Heavy smog couldn't deter runners of the annual "naked pigs run" in Beijing's Olympic Park on Sunday. According to China Daily, more than 300 participants -- "only allowed to wear underwear" -- partook in the event. (Clearly some people wore more than underwear, but let's let that be neither here nor there.) Some wore gas masks, making for interesting photos:
A nine-year-old boy is dead as the result of a firecracker dropped into a sewer. Reports say he was playing with another boy around 3 pm on Saturday near Fenghu Building in Shenzhen when one of them lit a firecracker and threw it down the drain. The ensuing explosion popped off two manhole covers, one of them flying as high as five meters. The victim, a third-grader in nearby Luohu district, reportedly fell in. His lifeless body was recovered about three hours later.
Xinhua reports that a massive fire swept through Dukezong Ancient Town last night in the northwest Yunnan county of Shangri-la, a tourist resort ever since marketers changed its name from Zhongdian in 2001. Preliminary reports say the began at 1:30 am from a local shop, then spread due to windy conditions and the prevalence of wooden structures in Old Town. The exact cause is under investigation.
"Several Western journalists who faced expulsion from China were issued renewed visas by the Chinese government Thursday, ending a months-long standoff," writes William Wan for Washington Post. Yay!
"Austin Ramzy, a journalist who previously worked for Time magazine, has not been given press accreditation or a permanent visa since he joined the Times, according to journalists in Beijing."
A question worth repeating: has the Guardian been blocked in China? The eye test and GreatFire.org say yes, though we've seen technological glitches involving major English-language news sites in China before -- Wall Street Journal, namely -- so we're not ready to call this yet. Also, why the Guardian?
Confrontations over unpaid wages are common in China, especially in the run-up to the lunar new year (it falls on January 31 this year), as this is often the only time when migrant workers can return home. Many fear they'll never be paid if they leave the city while still owed money.
But to get paid, some have to resort to extreme measures.
For the proud nationalists of China, Japan and Taiwan, the Diaoyu island chain remains the perfect outlet to exercise one’s willfully blind patriotism. Which is -- fortunately for the rest of us -- shouting distance from stupidity. Hilarious, utter stupidity.
On Saturday, Chinese president Xi Jinping surprised diners of a neighborhood eatery in Beijing when he walked in and ordered a set meal that included steamed buns, some veggies, and a chitterlings. It was a modest lunch that cost 21 yuan, reports Global Times.
But what do we know about this place, Qing-Feng, located in Xicheng District?
Look at Xi Jinping eating lunch. When the story broke yesterday that the president of China was spotted in Beijing ordering steamed buns at a local restaurant called Qing-Feng, I noted that we'd be seeing more pictures, since if you can't take pictures of the president of China on your camera phone, you might as well never take another camera phone picture again. Well, here's a video, which surfaced on Youku about nine hours ago. It is wonderful in the following ways:
Most of the dead in China are cremated because it's expedient to do so, both for families -- burial plots are becoming increasingly expensive, even exorbitant -- and society, since nearly 10 million people die per year in a country already short on land. In Jingxian county, Anhui province, one family learned what happens when they try to defy a cremation order by putting a dead body into the earth: that body is exhumed, and cremated.
Why is China threatening to expel foreign correspondents? Old-fashioned intimidation, says the New Yorker's Evan Osnos, still writing incisively in absentia. (A lesson for you, China: journalists can churn even when they don't live here.) His latest analysis of China's ongoing crackdown on media is worth a complete read, but let us highlight this paragraph:
A study to be released this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that cats first lived alongside humans as early as 5,300 years ago in the Chinese village of Quanhucun in modern-day Shaanxi province.
A foreigner who knocked down a woman with his motorcycle in Beijing on December 2 -- he's pictured above being grabbed by the victim -- apparently was working "without a permit" in Beijing and has been deported. Talk about escalating fast. Also, he had been driving the motorcycle without a license, so he was fined 5,000 yuan. Oh, and his father was deported as well for working without a permit. What did either of them actually do?
UK Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Beijing yesterday to boost China-UK relations -- to "appease" Beijing, as Western media types would put it -- and to back a new EU-China free trade agreement. A few days before, on November 29, Cameron opened a Sina Weibo account, with the first message reading: "Hello my friends in China. I'm pleased to have joined Weibo and look forward to visiting China very soon."
Spain, which recognizes universal justice -- meaning its court magistrates walk eternally with backs bowed under the burden of universal injustice, the weight of sadness -- issued a warrant on Tuesday for the arrest of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and four others "as part of a probe into alleged genocide in Tibet," reports AP and Al Jazeera.