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PRESIDENT Xi Jinping will be in Hong Kong from June 29 to July 1 to attend a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, according to an official statement.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, will also be present at the inauguration of the fifth administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the statement said.
WHERE Rigzin Chophel played with his childhood friends is now at the bottom of a lake, and he is worried more land will be submerged.
The 45-year-old herdsman lives in Tseten, a village on the southern bank of Serling Tso Lake which has grown over 40 percent between 1976 and 2009.
The village has around 42,000 hectares of land for herdsmen to raise their cattle. Rigzin has been the director of the village Party committee for the past 15 years.
“Over a dozen families have complained to me that their land has been inundated by the lake. Five of them have suffered great losses,” he said.
Herdsman Nordey pointed toward a lakeside area, and said that was where he used to live.
“About six years ago, the lake was expanding very fast. There were fences between my house and the lake, and every year I had to move the fences closer to the house,” he said.
He has now built a new home a few kilometers from the lake.
Ten years ago, the lake was expanding at an even faster pace than it is now, said Rigzin.
“We marked the area of the lake. It expanded by 20 to 30 steps a year, especially noticeable in low-lying areas,” he said.
In 2014, Serling Tso measured 2,391 square kilometers.
It has replaced the Buddhist holy lake Namtso as Tibet’s largest lake at over 45 kilometers wide and almost 78 kilometers in length.
Since 1990, the plateau’s 1,000 lakes have seen an increase of 100 billion cubic meters of water, with Serling Tso probably the fastest-growing lake, according to scientists from the Institute of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Research of Chinese Academy of Sciences.
A group of them recently began a expedition on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to study changes in climate, biodiversity, and environment.
Zhu Liping, a researcher leading the lake observation team, said it will study the whole water system from Serling Tso to the origin of the Yangtze River.
RESCUERS were digging through earth and rocks yesterday in a search for more than 90 people still missing a day after their village in southwest China vanished under a huge landslide.
At least 10 people have been confirmed dead after the avalanche of rocks buried 62 homes in Xinmo, a once-picturesque mountain village nestled by a river in Sichuan Province, the local government said.
The Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba revised the number of confirmed dead down from 15 to 10. The number of people who remained unaccounted for was also lowered from 118 to 93 after the prefecture said some of those earlier reported missing had been traced.
Names and identification numbers were published on the prefecture’s website yesterday, and the public have been asked to provide clues which may lead to their whereabouts.
The area borders the Minjiang River, a major tributary of the Yangtze in its upper stream.
Only three survivors — a couple and their 1-month-old baby — have been found since heavy rain brought down a side of the mountain early on Saturday.
They were rescued five hours after the landslide struck. Qiao Dashuai, 26, told China Central Television that he and his wife awoke to cries from their son around 5:30am.
“Just after we changed the baby’s diaper, we heard a big bang outside and the lights went out,” Qiao said. “We felt that something bad was happening and immediately rushed to the door, but the door was blocked by mud and rocks.”
Qiao said his family was swept away by water as part of a mountain collapsed. He said they struggled against the water until they came across medical workers who took them to a hospital. Their 2-year-old daughter and three other relatives are among the missing, Sichuan’s official news outlet said.
Qiao and his wife were said to be in a stable condition yesterday and their baby was in an intensive care unit with pneumonia induced by mud inhalation.
Xinhua news agency cited geological experts at the site as saying the chance of finding any survivors “was really slim.”
Relatives of the missing were also losing hope.
Huo Chunlai, wearing a lace-brimmed sunhat, returned from the affected site on foot. Her cousin and two aunts lived in Xinmo. She said locals had asked rescuers to stop the search. “There’s no hope they’re alive,” Huo said.
“The house is in one place here but the people who were inside were dragged way out over there. They’re not in the same place any more. The landslide washed away the people all over the place. You simply can’t find them any more.”
You Sunfang and her husband rode five hours on a motorbike from another village to get news about her uncle.
“If he had lived on the edges maybe there would have been hope. But he lived right in the middle of the slope where the landslide came down,” she said, wiping away tears.
At least half a dozen excavators were removing debris yesterday as rescuers in orange jumpsuits searched between rocks.
Some 3,000 workers with life-detection equipment and sniffer dogs were taking part, Xinhua said.
In Diexi, a hamlet overlooking Xinmo, farmer Yang Cangxin said she knew everyone in the neighboring village.
“It’s so hard to imagine something like that happening when you’re sleeping quietly and peacefully in your own bed. It’s just awful. They had no idea what was coming.”
“WE were all crying, heartbroken,” she said.
Xinmo residents were farmers who grew corn, peppercorn and potatoes, she said, though some had opened guest houses for tourists.
Xu Zhiwen, the prefecture’s deputy governor, said 142 tourists had been visiting the village on Friday but they weren’t among the people buried.
Some 30 people from another village brought wheelbarrows packed with bottled water, tubs of food and bags of meat down the hill for survivors.
A white dog apparently looking for its owner was found in the rubble.
A rescuer was seen on English-language channel CGTN trying to coax the canine from the mound of rocks and earth in Xinmo, but it refused to leave.
“Anyone here? Little doggie, where is your owner?” a rescuer could be heard saying off camera.
“Dog waiting for its owner refuses to leave rubble, capturing the hearts of a nation after #Sichuan #landslide,” CGTN said on its Twitter account.
Hundreds of people on Weibo expressed concern for the dog, with at least one person offering to adopt it.
The dog’s appearance was a bright spot in the increasingly bleak search for the missing.
Landslides are a frequent danger in rural and mountainous parts of China, particularly in heavy rain.
At least 12 people were killed in January when a landslide crushed a hotel in the central province of Hubei.
In 1933, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake left many villages near Diexi submerged.
In 1976, two strong earthquakes struck about 100 kilometers from the town which is about 150 kilometers from the epicenter of an 8.0-magnitude earthquake in 2008, which left over 80,000 people dead or missing.
ON the wall of Stacy Belcher Lee’s office hang two pieces of delicate embroidery featuring Suzhou Gardens and the West Lake in Hangzhou.
The director of University Archives at the University of Hong Kong also has sets of traditional Chinese garments hanging on a clothes rack.
Lee, a blonde, blue-eyed American, prefers not to be called a “foreigner.” For her, Hong Kong is home.
“I’ve been living in Hong Kong for almost 11 years, and my husband is also a Hong Kong native. I usually speak Cantonese,” she said.
Lee arrived in Hong Kong in 2006 after resigning from a university in the United States, knowing nothing about the local language and no one in the city. But she quickly got used to life in the city.
She found Hong Kong people to be friendly, courteous, and family-oriented, just like those in her hometown of Virginia.
After traveling back and forth between Hong Kong and her hometown for a few years, Lee realized it was time to settle down.
When she got married in 2014, she chose a traditional Chinese dress, decorated with dragons and phoenixes.
Hong Kong, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of its return to the motherland this year, has become even more diversified and international over the past 11 years, Lee said.
Like Lee, Swathi Kr Iyengar, from India, regards himself a Hong Kong local. For Swathi, it is where dreams come true.
Swathi arrived in Hong Kong about 25 years ago with US$800 in his pocket. He used to have three part-time jobs and shared a tiny apartment with people from different countries.
As Swathi puts it, life in the past 25 years was arduous but full of hope. Now his family is living in an upscale community, and his two sons attend a renowned school.
The children have won prizes in local Chinese language contests. “Chinese is an important language in the world today,” said Swathi.
Swathi regards Hong Kong as one of the safest places in the world with an excellent business atmosphere, efficient social system, well-equipped infrastructure and convenient working conditions.
For Jose, a Mexican, three years was long enough for him to fall in love with the city.
Jose was assigned to work in Hong Kong in 2014. “I got lost in the surrounding skyscrapers,” he recalled of his first day.
Now, he enjoys getting up early for a morning run, exploring nice restaurants with friends, watching horse races, hiking and cycling in the suburbs.
Jose regards Hong Kong a desirable place for foreigners.
“No matter which lifestyles you prefer, Chinese or Western, you can find whatever you want” in Hong Kong, he said.
CHINA’S national observatory maintained an orange rainstorm alert yesterday, the second most serious level, as heavy rain that left dozens of people dead or missing is expected to continue in southern regions.
Heavy rain in parts of Fujian, Hunan, Jiangxi, Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region will continues today, with rainfall in some places expected to reach up to 220 millimeters in 24 hours, coupled with gales or thunderstorms.
The observatory warned local authorities to take precautions against geological disasters such as flooding or landslides. Downpours and disasters have left at least 17 dead and 10 missing in Guizhou, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, local authorities said.
WHEN Tajinisa’s daughter, Goharnisa, was recruited by a food processing company in 2012, it marked a milestone in the family’s struggle to get out of poverty.
“Thanks to her job, we now have a well-decorated house and fresh lamb in our fridge ready to eat,” said Tajinisa.
The family live in a remote village in Hotan County, a poor area of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Goharnisa works as a team leader, managing workers who sort dates and nuts.
“Our Xinjiang specialty products are sold across the country, including Beijing and Shanghai, which makes me feel connected to those big cities,” she said.
Her monthly salary is 4,300 yuan (US$630), 1,300 yuan more than the annual income of the entire family of five before 2012.
China has been intensifying efforts to assist poor rural residents, including those of the country’s ethnic minority groups.
According to the State Council Information Office, by the end of last year, less than 10 percent of Xinjiang’s population were living in poverty, with the number of people registered as below the poverty line dropping from 2.61 million in 2013 to 1.22 million.
There’s a national effort to lift all Chinese out of poverty by 2020 and southern Xinjiang has been the focus of poverty-relief programs, with more funding and social resources directed to the area. Ten special projects involving employment-based poverty reduction have been implemented.
In the most impoverished prefectures of Kashgar and Hotan, a target has been set to find jobs for 100,000 people in the next three years, meaning more families like Goharnisa’s will have a chance to raise their incomes.
Xinjiang’s state-owned companies are required to offer 10,000 jobs, with priority given to the families of farmers and herders, according to regional authorities.
The Guozhichu food company, where Goharnisa works, is in a remote rural area some 200 kilometers from the county seat of Yutian. The company and three other companies under a state-owned group recruited a total of 215 local residents in May.
Muharem Abla, one of the new employees, is being trained to sort dates, making 2,000 yuan a month during her probation period.
“My neighbors are jealous and often ask me when the company will offer more jobs,” she said.
“I’m so proud that I can earn a considerable salary without being away from home,” she said.
Turuwenjan, a sociologist with the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said state-owned companies should hire more local residents and train unskilled ethnic minority groups, rather than bring in workers from other regions.
Private companies should also be encouraged to do the same with tax reductions and exemptions, he said. “Employment is vital to people’s livelihood, as well as regional stability.”