Dead pigs in the river = frugal funeral?

“Funerals should be held in a civil and frugal way.” When asked about the floating dead pigs found in Shanghai’s Huangpu River, Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo gave such an answer at the 12th NPC press conference on March 13 in Beijing.

Dou Yupei (left) and Li Liguo (middle) vice-minister and minister of Ministry of Civil Affairs answer the question of "dead pigs" at the 12th NPC press Conference. Photo:

The question, raised by the Time Weekly, a newspaper based in Guangzhou, was: With regards to the dead pigs in Zhejiang, it was said that the reason why they were dumped in the river was because the “family of the decreased” could not afford to have them cremated. Could you confirm this information?

This humorously-phrased question brought about chuckles amongst the journalists, which then was turned into laughter by Li Liguo’s answer, “I’ll understand your question as a question about the charges of Funeral Management Services and I’ll give an answer accordingly.”

As if he knew nothing about the dead pig incident that has been brewing for the past three days, Li went on to talk about the “reasonable and relatively low government-set funeral service prices”. He then gave the floor to Vice-minister Dou Yupei, who continued talking about funeral prices and even warned people to purchase funeral services and products rationally.

Left: dead pig found floating in Huangpu River; Right: “Can't afford to die, I won't die now.” says the deceased who jumps out of his funerary photo frame to avoid the machete that says "high cost". Photo:

The question, cleverly put, was in fact insinuating the sad reality that for many people living in poverty in China, they cannot even afford to die due to the sky-high cremation fee and grave price, which, according to the two ministers’ answer, was not caused by government “monopoly” and was, in some cases, caused by the customers’ “psychological consumption”. Moreover, they reiterated that the government prices are “reasonable and relatively low”.

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