Sunday, 22 June 2008

Quake Talk

I wasn't in China for the Sichuan Earthquake and so it's only when I returned and started speaking to people that I formed some opinions about what this meant and how it is changing China. It's a really big deal because the last earthquake (Tangshan) in 1976 was concealed to the outside world, and to this day revelation of anything that isn't government ordained is a de facto secret.

However I found this picture on Wanfujing high street the most solemn and in case it didn't make it to the Western media I've posted it today because I think it sums up both the extent of the grief that the parents of these children must be feeling and equally it's the most sensitive topic for the Chinese government which has now been clamped down on in terms of discussion in the broadcast media, which is the quality of the school buildings that fell so quickly in that area.


Some of you may recall that I've railed against the quantity not quality approach that seemingly blinds a lot of the business community, including the advertising brigade who avoid any discussion that managing the growth rate and its reciprocal greed is what the business is about. That the any nod towards idea innovation is in the main a desire to be associated with the creative economy. This doesn't mean that China hasn't been an unprecedented success in its idea of how to succeed from a nation state perspective.

I've also recently managed to talk to people who are closer to government and there is some interesting and unsubstantiated gossip that Premier Wen Jiabao whose popularity rating has climbed since the tragedy, leapt on a plane after the quake which
occurred at 14:28:01.42 CST and was in the perimeter of the damage area within 2 hours with a loudhailer and some power to get things done. Not enough power it seems because his immediate call for the military to be deployed through the highest office of Hu Jintao was ignored for two days due to bureaucracy and possibly the potential of political capital being made.

This is unsubstantiated rumour, because even getting a reluctant nod on the names involved was hard enough and I didn't realise until the second time round who was being indirectly held accountable by the Chinese who like all people share information with each other. It's always worth bearing in mind that Chinese culture in the 21st century is both thousands of years old and yet at the same time is just finding its feet. More on that later as I've got a few outstanding posts on how China ticks from what I've learned so far.
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