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China Digest, September 26, 2012

A 12-year-old girl gave birth at a hospital in the municipality last week, the reports. Her daughter was born several weeks premature and remains in intensive care. Police said they detained the girl's 20-year-old boyfriend and planned to file criminal charges.

A 26-year-old farmer with a middle-school education from Yongchuan district made a feature-length film with just 30,000 yuan (HK$36,700) and showed it at a downtown cinema recently, the reports. The man wrote, directed and starred in the movie, a tragic love story. The premiere attracted just 20 people, with fewer than half paying the five-yuan entrance fee before he started giving tickets away to fill the seats.

More than 30 scientists have set off from Dunhuang city for an expedition through the Kumtag Desert in hopes of solving lingering mysteries about the ancient Silk Road, Xinhua reports. The researchers, from six academic institutes, said they would examine whether environmental changes affecting water supplies contributed to the prosperity and decline of the famous network of trade routes.

A technical upgrade of more than 800 coal-fired boilers in Lanzhou is expected to improve air quality in the city this winter, but low-income residents say it is coming at a steep price as the government is asking people to share in the cost by paying higher heating bills, the reports. The local administration received 270 million yuan from the central government to upgrade the boilers, which discharge thousands of tonnes of dust a month, but the city said it was not enough money.

Investors from Hunan province are expected to sign contracts this week worth more than 60 billion yuan to build mines, factories and real estate, the reports. One investor said there are vast untapped resources and greater potential for development in Guizhou than in Hunan.

A gas explosion at a coal mine in Caiguan town, Anshun , injured 13 miners on Sunday, Xinhua reports. The city's work-safety authorities said more than 40 workers were in the mine at the time of the explosion. Eight were seriously hurt and authorities were investigating.

Provincial capital Shijiazhuang will be covered in flags for next week's National Day holiday, the reports. Besides public buildings, the local government is also requiring that factories, malls, hotels, residential compounds and even taxis display national flags during the holiday period. Urban communities and rural villages with the most flags will receive government recognition.

A huge surge in the rodent population has nearly wiped out the autumn harvest in some villages in Tangshan , and there are so many rats that residents are afraid to go out after sunset, Xinhua reports. Villagers have tried poisoning the rodents, but all attempts to reduce their numbers have failed. Experts said the increase may be due to farmers killing off large birds and snakes.

Nearly 40 cars parked outside a residential compound in Dalian were spray-painted and had their tyres punctured on Monday, the reports. The car owners suspect the damage was retribution for their boycotting of an underground car park in the compound after the cost of a space was raised to more than 4,000 yuan a year. Residents started parking their cars outside the compound, leaving the underground lot nearly empty. Police were investigating.

A six-year-old boy nearly died from an allergic reaction to a hornet sting in Shenyang last week because the first two hospitals he was taken to were unable to treat insect stings, the reports. One of the two was a large hospital run by the military. When the boy reached a third hospital nearly an hour after the sting, he was moments from death, according to a doctor.

A father abandoned his nine-year-old son at a train station in Yulin this month after giving him 10 yuan, Shaanxi Television reports. Social workers said the boy had bruises on his face and body, and he told police he was beaten by his father, who disappeared. The boy now lives in an orphanage and said he is happier than he has ever been. He said his only wish is to find his mother, who left when he was an infant.

The total area of orchards in Shaanxi has topped one million hectares this year, the reports. Shaanxi produced about 13 million tonnes of fruit last year, overtaking Shandong as the biggest fruit-producing province, and was the source for nearly 40 per cent of all concentrated apple juice in the world market, according to the provincial government. It plans to further increase the total area of its orchards by about 250,000 hectares before 2015.

A gang of 18 people convicted of child trafficking were sentenced in Changzhi on Sunday to between two and 11 years in jail, the reports. The gang's leader received the longest sentence and she was also fined 15,000 yuan. The verdict sparked a debate online, with many saying the court had been too lenient.

Provincial traffic authorities said on Monday that the proportion of overloaded cargo vehicles has dropped from 13 per cent in 2007 to 0.2 per cent, Xinhua reports. The Ministry of Transport said the campaign set an example for other provinces. Shanxi is one of the largest coal-producing provinces. Local authorities addressed the problem by reducing fees placed on cargo transport.

Cargo transport along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia has dropped considerably this year, and boat owners say it is the result of the killing of 13 Chinese sailors on the river in October, the reports. Boat owners say demand remains robust but it is harder to find crews and captains after the attack, orchestrated by a Myanmese drug baron who pleaded guilty to the killings this week. Sailors willing to ply the route are demanding wages and life insurance of at least twice what was paid before the attack.

A court ruled on Monday that four million yuan left by a murdered monk belongs to his Buddhist temple in Yuxi , rejecting a request by his daughter that she be allowed to inherit the money, the reports. The monk was killed during a robbery two years ago. Other monks said the money had been donated to the temple by many patrons but the deceased monk kept it in his personal bank account. The court agreed, saying it was unlikely the monk could have saved so much.