Maria Holland

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Timely News

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2010 at 1:04 am

I know I haven’t been posting much on here.  I am very happy, though, that I have resumed my private journal semi-regularly!  I will probably not be writing a 700-page book this year, but you gotta start somewhere. 

There is a long list of half-baked post ideas, lists that I’ve started, and articles that I want to share, however.  They’ll come out slowly, or die a slow death of obsolescence.  One of the two. 

While this is still timely, have you heard about the recent mining disaster in China?  The successful rescue of the 33 Chilean miners was the highlight of my entire week, but then a much sadder story followed on its heels in China on the 17th.

Deadly Blast Traps Miners in China

YUZHOU, China (AP) — Frantically working rescuers feared the 11 Chinese miners trapped by a deadly gas blast may have suffocated or been buried by coal dust, as loved ones kept a vigil Sunday and the death toll rose to 26 with five more bodies recovered.

The Chinese mine drama unfolded as the world still was celebrating Chile’s successful rescue of 33 miners trapped for more than two months. Chinese media had detailed coverage as the Chilean men emerged to cheers.

Du Bo, deputy chief of the rescue headquarters, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency that hopes that the others were still alive after Saturday’s early morning blast were slim.

. . .

Two dozen police officers were stationed outside the mine’s main gate Sunday, preventing anyone from entering the site without authorization. About 50 of the trapped miners’ friends and relatives quietly waited outside, some of them tearful. Murmured discussion of the mine’s poor safety record could be heard.

One relative, He Qiaofei, the mother of a missing 20-year-old miner who has worked in the mine for about a year, expressed frustration about the mine.

"This place is not even safe," He said. "They don’t care about the workers’ safety, they only care about their production."

Two years ago, another gas blast at the same mine killed 23 people, state media said.

On Sunday, it wasn’t clear how far underground the workers were trapped in the mine in the city of Yuzhou, about 430 miles (690 kilometers) south of Beijing. The bodies of all 26 people confirmed dead have been recovered.

The gas level inside the mine was 40 percent, far higher than the normal level of about 1 percent, state media said.

China celebrated its own stunning mine rescue earlier this year, when 115 miners were pulled from a flooded mine in the northern province of Shanxi after more than a week underground. The miners survived by eating sawdust, tree bark, paper and even coal. Some strapped themselves to the walls of the shafts with their belts to avoid drowning while they slept.

But it was a rare bright spot. About 2,600 people were killed in Chinese mining accidents last year, even as the country’s leaders have been making a high-profile push to improve mine safety.

Premier Wen Jiabao this summer ordered mining bosses into the shafts and pits with their workers or else risk severe punishment.

Mining fatalities decreased in recent years as China closed many illegal mines or absorbed them into state-owned companies, but deaths increased in the first half of this year. At least 515 people have been killed nationwide in coal mines alone so far this year, not including Saturday’s blast.

I guess there are some causes for hope.  The stifling of dissent, especially those potent forms such as “mourning loved ones”, is troubling, but I like the idea of those responsible for adherence to safety standards working in the mines. 

And, it hasn’t been 15 days yet. 

Congratulations, Liu XiaoBo

In Uncategorized on October 10, 2010 at 11:47 am

I was following the announcement of the Nobel Prizes this year (wondering if Bono was going to follow in the illustrious footsteps of our president), and was happy to see Liu XiaoBo recognized. 

Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.  For the same thing, he was also awarded a fourth prison sentence from the PRC. 

This prison sentence is for the Charter 08, “a manifesto initially signed by over 350 Chinese intellectuals and human rights activists to promote political reform and democratization in the People’s Republic of China.”

The authors and signatories called for 19 changes to improve human rights in China:

  1. Amending the Constitution.
  2. Separation of powers.
  3. Legislative democracy.
  4. An independent judiciary.
  5. Public control of public servants.
  6. Guarantee of human rights.
  7. Election of public officials.
  8. Rural–urban equality.
  9. Freedom of association.
  10. Freedom of assembly.
  11. Freedom of expression.
  12. Freedom of religion.
  13. Civic education.
  14. Protection of private property.
  15. Financial and tax reform.
  16. Social security.
  17. Protection of the environment.
  18. A federated republic.
  19. Truth in reconciliation.

Anyway, China was really upset with a guy like this getting such important international acclaim.  They threatened the Norwegian government with “negative reactions” – to which the Norwegian foreign minister replied that the Nobel Prize nomination committee is independent from the Norwegian government.  He supposedly added that said independence may be difficult for the Chinese government to understand.

Oh, snap.

But anyway, the reason I’m writing about this is because, taking advantage of the fact that I am no longer a resident of China, I decided to spread the news of Liu’s prize.  The Chinese government’s censorship went into full effect immediately after the announcement, so not many Chinese (and possibly even Liu himself) know of the award. 

So I put it on my QQ status:

“Did you hear?  Liu XiaoBo won the Nobel Peace Prize – the first Chinese person!”

Today I got my first comment:

“That should be the second Chinese person.  In 1989 there was a monk, but his name can’t be written here.  He was also Chinese; he never said that he wasn’t Chinese!”

That was not the response I was expecting.  Very interesting . . .

Chinese Generosity

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have been trying to get the world’s billionaires to pledge to give away half of their fortunes.  Recently, they went to China to get those guys on board – and the trip apparently didn’t go so well. 

I just read a NYT article on it, in which they interviewed a few of China’s billionaires.  (Only ones who agreed to participate agreed to be interviewed, though, so there was definitely some self-selection bias). 

The article contained the best description of Chinese generosity that I’ve ever seen:

It’s like water. If you have only a cup, you keep it to yourself. If you have a barrel, you share it with your family. And if you have a river, you share it with everyone.

– Chen Guangbiao, on money

Compare and contrast with the American/Western/Christian view on generosity – go.