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2008 turns out to be a year of trouble for China [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2008-5-13 20:13:01 |Display all floors
BEIJING - China hoped 2008 would be a yearlong celebration, a time to bask in the spotlight of the upcoming Beijing Olympics. Instead, the Year of the Rat has also brought a wave of troubles — both natural and man-made — that are putting a heavy strain on the communist leadership.

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Sichuan province Monday, killing thousands, is only the latest.

China has long experience with large-scale disasters — from coal mine explosions to chemical spills to floods that displace tens of thousands.

The central government prides itself on its ability to quickly react, usually with deployments from China's huge military corps. The ruling party's mandate in part rests on being able to deliver aid in emergencies.

But China's capacity to control disasters and how they play out in the media is being stretched this year. Its leaders are grappling with the fallout from multiple problems in the information-hungry Internet age when they had expected to focus only on the Olympics.

"The Olympics are an important symbol of China's effort to ... get on the same gauge with the rest of the world. So they have attached a lot of importance to them," said Roger Des Forges, a China historian at University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

"But for most Chinese people, they are secondary to the quality of life that they are trying to achieve. So these questions of disasters are uppermost in people's minds, watching how the government is going to deal with them," he said.

China was quick to show its public response to Monday's quake. Just hours after it struck, Premier Wen Jiabao flew into Sichuan Province to oversee the emergency relief effort. Speaking from Dujiangyan City, where a high school collapsed, burying some 900 students, Wen acknowledged on national TV the task will be "especially challenging."

This year, China's problems began just before February's Lunar New Year, when the worst snowstorms in five decades hit the densely populated southern and central region. They left scores dead, knocked out power across cities, and stranded hundreds of thousands during the country's single busiest travel period.

Meanwhile, its leaders also battled decade-high levels of inflation and struggled to improve the nation's image as a global manufacturer following last year's tainted drugs and food scandal and defective toy exports.

In March, huge anti-government riots erupted in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, sparking sympathy protests in Tibetan areas across western China. The violent protests were the biggest challenge to Chinese rule in the Himalayan region in nearly two decades.

The subsequent government crackdown brought sharp international criticism of Beijing's human rights record and its rule over Tibet. China has said that 22 people were killed, while Tibetan groups have said that many times that number died in the violence.

Thousands of troops were deployed across a wide swath of the country to tamp down unrest and restore order. But their massive presence continued to draw an unwelcome spotlight on China's harsh rule in Tibet.

The negative attention spilled over to the Olympic flame's around-the-world tour. Meant to be a feel-good kickoff event to the Beijing Games, the relay turned into chaos as pro-Tibet protesters mounted demonstrations from the very start of the ceremonial lighting in Greece, and at stops including London, Paris, and San Francisco.

The bad news kept coming. In May was China's worst train accident in a decade, leaving 72 dead and more than 400 injured when a high-speed passenger train jumped its tracks and slammed into another in rural Shandong province. Excessive speed was determined to be the cause, and five railway officials were promptly fired.

This month also brought a sharp rise in the number of reported cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease, a normally non-deadly viral infection that has killed 39 children this year and infected nearly 30,000 others.

Only last week's feat by a team of Tibetan and Han Chinese mountaineers in bringing the Olympic flame up Mount Everest gave China the positive publicity it craved, three months to the day before the start of the games.

Beijing's leaders had carefully chosen Aug. 8 as the opening day for the 2008 games (8-8-08), believing that it was an especially auspicious day. Many Chinese people in this officially atheist nation remain highly superstitious. The number eight, "ba" in Chinese, is closely associated with prosperity and good luck because it sounds similar to the word "fa," which means rich.

China spared no expense on its Olympic debut, spending an estimated $40 billion on improving infrastructure and building sports venues. Its money was apparently well-spent. None of the venues, 31 of them in Beijing alone, was reportedly damaged.

Li Jiulin, a top engineer on the 91,000-seat National Stadium known as the Bird's Nest — the jewel of the Olympics — was conducting an inspection at the venue when the quake occurred. He said the building was designed to withstand up to an 8.0-magnitude quake.

"The Olympic venues were not affected by the earthquake," said Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee. "We considered earthquakes when building those venues."

Ultimately, the series of crises could prompt China to reassess its true priorities, said Des Forges.

"I think there may be some way in which these crises are reminding the government that, as important as the games are, there are perhaps more important issues that need to be addressed," he said.

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Post time 2008-5-13 21:10:01 |Display all floors
that's a well written article. but at the same time, we need to remind ourselves that this is not an attack or the criticism of the chinese people. I love the people of China and wish for them to have a happy time during the Olympics. My thoughts are with the families suffering from the earthquake. I think Chinese government's quick reaction to the earthquake also results from the tricky relationship it has with countries like Burma. I'll re-post 2 articles I wrote which I think are related to this post...

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Post time 2008-5-13 21:17:17 |Display all floors
Here's my first post relating to this article, it can be found in China and the World

China In Difficult Situation Over It's Reporting of Burma Crisis

As I've always maintained, and have never strained from, I will raise constructive deb.ate on this forum. I will give credit to China where credit is due, but I will all critic.ise where critic.ism is due.

In the last few days the Chin.ese gov.ernment has shown a lot of maturity and professionalism in many areas, particularly in regards to relations with, and the talks.

Now, as this crisis continues, difficult position on the whole issue has shown itself also.

For the first 40 years of com.munist rule, the prop.aganda mac.hine was like no other! Hatred, anger and abuse towards all western sys.tems of gov.ernment! My wife even tells me how in her own youth, pretty much all the way up until around the year 2000, high school involved a barrage of hatred towards the USA and how bad everything to do with the USA was! The Chinese had it pumped into them daily.

But now, as China increasingly dev.elopments and becomes more and more powerful, it finds itself in a difficult position. It wants to embrace the modern developed world, but at the same time it can't crit.icise all these hard.core little and brutal and crim.inal dic.tator.ships still floating around all over asia and the middle east. Cap.italism and the influence of America has taken over.

China still cannot, and will not, crit.icise any of these bru.tal and crim.inal reg.imes. Whilst the world criti.cises Burma for holding a joke criminal ref.erendum to establish permanent mil.itary con.trol for the rest of eternity in Burma, at a time when their country faces a human disaster, front page news all over the world about how WRONG this is, China has gone silent in their news. China can't be crit.ical of these little mini-dict.ator.ships, because the fact still remains, they are still a dict.ator.ship also.

It's a tricky position for CHina to be in, like I said, for the first 40 or so years China was the big country leading the way, the shining beacon against the USA and the biggest ally for all these little mini-dict.ator.ships (including No.rth Kor.ea) to follow, now the situation has changed and CHina is in a difficult and uncomfortable position. All they can report of is little snipets about the cyclone itself, and they also tried to put a positive spin on the ref.erendum, saying that CHina was friends with the Bur.mese government.

It really is proof that China is in a kind of "no mans land" at the moment. They're in transition. They're not the shining beacon that they once were for these little mini-dict.ators.hips any more, but at the same time they aren't a fully developed, fully fledged dem.ocratic entity that can openly ab.use a crim.inal reg.ime that was once on the side of them back in the dark evil nasty brutal days themself. They're in the middle, balancing on the pendulum between mini-dict.ators.hip and developed dem.ocracy.

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Post time 2008-5-13 21:25:40 |Display all floors
Here is another of my posts that may (or may not) be related to this article. I'll post my further comments about it afterwards...

9-11 and Katrina, Divine Intervention?

Again, I'm not religious. But in regards to 911 and Katrina. Who knows?

USA was at their height of arrogance when 911 occured. Was this a wake up call to be more responsible and more accountable as the leader of the free world? Has America learnt from this?

Hurricane Katrina was when the Iraq war was in full swing and Bush had just announced another massive wave of spending and troops to go towards Iraq. Was this a wake up call to stop fighting a war of impatience and "shock and awe" towards potential threats, and instead focus on their own problems? Was it a warning that so much money was being spent overseas, but was Bush prepared to spend it on his own people? Was it a warning that the USA hadn't paid attention to the first 911 warning, had gone about it the wrong way by simply invading Iraq, and was now getting a further warning to show more responsibility as the world leader?

Again, these aren't my opinions, these are just questions I'm posing. Nature does seem to move in mysterious ways at times. Any further comments?

SARS? China was developing at a huge rate, but was it at the expense of basic hygene and cleanliness habits? Did it force China to clean up some of its terrible cleanliness habits to get more in touch with the civilised world, the spitting etc. Was this an important and necessary development lesson that they simply had to learn to take them to the next stage of their development?

Just asking the question.

Burma Cyclone - Divine Intervention?

I just put the question out there, I'm an agnostic who sits on the fence with out any real religious views towards life, but every now and then you do see weird unexplainable patterns that seem to form in nature from time to time.

The Junta in Burma is one of the worst regimes in Asia since Pol Pot, and now they plan to hold an absolute joke of a referendum, a complete an utter joke to try and show the world that they are becoming democratic. The whole thing would be about as believable as when Saddam Hussein held that election where he won 100% of the vote! (Remember that? It was just before the yanks came in!) Perhaps the Junta saw another criminal Robert Mugabe doing the same thing in Zimbabwe and tried to copy him or something. Whats next? I guess North Korea will hold democratic elections next week! Wow, amazing, all of the repressive brutal criminal regimes of the world holding elections together! That's globalisation working for you!

And so I put the question out there, a week before Burma's election, nature takes the matter into its own hands....

Sometimes a terrible tragedy is the only way to force someone to look at what they are doing.

I'm not saying any of this is true, I sit on the fence of possibility, I'm just putting the question out there.

Comments people?

The AIDS virus?

The sexual revolution was getting to the point where sex was getting out of control and not respected any more. Free love was becoming abusive and sex was not respected for what it should be.

Nature took matter into its own hands. Now we need to respect ourselves and others again and respect sex. Have we learnt our lesson not to abuse the enjoyment of sex and to treat it with respect?

It's a yin and yang philosophy really. If you yin too much, then the yang brings it back again, and vice versa.


The Tsunami in South East Asia?

Thailands prostitute industry and western exploitation out of control?
Sri lankan junta gaining too much control in their country? (are they junta? I can't remember, cant be bothered looking it up!)

Just asking the questions!

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Post time 2008-5-13 21:31:02 |Display all floors
the reason I posted both of those old articles is because I believe they could be related, or at least give everyone something to think about.

China is in a difficult situation over what happened in Burma. And now, the same thing has happened to them, so now they are forced to go about it the correct way, they don't wont to be seen in the eyes of the media in the same way as the Burmese military Junta went about dealing with the crisis. It's all as if nature has conspired to force the Chinese government to reform and develop it's policies? I'm not saying this as a fact, and am in no way insensitive to the terrible tragedy that has occured, my heart goes out to the Chinese people in this terrible time. But let's be realistic, China has some problems, they genuinly do, they have some reform problems and development problems. Sometimes a tragedy is the only way to "force" reform and policy change.

If you can take anything positive out of this tragedy, then that would be it.

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Post time 2008-5-13 21:54:49 |Display all floors
A great warning to China before their big show to the world. You're not going to get away with the superficial show without grass roots level development. You can't just reform buildings and not reform the people at greass roots level.

And speaking of buildings, China needs to reform it's construction industry. Where's the strict safety standards? Where's the strict building codes of practises and standard regulations for structural developments? Where's the maintenance industry looking after the buildings? A lot of the buildings going up in CHina are very unprofessionally constructed. There simply put up by a million unqualified workers who have flooded into the city looking for work. It all looks very impressive all this fast development and construction of buildings at such a mad pace. But it wouldn't surprise me if in 20 years time they all fall down again! I'm an ex tradesperson (coming from Australia where there is strict policies and safety standards going all the way from the top down to the bottom, even which screwdriver you should use!) None of this exists in CHina, and let's not even begin to talk about no unions or workers rights!

China's development and construction industry needs massive massive MASSIVE reform. It's not talked about much on this forum, because I (sorry to say it guys, no offence) think that most people on this forum are more from the middle class variety and don't pay attention to the grass roots work going on in CHina, the struggling poorer country areas, the contruction industry. I've paid close attention to it on my many trips to CHina, and sorry guys, I really feel for you, I want to help you, but at a working class levle I simply have to shake my head, China is still at a very basic level of development and needs massive reform as grass roots level.

The fact remains, you can't just make the pizza topping without the dough. China is building the pizza topping without developing the pizza dough! The dough is still soggy and undercooked!

Perhaps a few of these buildings that have collapsed could have been avoided if the pizza dough had been better cooked instead of concentrating on the pizza topping all the time? Perhaps many lives might have been saved in this earthquake? Perhaps the school might not have collapsed? I'm just asking these questions.

I don't believe in divine intervention, more so in great tragedies forcing change. The yin yang policy seems to work at times, if you yin too much, the yang snaps back at you, and vice versa. China MUST reform and become a part of the modern developmed world. This is not an OPTION, this is a MUST! It's the ONLY choice. And Burma is a stark reminder of that, forcing the CHinese government not to look silly in the eyes of westerners by doing the same thing as what the junta is doing.

My thoughts and my heart is with the Chinese people during this time.

[ Last edited by middleway at 2008-5-13 10:01 PM ]

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Post time 2008-5-13 22:00:09 |Display all floors
This year, China's man-made problems will include the south china Tiger affair...from ShanXi province, in face it's just a paper tiger, flat cat...but last over 7 months, all the related official still alive...

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