A series of explosions have occurred in various places in China since Oct. 21. According to experts, the timing of these explosions is very sensitive, right before the 6th Plenary Session of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee taking place at the beginning of November—a crucial session for Xi Jinping’s third term re-election to the 20th National Congress next year. 

Six years ago, on Aug. 12, 2015, the 1,000-day anniversary of Xi Jinping’s inauguration as General Secretary of the CCP, a severe explosion in Tianjin occurred, causing enormous loss of life and material. At that time, there were many comments that the explosion in Tianjin was said to be a “big fireworks display” that former president Jiang Zemin gave to Xi. 

Top current and former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in a meeting on Oct. 30, 2017. Left to right: Hu Jintao (2002 to 2012), Xi Jinping (2012 – current), Jiang Zemin (1989-2002). (AP/Screenshot via TheBL/Youtube)

1. Political infighting

The news website Vision Times said that many explosions at this time could be considered a counterattack by former president Jiang Zemin’s faction against Xi Jinping’s purge of culture and finance officials. In addition, this will likely be a significant weakness that will cause Xi’s record of achievements to deteriorate, affecting the paving of the way for his re-election to a third term. 

The official cause of 10 severe and tragic accidents in the past week in China was caused mainly by gas pipelines, gas storage tanks, and concentrated combustibles such as chemical plants, gas chambers, laboratories, or users of the relevant raw material. 

On Oct. 24, the chairman of the Democratic Party of China, Xie Wanjun, tweeted that explosions in various parts of China were not random, “Shenyang explosion, Harbin explosion, Dalian explosion, Inner Mongolia explosion … Many such explosions followed one after another. These are absolutely not explosions caused by gas leaks as the authorities said. This is definitely an organized protest, it’s a war! Big explosions will become a normal thing, and the government will all announce it as an explosion due to a gas leak.”

These explosions come just before the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) holds its sixth plenary session in Beijing from Nov. 8-11. A critical resolution on the main achievements and historical experience of the Party’s 100 years of efforts will be considered.

The analysis indicates that Xi Jinping wants to take this resolution to gain popularity like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping and at the same time strengthen his power and prestige to secure his re-election at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. 

These mass explosions inevitably remind people of the big blast of Aug. 12, 2015, in Xinhai New District, Tianjin City. At that time, Ms. Hu Shuli, Editor-in-Chief of Xincai Media, said on Weibo that the explosion in Tianjin was “Man-made + man-made! It’s heartbreaking!”. 

On Aug. 15, 2015, a person familiar with Zhongnanhai revealed to the Chinese-language newspaper Da Ji Yuan that after the Tianjin explosion on Aug. 12, Xi Jinping did not sleep for two nights. Aug. 12, 2015, was also the 1,000-day anniversary of Xi Jinping’s inauguration as General Secretary of the CCP.

According to the source, after hearing the news, he was furious and took action against Jiang Zemin and his two sons. Former Vice President Zeng Qinghong was also controlled at home and not allowed to move freely. In addition, Da Ji Yuan also learned that the Jiang Zemin Group used this bombing to express two demands to the Xi regime. 

First, that Jiang Zemin would appear at the ceremonial military parade on Sept. 3 that year. Second, Xi Jinping would stop liquidating and arresting Jiang Zemin cliques, especially Jiang Zemin himself. 

On the second day of the explosion, on Aug. 13, the overseas website Jasmine published an article signed by Liu Gang, “The big explosion in Tianjin was a terrorist attack against Xi Jinping.” The report said that the Tianjin explosion must be a by-product of the CCP’s power struggle. It was a manufactured disaster by the opposition of the CCP, which in turn threatened Xi Jinping to compromise, submit, and even impeach Xi Jinping with this disaster.

2. Abuse of power to create Tianjin explosion 

The warehouse explosion in 2015 was one of the deadliest industrial accidents in decades in China. The explosion caused heavy damage to the country. More than 170 people were dead or missing, more than 300 buildings were damaged, and 10,000 cars were damaged. The total economic loss was $1.1 billion, according to the Quartz website citing Chinese cabinet sources. 

Swiss Re estimated total insurance costs at around $3.5 billion, making the Tianjin explosion by far the highest man-made loss figure in Asia. About a year after the blast, at the end of 2016, 49 people were sentenced for crimes relating to the disaster, including 25 government officials and 24 employees of associated companies, NPR quoted China’s state-run Xinhua news agency as saying.

The Aug. 2014 safety assessment report allowed Ruihai to store dangerous chemicals in their warehouse, just 560 meters from a nearby housing estate, despite Chinese regulations considering any distance less than 1,000 meters unsafe, Xinhua News Agency reported on Aug. 19. 

According to Chinese state media, leaders of the company that owned the chemical warehouse where the explosion occurred used their connections to obtain environmental and fire safety permits.

2.1 The bureaucratic system—corrupt and bureaucratic enterprise

According to Wikipedia, the two largest shareholders of this company were Dong Shexuan and Yu Xuewei. Dong Shexuan was the son of Tianjin port’s former police chief Dong Peijun. Wu Changshun, the former head of the public security bureau of Tianjin, was Dong PeiJun’s colleague. Both were under investigation for corruption by the CCP’s anti-corruption body—the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

“My connections cover police and fire, and Yu Xuewei’s connections cover work safety, port management, customs, maritime affairs, environmental protection,” Dong told the CPP’s mouthpiece Xinhua.

The second-largest shareholder, holding 55% of the shares of Ruihai, was the former director of Sinochem Tianjin Oil and Gas Group, Yu Xuewei. With extensive relationships in the chemical logistics industry and Dong Shexuan’s political connections, Wu and Dong obtained the necessary certifications for Ruihai Company to operate.

  • In May 2012, Yang Dongliang became the Director-General of the General Administration of State Administration of Occupational Safety and immediately signed the Measures to the Hazardous Chemicals Activity License Authority, which stipulates that port operators who have obtained a port operation license engaged in hazardous chemical storage activities in port areas do not need a hazardous chemical operation license. 

    The business registration information shows that Ruihai was established in Nov. 2012, and that the entries in the business license at the beginning of its establishment all stated: “except for hazardous chemicals.” At this time, the Hazardous Chemicals License Management Measure, signed by Yang Dongliang, has just been in effect for two months.
  • Current affairs commentator Shi Jiutian said that from the recent reports of Lu Media, the establishment and operation of Ruihai International involves Tianjin Transportation Commission, Development and Reform Commission Tianjin, Tianjin Occupational Safety Supervision Bureau, Environmental Protection Bureau, Public Security Bureau, Maritime Safety Bureau, and Tianjin Customs—the departments and branches of local government directly under the central government. Shi said that it would be unthinkable to say that no high-ranking power in Tianjin was involved in this activity.

On Aug. 14, the Overseas Chinese News Agency reported that the chairman and staff of the legal entity of the dangerous goods warehouse of Ruihai Company involved in the large explosion on the surface were all ordinary, average persons. Still, the actual control was in the hands of Zhang Gaoli’s family. According to reports, the boss behind Ruihai Company was revealed to be a Hong Kong businessman, a relative of Zhang Gaoli. When Zhang Gaoli was the Communist Party Secretary of Tianjin, Ruihai Company was approved to set up a warehouse for hazardous chemicals in the development area. 

Zhang Gaoli, then-Vice Premier of China, at the UN headquarters in New York on April 23, 2016. (CGTN America/Screenshot via TheBL/Youtube)

In addition, Tianjin Binhai New Area was considered the main “political achievement” of the then Secretary of the Party Committee of Tianjin, Zhang Gaoli, when he was still in charge of Tianjin. So, the location of the Ruihai company chemical warehouse was in the “management area” of Zhang Gaoli.

2.2 Jiang faction people were all involved in the explosion

Zhang Gaoli

After the “18th National Congress” of the CCP, the top Jiang faction staff in the Politburo Standing Committee—the highest organ of power in the Communist Party of China, were Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang, and Zhang Gaoli.

Huang Xingguo, then working as mayor of Tianjin, had inadvertently revealed that Zhang Gaoli has “summoned seven online meetings and made 29 directives” for the crash and explosion in Tianjin. 

According to the analysis of commentator Xia Xiaoqiang, there could be two reasons why Zhang Gaoli paid so much attention to the explosion accident in Tianjin. First, the Tianjin bombing was a terrorist operation planned by the Jiang faction, and Zhang Gaoli is either directly involved or has a close relationship with Jiang. Accordingly, Zhang Gaoli is now trying to use his status and power as a Politburo Standing Member to influence and interfere in Tianjin. It is believed the so-called investigation of the explosion was to protect the interests of Jiang Zemin’s clique and himself. 

Second, Zhang Gaoli, as the spokesman for Jiang Zemin group interests and Jiang faction’s figure on the CCP’s table, stood on the Jiang faction platform to fight against the Jiang faction purge by Xi Jinping. Zhang Gaoli also became the subject of an investigation by Xi Jinping’s government. The Tianjin explosion was the trigger that forced Zhang Gaoli to take responsibility, which may force him to step down under the new regulations. Under such circumstances, the “nervous reaction” of Zhang Gaoli to the Tianjin explosion was a manifestation of his extreme fear.

Yang Dongliang

Yang Dongliang was Zhang Gaoli’s subordinate. Zhang was the leader of the Xinhai New Area Development Leading Group. In addition to Dai Xianglong, the vice-captains also include Yang Dongliang and Huang Xingguo.

According to public reports, in 2011, Yang Dongliang, as a member of the Standing Committee of the Tianjin Municipal Party Committee and Executive Vice Mayor, signed the “Cooperation Agreement on the Application Engineering Project and Introducing Tianjin City Liquefied Petroleum Gas” with Wu Zhenfang, deputy general manager of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). 

Wu Zhenfang was a known associate of Zeng Qinghong and belonged to the “oil gang” deposed by Xi Jinping in 2015. China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has always been considered the province of former Vice President Zeng Qinghong. Zhang Gaoli also worked in the petroleum system for a long time.

Military

Da Ji Yuan cited news from UBM on Aug. 16 that the chemical warehouse had a deep political background and a military element. China Poly Group had a large number of dangerous substances stored in the warehouse. Poly Group originally belonged to Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong.

According to the news, the “main force” of the big explosion was the explosives warehouse stored by China Poly Group. Poly Group’s founder is Wang Jun, son of the late commander Wang Zhen, one of the Eight Elders, a group of elderly members of the Chinese Communist Party, who held substantial power in the last two decades of the 20th century

On the second day after the explosion, at 05:07 on Aug. 13, 2015, a post went viral on the Internet, “An explosion occurred in the armory and ammunition area. Beijing government concealed the truth of the incident!”

The post reads, “Jiang Zemin retaliates for Xi Jinping’s verbal fight! On the night of August 12, 2015, the CCP’s army blew up the ‘weapons and ammunition storage area’ that was about to be shipped and sold abroad at the port of Tianjin! Beijing authorities have hidden the truth of the incident!'”

3. A man-made disaster

According to analysis from many angles, the Tianjin explosion was most likely a nuclear blast.

On Aug. 14, 2015, Xu Jingbo, president of Asia News Agency, wrote in a blog post, “Next to our news agency is the Akasaka Fire Department in Tokyo. I went to chat with firefighters this afternoon, and they all took out the information collected from the Internet. Their most spoken word in the photos of the fire scene is: “ありえない” (should not happen),” he wrote. 

“What ‘should not’ happen? They analyzed it for us: Judging from the video of the explosion taken by netizens, the flame of the second explosion was more than 100 meters high, and the shock wave broke through doors and windows two kilometers away. There should not be such a huge scale unless a large ammunition depot explodes. Therefore, something must have happened at the blast scene.”

According to Niu Yueguang, deputy director of the Fire Department of the Ministry of Public Security who participated in the rescue, a schematic diagram of Ruihai’s warehouse shows that every place where items could be stacked was full of hazardous chemicals. As Ruihai’s office building was destroyed and the cargo records are unclear, the number of dangerous substances that can be confirmed now is about 3,000 tons.

Niu Yueguang said that there are more than 40 hazardous chemicals at the site. For example, ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate are used in explosives, and the reserves stored were substantially large. Ammonium nitrate may be about 800 tons, and potassium nitrate is about 500 tons, plus sodium cyanide. These three alone have exceeded 2,000 tons.

The Caixin Weekly reported that the hazardous chemicals and cargoes stored in Ruihai’s storage yard that night reached 6% of the designed annual turnover, 800 tons of ammonium nitrate, and 500 tons of potassium nitrate were stored in Ruihai’s warehouse. As a result, it had become an out-and-out gunpowder warehouse.

On Aug. 20, an analytical article entitled “Solving the Bin: Thorough Investigation of the Big Bang, ten unavoidable Questions” circulated on the Internet. The report wrote: “how was the Tianjin explosion triggered? Explosives alone were not enough. What kind of sample is inside the container? Most explosives, even TNT, are not easy to explode. Even if you put those explosives on the stove, they may not explode. A fuze is needed to trigger an explosion.” 

“If there is no fuze, there must be another explosive product that flashes first and then activates the blast of these chemicals. So, what kind of chemical exploded first and then triggered the big bang? How does Ruihai store and keep those explosive items? Finding out how to manage flammable chemicals is the key to unlocking the mystery of the Big Bang,” the article read.

On Aug. 14th, an overseas Chinese News Agency quoted a source familiar with the matter. The source revealed: “This time the warehouse was detonated by using a truck loaded with explosives. When the staff on duty was exhausted late that night, the truck was very accurately parked at the nearest location to the warehouse where the pyrotechnics were stored. The personnel quickly left the scene, and the truck detonated about ten minutes later, causing a series of explosions in the warehouse.”

The China Earthquake Network’s brief report showed that the magnitude of the local earthquake in the first explosion was about 2.3, which is equivalent to 3 tons of TNT—the explosive energy of nearly 7 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The second one was 30 seconds later. Its magnitude was about 2.9, equivalent to 21 tons of TNT, and reached the explosive equivalent of a small tactical nuclear weapon.

Regarding the claim that the second explosion was equivalent to more than 20 tons of TNT, some people in the mainland industry have repeatedly compared the videos of the Tianjin Binhai explosion and the surrounding effects and analyzed that this algorithm underestimated the impact of the blast.

An expert from the China Engineering Blasting Association also said that in practice, to measure the power of an explosion, it was generally more intuitive to measure the impact of shock waves on surrounding buildings, doors, and windows. His research showed that if 1 ton of TNT exploded, doors and windows within a radius of 220 yards were severely damaged. Analyzing the effect of the TNT concentrated explosion test conducted by the industry before, the China Engineering Blasting Association’s algorithm underestimated the Tianjin Binhai explosion (explosion energy) by at least over a hundred tons.

As of 15:00 on Aug. 23, the latest figures released by the Chinese Communist Party stated that 123 people were killed in the explosion. 

Chinese overseas media Da Ji Yuan quoted news from the CCP’s armed police officers on Aug. 15, showing that the armed police firefighters obtained figures from the scene and first-line hospitals. 

By noon on the 15th, the CCP confirmed that more than 1,400 people had died, and more than 700 were missing. The source said that this figure does not include the number of dead bodies handled by the chemical defense forces on the scene and the number of people killed and taken to hospitals far away from the scene.

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