Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No Foreigners Allowed

Expressions of sympathy and offers of help poured in from the United States, Japan and the European Union, among others. Even rival Taiwan, which is frequently hit by quakes and has highly developed expertise in rescue operations, offered aid.

The Chinese government said it would welcome outside aid. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said relief authorities "are ready to make contact with relevant countries and organizations."

But Wang, the disaster relief official, said international aid workers would not be allowed to travel to the affected area.

"We welcome funds and supplies, we can't accommodate personnel at this point," he said.

Why? First Burma/Myanmar, now China. Is the impulse to control information so ingrained that they are willing to risk lives by turning away help? Or do dictators think they will lose face by letting foreigners help?

I also saw this paragraph in an English article from Xinhua (communist government news agency):
The strong quake was felt in 25 Chinese provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, including Taiwan, Shanghai, Beijing, Shaanxi, Guangdong and Henan. But at the moment, the deaths were mainly found in the worst-affected regions such as Sichuan, Gansu, Shaanxi, Chongqing, Yunnan, Shanxi, Guizhou, Hubei.

Even in the midst of the largest earthquake disaster in 30 years, the writers at Xinhua managed to put a blurb about Taiwan as a province of China. Putting Taiwan on the list (at the front of the list no less) does not add anything newsworthy to the article. Maybe they get bonus points each time they write something with "Taiwan is part of China" theme.

Really, why do people in China even care? Most people that fought in the civil war are dead. Are they willing to kill 23+ million fellow Chinese people for nationalistic pride? Mongolia was part of China (or the other way around) during the Yuan Dynasty; I don't hear people bitching about taking back Mongolia.

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