September: This Month in Chinese History

China has a vast ancient history and a vivid history in modern times. (Image: via  pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
China has a vast ancient history and a vivid history in modern times. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

China has a vast ancient history and a vivid history in modern times. Here are a few particularly memorable dates in China’s modern history that took place in the month of September.

September 2012

Yangtze River Mysteriously Turns Red

Residents in China’s southwestern city of Chongqing were puzzled by the strange sight of the Yangzte River—the longest river in China—turning blood red. There was speculation that environmental pollution, such as illegal sewage dumping, caused the coloration, while official reports said it was caused by excess sand washed downstream. As yet, there has been no conclusive explanation.

September 2008
Tainted Milk Scandal Leaves Thousands of Babies Sick

At least six babies died of kidney problems and more than 300,000 were sickened from the illegal addition of the industrial chemical melamine in a number of food products in China.

Melamine, which has a high nitrogen content, is added to foods to make their protein content appear higher. Three people, including a farmer who made almost $1 million selling a melamine-laced concoction to milk buyers, were sentenced to death, and over a hundred were detained.

Melamine (yes, the stuff that household goods like plates and bowls are made of, as well as fertilizer and industrial pipes) was found in baby formula and was also detected in eggs from China on sale in Hong Kong. There have also been reports in the Chinese media of melamine being routinely added to animal feed.

September 1980
The Beginning of the One-Child Policy

The official start of China’s One-Child Policy to curb population growth under the directive of communist leader Deng Xiaoping. Chinese demographers have described the One-Child Policy as among the “deadly errors” of recent Chinese history.

As a result of the policy, the gender ratio of under 19-year-olds is grossly unbalanced. In 2020, the number of males who will be at an age to marry will be 24 million more than the number of females of the same age. Therefore, China is expecting to see a phenomenon where tens of millions of young men will face the difficult issue of trying to pair up with a young woman.

Families usually have one go at having a child, and traditionally prefer a male child. Abortions are performed by choice to ensure that male fetuses are carried to full-term, and female fetuses are not.

September 1931
Beginning of the Japanese Military Occupation of Northeastern China

The “September 18 Incident”, in which Japanese troops blew up a section of railway under Japanese control, near Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province.

The Japanese accused Chinese troops of sabotage and then attacked Chinese troops near Shenyang the same evening, beginning the large-scale invasion of northeast China. Annual commemorative ceremonies have since been held on this day, September 18, across China.

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