Chinese Bloggers Reveal Coverup of Bullet Train Crash That Killed 40
(The New American) -- by Bruce Walker --
After the bullet train crash in China a week ago that killed 40 and injured 191, government propagandists moved immediately to avoid questions from the media and censor coverage of the wreck. However, even more quickly, Chinese bloggers began to spread the story around the world.
China's Xinhua News Agency almost at once began to blame foreign technology for the crash. Later, state television portrayed Premier Wen Jiabao in photo-ops creating an image of government concern: He was shown visiting crash victims, holding the hand of an injured child, and bowing to family members of victims to show his sympathy.
However, the New York Times reports that since the train crash,
China’s two major Twitter-like microblogs — called weibos — have posted an astounding 26 million messages on the tragedy, including some that have forced embarrassed officials to reverse themselves. The messages are a potent amalgam of contempt for railway authorities, suspicion of government explanations and shoe-leather journalism by citizens and professionals alike.Yesterday, Communist China's Premier, Wen Jiabao, was joined by President Hu Jintao in promising an open and thoroughgoing investigation of the cause of the train wreck, which occurred near the coastal city of Wenzhou when a high-speed train slammed into a stalled train.
The swift and comprehensive blogs on the train accident stood this week in stark contrast to the stonewalling of the Railways Ministry, already stained by a bribery scandal. And they are a humbling example for the Communist Party news outlets and state television, whose blinkered coverage of rescued babies only belatedly gave way to careful reports on the public’s discontent.
While the blogs have exposed wrongdoers and broken news before, this week’s performance may signal the arrival of weibos as a social force to be reckoned with, even in the face of government efforts to rein in the Internet’s influence.
Critics noted that the Premier spoke just as do all officials in a nation controlled by the Communist Party:
Society and the public had many suspicions about the accident and the way it was handled. I believe that we should earnestly listen to the public’s views, treat them seriously and provide the public with a reasonable explanation. … Whether the problems are with machinery and equipment or administrative accounting or problems with manufacturing, we will investigate them to the very bottom. If the investigation turns up hidden corruption, we will also deal with this according to the law and there will not be any soft-pedaling.Observers say anyone who has followed the history of communist regimes during major disasters notices a consistent pattern. Regardless of the reason for the accident, which could involve the incompetence of communist-controlled operations, the regime tries to ignore it. In 2002 and 2003, for instance, the Chinese government attempted to cover up the spread of the deadly SARS respiratory epidemic. Likewise, in the Soviet Union, families of those who died in airline crashes did not read about the accident in Izvestia or Pravda and Tass made no announcement to the world. Bad news which could reflect on the state or the party was simply ignored.
Another common reaction of communist regimes is to blame foreign companies. Before any investigation into the train accident in China began, Xinhua announced that foreign technology was the cause of the crash...
This is despite the fact that the Communist Party itself has claimed credit for the new high-speed rail system, which was announced with great fanfare at the end of June in order to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party...MORE...LINK