Friday, 21 August 2015

Dead fish 死鱼

The disaster in Tianjin was of course, like so many others, a "disaster waiting to happen". Yes, a tragic cliché. I respond viscerally to incidents like this because as an infant I suffered permanent damage to my lungs living in Huddersfield, an industrial city in Northern England where the air used to be filled with fumes from the ICI sulphuric acid plant and many other polluting facilities. (ICI later moved to Scotland and has tried to move to Xiamen.) I then, unaware of its nickname, "The Smoke" or "The Big Smoke", moved to London, but moved out just before the big smog that killed thousands in just a few days.

And I remember Minamata Disease, Lucky Dragon III, Chernobyl, Bhopal and many more around the world. So it's not just China. But it is China now. The rest of us have learned something from these dreadful experiences. The London smog disaster was followed by the Clean Air Act that very quickly rendered "A Foggy Day in London Town" just a folk memory.

To those who discovered China yesterday, whose pampering by Chinese officials has persuaded them that all the bad things they read about the Chinese political system really are made up by wicked Westerners, I suggest you occasionally glance at what ordinary people in China are writing. Just listen to them, even if they can not deploy bottomless expense accounts, paid for by the Chinese masses they claim to represent, to feast you.

Here is the story of the dead fish and how they came to be washed up some distance from Tianjin, which is where many tons of toxic material that should never have been stored so near three apartment complexes exploded on Wednesday August 12, 2015. Yes, Tianjin now already commemorates its 8.12.

The current issue of shanghaiist has the following story:

Heaps of dead fish were spotted pilling up near the shores of a lake in Tianjin this afternoon, some six kilometers from the site of the blasts that ripped through a warehouse storing hazardous goods in the port city's Binhai district. 
Local residents said they've never before witnessed so many dead fish in the area.
Ruihai International Logistics warehouse, which stored hazardous material including 700 tons of sodium cyanide, 800 tons of ammonium nitrate and 500 tons of potassium, has been replaced by a massive black craterafter two larges explosions ripped through the facility last Wednesday, leaving at least 114 people dead and hundreds more injured.
The Tianjin Environmental Bureau said yesterday that tests showed cyanide levels in the river, sea and waste water had all risen considerably in the wake of the explosion, and one sample taken from a drain pipe near the site of the blasts recorded cyanide levels 277 times above acceptable standards. 
However, the bureau insisted that the air and drinking water in the city were within safe levels, and that water pollution had been efficiently contained. 
Tianjin officials said that environmental protection department workers were sent to the scene to investigate the fish deaths.
Among other Exodus-esque happenings since the explosion, rain that washed over the city on Tuesday left a mysterious white foamy substance on the ground. Some who made contact with the rain reported feeling a burning sensation on their face and lips, while others said they experienced stinging and itching sensations on their arms. Authorities, however, have said that the rainwater is not toxic.
The end of the world is nigh.

Scott Savitt has posted this outrageously funny (but of course also sad and angry) post on Facebook.
It shows how developed and concise is the satirical talent on today's Chinese social media, worthy of a Bulgakov.
死鱼的信息传出后,中文社交媒体上全是调侃之声,有网友总结说:“天津鱼儿的几种死法1:被淹死的2:抑郁症集体自杀3:因纪委约谈畏罪自杀,遗书待央视公布4:被二奶小三举报吓死的5:天气炎热闷死的6、天津的鱼遭淹死了7 是水太干净了,撑死的 。”
After the dead fish information was disseminated, all Chinese social media was full of voices of ridicule. To summarize the views of netizens: "Ways that the Tianjin fish died: 1. Drowning. 2. Collective suicide due to depression. 3. Because they're being investigated by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and commited suicide to avoid prosecution. Their suicide notes will be publicized on CCTV. 4. They were reported by corrupt officials' mistresses and died of fright. 5. They died of suffocation due to the high heat. 6. They died from a flood. 7. They died from the water being too clean."  
Renowned media personality Shi Feike believes: "Because of the large number of dead fish in the Haihe River, that it was caused exclusively by the explosion is highly suspect. But before experts came to the official explanation, ironic humor on the Internet suggested that the fish had drowned, died of anger, or committed suicide. This indicates that few people don't suspect the truth of the government's words. Because regarding the increasingly harsh crackdown on negative resistance, regarding the increasing hatred of "fifty centers" (people paid to post pro-government messages), more and more people are discovering the weapons of the powerless, irony and satire."

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