My dad used to say that the gangs in his neighbourhood when he was a lad would “steal anything that wasn’t bolted down”.
In China, that adage doesn’t apply. Somebody will likely steal the bolts.
In fact, young teenage boys have been arrested on the streets of Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities because they were selling the large bolts that help hold together high tension power structures.
Today the communist government of President Hu Jintao announced that anyone who steals or destroys parts of the electrical system will face the death penalty.
When we checked with our team around the world, we quickly found some interesting theories. Most “China watchers” believe the problem stems from a combination of poverty and lawlessness.
“You get a ways out of the big cities and the rule of law doesn’t have the same value you might find in the US or Europe,” one of our “watchers” who lives in China told us. “Who is to know if a gang of teenagers unbolts these big towers in the dark of night?”
In the Philippines, after the United States turned over to the Philippine Government the former bases at Clark Air Force Base and the Subic Bay Navy Base, poverty and lawlessness crashed together to create this very problem. Even underground electrical cables were unearthed to capture their copper which had a high dollar value in the Philippines.
And just this past June, on the 26th, Vietnam decided the death penalty was in order for Vietnamese fishermen who made off with tons of fibre optic cable from the sea bed. The fishermen claimed they thought the cable was left over from the war in Vietnam that ended in 1975: that cable is fair game for salvage.
The charge that makes one eligible for the death penalty in Vietnam is similar to that in China: “destroying major public national security projects.”
In the Vietnamese fibre optic caper, Deputy Minister of Posts and Telematics Tran Duc Lai said that no country in the world had ever suffered such a massive theft of fibre optic cable.
So what is the root cause of China’s problems with the electric grid? One China watcher said, “The Beijing Government cannot ensure law and order throughout China. This means infrastructure like the power grid can come under attack. But if you venture into the cities to sell the fruits of lawlessness, we will kill you. That is the message Beijing wants to send.”
Why is disruption of the electrical system grounds for the death penalty?
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