外国记者 Foreign Correspondent

Reporting in China

Not quite a green revolution

with 4 comments

December 9, 2009 – Harbin

Biofuel compressor machine, Qinlao

An early flight from Pudong into Harbin, in Heilongjiang, where it was -10C. The airport is equipped with small cabins where disembarking passengers can change into warmer clothes. The sign on the outside was in Chinese, English and Russian. In the airport cafe, two tables of blonde Russian ladies sipped tea and ate bowls of rice.
From the airport, we went directly to a small village which the People’s Daily had earmarked as a model project to pioneer the use of biofuels. According to the report, the entire village would try not to  burn coal during the winter, and would instead use plant stalks.
It sounded unlikely in print, and over the phone earlier in the week the village chief had admitted to Elyn that they “didn’t have enough plant stalks”. When we arrived, the smell of coal was heavy in the air and the first door we stopped outside had a large sign on it offering coal at 490 kuai a ton.
The village was very neat and seemingly more prosperous than some of the rural villages we have seen in the past. It turned out that they are indeed using the plant stalks, but the People’s Daily may have jumped the gun. Coal is still being used because there are not enough plant stalks to go around. By next year, the village chief promises, Qinlao will have abandoned coal altogether. This year, they simply can’t make enough to keep up with demand.
We clamber into his Hyundai, which smells of baijiu, still has the plastic covers over its sun-visors in the front, and has been tricked out with fluffy white seat covers and fake Louis Vuitton monogram floor mats.
He took us to the old village school, which has been converted into a factory. One machine makes corn stalks into animal feed pellets and another turns them into compacted briquettes for fuel. His grand plan is to start exporting the feed to South Korea and the fuel across China. Although the corn burns up faster than coal, it also ignites more easily and creates a fiercer heat.
His sister-in-law shows us the inside of her house, complete with a multicoloured kang. I felt the platform in the hope that it might be warm, but sadly it was off. They heat the house for two or three hours every night before bed, and that’s enough. One or two tons of corn, which would cost around 450 kuai a ton, is enough to power them through the winter.
The village chief seems like a feudal lord, although he peppers his speech with enough reference to Laobaixing, the common people, to show he is at one with his constituency. Still, his house has ornate ironwork, including bright orange leaping deer, the thickest double-glazing any of us has ever seen, and he tells us that he paid for the village road after striking it rich in the construction industry in Qingdao. He also paid for the plant stalk compacters. The fuel compactor, which threw up huge clouds of dust as it made its bricks, is a design the village came up with itself, with the help of some local engineers. They’ve been perfecting it since February.
Departing, we made our way to a “business hotel” in the nearby town. I get a larger room than Adam, our photographer, and Elyn. In fact, the room is the size of two tennis courts but empty of furniture. It looks like you could use it for ballroom dancing. It’s the second cheapest room available. I wonder if the suite is a whole floor. Or maybe the suite costs more because it has more fittings. The room is 280 kuai. Elyn and Adam are paying 180 each, but there were only two of the cheapest rooms available so I took the ungentlemanly step of upgrading myself.
After check-in, dinner. A classic example of how helpless I am without my assistant. Adam and I descend to the lobby but decide it is too cold for a drink there. We ask about a restaurant and are pointed to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs, there is a large spread of plastic dishes, each piled with the raw ingredients to choose from. Since, however, we don’t know the Chinese names of any of these dishes, we resort to smiling and pointing at a whole range of mismatched courses. The helpful waitress warns us not to order too much, but we ignore her and end up with a mountain of food.
We then start looking for a table to sit down, but it turns out that there is no dining room. We are asked to get in the lift and go to the second floor, where we are ushered into room 208, which has had a table and chairs installed. Adam and I drink a couple of warms beers. Because it is freezing outside, the locals don’t want their beer chilled too.
On CCTV, as I sit in the giant hotel room, there is a show discussing the Telegraph’s website report about a fish that was boiled in oil and was still gasping desperately when served. A video of the fish had made its way onto Youtube and been picked up by our web reporters in London.
There’s a particularly gruesome bit when the Chinese diners start poking their chopsticks into the fish’s maw. The story became the most-read item on the website, but I was a bit ashamed of it and under the microscopic scrutiny of the Chinese talk show hosts, who debated the differences between Chinese and Western culture, it came across as yet another attack on Chinese habits from the foreign media.
Telegraph story: http://twurl.nl/v413qn

哈尔滨

我们搭乘了从上海浦东机场飞往哈尔滨的早班机。中午落机的时候,地面温度只有10度。哈尔滨机场很贴心的给落机的乘客提供了添衣加暖的小隔间,门上贴有中文,英文和俄文的标识。哈尔滨的俄国人很多,在机场咖啡屋等摄影师的时候我们就发现了两桌金发碧眼的俄罗斯姑娘,喝着茶,吃着米饭。

从机场出发我们直接去了这次采访的目的地,人民日报誉为的生物燃料环保示范村。人民日报的文章称该村今年过冬取暖将尽量不使用煤,而用秸秆取代。

没有亲眼所见,很难不置疑。之前我们联系了该村的村长,他承认“我们没那么多的杆子”。我们到达村子的时候,空气中漂着浓厚的烧煤气味。我们走访的第一户农家大门上就写着出售煤炭的告示,490元一吨。

村子还是很整洁的,比我们之前去的一些农村要富裕些。访问了几户农家后,我们发现他们的确在烧玉米杆子,只不过人民日报的数据稍微过实了点。玉米杆子供应量不足,村民们也只得烧煤。村长承诺等明年冬季,这个村子就会成为真正意义上的无煤村。今年的话还是供不应求的状况。

我们爬进了村长的现代轿车。车内弥漫着白酒的味道,防晒板上还套着塑料封套,座位上铺着白色毛绒坐垫,底下垫着仿冒的LV毯子。
村长带我们去了原来村里的小学,现在已经改造成加工玉米杆子的工厂。厂里有两台机器,一台将玉米杆子压缩成块状做燃料,一台压缩成颗粒做饲料。村长雄心勃勃地计划明年将饲料出口给韩国,将燃料售往全国各地。虽然玉米杆子烧的比煤快多了,但其燃点低,致暖性好。
之前走访村民的时候,村长的嫂子邀请我们进屋参观。内屋有张色彩斑斓的大炕。我摸了摸炕,希望是张暖炕,结果却是冰冷冷的。村民一般晚上在睡觉前采暖两到三个小时,就够维系一夜了。一到两吨450块一吨的玉米杆子燃块就够他们过一个冬天的了。

村长看起来像一个封建领主,虽然他的话语中多次提及老百姓以示自己是为村民服务的。然而,他的房子却有华丽的铁门,上面配有亮橙色的跳鹿饰品,房屋镶着双层玻璃,厚度前所未见。村长告诉我们他在青岛的填海建筑工程中赚足钱后,回村里修了马路。两台玉米杆子压缩机器也是他购置的。燃料压缩机在将玉米杆子压缩成块的时候吞吐出大量的尘雾。村长介绍这个压缩机的主意是村委想出来的,当地的一些工程师提供了技术支持,从今年二月开始他们就一直致力于机器的改良工作。

离开了村子,我们去镇上找了一家“商务酒店”。我的房间比摄影师Adam和Elyn的要大一点。事实上,我的房间足有两个网球场大小,只是空荡荡的没家具摆设。这样的空间足够做一个舞池了,价格却是倒数第二便宜的。我好奇如果是套房的话,会不会占据整个楼面,或者是家具多,设备齐全的原因,套房的价格才贵些?我的房间是280元一晚,他们两个是180元。因为只剩两间最便宜的标间,所以我很不绅士的拿了高一级的房间。

办理好住宿手续后,我们准备用晚餐了。Adam和我先下到酒店大堂,本想喝上一杯,但实在太冷了。想前台询问附近的餐厅,却被带到附一楼的酒店餐厅。在楼梯底部摆放着满满的塑料餐盘,里面盛着各色生冷食品供客人选择。我们不知道如何用中文说出菜名,只好胡乱指一些菜肴。服务员很好心地提醒我们不要点太多,我们却没听进去,结果点了一大堆菜点。接下来我们开始寻找餐桌吃饭,未果。服务员让我们坐电梯上二楼。我们被领到208房间,里面放置了一张桌子和几把椅子。我和Adam喝了几杯热啤酒。哈,外面天寒地冻,本地人大概不希望自己的啤酒也是冰的吧。

饭后我回到自己的巨型房间,开始看电视。CCTV上有一档谈话类节目正在讨论每日电讯报网站上的一篇报道,内容是关于一条鱼被活煎,送餐时还在拼命挣扎。相关的录像视频被上传到Youtube上,每日电讯伦敦的记者看到并做了相关报道。其中尤为悚心的是中国餐客用筷子插入鱼颚的片断。这篇报道成为网站上阅读点击最多的文章,我倒觉得这篇报道价值没那么大。那位话题节目主持人分析说,这是中西文化的差异之处,是外国媒体对中国习俗的又一次攻击。

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Written by malcolmmoore

December 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

4 Responses

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  1. It would be better if you can give links to the original article of the China Daily you quoted.

    Li Ren

    December 18, 2009 at 4:50 pm

  2. Looking forward to more.

    Bill Goodall

    December 18, 2009 at 5:05 pm

  3. 我觉得地面温度应该是零下10度吧?呵呵

    Michelle

    December 18, 2009 at 8:28 pm


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