News roundup: A shooting in Sichuan, and the smog abides

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Top China news for January 4, 2017. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at


Official shoots city Communist Party boss and mayor

If it happened in the U.S. or Europe, there would be 24/7 cable news coverage: A government official named Chen Zhongshu in Panzhihua, Sichuan Province, walked into a meeting and shot the city’s mayor and Communist Party chief. Chen then committed suicide, but his victims survived with “minor wounds.” The incident has been almost completely ignored by major state media. However, the more freewheeling Southern Metropolis News published a story that quoted an unnamed government official who said that Chen thought that his superiors had reported him to Party anti-corruption officials. Chen was head of the land and resources bureau in Panzhihua, a position that often enables corruption because of the power it grants over real estate deals.

The Southern Metropolis News deleted its story shortly after publishing it, but the South China Morning Post has published a good roundup of the affair.

The smog abides

Bloomberg writes that heavy smog continues to choke one-third of China’s cities. Sixty-two cities have issued health warnings since January 1, including 25 at the highest “red alert” level. Chinese social media has been buzzing with complaints, images and jokes about the air pollution — one popular photo (above) shows people dancing in thick smog in a public square. However, the news is not all bad, according to the China Daily, which says that the country experienced fewer polluted days in 2016 than in the previous year.

More China news worth reading is linked below, with the more important stories at the top of each section.



  • Enough of the tweets, China’s state media tells Trump / NYT (paywall)
    Xinhua, the state news agency, has more or less asked Mr. Trump to shut up. ‘An obsession with “Twitter foreign policy” is undesirable,’ read the headline of a Xinhua commentary on Tuesday about Mr. Trump’s posts.”
  • South Korea is tired of China picking on it / Quartz
    South Korea is “hoping to hash things out, sending eight lawyers today (January 4) to China to begin discussions about its ‘retaliatory moves.’”
  • China’s graft watchdog turns camera on itself in TV series / Reuters
    To Forge Iron, the Metal Itself Must Be Strong takes its name from a 2012 Xi speech and aims to show there are no blind spots in the Central Commission of Discipline and Inspection (CCDI) investigations, the narrator explains.”


    A regular feature about what’s buzzing on Chinese social media
    Smog gold: As Beijing currently grapples with the first-ever national red alert for fog, a photo of a high-speed train covered with dust has been widely shared on Chinese social media. According to the accompanying caption, the train was running from Xuzhou to Beijing, both smog-haunted regions. The color of the train has been ridiculed by internet users as “smog gold,” with the most-liked comment saying, “I don’t feel it’s funny at all. It’s a serious problem!”