Wuhan is rationing natural gas, according to Reuters:
BEIJING, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Central and eastern Chinese provinces faced the worst natural gas shortage in years as supplies were diverted to snowstorm-hit northern China, while producers lacked incentives to expand output because of poor margins, a state broadcaster said on Tuesday.
Gas supplies for taxis in Wuhan, capital of the central province of Hubei, were halted from Monday while 11 industrial companies in Hanzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province, were shut as a result of gas shortages, China National Radio said.
The gas shortage in Wuhan reached 600,000 cubic metres per day and pressure in the gas pipeline was at only half the usual level, it said….
Wuhan is one of the ten largest cities in China and a key transportation hub. One would think the city would have a bit more fuel in its reserves.
Things are bad in nearby cities as well:
The supply deficit in Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu province, had reached 400,000 cubic metres per day, 40 percent of its planned consumption volume, according to C1 Energy, an industry information provider.
Emergency measures to curb consumption had also been taken in other cities including Chongqing, Rizhao, Xi’an, Yichang and Yangzhou, but demand was set to rise further because of expected colder weather, C1 Energy said….
Since it’s only mid November, it seems reasonable to expect colder weather in the weeks and months ahead.
The reason for all this chaos, of course, is the recent snows in northern China:
Unseasonably early and heavy snow in northern China had caused 38 deaths as of last Friday and a surge in energy demand.
The power load on the Northern China electricity grid surged to a high of 127.5 gigawatts this month, 26 percent higher than a year earlier. On the Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan grid networks, the load increased 24.7 percent from a year earlier late last week.
So far I haven’t seen any acknowledgment of a problem up here in Beijing. My apartment has had heat for a couple of weeks now and is warm day and night. At the office it’s downright hot, and we have to keep the windows cracked just to get some relief. The heat is oppressive even when we turn the adjustable-flow radiators — the first I have seen in China — to the lowest setting.
So let’s sum up:
- The government either induces or tries to take credit for snowstorms in northern China in order to counter an ongoing drought.
- In part because the government neglected to sufficient warn citizens of its intent, daily life is disrupted, transportation grinds to a halt, and dozens of people die.
- Tens or possibly hundreds of millions are affected by fuel restrictions in central China, while Beijingers lounge around in their toasty apartments and offices.
- Indoor heating is still not required in buildings in those same cities, which can get every bit as cold as Beijing.
- We’re about two weeks into a 4-5 month period of weather this bad and, at times, much worse.
chinaSMACK is one of my favorite new China blogs. It translates some of the hot topics in China’s online forums and bulletin boards, complete with pictures, video, and numerous reader comments translated from the original Chinese posts. The author seems to favor the more lurid stories, such as a confrontation in Wuhan between a Wuhan bus driver and several passengers. Check out the video (the attack begins at about 1m25s):
There is a follow-up post which examines the possibility that the bus driver insulted the girls in the video:
Last week, video footage from Wuhan bus line 519 showed two Northeastern men from Heilongjiang Province ruthlessly beating and kicking the female bus driver. Chinese across the country were outraged, many calling Northeastern Chinese violent animals. But, some Chinese wondered if the video showed the whole truth, noticing that parts of the video recording was cut out.
Soon, other posters claiming to have been on the bus when the beating happened told a different story about what really happened that day between the Wuhan bus driver, the two Northeastern girls, and the two Northeastern young men who eventually beat her.
A couple things from the translated user comments struck me. First, they reveal the strong regional attitudes and stereotypes (Wuhanese as rude; Northeastern girls in other cities as prostitutes) that rarely are reported in English language news about China. Second, many of the users quoted seem to think that, if the bus driver did insult the girls, then it was either acceptable or at least understandable that she was repeatedly and viciously kicked in the head.
Finally, some commenters argued that the attacked must have been justified because no one else stepped in to stop it:
If it was really like how it was reported, that the female bus driver was completely justified and in the weaker position, that the young men attacked her, why did none of the many people on the bus come out and prevent/stop it? Not even anyone to say a word? The answer is obvious, that although the driver was weaker, she was unreasonable, and even her words and performance made the other passengers on the bus feel dissatisfied, such as being tough or viciously cursing people. Of course, it also possible the other passengers were just different and wanted to avoid causing trouble for themselves.
Personally, I think the final sentence is closer to the truth. In eight years of observing fights in China, I have seen crowds gather to watch even the hint of a fight, but I have never seen anyone step in and try to break up a seriously violent fight.
A new Wuhan blog entitled wo zai wuchang has appeared recently. It’s written by an American teaching English at Huazhong Normal University. Aside from a few minor details, the author’s comments and observations are remarkably similar to my own when I first arrived back in 1997. This passage from the September 2 post captures the first-week-in-Wuhan experience perfectly:
The ride from the airport to the university completely blew my mind. I guess I was expecting Wuhan to be similar to Beijing or Xi’an but it isn’t at all. I can’t say I’ve ever been to a more third world city before – everything looks like it’s falling apart. Even entering campus was a shock. I was feeling completely out of place and slightly regretful; however, life can change after a good night’s sleep and a shower. Wuhan seemed better but still not what I was expecting. The girl who picked me up from the airport came by my room to show me around campus and by accident we found out I had to go get an medical examination done with the rest of the new international kids. For everyone’s information, NO ONE wants to get a medical examination in China EVER. It was probably one of the most frustrating events in my life. Total I had to get a chest x-ray, eye test, ECG exam, sonogram, blood drawn, vaccination, and some sort of test to see if you’ve ever had surgery before. There were probably 200 people there for the same things and about 9 doctors total. This entire process took 7 hours. As you may know, there are no such things as lines in China. Things got dramatic every once in a while. While waiting in the epic ECG line about 10 Chinese men cut this Chinese woman and I. She yelled and yelled at them in Chinese and it got pretty out of hand. They ended up shoving her and her daughter around and pushed passed her. I was shocked. To make the hospital experience even more frustrating is the fact that no one in Wuhan except for a small population knows English. Doctors were yelling orders to me all day and I couldn’t understand a single one. I feel lucky that my exam even got finished. I know my parents probably don’t want to hear this but I wonder if any of that equipment was even sterile (save the needles). The hospital was pretty gross. There were cigarettes all over the floor.
Everything at this university is completely unorganized and frustrating. I feel that no one knows what’s going on and if they do they don’t know when and if they have an idea of when it’s only a rumor. I’m sure once classes start everything will fall into place.
Be sure to check out the pictures as well.
The rest of the country continues to sacrifice for Beijing’s Olympic party. Yesterday SHTig and I visited one of the nicest (and largest) office towers in Beijing. The entire building was frigid–on a Sunday, when perhaps a few dozen people were inside. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports on electricity rationing in Wuhan:
The provincial government decided to cut power supplies to the capital city of Wuhan by 34 percent, the city of Huangshi by 31 percent and Huanggang by 16 percent, the local economic commission said in a statement posted on its Web site.
China, facing its sixth year of electricity shortages, mothballed 3 percent of its coal-fired generating capacity as of July 25 after fuel supplies dwindled, State Grid Corp. of China said last week. Coal stockpiles at Hubei’s power plants have fallen below the “caution line” of 750,000 metric tons, the provincial government said.
“Insufficient coal supplies forced the closure of an increasing number of power plants in the province,” the commission said. “We decided to start rationing power supplies from Aug. 5 in order to ensure basic power demand for the summer and Olympics are met.”
Unfortunately for Wuhan and the rest of China, the current shortage is not being caused by the Olympics alone, but is rather part of a much greater problem:
State Grid said last week 46 percent of the power stations on its network have coal stockpiles below the “caution line” or seven days of consumption. More than 1 billion people rely on State Grid for their power.
The Three Gorges hydropower station in Hubei had a daily output of 440 million kilowatt-hours yesterday [August 5 or 6], or 5 percent of the nation’s total consumption, the Xinhua News Agency reported today.
The earthquake donation roll call extends from the largest companies in China down to the smallest. This photo is from a poster on Hubuxiang, an alley in Wuhan famous for its dozens of stalls selling tasty snacks. About 80 stalls are listed, with individual donations as small as 10 RMB mentioned. Most of the snacks here cost 1-3 RMB, and thousands of people eat on Hubuxiang every day, so 10 RMB isn’t exactly a generous donation, even for these small-time proprietors. I wonder whether those in the 10 RMB group are proud or ashamed to have their name and donation amount listed like this — probably a bit of both.
After publishing what Gawker aptly labeled “earthquake porn“, a small Chinese magazine called New Travel Weekly has been shut down. The magazine apparently published a spread of photos of bikini-clad models traipsing about amid the ruin and rubble of the earthquake. Very tasteful. The government, surprisingly, did not think it to be so tasteful – rather they labeled it an “extremely evil social influence” . After some “rectification” it is possible that the magazine may be re-opened.
With a new managing editor, editor and deputy editor, natch.
Chinese netizens express overwhelming thanks and appreciation to the Bushes and the United States
Today George W. Bush and his wife are very popular people in China. That’s not something you’ll read very often. And all it took them was a short trip from Pennsylvania Avenue down to the Chinese Embassay in Washington, to mourn the vicitms and sign a book of condolensces in memory of the Sichuan earthquake victims.
To see the American president bow his head in mourning (吊唁) to the victims plays exceedingly well to a prestige conscious culture that has felt slighted lately. So far, nearly 1800 comments have been posted to this story (in Chinese).
The comments are very interesting – I’d say 90% of them are positive toward President Bush, his wife, and Americans! This is unlike what one usually finds in the Chinese Read the rest of this entry »
There has been regular information online and television about how to adopt an earthquake orphan. According to this explanation, the Adoption Law of the PRC (收养法) clearly stipulates 4 conditions: the adopter must not have any children, must be able to raise and educate the adoptee, must not be ill or deemed medically unfit to adopt a child and must be at least 30 years of age. An additional stipulation is that if an unmarried man wants to adopt a female orphan, the age difference between the two must be 40 years or greater. (Go ahead, imagine all the dirty-old-men scenarios that could exist around this loophole.)
Orphans are Like Puppies
As for the the comments to this explanation, I’m sure they are well intentioned, but to me they read like requests for a free puppy. Post after post there is a similar theme – ‘I think the law should be amended because I already have a child but want another child of his/her age. , or ‘I want to raise a baby, under 2 years old (the same age as my son/daughter, the same/opposite sex as my son/daughter). Here is my email, please contact me”. Many, many of these comments are confessions from mothers saying that Read the rest of this entry »
A few days ago I reported on China’s earthquake donation effort. Little did I know then that the donation effort would blow up into a full fledged attention grabbing event. I’ve had CCTV1 on for the past few hours. A program just ended where company after company made very conspicuous donations (putting huge packages of money into boxes). This was interrupted by songs and kind words, but the focus of the program was to broadcast the companies that were giving the most. For the record, Tianjin Rongcheng United Steel donated the most, having pledged RMB 30,000,000. This was already the largest corporate donation made but during this live program on CCTV1, as the Tianjin Steel person was putting all that cash into the box, he spoke up to say “I’m now deciding on the spot to raise this amount to RMB 100,000,000.” The company had originally donated 10,000,000 before raising it, to stay ahead of the Jones’, errr, Wangs’. The person (a director of the company) was an orphan from the Tangshan Earthquake 32 years ago.
I have to say, I have never observed anything like what is happening in China with this donation effort. It is becoming nearly as big a focus as the earthquake. From the Read the rest of this entry »
Sina.com is now reporting that the Wenchuan, Sichuan earthquake measured 8.0 on the Richter Scale. No wonder they could feel it in Beijing and Thailand. The China State Council has ordered that from May 19-21 all flags be flown at half mast.
SHTig Update at11:45pm PRC time (5.18): CNN is reporting on the 3 days of mourning that will begin in China tomorrow. CCTV1 has reported that when the mourning period begins at 2:28pm (1 week after the earthquake), everyone should observe 3 minutes of silence. People should stop work, classes should stop, traffic should stop. This is an interesting time to be in China and observe the country’s response to the calamity. 加油中国!
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