China Digest, March 11, 2013

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 6:14am


Electric vehicles planned

The municipal government plans to buy 5,000 electric vehicles this year, the Beijing Times reports. Most of the vehicles will be used by civil servants or bus companies for public transport. However, the government is not yet encouraging citizens to buy electric cars, because of a lack of charging stations.

Small buses on way

Municipal traffic authorities will launch a fleet of small buses in June, in order to ease traffic jams by creating routes through narrow streets that larger buses can't take, the Beijing Times reports. The new buses will be eight metres long, or about half as long as normal buses. The capital's last fleet of small buses went out of service 20 years ago because of limited use.


Soil erosion programme

The provincial government plans to spend more than 600 million yuan (HK$740 million) in 100 villages and towns this year to combat soil erosion, an environmental problem that has not only reduced agricultural productivity but also threatened the lives of tens of thousands of farmers, because of mudslides, the Fujian Daily reports. The government treated soil erosion in about 20 villages and towns last year, but the scale of their efforts was expanded after the problem was found to be more serious than expected.

Food benchmarks set

Provincial food-safety authorities have released benchmarks for food contamination this year, including that no more than 0.4 per cent of pork samples checked by government inspectors may contain illegal chemicals such as lean-meat powder, and that no more than 5 per cent of vegetables may contain excessive levels of pesticides and heavy metals, the Fujian Daily reports. The targets sparked criticism online, with some fearing that the targets could be easily met if the frequency and intensity of food inspections are loosened.


Heat wave hits city

The average temperature across the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang , reached 28.1 degrees Celsius on Friday - the highest temperature ever recorded there in early March - prompting some residents to hit the streets in sandals and shorts, the Yanzhao Evening News reports. The hottest part of the city was Jingjing, a coal-mining area where the darkened ground absorbed more heat and pushed the temperature over 30 degrees.

Tree planting cutback

The provincial government plans to plant 100 million trees this year, or 20 million fewer than last year, the Hebei Daily reports. The massive tree planting campaign - the biggest of its kind in the world - had drawn increasing criticism from environmentalists in recent years for favouring fast-growing tree species that could upset the ecological balance.


Clerical post popular

A clerical position with the provincial government's agricultural committee received 732 applications, reports. Competition for civil service positions has been particularly intense this year due to concerns that the central government is pushing for more streamlined government, which could result in a drastic reduction in government hiring.

Snow closes highways

Some highways in Heilongjiang were forced to close for more than 15 hours from Saturday afternoon after a snow storm which had blanketed much of the province since Friday evening, Xinhua reports. The provincial capital, Harbin , had recorded 9mm of snow by 5am yesterday, and more was forecast.


700,000-year-old find

Anthropologists recently discovered six teeth belonging to human ancestors, dating back nearly 700,000 years, in Luanchuan county, Luoyang, Xinhua reports. The remains' exact stage in human evolution is unclear, but they are nearly as old as the Peking Man - a Homo erectus ancestor of humans whose remains were discovered in the 1920s at Zhoukoudian, 50 kilometres from Beijing. Stone tools similar to those used by the Peking Man also suggested similar intelligence.

Wardrobe malfunctions

A job fair for women in Zhengzhou on Friday drew more than 5,000 applicants, but some didn't dress for the occasion, Xinhua reports. Some applicants donned traditional dresses worn by women in ancient times, in a bid to get attention, but none won job offers.


Poachers too speedy

Police in Nanchang failed to catch poachers on the Ganjiang River on Saturday because the officers' boats were too slow, the Jiangnan City Daily reports. After receiving reports that fishermen were using electric rods to catch fish, authorities gave chase on Saturday but lost the fishermen.

Birds migrating north

More than 10,000 migrant birds, including swans and wild geese, took off from Poyang Lake in recent days, heading for Siberia, Mongolia and Japan, Xinhua reports. There were reports of birds being illegally hunted when they migrated south, and birdwatchers feared the same would happen again.


Checks on water supply

Jincheng authorities launched a 20-day inspection campaign on underground water pollution last week, to address growing public concerns, the Shanxi Evening News reports. Areas around factories and mines, where complaints are more common, are to be targetted.

Fireman dies in Yuanping

One firefighter was killed and another was seriously burned while battling a mountain fire in Yuanping on Saturday, Xinhua reports. The victims were suddenly engulfed in flames when the wind changed direction. The fire continued to burn out of control yesterday.


Power shortage looms

Electricity demand is expected to reach 102 billion kilowatt hours in 2015, or about a third more than the expected supply, the Tianjin Daily reports. Authorities are investigating power transfers from Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang to meet the shortfall. As a result, electricity costs may increase in Tianjin , but the air quality should be better than if more local plants were built.

Winds slow or halt trains

High-speed trains ran slowly and some metro services were halted on Saturday due to strong winds, Xinhua reports. Subway Line 9 was shut for nearly a day, and trains to Beijing and Shanghai ran much slower than normal. The winds uprooted trees and damaged property across the city.