Lanzhou’s Hydrogen Balloon Bombs

It took a few days for the news to make its way east, but now the world knows that approximately 100 people were injured when 1600 hydrogen-filled balloons exploded over a sports meet at the Lanzhou Electric Power School on September 17.

And that’s not even the most interesting part of the story:

The use of hydrogen in balloons violated regulations passed by the central government, said Yang Yucheng, an official in charge of policy and regulations with the provincial Meteorological Bureau. He said the handling and release of hydrogen-filled balloons required government permission. But the event organizers did not report their plan or check the balloons. The number of hydrogen-filled balloons at any event was also strictly limited to 1,000, said Yang, citing a circular jointly released by the State Council and China Meteorological Administration in July 2006. Continue reading

Beijing’s Bishop – Final Thoughts (for now)

As of Monday morning, a google search for articles on the ordination of Li Shan brings up more than 200 entries. Not bad for a religion story – in China or elsewhere. In general, I found the coverage to be a vast improvement on past coverage of Chinese Catholic events which – incorrectly – framed them as conflicts between a (implicitly false) State-run-Church, and a loyal-to-Rome underground Church; or, equally incorrect, as a conflict between atheism and theism; or, finally, as a prelude or setback to diplomacy between the Vatican and Beijing. To be sure, all of these factors come into play whenever China and its current and future bishops interact, but none of them are the primary issue. Instead, the primary question, from the standpoint of the Chinese government, is and has been whether or not a Vatican-approved bishop can be loyal to China – and vice-versa. Continue reading