in July before being voted on in December. The standing committee also vowed to solicit public opinion in an open manner.


Pay rise for cleaning crews

Guangzhou Mayor Chen Jianhua promised to raise the monthly income of local sanitation workers by 20 per cent this year, the Information Times reports. The cleaners would earn an average of 400 yuan more a month. Hundreds of sanitation workers staged a strike for several days early last month seeking more pay. Some complained they often must work unpaid overtime and haven't received a pay increase since 2010.

Metro line in the red

Newly released official statistics show that the Guangzhou Metro Corporation was 50.2 billion yuan in debt by the end of 2011, while the total net profit from 2007 to 2011 was just 368 million yuan, The Southern Metropolis Daily reports. The finding was made in a recent audit of operations and construction associated with the city's metro system, which has been rapidly expanding in recent years.


Fish seller in sea of debt

A fish wholesaler says a government-owned restaurant located in Yiyang county, Luoyang , still owes him 189,000 yuan in food payments from 2009, the Dahe Daily reports. The restaurant has been struggling financially and said it didn't have enough money to pay off its debt. The wholesaler said he was told by county prosecutors last year that he would not win a lawsuit if he brought the dispute to court.

Police seize fireworks

Kaifeng police seized a cargo truck on Saturday that was illegally carrying 28 tonnes of fireworks, the Dahe Daily reports. The driver said he was promised 20,000 yuan to bring the fireworks more than 2,100 kilometres from Changsha in Hunan , to Liaoning province. He was caught after about 850 kilometres without a permit to transport fireworks.


Patients get hepatitis C

A total of 120 patients who received treatment for varicose veins at a hospital in Donggang city between January 21 and 29 contracted hepatitis C, reports. Police detained a surgeon suspected of being involved in the contamination. The patients are receiving treatment for the virus, which can cause serious liver damage.

Toxic chemical leak

More than three tonnes of toxic sulphur dioxide gas leaked into the air on Monday night because of a faulty valve on the storage tank belonging to a biotech company in the Shenbei industrial zone of Shenyang , Xinhua reports. Firefighters managed to contain the leak by diverting it into a sewage-treatment pool, and no injuries were reported.


Stranded by rain and snow

Rain and snow this week created havoc on most highways, with more than 160 toll stations being temporarily closed, reports. Additionally, at least 50 flights into and out of Jinan were delayed or cancelled yesterday morning. As a result, long-haul coaches in the provincial capital have been packed with stranded travellers, many trying to get home for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Big jump in spending

The provincial government said it spent 107.3 billion yuan on general procurements last year, a 27 per cent increase from 2011, the Dazhong Daily reports. The money went towards everything from office supplies to agricultural equipment, and from government vehicles to disaster relief efforts. Of the total, 20.6 billion yuan went towards water conservation and buying "green" products that are better for the environment.


Some lost money returns

A migrant worker who lost several thousand yuan when he fell off his scooter on Sunday night has received 14,650 yuan in donations to make up for the money that passers-by took as it was blowing away, reports. The man was carrying 17,000 yuan - a year's worth of savings - and was able to collect just 3,700 yuan of the money at the scene. By Monday, 17 people had turned in about 4,100 yuan they found, and 19 others made donations.

Cash for watch lost in fight

A man surnamed Huang must pay 16,000 yuan in compensation to another man, surnamed Tang, who lost an expensive Omega watch when the men scuffled in August, the Dongfang Daily reports. The fight occurred after Huang hit Tang while parking a car. Tang wasn't hurt, but the men fought and Tang lost his watch. He later returned to the scene to look for it, and a check of the surveillance footage showed Huang retrieving it from the ground. Huang claimed he threw the watch away because his girlfriend thought it was a knock-off.


Jail for online gambling

A couple from Honghe county were sentenced to 18 months in jail for arranging gambling trips to Vietnam and Macau for mainland residents between 2007 and last year, as well as for organising online gambling, reports. Each was fined 2 million yuan, and authorities confiscated 9 million yuan that they had received from both casinos and gamblers.

Pepper-spray probe

Security workers at Kunming airport are being investigated for using pepper spray on Sunday afternoon to disperse a crowd unhappy after hearing heavy fog had cancelled their flight, the People's Daily reports. About 30 travellers tried to force their way through the boarding gate. Police are trying to determine whether the use of pepper spray was necessary.