This Week in China
AFP/AFP/Getty Images Earthquake Last Monday’s Sichuan earthquake was the worst natural disaster in China in 30 years. An estimated 5 million people were left homeless from the quake and today marked the end of an official three day mourning period for those lost, now numbering above 40,000. Though reports are still coming in of some ...
Last Monday’s Sichuan earthquake was the worst natural disaster in
Rescue stories include one of western tourists being evacuated from a panda research center by heroic staff, and another of a Chinese couple trapped in rubble for 28 hours who were forced to take turns breathing, saying “It was more terrifying than facing the god of death.”
The state is re-tightening the reins on the media after relatively open reporting on the disaster. As for criticism of officials and building practices, a
Private charity is on the rise in China to help the quake victims: “The public outpouring is so overwhelming that analysts are debating whether it will create political aftershocks and place pressure on China’s authoritarian state to allow more space for civil society,” the International Herald Tribune reports.
Growing lore about Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s softspot for the common people includes an incident where he allegedly slammed the phone down on a general after commanding him to do whatever it takes to save quake victims. Technically he doesn’t even command the military which is taken as evidence of a passion that is stirring more than a few to call him “Grandpa Wen.”
In an “unprecedented step,” U.S. aid to China included the first-ever disclosure of satellite imagery to China by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. The imagery of Chinese infrastructure will allow China to better assess the state of its reservoirs, roads, and bridges. Japan also released satellite imagery (translated) that shows the dramatic devastation from the quake.
Ma Ying-jeou took power as Taiwan’s president on Tuesday, saying Taiwan and China “can use this rare historical opportunity. Let’s open a new page of peace and prosperity.” As a first step, China has invited Ma’s KMT party chairman Wu Poh-hsiung for a six day visit to the mainland starting on Monday during which he will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The pandas from Wolong and
Chinese government agencies have been asked to cut spending by 5% this year to create a $10 billion earthquake reconstruction fund. Ways to cut back include a freeze on approval of new government buildings, strict control of new car purchases on the part of officials, and less spending on dinners, according to Prime Minister Wen.
Total losses from the earthquake to Chinese companies are estimated at $9.5 billion, about $4.3 billion of which is state-owned. The Agricultural Bank of
Quake reconstruction could lead to a shift toward investment and away from consumption. Analysts see some parallels in
NPR looks more at the “unprecedented” free media reporting environment in
The Carnegie Endowment’s
Daniel Bell, a teacher of political theory at
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