May 26, 2008

WHEN KILLING KIDS IS OFFICIAL STATE POLICY...:

Chinese parents ask why schools crumbled (Jim Yardley, Jake Hooker and Andrew C. Revkin, May 25, 2008, NY Times)

"This is not a natural disaster," said Ren Yongchang, whose 9-year-old son died inside the destroyed school. His hands were covered in plaster dust as he stood beside the rubble, shouting and weeping as he grabbed the exposed steel rebar of a broken concrete column. "This is not good steel. It doesn't meet standards. They stole our children."

There is no official figure on how many children died at Xinjian Primary School, nor on how many died at scores of other schools that collapsed in the powerful May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province.

But the number of student deaths seems likely to exceed 10,000, possibly much higher, a staggering figure that has become a simmering controversy in China as grieving parents say their children might have lived had the schools been better built.

The government has enjoyed broad public support for its handling of the earthquake, and in Sichuan on Saturday, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon of the United Nations praised the government's response.

But as parents at different schools begin to speak out, the question of whether official negligence, and possibly corruption, contributed to the student deaths could turn public opinion. The government has begun an investigation, but censors, wary of the public mood, are trying to suppress the issue in state-run media and online.


Posted by Orrin Judd at May 26, 2008 8:45 AM
Comments

To make matters worse, these are only children and thus the parents have lost it all.

Posted by: pchuck at May 26, 2008 9:56 AM

The aftershock yesterday knocked down another 10,000+ buildings. What about tomorrow? The 1976 earthquake set the stage for the reach towards the West.

This is the sort of thing that makes control very difficult. Imagine thousands of angry, grieving parents in Tienanmen Square - would they disperse quietly? Probably not - they might even want to die. Would the PLA kill them? How about two weeks before the Olympics?

While no doubt several local officials and construction firm managers will be shot (perhaps publicly), there will be a stain going forward.

The plutocrats would be wise to put 500,000 soldiers in the affected areas - to dig, to build, to do whatever is necessary to help. No matter the cost or impact on the Army, they have to do it.

Posted by: ratbert at May 26, 2008 2:03 PM
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