December 21st, 2012 is a day that has long been pointed to as the beginning of a world-ending apocalypse — while we're only a day away from finding out whether this is true or not, it appears that some Chinese residents are taking this potential doomsday pretty seriously. The New York Times is reporting that the Chinese government has arrested nearly 1,000 members of a Christian sect known as the Church of Almighty God for inciting fear amongst citizens that the end is near. Public security officials are worried that doomsday fears may get out of hand and lead to riots or other harmful incidents; a man last week who slashed primary school students reportedly told investigators that his rampage was fueled by fear of the upcoming apocalypse.
Meanwhile, some are trying to take advantage of these fears — some of the fear-mongers are apparently asking for money in exchange for salvation, leading to the Shanghai police broadcasting a message saying that "the end of the world is purely a rumor." Other citizens are investing in extravagant and expensive survival bunkers, including an $800,000 model that comes with sacks of soil for growing vegetables. A businessman from the coastal Zhejiang Province says he's sold 26 steel and fibreglass floating spheres that can sustain as many as nine people for months. "I told buyers I think they are overreacting to this so-called doomsday thing," Yang Zhongfu said, "but I respect their decision."