Monday, September 15, 2003

"Shangshan village will be a widows' village in 10 years' time..."

More depressing stories from the capitalist paradise, "communist" China:
SHANGSHAN, China - The oxygen tank at Wu Shengfu's side fills his scarred lungs with enough air to breathe but not enough to talk for long about why, at 48 years old, he will be dying soon.

His friends do their best to help explain, even at the risk of being harassed by police, because many of them too will succumb to an early death. Slowly, the men of this village in central China are dying, and the local authorities here, having profited from their labors, would prefer that they die in silence.


Without much supervision from local authorities, Wu and other villagers worked seven days a week drilling into the rock on Earth Dragon Mountain to mine gold ore for the government and, furtively, for themselves. They also breathed in huge amounts of white dust - silica from quartz - because they weren't wearing masks or any other protective equipment.

The dust was everywhere, Wu's friends said, so thick sometimes that one couldn't see a fellow miner a few feet away. It would sit in their lungs for years until the miners, one by one, developed silicosis, an incurable lung disease.