China Digest, May 1, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 2:41am



Tapping natural springs

Land officials are urging private investors to tap into vast natural springs in the municipality, the Chongqing Morning Post reports. More than 200 sites with drinkable mineral water have been found, with a combined capacity of 250 million tonnes a year. But the city's 11 mineral water producers have tapped about 150,000 tonnes a year.

Lightning kills gamer

A 19-year-old construction worker was killed by lightning on Sunday while playing an online computer game in temporary housing provided by a property developer in Tongliang county, the Chongqing Economic Times reports. The victim was wearing headphones at the time. The developer, insisting the death was an accident, has denied the family's compensation demand of 500,000 yuan (HK$624,000).



Green water safe: firm

Bottled water from a major supplier in Nanning often turns green within three or four days of shipment, but the firm said the colour change was normal and not a cause for alarm, the Nanning Evening News reports. Bama Lifelong said the discolouration was the result of algae in the water being exposed to sunlight, but it was still safe to drink. Consumers feared it was polluted and have demanded an investigation.

Five die in floods

At least five people were killed and six others were injured when torrential rain flooded three major cities on Monday, Xinhua reports. More than 200,000 people were affected in Guilin , Yuilin and Qinzhou , and 180 homes were destroyed. Nearly 10,000 people were forced to evacuate because of actual or potential landslides.



Landslide victims found

Eight farmers were killed by a landslide in a village in Bijie on Saturday, and the last victim's body was discovered on Monday, Xinhua reports. Authorities said the landslide destroyed a dozen homes, and 125 people have been relocated. Excessive rain was blamed.

Nine hurt in rare hailstorm

A rare hailstorm injured nine people and destroyed nearly 10,000 hectares of farmland in five counties of the Qianxinan Buyei and Miao autonomous prefecture from Saturday night to Sunday morning, Xinhua reports. Hailstones were as large as goose eggs, and most of the victims were hurt when their homes collapsed. More than 26,000 homes were damaged and 15 head of cattle killed. About 200,000 residents were affected by the storm.



Textiles firms go belly up

A representative of the province's textiles industry complained at a meeting in Changsha on Saturday that manufacturers had been driven to near bankruptcy by the central government's strict limits on imported cotton that are intended to protect the interests of domestic farmers, the Hunan Daily reports. The average price of domestic cotton was 19,000 yuan per tonne last year, compared with just 14,000 yuan for cotton imported from the US and 11,000 yuan from India. More than 10 large-scale textile factories in Hunan went out of business last year because of high costs, and the remaining 458 are struggling.

Names must honour city

New commercial real estate projects in Changsha are banned from using names that appear to hurt its reputation as an ancient city, with more than 3,000 years of history, the Changsha Daily reports. Many buildings use names with words - such as London, Paris, Global, International and World - to project Western luxury. Developers will be encouraged, if not required, to give projects names to reflect local traditions or cultural heritage.



Fears over chemical plant

The Yinchuan city government signed a contract with a local company at the weekend to build a 35 billion yuan chemical plant near the city for the production of more than 20 kinds of industrial materials, such as plastics and methanol, the Ningxia Daily reports. The government said the firm promised to create more than 13,000 jobs and inject 2 billion yuan of the total investment into environment-protection projects such as a waste-water treatment plant and tree plantation. But many residents, fearing pollution, strongly opposed the project.

High costs weigh on firms

More than 80 per cent of small and medium-sized private enterprises in the autonomous region have been struggling to cope with a rapid increase in production costs in recent months, according to a regional government survey of more than 1,000 businesses last week, Xinhua reports. Some Ningxia officials expressed concerns that economic development in the region could slow down.



Eroded reserve still bad

The Sanjiangyuan National Natural Reserve, which contains the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Mekong rivers, is still suffering from severe ecological degradation despite the central government spending more than 7 billion yuan on protection and restoration since 2005, Xinhua reports.

Muslim prayer caps a hit

A private company in the Xunhua Salar autonomous county last year accounted for about 70 per cent of the global sales of taqiyah, or Muslim prayer caps, Xinhua reports. Qinghai Yijia Ethical Commodities, started by six young Chinese Muslims in 1998, produced 27 million white caps that were exported to Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan last year. The company's owner attributed their rapid business expansion in recent years to loans from China's central government.



Faulty exit signs removed

Quality and safety inspectors of Shanyin county, Shuozhou , removed more than 30 faulty or substandard exit signs that were being sold in local markets last week, the Shanxi Evening News reports. Some signs were made of cheap plastic that could melt and cause a fire after being plugged in. But officials did not say how many such signs had been sold or installed.

Rise in unlicensed drivers

An increasing number of new cars have hit the streets of Shuozhou without car plates in recent months, prompting complaints that the drivers frequently disregard traffic laws, the Shanxi Daily reports. The city's traffic police are accused of turning a blind eye to unlicensed vehicles because officers assume that only people with strong political connections would dare to drive without a car plate.



Drought leaves schools dry

A total of 663 schools in rural parts of Kunming cannot provide drinking water because of a drought that has troubled the province for more than three months, the Chuncheng Evening News reports. Students and teachers must bring their own drinks because wells and other water sources have run dry. The city government has allocated 20 million yuan to transport water to the schools, but considerably more money would be needed to ensure a stable water supply.

Disease cases double

More than 17,500 children have been diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease this year, or more than twice as many compared with last year, leading to panic among parents, the Chuncheng Evening News reports. Six patients have died, and more than 130 remain in critical condition. Experts cannot explain the increase.