Rescue efforts pour into NW China as quake death toll reaches 127

Rescue and disaster relief forces, medical teams and urgent supplies are pouring into Northwest China's Gansu Province and the neighboring Qianghai Province after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake jolted a Gansu county at a depth of 10 kilometers at 11:59 pm Monday, causing 127 deaths as of press time.

More than 700 people were injured in the two provinces and dozens more were reported missing; more than 155,000 houses were damaged or collapsed, according to media reports. Infrastructure related to water, electricity, telecommunication, and roads around the epicenter of Jishishan county of Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu have also been damaged to varying degrees.

President Xi Jinping has urged all-out search and rescue efforts and proper arrangements for affected people to ensure the safety of people's lives and property. He also urged allocation of relief supplies to the affected regions as soon as possible, repair of damaged infrastructure such as electricity, communications, transportation and heating, and proper accommodation of the affected people to ensure their basic living needs, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday.    

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Emergency Management allocated on Tuesday 200 million yuan ($28 million) of central emergency response fund to the quake-stricken areas.

The State Council's Earthquake Relief Command and the Ministry of Emergency Management have raised the national earthquake emergency response to Level II. The national disaster relief emergency response has also been elevated to Level III.

A Y-20 large transport aircraft from the Air Force of the People's Liberation Army Western Theater Command arrived in Lanzhou, capital city of Gansu, on Tuesday noon to deliver the emergency command group and supplies.

China's home-developed Wing Loong-2H emergency relief unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) have also been deployed, the Global Times learned from the Aviation Industry Corporation of China. Upon arrival at the disaster zone, the drones will carry out emergency communication support and disaster reconnaissance, among other tasks.

More than 1,500 firefighters, 1,500 police officers, and 1,000 PLA soldiers have been dispatched to the disaster-stricken area, Gansu authorities revealed. Coordinating departments also urgently transported the first batch of emergency supplies to the affected region, including cotton tents, folding beds, blankets, stoves, and more.

The National Health Commission (NHC) sent out a team of medical experts and ordered medical teams from nearby provinces to assist the affected region. More than 100 ambulances were dispatched to transfer the injured.

NHC is working together with local medical staff to systematically screen for hidden injuries, and has already developed individualized diagnosis and treatment plans.

A total of 386 medics from hospitals within Gansu have formed 19 teams to aid the rescue and treatment in Jishishan county and other places in Linxia prefecture.

According to Xinhua, 279 out of 314 telecommunication base stations in Jishishan county have resumed operation and power supply returned for 88 percent of local households as of Tuesday afternoon.

At a temporary shelter in Dahe village, Jishishan coutnty, the Global Times saw local government staff preparing hot food, drinks and instant noodles for victims. About 130 tents were built and each can accommodate five people.

Dahejia Middle School is located in the severely affected Jishishan county. The school principal, surnamed Ma, told the media that all 2,100 students and 190 teachers have safely returned home without injuries. "We have conducted frequent drills at our school for fire and earthquake safety. In critical situations, our teachers were able to quickly evacuate the students," Ma said, adding that more than 1,500 students and all the teachers in school live on campus.

The principal recalled that when the tremor began late Monday night, they first heard a loud bang and then realized that the entire building was shaking. "The teachers soon found that many doors couldn't be opened as they were deformed by the quake. Several male teachers worked together to strike open all the doors." As the school lost power amid the quake, students helped each other by shaking everyone awake, while the teachers ran into each dormitory to evacuate the students. "It only took about 5 minutes to evacuate the entire school," Ma said.

Preliminary analysis of the cause of the earthquake indicates a thrust rupture. Within a 200-kilometer radius of the epicenter, there have been three quakes measuring magnitude 6 or higher since 1900.

There also remains possibility of strong aftershocks with magnitude 5 or higher in the epicenter in the coming days, based on seismic zone analysis, local officials in Gansu warned.

Hours after the quake in Gansu, another 5.5-magnitude quake struck the city of Artux in the neighboring Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region at 9:46 am on Tuesday, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center. No casualties have been reported as of press time.

Relief complex

Analysts explained that the relatively large casualties and losses resulted from its high intensity and the shallow depth of epicenter. The seismic resistance of the affected-region's buildings is lower than that of the developed regions, the epicenter is a densely populated county, and the timing of midnight also aggravated the situation.

Secondary disasters also pose challenges to the disaster relief. Mountain landslide occurred in a village in Minhe county neighboring Jishishan, which trapped residents and buried several houses.

Yan Wei, deputy director of China's civilian rescue organization the Blue Sky Rescue Team's Gansu branch, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the disaster situation in the local region is severe as 70 to 80 percent of the houses have collapsed in areas around the epicenter.

Yan said that local communication and transportation were also damaged to different degrees, but rescue vehicles are still able to reach the epicenter despite the damages.

Experts reached by the Global Times also warned that the sweeping cold wave and the drastic drop in temperatures have posed another major challenge. The typical golden rescue time window for earthquakes is 72 hours, but this time it is likely to be shortened due to the bitter cold weather, analysts said.

The temperatures drop to -14 C at night, which is a big problem, said Yan. "Many villagers were left without shelters after their houses collapsed. The rescue forces, right after arrival, started building hundreds of tents. They also provided instant noodles and hot water. The situation is improving."

Development of Xinjiang impresses Pakistani media and think tank representatives

During a five-day on-site visit to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, 15 representatives from media and think tanks in Pakistan witnessed the development situation in the region. One of the most impressive aspects for them was the development of Muslims in Xinjiang and the religious freedom they enjoy, according to journalists and scholars who spoke to the Global Times. They called for more people who have misunderstandings about Xinjiang to visit the region.

In Xinjiang, the delegation visited the Id Kah Mosque in Kashi and the Xinjiang Islamic Institute in Urumqi, and stayed, observed, and talked at length to the Imam and the director at these two religious facilities. 

The Id Kah Mosque is located in the old town of Kashi. It has a long history and is also a representative example of Uygur architectural art. In recent years, the Chinese government has allocated a large amount of funds to renovate the mosque, providing good conditions for religious believers. The Xinjiang Islamic Institute was established in June 1987 and currently has a student body of around 1,000. It is the only religious higher education institution in Xinjiang and has eight branch campuses.

"Everyone has heard so many of the propaganda stories against Xinjiang," Moiz Farooq, an executive editor of Daily Ittehad Media Group, told the Global Times. "Now finally we have seen the truth, and it is great to say that seeing is believing."

Farooq said that he is particularly impressed by the fact that there are currently about 1,000 students studying full-time at the Xinjiang Islam Institute, where they receive an undergraduate education and a BA degree and a job in the religious field after graduation. 

"It is very happy for me to see the Muslims in Xinjiang are enjoying all the freedom," he said. "They have freedom to practice in religion over here, with the best facilities in the institute."

After the visits to the Id Kah Mosque and the Xinjiang Islam Institute, Yasir Habib Khan also said that he has gained a clearer understanding of China's policy on religious freedom. 

"In accordance with Chinese law, every religion is treated equally, which is very encouraging," he said. "Some Western media have repeatedly attempted to demonize China and fabricate false information about Chinese Muslims, but seeing is believing - Muslims in Xinjiang can fully engage in normal religious activities according to Islamic doctrines."

"Setting foot on the ground and making close observations in Xinjiang, it is testified that Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang are completely free to live their normal lives practicing Islam in its true spirit," Khan wrote in his column.

"Those who make unfounded remarks should come to Xinjiang in person and see the real situation here," he said.

Sayed Kalbe Ali Naqvi, a senior reporter from Dawn newspaper, also noted that the real Xinjiang is far different from the false propaganda and portrayals by Western media. 

In the past, he thought Xinjiang was a small and underdeveloped border town, as is described in many foreign media reports. But upon setting foot on this land, he discovered that it is much more prosperous and lively than he imagined, with a vast territory and a large population. 

Naz Parveen, editor of the Daily Kasoti and The Window of China, described snow-covered Urumqi as romantic - with winding flyovers and towering buildings not far from hazy snow-capped mountains, far surpassing her imagination. 

"The development of Urumqi is beyond imagination," said Fahd Gauhar Malik, editor of Pakistan Observer, who had previously learned about Xinjiang mainly through media reports. Upon arrival, he discovered that Urumqi is filled with high-rise buildings, well-developed infrastructure, and people living and working in peace and contentment, completely the opposite to the so-called "backwardness" reported by Western media. 

"I can see that people living in Urumqi are very happy," he said.

"Beautiful Xinjiang deserves to be promoted to the world," said Mahzaib Abbasi, a Pakistani online influencer who has been living and studying in China for seven years. "I want to share the wonderful experience in Urumqi as soon as possible and showcase the real Xinjiang through my videos."

During their five-day visit to Xinjiang, a delegation of 15 representatives from Pakistani media and think tanks also visited Kashi Old Town, Jiashi water safety engineering facilities, a prune industrial park, Xinjiang Mustang Ecological Park, the Urumqi International Land Port Zone, and the International Grand Bazaar.

The delegation visited China from December 6 to 16, travelling from Beijing to Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, and Kashi and Urumqi in Xinjiang.

China dominates in diving at World Aquatics Championships

China dominated in the diving event at the Fukuoka World Aquatics Championships despite losing in the last event on Saturday, as Chinese divers claimed a total of 12 out of 13 gold medals at this year's worlds diving.

In the men's 10m final, China's Lian Junjie finished runner-up while his compatriot Yang Hao won bronze. Australian Cassiel Rousseau broke China's grip on diving for the first time in six years by winning gold. China had won every world championship diving event it had entered since 2017.

Meanwhile, China's Zhu Zifeng and Lin Shan won gold in the mixed 3m synchronized as China finished the worlds diving event with 12 gold, four silver and three bronze medals. 

In the artistic swimming on Saturday, China's Cheng Wentao and Shi Haoyu clinched gold with an impressive performance.

In the Mixed 3m & 10m Team final of diving on Tuesday, China pocketed its ninth gold in convincing fashion by surpassing Mexico and Germany.

"China's diving dream team has never disappointed us," said one user on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo. 

In the Artistic Swimming Team Technical Routine final on Monday, the Chinese team secured the gold medal with a score of 238.0033. The teams from the US and Japan claimed the silver and bronze medals, respectively. 

The Chinese diving team excelled in the women's 3m synchronized springboard and men's 10m synchronized platform, clinching two gold medals. Chen Yiwen and Chang Yani, the defending champions in the women's 3m synchronized from the previous edition of the Swimming World Championships, took the gold with a score of 341.94. 

In the men's 10m synchronized platform final, which featured 12 pairs of participants, the Chinese duo Yang Hao and Lian Junjie garnered a total of 477.75 points for their six dives, leading the second-place pair by nearly 40 points.

On Sunday, the Chinese team added two golden medals. Peng Jianfeng won the men's 1m springboard gold. In the women's 10m synchronized platform final, China's female diving aces Chen Yuxi and Quan Hongchan claimed the championship, dominating the competition with a total score of 369.84 points. They surpassed the second-place British pair of Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix and Lois Toulson by 58.08 points. The victory also secured a berth for the duo in the diving competition at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

A total of 22 female swimmers and 19 male swimmers from China are competing in all 42 events at the championships, which were originally scheduled to be held in Fukuoka in 2021.

South Korean soccer star Son Heung-min’s celebration arouses controversy

South Korean soccer star Son Heung-min's goal celebration in their 3-0 away win over China on Tuesday aroused controversy on Chinese social media.

Chinese team was defeated by South Korea in their second group match of the second stage of 2026 World Cup Asian Zone qualifiers held in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province. 

Spurs star Son, who captains South Korean national team, bagged a first half brace before setting up teammate Jung Seung-hyun to add a third, putting South Korea on top of the group and in pole position to a secure spot at the 2026 World Cup.

However, Son's goal celebration caused uproars on Chinese social media with fans saying his gesture is highly disrespectful to the crowd. 

Playing in front of a sell-out crowd of more than 40,000 in Shenzhen, Son opened the scoring with a penalty on the 11th minute. In celebration, the man of the match rushed close to the stand and made a gesture of shushing to the Chinese fans. The gesture was met with jeers from the crowd.

Chinese strikers Wu Lei and Tan Long immediately went to argue with Son on the pitch over his provoking gesture.

"We need to respond to Son's disrespectful gesture by scoring and winning the match," said one user on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo.

"It was a really difficult game today and obviously coming to China, it's a great experience and they have amazing fans," said Son after the match.

Having defeated Thailand 2-1 in the first match, China now stands third in Group C, level on points with the second-placed Thailand.

The top two teams from the nine groups progress to the third qualifying stage for the 2026 World Cup in North America.