Steve's China Blog

Monday, June 02, 2008

Aftermath articles

There's been a few good articles I've seen lately about the aftermath of the earthquake here in Sichuan, such as...

Can Charity Change China? in the Wall Street Journal

The earthquake in Sichuan has transformed China in many ways. Abroad, China has switched from victimizer to victim. At home, Olympic excitement has been replaced by the sadness of death and destruction, and xenophobic anger has been exchanged for a new spirit of volunteerism.

This last change presents the most difficult test for China's leadership, which sees an old and fearsome dragon of civil society raising its head. The earthquake has triggered an outpouring of philanthropy so large that it can't be channeled through government conduits alone. As of last week, Chinese companies and individuals had offered about a billion dollars in aid to victims, according to the official news agency.

... and this one...

Quake tragedy stirs ordinary Chinese to charity in the International Herald Tribune

Beijing is instinctively wary of public activism and has long maintained tight restrictions on private charities and religious, social and environmental groups that operate outside government control. The public outpouring is so overwhelming that analysts are debating whether it will create political aftershocks and place pressure on China's authoritarian state to allow more space for civil society.

Both of these articles discuss how much things have changed here. I think it will be interesting to see how long this sense of civil society will remain. Will the government try to stamp it out, will it just fade away, or will it endure?

Then I had the misfortune of reading this load of crap...

Amid Tremors, a City Trembles With Dread in the NY Times

The teahouses are nearly empty, travel agents sit beside silent telephones and shopkeepers pass the day watching the continuing agony of their countrymen on television. The buildings in this usually teeming city of 10 million, about 50 miles east of the epicenter of the May 12 earthquake, may be unscathed, but its residents are living on edge.

Pretty typical of the NY Times to twist things out of context in a poor attempt at sensationalism. Some of this might have been true during the first week after the earthquake, but it's as if this reporter hasn't been in ChengDu in quite awhile. Maybe they are hiding out in a hotel in Beijing. They were probably hiding out in a hotel in Baghdad a few years ago. No wonder their readership is plummeting.

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