Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

RE: [DSL] Re: update on sichuan earthquake

Expand Messages
  • Kenneth Blair
    I was in Suzhou, and some people did feel it on the East coast but not us. My impressions of the earthquake cannot fault the relief efforts but at the same
    Message 1 of 3 , May 25, 2008
      I was in Suzhou, and some people did feel it on the East coast but not us.
      My impressions of the earthquake cannot fault the relief efforts but at the same time I am not simply awed by the presence of politicians. The Chinese are smarter than the Americans in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina (which shamed the USA) and also aware of the sentiment of the world over the Burma/Myanmar Junta's response to disaster which was completely the opposite to China's acceptance of aid.
      The papers which show "grandfather Hu" holding the hand of a child are about politics though. The disaster is an oppurtunity for the party to promote itself and the PLA to the nation. The sentimentalising about the soldiers harkened back to Mao Tse Tung, "not stealing a pin" and "closing all the gates" etc. For example, we are told in Chinese newspapers the people make food for soldiers but the soldiers refuse it and instead drink water that drips from the mountains. What sort of human beings are these? ...the columist asks. "These are our soldiers fed by the love of the people! Salute our army!"
       It is hard to miss the capital the earthquake provides in the context of 2008 events. No more talk of Tibet. The CPC is very good at what it does. They wear business suits instead of Lenin jackets. It doesn't mean they arent up to the same things behind the scenes. In China you don't hear the full story, for all the faults of the West at least there are many voices to hear. The Hong Kong media for example notes that the schools which collapsed were state schools while others constructed by Hong Kong charities (and supervised by them) stood in the same cities. It calls for enquries and accountablity. The different "open" attitude taken by the CPC was commented on by older Chinese and even the Western media also. They are open, and they are seen to be acting. I would not go so far as to assume they have changed their colours though. A person who protests about their home being demolished to make a park for Olympic tourists will still be thrown in a labour camp. Organising a prayer group in a home could still get you arrested, writing an article about a corrupt offical who steals from his citizens will be punished, marking the anniversary of any number of outrages commited by the communist party will still be cracked down upon.
      The earthquake footage was enough to make me cry as I watched it over those days. I have a small child and their are so many families destroyed. I mourn for the people and the families and commend the efforts or the relief effort but I will not give the regime a seal of approval over what they show on television.
      As a side note on the military: the relief efforts have shown the Chinese military is far from a modern military.
      100,000 warm bodies in uniform but the helicopters are only very small in number and lack ground navigational radar required to pass through foggy mountains, hence the inability to reach some places for 3 days. Supplies were thrown from fixed wing aircraft (without parachutes) over scattered fields. Crude by WW2 standards.
      When I consider the amounts of deaths the party is personally responsible for through negligence and incompetence in past decades I am not ready to percieve a new openess or change of heart. The rescue efforts are truly dramatic and emotional but I also see simply that President Hu is a lot smarter than President Bush but wouldnt say it makes his regime a humanist country. Smarter than Bush, if that is saying anything. Repeated images of a politician jabbing his finger at a map reminded me of a war conference. I expect in reality there were experts who gave him all intelligence and did the actual logistics.
      Good photo opp's though.
      The Peoples Premier. ...The Great Helmsman. ...Quarter Pounder with Cheese. ....Removal of label voids warranty.
      BTW the 3 minutes silence was reasonable but the closure of all entertainment for 3 days is simply an economic pain on the back of the Sichuan calamity. So many business just shut down and in some ways it made me marvel over the power of the government to stops billions of dollars of livelihood. This for example was peoples livelihood in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, where we were at that time.
      Luckily some of the minorities there were not entirely taken by the gesture and still put on ethnic performances for visitors. I suppose they might not understand why they should not get paid for 3 days so went on with their shows. Again, Hong Kong media more sensiblly asked what was the point of this economic pain.
      I don't consider the USA to represent the Western world or democracy so regardless of which direction the USA, or China, is going re: "freedom" there were still some pretty odd features about the way the disaster was used by the government media. There were no pictures of grieving mothers amidst rubble shouting a school dean like I saw in Hong Kong. Since time immemorial regimes have known the power of unifying a people against an external threat to draw attention away from themselves. The good will generated by this serves the communist party well.
      It is a shame the CPC is not so socially conscious about the poor & hungry people the rest of the time. Perhaps this generous spirit should carry on over to the homeless and the beggars who the very same charitible Chinese would walk past every day in the prosperous cities.

      From: DragonSeedLegacy@yahoogroups.com [mailto:DragonSeedLegacy@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Gary Todd
      Sent: Wednesday, 21 May 2008 2:20 a.m.
      To: DragonSeedLegacy@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [DSL] Re: update on sichuan earthquake

      The aftermath of this earthquake has been truly amazing. We barely felt it in Henan, although they cancelled classes at my university for the rest of the day. What is amazing is the contrast between 5-12-08 and the Tangshan quake of 1976. That one killed 240-300,000 people, yet was covered up for months. By contrast, we have had 24/7 news coverage of the quake on the English-language CCTV9 as well as the Chinese language stations. Premier Wen Jiabao was at the site within hours directing relief efforts. President Hu Jintao is there right now. The earthquake occurred at a most inconvenient location, but despite tremendous obstacles, the military and other relief workers have done a tremendous job. People all over China have pitched in to help. Exactly one week after the quake virtually the entire country stood still to observe 3 minutes of silence for the victims. No matter what your politics are, any objective person would have to admit that the leade rship here is doing something right. While I am happy that China gets to host the Olympics here in August, in the long run I think the response to the earthquake will earn China far more respect in the eyes of the world.
      Gary L. Todd
      Professor of History
      Sias International University
      Xinzheng, Henan, China

      This communication, including any attachments, is confidential. If you are not the intended recipient, you should not read it - please contact me immediately, destroy it, and do not copy or use any part of this communication or disclose anything about it. Thank you. Please note that this communication does not designate an information system for the purposes of the Electronic Transactions Act 2002.

    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.