Home > Environment, General, politics > Follow-On Article (1) (for the Sichuan Quake article)

Follow-On Article (1) (for the Sichuan Quake article)

*** ( NOTE : This is a follow-on of the artcle titled : Putting the Sichuan Quake into Perspective“. This 2nd article is NOT meant to be a stand-alone article. I would therefore highly recommend you read that article before starting this one. The 1st article is only 1 page long, and should provide the context in which this article should be viewed ) *** ( click here to read the 1st article )

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Please note that this follow-on article was written back in May, and is NOT the follow-on article I promised to write here. It does NOT therefore cover many of the points you have raised here which I hope to cover. However it should answer some of the questions while I try to find the time to write that “follow-on” article I promised. I hope to do that before this weekend.

***

Here is the original “follow-on” article written in May :

Note :
(1) Some of the info may be slightly outdated.
(2) “this blogsite” referred to below refers to my own blogsite ( chinablogs )

aaa

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The purpose of this article is to answer some of the questions raised. The format it will take is a series of Q & A. The questions/comments (Q) are summaries of readers’ own questions and comments. They are followed by my answers/responses.

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Q1 : “You are defending the government

The article should not be viewed as a “defence” of anyone. I did not say there are no poorly constructed buildings in China, neither have I said there is no corruption in China. The purpose of the article was to provide an alternate view. One supported by data rather than emotions.

It is worth noting that I have constructed this blogsite as a platform for raising alternate views to challenge the mainstream believes and values. Since China is a constant target of vilification by the media, ALL articles on this site will therefore naturally carry an inherent “defensive” appearance. It is however NOT the purpose of my articles to defend, but to inform.

Q2 : “The protestors only want names of the dead children, not the 90,000 as you quoted

The motivation behind the demand for the name list is to reveal the number of children killed. If the authorities were to give the names of, let’s say, 30,000. There is no prove the remaining 60,000 or so do not include children. Some of the activists stirring up emotions of the parents do not give the appearance of someone who would stop before the WHOLE “truth” is revealed. It is highly unlikely they would voluntarily stop before having 90,000 names.

As I said in the article, I have never known of any governments in the world that have released name lists of natural disasters resulting in deaths of that magnitude. I don’t think China would be any different.

Part of the reason no governments in the world has done that may be the difficulty of giving names to a body with no head, or a head with no face. How do you give a name to a pair of legs that don’t match other bodies?

Q3 : “The buildings WERE poorly constructed

No-one has ever said there are no poorly constructed buildings in China. I do not know of any developing country with no shoddy buildings.

But that is beside the point. If it was just about shoddy buildings, there would probably be no confrontations between the protestors and the authorities. And we would not be debating here today. There are plenty of shoddy buildings all over the developing world. No-one in their right mind would deny that.

The issue here is the activists are trying to link the deaths to government corruption, and direct their anger towards the government, thus creating the trigger for large scale unrest.

Q4 : “Why did some schools collapse while buildings around it remain intact

If there are school collapses while buildings around them remain “intact”, then I would agree that they need to be investigated. And I have no doubt the authorities are already doing just that.

But let us not automatically come to the conclusion that ALL suspicious building collapses are results of corruption. There are plenty of possible causes for buildings to collapse, one of which is of course possible corruption. But without knowing the details, there should be no reason to rule out other possibilities. One thing that comes to mind is the fact that schools are often surrounded by much smaller buildings. These would naturally occupy less land, and therefore have a much lower chance of sitting on a rupture in the earth’s surface caused by the quake.

There are just too many possibilities to list here, including poor workmanship and/or poor design unrelated to corruption; unauthorised extensions and modifications to the buildings after construction; etc.

Q5 : “The government doesn’t allow parents the chance to mourn

No, that is not true. No parents have ever been denied the chance to mourn. In fact, the government has been playing a central and indispensible role in the long road of rehabilitation, both financially and spiritually. Mourning has always been encouraged, protests are not.

Q6 : “The government is cruel and over-reacting to parents’ demands

If the activists did not try to link the deaths to government corruption, and fan public anger towards the government, I dare say the whole thing would turn out in a very different way. As I mentioned in the article, there is no reason for the government to be scared of statistics.

What would clearly be more worrying however for the government is not the parents and any well meaning people, but the anti-China groups fanning the flames and taking advantage of the situation. Afterall this IS a once in a lifetime chance for those groups to cause potentially huge scale upheaval in China. It would be completely illogical to think that they would not make use of such an opportunity. And the Chinese government clearly knows that.

Q7 : “Is the CCP trying to protect corrupt local officials in Sichuan

Many people have the impression that China protects corrupt officials. This is despite the fact that in the last decade alone, thousands of corrupt officials in China have fled the country. Clearly, if corrupt officials are protected, there is no reason to flee.

The central government in China has been fiercely fighting corruption for the most part of this decade, and has made many significant inroads in many areas in the last 5 years. Unfortunately none of this is reported in the Western media.

With the international limelight firmly set on China, and with the parents demanding answers, it has provided the perfect opportunity for the central government to clamp down on local authorities in Sichuan. It is hard to imagine President Hu and Premier Wen would give this opportunity a miss.

The fact that activists are not allowed to continue their protests is not in any way related to whether or not the government clamps down on corruption.

Q8 : “So what is the correct way forward

In my opinion, if the protestors simply want to put pressure on the government to investigate and punish corrupt local officials, they have already achieved their goal. It should be time to move on and let the government do its job.

The continuation of the protests would not only cause trouble for the protesters themselves, but ironically would have the opposite effect of forcing the government into an unconstructive defensive position. It would also take the government’s eyes off fighting corruption to concentrate on legitimate national secuity issues.

The recent riots in Tibet would be child’s play compared to the potential unrest that would follow if the current situation is not handled carefully. With the very real possibility of anti-China groups fanning large scale mayhem, the Chinese government would have no choice but to clamp down hard on all dissent.

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Concluding Remark :

Perhaps it would help to understand that we all live within the confines of our own environment. We may not like what is ahead, but we can only choose the best path out of the available options. In the case of the parents, the best path in practical terms in my opinion would be to move on and accept the government’s help in rebuilding their lives.

If there was one thing I could tell my friends in Sichuan, it would be this :

“Understand that it was a miracle that you have just survived a force equivalent to 560 atom bombs while many didn’t survive 1 in Hiromshima. Perhaps it was NOT the dead who were unlucky, but it was YOU who were UNBELIEVABLY lucky”
aaa

  1. Ted
    June 24th, 2009 at 11:36 | #1

    “As I said in the article, I have never known of any governments in the world that have released name lists of natural disasters resulting in deaths of that magnitude. I don’t think China would be any different.”

    With 90,000 people, there will never be a complete list. Are we deliberately getting stuck in the mud here and ignoring the actual question? The question is, should the government PREVENT people from compiling a list. If an independent group pulls a list together, assuming that families have consented to the release, should the government PREVENT the group from releasing or memorializing the names?

    “No, that is not true. No parents have ever been denied the chance to mourn. In fact, the government has been playing a central and indispensible role in the long road of rehabilitation, both financially and spiritually. Mourning has always been encouraged, protests are not.”

    Parents were prohibited from mourning at the site of their childrens’ death. Specifically, the schools.

  2. Chan
    June 24th, 2009 at 12:14 | #2

    (1) RE : “… deliberately getting stuck in the mud …”

    No, not at all. This was exactly what the activists were asking for at the time.

    (2) RE : “… prohibited from mourning at the … schools”

    You need to read the article again. I said “No parents have ever been denied the chance to mourn”.

    I repeat, no-one was denied the chance to mourn. I didn’t say anything about whether anyone should be allowed to go to the schools. If you just want to mourn, you don’t need to go to the schools. My uncle was killed in a car crash many years ago. All our relatives went through their mourning. But no-one ever thought of going to the road to stop the traffic to mourn.

  3. Raj
    June 24th, 2009 at 13:24 | #3

    Chan

    There’s a lot I disagree with you over, but I don’t have the time to break down your whole post.

    As I mentioned in the article, there is no reason for the government to be scared of statistics.

    Its actions show that it is scared of details, at least when it doesn’t have a monopoly on the provision of them. Look again at Ted’s question about whether the government should prevent people from compiling a list.

    If you just want to mourn, you don’t need to go to the schools.

    No one has to mourn anywhere, but it’s their choice. Just because your family didn’t want to go to the road doesn’t mean that other families wouldn’t. Indeed some do. Moreover I don’t understand why you talked about stopping people stopping the traffic. How is that related to parents grieving at a school?

    Mourning outside a school isn’t illegal, so why do the authorities have a right to tell them where to express their grief?

  4. Chan
    June 24th, 2009 at 15:34 | #4

    I won’t be able to answer all the questions here. But I will just quickly answer Rai’s before I hand over to others.

    ———————————————–

    Raj,

    (1) RE : “Its actions show that it is scared of details”

    No, not at all. The Chinese govt is not scared of details. As I am sure you would understand, no govt’s are scared of details per se.

    The problem here is there are political activists taking advantage of the situation. I don’t speak for the Chinese govt. But from my perspective, the problem is these activists and their actions would in turn be taken advantage of by anti-China groups. And that is the threat that most on my side of the debate is not comfortable with. And I am sure the govt feels the same.

    (2) RE : “… Ted’s question about whether the govt should prevent people from comiling a list …”

    If you were asking me, my opinion is whether the government should prevent people from compiling a list depends on what the list is for. If the list is compiled as a political weapon, it should be stopped. Otherwise I personally have no problems with any list. But I only speak for myself. You don’t need to agree with my opinion.

    (2) RE : “… No one has to mourn anywhere, but it’s their choice”

    At least we both agree on the 1st half of your statement. As for the choice, I am sure no-one would have problems with that if it wasn’t made as a political statement, and if the activists would not use it as a political weapon. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    (3) RE : “… why you talked about stopping people stopping the traffic …”

    No, that was just part of the sentence. The point is if you just want to mourn, you don’t need to go to a road or a school.

    (4) RE : “… why do the authorities have a right to tell them where to express their grief?”

    People in China are actually a lot freer than you would imagine. If you haven’t lived in China, you would not know. But those who are familiar with China and the Chinese govt should know that, unlike what the Western media tells you, the Chinese govt doesn’t actually look into people’s private affairs and stop them from doing their normal day-to-day activities unless there is a good reason for it.

    In this case, again it goes back to my 1st point above. Your opinion may be that there is no such threat. But that is not our opinion.

    ——————————————

    Raj, perhaps there are many things we will never agree on. But just understand that there are also things on your side that would appear to us incomprehensible, and yet you would have no problem accepting. Perhaps we aren’t as different as you think.

  5. Raj
    June 24th, 2009 at 18:51 | #5

    Chan

    But from my perspective, the problem is these activists and their actions would in turn be taken advantage of by anti-China groups. And that is the threat that most on my side of the debate is not comfortable with.

    With all due respect, what you are comfortable with is not the problem of the grieving families/people who want to conduct independent research. If people are “anti-China” (and that is a subjective term) then they will use anything that is critical of something that happens in China. You can’t use that inevitable fact to insist people stay quiet when they face injustice, provide assistance to those people, conduct research, etc or justify them being forced to be quiet.

    If you were asking me, my opinion is whether the government should prevent people from compiling a list depends on what the list is for.

    How can you prove either way what the list is for? You assume good faith or you assume bad faith.

    People in China are actually a lot freer than you would imagine……

    I made no comment on how “free” people in China are, I made a very specific point about what gave the authorities the right to dictate where the parents could and couldn’t grieve. So why bring what I know about China into the equation? There’s no need to be patronising. I have been to China, and I have Chinese friends (born, raised and live in China).

    Perhaps you can back your position up with some detail. What threat does parents grieving at a school, rather than a temple, present, who/what does it endanger, etc? Please do not repeat the vague comment about “anti-China” groups somehow using it.

    But just understand that there are also things on your side that would appear to us incomprehensible

    Sorry, who is “us”?

  6. Ted
    June 24th, 2009 at 20:49 | #6

    “(2) RE : “… prohibited from mourning at the … schools”

    You need to read the article again. I said “No parents have ever been denied the chance to mourn”.

    I repeat, no-one was denied the chance to mourn. I didn’t say anything about whether anyone should be allowed to go to the schools. If you just want to mourn, you don’t need to go to the schools. My uncle was killed in a car crash many years ago. All our relatives went through their mourning. But no-one ever thought of going to the road to stop the traffic to mourn.”

    There was a candle light vigil at the site where the student was killed by the street racer in Hangzhou, please don’t tell me that nobody in China visits the scene of an accident to remember their loved ones. Your family chose to mourn in your way and some Sichuan families chose their way. If parents chose to mourn at the schools and were told they could not then they were not allowed to mourn as they saw fit.

    If we are differentiating between “a chance to mourn” and “the chance to mourn” then perhaps that could be noted in your post, these comment can be interpreted either way. Otherwise, these are precisely the kind of semantics I was referring to in my first comment when I said that the post is deliberately getting stuck in the mud.

  7. Steve
    June 24th, 2009 at 21:54 | #7

    The “where to mourn” debate reminds me of Mexico. When you drive down a highway in Mexico, you’ll see small shrines on the side of the road, especially on curved mountain roads. Those shrines were put there by the families of victims who died in road accidents at that spot. They are not one time shrines, but are kept up and usually have relatively fresh flowers on them.

  8. scl
    June 24th, 2009 at 22:35 | #8

    China needs to develop its service industry and insurance industry especially. If the schools had been required to buy sufficient liability insurance, then the inspectors from the insurance companies probably would have prevented the unsafe buildings from occupation in the first place. If the schools had still collapsed despite rigors inspection, then most of the families would have been properly compensated by the liability insurance. China needs to establish national life and property insurance plans for high risk areas, as well as national health and disability insurances. The money spent on these will not only expand China’s service industry and create millions white collar jobs; it will also increase China’s long term stability tremendously.

    I think it is appropriate for the protestors to ask for compensation, because the Chinese government has neglected to establish a social safety net so far, especially in such a high risk area. If the protest’s main goal is to force the Chinese government to establish social safety net, then it deserves support. However, if the main aim of the protest is to destabilize the society, I am afraid it will achieve nothing.

  9. shane9219
    June 24th, 2009 at 22:43 | #9

    @scl

    “If the schools had been required to buy sufficient liability insurance, then the inspectors from the insurance companies probably would have prevented the unsafe buildings from occupation in the first place. ”

    Good point as well as suggestion. But there was no concept of buying insurance policies as well as insurance companies back in the 80s’.

  10. Think Ming!
    June 25th, 2009 at 05:18 | #10

    Oh dear. . . Chan and his ‘anti-China groups’. . .

    Welcome to the world of a paranoid lunatic. . .

  11. S.K. Cheung
    June 25th, 2009 at 10:22 | #11

    To Chan:
    Q3:”The issue here is the activists are trying to link the deaths to government corruption, and direct their anger towards the government, thus creating the trigger for large scale unrest.”
    —if corruption was the cause of shoddy construction, and such construction resulted in needless deaths, is that an obscure connection that can only be drawn by “activists”? And if corruption was to blame (well, apart from the quake itself), then what’s the problem with directing resultant anger towards the government. Must the Chinese government remain blameless at all times, and at all costs? Why does blaming the government necessarily result in “large scale unrest”? That would seem to be a result only if the government is unresponsive to people’s grievances, or unrepentant at their own faults, if such existed.

    Q4:”But let us not automatically come to the conclusion that ALL suspicious building collapses are results of corruption.”
    —no, let’s not do that. We should instead seek an open and transparent investigation of what went wrong, why, and how things could be improved in the future. How eager is the government to do that, do you think?

    Q5: “Mourning has always been encouraged, protests are not.”
    —why not? Must injustices, if they did exist, be tolerated quietly in China?

    Q6: “What would clearly be more worrying however for the government is not the parents and any well meaning people, but the anti-China groups fanning the flames and taking advantage of the situation.”
    —first of all, time to give the “anti-China” “activist” labels a rest; seems like you justify China doing just about anything, or not doing anything, simply by reaching for those labels. That’s not a reason; it’s barely even a plausible excuse. Second, rather than being obstructionist, why doesn’t the government simply address people’s concerns in the open, in good faith, and show that she can err as much as any other human, but can also own up to it, and make amends in such a way as to actually gain the people’s support, rather than lose it?

    Q8:”In my opinion, if the protestors simply want to put pressure on the government to investigate and punish corrupt local officials, they have already achieved their goal. It should be time to move on and let the government do its job.”
    —so what’s the mechanism to ensure that the government’s feet remain held to the fire until the job is done?
    “It would also take the government’s eyes off fighting corruption to concentrate on legitimate national secuity issues.”
    —this again reminds me of an often-used point by those of a certain POV: it seems like the CCP is such that questioning it = threat to national security. How convenient. I mean, how can a person even contemplate questioning the CCP, if in so doing they are simultaneously threatening Chinese security? It’s like asking a guy if he’s stopped beating his wife yet.
    “the Chinese government would have no choice but to clamp down hard on all dissent.”
    —oh yes, always looking for an excuse to do that, aren’t they?

  12. Think Ming!
    June 25th, 2009 at 11:09 | #12

    I find this Chan character’s posts hilarious.

    I found his bizarre little website a few months back. The fact that Fool’s Mountain has given this individual (who is clearly delusional by the way) a place to spread his whacky ideas is incredible.

    Fools Mountain. . .

    Really gone downhill guys. . .

    Great responses from S.K. Cheung though, as always.

    Of course. . . I am not ethnically Chinese, so I have no right to be participating in this discussion anyway. . . I’m off to stop “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs” and visit one of Shanghai’s better restaurants.

  13. Steve
    June 25th, 2009 at 18:56 | #13

    @ Chan: Why is exposing corruption “attacking the government”? If a government official is engaged in corruption, then he or she is breaking the law and making honest government employees and elected officials look bad. Shouldn’t the government want to expose and punish such employees and officials? Why protect them? I think it’s safe to say that the major complaint voiced by actual Chinese citizens concerns government corruption. Any time corrupt government officials are exposed, the people cheer the government for exposing them.

    If the people in these Sichuan villages saw that officials in charge of the building programs who allowed shoddy construction methods and pocketed money from it were sentenced, they would really appreciate the government’s efforts to clean up corruption. Personally, I think it’d really help the CCP’s image throughout the country.

    @ Think Ming! #12: Something happen while I was away? You used to post solid comments about the issues, but since I’ve been back they’ve all be personal attacks. SKC is addressing the topic with his comments and I hope I am. I’d like to hear what you think instead of hearing how this or that person is delusional, wacky, whatever. It’s not like you.

    I’m not ethnically Chinese either, but I am curious which one of Shanghai’s better restaurants you’re visiting. My wife and I are always on the lookout for great restaurants! 😉

  14. kui
    June 26th, 2009 at 01:29 | #14

    I do not understand much science, correct me if I got it wrong. My father was an engineer and he did some studies in late l950s on earthquake. He talked about it quite a lot shortly after Tangshan earth quake but I obtained little knowledge because I was too young to understand. He said large, multiple story buildings with large rooms (school buildings fall into this category) is more likely to collapse compare to a smaller building even if they are build to the same code standard. Also I remember he said if the direction of main quake wave is directly against the longest horizontal line can be drawn from the building at 90 degree then the building does not have much chance to survive. I do not have the time to research the science part of the earthquake. But I do think we need more science rather than politics here.

  15. Steve
    June 26th, 2009 at 02:26 | #15

    @ kui #14: I completely agree. All these people want to do is have it investigated to see if the pertinent building codes were followed and government officials, school administrators and contractors did what they were supposed to do. You can’t figure any of this out by reading news articles.

    If the construction materials were mixed properly, the building was built according to the approved building plans, the concrete was reinforced like it was supposed to be and all this is investigated, then if the building collapsed, it was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and one of those things. Government officials would have nothing to fear. Using the data, improvements could be made in the codes so that future buildings and schools would have less chance of collapse.

  16. S.K. Cheung
    June 26th, 2009 at 02:37 | #16

    To Kui:
    “But I do think we need more science rather than politics here.”
    —completely agree. But while Chan seems to suggest that an investigation represents a subversion to politics, I think it completely opposite.

  17. barny chan
    June 26th, 2009 at 02:50 | #17

    Chan: “Since China is a constant target of vilification by the media, ALL articles on this site will therefore naturally carry an inherent “defensive” appearance.”

    If Fool’s Mountain wants to be taken seriously as a discussion forum it really needs to think about the appropriateness of statements like the one above. There is no constant vilification of China in the western media. Why is there no constant vilification? There are two primary reasons: One, most people in the west simply have no hostility to China – they look towards China with benign curiousity; two, even if individual journalists harbour hostility to the CCP (and some do) they’re in no position to shape the editorial stance of their employing organization – no editor will risk damaging their parent corporation’s ambitions (and all major media companies have these ambitions) to tap into the potentially vast Chinese market.

    It’s time to crawl away from the paranoia and directly engage with the outside world…

  18. Wukailong
    June 26th, 2009 at 03:29 | #18

    @barny chan: I personally don’t agree with the assumptions some authors on this site makes, but there’s no policy document here that says that China is a target of constant vilification by the Western media, or that all articles have to carry that viewpoint… As a discussion forum, I think we’re doing great!

    Some people here believe there’s a sort of conspiracy against China, based on the current interpretation of history (the Western world wants to split and colonize the country), others simply believe Western media is biased against China. I agree with the second viewpoint, but media bias isn’t just against China – every country does seem to have its overarching ideology, and the fact that China is not a democracy sometimes seems to justify any kind of biased reporting.

    I think we should continue to discuss the question of media bias. It’s an interesting issue, and people here are bound to have different opinions about it.

  19. barny chan
    June 26th, 2009 at 03:46 | #19

    Wukailong, there might be no formal policy document stating that the western media demonise China but it doesn’t alter the fact that it remains a core position.

    I’m not defending the western media as a whole because I believe that the defining characteristics of mainstream reporting are shallowness, received wisdom, and financial motivated cynicism. However, I believe it would be easier to make the case that the media act as apologists for rather than accusers of China. Every major media corporation is feeling the pinch in the west as advertising revenues decline and more and more people look to alternative sources of information, and every major media organization looks to the vast untapped Chinese market as the potential saviour. Rupert Murdoch’s past interferences have been highlighted, but he’s far from alone in allowing corporate expediency to trump editorial principle.

  20. Chan
    June 26th, 2009 at 04:17 | #20

    Thanks for all your comments.

    I’ve just arrived back on the site, and read every single one of your comments, including those ones on my other Sichuan article.

    As mentioned earlier, I won’t be able to reply to everyone, but will promise to respond to the ones that I personally feel would make more impact on the bigger picture. I’ve allotted some time to quickly write up something tonight. Hopefully will be able to post it tomorrow. Look forward to your comments then.

  21. Think Ming!
    June 26th, 2009 at 10:17 | #21

    @ Steve 13. . .

    Chan is delusional. He lives in an imaginary world dominated by mysterious ‘anti-China forces’. Pointing out the obvious is not a personal attack in my book.

    But to your broader point, I cannot be bothered getting into serious discussions any more because there is no point discussing this stuff with Chinese people.

    If you enjoy amazing luck you simply sit astonished at their complete inability to smell their own **** (e.g. they waffle on about Western Imperialism while forgetting they are still running an empire they inherited from a few centuries back – and of course they harbor massive grudges about the ‘missing bits’). If you have slightly less than perfect luck you get told you are not ethnically Chinese and therefore have no right to an opinion. If you actually suffer bad luck you end up getting cyber-stalked, violently assaulted, or worse. What is the point?

    As for the rest, I am just passing through Shanghai. . .

    Tried El Willy for the first time the other night. Very nice I thought, though unfortunate the sherry selection wasn’t larger. It is so hard to find good sherry in China (or most places for that matter) and I had been told they had a big range. They have a basic range but nothing fancy. But oh well. . . it’s all good.

    Also dropped by Kaiba. . . Good beer selection. Easily the best beer bar in town these days.

    Boxing Cat also deserves honorable mention. . Solid microbrews and quality US food.

    Dingtaifeng has slipped but still good.

    Of course the Shanghai food is awful as always.

  22. Steve
    June 26th, 2009 at 15:34 | #22

    @ ThinkMing!: Decent sherry beats Great Wall wine anyday; that stuff is nasty!

    Din Tai Fung is like Guinness, the further you get from Dublin or Taipei, the lower the quality. I found the location in Xintiandi better than the one in Hongxiao, though neither could touch the ones in Taipei… and forget the one in LA, it’s garbage.

    You don’t like Shanghai food? Did you ever try Xiao Nan Guo? I liked the location in the Ruijin Hotel the best. I’m a sucker for the pork trotter, love that thick layer of fat on the top! Stay away from their Pudong restaurant, though. I’ve eaten in quite a few good Shanghai style restaurants and never found the food to be oily as some have claimed. Ah well, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, right? 😉

  23. Chan
    June 27th, 2009 at 06:25 | #23

    Hi all,

    Please note that “follow-on (2)” is now posted.

  24. kui
    June 27th, 2009 at 14:27 | #24

    Steve.

    I quite doubt any standard was stricktly carried out in small towns such as wenchuan. What I can see in China is things are done nicely to meet high standard in big cities but not so in small towns. I think many small towns in China failed to attract high level profesionals in any fields. The Chinese government seems to be desperate to get university gradates to work in central and western China. University graduates who work in central or western China for a minumum of 3 years can have their study loan waived by the government.

    One more thing I want to mention is I have noticed this brutal renovations that have been carried out in recent years. This has happened to all sorts of buildings, residental buildings, banks, shoping centers, schools. These projects are usually given to small contracters. Those people who do the work are at best some technicians without much qualification. I have met with some people who are the owners of their units or apartments. They obviously think they have rights to do whatever they want to their own homes. Weightbearing walls are being removed, two units are opened up to each other to become one big unit, brick walls are being build in whereever the owners want it to be…… It scares me. They have damaged the structural safety of the entire building. Strata management is so weak to the point that it almost does not exist. The Chinese government is certainly not doing well in this area. They have failed to reinforce laws they made. Steve, I think many people have died because of this. Yet the caring media of both sides do not pick this up.

    I was 8 years old when Tangshan earth quake happened. We were in Tinajin which is a city hundreds of kilometers away from Tangshan. I remember I woke up in the middle of the night hearing this strange noise came from underground and the structure of the house we lived in. The quake was so violent that we could not even get out of the bed. Our single storey home stood but later in that year my father found that the walls became wet gradually from ground (the layer that was supposed to stop moisture from being suck into brick works were damaged during the quake). We were so frightened that we live in a tent until the subzero temperature forced us back into the house. I can never understand why those Tianjiners who lived through the earthquake would brutally renovate their own homes? They think earthquake is a “once a century” thing?

  25. kui
    June 27th, 2009 at 14:37 | #25

    S.K.Cheung.

    I have heard little (or not at all) scientists’ voice from western media. Most of time it is simple story such as school collapsed but the building next to it did not=corruption. Western journalists have done a very good job to make it completely political. Is there any other possibilities?

  26. Steve
    June 27th, 2009 at 17:02 | #26

    @ kui #24: My most violent earthquake was in Taiwan and it was strong enough for me and my wife (it was about 5 AM) to crawl over to the door and stand there because the structure was stronger than the middle of a room. For some reason I wasn’t that nervous, but she was petrified. No buildings collapsed or anything, so it wasn’t on a scale anywhere similar to what happened in Wenchuan.

    Anywhere an earthquake strikes can have another earthquake in the future, so your point is well taken. I do recall reading somewhere that when they built the reservoir in Sichuan that had problems with the dam, they were aware that it was in an earthquake zone but did not think a quake this large would strike. That’s the real issue; planning takes place not for ‘worst case’ but for ‘normal case’. In the USA, people tend to think of the “big one” occurring in California but the biggest earthquake in US history occurred along the New Madrid fault in the SE corner of Missouri. The Mississippi River flowed backwards, forests fell down like matchsticks and it was felt as far away as Boston. Unlike California, that fault line isn’t consistently active; it just supernovas on an occasional basis, so that is the worst kind of all since people can be lulled into a false sense of security.

    Personally, I was in Tianjin on 9/11 and the next day, strangers came up to me on the street, asked if I were American, and offered their condolences. I was very impressed and thankful for their thoughtfulness.

    I know in the States, if you make any changes to your residence without the building inspector’s approval, you’re screwed. Building inspectors here have, if anything, TOO much power. They really don’t report to anyone so if they say you don’t pass, you don’t pass. If they disapprove of the renovation, you just can’t do it.Since they’re inconsistent from town to town, we tend to hate them. 😉

    kui, per your comment to SKC, have any non-Chinese scientists been allowed to study the quake aftereffects? Or has that been a 100% Chinese effort?

  27. raventhorn4000
    June 27th, 2009 at 18:11 | #27

    Think Ming,

    Difference being, China and its media are not preaching “human rights”, while using it as an excuse for invading other countries.

    *Shanghai Food is “awful as always”??

    Not surprising from someone who is fascinated about his own “ability to smell his own ****”.

    It might surprise you to find out that civilized people don’t take out other people’s “****” and put it in other people’s faces and say “smell this”! (Like some Westerners seem to be so fascinated about displaying other people’s ****, and make a public debate about how stinky it really is.)

    Yes, you have the freedom to talk about how stinky “****” really is, all day and all night long.

  28. Steve
    June 27th, 2009 at 19:03 | #28

    Gee, I LOVE Shanghainese food!

  29. S.K. Cheung
    June 27th, 2009 at 19:07 | #29

    To Kui:
    “Most of time it is simple story such as school collapsed but the building next to it did not=corruption”
    —if “scientists” said that, then you’ve sampled a particularly bad batch of scientists. I think a self-respecting scientist would say: “a school collapsed but the building next to it did not = need to find out why”. Corruption is but one possibility, and it’s not a conclusion that can be drawn without further investigation. If the CCP wants to dispel that notion, then a transparent investigation is what is needed. But my earlier point was this: even if corruption wasn’t within the realm of possibilities, wouldn’t the CCP want an open and transparent investigation anyhow, to find out if there was a preventable cause for why schools collapsed and other buildings didn’t, such that they can avoid a repeat in the future? And what does western media opinion have to do with it? It’s a safety issue for PRC citizens. On the one hand, you guys keep saying that CHina doesn’t care about western opinion; but on the other, China is willing to potentially compromise the safety of her people to avoid potentially negative western opinion?

  30. raventhorn4000
    June 27th, 2009 at 19:11 | #30

    Steven,

    My favorite Dish, “Deep Fried Stinky Tofu”, with some spicy chili sauce. 🙂

    I always get some at a street vendor, every time I go back to Shanghai for visit.

  31. raventhorn4000
    June 27th, 2009 at 19:55 | #31

    “but on the other, China is willing to potentially compromise the safety of her people to avoid potentially negative western opinion?”

    Yeah, like it’s actually possible to “avoid potentially negative Western opinion”!

    No, it’s not a “safety issue” for the Western opinions, it’s a blame game, and we are not playing that game.

    It’s irrelevant.

  32. S.K. Cheung
    June 27th, 2009 at 23:28 | #32

    To R4000:
    “Yeah, like it’s actually possible to “avoid potentially negative Western opinion”!”
    —and if you really believed that, then all the more reason to simply disregard said Western opinion, and investigate away for the good of Chinese people’s safety. You’re actually making my point for me.

    “we are not playing that game.”
    —that’s fantastic. How about the safety-issue-for-Chinese-people game? Are you going to ante up for that one?

  33. raventhorn4000
    June 30th, 2009 at 11:09 | #33

    SKC,

    We are disregarding said Western opinion, and China can investigate for the good of China as it pleases, NOT in regards to YOUR opinion or any other Western opinions.

    “—that’s fantastic. How about the safety-issue-for-Chinese-people game? Are you going to ante up for that one?”

    Why? I’m disregarding your opinion and your game. I thought you understood that already.

  34. S.K. Cheung
    July 1st, 2009 at 09:27 | #34

    “China can investigate for the good of China as it pleases, NOT in regards to YOUR opinion or any other Western opinions.”
    —dude, no one is asking for CHina to investigate for our benefit. In fact, I think most of us are saying that China should investigate for the benefit of Chinese. Maybe the CCP can find it in her heart to do that, and better yet, to do so openly. No idea where you get stuff from sometimes.

    “Why? I’m disregarding your opinion and your game.”
    —buddy, do you really think I could care less about your opinion? (the answer, btw, is no). THe safety-issue-for-Chinese-people game, in case the name wasn’t already ridiculously clear, is for the benefit of PRC people. Not surprising that you are keen to disregard that; not really sure what your motivation is, sometimes (Ok, most of the time).

  35. raventhorn4000
    July 1st, 2009 at 11:15 | #35

    Dude,

    “Do so openly”?? China disregards your opinion on her openness.

    “—buddy, do you really think I could care less about your opinion? (the answer, btw, is no). THe safety-issue-for-Chinese-people game, in case the name wasn’t already ridiculously clear, is for the benefit of PRC people. Not surprising that you are keen to disregard that; not really sure what your motivation is, sometimes (Ok, most of the time).”

    China will decide what’s for the benefit of her people, not according to your standards. Your opinions on this matter is again, IRRELEVANT!!!

    Your discussion of my “motivation” is also IRRELEVANT!!!

  36. S.K. Cheung
    July 1st, 2009 at 19:26 | #36

    “China disregards your opinion on her openness.”
    —what?? Sob sob…say it ain’t so….what am I gonna do? Well, if the Chinese parents of quake victims call for more openness, maybe China will be a bit more inclined to listen. Whaddya think?

    “China will decide what’s for the benefit of her people, not according to your standards.”
    —yes, that does seem to be the system in place. Maybe someday Chinese people can decide for themselves what is most to their benefit. Safety for Chinese people is hardly just my opinion; I would imagine that Chinese people would take a keen interest in that as well. I thought I’d give you an opportunity to clarify your motivation, but either way, it matters little to me.

  37. raventhorn4000
    July 1st, 2009 at 21:19 | #37

    SKC,

    “—what?? Sob sob…say it ain’t so….what am I gonna do? Well, if the Chinese parents of quake victims call for more openness, maybe China will be a bit more inclined to listen. Whaddya think?”

    Just telling you the fact you already know, your opinion = nothing to China. If you have already accepted that fact, your additional comments are IRRELEVANT on this point.

    Compensation paid, “call noted”, don’t care what you think. Why are you still bugging me about it?

    You already admitted that your opinion don’t matter to this issue.

    “—yes, that does seem to be the system in place. Maybe someday Chinese people can decide for themselves what is most to their benefit. Safety for Chinese people is hardly just my opinion; I would imagine that Chinese people would take a keen interest in that as well. I thought I’d give you an opportunity to clarify your motivation, but either way, it matters little to me.”

    Again, get over yourself. Chinese people and government are working on their interests, don’t care about your opinion of what that is.

    My “motivation” is irrelevant to this issue!!! Your “interests” in this issue is equally irrelevant!

  38. S.K. Cheung
    July 3rd, 2009 at 06:23 | #38

    “If you have already accepted that fact, your additional comments are IRRELEVANT on this point.”
    —are you serious? One can only comment if China will put that opinion to use? You have got to be kidding me…then again, since it’s you, you’re probably serious. What, might I ask, makes you think that your opinion is valued by China? Just because you march to their tune? You seem to be suffering from an extremely and unjustifiably overinflated sense of self-importance.

    “My “motivation” is irrelevant to this issue!”
    —really? After multiple invitations, you can’t even bring yourself to say that you’re interested in the pursuit of improved public safety for Chinese people? Wow, such a stoic dude, stiff upper lip and all. Like I said to Chan, I don’t doubt that the Chinese government is doing some investigation. I’m sure the Chinese people are extremely appreciative of those secret efforts…especially the ones who lost family members in the quake.

  39. raventhorn4000
    July 4th, 2009 at 02:13 | #39

    SKC,

    You can “comment”, China can disregard your “comment”.

    “—really? After multiple invitations, you can’t even bring yourself to say that you’re interested in the pursuit of improved public safety for Chinese people? Wow, such a stoic dude, stiff upper lip and all. Like I said to Chan, I don’t doubt that the Chinese government is doing some investigation. I’m sure the Chinese people are extremely appreciative of those secret efforts…especially the ones who lost family members in the quake.”

    Your attempt to divert the topic is still irrelevant.

  40. S.K. Cheung
    July 4th, 2009 at 05:46 | #40

    “Your attempt to divert the topic is still irrelevant.”
    —what exactly do you think the topic is? If you’re not going to talk about improved public safety for Chinese people, or redress for those families who lost kids, or what the government has to do to assist families as they move through the grieving process, what exactly were you planning to talk about on this thread? Probably more irrelevant stuff about Canada, if your past behaviour serves as any guide to your habits.

  41. raventhorn4000
    July 4th, 2009 at 13:42 | #41

    SKC,

    You keep asking me to talk about my “interest” and my “motives”.

    For the last time, get it into your head: It’s irrelevant to the “public safety” issue. We are not here to talk about personal motives.

    You can comment about “safety”, China can “disregard” your comment.

    🙂

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