Imagine strolling along one of China’s rivers and then seeing and smelling, with disgust, a dead pig floating past. Then imagine glancing upriver and seeing hundreds of swollen swine bobbing in the water.
That was the scene along the Huangpu — now pronounced Huang-Pee-YEW! — River in Shanghai. With improbable precision, authorities say 5,916 deceased pigs have been pulled from the river. Some unlucky bureaucrat evidently was tasked with providing a comprehensive count of the carcasses.
The Huangpu River provides a major source of drinking water for Shanghai and its 23 million residents. Because hogs aren’t the cleanest residents of the planet even when they are alive, and because death inevitably produces gases, fluids, and other fruits of decomposition that no rational person would want to consume, the citizens of Shanghai have expressed alarm about drinking water tainted by the cadavers. Chinese authorities have assured them that the Huangpu water quality is safe, but the citizens are skeptical. I’m betting that the same bean-counting bureaucrat who determined that 5,916 pigs were involved will soon find a 11,943 percent increase in the consumption of bottled water by our Chinese friends.
Curiously, the source of the thousands of perished pigs, and their cause of death, hasn’t been determined. I’m just a city boy, and I know the Chinese interior is big, but 5,916 pigs sounds like a lot to me. You’d think the same precise carcass-counters in the Chinese government could readily detect the disappearance of a vast herd of hogs. And wouldn’t you want to know where the pigs came from, and how they died, before you determined that the water in which the swollen ex-swine were bobbing was safe for humans to drink?
Apparently, not in China — where first you count.