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Pigfestation Threatens to Spoil Party for China's New Leader

Retrieving a pig from the Huangpu River in Shanghai on Monday, March 11
Retrieving a pig from the Huangpu River in Shanghai on Monday, March 11Photograph by Tang Yanjun/ColorChinaPhoto via AP Photo

Never mind the dead pigs, drink the water. That seems to be the message from the Shanghai government on Tuesday, after thousands of hog and piglet carcasses floated into town in the Huangpu River, a source of the city’s drinking water. The swine started floating to town late last week and their volume increased over the weekend. Now the Shanghai government says it has removed most of the carcasses from the river and says water from a section of the river is once again clean and safe to drink.

There’s never a good time for about 3,000 dead pigs to float into a country’s financial hub, but the timing of this flotilla is especially bad for the Chinese government. Beijing is hosting the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, an event that is the final part of the transition of power from outgoing President Hu Jintao’s team to the country’s new leadership, led by new President Xi Jinping. Pictures of water-soaked carcasses threaten to spoil the debut.