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China Reform Monitor - No. 947

New Year "orgy of explosions" adds to pollution woes;
Russia revives hovercraft project for China border

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
February 10, 2012

January 23:
 To secure its river and lake borders, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Border Service has revived a mothballed hi-tech hovercraft project. A primary reason for hovercraft development is patrolling the Amur River (Heilongjiang in Chinese), which separates China from Russia, and detaining Chinese illegally attempting to cross into Russian territory,
the Russian newspaper Izvestiya reports. In November the FSB placed one Ivolga hovercraft in experimental operation and in Petrozavodsk, Karelia the Avangard shipyard will begin production of 10-ton Orion-20 hovercraft. Vice Premier Dmitriy Rogozin said that in December 2010 Russia was ready to produce hovercraft but the Defense Ministry’s reduced interest put the project on hold until the border security services revived it.
 January 24:

 To expand commercial opportunities Tel Aviv opened a consulate in Guangzhou, Guangdong in 2009 and will open another in Chengdu, Sichuan,
the Jerusalem Post reports. More than 1,000 Israeli companies operate in China and there is cooperation in industrial R&D, water conservation, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation built the Carmel tunnels in Hafia, ChemChina acquired a controlling stake in agrichemical giant Makhteshim Agan Industries, and China Chemical Industry Group has an R&D facility in Israel and intends to transfer Israeli technology to its Anhui Chemical Research Institute. When the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992 bilateral trade was worth $60 million. Now it’s about $8 billion a year, with China enjoying a sizable surplus.
 January 25:

 The two-week long “orgy of explosives” that accompanied Chinese New Year has caused a spike in pollution in cities throughout China,
the South China Morning Post reports. In Beijing, levels of small particulate matter on January 23 reached a high of almost 1,600 micrograms per cubic meter, roughly 80 times the pollution level of the previous day. In Shanghai, readings of PM2.5 particles (2.5 microns or less in diameter, which can lodge in the lungs) peaked at 245 micrograms per cubic meter, while the level of larger PM10 particulates hit 318 micrograms per cubic meter. On January 23 alone fireworks produced 970 tons of litter in Shanghai.
 [Editor’s Note: Despite a constant drizzle of rain in Ningde, Fujian fireworks blazed nonstop for a week in all corners of the city. Local authorities made no effort to limit their use and the editor witnessed children as young as 18 months old lighting firecrackers with their parents in the streets. Large piles of debris accumulated and the air was thick with smoke for days.]
 January 27:

 Citing the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun reports that after an accident in October, China’s experimental fourth-generation nuclear reactor, the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR), stopped producing electricity. The newspaper said the accident sparked concerns from South Korean and Japanese authorities about radiation leaks because Beijing did not release details. Sankei Shimbun said safety management at CEFR, which is based in a military facility outside Beijing was “very low.” In response, a representative from the China Institute of Atomic Energy, which built the fast-neutron reactor, said: “reports by the Japanese media that an ‘accident occurred in autumn last year that was covered up by the Chinese government’ are extremely inconsistent with the facts.” He said the reactor had multiple safety technologies to prevent a radiation leak,
the South China Morning Post reports.
 February 1:

 Less than two months after staging an 11-day protest against official corruption and chasing away their local leaders, thousands of people in Wukan, Guangdong cast independent ballots for a committee to supervise March elections. Nearly half of Wukan’s 13,000 residents cast ballots for the 11-member election committee that will oversee another election to determine the village leadership. Lin Jiang, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said he hoped Wukan could counter those who argue that democracy is ill suited for China. “Peasants in China may be undereducated, but the election in Wukan shows that just because you don’t have a good education, doesn’t mean you can’t elect officials to represent your interests.” One village resident
told the New York Times: “We will have a fair, impartial and transparent election in March. I’m proud to see the passion for democracy among my fellow villagers.”

Related Categories: China; China Program

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