Pigs in the River Update

Dead Pigs in Shanghai’s Huang Pu River are the most visible of China’s health issues. As discussed below, it appears that the pigs are not the work of one perpetrator, but rather the result of a crackdown on sales of diseased pigs.  If you can’t sell your sick pig, what do you do with it?

Pig carcasses found floating in Hunan river

Updated: 2013-04-09 07:28

By Wang Qian ( China Daily)

Latest incident of dead animals in waterway raises concerns about disposal procedures

Scores of dead pigs have been retrieved from a Central China waterway, just weeks after thousands were discovered in Shanghai’s Huangpu River.

Authorities have been pulling the carcasses from Liuyang River in Hunan province since Saturday. More than 70 pigs had been retrieved as of Sunday, but an official figure has yet to be released.

The carcasses were probably dumped by pig farmers upstream and were carried along the river due to recent rainstorms, the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald reported on Monday, quoting an unnamed agriculture, forestry and water resources official for Changsha’s Kaifu district.

“We have to immediately remove them in a sanitary way to avoid water pollution and contamination,” the official said.

Wu Guohua, another official, said it is rare to see such a large amount of dead pigs in the river.

The district environmental protection bureau said it will closely monitor the river’s water quality to guarantee residents’ safety.

“No bird flu virus was detected on the dead pigs,” Tan Jingming, deputy director of the Changsha animal disease prevention and control center, said.

A series of similar discoveries have been reported across China since residents started complaining on March 5 about finding dead pigs in Huangpu River.

There has been an abnormally high number of dead hogs following an outbreak of porcine circovirus, a common disease, plus changeable weather this winter, the Ministry of Agriculture said on its website.

“Authorities should seriously investigate where the dead pigs come from and harshly punish the pig dumpers,” said a resident surnamed Zhang, who said the situation posed a great threat to people’s safety, especially after a new and deadly strain of bird flu was detected.

The discovery of tens of thousands of pig carcasses nationwide has raised concerns about how the country deals with numerous dead pigs every year.

The National Bureau of Statistics said China had about 700 million pigs in 2012, of which 18 million died of disease.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, pig farmers can get a subsidy of 80 yuan ($12) for each pig dead of disease. Regulations require animals that died in this way to be disposed of in a sanitary way, such as burial at least 1.5 meters deep or cremated.

But because the subsidy application process is complicated, many pig farmers choose to sell the dead pigs to illegal buyers, said Li Waiguang, a farmer in Yingtan, Jiangxi province.

“If authorities crack down on dead pig transactions, farmers will dump the dead into the nearest rivers,” he added.

Li suggested authorities establish sanitary treatment stations for dead animals to help farmers.

Wen Xinzheng in Changsha contributed to this story.

More about the Detroit Recovery

I came to China from Michigan, where a circular and cumulative negative feedback loop has driven the Michigan economy down, with Michigan leading the nation. The reason I am optimistic about Michigan’s future is that the core institutions remain intact. Public, private, and philanthropic organizations have shown success in moving Michigan and Detroit in a positive direction.  The Flint/Detroit/Ann Arbor corridor remains one of the most highly industrialized areas of the world and Michigan universities remain some of the best in the world. The previously negative leverage seems to be gaining momentum in the opposite direction. The following opinion column has appeared in Michigan newspapers and online at bridge.com .

By the way, it’s a small world.  Last September Governor Snyder led a trade delegation of over 20 Michigan businesses to Guiyang and four other Chinese cities.

Philanthropic groups step up to lead Michigan’s urban revival

Phil’s Column— 23 April 2013

By Phil Power/Bridge Magazine

Phil Power is founder and chairman of the Center for Michigan.

Phil Power is founder and chairman of the Center for Michigan.

There’s no doubt that one of Michigan’s biggest stories this year is Gov. Rick Snyder’s decision to put Detroit under an emergency manager, and put attorney Keyvn Orr in that post.

But Detroit is far from the first or only city in the state to have an emergency manager. Though the original title was emergency financial manager, the moniker changed after new legislation took effect March 28. There are EMs in Flint and Benton Harbor.

Allen Park and Ecorse, two small downriver Detroit suburbs, are both being run by the same emergency manager, Joyce Parker.

There’s also been one for the past few years in Pontiac, who is preparing to turn the reins back over to an elected government.

Hamtramck and Highland Park also have had emergency managers, and Hamtramck may again.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder

Some have been troubled by the fact that while EMs now run cities with less than 10 percent of Michigan’s population, they include almost half the state’s African-American residents.

Undoubtedly, the appointment of emergency managers to take hold of the financial reins of cities in desperate financial trouble marks a dispiriting omen for proud towns around our state. They’ve triggered passionate criticism on the grounds that they dismantle locally elected democratic institutions.

But they’ve also been met with reluctant acceptance by those who realize that there’s simply no other way to cure cities where the Great Recession, incompetence, corruption, denial and half measures almost have destroyed the fabric of urban life.

Crisis brings new resources to the fore

There is, however, an important back story behind our concern for distressed Michigan cities. Perhaps it’s best told by Rip Rapson, president of the Kresge Foundation, which has invested almost $500 million in the Detroit tri-county region over the past 20 years:

Rip Rapson

Rip Rapson

“The emergency financial manager’s appointment is a single component in a larger suite of activities through which the city is accelerating its transformation. The manager’s efforts will stand alongside a robust and multifaceted machinery of investment and engagement that is expanding opportunities and supporting the continued emergence of a vibrant and essential Detroit unimaginable to some outside observers.”

Rapson cites significant progress in Detroit: A downtown renaissance, with young, educated professionals moving in, triggering an explosion of entrepreneurship and in the arts. A coming breakthrough in public transit, with light rail possible along Woodward Avenue. A more certain, healthy area-wide Regional Transit Authority fast bus system. And some of the most forward-thinking urban planning to be seen in America in decades.

The heavy involvement of Kresge, along with other Detroit-area groups such as the McGregor Fund, the Hudson-Webber Foundation, the Skillman Foundation and the New Economy Initiative, marks the entry in a serious way of the philanthropic community into the future of Michigan’s largest and most-challenged city. The business community and private citizens are stepping up, too, buying police cars and raising capital for the light rail line.

Richard Florida, the guy who brought the “creative class” to our attention, offered an interesting take on all this in The Financial Times: “The nascent turnaround (in Detroit) is driven by a coalition of profit-led entrepreneurs, philanthropic foundations and grassroots groups unhindered by city government. They offer a distinctive model of revival from which cities in the U.S. and beyond can learn.”

The story is much the same in Flint, where the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has been the primary mover behind the city’s battle for survival. For example, the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Area Focus Fund has received more than $22 million in Mott grants to boost the area’s economic profile.

Notice what’s really going on behind the curtain: Civic activities and programs, once entirely run by politician-led city governments, have, over the past decade, gradually been turned over to the philanthropic community and, to a lesser extent, the private sector.

The reasons for this are many. More and more urban areas are, to put it simply, too broke to do much, let alone think ahead. Some cities have allowed a political culture of corruption – “pay to play” – to take over, while others have tolerated inefficiency and incompetence.

There is a feeling that while emergency managers arrive partly as a punishment and politicians are necessarily self-serving,  philanthropic institutions have the freedom and ability to work for the long-term general good.

Given today’s environment of gloom and doom, somebody has had to step forward. That’s what the nonprofit sector, philanthropic foundations and the private sector have done. They’re not trying to replace duly elected city governance; they are trying to provide bridging assets designed to support pieces of progress.

They have the luxury not available to elected politicians to take the long-run view and make investments that cannot show results in less than a decade — and shouldn’t be expected to.

Michigan’s future depends to a very large degree in our ability to provide the tools urban areas need to grow and prosper. The great fortunes made in Michigan in years past — Kellogg, Kresge, Dow, Ford — have funded today’s great foundations. That they are stepping forward is reason for hope … and for congratulations.

Editor’s note: Former newspaper publisher and University of Michigan Regent Phil Power is a longtime observer of Michigan politics and economics. He is also the founder and chairman of the Center for Michigan, a nonprofit, bipartisan centrist think–and–do tank, designed to cure Michigan’s dysfunctional political culture; the Center also publishes Bridge Magazine. The opinions expressed here are Power’s own and do not represent the official views of the Center. He welcomes your comments via email.

Chinese Investors in Detroit

Chinese investors are fascinated by the property values in the City of Detroit. China is in love with the auto and Detroit is still known as the auto capital of the world. Further, property values have skyrocketed in China and the low cost homes of Detroit have caught the Chinese attention.

Fun on the Bus with Chris

Software Executive Chris Persson and I rode the bus to Huaxi yesterday for pizza at Brother John’s Restaurant, one of the best Pizza’s in China.  It was a lot of fun with all the other people.  It took almost an hour and two bus connections.  Altogether, it cost us both about 4.5 rmb (about 75 cents)  to get there. We came back in a taxi, at a cost 48 rmb (about $7.00)


( The taxi was faster, but the bus was more fun. Chris contributes to this blog and is teaching me how to use WordPress.)

Driving in China

This is a great site for learning how to drive in China.



The basics of Driving in China…

Here is the explanation of a simple concept: the left turn.
For the ones who live in China: an overview of what we live everyday For the ones who are out of China: happy memories of the traffic here!


We see here a typical intersection. The light has just turned green for the east-west streets, and car [A], an enormous black Audi with pitch black windows, wants to make a left turn into the southbound lanes. Pedestrians wait on each corner. (For purposes of this demonstration, we’ll assume no one is running the north-south red light, and no one is jaywalking – a rather large assumption.)


To make a left turn, it is VITAL that [A] cut off all eastbound traffic as soon as possible. The first few brave or foolish legitimate pedestrians step off the curb; this is of no concern. [A] makes his move.


NO! Too slow! [A] has managed to partially block [B], a brand new purple and yellow Hyundai taxi, but [A] has only achieved whatBeijing drivers would consider a ‘weak’ blocking position.


In this detail, we can see why: [A] has only inserted his left bumper and cannot move forward without contact. [B], on the other hand, is in the dominant position – by putting his wheel hard to the right and flooring it, he can fully block [A].


[B] proceeds to swerve right, cutting off [C], a tiny red Peugeot with a gold plastic dragon hood ornament, spoiler and assorted knobs glued on. Since [B] is just accelerating, and [C] is now decelerating, this has created a low-density ‘dead space’ in the intersection. [D], a strange blue tricycle dumptruck carrying what appear to be 40 of the world’s oldest propane tanks, sees this and makes a move.


DENIED! [E], an old red taxi with its name sloppily stenciled in white on its doors, has boldly cut across two lanes of traffic, behind [D], and then swerved right, driving [D] into an extremely weak position behind [A]. Meanwhile, [B] and [C] are still fighting for position, with [C] muscling his way into the crosswalk. The only thing between [E] and a successful left turn is a few lawful pedestrians. [E] steps on the gas…


…and is cut off by [F], an elderly man pedaling his tricycle verrrryyy slooooowwwly with a 15-foot-diameter sphere of empty plastic cooking oil bottles bungee-corded haphazardly to the cargo area. He was part of the lawful pedestrians, but seeing the stalled traffic, decided to cut diagonally across the intersection. Not only has [F] blocked [E], he is headed straight at [B], giving [C] the edge he needs.


[B] concedes to [C], who drives in the crosswalk behind [F] and blocks [E]. Meanwhile, [G], a herd of about 20 bicycles, mopeds, pedestrians and wheelbarrows, sensing weakness in the eastbound lane and seeing that much of the westbound traffic is blocked behind [D], breaks north against the light. [F] pedals doggedly onward at about 2 miles per hour, his face like chiseled marble.


Now things get interesting. [C] has broken free and, as the first vehicle to get where he was going, wins. [E] makes a move to block [B] but, like [A] at the start of the left turn, only gains a ‘weak’ block. [A] has cleverly let [F] pass and guns into a crowd of [G], which both moves [A] forward and drives some [G] stragglers into the path of [D], clearing [A]’s flanks. Little now stands between [A] and a strong second-place finish.

STEP 10:

Except for public bus [H], one of those double buses with the accordion-thing connector. [H] has been screaming unnoticed along the eastbound sidewalk and now careens dangerously into a U-turn. This doesn’t appear to concern the 112 people packed inside and pressed against the windows (although that could be due to a lack of oxygen.) [H] completely blocks both [A] and [D]. On the other side of the intersection, [B] has swerved into the lawful pedestrians (who aren’t important enough to warrant a letter) and has gained position on [E]. [E] has forgotten the face of his father: He was so focused on his battle with [B] that he lost sight of the ultimate goal and is now hopelessly out of position. This clears the path for dark horse [I], a blue Buick Lacrosse, to cut all the way across behind [H] and become the second vehicle to get where he was going (and the first to complete a left turn), since [F] has changed his mind again and is now gradually drifting north into the southbound lanes. But everyone better hurry, because the light is about to change…

STEP 12:

And we’re ready to start over…

Shabai and Tao are Married

I attended the wedding of Shabai and Tao at a local church on April 12.  It was a good Christian ceremony and a fine facility.  Computer screens helped provide the messages. We were reminded of the nature of marriage in God’s eye.

Flint is Burning

I am a former resident of Michigan where social problems are raising havoc with living conditions. Flint is about 150 miles south of Traverse City, my home town.  Many people come to China for a better quality of life.