Earthquakes and floods
Natural disasters in China reported today:
- On August 8, Sichuan was not the only place in China to have an earthquake: 32 people were injured and more than 1,000 houses damaged in a 6.6-magnitude quake in Jinghe County in Xinjiang, near the border with Kazakhstan, according to the China Daily.
- Reuters reports that the death toll of the August 8 Sichuan quake at Jiuzhaigou is now at 19, with 247 people injured.
- The People’s Daily says (in Chinese) that the Ministry of Environmental Protection has not yet found any secondary environmental events, such as sewage contaminating water supplies.
- The China Daily reports that 25 people were killed in a “flash flood” in Puge County, Sichuan. This seems to be the same disaster authorities described as a “landslide triggered by heavy rains” that we noted on August 8.
- In an article explaining “the science behind the Sichuan and Xinjiang earthquakes,” the South China Morning Post says the two earthquakes “were probably unrelated.” The SCMP also has the story of a Chinese tour guide who lived through the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and was trapped in an elevator during the Jiuzhaigou quake. She survived by prying open the elevator door with her bare hands.
- The China Daily asks: “Are giant pandas OK in quake-prone Sichuan?” I’ll save you a click: They are fine.
Signals from the smoke-filled room
The Chinese Communist Party’s annual summer retreat in the coastal resort town of Beidaihe is, in one American diplomat’s memorable phrase, “China’s smoke-filled room,” where senior leaders and advisors have met almost every year since 1953. It’s not an official event, its agenda and specific timing is not disclosed, and opinions vary on how important the gathering is. But it seems to have started this year:
- Xinhua News Agency reports (in Chinese) that Liu Yunshan 刘云山, ranked fifth most senior in the Politburo Standing Committee of seven members, appeared at Beidaihe and welcomed a group of 57 “experts” from state technology and science organizations and welcomed them on behalf of President Xi Jinping.
- The article includes a video of 57 people, mostly men, in nearly identical dark trousers and white shirts, standing as they diligently listen to Liu’s speech.
- Reuters calls Liu’s appearance “the first hint that an annual conclave there of senior leaders” was actually taking place.
- This year’s Beidaihe gathering is of particular interest because it is widely believed that discussions there may set the tone for the 19th Party Congress scheduled for the fall, when appointments of senior Party leaders for the next five years will be announced.
- Bloomberg previously published a “Guide to the secretive resort meeting for China’s political elite.”
On-demand gym capsules
China already has on-demand car hailing, bicycles, cell phone chargers, umbrellas, karaoke booths, capsule hotels, and even on-demand police services. Now a company is offering on-demand gyms in small booths installed on sidewalks in Beijing. According to this Weibo post (in Chinese, with pictures), the gym booths each contain a treadmill, and charge 0.2 yuan ($0.03) per minute, payable by smartphone.
WeChat user numbers
On August 7, we noted an apparent discrepancy between the Chinese government’s count of the number of internet users in China — 751 million — and social media and messaging behemoth Tencent’s claim that its mobile service WeChat has 938 million users each month, and that its desktop service QQ has 861 million.
Ed Sanders, proprietor of China Talk and WeChat fundi wrote to me to clarify that Tencent’s number for WeChat includes users outside China and people using multiple accounts, as well as official and business accounts, and that the number of daily users of WeChat inside China is somewhere south of 600 million, according to Tencent.