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By Tao Ziwei, Luo Guoping and Tang Ziyi / Jan 21, 2019 12:35 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A city in China’s Northern Shanxi province will halt parts of its coal production that account for 4% of China’s total national steam coal supply, a local energy administration announced Tuesday.

Steam coal is used for both power and heat – and the city of Yulin will halt production of an estimated 150 million tons of it by Chinese New Year.

The halt comes after a coal mine collapsed in the city on Jan. 12, killing 21 people. The reason for the collapse is still under investigation.

The purchase price of coal per ton at mines in Yulin increased by 50 to 70 yuan ($7.37-$10) after the incident, according to industry consulting company Fenwei Energy.

Related: What Caused China’s Coal Crunch?

 


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ENVIRONMENT

By Runhua Zhao / Jan 15, 2019 12:44 PM / Environment

China’s moon explorer Chang’e-4 sent back a photo on Tuesday – and it’s of a plant.

The picture is of a sprouting cotton plant in a part of the spacecraft sectioned off for experiments, CCTV reported

This is Chang’e-4's first biological experiment on the surface of the moon, but the explorer has also brought potato seeds and fruit-fly eggs, so it shouldn’t be its last.

A Chang'e-5 explorer is also expected to land on the moon by late 2019.

China also plans to launch Mars missions in 2020, China's State Council Information Office said this Monday

Related: China Makes Historic Touchdown on Moon’s Far Side

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By Zhao Runhua / Jan 08, 2019 03:06 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Update: 8:25 p.m.

Huawei has denied reports that it is working with Yuan Longping to cultivate rice. 

It did not say whether rotating chairman Hu Houkun had misspoke or was misquoted in earlier Chinese media reports.

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Original report: 3:06 p.m.

Huawei is bringing the internet of things (IoT) to … rice.

The company has been working with Yuan Longping, China’s “Father of Hybrid Rice,” since August 2018, rotating chairman Hu Houkun announced Monday.

The telecoms giant is offering digital assistance to a project that aims to solve widespread soil salination problems by increasing certain rice varieties’ salt tolerance, Hu said. Huawei is lending meteorological equipment and underground monitoring devices, and its big data centers will tailor agricultural plans.

The partnership aims to cultivate 16 million acres of arable land out of 247 million acres of salinized land.

If all goes to plan, the new arable soil could increase rice supplies by 30 billion kilograms per year, which could potentially feed 80 million people, Yuan said, according to Chinese media.

An initial project is in trial operation in China’s eastern Shandong province.

See more of our Huawei coverage here


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By Li Yi / Jan 04, 2019 10:11 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Although the economy seems foggy, at least the air cleared up in 2018.

The Beijing Municipal Ecological Environmental Bureau on Friday released statistics (link in Chinese) on the capital’s overall air quality. The figures show that the average concentration of PM2.5 in Beijing last year was 12.1% less than it was in 2017.

The average concentration of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and PM10 also all dropped in 2018 compared with 2017, down 25.0%, 8.7% and 7.1% respectively.

The release also suggests that the occurrence of heavy pollution saw a significant drop in 2018. Last year was the first time since 2013 that there was no heavy pollution lasting three days or more in a row, and no heavy PM2.5 pollution for 195 consecutive days.

March and November were the most polluted months of the year. The northeastern part of the city had the best air, whereas the southwestern area was the most polluted.

Heavy pollution in 2018 was noted on 15 days in Beijing. In 2013, it occurred on 58 days (link in Chinese).

Related: Chart of the Day: Beijing’s Air Pollution Level Dips to New Low

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By Charlotte Yang / Dec 27, 2018 05:56 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese authorities announced Thursday that 917 people were punished after a two-month round of inspections for failing to implement environmental protection regulations or for related violations.

Members of local party committees and local governments as well as employees of state-owned enterprises were among those punished, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

The ministry said it had conducted inspections in seven provinces including Tianjin, Shanxi and Hunan in April and May last year. Of the violations they found, around half were related to local officials not implementing rules or performing required inspections, while around a third were related to new decisions that went against laws and regulations.

The city of Dalian in Liaoning province, for example, was found to have illegally reclaimed 2436 hectares (6019.5 acres) of land 2011 to March 2017, including some projects that did not even have the approval of local officials, the ministry said.

The ministry said most of the 917 were faced “party disciplinary actions,”and some were being further investigated.

To tackle heavy pollution, China’s central government has stepped up surprise inspections to monitor local governments’ compliance with central policies.

Related: China Isn't Relaxing Its War on Smog, Environment Ministry Says

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By Zhao Runhua / Dec 26, 2018 05:42 PM / Environment

Illustration: VCG

Illustration: VCG

An environmental restoration project in Jiangsu turned instead into a chemical dumping ground after a local company discarded “dangerous” waste in the area.

Residents in Taixing, in Jiangsu, said they noticed bizarre odors and unusually dark soil starting in 2016. They suspected the cause was a compound dumped by local company Youlian Fine Chemical, CCTV reported Tuesday. 

The Taixing government had been planning to restore the natural environment of the area where the signs of contamination were later discovered.

A Tsinghua University team examined the waste and soil and found ”dangerous” levels of the chemical cyanamide, which is used in medicines and pesticides.

A CCTV investigation found that Youlian Fine Chemical dumped around 8,000 tons of cyanamide in the area, including over 1,000 tons under a sports field.

After residents complained, the Taixing municipal conservation bureau ordered the company to remove the waste — but only 80 tons were removed, CCTV said.

It has not been made public whether Youlian Fine Chemical has received any additional punishment.

Related: Conservationist Seeks Truth About Contaminated Soil in Henan


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By Han Wei / Dec 26, 2018 06:16 AM / Environment

Photo:VCG

Photo:VCG

The vast bay areas along China’s 18,000 kilometer coastline are facing severe pollution threats, according to a report submitted to the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the country’s parliament.

About 10% of China’s gulf areas are seriously polluted and less than 40% of the natural coastline has been properly protected against pollution, the report said.

Diversity of the ecological systems of the coastal areas, such as mangroves, coral reefs and wetlands, faces degradation because of rising risks of oil and chemical leaks, the report said.

The report called for more long-term supervision and stronger law enforcement to enhance protection of the inshore areas.

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By Zhao Runhua / Dec 25, 2018 03:52 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A new report on marine life in China has come to a disturbing conclusion: There are not plenty of fish in China’s seas.

Particularly the Bohai Sea, in north China — which is “almost out of” large fish due to overfishing and pollution, according to a report from a sub-committee of the National People’s Congress.

The report blames excessive exploitation of marine resources, which persist despite state initiatives to protect the environment, Caixin has learned.

The population of small fish has also significantly declined, and some heavily polluted areas of the Bohai Sea now show no trace of marine life at all.

There were early signs of the dwindling stock of China’s fisheries: the increased fishing by Chinese boats in other countries’ marine exclusive economic zones. The Ministry of Agriculture issued a notice in November to remind Chinese fishing vessels to stay out of these zones during the G20 conference in Argentina to avoid “law-breaking foreign affairs incidents.”

Related: Fujian Chemical Spill Was 10 Times Larger Than Initially Reported

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By Teng Jing Xuan / Dec 19, 2018 06:21 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China’s agriculture ministry has responded to reports that its cafeteria doesn’t serve genetically-modified food by denying that it gives staff special treatment, Voice of China reports.

“To my understanding, we don’t have a special supply channel. We eat what everyone else eats. It’s all purchased from the market,” Zhang Taolin, vice-minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said Wednesday, according to Voice of China. Zhang also reiterated that genetically modified organisms that pass international food safety standards pose no additional risk to consumers.

Voice of China didn’t specify which reports Zhang was referring too. But Cui Yongyuan, a popular TV host, has posted alleged evidence that the Ministry of Agriculture cafeteria avoids GMO food.

Suspicion of GMOs runs deep among the Chinese public, whose anxiety over their food supply has been amplified by major food safety scandals. While the country imports a large volume of GMO soybeans each year, its government has abandoned GMO research projects and only allows a handful of GMO crops to be cultivated within its borders.

Related: Chinese State Newspapers Argue Over Genetically Modified Soybeans

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By Noelle Mateer / Dec 17, 2018 05:01 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Beijing’s new airport, being built south of the capital, gets most of the aviation-related attention these days.

But another prospective airport may find a home south of the capital, as well. Way south of the capital.

A Chinese expedition has determined that “a huge blue ice area” in Antarctica is suitable for China’s first large permanent airport on the continent, Xinhua reported Sunday.

The airport would allow China to fly its own large Y-20 transport aircraft, as well as Airbus and Boeing planes, without having to adjust landing gear. There are currently eight blue-ice airports already in Antarctica, which belong to other countries, expedition team leader Sun Bo told Xinhua.

The airport will complement China’s current four research bases in Antarctica.

Related: China Aims to Double Its Number of Airports

 


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By Tang Ziyi / Dec 17, 2018 11:41 AM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Over 6,000 homes have been damaged and 629 people evacuated as of 11 p.m. on Sunday, due to earthquakes in the southwestern province of Sichuan, the China News Service reported.

An additional 17 people were reported injured, the Ministry of Emergency Management said Monday

The magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck Sichuan’s Yibin city at 12:46 p.m. on Sunday and was followed by a 3.2 magnitude aftershock at 8:16 p.m. the same day, according to China Earthquake Networks Center


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By Tang Ziyi / Dec 10, 2018 11:48 AM / Environment

Northeast China's Chaoyang city. Photo: VCG.

Northeast China's Chaoyang city. Photo: VCG.

An explosion of natural gas killed one person and injured four in an apartment in Chaoyang, a city in Northeastern China’s Liaoning province, local police announced Monday on Weibo. The reason for the incident is being investigated. 


By Noelle Mateer / Dec 03, 2018 12:06 PM / Environment

The city of Wenling. Photo: VCG

The city of Wenling. Photo: VCG

Police have detained two people in Eastern China’s Zhejiang province in connection to the death of a pollution inspector, China Daily reported Monday.

The inspector, Chen Ben, 30, was investigating pollution in the city of Wenling when he was run over with a car and killed on Saturday night, according to a WeChat post from local authorities.

Police have now detained two suspects, surnamed Wang and Jiang, who were in the car when the alleged crime occurred.

The police department’s post had been viewed over 100,000 times by Sunday afternoon, with many netizens commenting to express their disgust with the suspects, according to China Daily.

Related: Former Environmental Inspector Calls on Ministry Teams to Work With Businesses to Control Pollution

 


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By Ren Qiuyu / Nov 30, 2018 06:18 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

An explosion Wednesday that killed 23 people and injured 22 in Hebei was caused by a gas leak at a plant run by a subsidiary of state-owned ChemChina, officials said Friday.

The admission contradicted earlier state-media reports that a truck — carrying the flammable gas acetylene — caused the blast. Those media reports have since been deleted.

Instead, the explosion is being blamed on a gas leak at a factory owned by ChemChina subsidiary Shenghua Chemical Company.

Officials and ChemChina said a leak of vinyl chloride — a colorless, highly flammable gas also known as chloroethene — met an open flame and set off a chain explosion of trucks that were transporting chemicals to plants in the area around Zhangjiakou, a city in Hebei about 120 miles northwest of Beijing.

In a statement, ChemChina took responsibility for the leak and apologized, saying it would carefully investigate the incident and “make every effort to cooperate in the rescue of the injured and do everything we can to reduce losses.”


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By Bloomberg / Nov 28, 2018 11:07 AM / Environment

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Photo: VCG

The researcher who shocked the world with claims that he was the first to genetically modify human embryos drew early support from Chinese government initiatives designed to build up the country’s nascent biotechnology industry.

Scientist He Jiankui, who said he edited the genes of twin girls to shield them from HIV, had participated in a program designed to capitalize on training Chinese nationals get at Western universities. Additionally, a company that He founded has received government funding. It isn’t known how much He’s experiments cost or how they were paid for.

While it isn’t uncommon for researchers to have ties to state programs in China, government officials have sought to distance themselves from He after widespread condemnation from other scientists.

A Chinese official said on Tuesday that the country prohibited gene editing for fertility purposes in 2003. In the U.S. and Europe, genetic editing of human embryos is barred.

The news arrived at a sensitive time in Chinese and U.S. relations, with President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping days away from a pivotal trade summit. China’s efforts to nurture homegrown innovation has chafed U.S. officials, who’ve warned against its talent-recruitment programs and other support for rivals to important engines of the U.S. economy.

The unfolding controversy over He’s research could heighten a battle for global technological dominance between the world’s two largest economies.

Related: Investigation Launched Into Baby DNA Editing Claims


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By Tanner Brown / Nov 28, 2018 09:20 AM / Environment

At least 22 people were killed and 22 others wounded early Wednesday in an explosion near a chemical plant in the northern city of Zhangjiakou, in Hebei province, CGTN reported.

The explosion happened near the Hebei Shenghua Chemical plant in the city’s Qiaodong district, SCMP reported.

A fire broke out after the explosion, but has since been contained, the report said, adding that 50 cars nearby were affected by the accident.

The cause of the explosion is being investigated.

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By Ren Qiuyu / Nov 26, 2018 12:22 PM / Environment

A fisherman from Xiacuo village gazes at the sea. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

A fisherman from Xiacuo village gazes at the sea. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

The amount of harmful petrochemicals leaked in a major incident Fujian this month is more than many thought – much more.

The amount of C9 aromatic hydrocarbon leaked into the sea in southern China was 10 times higher than the original amount reported, according to the results of a government investigation announced at a press conference on Sunday.

The investigation found that a total of 69.1 metric tons of the chemical, a substance frequently used as a solvent in pain and rubber products, was leaked during the spill, which occurred when an aging pipe broke as the chemical was being transferred onto a tanker. Fujian Donggang Petrochemical, the owner of the terminal, originally reported that only 6.9 metric tons had been spilled. The government put Donggang Petrochemical at fault for neglecting to maintain its equipment, failing to adequately follow safety procedures, and deliberately concealing the amount of chemical spilled.

After the spill, more than 50 villagers were hospitalized due to exposure to the chemical, which causes nausea, vomiting and cramps. Many complained that their fishing livelihoods had been ruined as the chemical killed much of the fish stock, tainted what remained, and destroyed equipment. Seven people have been arrested in relation to the spill.

Related: Police Barged Into My Room While I Was Covering the Fujian Chemical Spill

 

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By Teng Jing Xuan / Nov 23, 2018 11:42 AM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

While Americans tucked into millions of turkeys this Thanksgiving, China was busy tackling outbreaks of avian influenza A (H5N6).

The agriculture ministry reported an H5N6 outbreak in Jiangsu province Friday that killed 320 birds on a poultry farm. On Wednesday, 9,820 birds were reported dead by the ministry on two farms in Yunnan province. A total of more than 40,000 birds were culled in the two provinces, the ministry said.

Since 2014, 22 human cases of H5N6 have been reported globally, according Hong Kong health authorities (as of Saturday). All cases occurred on the Chinese mainland. The latest case was reported on Oct. 31, 2018.


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By Coco Feng / Nov 23, 2018 10:52 AM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

African swine fever has spread to Beijing, killing 86 pigs on two farms in the southwestern Fangshan District of the capital city, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said Friday.

The case is the first reported in Beijing, which is the 20th province-level region affected by the viral disease. African swine fever was first reported in China in August.

Although the fever does not affect humans, it is very contagious and frequently fatal for pigs, causing losses for farmers and pork business operators.


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By Teng Jing Xuan / Nov 22, 2018 06:13 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Dead sharks tell no tales – but a man who went to jail for shipping them has told his.

A crew member of the Chinese vessel caught off the coast of Ecuador last year with over 6,000 sharks onboard has admitted that his company had caught the fish, solving the months-old mystery of how the carcasses had ended up onboard a storage ship with no fishing equipment in the first place.

The loot of the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999, intercepted within the Galapagos Marine Reserve in August 2017, had included baby sharks and endangered species. Its crew was sentenced by an Ecuadorean court to prison terms and a multi-million dollar fine for illegally transporting wildlife.

Galapagos authorities and China’s Ministry of Agriculture initially said the catch had been obtained from two Taiwan-flagged fishing vessels.

But a Caixin investigation at the time showed there were no registered vessels in the world fitting the description given by the authorities, and instead pointed to the involvement of Fuzhou Honglong Ocean Aquatic Products, a company registered in Fujian province. Fuzhou Honglong denied at the time that it had caught the fish.

Huang Zhiqiang, who returned to China recently after a year in an Ecuadorean prison, has confirmed that “the Taiwan boats were a fabrication.”

“The sharks on board (the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999) had been caught by Honglong,” he said, referring to the company's fleet of fishing vessels.

Detailed coverage to come on Caixin Global.


Read more:

How Did 6,223 Sharks End Up on Ship With No Fishing Equipment?

Fishing Company Punished for Vessel Caught With Dead Sharks 

China Struggles to Reel In Its Illegal Fishing Abroad


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