Sunday, June 1, 2008

Earthquake Aftermath

So I was obviously one of the first to report the quake, but the aftermath has been just astonishing, 80,000+ dead of missing, total destruction of towns, highways destroyed cutting off help. The response was also amazing, the Chinese mobilized their army almost immediately, I wonder if the debacle of Katrina had anything to do with it, or the Cyclone in Myanmar.

But, on the ground the response has been nothing short of bizarre. The Chinese suffered a massive earthquake in the city of Tangshan in 1976 that is believed to be the largest in terms of death toll in the 20th century with anywhere between 255,000-650,000 dead. At the time, the Government had just been through the Cultural revolution and wasn't ready to admit that there had been a disaster, not letting foreign journalists in the area for a few years after the quake. Because of the pattern of denial and the idea of saving face the government has a knack of not admitting problems when there have been problems.

This time was different, either because of the sheer magnitude of the event or because they are turning a leaf the response was totally different than the Tangshan quake, there was public mourning for the first time in the PRC's history, people were donating heavily to private charities, there were candlelight vigils, all these things never happen in China. So hopefully, after all the bad that has happened here, some good will come from the madness.