News / Asia

Chinese Government Criticized for Downplaying Floods

A road worker walks past flowers placed under a bridge where a man drowned July 21 in his flooded car on a main road in Beijing, July 27, 2012.
A road worker walks past flowers placed under a bridge where a man drowned July 21 in his flooded car on a main road in Beijing, July 27, 2012.
Chinese authorities in Beijing are coming under continuing criticism for allegedly downplaying the severity of deadly floods that have killed scores of people since last week.
 
Skepticism

Internet users Friday reacted with skepticism to the official death toll, and called it a man-made disaster that has highlighted the government’s poor emergency response.
 
Pan Anjun, deputy head of the municipal flood control and drought relief headquarters appeared at a news conference on Thursday evening saying that 77 dead bodies had been counted so far. “Of them 66 have been identified, 11 remain unnamed,” he said offering condolences to the victims’ families on behalf of the city administration. Pan also stressed that authorities would "conscientiously sum up and reflect and learn lessons from the disaster.”
 
  • Chinese People's Liberation Army soldiers clear mud from a street in a flood-hit area in Hougoumen village of Fangshan district in Beijing, July 25, 2012.
  • Pedestrians walk past chrysanthemums placed under the Guangqumen overpass to mourn victims who were killed during a rainstorm, in Beijing, China, July 27 2012.
  • Residents look at a submerged bus on a flooded street in the Tianjin municipality, China, July 26, 2012.
  • Muddy clothes hang on a truck damaged by flood in a village in Fangshan district, Beijing, China, July 23, 2012.
  • Rescuers and residents stand next to a stranded car being pulled from a flooded street under the Guangqumen overpass, Beijing, China, July 21, 2012.
  • A man waits next to a flooded highway after his car was trapped following heavy rainfalls in Fangshan District, Beijing, China, July 22, 2012.
  • Workers pump flood water near a stranded bus in Beijing, China, July 21, 2012.
  • A man wades through a flooded street following a heavy rain in Beijing, China, July 21, 2012.

Photos, videos posted

Online, where news of last week’s floods trended high on microblog searches since Saturday and witnesses posted pictures and videos to detail the damages, the government’s management of the rains was the subject of much criticism.
 
“The death toll should have been zero,” one user says noting that though the government cannot control nature, it is still possible to warn people in advance, use some precautions, provide emergency relief and deal with the aftermath properly. “We must not again use people’s blood to mend the system,” he added.
 
The biggest rainstorm in 61 years hit China’s capital last Saturday, overwhelming the city’s drainage system, flooding highways and, in rural areas around the capital, triggering mudslides and river overflows. Beijing authorities quickly categorized the flooding as a “natural disaster,” a definition that is challenged by many users of China’s twitter-like service Weibo.
 
Responsibility


“77 people died, this is a huge man made disaster,” one user said. “To call it a natural disaster is to avoid taking responsibility.”
 
“Why is it that it takes people’s loss of life for everybody to start caring?” another microblog user wrote on his account, “our city managers need to take a hard look at their track record,” he added.
 
The district chief of Fangshan, one of the worst ravaged by the floods, apologized on Wednesday to the 800,000 people affected by the weather crisis. “We learned from this rainstorm that the city infrastructure, especially the drainage system needs to be improved,” he said on national TV.
 
Damage

The floods’ damage, estimated at nearly $2 billion, is a huge embarrassment for China’s leaders, whose effort to upgrade the country’s image culminated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
 
Many commentators pointed at the discrepancy between what city officials wanted to show the world then, and the reality made clear by the downpour.
 
“Four years ago, the Olympic capital was shining,” one user said on Weibo, “Four years later, it took just one big storm…” he added.
 
Zhang Yuanjie, a famous children’s literature writer, denounced the sub-standard quality of Beijing’s highways, where cars were submerged during the downpour.
 
“The lack of an efficient drainage system on the Beijing-Hong Kong expressway caused cars and people to be engulfed in water,” he wrote on his Weibo account. “I propose that from tomorrow on the Beijing municipality offers its apology by not accepting toll fees on its highways for 77 days,” he added.
 
“They should do it for 77 years,” another Weibo user responded.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
July 27, 2012 5:16 PM
In mainland China you will never see any criticism in major news media of the Central Govt or Party for how it handled the recent floods or whether Party policies exacerbated flooding. The Party censors the major news media, radio & TV to make sure the Chinese people don't get the full truth.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs