Since the Communists came to power, November 15 has been circled in red on many Beijing calendars. It's not Mao Zedong's birthday. November 15 is the day when city officials dutifully flick the switch to turn on the capital's centrally-controlled heating system, supplying warmth to most of Beijing's 22 million residents.
In one of the last vestiges of collective living, Beijing's coal plants pump heat to city apartments on a strict schedule, from November 15 to March 15, every year. Since the 1950s, the schedule has rarely changed, even if temperatures plummet before the appointed day.
After enduring record heat-waves this summer, with the mercury soaring to its highest mark in 60 years, and thick pollution in the fall (which the government blamed on "fog"), Beijingers are now suffering through the early onset of bitter cold. China's state-run media reported October 18 as the city's coldest autumn day since 1986, with temperatures peaking at 48 degrees and then dropping to 44.
Many residents of the capital city are counting down the days to November 15 hunched over their computer keyboards, commiserating about the frigid weather and lack of government-provided relief.
The image of China's growing, increasingly tech-savvy and some would say restive population, hunkering over an internet-connected computer is certainly metaphorical.
And in other totally related news:
An eight-months pregnant woman was dragged from her home and forced to have an abortion because she had broken China’s one-child-per-family law.
Twelve government officials entered Xiao Aiying’s house where they hit and kicked her in the stomach, before taking her kicking and screaming to hospital
There, the 36-year-old was restrained as doctors injected her with a drug to kill the unborn baby.
Her husband Luo Yanquan, a construction worker, yesterday described the moment officials burst into his family home.
‘They held her hands behind her back and pushed her head against the wall and kicked her in the stomach,’ he said. ‘I don’t know if they were trying to give her a miscarriage.
‘Our ten-year-old daughter has been excited about having a little brother or sister but I don’t know how I can explain to her what has happened.’
He recalled how a month before the child was due to be born officials told the couple they weren’t allowed to have another baby because they already have a daughter.
His wife (pictured), who was filmed in hospital with large bruises on her arms and her dead child still inside her, said: ‘I have had this baby, feeling it moving around and around my belly. Can you imagine how I feel now.’
Her harrowing experience in Siming, near the city of Xiamen, south-west China, on October 10, comes a month after the government in Beijing said there would be no relaxation in strict family planning laws.
Most Chinese families are allowed only one child to reduce the 1.3 billion-plus population and cut unsustainable demand on resources.
The policy leads to an estimated 13 million abortions every year, with many of those ordered by local authorities. Infanticide is also widespread in many rural areas.
Those who violate the one child law can be fined up to £25,000.
As well as a home invasion and a beating.
The Yanquan's apparently lacked both the money and political connections to prevent this from happening.
Are we somehow implying that Thomas Friedman, with his odd obsession regarding China's economic planning, condones this? Certainly not. However, when your column, time after time, extols, on the whole, the virtues of this command-and-control authoritarian state, you're going to have to answer for certain things.
You may say that it is only with respect to China's economic direction does Friedman's affection lie. China's One Child Policy was put into place, in large part, because of economics and the fact that China was worried that families (and the country, for that matter) could not afford more than one child per couple.
Crappy economic policy spills over and creates brutal, thuggish and murderous human policy.
What better example is there of the importance to rein in the influence and power of government? If the government can direct economic activity, what gives you the reason to think that they will not see that as justification for directing other parts of society. Please see: ObamaCare.
Sorry, Tom. When it comes to being a Chi-comm apologist, if you're in for a dime, you're in for a dollar.
This story is revolting and heart-breaking. Please pray for the Yanquan's as their going public with this will not be viewed favorably by China's own ruling class.