First up is another story that makes you wonder just what the hell is going on in New Zealand's medical system. A couple of days ago it was a gynaecologist who couldn't find the cervix or uterus; today it's a man who died of throat cancer after six consecutive doctors diagnosed nothing worse than a sore throat or tonsilitis. I think I'm just going to stay right here in Beijing.
[UPDATE: More on the Yongzhou incident at ESWN here (note ) and here.]
[UPDATE 2: The official English language response. I could look for a Chinese language version, but I can't be arsed, do it yourself.]
Second: A friend emailed me a BBC report about riots in Yongzhou, Hunan. Seems like the usual story. But the report quoted Boxun and some local official surnamed Tan, which sets alarm bells ringing. I was under the impression Boxun published pretty much anything without bothering with such niceties as fact-checking, and what kind of local official, regardless of surname, cooperates with the international, or even local, or any media on this kind of thing? Anyway, I googled it and came up with three different stories, on in the Times of India, one in Qatar's The Peninsula, and one in Infoshop, all pretty much identical to the BBC story except the Infoshop version. Infoshop claims 20,000 rioters (BBC says "up to 20,000")- farmers and laid off workers- and goes into more detail about 'mass incidents' and their causes. Here's what Minister of Public Security Zhou Yongkang apparently told Ta Kung Pao, published on June 5, 2005:
[note: I say apparently, because the context suggests the following was lifted from the Ta Kung Pao article alluded to]
"In speaking about mass incidents arising from conflict among the people, Zhou Yongkang said that mass incidents are an outstanding problem affecting social stability, with five features that require attention.
1. The number has obviously increased and the scope has expanded. From the 10,000+ mass incidents in 1994 to the 74,000+ mass incidents in 2004, the increase has been more than sixfold. The number of participants has increased from the 730,000 persons in 1994 to the 3,760,000 persons in 2004, for more than a fourfold increase;
2. The scope has expanded. Mass incidents occur in cities, rural villages, enterprises, governments, schools and various domains and sectors and they occur in all the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities;
3. The main participants in mass incidents are more diversified, and include dismissed workers, farmers, urban dwellers, enterprise owners, teachers and people from various social strata;
4. The methods are extreme, including laying siege and attacking party and government offices, blockading public roads, stopping trains and other situations;
5. The tendency is towards greater organizing. There are sometimes even spontaneously rising organizations with certain leaders."
First: Remember this information is probably a year and half old. Things change. Now, this all seems rather scary. We should also remember that most of us living in China never see a mass incident worse than a bunch of petitioners standing around outside a government building watched by a few security guards and a couple of cops. Don't take the above as meaning China's on the verge of open revolution, because it quite simply isn't. Even so, it does suggest rising discontent, a greater willingness to protest, and perhaps a greater awareness of rights and government responsibilities. Point 5, however, is very, very interesting indeed.
However, I should also note that Infoshop News bills itself as "Your source for alternative news, analysis and opinion", and Infoshop's home page offers, among other things, an "anarchist FAQ", and under the title "Infoshop.org" is the slogan "Kill capitalism before it kills you". I'll let you be the judge of how reliable such an organisation may be.
And the third piece: Oil seeps to the surface after an earthquake. It seems New Zealand might have a whole lot more oil and gas than we knew about. This time way, way down in the deep south, not quite sub-antarctic, but not far off. I suppose in this age of global warming we shouldn't be developing more hydrocarbon resources, but damn, if this is true it could bring in a shitload of money.