Voices from China

Weibo Watch: Issue 3

(September 2, 2011) Weibo Watch: Issue 3 looks at China’s Eco-Water Tours; industrial stink, dangerous dams and drains that are completely fake.

August 18: Eco-Water Tours are now underway in some 50 cities across China. Organized by environmental groups – including Green Earth Volunteers, Green Beagle, Drinking Water Health Research Institute in Beijing, and Green Hunan in Hunan – the tours are volunteer-run and welcome all citizens to walk alongside local rivers and visit water sources. According to Zhang Junfeng, engineer, environmental activist, and founder of Beijing’s weekend walks, the tours began in 2007 with the aim to discuss, investigate, and record the state of city rivers and reservoirs.

On August 18, the Shanxi-based Huashang Newspaper @华商报 joined the Eco-Water Tour movement when it ran an announcement on Weibo recruiting its readers for a trip along Wei River: “Walking Along The Mother River: The Wei River has irrigated Shanxi for several thousands of years. Now, domestic sewage and garbage, and industrial sewage have changed the river’s ecology for the worse. The government has never stopped to deal with it…. Is it a time for us to examine this fact bravely? We call on eight readers to join us in a walk along the Mother River together. We will start this trip on August 22 and walk for ten days to investigate opportunities to conserve the Wei River. Come and join us.” http://t.cn/antdcj 【行走母亲河】渭河,曾滋养陕西千年,却被生活污水垃圾;工业废水和生态水的严重短缺,变得面目全非,而政府的治理工作从未停止……是不是到了我们用勇气去检验事实的时候了?我们本报召集8名读者共走母亲河,8月22日出发,为期10天,对渭河治理进行详细考察,快来报名吧。http://t.cn/antdcj

Tengri Industrial Zone; credit: Yan Youliang.

August 22: Green Earth Volunteers, which was founded by environmental journalist Wang Yongchen, last year organized a group of environmental experts, specialists, reporters and volunteers for what would become known as the “Yellow River Ten Years Trip.” The purpose was to observe and document changes along the Yellow River each year for a decade, beginning in 2010. This year’s trip, organized by GEV, started on August 12. One of this year’s group, Time Weekly’s reporter, Yan Youliang updated his observations on Weibo on August 22 @严友良: “China may be the only country in the world building industrial zones deep in the desert in order to dump industrial sewage in grasslands and rangelands, rather than for military defense purposes. Please pay attention to Tengri Industrial Zone.” 这个世界中或许只有中国有这样的事情:在沙漠深处建工业园,不是为了逃避战争。而是为了把工业污水排向大草原和牧场。请大家关注腾格里工业园。#黄河十年行#@时代周报@汪永晨@绿家园志愿者

Industrial stink; credit: Jojo.

August 23: Another YRTYT participant, film director Jojo @导演乔乔JOJO posted: “We travelled from Shizui Mountain in Ningxia to Ordos in Inner Mongolia. In western Ordos, numerous thermal power plants and chemical factories are located in Qipanjing Industrial Zone, which is on the eastern bank of the Yellow River. It stinks to high heaven…” 上午我们从宁夏石嘴山行至内蒙古鄂尔多斯。在西鄂尔多斯,位于黄河东岸的棋盘井工业区内,火电厂、化工厂就像棋盘一样星罗棋布。刺鼻的臭气弥漫在天地间……(以下略

Several netizens forwarded this recent report from China Economic Weekly: “Forty thousand dams, which are damaged or deteriorating, are at risk of dam breach. Most of them are located in rural areas of central and western China. Local governments say that they have no money to repair the dangerous dams. China has built more than eighty thousand dams, the most in the world. According to data provided by the Ministry of Water Resources, 3,515 dam failures have occurred since 1954. The Banqiao dam breach in 1975, which is in Zhumadian, Henan province, destroyed 11 million mu of farmland, made 11 million people homeless, and killed 26,000 people immediately (foreign media have reported that an additional 145,000 people died in the aftermath from epidemics and famine). Now, the Chinese government is launching the biggest dam repair operation project in the world. The authority swears it will have all the dam hazards cleared up by 2015.”

They're phony!

August 24: Due to poor urban drainage systems, Beijing, Nanjing, Wuhan and other cities were flooded following torrential rains this summer. Netizens made fun of the flooding via sentences like: “Please come to my office in Beijing to see the sea” … “Visit the waterfalls on the subway” … “I know now why we pay a vehicle and a vessel tax for our cars – cars are swimming in the water!” On August 21, a netizen had posted photos to a forum (subsequently forwarded by @流血功臣在流泪 on August 24) revealing a fake drainage infrastructure: “On Jinyuling road in Nanchong City, Sichuang province, workers are working on fake inspection shafts, which have no sewage disposal function.” 8月21日四川南充金鱼岭路,工人正在施工没有任何排水功能的假窨井……(以下略)

“There is a flood of criticism,” @月在山中亮 said. “Because the CPC lies so much in the news and in conferences, contradicting their own words and deeds, the entire society takes its cue from the CPC and lies too.”[1] 因为党在新闻和大会上的谎话连编,说一套做一套,弄得整个国家和社会都在造假。

@Zoe曾颖 said: “The fake sewers look much more real than barren mountains painted green.”[ii] 比往荒山上刷绿沙漆的要逼真。

@江水一翁 commented: “There are too many events of this kind. The Chinese government allocates money to invest in developing biogas digesters in the countryside. Instead of using the funds as intended, the village officers spend 80% of the money for personal purposes, and then use the balance of the funds to pay several village households to dig a few useless holes. That is it – the extent of the investment.” 这样的事可多着哩,国家花钱在农村搞沼气池,村干部花掉百分之八十,剩下百分之二十就随便找几户建几个坑就了事了。

@wo的成人礼 added: “It is not a surprise that flooding comes after torrential rains. Even the basic infrastructure is not built as designed. How then can people’s survival needs be guaranteed?” 难怪雨大成河,连最基本的建设都花样百出,人民的生存利益从何而来?!!

@我素小紫 said ironically: “What perfection! This is how taxpayer’s money is wasted. They dug and buried, and then buried and dug.[iii] They just decorate instead of actually constructing. High praise!” 叹为观止!纳税人的钱就是这么被白白浪费!以前还是路挖了埋、埋了挖,现在是与时俱进了,干脆挖都不深挖了,直接来个装饰性整修,真是赞叹那!

Another netizen @杨子立的微博 expressed similar irony: “So the inspection shaft has a function as a decoration!” 窨井原来还有装饰功能!

[i] Lying is justified by the CPC, so it is rampant in Chinese society.

[ii] In 2010, the government of Hua county in Shanxi province, painted barren mountains green in order to make them look more attractive. See here.

[iii] The blogger means that the government used taxpayers’ money to construct shoddy roads and then repair them. Also, because of poor planning and accountability, infrastructure has to be redone.

Categories: Voices from China

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