Heavy rains cause floods in Hunan, gas explosion in Guizhou
Following the news about China for a global readership often reveals the absurdities of what the media sees as news and what it does not. This weekend in China, 32 people died because of the weather. You would not know it from most English-language news sources, which have barely mentioned the following:
- At least 24 people died in flooding in Hunan Province. Caixin says that “flooding has affected more than 6.6 million people in 13 cities and prefectures in Hunan and caused nearly 16.2 billion yuan ($2.39 billion) in direct economic losses from damaged homes and lost crops.” Shanghaiist has a dramatic photo gallery, including an image of a famous giant statue of Mao Zedong nearly underwater.
- Eight people died and 35 were injured when a gas pipeline in Guizhou Province exploded. Xinhua News Agency says that “days of heavy rain triggered a landslide, which crushed the pipeline operated by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC),” leading to a gas leak and blast.
A red line in Hong Kong
On Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping ended his three-day visit to Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China with what the New York Times called (paywall) a “tough speech…warning against politicizing disputes or challenging the authority of the central government.” Xi called “any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government,” or “use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage against the mainland…an act that crosses the red line [红线 hóng xiàn] and is absolutely impermissible.”
The Times archly notes that Xi “didn’t stick around for the reaction, as thousands of people took to the streets in an annual protest calling for greater democracy.”
The state of Trump-China relations
- Judging from media reports, a weekend of golf has not yet changed the new tough talk on China that U.S. president Donald Trump began last week, while China has criticized an American naval exercise in a disputed part of the South China Sea.
- Trump spoke to his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on the phone: Trump raised the problem of North Korea, and the two leaders confirmed that they would meet at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, which is on July 7 and 8. You can read the White House readout of the call, and Xinhua News Agency’s report on it. The New York Times summarized the call (paywall) with this headline: “After angering China, Trump talks with its leader about North Korea.”
Censorship and dissent
Some reading for Independence Day, if — like me — you’re in the U.S. and want to distract yourself from the dumpster fire on this side of the Pacific:
- The New York Times has published a piece (paywall) by the self-taught lawyer Chen Guangcheng 陈光诚 — currently in exile in the U.S. — calling on the American government to demand that Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波 — who was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment in 2009 on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” — be allowed to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment. Liu is currently on medical parole in China with terminal liver cancer.
- The scholar Geremie Barmé has written an essay titled “Mourning” about Liu and “the Other China: the China of possibility, hope and humanity.”
- Today on SupChina, we republish a translation of an essay by Xu Zhiyuan 许知远 on the alienation felt by thoughtful writers who have to self-censor to continue publishing in China.