China: Undermined

The Price of Coal, by Wu Nan, published January 2, 2008 on ChinaDialogue

Hao Hualin calls the place where he grew up, “Talking Graves.” Ever since he could remember, the ground has shifted and twisted beneath the homes of Haojia Zhai, causing roofs to fall, walls to collapse and houses to slide. Piles of gray bricks and broken glass are all that remain now of Hao’s old village.

“When I walk by these houses, I feel like I’m hearing screams and echoes for ‘HELP’ coming out from the ruins,” said Hualin. “It’s like voices from graveyards.”

Tired of watching his village slide into ruin, Hualin, 24, began lobbying the local government for housing safety in 2003. His mentor is Hao Guiqin, 60, a retired former party secretary of the village. Guiqin has spent most of his life negotiating with the coal owners to relocate Haojia Zhai, which has been collapsing from reckless mining operations for more than four decades.

Haojia Zhai is about 100 kilometres south of Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province in northeast China. As one of China’s main coal producing regions, Shanxi is also known for its land subsidence, or sinking, problem. Haojia Zhai is a typical example, where severe manmade subsidence shifts have caused the land to slump as it settles around abandoned mine shafts. READ FULL ARTICLE

This video is presented here courtesy of PBS Frontline/World

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