Friday, 31 October 2008

Eggs, beef, chicken, fish...what next in the melamine craze?

So apparently fish is the newest food stuff to become the focus of a melamine scare, and an "insider" source has told the Shanghai Evening News that adding melamine to animal feed has been common practice for the last five years, meaning that we could be looking at something of an epidemic if other live stock are found to have similar levels of the chemical.

Shanghai is to "carry out full-scale checks on feed used in the fisheries industry," said the Shanghai Daily. The fear is that melamine, the chemical that is to blame for all the kidney-stone related milk powder cases, could "spread to seafood". Although the use of the word "spread" is slightly misleading, as it implies a degree of contagiousness. If melamine is found in fish, it won't have spread, it'll just have been discovered.

Last week eggs were found to contain melamine as well, and it's thought to have been fed to the chickens in a feed-additive in order to boost protein readings without the annoyance and hassle that would come with actually boosting protein levels.

Shanghai Daily: City fish food checked for melamine content
Keep on reading...

Friday, 24 October 2008

Student Brawl in Shanghai: Part Two

A brawl between Chinese and Japanese students on Monday night has led to the forced closing of a Japanese restaurant on the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) campus.

The owner of the restaurant, who wished not to be named, said: "We have been told to close and change our name by the university's administrative office for safety reasons."

The decision, according to the owner, came after the Japanese students who were allegedly involved in Monday night's fight ate dinner there, leading the school to fear retaliation from Chinese students.

SISU released a statement yesterday confirming that Japanese and Chinese students were involved but that no one was hurt in what they called an "accidental student dispute".

The statement comes after three alleged eye witness reports, circulated on the internet since early on Tuesday morning, claimed that two Chinese students were seriously injured and hospitalised as a result of the fighting.

According to one post, around 10 Japanese students attacked Chinese students after drinking at the nearby restaurant. After leaving they sat and sang outside dormitory buildings at Xianda, a private university affiliated with SISU, angering a number of Chinese students.

"Ten Japanese students flooded into the dormitory and beat two male students so badly they had to be hospitalised," said one blog posting.

SISU's report calls for all departments to "direct leaders, teachers and students to deal with the few untrue reports on the internet correctly."

Despite conflicting statements, eye witnesses have confirmed that the dispute ended up outside the SISU Guesthouse, where most foreign students studying at the university stay.

One eyewitness said: "There were more than 100 students gathered outside, and lots more watching from windows. It was hard to tell what was happening though with so many people there."

Official sources will not release any information about who was involved in the fight.

Shanghai Daily
SISU Notification of the Japanese Chinese Student Dispute (Chinese)
One of the "eye witness" blog posts
Keep on reading...

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Chinese and Japanese students clash in Shanghai

Can't seem to find anything about it in the English blogging world, but the Chinese blogs based in Shanghai are being overrun by stories about a street fight that kicked off on Monday night between Japanese and Chinese students at Shanghai International Studies University (SISU).

According to one alleged eye witness report (that's being copied and pasted across blogs throughout the city, but with no link to where the report came from), Japanese students clashed with Chinese and ended up with a crowd of more than 100 people outside the foreign student dorms, where, apparently, people in the dorm starting throwing glasses down onto the crowd and three students – one Chinese and two Japanese – were injured, although how seriously I still don't know.

Some reports have claimed that more than ten police cars attended the scene.

It's another reminder of the racial tension that goes on between the two countries in China. Japanese and Koreans make up a huge proportion of the tens of thousands of students that study in the city, but there is still a huge amount of animosity between the groups.

I've just heard about this, and we're trying to verify what exactly happened, but for the time being reports (in Chinese) can be found across Chinese blogs, below are some translations of replies to these blog postings.

Micheal: "Japanese pigs, if you see one, hit one."

Leo: "[a drawing done paint] Kill."

Libraandy: "Good, good, good. Beat the small Japanese to death." Keep on reading...

Monday, 20 October 2008

Foreign hacks have it alright

Really quick post, on something that I will write about in more detail later, but I have been wondering what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) would end up doing on or around October 17 for quite a long time. Now I've found out.

Just to explain, October 17 was the day that these regulations came to a glorious end.

The, slightly long-winded, "Regulations on Reporting Activties[sic] in China by Foreign Journalists During the beijing[sic] Olympic Games and the Preparatory Period" were first issued at the end of 2006, way before the start of the Olympics, to try and make China a more habitable environment for foreign journalists.

Of course, regulations like these for Chinese journalists were never released, and the whole issue of whether or not they would be renewed has been pondered over for some time.

But on Friday the MFA showed its hand: they're staying the same (roughly), but also allowing Ministry officials to be interviewed without prior written consent, only verbal agreement.

Of course, there may be some differences, I'm only going off of this Xinhua story at the moment, as I can't seem to find a copy of the regulations on the MFA's site, I will have a trawl later though and see if we can't dig up something interesting in them.
Keep on reading...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

The quietest newsroom in the world

I started an internship at the Shanghai Daily this week - one of the reasons I haven't posted in a while - and I've spent the time since desperately trying to find some form of work that I can do other than rocking back and forth in a chair...

But I suppose for a first week it's not been too uneventful, it doesn't help that they have no real idea what to do with interns though. When I arrived on Tuesday I was shown a desk, a computer, how the server worked, and then left to it. To what, at that point, neither I nor the Shanghai Daily knew, I think they were just happy to get me to sit down and not bother them for a minute.

That didn't last long and I managed to work my way round the metro (city news) desk reporters in about 15 minutes, pleasantly whoring myself out for any work that was going at all. There wasn't anything.

I suppose it would be useful to describe the newsroom at the Shanghai Daily: it looks like a newsroom, but it doesn't sound like a newsroom. The general hustling, shouting, swearing and stressing is nowhere and is replaced by an eerie subdued murmur. I can actually hear the news on TV from the other side of the room.

I think this comes from the fact the Shanghai Daily's metro desk tends to do a lot of rehashing stories from the Chinese media and not so much reporting of its own, meaning reporters don't need to leave the office much, and just make a couple of calls to verify a story.

Despite that, I have huge amount of respect for them, writing news in a foreign language (especially if, like many of the reporters, you've never been to an English speaking country) is a pretty hard task.

That said, On Thursday I finally got something to do and teamed up with a young reporter who just graduated from university this year. We went and covered a seminar where an Australian public health academic was talking about tobacco control in Australia, and I think was supposed to become a discussion between him and the Chinese academics there about cooperation between the two countries. Well, the language barrier hit home a bit and it descended into a discussion between the Chinese academics for a good couple of hours, but it was interesting. They called for the media to take a more active role in reporting findings about tobacco control so as to pressure the government into taking a more active approach to tightening regulations or even introducing laws in the area.

So I got to write a couple of hundred words at least, which was better than nothing. Friday was a pretty uneventful day though, so we'll see what happens next week.

Media aid needed in smoke-out campaign
Keep on reading...

Monday, 6 October 2008

Explosion in Century Park

Dongfang Daily is reporting that a truck carrying fireworks exploded yesterday in Pudong's Century Park, leaving one dead, bit no word on if anyone else was injured in the blast.

In other news, the British Communist Party held a party for China's National Day, celebrating 59 years of Communist rule in the country. The head of the British party, Harpal Brar, gave a statement claiming that China has achieved more than a lot of other countries in the past 50 years, and said "China has achieved the basic human rights, it is a living example of socialism."

He went on to decry Western capitalism and described China as a bastion of success, compared to capitalist countries which are currently facing "chaos and despondency".

Of course, no mention of China's capitalist leanings, or its inexorable ties to the Western "chaos".

And of course, the end of Golden Week brings praise on the country's tourist industry, with record numbers of people travelling around China, battling others for train, plane and bus tickets.
According to the People's Daily, 18.29 million tourists visited 119 cities. Beijing got most of them, with the Olympic village sites the "must-see places for every Chinese".

The Shanghai Daily makes clear that they also gt their fair share though, with 5 million visitors, an increase of 7% on last year.

In non-news-news, I've had my first experience of crime in the city: my bike got stolen. I should have listened to the bike man and got another lock, but whoever stole it really didn't have any taste, it was the worst bike I've seen in China (which I thought would make it steal-proof). I was wrong.

Truck explodes killing one (Chinese)
British commies celebrate China's National Day (English)
Lots of people travelled around the country (English)
And lots of people went to Shanghai too (English)
Keep on reading...

Friday, 3 October 2008

The Olympic petit morte (part two)

Well, whereas my earlier rant on the topic railed against the lack of sporting facilities that surround the prestigious university, this one is not an apology, but a clarification that there are facilities around – albeit they're kept very secret.

The Jiangwan Sports Centre 江湾体育中心 is hidden about 25 minutes walk from the main Handan Road campus, behind the goliath new Wanda shopping complex. I say it's hidden, as well as secret, as no-one I've asked about pools or gyms seemed to know of its existence, for the tip I have to thank Charlie as acting as a proxy between me and someone who does know of it, but whom I do not know.

This is a bit strange, as it's been around for some time. According to its website, it was originally the Shanghai Stadium 上海市体育场, which I'm pretty sure is somewhere else now. It was built in 1935, and in 1948 played host to the "Old China 7th National Games". It's now been rebuilt, and opened again in May 2008, which may account for noone knowing about it, but still.

If I had a camera (mine is still in a state of disrepair) I would have posted some pictures of it, but it's a brand spanking new-looking outdoor complex with a main stadium, indoor hall, 5-a-side football pitches, basketball, tennis, and - most importantly - an Olympic sized swimming pool.

With such amazing facilities, surely this is where all the post-Olympic sporting frenzy is going on. Not quite. It was empty. Dead. Deserted. Security guards on the gate, a few people hoovering the football pitches, and one old man smoking a cigarette in a traditional garden section, but other than that, noone.

Whether or not this is because of the week holiday that China is on at the moment, I do not know, the road outside seemed as busy and bustling as ever, but inside was a ghost town (a very clean ghost town I'll add).

This didn't bother me one bit though, so I headed into the swimming pool where there were a grand total of 5 swimmers. For anyone interested, here's some information for getting there/prices etc.

Address: Corner of Guohe and Zhengli Roads, Yangpu District. 国和路/政立路,杨浦区 (You can't miss it if you're on this corner).

Opening Times: 7am - 9pm

Tickets: Single entry 35 Yuan, One month 600 Yuan, 3 Month 1800 yuan, One Year 3000 Yuan.

Length: 50m.

Lanes: Not sure, none when I went, but it was empty, might change on time of day.

As with all swimming pools in shanghai, you need a City of Shanghai Health Card (You can get them for 5 kuai in any swimming pool)

Jiangwan Sports Centre (Chinese, apparently there is an English option but it doesn't work)
Keep on reading...