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China Digest, September 25, 2012

A motorcyclist in Putian has been arrested and charged with raping a 16-year-old girl who hitched a ride on his bike in July, the reports. It took prosecutors more than two months to build a case against the 25-year-old, who denied the accusation, saying the girl seduced him by squeezing his shoulders and rubbing herself up against his back during the ride. The girl, a migrant worker from Sichuan , didn't know the suspect and said she denied his advances before he allegedly forced himself on her.

To stimulate the local economy and celebrate National Day, Fuzhou city is rushing this month to begin construction on 68 large industrial and infrastructure projects, with the largest having an investment of more than 20 billion yuan (HK$24.48 billion), the reports. The projects include a stockpiling and processing centre for coal, a public housing project with more than 5,000 apartments and a 40-hectare park. Separately, the city plans to finish construction on 49 projects this month, including a controversial refuse-incineration plant in Lianjiang county.

Gansu has increased its investment in heavy industry, and the province saw a 14 per cent growth in industrial output during the first eight months of the year, the reports. Mineral, oil and gas mining have contributed nearly 80 per cent of the industrial growth, though other sectors have suffered various declines. However, Gansu is one of the driest provinces in China, and the development of heavy industry has resulted in considerable water use, which has reduced water supplies for drinking and agriculture.

Provincial health care authorities issued warnings to 15 doctors in urban hospitals last week for failing to honour their promise to visit poor and remote rural areas to help peasants, Xinhua reports. The doctors had received an undisclosed annual subsidy since 2005 to spend six months a year in rural areas, but they never made a trip to the countryside. Authorities told the doctors to return the subsidy and spend a year practising medicine in rural areas, or they will lose their licences.

Universities in the tropical island province will offer 19 new majors, including golf and scuba diving, starting next year to help Hainan enhance its status as an international tourism destination, the reports. Students at Hainan Normal University, for instance, will be able to study golf management, as the province now has more than 50 golf courses. And Sanya City Vocational School will offer Scuba diving, as about 1.4 million diving enthusiasts visit Sanya every year.

The car-rental market in the province is expected to see a considerable decline in business during the upcoming National Day holiday, as only about 40 per cent of available cars have been rented, compared with about 80 per cent for the week-long holiday last year, Xinhuanet.com reports. Analysts say that the cancellation of highway tolls in many mainland cities has prompted more people to take short trips by car rather than fly to Hainan and rent a car. Overall tourism in Hainan during the period could also take a hit, as the industry is supported mostly by mainlanders.

Increasing demand for the erhu - the two-stringed musical instrument played with a bow produced mainly in Jiangsu with snakeskin - has put pressure on demand for pythons, Nanjing's reported. More than 40,000 pythons are killed annually on the mainland to make the instruments, but most of the snakes are bred in captivity or smuggled from other countries, as there are only about 1,000 pythons left in the wild in China, according to the Ministry of Forestry. Some experts has been pushing erhu makers to use synthetic materials instead of python skin, but many traditional music fans say snakeskin gives the erhu a more natural sound.

Syphilis has become one of the most infectious diseases in the province, with the number of cases this year second only to tuberculosis, according to provincial disease control and prevention authorities, the reports. More than 2,000 new cases were reported last month in Jiangsu, and syphilis was found in more than a quarter of blood donated in the province this year. Medical experts attribute a general rise in sexually transmitted diseases in recent years to more unprotected sex and underground brothels.

Provincial forestry officials have launched a project in Huangling county, Yanan , to clone an ancient cypress tree said to be more than 4,500 years old and planted by the legendary Yellow Emperor, who is believed to be the father of Chinese civilisation. The government said it was of scientific importance to crack the genetic secrets of the tree.

Police arrested a man for stabbing another to death during a traffic dispute in Xian on Saturday. The two drivers quarrelled after the victim cut off the other and almost caused an accident. The suspect fled but turned himself in on Sunday. He told police he became hot-headed during the argument and stabbed the victim with a fruit knife.

Telephone, broadband internet and 3G services were made available this month in Dulongjiang township, one of the most remote areas in China, finally bringing the digital age to the isolated and mysterious Dulong people, who have led relatively primitive lives for decades, the reports.

The size of coffee bean plantations in the province grew to 66,000 hectares this year, three years ahead of expectations. But growers face bankruptcy, as the price in global markets has been declining, and as exporters in places such as Brazil have also increased production, the reports.

Police in Lucheng county, Wenzhou , arrested a woman this month for pretending to be a candidate for deputy mayor and swindling 1.4 million yuan from her boyfriend, the reports. Police said the suspect, a 46-year-old woman from Jiangxi , had convinced the victim she was a successful real estate developer and a hot candidate for the next deputy major of Wenzhou. She had previously been sentenced in 2005 to three years in jail for posing as the daughter of a senior official.

Authorities removed an aerial bomb from a home in Jinhua last week, 73 years after it was dropped by a Japanese plane and failed to detonate, the reports. The homeowner, an 80-year-old man, said he remembered when the bomb crashed through their roof and left a two-metre-deep hole. His father poured a bag of salt on the bomb, thinking that would prevent it from exploding, and then replaced all of the displaced dirt, concealing the bomb. The elderly man said he had been anxious living with a bomb underneath his home for so long, but he kept it quiet. It wasn't until the government launched a township renovation project, in which his home would be demolished, that he finally felt obliged to tell someone about the bomb.

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