Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sichuan Earthquake Anniversary

Leon and I went to Chengdu a week after the huge earthquake last year. We didn't see much damage but the aftermath of the quake was visible everywhere, from makeshift tents along the roads to convoys of rescue workers and relief supplies. I even experiences a pretty large aftershock the day before I came home.

Almost a hundred thousand people died in the earthquake and many were children, crushed by collapsing school buildings. As the one year anniversary approaches, the government is still not giving answers to grieving parents or even letting them visit the school sites. I think this is due to corruption at the local official level (stealing funds that would have made the school buildings safer) and CCP's paranoia with any dissent, even constructive criticism.

This attitude is evident as the police harass journalist and private citizens trying to report on the issue.

Foreign Correspondents Club of China

3) On May 6, the FT journalists arrived at the Mianyang government office to pick up its local reporting passes where they saw a local woman petitioning outside. When Anderlini attempted to film an interview with the woman, an unidentified man arrived and ripped the video camera from its tripod, tearing off the bottom of the camera. Anderlini asked the local propaganda office for compensation, but was told police would have to handle it. The team left the area.

The propaganda office told the FT police could stop any interview for any reason, and that “the reason the police were so violent with us was they were trying to protect us from the petitioner.

The last line is both funny and sad. I guess "propaganda" is another word for government lies. The more repressive and authoritarian the government, the more it needs to lie to its own people. I wonder if workers in the propaganda office lie so often that it becomes a natural reflex. Do they lie to their family and friends after work?

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