China

Why Is the Yangtze Running So Red?


A fisherman works in the Yangtze river, which appears red in color on September 6, 2012 in Chongqing, China.

Photograph by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

A fisherman works in the Yangtze river, which appears red in color on September 6, 2012 in Chongqing, China.

The Yangtze River, which runs through southern China, has a tendency to run brown to orange, because of massive silt runoff from serious deforestation in the mountains bordering Tibet. That’s been going on for decades. What’s got people excited this time (including some end-times enthusiasts) is the unusually red hue. As a result, Chinese are wondering whether there has been some huge industrial accident, as of yet unreported, or whether this is just more silt. That’s a reasonable enough fear, given other sudden color changes in other bodies of Chinese water that indeed turned out to be caused by industrial accidents—most recently the latex spill in Wenzhou two months ago.Aerial view of a ship motoring across the junction of the red-colored Yangtze River (left) and the Jialin River on September 6, 2012 in Chongqing, China.Photograph by ChinaFotoPress/Getty ImagesAerial view of a ship motoring across the junction of the red-colored Yangtze River (left) and the Jialin River on September 6, 2012 in Chongqing, China.

Dexter_roberts
Roberts is Bloomberg Businessweek's Asia News Editor and China bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter @dtiffroberts.

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