Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s speech is looped on TV and radio and seems to have an effect. One line that inspired was:
“Even if there is only a sliver of hope, we will increase our efforts 100-fold to save those people”
Rumors are out now about the water. Water is turned off in Chengdu and in many of the hard hit areas farther north they are calling for people to deliver water to them in any way possible. Other than sporadic water — Chengdu is basically back to normal. As if nothing ever happened.
A lot of Chinese are getting very angry and are quick to blame shoddy construction, corruption and inefficiency for the number of deaths. Everyone is asking why there were so many schools destroyed, but that is a natural reaction.
From what I have gathered over the past few days through combing the media and being interviewed by the BBC — the Western media has a vested interest in controversy and the Chinese government is a convenient target. Any breath of corruption and the Guardian is all over it.
It is hard to say what the truth may be. I think it is very possible that the construction firm who gained the contract to build schools in Dujiangyan and Deyang skimped on materials and quality. But so did every other construction firm in the country on every single project they are involved in. China is in the midst of a commercial revolution — selling out and making profit is glorious.
So on one hand, perhaps some of the deaths could have been avoided. But who is truly to blame? And can anyone have predicted an earthquake?
I think for Americans it is easy to compare with Hurricane Katrina — the slow response to prior warnings and the even slower response to the destruction of New Orleans. From what I and many of my friends have seen here, the Chinese are doing a much better job of pulling together as one to help people injured, buried or displaced by the earthquake than the US Government did for the people of New Orleans. The NYT, here, on the same issue.
There are no reports of looting, prices are fixed and there are no reports of people taking advantage (yet) of a shortage of supplies and locals are eager to head north with water and/or give blood.
What happens to the construction firms and their government sponsors later? … well the Chinese have a saying for that:
Qiu Hou Suan Zhang
“We’ll get the numbers straight after the harvest …”