Stories tagged China


Bird flu rears its head again in China

Bird flu death in China
Bird flu death in ChinaCourtesy broterham
A two year old girl in northern China has tested positive for bird flu. Early this month, January 5, a 19-year-old Beijing woman died of bird flu after handling poultry. She had purchased ducks at a market in Hebei Province, which neighbors Beijing. Although she had close contact with 116 people, no one around her has fallen ill.

Pandemic possibilities worry officials

Human-to-human transmission of avian flu is rare, but officials worry the virus could mutate and become a deadly pandemic. H5N1 has led to 248 deaths worldwide since 2003, including 21 in China.

Source articles:
Click this link to read all CNN articles about bird flu


The 15 meter shantungosaurus: but if it were the new 19.3 meter dino... you could probably lie down in it's mouth. Very big.
The 15 meter shantungosaurus: but if it were the new 19.3 meter dino... you could probably lie down in it's mouth. Very big.Courtesy Vasilis
I can’t say whether that confusion is on the part of the Chinese state media, AFP news, or my own brain.

Apparently a massive deposit of dinosaur bones (the world’s largest in terms of area) has been found in China. Excavations at the site have unearthed about 7,600 individual bones from the late Cretaceous. The remains include examples of armored anklyosaurs, our favorite tyrannosaurs, and some spectacular hadrosaurs.

The aforementioned confusion arises with the hadrosaurs, I think. According to the article about the find (and I say “the article” because every science news site is running more or less an identical piece), “included in the find was the world’s largest ‘platypus’—or ‘duck-billed dinosaur’ in Chinese—ever discovered measuring 9 meters high with a wingspan of over 16 meters.”

Say what? I… think… something awesome is hidden in there, but someone here is confused: at least me, and perhaps China and/or AFP.

It turns out that our friend the platypus did indeed live during the cretaceous, alongside the dinosaurs, but I don’t think that’s what they’re referring to. “Wingspan” further complicates things, as neither platypuses nor duck-billed dinosaurs (hadrosaurs) really have the body type associated with a wingspan (you probably wouldn’t give the limb length of a beaver or a cow in terms of “wingspan,” right?)

Also “‘duck-billed dinosaur’ in Chinese”? I’m pretty sure that all of those words are, in fact, English. Yes, yes they are.

I have the feeling that someone involved in this story was really struggling with a second language, and the other person wasn’t helping at all.

Anyway… nobody cares about that, am I right? You clicked on this post because it said “dinosaur,” and I ruined it, didn’t I? Well, I’m sorry, but that was bothering me. I mean, “platypus”? Whatever.

But, yeah, this is pretty cool. China is a freaking dinosaur factory, and I’m into it. And this 9 meter high hadrosaur sounds neat. From what I could find, this guy, the shantungosaurus, is more or less the largest hadrosaur so far, and it measures about 50 feet long and maybe 7 meters tall (sorry to switch from imperial to metric there, but that’s how I roll). The shantungosaurus was also found in Cretaceous strata in China, so it might be reasonable to assume that it was similarly proportioned to this new dinosaur, and if that’s the case, this thing would be… about 19.3 meters long? Does that sound right? That’s about 63 feet long! That’s… huge!

Long-necked sauropods, like diplodocus or apatosaurus, reached lengths like that all the time, but for a two-legged hadrosaur 63 feet is massive. The T. rex, for comparison, maxed out at about 45 feet in length (I know, I know, apples and oranges, but we’re looking for some reference, aren’t we?)

The information on the site seems pretty bare-bones at this point, but it’ll be interesting to see what else comes out of the find.


China National Space Administration logo
China National Space Administration logoCourtesy CNSA
Sometime later this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow, China will launch its third manned space mission, Shenzhou-7 into space along with three astronauts – one of whom will perform China's first ever space walk.

The goal of the mission is to allow the Chinese program to develop the skills needed for the construction of a space station and eventual manned trips to the moon.

With the first manned Shenzhou mission in 2003, China joined the United States and the former Soviet Union as the only nations capable of launching astronauts into space.


Deadly milk formula: Melamine added to Chinese baby milk is deadly.
Deadly milk formula: Melamine added to Chinese baby milk is deadly.Courtesy kirikiri

Babies are dying

Four babies have died after drinking milk powder contaminated with melamine. Melamine is a cheap plastic made from oil, and when added to powdered milk, looks like protein in tests. Melamine was in the news over a year ago when pet food from China containing melamine was killing people's pets. In an attempt to regain public confidence, China executed a top drug regulator who was taking bribes to approve substandard medicines, including an antibiotic blamed for at least 10 deaths.

So far 19 people have been arrested while 78 others have been interrogated, according to Yang Zongyong, vice governor of the northern province of Hebei where Sanlu is based.

"We will severely punish and discipline those people and workers who have acted illegally," Health Minister Gao said Saturday. Beijing AFP

Parents are furious

After a month of pride in China's national achievements with hosting the olympics, the food scandal has angry citizens posting quotes like:

"Drink a glass of milk a day, wipe out a country!"

"Foreign milk costs money, domestic milk costs lives" The Independent

Inspection free and government approved

Until a week ago, Sanlu's baby milk formula came with a seal stating "no inspection needed": their 1100 tests met the highest possible standards of government approval.
"So the question should really be whether the victims can sue the Chinese government."

Somebody should have to pay

"In an unprecedented stand yesterday that will test the Communist Party's limits on civil society, more than 70 human rights lawyers from 23 provinces and municipalities announced they will help parents whose babies are sick or have developed kidney stones from drinking tainted infant formula" (read more in the Sunday Herald)

Two provinces in China hit last May by a devastating earthquake were hit again early Saturday. The 6.1 magnitude tremor struck around 0730 GMT damaging more than 100,000 homes according to the Xinhua news agency. Communications have been sketchy and rescue efforts delayed by heavy rains in the region. So far 22 people have been reported killed.

More on the latest quake from the BBC
Latest from Xinhua news

A massive algae bloom is choking China’s Yellow Sea and threatening some Olympic events. Many Chinese cities dump untreated sewage into the Sea. Rich in nutrients, the sewage makes the algae grow like crazy. The problem goes beyond the inconvenience to boaters. The growing algae changes the near-shore habitat. And when all this algae dies, the bacteria that decays it sucks oxygen out of the water, killing fish and creating a dead zone.


A million forced to flee flooding in China

Torrential downpours have severely affected nine provinces in China. China's civil affairs ministry says nearly 1.3 million people have now fled their homes in the hardest hit regions as the bad weather continues. The flooding in the Pearl river delta is the worst for 50 years. The flooding has submerged large areas of farm land and destroyed 6,600 homes in Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces. As of early Sunday morning, 55 deaths were reported.

Click this link to read more and see a video:
Recent flooding in Southern China (BBC News).
Click here to see BBC photos.

The region normally experiences heavy rainfall about this time every year, but meteorological authorities said this was the worst in five decades.

Flooding has affected many cities in the Pearl River Delta -- home to many export manufacturing plants -- and the western part of Guangdong province. (Reuters via Yahoo News)


Chinese earthquake location
Chinese earthquake locationCourtesy USGS
The Tangjiashan “quake lake”
formed by a landslide during China’s devastating May 12th earthquake is draining slowly thanks to a sluice constructed by engineers there. Fears of the lake bursting from its earthen dam pushed authorities to find a quick and effective way to release the pressure building from the backed-up water. More than a million people living in the area were under threat of being inundated with millions of cubic meters of water.

As work crews start construction of a second drainage channel, engineers are closely watching downstream riverbanks and bridges for any sign of stress from the surging waters.

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake killed over 60,000 people and more than 17,000 are still missing.

AP story
BBC report
Maps and photos of lake region