Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Fun Fact About China

Via this article in the BBC we learn that Chinese parents with dead children can’t publicly mourn them without government permission, which isn’t easy to get:
Parents who lost their children in China's earthquake fear they will not be allowed to properly commemorate the disaster's first anniversary.

Many parents want to return to the site of the schools in Sichuan that killed their children when they collapsed.

But the authorities have previously stopped them going to the schools on sensitive occasions, and are said to be monitoring the parents ahead of 12 May.

China has not said how many children were among the 90,000 dead and missing.
The government has admitted that nearly 14,000 schools - some of them poorly or hastily built - were damaged in the magnitude-8 earthquake.
The parents have valid concerns:
[One mother] is not hopeful that she will be allowed to get to the collapsed school site, in the city of Dujiangyan in northern Sichuan Province.

"On every occasion parents have wanted to pay their respects to their children, the whole school and nearby area have been sealed off," she said.

Other parents told the BBC a similar story.

Zhou Siqiang, whose daughter died at the Juyuan school, said parents have been prevented from visiting the site on a number of occasions.

He said they were stopped from going to the site on last month's Tomb Sweeping Day, when Chinese people traditionally visit family graves.
The local government and police didn’t comment on any of these claims. This demonstrates yet again why China’s government is much worse than America’s: our authority figures are smart enough to cite public safety concerns when prohibiting mass gatherings.


Blogger Alicia said...


It more importantly cites why Americans are so much better than Chinese as a people, though -- Chinese people know better than to ask why their government won't let them gather. Americans will ask and ask and ask why, and often then settle for the answer "public safety."

Chinese know they won't get the straight answer from govt. officials, either because the reasoning is too complicated for the lay person to understand (unquestioned trust of government) or because the govt. has reasons to keep the truth from the public (unqualified skepticism of government), or a complex combination of the two. Government officials rely on the centuries-long tradition of hierarchical decision-making to not have to make up reasons for their decisions.

Americans, on the other hand, especially those with degrees in humanities subjects (such as myself), are great at -- and have made marketable -- the skill of BSing their way through things. Our political leaders have to be at least good at that, and then possibly good at other things as well.

Hmm. Maybe it's a tie.

At any rate, Dujiangyan is my Chinese hometown, and the site of the first school I taught at in China. The people there are close to my heart, and I can't imagine what they've gone through. I hope that, as often happens in China, there is compassion, mercy and reverence on the local level that helps to heal the land and the people.

9:54 AM  

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