Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Business as usual after Beijing flooding - Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn
The Beijing mayor and a vice-mayor lost their jobs, Weibo is rife with rumors about a high number of causalities, but - unlike what some US newspapers suggest - the city does not face a confidence crisis, explains Beijing watcher Jeremy Goldkorn on his weblog.

Jeremy Goldkorn:
“Living in China has always meant having to learn to tolerate a certain amount of mendacity on the part of the government. This is nothing new.”... 
One reason for the lower levels of outrage may be that the flood was caused by an observable natural phenomenon — anyone in Beijing on July 21 will have seen and probably been soaked by the torrential rains. There may have been underinvestment in rainwater drainage systems, but this is perhaps understandable in a city as dry as Beijing — sitting on the edge of northern deserts and with no river running through it. 
Personally, I don’t see how such disasters can be avoided if China’s continues it breakneck urban development. Beijing had a population of around ten million people and almost no private cars in 1990. There are now around twenty million people, maybe more, in the greater Beijing area, and they are all driving around on brand new roads, lined by brand new skyscrapers as well as shoddily constructed buildings that are just biding their time before demolition. Despite the economic gloom of the last two years, construction continues apace in Beijing. It’s just too fast for it all to be safe. 
I do not expect the disaster of the 2012 Beijing flood to be investigated thoroughly. After all there has not yet been an open, public investigation of the Wenzhou high speed train crash.
More on Jeremy Goldkorn's weblog.

Jeremy Goldkorn is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.
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