Warning renewed for torrential rains
The National Meteorological Center on Wednesday renewed a warning for torrential rains that have unnerved southerners for the past month, prompting authorities to deploy tens of thousands of responders.
According to the center’s latest alert for heavy rains, the new round of precipitation is forecast to batter the provinces of Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan, Fujian and Zhejiang, as well as Chongqing municipality and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, from July 1 to 2.
In the affected regions, rainfall could reach 100 to 150 millimeters, raising risks for torrential floods and other geological disasters, the alert said.
The alert, which the center has issued for 30 consecutive days, came after marathon-like downpours caused tens of billions of yuan in economic damage over the past few weeks.
Figures offered by the center show five rounds of heavy rainfall have hit southern China since last month, producing at least 200 millimeters of accumulated precipitation on about 1.5 million square kilometers of land.
Hu Xiao, chief forecaster with the China Meteorological Administration, said the abundant water vapor is to blame.
“The Pacific and Indian oceans are two powerful suppliers of water vapor in our country. In summer, wind usually blows from south to north, transporting the vapor from the ocean to the land,” he said.
As rainfall continues, Hu said, affected regions are vulnerable to disasters such as floods in small or medium rivers, mudslides and mud-rock flows, and the public must cut outdoor electricity and suspend outdoor operations as precautions.
The National Flood and Drought Control Office and the Ministry of Emergency Management on Monday urged first responders to prioritize people’s lives and interests as they moved to forecast future deluges and relocate affected residents.
The two agencies said they have deployed more than 28,000 firefighters and relocated 34,700 people.
By Sunday, the sustained rainstorms had affected 12.1 million people scattered across 13 provincial regions south of the Yangtze River, killing 78, ruining almost 80,000 hectares of crops and leading to 25.7 billion yuan ($3.6 billion) in direct economic damages, according to the ministry.
Bearing the brunt were some of China’s poorest regions, including the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province, which has been ravaged by continuous rainfall since June 26.
According to authorities in Mianning county, Liangshan, 14 people had been killed by 11 pm on Tuesday, with eight still missing on Wednesday. Almost 1,800 families were relocated to makeshift shelters.
Economic damage related to agriculture, public facilities, family assets, commerce and mines, among others, reached 738 million yuan, local authorities said.
To offset the impact on vulnerable communities, China’s top antipoverty agency on Tuesday urged better monitoring of farmers susceptible to flash floods and other geological disasters.
In a circular on its website, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development said local authorities should roll out assistance programs targeting those impoverished by the floods and investigate how vulnerable people have been affected.
Through the program, monitors would be sent to track individual families prone to such risks and allocate help, as well as ensure safe housing and drinking water for those affected. Officials are required to rule out risks in infrastructure and speed up repair of damaged houses, roads, water conservancy facilities and other poverty alleviation projects, the group said.
Others measures include local authorities helping affected farmers claim agricultural insurance compensation and create new jobs to offset the decline in agricultural revenue among the affected families, it added.
China has pledged to eliminate absolute poverty by the end of this year.
What impostors steal are others’ life-changing opportunities.” Liu Jixing,
“Using others’ identities to enter colleges deprives others of the right to receive an education, which seriously damages educational equity and disturbs public order,” said Pang Lijuan, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature.
She compared the identity theft in college enrollment to “stealing others’ futures”, saying that people’s prospects must be protected by law.
However, identity theft is not yet a crime, “so it’s necessary to establish it as a new crime when amending the Criminal Law,” Pang said.
Xu Xianming, another national lawmaker, said stealing identities to get into a college goes against the Constitution as receiving education is a basic right granted by the country’s fundamental law.
Liu Jixing, also a member of the NPC Standing Committee, said the harm caused by the identity theft is much greater than that of infringing upon property, such as fraud. “What impostors steal are others’ life-changing opportunities, especially those from poor or rural families,” he said.
They made the remarks during the NPC’s latest session, which began on Sunday and ended on Tuesday. During the meeting, a draft revision to the Criminal Law was submitted for first reading.
Since the scandal has drawn so much public attention and ire, many legislators have also called for harsher penalties for such violations.
Li Wei, an NPC Standing Committee member, said he found some 10 crimes that could be related to college identity theft — such as falsifying official documents, bribery and malpractice — after going through the current laws. However, most crimes target government officials and their corruption-related behavior, not impostors and those who offer to assist in the identity thefts, he said.
To more effectively thwart impostors, Zhang Yesui, another NPC Standing Committee member, suggested the top legislature define such behavior as a crime, with offenders facing sentences ranging from three to 10 years in prison.
Ruan Chuansheng, a law professor at the Shanghai Administration Institute, agreed to harshly punish such impostors, but he said that the situations that should be defined as “serious” and the exact penalties for offenders need more study, as such cases involve many complex circumstances.
A teacher distributes test papers to a student during a simulated session of the national college entrance exam, or gaokao, in Handan, Hebei province, on Wednesday. The school held the session to help students get familiar with the procedure and help ease their nerves ahead of the exam, which will take place next week.
The construction of Xi’an Olympic Sports Center complex is completed and the venue is ready for use in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, on Wednesday. The venue, which includes a 60,000seat stadium, an indoor gymnasium and an aquatic center, will be the primary facility for the 14th National Games of China next year.