9 September 2011

A heavy shower hit Shanghai yesterday afternoon.  The effect on the Shanghai Museum was interesting from a tourist’s perspective.  The scene that played out was of officials challenged by a problem for which they were clearly unpractised.  Water starting dripping into the top floor gallery where a feature on jade was screening.  In another part of that floor, the carpet darkened as water seeped from behind display cases.

On the third floor a large party of officials gathered anxiously as another climbed into the ceiling space  as water trickled near some of the museum’s treasured calligraphy collection, and in another part of that floor, a large quantity of water could be clearly heard flowing into a wall behind exhibits of ancient sculptures.  There were no signs of any water damage on the ground floor where Te Ao Maori is exhibited, on loan from the Otago Museum, and reputed to be a major attraction for Chinese audiences – although most people at the museum yesterday, appeared to be European tourists.

But another spill is perhaps of greater concern to good government.  Inadequate action from Conoco Phillips to contain pollution  from an oil rig in Bohai Bay, which has continued since early June, led yesterday to the Government ordering the suspension of further production in the oil field.  The polluted area is reported to exceed 5,500 sq kms and to have caused over $150m damage to the adjacent scallops fishery. An immediate response by Conoco Phillips has been to express regret about the incident  and apologise for the impact on the Chinese people and the environment.  Any compensation payments to those affected are unspecific at this stage. The leak involves about 700 barrels of oil; the BP spill last year in the  Gulf of Mexico involved about five million barrels.

On a brighter note, or as the Shanghai Daily notes, the darker side of mooncakes, inspections by food quality regulators of moon cakes produced by 289 companies, on sale in anticipation of the mid Autumn festival this weekend,  found only six to be substandard.  The defects related to a high bacterial content.