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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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One Third of Fish Species in China Yellow River Dead

Posted by Author on January 19, 2007

By Clifford Coonan in Beijing, The Independent, 19 January 2007-

Human encroachment, pollution, overfishing and dam-building have killed one third of fish species in the Yellow River, China’s second-longest waterway. Its increasingly desperate plight is also threatening economic growth.

The mighty Yellow River once made its away along 3,395 miles through nine provinces, supplying water to more than 150 million people and watering 15 per cent of China’s scarce agricultural land.

Where once the river teemed with many different types of fish, it now is a graveyard. “The Yellow River used to be host to more than 150 species of fish, but a third of them are now extinct, including precious ones,” an official from the Agriculture Ministry told the People’s Daily newspaper.

The basin was the cradle of Chinese civilisation more than 5,000 years ago, but the river’s fate is closely linked to China’s future because without water, economic development in the north of the country cannot continue at its current breakneck pace.

The river runs from the Qinghai-Tibet plateau in the west across the parched northern provinces of China, through the flood plains of Shaanxi, where it passes through the coal district picking up hefty quantities of pollutants, and into Henan and Shandong provinces.

The Yellow River was known as “China’s sorrow” because it would regularly burst its banks and flood surrounding farmland. It is sometimes called the world’s muddiest river because of the amount of silt it carries.

These days environmental degradation means the river often runs dry before it reaches the sea at the Gulf of Bohai. Its flow hit historic lows for 10 months last year. Fishing catches have fallen by 40 per cent.

“It can be mainly blamed on hydropower projects that block fish migration routes, declining water flow caused by scarce rainfall, overfishing and severe pollution,” the ministry official told the newspaper.

What fish there are in the river are often inedible. In November, parts of eastern China banned the sale of turbot after carcinogenic residues were discovered inside some of the species.

Last month engineers diverted water from the Yellow River into Baiyangdian Lake – the “pearl of north China” and the largest freshwater lake in the northern region – as part of efforts to restore the river’s ecological functions.

Recent years have seen a frenzy of dam-building in China as the country seeks to shift away from dirty, expensive coal-fired power plants towards hydroelectricity. The Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze, which opened last year, is the world’s biggest. Hundreds of smaller projects are being built on other rivers, including the Yellow River. Dams also help to check flooding during the rainy seasons.

Controlling the flooding has long been a problem for the Chinese. At some points along its course, the Yellow River’s bed is 15 metres higher than the surrounding fields because of the constant building and rebuilding of dykes along its route. Chinese history celebrates a man called Da Yu, who mobilised villagers after a flood to build a dyke and drainage canals, before sinking an ox in the river to tame the flow.

( more details from  The Independent’s report )

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