Shopping mall shark-tank ruptures

Shanghai's Orient shopping centre experienced disaster on Dec 18 when a huge aquarium filled with lemon-sharks, turtles and fish ruptured, hurting 16 people and killing three sharks and "dozens of turtles and small fish." The tank's failure was blamed on a combination of cold temperatures and substandard materials.

Aquarium bursts in shopping centre in Shanghai (via JWZ)


  1. Substandard construction materials?  In China?  Never!

    Clearly this is an American conspiracy to make China look bad.

  2. Man, the (apparent) total lack of construction and safety standards in China scares me out of ever going there. Skyscrapers go up in weeks instead of years, and I once read a story of how a factory was just sketched out on paper with no actual blueprints for construction.

    1. This tank already had one failure in June, when a pipe burst and killed some sharks and turtles. At least they’re not planning to rebuild.

  3. Is it Western propaganda/ inflammatory news or does China have an unusually high rate of incidents involving poor quality controls? When it’s not pets being poisoned by toxic food, it’s local babies/ toddlers dying of toxic milk or, alternatively, exported “snacks” that contained some other poisonous substance and sent dozens of people to hospitals or poor construction standards in structures (as exemplified in this an aquarium).

    I wonder if it’s because of the size of their production capabilities (statistically, some fuck ups are expected in every production line so, I assume the bigger the production capability, the bigger the chance of fuck ups) or if it is because truly, there are more lax quality controls over there.

    Either way, this video was beyond sad. However, knowing the Chinese government’s attitude towards arbitrary punishments, I’m reluctant to even wish they find whoever was responsible for the deaths of these animals. It might end up being an extreme case of lose/ lose.

    1. While there is some schadenfreude in the Western (and especially Japanese) press about shoddy construction and unhealthy food in China, it’s mostly true: that place has been growing too fast and the rewards for being “first” have outstripped the rewards of being “best”.

      But I think there’s a more systematic problem at work: because the CCP controls everything, China has essentially a monopolar control structure for civic life (including making buildings, food, roads, trains, everything safe).  That same monopolar structure has a monopoly on violence, and thus can turn deaf whenever it wants, or when someone slips in a few RMB into the right pocket.  In a more open society, businesses would get sued, inspectors/governors thrown out of office, and people would march in the streets demanding safety.  Chinese do march, but only under controlled conditions and only when the CCP wants to lop off a scapegoat middle manager somewhere to control damage.

      From what I’ve seen, China is more corrupt than the US or Europe, certainly more corrupt than Japan or Korea, but not as corrupt as 3rd world banana republics (anymore). 

      1. The thing is, I grew up in South America (in a couple of countries due to my father’s work with a lot of traveling in between), actually during (and after) the dictatorships that swept the continent during the 80s and 90s. I’d venture few places were more corrupt with instances of bribes and reckless business practices that are unheard of in most of the West. And yet, there weren’t as many human tragedies as we seem to hear coming from China.

        Maybe the difference is that in South America, people knew the State couldn’t be trusted to control anything and somewhat felt obliged not to poison their fellow citizens whereas the Chinese State has, throughout the decades created a narrative of dependance on the government to perform, as you point out, all the controls and safety checks? Needless to say, I don’t know the answer to this, but this difference between corrupt South American dictatorships and China always kind of baffled me.

        1.  I don’t think that any South American country had the sort of growth and money to throw around that China has.  Buildings didn’t collapse because there might not have been as many buildings thrown up.

  4. I worked in China as a millwright for 4 months a few years back on a theater project in Macau. I can attest to the poor quality of Chinese building materials. Skilled labor is very rare: as such most technical work involving welding and or skilled assembly is performed by imported foreign labor. This type of thing does not shock me in the least.  

  5. “What China needs is less regulation and lower taxes on the rich!”  Well China how is that working out for you.  Things falling apart and blowing up.  I guess the US will just have to increase the defense budget and cut entitlements for the poor.

  6. We spent a year living and studying in China back in 2004/5. I was pretty shocked by the lack of safety features in the way things are designed and built. One time I was pressed by a crowd toward a low, just over knee height, wall and was on the verge of jumping up on it to avoid the press, when I saw there was a 2 storey drop into a subway on the other side…

    A little later, when my Chinese was better, I asked a local friend why things were that way. He just smiled and said, “因为中国人太多吧!” —’Because there are too many Chinese’— implying that losing a few careless ones wouldn’t matter.

  7. Glass, All the large aquariums (Monterey Bay etc…) use acrylic for large displays, with edges reinforced by steel and concrete.  Who the hell uses glass which when it fails turns into giant knives capable of slicing someone in half.  

    Visiting that country scares the crap out of me.  They build way to fast with way to much corruption.  They only punish people after the catastrophic failures and then only if it makes the nation look bad, and they can find someone not connected with the ruling party to nail it to.  

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