There comes a time when things happen and either quickly degenerate into chaos or metamorphose into spectacular miracles. This week, China witnessed a bit of both.
1) Shock, Confusion and Anger over Train Crash Tragedy
It is difficult, in the wake of the tragic train crash that occurred on July 23rd near Wenzhou, to differentiate truth from lies in the countless nebulous reports emerging from various media.
Even the death count is subject to debate, with certain authorities in China hinting at 39 deaths, others placing the number at a minimum of 43. One thing is certain: there is public anger over what many claim is a government mismanagement of the accident.
Following what reports claim was a lightning strike, the D3115 train stalled for an indeterminate amount of time before being rear-ended by a second bullet train. What is only now being reported is that the stalled train’s driver apparently received orders not to move, but to stay stopped. Why the order was given, and why no concurrent order was given to the oncoming train, is one of the big questions being asked by netizens.
Furthermore, reports have shone a light on a rare confrontation between the Wenzhou local government and the central government on the handling of the tragedy. Immediately after the accident, the central government allegedly ordered the damaged train wagons to be buried in order to safeguard ‘national level’ technology from being discovered. The order was apparently countermanded by the local government, who eventually took control of the crash site and were able to save 2 year-old Xiang Weiyi, now orphan after the death of both her parents in the train.
Even CCTV anchors have broken character and demanded answers to the following questions:
1. Was this really another accident caused by lightning?
2. Why did the train behind not know the train in front had come to a halt?
3. Why were trains so hastily cleared before lives were saved?
4. Why has no passenger name list been published yet?
So far, a public apology was given by China’s Ministry of Railways, three senior railway officials have been fired, and 500,000 RMB compensations were given to the families of victims.
2) Former Gymnast Champion Given Second Chance by Philanthropist
27 year-old Zhang Shangwu, a former gymnast champion who won two gold medals during the 2001 Universiade, was forced into begging and stealing after an Achilles tendon injury brought his career to a premature end.
Videos of him performing in the streets of Beijing aroused public sympathy on the internet, and ultimately led recycling magnate and philanthropist Chen Guangbiao to offer him a position as fitness instructor at his company; a position that will earn him over 10,000 RMB a month.
3) China’s Naval Firepower Has Two New Jewels
In the space of a week, China’s naval fleet has welcomed two new members. The Jinggangshan, seen above, is now the country’s largest warship, measuring 210 meters in length and 28 meters in width. The amphibious warship can carry helicopters, boats, armored vehicles as well as 1,000 members.
Then on July 27th, the Chinese Defense Ministry presented a purchased and refitted aircraft carrier that would be used for ‘scientific research and training’.
4) Young Couple Sells Off 3 Children to Play Computer Games
Sanxiang City News reported young parents, both under 21, had been arrested after selling their three children to finance their gaming addiction. Their second child was reportedly sold for $500 dollars, and their first and third child were subsequently sold for $4600 (30,000 RMB).
The young couple was turned in to the police after Li Lin, the father, told his mother they had sold their children. The parents, who met in an internet café in 2007, accounted for their actions by stating they had had no intention or desire to raise their children. They were known to drive over 30km to go play computer games, often leaving their firstborn home alone.
5) After Bacteria, it’s Egg Worms in our Water
After a scandal earlier this month revealed sickening levels of bacteria in some of the bottled water, the nauseating stories show no signs of abating, as the sealed bottles of Nongfu spring water were recently discovered to have worm eggs inside the caps.
The matter first came to light when a boy drank from a bottle and screamed in shock upon seeing the eggs. He subsequently suffered from diarrhea and vomiting before being taken to the hospital and diagnosed with acute enteritis.
Nongfu has denied the allegations.
6) Near-Extinct, Human-Hating Jellyfish Found
A near-extinct freshwater jellyfish that’s been around for 1.5 billion years, craspedacusta sowerbyi, was found in a tourist resort in Mount Tai, Shandong Province.
The find is particularly spectacular (some might say miraculous) in that the jellyfish can only survive in water not polluted by human activity and of a temperature below 35 degrees Celsius.
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