Radiation Reported in China’s Heilongjiang Province

Thus reports China Daily, stating that radiation has been found in the water in Fuyuan county [抚远县], which is China’s easternmost point in the northeastern most province, very close to the Russian frontier.

On March 22, the PRC Environmental Protection Agency [环境保护部/Huanjing baohu bu ] had reported no evidence of Fukushima radiation in Heilongjiang province.

Checking radiation in the late March snows of Heilongjiang, courtesy China's EPA

The irony is that Fuyuan was supposed to have been the site of a major wind power project (sponsored by this Austrian company) which is currently on hold for lack of investment.

According to the PRC Environmental Ministry (via Huanqiu Shibao), radiation levels in the area are within acceptable limits and no precautions need be taken, at least not yet.  Getting far more attention in China — certainly driven by the dense urban populations there, as opposed to sparse and peripheral northeastern Dongbei — are these daily radiation readings in Zhejiang and Shanghai.

China’s EPA website has a fair amount of information about the situation in and around Japan.   (The page crashed the first two times I tried to load it, indicating that, just maybe, a few million Chinese surfers are trying to look at the same thing.)  As for the Fuyuan problem, the Heilongjiang branch of the Chinese EPA seems to be counseling calm while exemplifying provincial powerlessness without central stimulation; the main feature on its page is of an employee banging on some drums and singing patriotic songs. The site has an impressive set of links, but none of them appears to be about Fuyuan county’s current problem.  Does this strike anyone else as a strategic weakness in the PRC’s ability to mobilize and inform?  So what if the provincial EPA has investigating pollution in the Songhua River?  This is old news!

Mudanjiang, another small eastern city in Heilongjiang, has some commercial and tourism ties with North Korea.  Do you suppose that it’s only a matter of time before  rumors are floating into North Korea about radiation moving west?  The North Korean media has been reporting on the nuclear crisis in Japan in sporadic but unmistakable terms.  Who cares if North Korea is using environmental issues as an excuse to talk?  Just start talking, people!

A few final points:

If you need a Chinese-language fix of the latest television reports about Japan, start with this CCTV report on the basic layout of Japan’s nuclear plants.

If you’re an Anglophone (or an environmentally-inclined Anglophile) looking for a fantastic, mind-altering, and all-too-relevant book to read, try Brett Walker’s new Toxic Archipelago, published in Seattle at the University of Washington Press.  And keep your eyes on this space for more analysis of Walker’s paradigm-busting monograph, because it’s worth all of our time.

This morning I had a student come into my office and ask to write a paper about the Sino-Japanese textbook controversy and I told her to forget it.  Maybe both China and Japan, eyes on the widening Geiger counter, can do the same.

Manchurian Brides in Japan

Yes, I’m aware that the title of this post is somewhat retro, and would be happy to change it if someone can convince me that this post on the Huanqiu BBS isn’t just a bit redolent of an earlier era.  Entitled 还有民族尊严吗?每年1万中国女孩嫁到日本 [“Do they still have racial pride?  Every year 10,000 Chinese girls are married off to Japan”), the story describes the patter of migration, one instance of which whereby 35 girls from rural Heilongjiang province meet up with Japanese businessmen for purposes of marriage. 

One BBS commentator excoriates the girls, telling them they need to get to the Anti-Japanese history museums in Dongbei (the Northeast/Manchuria) in order to “restore their memory of the Chinese characters for ‘Japanese devil’.”  What might be more helpful is for the PRC to have a more open debate about the problem of girls in the countryside and how that relates to national power.  (After all, even bride-exporting countries like Cambodia, with just a fraction of China’s might, have recently banned outmarriage to Korean bachelors.)  Or we could just forget it and fantasize about how a Beijing University professor projects train service to Taiwan within 20 years.  Visions of the future, shadows of the past: hopefully this thread will bear some productive fruit.   

"Daughters of China/Zhonghua Ernu", Northeast Film Studios, 1949 -- I wonder what the daoyan would say today

Crimes and Misdemeanors in Yanji

In the endeavor to put some meat on the bones of the Chinese side of the Robert Park story (e.g., What was Park doing in Yanbian and what was the Chinese police response?), a recent commenter on this site pointed my attention to the website of the Yanbian Public Security Bureau.  Sure, its posts about cops sharing some grains with local households are just standard P.R., but in fact there are some wickedly interesting police reports there digested for public consumption.

延边州公安局 Yanbian Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau, Yanji City west side, near the airport, not far, in fact, from where I was almost abducted this summer by some guys claiming to be "xinjiang terrorists"

On this website, I asserted here that I had found information pertaining to a manhunt for someone who was likely to be the North Korean defector-turned South Korean citizen who was Robert Park’s contact in Yanji city.  In the comments section of this post on Robert Park’s portrayal in the Chinese press, one suggested that this December police report from Yanji might provide a few clues about manhunts in Yanbian after the Robert Park walk across the Tumen River.

Well, I translate it below, and, while it certainly doesn’t refute my earlier assertion, it does tell you why a bunch of cops were up all night on Christmas Eve in Yanji and why Public Security was a bit on edge when he went over the border.

It also gives a nice sense of the sometimes-tenuous status of the drive to establish a through-going “rule of law” on the Chinese frontier, particularly in an area probably awash in various currencies (particularly RMB and USD) counterfeited by the North Koreans across the border.

Or, if you prefer, the story functions as a powerful reminder that certain George Clooney movies about heists in Las Vegas can be used as inspiration in some very different cultural contexts indeed.  But that’s much ado about nothing: here, in short order, is the story on the “12.16 Incident”:

Yanbian Automomous Region Public Security Bureau, “Yanji Police Successfully Route Out the Case of the Great ‘December 16′ Theft [延吉警方成功侦破“12.16”特大抢夺案],” 28 December 2009, URL (full text in Chinese).

[Translation and headers by Adam Cathcart]

At 10:15 on December 16, 2009, Yanji City Public Security Bureau received a report. It stated that in an office (room 1206) at the “New Century Mansion,” in the process of exchanging American dollars for Chinese yuan, a man robbed three victims of 140,000 yuan and then escaped.

On December 25, the Yanji Public Security Bureau held a news conference, giving a report the previous seven days’ progress on the investigation. They stated that three suspects had been netted in Hegang city [鹤岗市] in Heilongjiang province, and that the three guilty suspects had been arrested and brought back to Yanji on the night of December 24.

After the outbreak of this incident, Yanji City Public Security Bureau attached great importance to quick movement, immediately establishing Kim Kyung-il [Jin Jingri / 金京日] as commander, Jin Huzhe [金虎哲] as vice-commander, and setting up a brigade of “12.16” investigative command.

Physical descriptions and drawings of the suspects were obtained through the testimony of the victim of the 12.16 crime, and spread through the media, including the notice of a reward. An expansive effort followed, including retrieval of surveillance videos [监控录像], and visits took place all over the city, thoroughly checking rental housing, hotels, and bath houses, and so on. On December 20, police had in their hands some very valuable clues.

According to the impressions of two hotel owners on Jinxue [“Improved Study” 进学街Street], suspects had stayed in their hotels, but had gone to other hotels to do their business. According to these clues, the investigative headquarters determined the three biggest suspects of the “12.16” case, surnamed Yang, Zou, and Zhu.

Through investigation, police made progress through gathering of further detailed information about suspect Yang, integrating analysis and information to find that Mr. Yang may have fled to Hegang City in Heilongjiang Province.

As a result, police officers rushed to the headquarters and immediately organized a team of cadre to go to Hegang in Heilongjiang. On December 23, with the vigorous assistance of Hegang City Public Security Bureau, the three big suspected thieves, Mr. Zou, Mr. Zhu, and Mr. Yang were captured at the “Oriental Hotel” [东方宾馆], where investigators confiscated 63,901 U.S. dollars, 30,400 Chinese yuan, and 360 Hong Kong yuan.

On the evening of December 24, the suspects were escorted back to Yanji.

The Perps: Hatching Plans in the Lhasa Lockup

After the return to Yanji, the local Public Security Bureau spent the night doing an in-depth and detailed review: criminal suspect Mr. Zou was found to be of Han nationality, born in 1962, with a residence [户口所 hukou suo] in Nanchong City [南充市], Sichuan Province. In July 2000, Mr. Zou had been in Tibet, and, due to fraudulent resale of American dollars, had been sentenced to imprisonment for 12 years. He was released in May 2007.

Criminal suspect Mr. Yang was found to be an ethnic Korean born in 1969 with a household registration in Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province. He was determined to be a temporary resident [暂住] of Yanji City.

Suspect Mr. Zhu was found to be of Han nationality, born in 1964, with a household registration Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province. In July 1999, due to theft, he had been sentenced to imprisonment 12 years. He was released from prison in March 2006.

Within this group, Mr. Yang and Mr. Zhu were from the same hometown [同乡], and had been in close contact since 2005. As for Mr. Zou and Mr. Zhu, they had been fellow inmates in the same prison in Lhasa, and, since the two of them had been released, often kept in touch.

Early in December 2009, the three men consulted in Yanji City, determining how they would rob U.S. dollars from a person engaged in foreign exchange, and got money used to carry out the crime from Mr. Yang.

After this premeditation [预谋后], Mr. Zou selected the targets. He thereafter did five separate exchanges of U.S. dollar transactions with the victims – the biggest amount being 50,000 U.S. dollars — to gain the trust of the victims and relax their vigilance [放松了警惕].

Then, based on the information provided by Mr. Yang, Mr. Zou went to “New Century Mansion” and rented room 1206 to use as an office. Together with Mr. Zhu, they renovated the room [装修], separating it out and adding security doors fitted to prepare for committing crimes.

The morning of December 16, Mr. Zou tasked Mr. Zhu with tracking the victims, surveilling the corridor outside room 1206, and telling Mr. Yang to get good vehicle from his previous employer to wait at the back door of the “New Century Mansion.” Then, the three victims arrived inside room 1206 for the exchange. They gave Mr. Zou 140,000 U.S. dollars. Mr. Zou then went into the previously prepared room, locked the doors, and escaped.

After perpetrating this act, the three suspects then took the three suspects got in the car and fled to Changchun, eventually going to Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province.

According to the understanding of the investigation, in Hegang city, Mr. Zou lay claim to about 60,000 U.S. dollars of the spoils, and then divided the remaining 80,000 U.S. dollars equally, giving each person a share of 26,700 U.S. dollars. Mr. Zou’s possession of 60,000 U.S. dollars are being traced, and the case is under further investigation.

The public security organs to remind the masses: unauthorized reselling of U.S. dollars and other valuable securities is against the law, exchange foreign currency to go through the normal channels of exchange of financial institutions; and, if there is a cash transaction, we must ensure safe and reliable behavior. To the greatest extent possible [尽量], use financial institutions to conduct banking transactions. As the year reaches a coda, the masses should strengthen their own precautions: Do not give criminals any opportunity to even sit down, and, if illegal violations occur, report them immediately to the police for assistance.

Perps in the "12-16" Incident in Yanji, PRC -- photo by Li Yun

A Few Closing Thoughts

Can you imagine, by the way, what similar police reports look like across the border in North Korea?  If Good Friends reports make for bracing reading, one can only imagine what the cops are saying and seeing.   You can bet that the reports near Hyeryong, where Park walked across the Tumen River, are probably digitized, but we’re maybe decades away from the notion of even the most limited public transparency for security organizations taking hold in the DPRK.  (中国的开放社会加油!) I’ve had the unsettling pleasure of reading North Korean police reports from the 1945-1950 period, thanks to the fact that U.S. Marines plundered the DPRK’s archives from that period and stuck them in the vault in Maryland, now site of scholarly sojurns until we normalize relations and hand the records back according to international law.  In the meantime, I’m for one glad that we can use Chinese websites to get a bit closer to what is happening on that vibrant side of the North Korean frontier.

Preferred Citation:  Adam Cathcart “Crimes and Misdemeanors in Yanji,” Sinologistical Violoncellist blog, 8 February 2010, URL.

or,

Yanbian Automomous Region Public Security Bureau, “Yanji Police Successfully Route Out the Case of the Great ‘December 16′ Theft [延吉警方成功侦破“12.16”特大抢夺案],” 28 December 2009, URL (full text in Chinese), translated by Adam Cathcart in “Crimes and Misdemeanors in Yanji,” Sinologistical Violoncellist blog, 8 February 2010, URL.