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Earthquake gives Beijing a wobbly

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Google Earth map of quake epicenter by blogger Xujin
Today at lunchtime, an earthquake gave the office workers of Beijing a little wobble, although apparently nobody at ground level noticed the ground moving beneath their feet. A few hours later, Xinhua released this report -- the English and Chinese versions came out simultaneously:
An earthquake measuring 5.1 degrees on the Richter scale jolted a county in north China's Hebei Province at 11:56 a.m. (Beijing Time) Tuesday, according to the State Seismological Bureau (SSB).

No casualties are reported at press time, according to the bureau.

The earthquake was a shallow-focus one, with its epicenter being around 110 kilometers from Beijing and about 80 kilometers from Tianjin. So the quake was clearly felt in the two cities, said Zhang Hongwei, a spokesman for the bureau.

But the tremor would not cause any damage to Beijing, Zhang said.

Coming a few days after the proposal of a an absurd law that could result in fines for news media that report "sudden" news items without approval (see Danwei story: Draft bill: Breaking news stories to be illegal), this earthquake provoked a storm of mobile phone text messages and MSN conversations amongst Chinese media circles.

The Big One would hit Beijing at 2pm, said one rumor, later revised to 5 pm, and then 7 pm, as the rumored Big One stubbornly refused to arrive.

Which made clear a point about the recent proposed law that threatens to fine news media for reporting 'unauthorized' stories about breaking events: The function of news media during a time of emergency is to gather as many facts as possible and present a version of the truth that is better researched than casual text messages. Any law that hinders the process of sorting the facts from the rumors is a bad law.

The law is a lost cause anyway. The information floodgates are already open. Here for example is a blog post from Xujin that links to handfuls of first person accounts of the earthquake on a bunch of blogs hosted on Hexun, which is affiliated with Caijing magazine: North China earthquake: Hexun blog special focus (华北发生地震 和讯博客聚焦).

The image reproduced above is taken from Xujin's blog post: it's a map made from Google Earth that shows the distance from Beijing to the earthquake's epicenter.

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There are currently 2 Comments for Earthquake gives Beijing a wobbly.

Comments on Earthquake gives Beijing a wobbly

All the authorities are trying to do is stopping damaging rumour going into print - I don't think they need to worry. I've had 5 readers at my blog today (apart from the 25 moderator visits, the 7 bored phone company call centre staff visits, the 25hrs a day 8 days a week intel monitoring and a vicious loon from N.Z. - nobody that matters has time for the goldfish tank of the internet..

So "news" only means "yesterday" after our approval?

Is that really news then?

Why would everyone only want to know yesterdays news?

That's China for you, but in Europe, their working on "tomorrows News Today"!

Yes, it's using a time machine, to forecast events. All this is top secret, classified and eyes only material.

So you see, either way, the only news common people get, is whatever their experience in the moment!

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