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Date Posted: 14:00 11/01/2006

Caves, pigs, toilets shock

A round-up of some China-related stories that fell off the news wagon in 2005

Cave People

While the assorted foreign hacks went on festive AWOL, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported on December 30 that China's last 'cave tribe' – a group of 200 or so Miao minority people - were refusing to leave their mountainous redoubt. Living in the remote highlands of Guizhou Province, the tribe had tried living in modern houses provided to them free-of-charge by officials, but preferred the troglodyte life. 'The tight roof makes it hard to breathe and, in our cave, the light comes at daybreak, and I wake up naturally,' Xinhua quoted one of the tribespeople as saying. An ideal end-of-year tale for those China-based journalists searching for the exotic whimsy and other-worldniness that was so cruelly denied to them by the death of Chairman Mao and the subsequent quarter-century of boring economic growth.

Pig Disease

With the journalists waiting for the 'inevitable' bird flu pandemic, they failed to take full advantage of a health scare that might have given them the doses of panic and indignation that they seem to enjoy so much. In August, an outbreak of 'pig disease', or Streptococcus suis, broke out in China's countryside. Of more than 200 people infected, around 40 died. The World Health Organisation said that data provided by China depicted an outbreak that peaked from the second through the fourth week of July, and dwindled rapidly thereafter. The initial cases were suspected of having haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, but laboratory tests ruled that out. More cases were reported, with a range of symptoms including high fever, malaise, nausea and vomiting, followed by meningitis, subcutaneous haemorrhage, toxic shock and coma in severe cases. Nearly all of the patients were reported to be local farmers and butchers by profession, about 80 percent of them men. They had been killing sick pigs or processing and selling the meat. More than 40 percent of the cases were aged between 50 to 60 years.

Electromagnetic warfare

After reports that China had trained a new type of laser gun on Taiwan, another new kind of weapon was overlooked this year. China's People's Liberation Army released its latest propaganda posters in July, including 'Striving to win battles with existing equipment, and the rather menacing 'Integrating land, sea, air, space and electromagnetism units into an integrated force '

Spoilt white collars?

In July, when temperatures in Shanghai are over 30 degrees Celsius, the Shanghai Youth Daily reported many Shanghainese resigned their jobs to 'enjoy the summer.' According to the paper 'many white collar workers have taken the summer off. Their reason for resigning was mostly that working in such hot weather has affected their health.'

Tabby tidbits

In June reported on the growing trend for expensive pets in China. 'Miu Miu is no ordinary cat. A pedigree silver tabby born of American parents, she commands a regal price of 30,000 yuan (3,623 USD) at an upmarket pet shop in Beijing's Golden Resources Shopping Mall,' the site reported, quoting 'agencies.' China also celebrated happy dumpling day on 11th June 2005.

All roads lead to Lhasa

China is putting the final touches on the new railroad into Tibet. In an article headed 'Children urged to work for all-round development' published in the official state media the article carried the following sentence 'Let's just upgrade the roads in your hometown so that more little kids can travel to Lhasa, and even Beijing?' China's leader Chairman Hu told LosangQoinjor, a kid from Tibet after knowing that it took three days for Losang to travel from Ali to Lhasa, the regional capital. Losang returned a Tibetan greeting on behalf of all children in Tibet.'

China gets to bed early

According to an ACNielsen 'sleep habits survey' only a quarter of Chinese aren't in bed after midnight.The survey, published in March, said 58% of Chinese are also up before 7am; according to the firm's global survey, an average of 37% of respondents over the world aren’t usually tucked up in bed until after midnight, with 40% of people in Asia Pacific burning the midnight oil. In China, a quarter of Chinese respondents go to sleep after midnight, and a quarter go to sleep between 10pm and 11pm. The most popular timeslot, between 11pm and 12am, sees 40% of Chinese off to bed. Only one in ten head to bed before10pm. A similar survey put out by AC Nielsen said China is among the world's top 5 fast food consuming countries, no surprise there then.

Star rated toilets

A China news report from Nanning in January announced that the city will feature star rated public toilets. 'On top of bringing greater convenience to citizens, these star-rated lavatories have also added a brand-new landscape to Nanning, China's Green City, with their beautiful appearance and ergonomic design,' the report said. One public lavatory is described as 'a small building with two floors. The entrance at the first floor is a glass door and the walls display a myriad of colors, thereby providing onlookers with a rather captivating view.'

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