Earthquake hits Sichuan, China

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Ya’an city in Sichuan, a southwestern province of China at 8:02 a.m. Beijing Time on Saturday.

An online platform was built up on Sina Weibo in an hour for people to update the situation in Sichuan area after the quake.

According to Xinhua News, the epicenter, with a depth of 13 kilometers, was monitored at 30.3 degrees north latitude and 103.0 degrees east longitude. So far 12 deaths have been reported.

Here is a news video clip of UKBreakingNews reporting the earthquake.

Sichuan is the province where the 7.9-magnitude quake happened in May 2008.


Shanghai student dies from suspected poisoning

Huang Yang, a 28-year-old postgraduate medical student at Fudan University in Shanghai, died from poisoning on Monday.

Huang fell ill after drinking from a water dispenser in his room at the college dormitory, said China Daily:

Suspecting foul play, police tested the water and found a toxic compound. Authorities did not elaborate, but media reports say the substance was N-Nitrosodimethylamine, which can cause liver damage.

There has been speculation online that Huang was poisoned by his roommate, Lin, due to jealousy over his good performance in a recent PhD admission test. Spokesman of Fudan University denied the speculation, and the police are still looking for related evidence.

According to the International Business Times, Huang’s father said that Huang actually thought the water from the dispenser tasted weird so that he changed the water and cleaned the machine to make sure his roommates wouldn’t have to drink questionable water:

“By last Friday, Huang Yang was swollen all over, practically unrecognizable,” according to a Weibo account by one of Huang’s friends. “The air coming out of his ventilator was bloody. His roommate poisoned the water dispenser in their room, which caused Huang to suffer from acute kidney failure and pulmonary emphysema in just a few days.”

* similar case*

This is not the first time that poisonings happen at top Chinese universities. Back to 1995, Zhu Ling, a undergraduate student at Tsinghua University, was known as the victim of thallium poisoning. Her life was saved, but she was almost completely blind with permanent paralysis and severe neurological damage.

The case drew great attention of Chinese media. After investigations, the police found Zhu’s roommate, Sun Wei, to be the only suspect. However, because of lack of evidence and Sun’s strong family background, the case has been remaining unsolved during the past 18 years.

China Daily reported the case again in 2006, 10 years after it happened.

Django Unchained pulled from theaters in China

The American film, Django Unchained, was pulled from theaters in China on its opening  day with no given reason. Chinese media and netizens were filled with speculation that the film was censored because of few scenes with nudity, bloodshed and violence, said The New York Times.

The Los Angeles Times reported that China’s State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) called stop just a few minutes after the premiere began.

“We had seen the credits and heard a few sentences of dialogue when the lights came on,” said Xue Yutao, a 26 year old photographer from Beijing, who was attending a 10:15 a.m. showing in Beijing’s fashionable Sanlitun neighborhood. “The manager came in and said he had received phone calls from both the SARFT and the cinema management telling him to postpone the showing.”

Wanda Cinema in Hebei Province posted a notice on Weibo, saying that the screening was suspended due to “technical problems.” All of the sold tickets will be full returned.

Wanda's Weibo post:"The name of the film should be changed to 'Django not unchained yet'."

Wanda’s Weibo post:”The name of the film should be changed to ‘Django not unchained yet’.”

Chinese netizens said that in spite of the name of “Django Unchained”, apparently Django is still being chained in China. It is not known yet whether the film can go back into the cinema.

News sources to learn what is happening in China

The two main sources I use for my blog posts are Sina Weibo and South China Morning Post.

With over 500 million users on it, Sina Weibo is a good place where you can learn what is going on in China and what Chinese people are talking about. It was launched in 2009, and has been growing fast during the past three years. On Weibo, People are always discussing about breaking news, especially those that mainstream media do not report because of censorship. I found their hot topics page very useful. On this page you can search for news either by content (social, financial, political, sports, fashion, entertainment, etc) or by date. I like using Weibo because information and news are updated very fast on it, and you will get to know what is going on even before you hear from any news media.

South China Morning Post is the first and one of the most famous English-language newspaper in HongKong. The newspaper is published in HongKong and not directly controlled by Chinese government, so that it has less bias when reporting news in China. The home page is clear and the sections are easy to follow. There are very few advertisements since it charges about $2 a week for subscription. There is also a Chinese-language website for the paper, but the contents are not as good as in the English version, which is what I hope they could improve a little bit.

Self-mocking Weibo post goes viral in China

Recently, a Weibo post has gone viral among netizens, joking that Chinese people could do nothing to protect themselves since the bird flu and smog weather occur at the same time:

“How to prevent from H7N9 (bird flu)?”

Expert: “Keep windows open, let fresh air in.”

“How to prevent from PM2.5 (smog)?”

Expert: “Close all the windows, do not go outside.”

“Wait so should I open the windows or not?!”

Expert:”That depends on how you would prefer to die…”

By retweeting the post, netizens are asking the government to take care of the two serious issues as soon as possible.

H7N9 bird flu spreads in China

A new type of bird flu virus never found in humans before has been infecting and killing people in China for months.

CCTV America reported on the emergence of early cases and some of the government’s measures.

The first two deaths occurred in February, but was not reported by authorities until late March, when a third case was found in Nanjing, Jiangsu province in China. The total number of confirmed cases now increased to 14, while the number of human deaths has risen to five, reported by AFP.

Fox News reported that The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared the genetic sequence of the virus with other scientists to help further study on the flu:

Flu viruses evolve constantly, and scientists say such changes have made H7N9 more capable of infecting pigs.

The scientists who inspected the genetic data also said that based on information from the genes and Chinese lab testing, the H7N9 virus appears able to infect some birds without causing any noticeable symptoms. Without obvious outbreaks of dying chickens or birds, authorities could face a challenge in trying to trace the source of the infection and stop the spread.

In an article in, experts said that so far there is not sufficient evidence to prove that the infection is related to the chicken in the market.

Dongjiao market in the eastern suburbs of Beijing. Photo from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Chinese home buyers fake divorce to avoid taxes

As government’s new property tax policy announced on March 1, it has been a trend that Chinese home buyers are rushing to get divorced, in order to sell their houses without paying extra taxes.

According to Reuters, at Shanghai’s Zhabei District marriage registration center, officials divorced 53 couples in a single day in March.

According to the new policy, property owners must pay a 20 percent capital gains tax on sales of second houses. However, if a couple with two properties divorce, they can move on property into the husband’s name and the other to the wife. This loophole leads many couples in Beijing and other major cities in China to fake divorce, sell the houses separately without paying taxes, and then remarry, reported by World Crunch:

Professor Xie Baisan from Fudan University says the phenomenon first appeared in 2009, when couples tried to avoid paying much higher interest rates on mortgages taken out for the purchase of second homes.  He believes the new housing policy could lead to one million fake divorces in China.

Most often these couples have a proviso in their divorce agreement stating that they still live together. Some will even remarry once the mortgage has been taken out or the property tax has been paid.

Here is a news video by NDT on China about the new policy and the trend of fake divorce: