外国记者 Foreign Correspondent

Reporting in China

Don’t force the chief to admit he lied

with one comment

December 10, 2009 – SHUANGQIAO

Biofuel machine "factory"

Adam and I return this morning to room 208 to eat a meagre breakfast of millet porridge, a few stale steamed buns and a tea egg.

Shuangqiao, the nearest town to the village, is clearly coal-powered. Huge lorries trundle through, carrying coal to nearby factories and homes. We visit a few private coal yards close to the hotel. At each one, two or three temporary workers spade coal from middling piles into bags or onto the back of horse-drawn carts. The horses look well-fed, but frequently whipped. As I approached them, they bowed their heads to the ground with worry. The hairs on the back of their legs had frozen into icicles of sweat.

The people are much jollier than down in the south, and universally preoccupied with my height and Adam’s PLA hat, which has flaps and makes him look Russian in their eyes. The bosses of the coal yards we visit say they have heard of the biofuel, but dismiss it as a fuel for peasants who can’t afford the superior luxuries of coal. One worker, however, says he is interested in investing in a biofuel machine, since he feels that it represents the future.

In the biggest yard, we sit inside with a family who have been coal salesmen for a decade. They tell us that with more people moving into apartments and using electricity, their sales have halved in three years. A brand new coal-fired power station at Hulan, with four cooling towers, has also crippled them – the station gets its coal from a state-owned mine and supplies their former customers.

After a huge lunch of beef, potatoes and a mix of cucumber, gourd, and egg and mushroom dumplings we return to the village. Yesterday, the boss claimed that he was selling his biofuels to nearby factories. When we asked if he could take us to them, he hesitantly agreed.

But when we get to the village, we are too early. The chief is still in the middle of his baijiu lunch. He sends his wife to look after us, but we scarper into the fields to avoid putting her out because she hasn’t eaten yet.

After half-an-hour, one of the chief’s cronies shows up, roaring drunk and with his flies undones. He takes us to the “factory”. This turns out to be where they made their biofuel compressor machine, which is romantically titled “Compress and Support BioEnergy Machine”. Rather than a production line, the factory is a yard in which two men are welding a few boilers.

Inside, another couple of engineers are busy reverse-engineering an enormous machine made by a company called Weida. The men take it slowly to pieces before hammering out their version of the machine’s cogs and gears from brick-sized blocks of steel. Adam is forbidden to photograph the process in case he lands them in trouble from the manufacturer. A small boiler in the corner is burning the biofuel briquettes.

When we push the chief to take us to a factory that is actually using biofuel for production, he demurs, muttering that there was a chicken farm that was heated with his biofuel but that they had sold all of their chickens yesterday. Adam nudges me and reminds me not to ask too many awkward questions. If the chief has to admit he was exaggerating, it will be a huge loss of face. And since he is relatively drunk, and staggering around the room, he might not react well to pushy foreigners. Adam reaches out to stroke his fur coat in a friendly manner and is rewarded with a venomous stare.


Written by malcolmmoore

December 19, 2009 at 8:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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    Douglas Blackwell

    January 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm

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