Dalai Lama accuses China of ‘cultural genocide’


The Dalai Lama has blamed the Chinese government’s policy of “cultural genocide” in his native Tibet for a wave of self-immolations that has struck restive Tibetan areas of western China this year.

At least 11 Tibetans, all of them Buddhist nuns, monks or former monks, have set themselves on fire since March to protest against Chinese rule and religious repression, according to human rights and exile groups.

The Chinese government has blamed the Dalai Lama for encouraging the self-immolations and says he and his “clique” are engaged in “disguised terrorism” and “pursuing separatism by harming people”.

At a press conference in Tokyo on Monday, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said Beijing’s hardline policy towards any hint of dissent among Tibetans was the real cause of the demonstrations. Continue reading

Chinese faked photograph leaves officials on street of shame


For government officials in Huili, a distinctly modest county in a rural corner of south-west China, attracting national media coverage would normally seem a dream come true. Unfortunately, their moment in the spotlight was not so welcome: mass ridicule over what may well be one of the worst-doctored photographs in internet history.

The saga began on Monday when Huili’s website published a picture showing, according to the accompanying story, three local officials inspecting a newly completed road construction project this month. The picture certainly portrayed the men, and the road, but the officials appeared to be levitating several inches above the tarmac. As photographic fakery goes it was astonishingly clumsy. Continue reading

Exiled Tibetans Claim CCP Detained 300 Monks in Sichuan


Tibetan exiles said on Monday (May 23) that, according to their sources, CCP security forces detained about 300 monks from the Kirti monastery in the Aba prefecture of Sichuan province. They say the roundup was part of the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown after a Tibetan Buddhist monk lit himself on fire in protest.

Two exiled monks and a Tibetan writer say their sources told them the monks were detained and taken away in covered military trucks on April 21. Supporters had gathered around the monastery, but police beat them and drove them away with dogs.

The head of the Kirti monastery, Kirti Rinpoche lives in exile in Dharamsala, India. He said his sources told him the conditions at the monastery have become “suffocating” due to intense pressure from the CCP. Continue reading

Besieged Tibetan Monks ‘Tortured’ by Chinese Authorities


Chinese authorities in southwestern Sichuan province have detained and tortured Tibetan monks amid a siege of a major monastery there, according to exile sources.

Tensions have been running high at the besieged monastery of Kirti in Sichuan’s Ngaba prefecture, which is home to some 2,500 Tibetan monks who say they are now running out of food.

The siege of the monastery was sparked by the death of a monk last month in a self-immolation protest against Beijing’s rule. A number of detentions, beatings, and attacks on unarmed local people with trained police dogs have been reported since. Continue reading

At least 11 Tibetans detained for supporting dead monk


At least 11 ethnic Tibetans have been detained following the death of a monk who set himself on fire in protest against government policies. They are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

On 16 March, a 20-year-old Tibetan monk called Phuntsok set fire to himself at a market in Ngaba County (in Chinese: Aba), Sichuan province, in protest against repressive government policies in Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan populated areas in China. He died in hospital early in the morning of 17 March. Continue reading

Chinese Police Surround a Tibetan Monastery in Sichuan


Chinese police are continuing to surround a Tibetan monastery in Sichuan province, after local residents tried to stop them from arresting the monks.

The standoff began earlier this week, when hundreds of people living in Sichuan’s Aba region converged on the Kirti monastery. They tried to stop police from taking away the monks for reeducation.  As many as 2,500 monks are believed to be inside the locked-down monastery.

They could soon face food shortages because they depend on offerings from locals. Continue reading

China Charges Well-Known Internet Writer Ran Yunfei with Subversion


(VOA News) China has charged well-known pro-democracy writer and editor Ran Yunfei with subversion for his alleged role in calling for popular uprisings in China similar to those gripping the Middle East and North Africa.

Ran’s wife told VOA’s Mandarin service she received a copy of the formal charging documents Monday, and says they were dated last Friday. She said she will move quickly to hire a lawyer to defend her spouse, and expects formal court proceedings within two months. Continue reading

Chinese Activist Sentenced to Ten Years for Inciting Subversion; Essays Cited as Evidence


In a trial lasting less than two hours and marked with procedural irregularities, a Sichuan court sentenced Liu Xianbin (刘贤斌), a signer of Charter 08 and long-time advocate of democratic reform in China, to ten years in prison and two years and four months of deprivation of political rights.

Liu’s wife, Chen Mingxian (陈明先), who attended the trial and saw her husband for the first time since he was detained in June 2010, said, “The judge interrupted Liu many times and did not give him a chance to read his prepared statement. The judge also kept cutting off Liu’s lawyer when was presenting the defense statement.”  She added that after the verdict was announced, Liu declared: “I’m innocent. I protest!” Continue reading

House church in Southwest China raided and Leader arrested


At 5 p.m. local time, March 10, Ms. Liao Zhongxiu, leader of a house church in Qu County, Sichuan Province, was arrested on so called “suspicion of utilizing a cult organization in undermining the implementation of the state law and regulations.” She is currently detained at Qu County Detention Center.

At about 3:30 p.m. local time, September 26, 2010, Youqing Church in Qu County, Dazhou, Sichuan Province was raided by the local Public Security Bureau (PSB). The police officers smashed the items of the church, confiscated books, took people to the local police station and then forced their families to pay money to bail them out. At 5 p.m., September 29, some Christians of the church went to the PSB station to negotiate in the hope of retrieving the confiscated items in accordance with law. It ended up with five of the believers were arrested on the spot and were detained for 15 days. Continue reading

Three Tibetan Monks Flee China After Arrest Warrant Issued


NTD TV, Dec. 2010 -

On November 15th, 2010 these three Tibetan monks arrived in Dharamsala, India after escaping from China. They had feared for their lives after holding a protest against Chinese communist rule.

Their names are Lobsang Norbu, Khedup Gyatso, and Kunga Rinchen. They’re from a Tibetan region of Sichuan province called Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

This man translated for the monks. Continue reading

Mentally Disabled Forced into Slave Labor at Party-Backed ‘Rescue’ Center in China


By Sophia Fang & Gisela Sommer, Epoch Times Staff, Dec. 24, 2010 -

Local Communist Party officials in Sichuan Province are behind an institution that kidnaps mentally handicapped and homeless people and forces them into slave labor, according to an investigative journalist from Hong Kong.

The inmates were hired out as laborers as far away as Xinjiang Province. To turn them into “good workers” they were beaten and shocked with electric batons and kept in subhuman living conditions, reports say. Continue reading

Chinese Earthquake Hero, Eulogized by State, Revealed As Fraud


The Epochtimes, Nov. 5, 2010 -

An elaborate hero narrative that emerged in Chinese state media reports in the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake has been revealed as a fabrication by a recent investigation.

A middle school teacher, Tan Qianqiu, was said to have gathered four of his students into his arms as the building crumbled, saving them, but losing his own life.

A report by the Southern Metropolis Daily in Guangzhou, however, indicates that three of those students do not exist, and that the entire story was concocted. The Daily is one of the few newspapers in China that pursues investigations sensitive to the authorities; its editors have been imprisoned for the trouble. Continue reading

Leading Chinese artist Ai Weiwei claims police attacked him


Tania Branigan in Beijing , Guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 10 August 2010 -

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist commissioned to create an installation for the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, says that plain-clothes police assaulted him and his assistant today as he attempted to file a complaint about a previous attack.

The artist who designed the Beijing national stadium, known as the Bird Nest, said that he was kicked and shoved outside a police station in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in south-west China.

“Some undercover police tore our shirts and tried to grab our cameras. There were maybe 10 of them. They pushed and kicked us,” he said in a telephone interview. “Now we are being attacked because we complained about last time. It is so ironic.”

Ai and several other activists were detained in Chengdu last year to prevent them attending the trial of a campaigner investigating schoolchildren’s deaths in the Sichuan earthquake of 2008. The subject has become highly sensitive because of allegations that shoddy construction, linked to corruption, was to blame for the high death toll in schools.

Ai said a policeman punched him in the head in that incident, leaving him with painful headaches, and he underwent surgery in Germany weeks later after doctors spotted internal bleeding.

Today he went to Chengdu’s city police department, but says it refused to take his complaint and referred him to the police station at Jinniu.

He said that as he arrived at that building he was surrounded by men who assaulted him and his assistant, and told him: “If you want justice, go back to the US.”

Ai lived in America for several years but is still a Chinese citizen…….(More details from The Guardian)

EU Should Demand Concrete Progress on Human Rights in Dialogue With China


Human Rights Watch, June 28, 2010 -

(New York) - The European Union should set benchmarks for human rights improvements with the Chinese government during this week’s EU-China human rights dialogue, Human Rights Watch said today.

The EU should use the June 29 round of talks in Madrid as an occasion to press the Chinese government to repeal dangerously ambiguous “state secrets” and “subversion” laws, release dissidents, and set a timetable for China’s ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in order to address serious and ongoing violations of human rights in China.

“For too long, the EU-China human rights dialogue has been a toothless talk shop which has failed to meaningfully address the Chinese government’s poor record on human rights,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The EU should use the upcoming Madrid meeting to express serious concern about the Chinese government’s violations of human rights, and to establish verifiable steps which will put an end to those abuses and provide redress for the victims.”

The EU-China human rights dialogues are usually held twice a year, with one session in Europe and one in Beijing. The dialogues began in 1995, but in part because they are not linked at the political or policy level to other key issues in the EU-China bilateral relationship such as trade, investment, and the environment, they have consistently failed to deliver any substantive improvements on specific human rights abuses in China.

The Madrid meeting will occur in the wake of a series of unusually blunt and high-profile official European criticisms of China’s human rights environment, which has worsened since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

* On June 11, 2010, the Office of the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Catherine Ashton criticized a Chengdu court’s decision to uphold a five-year prison sentence for civil society activist Tan Zuoren on charges of “subversion of state power.” Tan was arrested while attempting to compile a list of names of child victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Ashton’s statement described the court’s move as “entirely incompatible with [Tan's] right to freedom of expression and does not meet international standards of fairness.” …… (more details from Human Rights Watch)

Hydropower Plant May Have Triggered Deadly Landslide in Southwest China, says Expert


NTD TV –

On Tuesday at around 1:30 in the morning, part of a mountain collapsed in Kangding County in China’s southwestern Sichuan province. It killed 23 workers at a hydroelectric project construction site.

State media Xinhua reports that recent heavy rains triggered the landslide. But local geological expert Fan Xiao believes there may be another cause.

[Fan Xiao, Sichuan Geological and Mineral Bureau]:
“It’s mainly because of large scale work in recent years to construct the hydroelectric plant. Along the Dadu River there are over 20 hydropower stations which are all undergoing large-scale work… this has damaged the stability of the mountainsides, leading to mudslides when it rains. And digging also damages the stability of the mountain body, so eventually this creates a large scale mountain collapse.”

The part of the mountain that collapsed on Tuesday reached nearly 1.5 million cubic feet. It crushed a shed where construction workers slept, and temporarily blocked the water flow at a tributary of the Dadu River.

Fan Xiao, who is the chief engineer of the Regional Geology Investigation Team of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau, says hydropower construction in the region also poses other risks.

[Fan Xiao, Sichuan Geological and Mineral Bureau]:
“Many hydropower plants along the Dadu River are very large in scale. They have very tall dams that store a large amount of water. Coincidentally, the river is along an earthquake belt, and chances of these dams triggering an earthquake are very high too.”

In recent years, the Chinese regime has undertaken numerous hydropower projects to supply growing demands for electricity.

After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake Fan, and other experts, urged the suspension of new hydropower plants and a reassessment of geological risks posed by large-scale dams in the area.

- NTD TV

China Court Upholds Five-Year Sentence for Earthquake Activist Tan Zuoren


Human Rights in China, June 9, 2010 -

The Sichuan Provincial Higher People’s Court has upheld the five-year sentence, with three years of deprivation of political rights, of Tan Zuoren (谭作人), the Sichuan environmental activist and writer convicted of “inciting subversion of state power.” The decision was announced on June 9, 2010, in a 12-minute-long hearing held in the Chengdu Municipal Intermediate People’s Court, the court that originally tried Tan on August 12, 2009.  In the appeal statement he filed after the original guilty verdict, Tan declared: “I am not guilty; I don’t accept [the verdict]; I protest; I appeal.”

Tan’s lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that he did not expect a different outcome. “This was not a trial in accordance with law, but a trial to protect the interests of the local government,” said Pu.

Tan was first detained in March 28, 2009, three days after the online release of a report titled  Independent Investigation Report by Citizens, which presented findings of an investigation he conducted with a colleague, Xie Yihui (谢贻卉), into the causes of the widespread collapse of school buildings during the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. The subsequent indictment, which charged Tan with “inciting subversion of state power,” did not, however, mention his earthquake investigation.  Rather, the indictment cited as evidence his 2007 essay on the 1989 Democracy Movement, “Bearing Witness to the Ultimate Beauty—Diary of an Eyewitness from the Square” (见证最后的美丽——一个目击者的广场日记), and his proposal for a blood drive to commemorate the 20th anniversary of June Fourth.

Before the August 2009 trial, prominent artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未), who had traveled to Chengdu and prepared to be a witness for Tan, was beaten by Chengdu police and detained in his hotel room for 11 hours. The court did not allow any defense witnesses to attend the trial.  During the trial, the judge repeatedly interrupted Pu, and Tan was not allowed to make his final statement.

The Chengdu court announced its guilty verdict on February 9, 2010, nearly half a year after the trial, in violation of the Criminal Procedure Law which allows a maximum period of two-and-a- half months for a trial court to issue a ruling after accepting the case (Article 168). Tan appealed one day after the verdict was issued. The appeal decision, handed down today, four months afterwards, is also in violation of the Criminal Procedure Law which stipulates in Article 196 that an appeal trial should be concluded within one-and-a-half months after the filing of the appeal.

- Human Rights in China

Two Tibetan writers being arrested, attacked at Southwest China


Reporters Without Borders, June 10, 2010 -

Reporters Without Borders condemns two new serious cases of detention and use of violence against Tibetan journalists and writers in the past few days.

Two magazine editors were arrested by police in Chengdu on 5 June and were mistreated all night before being released, while a writer and monk was arrested without a warrant for the second time in 13 months on 24 May in Ngaba, in eastern Tibet, and has been held ever since without being able to see his family.

“The Chinese authorities are offering an idealised vision of a peaceful Tibet in the 2010 Shanghai World Expo but the information coming from the Tibetan areas is very different,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Arrests, violence and surveillance are the common lot of those who defend Tibetan identity. We urge Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to give clear orders for the release of all imprisoned Tibetan intellectuals.”

Goyon and Thupten Gedun, the editors of the magazines Tibet and Purgyal Kyi Namshey (Soul of Ancient Kings), were circulating on foot in Chengdu on the evening of 5 June when around 15 policemen descended from two vehicles, used tear-gas on them, and then took them to a police station. After confiscating their mobile phones, cameras, ID cards and wallets, they tied them to chairs and interrogated them.

“The police officers used violence to interrogate us,” the journalists said. “They asked us about our work and our political activities, all the while hitting us. They also threatened us by putting guns against our heads. When we asked what we had done wrong, they hit us even harder.” One of them was tortured with electrical equipment to make him confess.

“The next day, the police checked our police records and discovered they were empty. So they let us go, but not without threatening to arrest us again.”

In Ngaba, writer Dokru Tsultrim was arrested on 24 May in Gomang monastery, where he has been staying for the past five years. A relative living in exile in the Indian city of Dharamsala said he was arrested because of two articles by him that have been published.

“Dokru Tsultrim refused to give his laptop to the police but they confiscated documents they found in his room,” the relative said. “Until now our family has been denied the right to see him.” Tsultrim is very involved in promoting literature among young Tibetans but is not a member of in any political movement, the source added……. (more details from Reporters Without Borders)

China’s Three Gorges Dam Causes Quakes, Landslides and Cracks


Michael Sheridan and Richard Jones, The Times, May 30, 2010 -

The Three Gorges dam
was so vast and sweeping a vision that nothing could stand in its way. Not the old cities of the Yangtze valley, storehouses of human toil and treasure for more than a thousand years. Not the lush, low-lying farmlands, nor the villages, nor even the pagodas and temples that graced the riverbanks.

The cries of dissenting scientists and the lamentations of more than a million Chinese people forced to leave their ancestral lands counted for nothing.

When the waters rose to 570ft last year, drowning all these things, it marked a triumph for the engineers at the top of the Chinese Communist party.

But in the past six months a sinister trail of events has unfolded from the dam all the way up the 410-mile reservoir to the metropolis of Chongqing.

It began with strange, small-scale earthquakes recorded by official monitoring stations and reported by the Chinese media.

Mysterious cracks split roads and sundered schoolhouses and apartments in newly built towns and villages on the bluffs looking down on the river.

The local government now says that 300,000 people will have to move out in addition to the 1.4m evicted to make way for the dam.

More than 50,000 residents have already been relocated owing to seismic problems that were not foreseen when the dam was built, according to the state news agency, Xinhua.

As the boats sail by, landslides can be seen from the river — some small, some big — staining the waters of the Yangtze with minerals and sediment.

Big pleasure cruisers, tramp steamers and shoals of sampans plough through waters that switch from hue to hue as their chemical composition changes.

In Badong county, midway through the Three Gorges, celebrated in Chinese painting and poetry, the citizens are troubled by a sense of foreboding.

The local government hastily moved out of a prestigious new block after experts warned that it was unsafe.

But ordinary folk and even schoolchildren have been left to fend for themselves. More than 3,000 children attend school every day in a building dating back to 1943 that officials know to be at risk of collapse. Nothing has been done to move them, supposedly because of a lack of funds.

The playground is riddled with cracks. One ominous jagged line runs down the side of the classrooms.

“The government agrees that our whole school must move,” said a worried teacher, who asked not to be named, “but so far it’s just talk.”

In a telling example of China’s glaring class differences, a group of unemployed workers live in housing provided by the state that is visibly cracking at the seams.

“What kind of dogshit government moves itself out and moves us into somewhere like this?” one of them complained.

“My house is like a fishing pond whenever it rains,” said Grandma Wang, 72. “I don’t mind for myself because I am old, but I care for my granddaughter, who is 10 and has to live in here.”

Badong is one of many places where the land and the water have interacted in ways that only a few scientists predicted before the dam was built. Their objections were overruled by the party.

But last week even the state media acknowledged that the Three Gorges area faced a “grim” situation. Officials have counted 97 significant landslides this year alone. These are linked to the worrying increase in seismic activity. ….. (more details from The Times)

Forced Evictions Over Dam in Southwestern China


Radio Free Asia, 2010-04-26 -

HONG KONG
— Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan have begun demolishing houses and forcing people from their homes near the Pubugou hydroelectic power project, which is due to go into operation soon.

“They are forcibly demolishing houses,” a resident of Hanyuan county, where the evictions took place, said.

“They all came together in the night. The armed police, the regular police, the county Party secretary and officials,” said the resident, surnamed Cao.

The controversial Pubugou project, a series of ladder-like dams on Sichuan’s mountainous Dadu river, has sparked protests and armed confrontation in the past, with the army moving into the area to quell angry protests in 2004.

A total of 100,000 people will eventually be displaced by the project, which is part of Beijing’s key infrastructure investment program aimed at boosting economic growth and relieving poverty in China’s lagging western regions.

Villagers have kept up an angry and vocal protest, but according to a company announcement, the third phase of the Dadu project at Pubugou is scheduled to begin operation any day now.

‘Dead of night’

“By about 10 p.m. there were a few hundred [residents] surrounded by them,” Hanyuan resident Cao said.

“The Chinese Communist Party is supposed to be stout-hearted and honest. How come they are doing things in the dead of night?”

He said the demolition work went on until around 5 a.m. Sunday.

“They demolished one house,” Cao said.

“They were at work until dawn. They said it had to be demolished.”

He said the evicted family had nowhere else to go, and were now living in a tent on the mountainside.

A second Hanyuan resident surnamed Bai said the government was behaving unreasonably.

“They don’t listen to reason and they don’t even follow their own policies,” Bai said.

After the last violent standoff in 2004, the central government ordered more compensation for relocating residents from 320 yuan (U.S. $38) per square meter of living space to 428 yuan (U.S. $51), according to local media reports.( Radio Free Asia)

China-linked Cyberspies hacked government offices on several continents, security researchers say


By JOHN MARKOFF and DAVID BARBOZA, New York Times, April 5, 2010-

TORONTO — Turning the tables on a China-based computer espionage gang, Canadian and United States computer security researchers have monitored a spying operation for the past eight months, observing while the intruders pilfered classified and restricted documents from the highest levels of the Indian Defense Ministry.

In a report issued Monday night, the researchers, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, provide a detailed account of how a spy operation it called the Shadow Network systematically hacked into personal computers in government offices on several continents.

The Toronto spy hunters not only learned what kinds of material had been stolen, but were able to see some of the documents, including classified assessments about security in several Indian states, and confidential embassy documents about India’s relationships in West Africa, Russia and the Middle East. The intruders breached the systems of independent analysts, taking reports on several Indian missile systems. They also obtained a year’s worth of the Dalai Lama’s personal e-mail messages.

The intruders even stole documents related to the travel of NATO forces in Afghanistan, illustrating that even though the Indian government was the primary target of the attacks, one chink in computer security can leave many nations exposed.

“It’s not only that you’re only secure as the weakest link in your network,” said Rafal Rohozinski, a member of the Toronto team. “But in an interconnected world, you’re only as secure as the weakest link in the global chain of information.”

As recently as early March, the Indian communications minister, Sachin Pilot, told reporters that government networks had been attacked by China, but that “not one attempt has been successful.” But on March 24, the Toronto researchers said, they contacted intelligence officials in India and told them of the spy ring they had been tracking. They requested and were given instructions on how to dispose of the classified and restricted documents.

Location of Sichuan, China

On Monday, Sitanshu Kar, a spokesman for the Indian Defense Ministry, said officials were “looking into” the report, but had no official statement.

The attacks look like the work of a criminal gang based in Sichuan Province, but as with all cyberattacks, it is easy to mask the true origin, the researchers said. Given the sophistication of the intruders and the targets of the operation, the researchers said, it is possible that the Chinese government approved of the spying. …… (more details from New York Times)

Southwestern China’s Post Quake New Home Construction ‘Flawed’


Radio free Asia, Mar. 26, 2010-

HONG KONG— Residents of China’s southwestern province of Sichuan made homeless by the devastating earthquake of May 12, 2008 have called on the Chinese government to hold an inquiry into the construction of their new homes, which they say are substandard and unsafe.

The residents of Caoba village near the provincial capital Chengdu said the houses, built with some of the billions of yuan earmarked by central government for post-quake reconstruction, are already beginning to crack.

“We are calling on higher levels of government, Party discipline inspection committees, and law enforcement agencies to come out and conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the problems we have raised above,” the villagers wrote in an open letter, posted on the Internet and signed by more than 100 residents.

The villagers are complaining of cracks that have appeared in prefabricated concrete slabs, walls, structural concrete beams, and roofs across large areas of new housing constructed in Xiaoyudong township.

Some of the bathrooms and kitchens had already sprung serious water leaks, while structurally important parts of balconies had fallen off in some apartments, the residents said.

“The buildings have only just been completed and already they’re showing cracks,” one resident said. “We haven’t even moved in yet. They are still fitting them out, and already we have these kinds of problems.”

“We told [the construction company]. But they have ways of covering this up,” he said.

Moving in anyway

Villagers said some of their number had moved in to the apartments in spite of safety concerns.

“They don’t know what else to do. Their own houses have been completely demolished,” the Caoba resident said.

Villagers have accused the construction company of using substandard and even fake concrete, which was being delivered to the construction site in the middle of the night.

Protests to local government over these allegations have already resulted in clashes between protesters and the authorities, they said……. (more details from Radio Free Asia)

China factory closed amid lead poisoning fears- at least 88 children tested positive


AFP, Mar. 15, 2010-

BEIJING — Authorities in southwestern China have closed a factory after nearly 100 people — most of them children — tested positive for lead poisoning, state media said Monday.

A total of 94 people in Sichuan province, including 88 children, were found to have excessive levels of lead in their blood and officials suspect a nearby factory may be at fault, the province’s news website scol.com.cn reported.

Seven children — the youngest of which is just over one year old — are being treated in hospital and the others are being monitored at home.

Local officials said a preliminary investigation had revealed a firm making lead out of used batteries — Longchang Zhongyi Alloy Company — could be the cause of the health scare.

It was not immediately clear how the residents were poisoned but officials are currently testing surface and well water, vegetables and soil within 800 metres of the plant.

It is the latest in a series of lead poisoning incidents across China that has highlighted the human cost of pollution in a nation that has so far prioritised economic growth over environmental protection.

Last year, authorities in central Henan province said they would relocate 15,000 people away from smelting plants in one area after nearly 1,000 children tested positive for lead poisoning.

Excessive levels of lead are considered hazardous particularly to children, who can experience stunted growth and even mental retardation……. (more details from AFP)

China Church Banned in Former Sichuan Earthquake Disaster Zone


ChinaAid, March 1, 2010 -

SICHUAN
–  Made famous by the devastating Sichuan Earthquake of 2008, which leveled homes and killed thousands of Chinese citizens, An County is no stranger to disaster and repression. In the peaceful village of Hongshi in An County, faithful house church Christians have met in the home of pastor Gan Yonggui for fellowship and prayer for many years. House Church Christians were instrumental in providing care and comfort for fellow villagers, who lost children, parents, and relatives in the quake. In that time of crisis, the Chinese government seemed to soften on some controls, allowing a few faith organizations to provide relief. Just two years later, their goodwill toward the faithful seems to have dissipated entirely.

On February 8, 2010, officials from the Sichuan Bureau of Ethnicity and Religious Affairs came to the home of Pastor Gan Yonggui in Anxian. They issued a formal notice of administrative punishment, announcing their decision to ban the house church Christian fellowship meeting in his home.

Read the full translation of the Anxian Bureau of Ethnicity and Religious Affairs’ Notice, issued February 8, 2010…… (more details from China Aid)