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    2.Officially Sanctioned Crime in China, He Qinglian
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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Snowstorm’ Category

Snowstorm Worries China Leaders, For Natural Disasters Led to the Downfall of Dynasties In The Past

Posted by Author on February 6, 2008


Natural disasters have helped fell dynasties in centuries past, which may weigh on leaders’ minds in the ongoing crisis.

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, USA, February 4, 2008-

BEIJING — The image of a catastrophic natural disaster that humbled a powerful leader may have stalked Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as he made rapid-fire visits last week to areas devastated by snowstorms, but it probably wasn’t Hurricane Katrina. Try going back a few centuries.

In a country where history is never far from the surface, the events back in 1351 and 1644 may weigh on leaders’ minds. In those years, natural disasters led to the downfall of Chinese dynasties at a time of inflation, social unrest and corruption.

“Chinese leaders are very aware of the latent threat behind this disaster,” said Ong Yew-kim, a professor with the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “And Premier Wen Jiabao, who puts a lot of emphasis on history and culture, certainly thinks about this when dealing with this crisis. As we know, there is a life cycle for every dynasty.”

Few see a serious risk to the Communist Party’s grip in the storms that have killed at least 60 people, caused$7.5 billion in damage and left millions of frustrated people struggling to return home for Chinese New Year.

Political upheavals in the last millennium have generally occurred when the government appeared uncaring about public suffering, historians say, leading people to inextricably link the natural disasters with their rulers’ bad policies. That doesn’t appear to be the case today: Despite widespread corruption, the current leadership’s emphasis on helping those left behind has been well received.

“I don’t think people will question the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy because of this crisis,” said Xiao Gongqin, a history professor at Shanghai Normal University.

But that hasn’t eased the worries of the leadership, which is aware of the high political stakes and the potential for public frustration in the world’s most populous country to turn quickly into massive riots.

“China is driven by a desire to maintain order amid fears things could devolve into chaos,” said Scott Kronick, president of Ogilvy China, a public relations firm that has advised the government on crisis management using Hurricane Katrina as a case study, adding that Wen’s appearances and messages last week were effective at helping defuse the situation.

Premier Wen made several well-publicized trips to the hardest-hit areas, meeting stranded railway passengers, visiting relatives of workers killed in the storm and inspecting markets to reassure consumers that food shortages were temporary.

“You’ve suffered a lot,” Wen told frustrated ticket-holders at the Guangzhou station. “You urgently want to go home, and I understand your suffering.”

Even austere President Hu Jintao donned a red hard hat at a coal mine last week, urging miners to work harder at alleviating the storm-related coal shortages that left millions of people without power.

The central government has also mobilized more than a million soldiers and reservists to help clear roads and fix damaged rail lines, assist with relief work and ease cargo bottlenecks, amid reports that 223,000 houses have collapsed under snow and ice and 862,000 others have suffered damage.

Critics say local officials have been the weakest link, with many slow to respond and apparently more concerned with dodging blame than rolling up their sleeves.

“The crisis has revealed that many of our local officials are not qualified,” said Gao Fang, a professor with People’s University in Beijing. “Most are appointed, not elected. Or if they are elected, the voters are often told whom to select.”

The central government has warned local governments to pick up their game, with the implicit threat of career setbacks for those who fall short. The storms will “test the will, resolution and capability” of Chinese leaders at all levels, the state-run New China News Agency said.

Chinese history is rife with cases of rulers toppled by natural disasters, historians said.

In 1351, during the so-called Red Turban Rebellion, inflation-battered peasants rose up against the corrupt Yuan Dynasty leadership after a series of famines and floods, resulting in the start of the Ming Dynasty.

And in 1644, rebel leader Li Zicheng proclaimed himself emperor and captured Beijing after a devastating famine, remaining in power long enough to see Emperor Zhu Youjian commit suicide, leading to the establishment of the Qing Dynasty.

Last week, the party worked hard to manage public perception.

Local, provincial and central governments have issued media “guidance” to soft-pedal coverage, reporters said. “The propaganda ministry has advised us to consider social stability our top priority,” said one newspaper reporter in the hard-hit southern province of Guangdong, who asked not to be identified. “And they’ve encouraged us to concentrate on positive stories about hard-working officials who solve problems.”

Reporting on deaths has been particularly sensitive, said a Chinese reporter in the southern province of Jiangxi, adding that he thought the actual nationwide death toll was much higher than 60.

“At first they blocked reporting on almost all deaths, except for those of model workers,” he said, also requesting anonymity. “In the last day or two, however, that changed as provinces realized they might not get emergency funding from Beijing if they hushed everything up.”

– Original report from Los Angeles Times: Devastating snow evokes China’s stormy history

Posted in China, disaster, history, Life, News, Official, People, Politics, Rural, Snowstorm, Social, World | 1 Comment »

China Snowstorm: Death Toll Could Be Much Higher

Posted by Author on February 5, 2008


BBC News, Saturday, 2 February 2008-

China’s government has warned people to brace for more bad weather as the country struggles to cope with the worst snow storms in over 50 years.

State weather services said the worst-hit provinces faced several more days of snow and freezing rain.

The crisis has affected an estimated 100 million people, and caused some 54bn yuan (£3.8bn) of damage.

The government has doubled the number of soldiers assigned to help with relief efforts, state media said.

More than 300,000 troops and almost 1.1 million reservists have been deployed.

‘Hidden toll’

“The most difficult period is still not over yet. The situation remains grim,” Premier Wen Jiabao said during a Cabinet meeting, the China Daily reported.

Officials say that emergency medical teams have treated over 200,000 sick and injured people, and that 60 people have died because of the cold.

But the true figures are likely to be much higher, says the BBC’s China editor Shirong Chen, who says the government is working hard to convince the public that it is in control of the situation.

Massive crowds of travellers remain stranded as they try to get home for next week’s Lunar New Year holiday.

In Guangzhou, people spent the night in the open in sub-zero temperatures and heavy rain as they waited at the city’s main train station.

The government has provided shelters, but they are not big enough for the hundreds of thousands of people still stuck there, the BBC’s Daniel Griffiths reports from the station.

Many of the stranded are poor migrant workers, for whom next week’s holiday is traditionally the only break they will get all year.

Crop concerns

Snow has been falling in central and southern regions for three weeks.

Officials have warned that many could face food shortages in the future as a result of wrecked winter crops.

With millions reported to be without water and electricity, the government has ordered coal production to be increased and imposed emergency price controls.

President Hu Jintao has visited coal mines to urge help to end the power shortages and Premier Wen Jiabao has been visiting stranded travellers in the south of the country.

But many are questioning the government’s ability to deal with the crisis, correspondents say.

Chenzhou, a city in Hunan province with a population of 4 million, has reportedly been without electricity for at least eight days.

China’s official Xinhua news agency quoted a national grid official as saying authorities would work to partially restore power supply to the city on Saturday.

– Original report from BBC News: China warns of more bad weather

Posted in China, disaster, Health, housing, Life, News, People, Rural, Snowstorm, Social, transport, World | 1 Comment »