Tag Archives: Inner Mongolia

A Big Test For Little Hu

Hu ChunhuaHu Chunhua (right) has already been pencilled in by China long-term watchers as a likely successor to President Xi Jinping in 2022. So Hu’s appointment as Party boss in Guangdong is particularly noteworthy. It not only takes him from one end of the country to the other–his most recent post was as Party chief in Inner Mongolia–but it also sets him atop one of the highest profile provinces. This will let him broaden his experience and prove his abilities in a big province. Guangdong is China’s largest provincial economy, about the same size as Holland’s and four times the size of Inner Mongolia’s.

It will also test Hu on a bigger stage and under a harsher spotlight. Hu, who as a protege of outgoing President Hu Jintao is known as little Hu, earned his stripes running under-developed inland places with ethnic minorities considered tough to govern. Rich, coastal and relatively liberal Guangdong, with its large migrant population and manufacturing rather than resource-based economy (Hu has long connections with the coal industry), will present a new set of administrative challenges. Public expectations of his performance, set by his predecessor Wang Yang, who is moving on to an as yet unnamed job following his unsuccessful bid for a place in the Politburo, will also be very different. Hu will have to demonstrate not only his competence but also his ability to manage how that competence is perceived. He is not only being groomed. He is also being tested.

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China’s Deadly Lightening

Flashes of lightning shoot across the sky in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, on the night of Tuesday August 26, 2008.

As eastern China battened down in the face of Typhoon Muifa, officials have counted up the devastation caused by natural disasters in July: at least 204 dead and 43.6 billion yuan ($6.75 billion) in economic losses, with 7 million hectares of crops damaged. Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Sichuan and Shannxi were hardest hit by floods and landslides, while the drought in Guizhou and Hunan became more severe. July’s death toll followed the 279 who had died as a result of natural disasters in June, which took the total for the first half of this year to at least 449. During those six months, China was hit by seven 5.0-plus magnitude earthquakes while the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze river experienced their heaviest rainfall in more than half a century.

A large portion of the deaths in July were caused by lightening strikes, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, without giving a number. In June, 15 people died after being hit by lightening, the ministry had said earlier. Such fatalities have been on the decline since 2007 when lightening killed 744 people, mostly farmers caught in thunderstorms and unable to find shelter, making it the third most deadly type of natural disaster after floods and mudslides that year. Even so, we estimate, some 300 people were killed by lightening last year. Early warning systems for severe storms have been improved, but cover only 85% of China’s rural areas. It is not expected that the percentage will reach 90% until 2015.

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North China Drought Spreads

Typhoon season may be battering the coasts, but northern China and Inner Mongolia are parched for lack of rain. Between Aug.1st and Aug.16th, the area had just 50 mm of rain, with some places getting less than 10 mm as hot, dry weather carried on from July.  Liaoning, Jilin and Inner Mongolia are experiencing the worst drought conditions in nearly 60 years with rain fall at 10%, 20% and 40% of normal levels respectively. Moderate drought areas are turning into serious ones in western Jilin, eastern and central Liaoning and southeastern Inner Mongolia.

Xinhua reports that emergency drinking water supplies are being shipped in for the 1.5 million of the region’s 3.9 million inhabitants worst affected. Authorities are also irrigating 47 million mu (3.13 million hectares) of crops. Late last week, the Ministry of Agriculture said 125 million mu of crops were at risk. Along with Heilongjiang and Shanxi, Liaoning, Jilin,  and Inner Mongolia produce about a third of the country’s winter grain.

Update: There is rain in the forecast for the next few days.

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