Posted by Joel Martinsen on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 10:15 AM
Xinhua photo of the fire
* * *
The northern building of the new CCTV complex, which houses the Television Culture Center (TVCC) and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, caught fire last night at around 8:00. The fire spread quickly and soon the entire structure was in flames.
Official reports put the time of the fire at 8:27 and blame it on misuse of fireworks; the New York Times writes, "witnesses said they spotted flames as early as 7:45 p.m. Within 20 minutes, they said, the fire had spread from the lower floors to the building’s crown."
Netizens began posting about the fire shortly after it started. Well-known blogger Zola set up a clearinghouse for posts and photos. Here are some of the more informative English-language original posts and translations:
Accordingly, the incident hasn't been featured all that prominently on news portal front pages: Wang Xiaofeng has a collection of harmonious screenshots with nary a flame to be seen.
This morning, Xinhua's own website featured a fire smack in the middle of the homepage, but it wasn't from Beijing. A scheduled blaze during a Lantern Festival celebration in Korea ended up causing a stampede that led to the deaths of at least four crowd members.
The TVCC fire is mentioned in a link to a news roundup that says it's been extinguished.
Today Morning Express
February 10, 2009
Photos and giant headlines about the fire were splashed across the front pages of newspapers throughout the country, but Beijing's own papers declined to follow suit. Instead of sensationalism, they featured stories that led with what was really important: the participation of the city's leadership.
Here's the Beijing Youth Daily's own report on the incident:
Update: Black and White Cat compares CCTV's own reporting from shortly after the fire broke out with an update after midnight. The first has images, the second, a lonely anchor reading off a perfunctory report much like the one translated above.
The Economic Observer reports that one firefighter has died and six others are seriously injured. The blaze was finally put out at 2:20 this morning.
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.