Two treated for deadly pneumonic plague in Beijing

Beijing (AFP)

Two people in Beijing have been diagnosed with the pneumonic plague — a rare instance of the highly-contagious disease that is fatal if left untreated.

The two individuals were being treated at a central hospital in China’s capital city — home to over 21 million inhabitants — on Tuesday, local authorities said.

Pneumonic plague can prove fatal in 24 to 72 hours and is the “most virulent form of plague,” according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), while the bubonic form is less dangerous.

The patients are from the northwestern Inner Mongolia province, district officials said in an online statement, adding that the “relevant prevention and control measures have been implemented.”

The Beijing government did not respond to AFP’s calls for comment, but the WHO confirmed that Chinese authorities had notified them about the plague cases.

“The (Chinese) National Health Commission are implementing efforts to contain and treat the identified cases, and increasing surveillance,” said Fabio Scano, coordinator at WHO China.

Scano told AFP that “the risk of transmission of the pulmonary plague is for close contacts and we understand that these are being screened and managed.”

According to the WHO website, the lung-based pneumonic plague is very contagious and “can trigger severe epidemics through person-to-person contact via droplets in the air.”

Symptoms include fever, chills, vomiting and nausea.

On Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform, Chinese censors scrubbed the hashtag “Beijing confirms it is treating plague cases” as they tried to control discussions — and panic — around the disease.

“I just want to know how these two came to Beijing??” posted one user. “By train, airplane, or did they drive themselves?”

“Bird flu in the year of the rooster…swine fever in the year of the pig,” wrote another. “Next year is the year of the rat…the plague is coming.”

The plague germ Yersinia pestis can be transmitted to humans from infected rats via fleas.

In 2014, a man died of the plague in northwestern Gansu province in China and sparked the quarantine of 151 people.

The 30,000 people living in Yumen, the town where the man died, were also prevented from leaving, with police at roadblocks placed on the town perimeter.

According to China’s National Health Commission, a total of five people have died from the plague between 2014 and September of this year.

Putin says relationship with U.S. ‘getting worse by the hour’

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin appear at a news conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki. | Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that U.S.-Russia relations are “getting worse and worse,” criticizing U.S. sanctions and praising his country’s trade relationship with China.

“Unfortunately, we cannot say anything of the kind about our relations with the U.S.,” he told state media outlet Mir TV. “They are in fact deteriorating, getting worse by the hour.”

His comments contradict President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Russia, which the U.S. leader has called an ally. Trump has said he and Putin discussed“forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” to stop election hacking, even though U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump has voiced skepticism that Russia was behind the hacks of Democrats’ email accounts in 2016. During the campaign, he tweeted, “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should have never been written (stupid), because Putin likes me.”

He has also said his son and son-in-law did nothing wrong when they met in 2016 with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer offering information on Clinton. In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that aired Wednesday, he said a foreign actor offering information on an election opponent wouldn’t count as interference, and he said he might not alert the FBI if it happened in 2020. “I think I’d take it,” Trump said.

US and Russian warships nearly collide in the Pacific

(CNN)The United States and Russian navies are at odds over an apparent near collision in the Pacific Friday with each side blaming the other.

The US and Russian warships came somewhere between 50 feet and 165 feet of each other, according to the two opposing reports, with both sides alleging their ships were forced to perform emergency maneuvers to avoid a collision, which can be seen in video and a picture of the event obtained by CNN.
In the video taken from the American ship, the two ships come so close that Russian sailors can be seen appearing to sunbathe on the stern of their vessel.
“A Russian destroyer …. made an unsafe maneuver against USS Chancellorsville, closing to 50-100 feet, putting the safety of her crew and ship at risk,” US Navy spokesman Cmdr. Clayton Doss told CNN in a statement.
“This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to maneuver to avoid collision,” Doss said.
This latest incident comes just days after the US Navy accused Russia of intercepting a US aircraft and amid tensions with Moscow on a wide range of geopolitical issues.
Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Russian Vladimir Putin in the resort town of Sochi, where he warned Russia about interfering in US elections, taking a tougher public line than President Donald Trump on the issue.
It also comes at a time of increasing cooperation between China and Russia. After a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Kremlin Wednesday, Russian leader Vladimir Putin said relations between the two countries have reached an “unprecedented level.”
Russia’s geopolitical views align with those of China on many international and regional issues, Putin added.
Both leaders agreed that there is no alternative to a peaceful solution on the Korean Peninsula. They discussed joint efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria and attempts to stabilize the situation in Venezuela, he said.
Xi called the Russian President “a friend,” and reiterated Putin’s view, saying that “our cooperation is based on mutual trust.”

‘Unsafe and unprofessional’

The US guided-missile cruiser was traveling in a straight line and trying to recover its helicopter when the incident occurred, he said.
“We consider Russia’s actions during this interaction as unsafe and unprofessional,” Doss said.
CNN obtained the video and picture of the event after a US official told CNN earlier that the Navy was working to declassify images to dispute the Russian narrative that the US was at fault.
Two navy officials tell CNN the Russian wake in the photo could only come from a steep turn that has to be executed at high speed.

“The wakes suggest the Russian ship didn’t adhere to either the rules of the road or the incidents at sea agreement,” according to Carl Schuster, a retired US Navy captain and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center.
International maritime law requires ships to maintain a safe distance, normally interpreted as 1,000 yards, when passing another. It also requires navies not to interfere with another ship conducting flight operations, he said.
The US account was contradicted by Russia’s Pacific Fleet, which claimed it was the US ship that instigated the incident, according to comments carried by the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency.
“When moving (on) parallel courses of a detachment of ships of the Pacific Fleet and a carrier group of the US Navy, the cruiser Chancellorsville suddenly changed its direction and crossed within 50 meters of the Admiral Vinogradov,” forcing the Russian destroyer to take emergency evasive action, the RIA-Novosti report said.
The US Navy said the incident occurred in the Philippine Sea while the Russian report said it happened in the East China Sea. The boundary between the two bodies of water is the Senakaku Islands (also known as the Diaoyu islands in China), to the south of Japan and east of Taiwan.
The Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov arrives at a port to attend China-Russia Joint Sea 2019 naval exercise on April 29, 2019, in Qingdao,  China.

Regardless, the incident occurred in international waters and unusually far away from Russia, Schuster said.
“The Russians normally harass our ships when they are operating in waters the Russian consider to be within their sphere of Influence (Black Sea, Barents Sea and the waters off Validvostok,” said Schuster, who spent 12 years at sea on US warships.

Sending a message?

Retired rear admiral and CNN military analyst John Kirby added that the timing of the encounter is also noteworthy as it coincides with Xi’s visit to Moscow.
“Clearly this sends a strong message to President Xi, from Putin’s perspective, that we are on your team,” Kirby told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.
“We have seen the Russians and Chinese cooperate increasingly … when it suits their interests,” he said, adding that the two countries participated in a major military exercise together just last year.
But at the end of the day, both Kirby and Schuster said that Friday’s incident was primarily about sending a message to the US.
“Putin clearly has ordered the Russian Navy to pressure the USN whenever opportunities exist. It may possibly be a show of political support for China while Xi is in Moscow, but more likely to signal that Russia is willing to challenge the US dominance on the world stage and at sea,” Schuster said.
On Tuesday, the US accused Russia of intercepting a US aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea three times in just under three hours.
The second of the three interactions “was determined to be unsafe” due to the Russian aircraft “conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk,” the US Navy said.
The Russian aircraft was armed and passed about 150 feet directly in front of the US plane, according to two US officials.
The Russian military disputed the US Navy’s characterization of the intercept as unsafe.
“All flights of Russian aircraft were carried out in accordance with the international rules for the use of airspace,” the Russian Ministry of Defense told reporters Wednesday. “There were no questions or complaints from the American center of flight deconfliction line in Syria to the Russian command.”

China has been emitting illegal greenhouse gas that destroys ozone layer, scientists find

KEY POINTS
  • A study by scientists from the University of Bristol, Kyungpook National University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finds China responsible for much of a recent spike in the emission of an illegal greenhouse gas.
  • China accounted for 40% to 60% of the global increase in trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11, emissions between 2014 and 2017, the study says.
  • CFC-11 was internationally banned under the Montreal Protocol because it can destroy earth’s protective ozone layer.
GP: China factories 190523
Factories in China’s Shandong province.
Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty Images

There has been a rise in the emission of an illegal greenhouse gas that destroys the earth’s ozone layer — and China is responsible for “a substantial fraction” of that increase, according to a new study.

The research published on Wednesday found that China accounted for 40% to 60% of the global increase in trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11, emissions between 2014 and 2017. Emissions of the gas came primarily from the Chinese northeastern provinces of Shandong and Hebei, according to the study.

Scientists who conducted the study came from the University of Bristol in the U.K., Kyungpook National University in South Korea, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S. Their research built on earlier studies about the spike in CFC-11 emissions into the atmosphere after 2013 by giving details on the geographic origins of those increases.

VIDEO02:49
Two-thirds of Chinese cities can’t meet air quality standards: Expert

The latest study also confirmed media and activist reports that China could be behind the emissions.

“Several considerations suggest that the increase in CFC-11 emissions from eastern mainland China is likely to be the result of new production and use, which is inconsistent with the Montreal Protocol agreement to phase out global chlorofluorocarbon production by 2010,” the scientists wrote in the abstract of the study.

The Montreal Protocol is an agreement signed by all 197 member states of the United Nations — including China — to regulate the production and consumption of chemicals that harm earth’s protective layer. The treaty has led to “a significant reduction” in harmful gases such as CFC-11, which then allowed the damaged ozone layer to heal, according to a report by Canadian newspaper National Post.

Last year, a report by The New York Times found that Chinese factories had ignored the global ban on CFC-11 under the Montreal Protocol. They had continued to make and use the chemical because it’s a cheaper material to produce foam insulation for refrigerators and buildings.

Non-governmental activist group Environmental Investigation Agency reported last year similar findings as the Times based on its own research. The group said Chinese authorities started to crack down on the illegal production and use of CFC-11.

China, Russia move into the Arctic — and put US at risk

China, Russia move into the Arctic — and put US at risk
© MAXIME POPOV/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called out Russian and Chinese activities and intentions in the Arctic, shocking his fellow foreign ministers at the biannual meeting of the Arctic Council, the premier regional forum for Arctic matters.

Pompeo disturbed a norm that had held since the council’s 1996 founding. For over 20 years Arctic states have attempted to compartmentalize Arctic cooperation on scientific research, environmental protection, fisheries management and search and rescue protocols — avoiding hard-power competition in military security and trade.

Though as early as 2015 Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende predicted the Arctic will not remain compartmentalized from broader geopolitical concerns, historians may remember Pompeo’s speech as the start of an emerging “great game” between and among the United States, Russia and China in the Arctic; perhaps even as the start of a new cold war (no pun intended).

Why would Pompeo do this and jeopardize the cooperative spirit among Arctic states?  The answer is that the Trump administration — like the regime of Vladimir Putin in Russia and the Xi Jinping government in China — sees the world through realist, zero-sum glasses.

The Chinese need to sustain economic growth. One way to do that is to improve their access to natural resources, particularly energy, rare-earth minerals and sea-based protein.  They also would like to develop an alternative shipping route from Europe to Asia that is not dependent on the Straits of Malacca or the Suez Canal, areas with a heavy U.S. naval presence.

Chinese actions in the Arctic are consistent with these goals. They are investing heavily in Russia’s natural gas fields in the Yamal Peninsula, mining in Greenland, and real estate, alternative energy and fisheries in Iceland. They are building icebreakers and ice-hardened ships to ply Arctic waters. And they are asserting themselves into international debates over Arctic governance, most recently by calling themselves a “near-Arctic” state.

Russian actions in the Arctic arguably are consistent with these interests. They developed the Yamal natural gas fields with Chinese assistance. They refurbished or created military bases near Murmansk and along the NSR, and deployed what they claim are defensive weapons and search and rescue capabilities to those bases. They passed laws to tightly regulate who can use the NSR and how they can do so, and argue that those laws are justified by section 234 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Parts of the U.S. national security community see these developments with alarm. The security of the United States and its allies depends on preventing regional hegemony or coercion by hostile powers. Economic prosperity depends on the protection of the global commons.

In the Arctic, U.S. security interests are closely linked to allies’ and partner nations’ freedom from both coercion and threats to their territorial integrity. U.S. economic interests are closely linked to the maintenance of exclusive economic zones (EEZs) for resource extraction, and to regional freedom of navigation in Arctic international waters.

From a power-politics perspective, Chinese and Russian actions in the Arctic put U.S. security and economic interests at risk.

There is near-consensus in the United States that Russia challenges the international order through its actions in Ukraine, its remilitarization of its northern and eastern provinces, and its repeated infringements on Nordic and Baltic states’ airspace and territorial waters.  From a U.S. security perspective, then, Russia’s Arctic buildup seems less defensive and more like the precursor to unilateral control of an international shipping route and an attempt to intimidate neighboring Scandinavian states.

The United States, like much of the western international community, increasingly is alarmed by China’s use of predatory loans to build infrastructure across the developing world, and then to control that infrastructure when borrowers default. Many are alarmed by China’s questionable environmental record when it comes to resource extraction.  Moreover, many in the security community see China as actively trying to undermine the U.S.-led international order.

These officials see Chinese investment in Greenland’s mines as an attempt to corner the market on rare-earth minerals, to say nothing of being a recipe for environmental disaster.  In a worst-case scenario, a Chinese-backed Greenland someday could even reconsider allowing the U.S. access to the Thule early warning and missile tracking facility, and use the facility for Chinese submarines instead. These officials see Chinese investment in Iceland as an attempt to lock in access to Arctic shipping route infrastructure, and even as a way to peel away a NATO ally. They see China’s attempt to change the governance narrative in the Arctic as a challenge to Arctic state control of their territories and EEZs.

Secretary Pompeo’s remarks should come as no surprise. They are consistent with a realist, power-politics perspective, and with the Trump administration’s emphasis on “America first” in an era of great power competition with the potential for great power conflict.

The most recent National Defense Strategy explicitly calls for “expanding the competitive space.” Now that climate change and record ice melt are opening up the Arctic, it is no wonder that competition and power politics has bled into this once pristine region.

Dr. David Auerswald is a professor of security studies at the National War College in Washington, D.C. Col. Terry L. Anderson is a professor of practice at the National War College. He was the U.S. senior defense official in Berlin from 2015-2018.  

Note: The views expressed here are those of the authors and not the National War College, the Department of Defense or any other entity of the U.S. government.

Russia Pulls Out of Nuclear Treaty in ‘Symmetrical’ Response to U.S. Move

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia discussed new weapons systems in a televised meeting on Saturday with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.CreditPool photo by Alexei Nikolsky
Image
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia discussed new weapons systems in a televised meeting on Saturday with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.CreditCreditPool photo by Alexei Nikolsky

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in a decision that was widely expected, suspended his country’s observance of a key nuclear arms control pact on Saturday in response to a similar move by the United States a day before.

But adding to a sense that the broader architecture of nuclear disarmament has started to unravel, Mr. Putin also said that Russia would build weapons previously banned under the treaty and would no longer initiate talks with the United States on any matters related to nuclear arms control.

The Trump administration withdrew from the treaty, a keystone of the late Cold War disarmament pacts known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, saying that Russia had been violating it for years. The decision holds the potential to initiate a new arms race, not only with Russia, but also China, which was never a signatory to the 1987 treaty.

Beijing responded to the American announcement by warning on Saturday that the breakup of the treaty would undermine global security, but also by rejecting calls for China to join an expanded version of the pact.

In a televised meeting on Saturday with his ministers of foreign affairs and defense, Mr. Putin said Russia would, indeed, design and build weapons previously banned under the treaty — something the United States says Russia is already doing — but would not deploy them unless America did so first.

[Read more: U.S. suspends nuclear arms treaty with Russia.]

“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we must not and will not let ourselves be drawn into an expensive arms race,” Mr. Putin told his ministers. Money to build the new missiles, he said, will come from the existing defense budget.

The treaty had prohibited the United States and Russia from testing or deploying land-based missiles able to fly in what are known as short or intermediate ranges: 300 to 3,400 miles. Both countries have sea- and air-launched missiles that fly in these ranges.

The minister of defense, Sergei K. Shoigu, suggested that Russia in coming months design and test a land-based launcher for its maritime cruise missile, called the Kalibr, an analogue to the American Tomahawk, and a new short-range ballistic missile.

“I agree,” Mr. Putin said. “Our response will be symmetrical. Our American partners announced that they are suspending their participation in the I.N.F. Treaty, and we are suspending it too. They said that they are engaged in research, development and design work, and we will do the same.”

In his remarks, the Russian minister of foreign affairs, Sergey V. Lavrov, presented a picture of the wobbly state of the whole architecture of American and Russian nuclear disarmament that had been erected over the past 50 years, beginning with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.

Mr. Lavrov suggested a number of treaties were in need of urgent review, such as the Nonproliferation Treaty that prohibits passing nuclear weapons technology to countries that do not already posses it. He argued that America had violated it by conducting nuclear deterrence training exercises with NATO nations that were not declared nuclear powers.

China’s array of nuclear weapons remains much smaller than the American and Russian forces, but Beijing has been upgrading and expanding its arsenal. Some critics of the intermediate nuclear forces treaty have argued that it unfairly ties the United States’ hands from responding effectively to China’s military buildup.

In October, President Trump cited China’s potential expansion as a reason the United States should consider quitting the treaty.

“If Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it, and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable,” Mr. Trump said after a rally in Nevada.

In January, Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party-controlled tabloid newspaper with a heavily nationalist tone, reported that a People’s Liberation Army unit had carried out an exercise with an intermediate-range “ship killer” missile formally called the DF-26. China probably has 16 to 30 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, an annual Pentagon report on China’s military said last year.

At the televised meeting, Mr. Putin said that Russia remained open to negotiation, and that Moscow’s proposals to resolve disputes “remained on the table.” But he said that neither the Ministry of Defense or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should initiate talks with the United States.

“I suggest that we wait until our partners are ready to engage in equal and meaningful dialogue,” he said.

China, meanwhile, appeared to have no interest in binding itself to an intermediate missile treaty, even as it defended the current agreement between Russia and the United States.

“This treaty plays a significant role in easing major-country relations, promoting international and regional peace, and safeguarding global strategic balance and stability,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement on the ministry’s website. “China is opposed to the U.S. withdrawal and urges the U.S. and Russia to properly resolve differences through constructive dialogue.”

But he added: “China opposes the multilateralization of this treaty. What is imperative at the moment is to uphold and implement the existing treaty instead of creating a new one.”

China’s greenhouse gas emissions rising, undermining Xi’s climate push

Hong Kong (CNN)Chinese methane emissions are rising at an alarming rate despite recent government regulations aimed at curbing the climate-changing pollutant, a new report has revealed.

A study released in the journal Nature on Tuesday shows a steady growth in China’s methane emissions, primarily from the country’s massive coal mining sector, undermining Beijing’s claims to be leading the world on climate change action.
“Methane emissions in China appear to be increasing, business as usual. We were unable to detect any impact of regulations on the country’s methane emissions,” the report’s lead researcher Scot M. Miller told CNN.
China is among the world’s largest emitters of methane. While methane is less prevalent in the earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it traps “28 times more heat” according to the Global Carbon Project.
In 2010 the Chinese government enacted a series of new polices requiring methane from coal mining to be captured, or to be converted into carbon dioxide.
But scientists found that the policies had failed to curb overall emissions.

exp Carbon emissions spiked in 2019_00002001

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US carbon emissions on the rise again 06:24
Using data from Japanese satellites collected between 2010 and 2010, the study found China’s annual methane emissions increased by 50% for at least five years after government regulations were passed in 2010. The jump is equivalent to the total emissions of other large nations such as Russia and Brazil.
“China has had great ambitions for capturing that methane and using it for electricity production or heating buildings, but what we found is that there’s little evidence that they’ve been able to meet those ambitions,” Miller told CNN.
China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal. The country’s continued reliance on the fossil fuel has come under increased scrutiny in recent years.
President Xi Jinping has placed a huge emphasis on tackling pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in his second term in office, making it one of his “three battles” in 2017.
State-run media has been making a big show of broadcasting punishments against officials caught violating environmental laws, with 32 people detained in November after inspections of ten provinces.
In fact, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change agreement in 2017, questions were raised over whether Beijing was now the leading nation on tackling climate change.
Asked about China’s climate change commitments in November, Xie Zhenhua, China’s climate change special envoy, said it was the country’s responsibility to deliver on their promises “to protect humanity and the earth.”
“By the end of 2017, China’s carbon intensity had already fallen by 46%, meaning that it has achieved its goal three years ahead of schedule. Renewable energy already accounts for 13.8% of primary energy consumption and will surely meet the goal of 15% by 2020,” Xie said.
Miller conceded that his research only extended to 2015, meaning that stricter regulations enforced by Xi may yet to be reflected in the data.
“In terms of methane, China’s emissions are so much larger than any other country that anything they could do to mitigate their emissions could have a substantial impact on overall methane levels in the atmosphere,” he said.

Major tsunami in 1076 caused ‘drastic cultural decline’ along south China coast now dotted with nuclear plants

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/01/04/world/science-health-world/scientists-say-major-tsunami-caused-drastic-cultural-decline-1076-along-south-china-coast-now-dotted-nuke-plants/#.XC_CLlxKjIU

WORLD / SCIENCE & HEALTH

AFP-JIJI

Major tsunami struck China’s southern coast in 1076 causing “drastic cultural decline,” Chinese researchers say in a study with implications for a densely populated region that now boasts multiple coastal nuclear power plants.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that an earthquake in the Manila Trench sent a wall of water coursing into what is now China’s Guangdong province around 1,000 years ago.

Now scientists believe they have narrowed down the date to an exact year — 1076 — and say the new data should set alarm bells ringing over whether enough is being done to defend against future tsunami.

“This study confirms the risk of tsunamis in the South China Sea,” the teams from the University of Science and Technology and East China Normal University wrote in January’s issue of Chinese Science Bulletin.

“Such risk should be considered in future planning and construction of nuclear power plant, harbor and petroleum reserve structures on the coastlines of China,” they added.

A number of nuclear power plants sit on China’s southern coast, including at Fuqing, Daya Bay and a soon-to-open plant at Taishan.

The wider area is also one of the world’s most densely populated regions and includes multiple major coastal cities, such as Hong Kong, Macau, Xiamen and Quanzhou.

The vulnerability of nuclear power plants to seismic events has become a major cause for concern ever since a 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in northeastern Japan crippled the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

The Chinese research team first found evidence of a destructive historical wave on Dongdao Island, which is located in the middle of the South China Sea, in 2013.

They discovered rocks and corals that had been moved about 200 meters inland from the shoreline and concluded only a major force of water could have achieved this.

Another team found shards of ceramics in tsunami sediment from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) on the island of Nan’ao, some 250 km (155 miles) up the coast from Hong Kong’s eastern side.

Professor Gao Shu at the East China Normal University told Xinhua that the southeast tip of the island used to be a town with official kilns for making porcelain.

Researchers struggled to find any archaeological artifacts from after the suspected wave until the later Ming dynasty.

They also found a shipwreck with 20,000 coins from around the time the tsunami might have struck.

“This cultural evidence indicates a drastic cultural decline caused by the tsunami,” they wrote.

China has begun moves to gather data in the South China Sea about potential tsunami threats, deploying early warning buoys off the the Manila Trench last year.