The red Yangtze and other portents of doom spark political rumors in China

No official explanation yet for why the Yangtze turned red. But, superstitions abound in China as several events are linked together in people’s minds.

What has a ‘red Yangtze’ got to do with Xi Jinping? – The China Post.

The Yangtze River mysteriously turned red. Thousands of alligators strangely surfaced at a lake in Nanjing. An earthquake rocked a border province, killing 81.

To make things worse, a crown prince about to ascend the throne has disappeared.

It could be a dramatic scene from a TV series set in the imperial Middle Kingdom, portending trouble in the empire.

Or it could simply be modern day China’s politics.

As the country prepares for a generational shift in leadership, rumors, omens and superstitions have gone into overdrive.

Source: China Post

Officials are dodging questions about the whereabouts of Xi. There is much speculation about what happened to him – is he injured, ill, was there a coup?

This geologic source notes that the red color may be correlated to an earlier rainfall which may explain the event:

By far the mostly likely cause of the change of colour is a large-scale input of iron-rich sediment to the river. It is notable that a large flood wave passed down the river last week, caused by heavy rainfall in Sichuan Province. This was reportedly the largest flood wave for two decades. Thus, I would hypothesise that the intense rainfall caused extensive sediment mobilisation both in terms of landslides on slopes and debris already in the river, and that this has caused the change in water colour.

In the wake of the red river event, people may be looking for other portents of doom and stringing them all together in their minds as a sign of some event to come. Some sources (not much in terms of reputable NEWS sources in English) have reported that crocodiles in a reserve in Nanjing have suddenly come out of the water. [Note: These look to be Chinese alligators, not crocodiles.]

The gathering of thousands of crocodiles in an ecological park in Nanjing, capital of eastern China’s Jiangsu Province, has prompted earthquake worries among local citizens. The city government refuted the rumour the next day by saying that the earthquake office did not monitor any unusualness and there was absolutely no basis for concern among citizens. The pictures were taken by a Mr. Xu who visited a crocodile ecological park in a suburb of Nanjing, and spotted thousands of crocodiles all coming out.

Chinese alligators warming up in the sun after emerging from water en masse.

These events don’t have a common cause other than as fodder for concerns about an oncoming catastrophe.

  1 comment for “The red Yangtze and other portents of doom spark political rumors in China

  1. Bill
    September 13, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    Sure, lots of people in China believe in superstitious portents, but I feel extra sympathy in this case. the need for explanations is obviously heightened in the absence of a free press. Xi isn’t any old guy off the street–his fate concerns everyone in China.

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