New police chief named
A city in the southwest at the center of a brewing political scandal has appointed a new police chief and renewed a controversial campaign against organized crime. Newspapers yesterday said Guan Haixiang (關海祥) had been appointed to replace former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun (王立軍). Wang is believed to be in custody amid an investigation over alleged past malfeasance and following his apparent attempt to gain political asylum at a US consulate. The scandal surrounding Wang has raised questions about the political future of Chongqing Communist Party boss Bo Xilai (薄熙來), one of the country’s most powerful and ambitious politicians.
Tibetan monk self-immolates
Overseas groups say another Tibetan Buddhist monk has set himself on fire in the west amid a wave of such protests against China’s handling of its vast Tibetan areas. The advocacy group Free Tibet said Tamchoe Sangpo set himself alight on Friday during a prayer ceremony at a monastery in a remote region of Qinghai Province. It gave no details about his current condition, although US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia said he had died. A police officer in the county of Tianjun, where the monastery is located, and an official at the surrounding Haixi Prefectural Government said yesterday that they had no information about the case.
Pop fans injured in collapse
A seating section has collapsed at a concert by Hong Kong pop star Wang Fei (王菲) in the southwest, injuring 64 people. The state-run Beijing News said concertgoers suffered cuts, broken bones and head injuries after scaffolding behind the stage broke apart on Friday night. Those seated in the area fell about 1.5m to the concrete floor of the city of Chongqing’s Olympic stadium. The paper said none of the injuries was life-threatening. The concert has been rescheduled for tomorrow.
Fire kills 150 cats
About 150 stray cats cared for by an elderly woman died in a blaze at her home in Beijing, a report said yesterday. “Granny Ding” had taken in stray cats and dogs for the past 30 years and looked after them at her traditional courtyard-style house in central Beijing, the Beijing Morning Post reported. The fire broke out early on Friday and destroyed three rooms where about 150 cats were staying and unable to escape. A further 30 cats and 50 dogs who shared the 84-year-old’s bedroom survived. Ding told the newspaper that she lived alone and sought the company of animals because she had missed out on marriage after having contracted tuberculosis when she was young.
Protesters rallied yesterday outside the Chinese embassy in Seoul, demanding that Beijing scrap plans to repatriate newly-arrested refugees from North Korea. The demonstrators, estimated by police at about 100, said the 33 refugees face severe punishment or even death if forced back to their homeland. About 70 percent of the fugitives have families in South Korea, they said in a statement, including a 19-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy. In their statement, the demonstrators claimed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had given orders to execute all those caught trying to flee his country.
Drunk captain zigzags
The navy rushed a helicopter to intercept an 82m cargo ship after it was spotted zigzagging strangely in the Baltic Sea, maritime authorities said on Friday. The Danica Hav was heading to Luebeck, Germany, from Sweden overnight on Thursday to Friday when it was spotted adrift in the Great Belt strait that separates the country’s two main islands, navy spokesman Kenneth Nielsen said. “We couldn’t get contact with the ship,” he said. A helicopter was flown to the vessel and navymen found the Russian captain sleeping deeply at the helm of the ship with a strong smell of alcohol wafting around him, the spokesman said. The captain was flown to the Roskilde police station where a blood test, taken eight hours after the arrest, showed 2.18g of alcohol per liter.