On air: Has international pressure changed China?

World opinion has been almost completely united in its praise for China over its response to the earthquake in Sichuan. Two hours after it struck the Premier Wen Jiabao flew to the area, fifty thousand troops have been mobilised to help, and Chinese television is providing continuous updates of the relief effort.

So has international pressure changed China?

The country is under more scrutiny than ever before in the run up to the Olympics, so is that changing the way it’s responding to crises? Or has China always been this responsible towards its people? Some Chinese bloggers believe that the authorities should have done more before the quake to evacuate the people. Perhaps you think that China is just getting more PR savvy.

Is China changing, and if it is, why?

89 Responses to “On air: Has international pressure changed China?”

  1. May 14, 2008 at 13:25

    no success has put pressure on China. As its people get healthier, wealthier, and wiser they find strength to stand up to their opressors.

  2. May 14, 2008 at 13:28

    It seems to me that China is doing a good job in the face of a horrible disaster.

    The job they are doing is amplified after the lack of participation and help from the government of Burma in their current crisis.

    I have no doubt that some of the quick and thorough mobilization is due to PR and the upcomming Olympics, but if thats what it takes for China to learn to do it right and in the open, then so be it. Everyone comes out ahead. The world gets a better glimpse into China, and the Chinese people have a government which takes better care of them in times of crises. One can only hope that if the change was sparked by the Olympics, that once they are finished and gone, China continues striving to take care of its citizens.

    And no, China has not always been this responsible towards it’s people.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  3. 3 Robert Evans
    May 14, 2008 at 13:30

    I would like to commend all of the Chinese people and the internation community after this incredably bad earthquake

  4. 4 BB
    May 14, 2008 at 13:35

    Yes it is markedly different from the River water chemical spill disasters of a few years ago when the response was very similar to the Regime in Burma’s right now, and people were left in the dark. That is a positive. But, from what I gather about the value system of Chinese officials, there is probably a generation before they will align with where the rest of us in the Developed world are going right now, toward greater autonomy and self-determination for citizens. The Chinese are living through today what Americans were living through in the late-1800s, and maybe a lot of Europeans too.

  5. 5 Jeff Minter
    May 14, 2008 at 13:49

    Reading the HYS comments about the quake, when a humanitarian disaster devoid of all politics takes the centre stage, and still hear comments full of pure spite and hatred, merely because it affected the Chinese, shows how low humanity has become. Or should I say western humanity…

    I’m placing bets on how long this discussion can go on without the ‘T’ word being mentioned. No, not tyranny…. though wouldn’t put it past some readers…

  6. 6 Royston Roberts
    May 14, 2008 at 13:50

    hi ros, international pressure on china has done more in the area to trade and economic development, rather than the improvements of human rights and democray, for example the international commitees, the west in particular, are more worried about chinese companies pirating their products, than the oppression suffered by innocent , powerless, and poor civilians. The west should be putting more pressure on the chinese, to uphold the civil liberties of their people, rather than just making lip service to decieve the outside world, so my answer to the question of the topic is, international pressure has done more change economically, rather than democratically.
    Royston Roberts
    Freetown, Sierra Leone

  7. 7 Shirley
    May 14, 2008 at 14:05

    You’ve said it exactly as I would. I still think that it would suit us well to compare responses, both domestic and foreign, to the distasters in Myanmar and China. Hardly anyone considers the government of either state to be democratic, yet China seems to be doing a much better job serving its people than does the illegal junta in Myanmar. Is it just beause of the difference in the style of government? Or does it have something to do with the amount of pressure being exerted by the internaitonal community? Or is there perhaps some sort of combination of government style and how each would respectively react to pressure? I’ve submitted a similar post to Talking Points for 14 May; when it goes through, it would contain some more of my thoughts, as well as tremendously redacted textual news clips (I remember Lubna saying that she has limited access to the net).

  8. 8 Miss Gnimia
    May 14, 2008 at 14:21

    Let’s talk about the earthquake that just struck Sichuan.

    The Chinese authorities are indeed swift, efficient and responsible in the management of the earthquake.
    But it is all too easy for the world to scoff at them, thinking they’re only scrambling to right the situation just because the international community is watching their every move, especially with the Olympics coming up.
    They want to leave a good impression and world recognition, critiques say. In comparison to the management by the junta in all too recent Cyclone Nargis that hit Myanmar, China’s successes in its management would shine even more brightly.

    However, we might want to remember that Olympics or not, the fact that the Chinese government is actually giving its best to save its people is enough justification for whatever its cause.

    In fact, it would be too idealistic for us to expect any government to want the best for the people just for the sake of the best of the people. While it is true that the Chinese government is manoevering a lot more carefully under the scrutiny of the world, this as human as how human the Chinese government is made up of afteralll.

    it takes a little parental pressure to bring out the best in children.

    it also takes a little peer pressure to curb school bullies.

    And sometimes,
    it takes a little international pressure to bring out the best in governments.

  9. May 14, 2008 at 14:29

    In short, international pressure has little to do with the level of response, and I would argue that China has a lot to offer other countries looking to learn about how to respond to rapid response.

    China over the last 12 months has responded, in force and with speed, to several natural disasters (floods, typhoons, and snow). In each case, 10s of thousands were activated and within HOURS the first responders were hitting the ground in each case.

    As for the “Olympic Angle”, this is just unfounded. A lot of people are trying to always link the Olympics to what is going on in China, and while there may be some show casing, I am floored that someone would thing that the Chinese government is only responding to a massive earthquake to get some PR points.

    This is going to be a long process, and we can only hope that the casualties are less than expected. Schools, hospitals, homes, and lives need to be rebuilt and those of us in country now are focused on getting that process started.

    If readers are interested in helping, you can go to http://www.china-crossroads.com. I am updating the needs as they are sent to me from NGO and government agencies.


  10. 10 Philip Kendy
    May 14, 2008 at 14:30

    For whatever reason China is tackling the relief efforts,as far as its positive and constructive…thats vitally of preference.

    Am only wondering why the world still keeps silent over Burma.Get the hell of the military junta out of the way.cos human lives are ,more precious than his own selfish,ulterior motives of the military man.I think he wants to perpertrate his rule all all cost against the wish of the Burmese people.

    am digressing a little bit..pls..thats another reason why the world is still keeping quiet over Pres.Robert Mugabe.He has stolen the election results of his people’s wish and says he loves them.Thats ironical.Lets call a spade a spade.MUgabe your a selfish and so arrogant a leader.THabo Mbeki is stooge is doing nothing good about it since he will be leaving office soon.
    Un Sec Gen should do more than just talking.get some thing moving on please for the sake of all humanity because whatever affects one part of

    Let all policy leaders wake up to these calls and do something positive about all this sitautions.
    Best REgards,
    Philip Kendy,
    THe Gambia

  11. 11 Tom
    May 14, 2008 at 14:40

    I’d say that because of the Olympic and its rising profile China is receiving much more intense media focus than compare to previous years. In all previous disasters, natural or otherwise, the Chinese military has always been actively involved in assisting civilians and performing clean-ups. What they are doing in Sichuan now is no different from during the snow storm earlier this year, or past catastrophic floods along the Yellow River. In fact, to many Chinese the rescue effort did not come as a surprise to them as that is what they expect from the government during times of crisis.

    Perhaps the world has succeeded in forcing China to be more open about this latest tragedy. Despite this unprecedent level of openness, there are always skeptics in other parts of the world questioning and guessing the true death figure. The final toll is not important as it’s just a figure. What’s most important is that the rescue effort ensures more lives are saved.

    Unlike the recent anti-Tibet protests, this latest tragedy demonstrates to the world how Chinese nationalist feelings can be vented in a peaceful, constructive manner.

  12. 12 gary
    May 14, 2008 at 14:43

    “Sticks and stones will break my bones; but words will never hurt me.” Why am I not injured by words? Because opinions, even hurled epithets, are verbal constructs. I can return them in kind or ignore them completely. However, something has surely changed in our conversation with China. Maybe it is simpler than the political scientists imagine. Perhaps they heard us ask, “Hello, are you folks OK over there? May we be of assistance? And they’ve simply answered.

  13. 13 Nick in USA
    May 14, 2008 at 14:44


    You can’t really compare the chemical spills in Harbin to this earthquake disaster. Responding to an earthquake involves putting lots of people on the ground giving aid and participating in search and recovery. This is really not that difficult for a country with 1.5 Billion people. Cleaning up a chemical spill is not quite that simple though.

    That being said, China is doing a good job and should be commended. I agree with Brett in thinking that the huge response was PR related, but even if the olympics weren’t happening and people weren’t pressuring China for other reasons, China’s government wasn’t going to just sit back and let people die. China deserves some credit in this respect. They deal with large natural disasters in some part of their huge country nearly every year and handle them without everything turning into complete chaos. The government might be corrupt there, but they certainly wouldn’t just let their countrymen suffer for no reason.

  14. 14 Shayhar
    May 14, 2008 at 15:08

    China is, more than anything, under pressure from its own rising middle class who have the most to benefit from the success of the upcoming Olympics. Recent history has proven that international status quo regarding human rights and the economy mean nothing to the Chinese government. As a nation which is gradually opening up to the world stage and with such a heavy task at hand this August, it is inevitable that the government displays its efficiency during such a crisis. I look forward to seeing more positive changes from China well after the Games.

  15. 15 VictorK
    May 14, 2008 at 15:14

    I’m sorry that it should come as news to so many people, but government exists for the good of the governed. How well a government promotes the welfare of its people is the main consideration in deciding whether it has any claim to legitimacy. When there is a natural disaster a responsible government takes the necessary action to rescue survivors and see to their material needs. The idea that the government of China deserves praise or admiration for its response to the earthquake is bizzare. It’s a bit like praising a parent for taking a child to hospital when he’s had an accident. I don’t see that international pressure has anything to do with this. China has the resources and the technical competence to do what needs to be done without being pressured into it. Besides, when has pressure made the slightest difference to China on Tibet (yes, the ‘T’ word) or Darfur (the ‘D’ word too)? The Chinese are only capable of one response to pressure: they sulk.

    @ Jeff Minter: the West will give whatever aid to China that the country asks for. There’s nothing wrong with Western humanity when people are suffering. And theer’s nothing wrong with pointing out to the Chinese their shortcomings when those suffering are non-Chinese. There is genocide in Darfur and the Chinese arm, trade with and use their diplomacy to shield the regime responsible for that genocide. We all know what’s going on in Burma, just as we know that the Chinese have not exerted themselves to bring any kind of pressure to bear on the regime, despite being its main arms supplier and one of its biggest trading partners. We shouldn’t blind ourselves to a simple and unpleasant fact: the Beijing dictatorship is utterly indifferent to human suffering that doesn’t involve Chinese (and not very long ago they didn’t care much for suffering that did). If China does request international aid it should be given; but the donors should also remind them to do as they would be done by: the assistance they expect during a humanitarian crisis is the assistance that they should be giving when others are in need, or else they should be using their considerable influence to pressure others to alleviate or end suffering when they can.

  16. May 14, 2008 at 15:23

    Today, one cannot avoid buying a product made in China no matter how hard one tries not to. China is simply beggining to live up to their reputation as the global economic leaders.

  17. May 14, 2008 at 15:26

    I think we shouldn’t get too hung up on China’s response, but rather the visibility of the response – have foreign journalists been allowed into a disaster zone in such numbers before? Have the Chinese people seen pictures on the television news so extensively and so swiftly before?

  18. May 14, 2008 at 15:38

    China has now become more open than it used to be due to its increasing economic ties with different countries around the world. It has to show itself as a modern state no longer under the stiff grip of communism and repressive measures.

    By its old standard, China has been patient with the international media dealing with the situation in Tibet. This for it was a political trial by the international public, although governments distanced themselves, using at most public statement without going into further measures.

    The earthquake, however disastrous for the local populations, is an opportunity for China to show a new face to the world. Its being open about it shows that it is somehow no longer ruled by the Forbidden City but by a young generation of politicians ready to move with the times.

    Thanks to its relative openness, China is under further scrutiny by the international media. Now they can have access to some areas considered as closed to foreigners. The speed with which China dealt with the earthquake is somewhat a drill in how it can deal with emergencies during the Olympic Games. The fact that it revealed the number of death exceeding 20,000 is an indication that China wants to show that it has nothing to hide, especially in the age of the internet when pictures from cell phones can be quickly published on the internet , thus possibly contradicting official statements if they happen to be contrary to facts.

    China has to be more open. There are still human rights issues to be dealt with, especially those affecting the poor. The biggest issue still awaiting the Chinese government is to rescue its hundreds of millions of its impoverished people to the shore of well-being. The persistence of the wide gap between the rich and the poor can be a social earthquake that no international aid can deal its disastrous effects. The rescue of the country from potential chaos comes through new political and economic reforms that can secure China to be a secure and stable country.

  19. 19 VictorK
    May 14, 2008 at 15:48

    @Peter: yes, those are definitely changes. But they are superficial and the phrase you mentioned,’PR savvy’ explains them. The Chinese government is undoubtedly efficient, and they’ll have known that they could handle this disaster competently. So why not get some positive media coverage for a change after all the damage caused by Tibet and, to a lesser degree, Burma. But that’s a matter of skilful proaganda rather than change brought about by external pressure. We’ll not see the foreign media given comparable freedom to report from Tibet for obvious reasons .

    If China is changing it’s changing in the direction that its rulers want it to. The outside world has very little influence over the regime except in one minor respect: reputation. The Chinese regime is unnaturally sensitive to criticism, even though that criticism can’t affect its material interests in the slightest. It’s a politically motivated vanity that means China’s rulers can’t bear criticism,especially from those countries whose roles on the world stage it wants to succeed to. Some might call that ‘influence’, I think it’s just a fairly predictable chauvinistic response.

    Is there more detailed information about the changes we have seen (how many journalists have been allowed to cover the disaster? Are they able to take their own footage of what’s happening? Does the regime exercise any controls at all? How many hours of coverage is being given to this on Chinese tv? etc).

  20. 20 DOLAPO AINA
    May 14, 2008 at 16:10

    China’s response to the earthquake has been really impressive. It brings to the fore the need for continuous comments by the outside world to countries who are reclusive. This act by china wouldn’t have been possible 30 years ago.
    But some questions have to be asked?
    Did the Chinese authorities know about the impending earthquake before it stroke?
    If so, did the authorities try to evacuate citizens in the earthquake prone areas?
    If not, why? Was it due to the unfounded political belief of central or collective control?

    One undeniable truth stands out with immaculacy which is that we are beginning to see the disadvantages of collective control. A lot of lives have been lost including children’s lives. But with the one child per family policy, what about the surviving parents? Communist inclined countries must know that nature mustn’t be tampered with.

    Dolapo Aina,
    Lagos, Nigeria

  21. 21 kabeer sani
    May 14, 2008 at 16:21

    world pressure changed china?come on! it really gets me when everything that hapens in china has to be analysed and looked at thru this narrow prism of the west wanting to point out how wrong or bad the country is just cos its the communist party in power. at the slightest opprtunity you hear how journalists are not free to go here or there and all that stuff.excuse me but we know how these journalists like to work-EMBEDDED.This repeatedly criticized country has been able to cope admirably with this humanitarian disaster.the chinese are not waiting for the west b4 they provide their people with food, medicine and help. the country has achieved tremendously economically and socially in such a short time.maybe international pressure was also responsible for that

  22. 22 umoh, amos (from Nigeria)
    May 14, 2008 at 16:46

    We are somewhat in a hurry to commend and over-commend China for appearing to have turned a new leaf all of a sudden over the years. Perhaps the world should withhold their praise for China till after the Olympics have come and gone.

    What is happening now appears to be *too real* to be true when compared side by side to the China of 20 years ago. *I submit that the world should keep their fingers on china CROSSED*.

  23. May 14, 2008 at 17:17

    International pressure has nothing to do with chinese reaction to the earthquake disaster.
    Governments exists to protect, assist and care for the welfare of it’s citizens.
    And china deserves more praise considering that other foreign governments have not been very quick and responsive towards their citizen’s cries for help go distressing moments

    china has proved that a country doesnt have to be capitalist to care for it’s people.
    The whole noise about china of late can partly be attributed to chinese economic growth despite it’s socialist stand.
    capital and social are not very close
    kerich kipsang go Bomet, Kenya

  24. May 14, 2008 at 17:31

    The world has been trained to think that nothing good amer out of china(or any socialist republic)
    The whole over indulgence in china by western press explains the west’s frustrations at an economic giant which cannot bow to it’s dictates.
    IS CAPITALISM REALLY THE ONLY’GOOD’SYSTEM OR are these other chanels unexplored that migt provide better leadership to humanity?
    There is really no reason as to why the world must think nothing good comes out of china.
    give praise where due….it’s the least we can do!

  25. 25 Dennis
    May 14, 2008 at 17:36

    international pressure changed China, NO….But the olympics
    may have a helping hand in the story following the Earthquake……

    Death Toll closed to 15,000 people…here is a link.

    Dennis>Madrid, United States of America

  26. 26 Dennis
    May 14, 2008 at 17:38

    I am very hopeful that the international community will
    help the people in China, following the earthquake…

    Dennis>Madrid, U.S.A.

  27. 27 selena
    May 14, 2008 at 17:42

    No, international pressure has not changed China. China is doing what it always has done. We are better informed, that’s all.

    Actually, it is quite amusing that we have the audacity to question China, or Burma, after the debacle that was Katrina.

  28. 28 Thea Winter - Indianapolis
    May 14, 2008 at 17:48

    China has had a lot of experience with natural disasters and have a net work set up. China is not as closed off as Burma is. China has business and economical connection with the west and it is in its best interest to be open. The openness we are seeing is not a change due to international pressure over Tibet. The government in China will be open only when is suites its needs. The need here is to prove to the world that they are helping the people. They want to show their “Good Side”. They may believe this will change the mind of the international community and we will forget all about Tibet.

  29. 29 John in Salem
    May 14, 2008 at 17:49

    If international attention is responsible for China doing the right thing for it’s OWN people I’m not impressed.
    If that same attention were motivating China to drop it’s support of the Burmese generals who are blocking aid to cyclone victims, THAT would be a sign of progress.

  30. 30 anonymous
    May 14, 2008 at 18:20

    “The idea that the government of China deserves praise or admiration for its response to the earthquake is….a bit like praising a parent for taking a child to hospital when he’s had an accident.”

    Actually, I see it as part of a diplomatic process of carrots and sticks, with emphasis on carrots, in order to prod China towards the direction of democracy. Better than invading it and breaching a host of other international laws.

  31. 31 Hendrik in Amsterdam
    May 14, 2008 at 18:30

    China seems to be opening up, which I think is a good thing. But the communication about the earthquake seems to be quite different from communication about the Tibet issue very recently. Although these are different sorts of issues, could it be that the Chinese government would try to make us forget about Tibet by showing the earthquake in a big way? Than this would be an easy sacrifice to keep the Tibet ‘damage’ small. Lets see how the government communicates about its next issue…

  32. 32 Chen
    May 14, 2008 at 18:32

    It is incredible and heartless for someone to suggest that China’s response to the earthquake originates not from concerns about the lives of Chinese people, but from a desire to gain some PR points due to “international pressure” or the Olympics. Would the same to be said about the US government’s response to Katrina? Was US government’s action during the hurrincane was to score some political points rather than to take responsibility for its people? I cannot imagine what reaction from those suffering people whould be from those suffering people when they hear what BBC was talking about. Is this how BBC is helping the Chinese people to combat this disaster?

  33. 33 Rob - Tomball, Texas
    May 14, 2008 at 18:33

    If Chinese actions and behavior have not been changed to date by world opinion then surely they must see now the good world reaction to their humanitarian response to the quake in Scheczuan. I would think that they would take note of world admiration for a quick response to the disaster and do more of the same in the future.

    I cannot help but contrast the Chinese government reaction to their disaster with the American government reaction to the Hurrican Katrina disaster in the US a couple of years ago which was pathetic and inept.

  34. 34 Jason Campbell
    May 14, 2008 at 18:34

    Wait. Did I hear that correctly? People think the authorities should have evacuated people before the quake? How? You cannot predict an Earthquake.
    Well you can, they just recently said that California has a good chance of having a big one in the next 50 years. I guess we should evacuate them now while we still have a chance. As for the regime taking care of previous disasters, I would say they have been largely successful in the past without international pressure. They take care of their people. It has been the Chinese way for millenia. Why do you think there is over a billion of them living under this government?

  35. 35 Glenys
    May 14, 2008 at 18:34

    It’s not international pressure. why do western countries always judge countries with different political ideologies as somehow immoral when it comes to humanitarian disasters. this is such hyprocisy. can I take you back to our own hurricane Katrina response by the Bush administration?

  36. 36 Shirley
    May 14, 2008 at 18:37

    Hello, selena
    You said in your May 14, 2008 5:42 pm post, “Actually, it is quite amusing that we have the audacity to question China, or Burma, after the debacle that was Katrina.” Thank you for re-opening my eyes. I think it proper for us as human beings to show concern for our bortehrs in humanity when disaster strikes them. However, to view ourselves as holier than they just because our own government (States) claims to be democratic and compassionate is an exercise in vanity, as well as self-deception.

  37. 37 Peter Singapore
    May 14, 2008 at 18:37

    When Deng Hsiao Ping embarked on China ‘s economic route to capitalism , it is understood that freedom will follow when economic development is achieved. The leadership is upping freedom by one level.
    To those conspiracies theories that the leadership ignored the appearance of toads and butterflies , I wonder how the leadership would look to the rest of the world when it evacuate millions for that reason . Today I saw the appearance of thousands of flies dropping dead from the sky in Singapore. What should I make of that and who will believe me. Definitely no international pressure could make China change. A small tiny country like Singapore did not bow to international pressure for press freedom. Would a quasi superpower? Only the majority of united Chinese can.

  38. 38 Andrew - Australia
    May 14, 2008 at 18:39

    Of course China is getting more media savvy. After the farce of its torch relay through western nations and its amazement that people would dare criticise them after they built big buildings and had shiny new things to show off. They saw how the world recoiled at Burma and the cyclone aftermath, so they would have to have been utterly bereft of any insight to have dragged its heels during its own natural disaster. This has not always been typical of Chinese reaction, but an exception especially less than 100 days out from the Olympic Games. After all, having spent billions on the Games, they would have looked utterly evil to have left their people on their own.

  39. 39 kipsang kerich
    May 14, 2008 at 18:41

    china doesnt really has to be capitalist to assist it’s people.
    let the world be open minded
    Thank God chinese government has demonstrated care and love for it’s citizens. otherwise, the west would have readily condemned it as a senseless brute

  40. 40 Glenys
    May 14, 2008 at 18:41

    another question: why do you journalists persist in referring to the country Burma? did these peoples not change from that colonial name to Myanmar? it is this absolute disrespect, which makes them distrust foreigners. we cannot erase the brutal colonialism and imperialism that is responsible for these repressive regimes

  41. 41 Sunny
    May 14, 2008 at 18:42

    I have to say its pathetic how the west expects the rest of the world to live to their expectations.. it is part of Chinese culture to live with some modesty so it does not have to be considered as hiding information before now…. its a different way of approaching life. I lived there for 3 years and to be honest plan to leave here to go back (im in Canada right now but am British) there is nothing hidden in the west, China is discreet with a great deal where it does feel safe to watch tv with small children and not worry about sexual content or offensive language. Its a way of life there to put energy into dealing with the issue not into broadcasting it. This is also the way families work there. I am married to a Chinese man and he is shocked at how the west deals with things, be it on an international level or within the confines of ones home.

    Nothing to do with International pressure, in fact the US in particular should learn a few thngs from the east and stop shouting everything from the roof tops….. have some self respect. the important things peole are aware of in China, the rest they do not care for…

    alot to learn from the East. America just wants to have its big fat dirty nose in everybodys business and has no shame itself.

  42. 42 Derek - Vancouver, Canada
    May 14, 2008 at 18:43


    We don’t need to put the Chinese response in historical perspective as Professor Carson claims. We need to look at it as a microcosm of the current situation – the Chinese government is not stupid – this disaster has been a great PR opportunity for the Chinese government to score some international points after the Tibet debacle.

  43. 43 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 14, 2008 at 18:43

    Obiously China is changing, waite OLYMPIC will bring drastic changes, any way natural desaster & International help may consider fortune for an isolated society.
    Changes without power abuse & blood shed will long last.

  44. 44 Min
    May 14, 2008 at 18:44

    Is it so hard to believe that the Chinese government actually love and care deeply about its own people? I think this so called change come from 2 major factors, 1 is that it learns from its own mistakes, the second reason that this positive impression come as such a surprise to a lot of westerns is merely due to the long term negative bias of the western media itself.

    The vast openness might be recently learned, but I believe the swiftness in response has always been the tradition and nature of the Chinese government facing natural disasters. Westerns can keep on feeling good about themselves, but I call that self attribution: If anything bad happened, it’s because of the bad nature of others, and if anything good happens, it’s all because of righteous western pressure.

    One other thing I want to mention is that the epicenter is in the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, included in the Dalai-Lama’s ‘Great Tibet’ region, and I don’t know why the western media conveniently forgot to mention that. My point is that during this tragic natural disaster, the heart of all Chinese people go out for them. They are not seen as ethnic minority, but as Chinese brothers and sisters. This is the typical way most ethnic groups of China live together. I’m not asking you to change what you believe all of a sudden, just consider it as a possibility.

    It’s unimaginable that during such a devastating tragedy, someone could show more skepticism and numbness than sympathy and goodwill. We human beings have more similar than we are different. Just imagine what you would feel if such a disaster happened to your own people, and the Chinese people are feeling the same way about their own. I believe this will help make this world a better place.

  45. 45 Allan, Ohio
    May 14, 2008 at 18:45

    I believe China’s response was so quick, because of the world’s news and problems with seeking aid to Berma. I don’t think China wants to be associated with the military regime and the lack of support to their citizens.

  46. 46 Eric - Netherlands
    May 14, 2008 at 18:46


    I have been a Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician for over 10 years. I can tell you personally that dealing with an emergency with just a handful of victims is often difficult. I can’t imagine trying to manage resources and the task at hand when there are thousands of victims!

    The real issues for governments is strong and immediate response and more importantly what they do after the fact to try and rebuild. I agree with the NY professor that many heroic efforts are being made on the ground as I write this.

    Americans can not be critical when the situation that Katrina wrought is still unresolved. Europe can point to their own failings I’m sure and we’ve all seen the horror that is in Burma as well.

    The bottom line is that mass casualty incidents like China’s will continue and one hopes that agencies and governments of the world continue to try and tackle what is always a difficult task.

    Perhaps rescue and recovery should be the primary function of our world’s miltary rather than violence.

    I salute China’s efforts and this apparent change in their ways and feel deeply for their rescuers and citizens.

  47. 47 Musa - Tennessee
    May 14, 2008 at 18:48

    How preposterous for the the BBC to think that China is digging out its dead and wounded from the earthquake rubbles in order to impress the so-called international community?
    Would you pose similar question about the United States abandonment of its citizens during the Katrina disaster several years ago?

  48. 48 William, a Chinese student in Sydney
    May 14, 2008 at 18:49

    China needs to be more transparent as it is doing so. But China always cares its fellow citizens, no matter what kind of disaster is.

    I’m confident with the government, not as somebody calls it “regime”.

    Definitely Olympics has brought something to China, I believe that’s something more positive.

    BY THE WAY, China refuses some countries’ aid right now because if you can find the birdview photo of Wenchuan, you can know exactly what the area looks like. It is between mountains and people have to pass over many bridges.

  49. 49 kwabena
    May 14, 2008 at 18:49

    The change in the chinese governments attitude towards its people is definitely as a result of international pressure, nevertheless Lets praise china because they are showing signs of positive change.

  50. 50 Steve - USA
    May 14, 2008 at 18:49

    China in the past and probably still would cover up man made disasters, especially with their space program. Rockets would fail at liftoff and crash into villages, killing many, and the government would try to cover it up. But since this is a natural disaster, it can make them look good by having pictures taken of government soldiers helping the people. Had this been man made, they would be covering it up.

  51. 51 anon text from Singapore
    May 14, 2008 at 18:51

    Chinese will always be Chinese. Pragmatic (read materialistic & moneygrubbing). The images you see on TV are all about PR. Always. Likeable & nice – compared to Hu Jintao & others – as he is, even Wen Jiabao had to toe the PR line. Saw how he had to even read from a script during an inflight media conference? Noticed how he openly showed ’concern’ to orphans in front of camera, saying (most un-Chinese-like) things like: the government will take care of you for life, etc – sure, for while the quake’s aftermath is still news. And those PLAs, municipal workers & officials – they’re always ever so gungho during rescue work. When the cameras are rolling, of course. They want to appear eager. Why? To show the nation, yes, but more to please their superiors (who might watch such snippets). All in the hope of winning praises, promotions (read salary increases). MONEY is ALWAYS at the back of the minds of the greedy Chinese, is what motivates him, period.

  52. 52 Michael
    May 14, 2008 at 18:54

    It might be good to remember that there was a considerable delay in admitting a German team of specialists with a high-capacity pump during the first few days of the aftermath of Hurrricane Katrina .

  53. 53 Marcel
    May 14, 2008 at 19:04

    This is a new low point in the program. How hypocritical of China to take care of its citizens… Are you really having a discussion about this? And if so, why don’t you just get anyones opinion on this, say take people from the street who have no qualifications, don’t know the background any better than, say people from the street… Is this really a BBC program?

  54. 54 Mark Sandell
    May 14, 2008 at 19:04

    Musa, the BBC didn’t say anything of the sort. Columnists and bloggers have been praising the Chines authrorities for the scale and openness of the relief effort. If you’d heard the programme you’d know that no-one was saying they only tried to save lives to impress the international community, and it’s absurd to suggest anyone did.

  55. 55 Chen
    May 14, 2008 at 19:12

    I am very amased how quickly BBC and the West came to credit the “swift and efficient” response of Chinese government to themselves — the source of anything good in China will always be the West and its miraculous “international pressure.” It seems that BBC and the people it represent have no other way to interprete world affairs. It is time for BBC to think that there are other ways on earth to look at things.

    The earthquake is not the first natural disaster that the Chinese people experienced in the last 50 years, and from a Chinese point of view, what the government is doing now is not different from what it has done in the past, with the exception of improved media coverage. The Chinese people won’t expect less from their government as citizens of any other country. The only people who seemed to be “surprised” by the Chinese government’s actions are west media and the victims of its “objective reporting.”

  56. 56 Chen
    May 14, 2008 at 19:34

    To Mark Sandel
    you said “the BBC didn’t say anything of the sort. Columnists and bloggers have been praising the Chines authrorities for the scale and openness of the relief effort. If you’d heard the programme you’d know that no-one was saying they only tried to save lives to impress the international community, and it’s absurd to suggest anyone did.”
    Really? How stupid of some of us to get this impression. We must have been listenint to and reading the wrong BBC channel? May be you should read the topic of this discusion “Has Interntional pressure changed China” in the context of a 7.9 earthquake? What is this topic suggesting? Is this fair to infer from your topic that the Chinese government is saving its people because “International pressue changed China?” Why didn’t you have a topic as “how can we do to help the Chinese people in need?” or because help the suffering people in China is not the priority of you and BBC, and it is the self-indulging effect of “the international pressure” you are really interested in? Hypocracy is not the right word to describe what you have said. Cruelty is.

  57. May 14, 2008 at 19:46

    At the time of test we should identified friends and enemies.

    China is facing a historically worst earthquack it need a unique assistance but as i have seen there is no remarkable reaction appeare.

    i am very imazing to read the news published by ”wall street journel” that state department waiting request from china”
    it is very strange,I would like to say here in that you(America) shouldn’t need to wait the request from china for help.You should move forward save the innocent people from destruction.

    Reaction , as was expecting from the world countries,not created, i am very sorry on this,shouldn’t as happened,

    Make friends not enemies,this natural horrific earthquack,perhaps bring such unexpected changes in china which goes to in favour of human being.

  58. 58 ravenblk
    May 14, 2008 at 20:17

    I’m sorry I missed this air since I was away, I would really want to speak for the Chinese if I was on the show, I only received the invitation now. But nevertheless, I can still give you my views as a Chinese, about the government, the people and this earthquake.

    First of all, this year has been a special year for everyone in China, the country has suffered endless disasters just in this year. From the Blizzard in februray, to the tibet triot in march, to the hand foot mouth disease in April, and the collision of 2 trains in late April, and now this major earthquake. The government is up to its best in most of these occations, the Chinese people are very thankful for them.

    The new generation of government, lead by Chairman Hu and PM Wen Jiabao is in its 3rd year only, and there were many improvements made throughout the system since. No doubt it’s not enough, but it’s a start. So I urge people to stop demonize China and its people.

    To those who doubt that the government is taking this chance and is just showing off their sufficiency in front of the world for the international community is watching: It really saddens me to see that you think in such a negative way. This is NOT the only disaster that had happened to China in recent years, and the government is handling their job well. I use to dislike the government because of its mistakes in the past, but I do have confidence that the new government is keen on making a change in China. China is still developing so please stop judging her by applying the western standards – before China is as rich as US, it would never work.

    To those who are spreading hatred over the internet and demonize China: the examples you listed are rather outdated, the government made mistakes, yes, but is it still the same old government? No. Period.

    To all of you who showed your sympathy about this disaster, I thank you. I believe that in front of natural disasters, people are just people, not Chinese, British or American.

    Lastly, I am to give some advice to all: the Eastern culture is very different from the West, people in the East, such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean are very fond of their so called “blood”, most of them are extrem nationalisms. Most of the western people don’t understand it, but something you don’t understand, doesn’t make it wrong. So please try to stop applying the western standards on everything and don’t put yourselves on moral high grounds. It will only make things worse when it comes to westerners VS easterners. If you really want to help the PR in China, leave it for the Chinese people, it is for them to gain it, not to be given by you.

    Personally, I was never supporting the Olympics, most of the people I know weren’t neither, but after the torch-relay, we all learnt one lesson, that is the western society is actually not much better than the Chinese society.

    Last of last, we do criticize our government in everyday life, if you don’t say things that effect the state security you’d be fine, the media always like to focus on the extrem cases, well nobody can help that. In China we often hear media talk about stupidest things that’s happening in US/UK etc. and we just give it a laugh, unlike here, people take it seriously.

    People should really start to think about nature of things instead of criticizing other people.

  59. 59 Dennis
    May 14, 2008 at 20:19

    I saw this story about China’s Earthquake, coverage from a different perspective:

    Here is the link:

    Dennis>>Madrid, United States of America

  60. 60 blameonyou
    May 14, 2008 at 20:20

    I can not believe that you guy just talk about it like this, China is try to rescue more people, and you say that this is owe to you!!

    Blame on you!

  61. 61 ravenblk
    May 14, 2008 at 20:33

    Just to answer the questions listed on the topic:

    China is changing, rapidly. Not because of the international community is watching, it has changed long before that. But because of the new government, because of the new generation of people, and its massive development over the last 3 decades. And it will change even more because of the people are ever united now, thanks to all the disasters and oppositions and unreasonable criticizes from the western world.

  62. 62 Ahmad Hammad
    May 14, 2008 at 21:35

    That’s a good question anyway.
    I am quoting a paragraph published at the site to which you had refered in your introduction. Once we were across this text, we would be in a better position to label China’s rescue efforts.

    “In the United States, the Christian Science Monitor published an article praising China’s fast reactions in quake-hit areas. It says China has established an efficient and effective disaster-response mechanism which clearly lays out the responsibilities of the government.”

    From the above paragraph, we come to know that it is NOT the Olympic games which have made the Chinese higher-ups rescue at this much pace that the western world, which leaves no stone unturned in defaming and denouncing China, is on the admiring track. Rather, it is their ever-evolving system of rescuing and rehabilitating the affected people.

    China seldom submits to the pressure. She has been cool, calm and collective…….and as a matter of fact, collected this way a lot!

  63. 63 VictorK
    May 14, 2008 at 21:59

    For all those claiming that China’s looking after its people is something the West shouldn’t be claiming credit for, please have a look at Peter van Dyk’s clarification above: has pressure led to a change in terms of China’s openness in how this is being reported?

    I can only smile at the Chinese bloggers insisting that their government has always looked after its people. Within living memory the policies of the Chinese government led to large parts of China’s cultural heritage being vandalised or destroyed. And within living memory the Chinese government has been responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese, not to mention the labour camps of the time that, on a smaller scale, still exist, and the continuing political enslavement of over a billion people. History shows the Chinese regime to have been one of the most barbaric, evil and murderous governments of all time. We can all be grateful that it’s becoming more civilised, or at least less savage.

    Several people have mentioned Katrina. I have two points to make. Firstly, yes, the West needs to curb its arrogant and interfering ways. Whether or not China is a democracy, or is liberalising, or is becoming more free, etc should be of no concern to us in the West. I’m as tired as anyone of this Liberal Jihad to force the Western way of life on political infidels all over the world. Let China be China.

    As to Katrina, isn’t this just another instance of ‘Bush Derangement Syndrome’? China is not burdened with an underclass who – too incapable to help themselves, and most of the people of New Orleans vacated the city well before the hurricane struck – complicate an already difficult emergency by looting shops and property, committing rapes, assaults and murders, and attacking and shooting at the state representatives sent to help them. There is no Chinese equivalent of the institutionally corrupt and incompetent rulers of New Orleans, who sat on their hands when they could have used a fleet of school buses to send the improvident members of the underclass to safety. The bulk of the responsibility for the failure over Katrina was at local level, with the city government; the next biggest share was with the Louisiana state government (but since both were Democrat-controlled it’s easier for some to blame the Republican scapegoat). Not even China could have coped as well as it has if it had had to deal not only with a natural disaster but also with a population who were themselves a social disaster.

  64. 64 flyinsea
    May 14, 2008 at 22:58

    Sultan Ahmed

    Thank for all your words!

  65. 65 Chen
    May 14, 2008 at 23:02

    There are some things that VictorK said that are really worth repeating:
    “History shows the Chinese regime to have been one of the most barbaric, evil and murderous governments of all time. We can all be grateful that it’s becoming more civilised, or at least less savage.”
    — Relevance aside, I guess this list of “most barbaric, evil and murderous governments of all time” also includes the government which reduced the population of native Americans from 10 million to several hundred thousand in a century, the government which wage aggressive wars to take territory from Mexicaco, occupied Cuba and Philippines, the government which “created” Panama which give “control and occupation of” Panama canal in “perpetuity,” the government who “annexed” Hawaii, the government that overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile, the government that supported dictators in Philippines, Cuba, Taiwan, Chile, South Korea and around the world? I am not optimistic that this government “is becoming more civilized or at least less savage” towards other nations.

    “China is not burdened with an underclass who – too incapable to help themselves, and most of the people of New Orleans vacated the city well before the hurricane struck – complicate an already difficult emergency by looting shops and property, committing rapes, assaults and murders, and attacking and shooting at the state representatives sent to help them…. Not even China could have coped as well as it has if it had had to deal not only with a natural disaster but also with a population who were themselves a social disaster.”
    — I wonder how this “underclass” came into being in this richest and most “civilized” and least “savage” nation? As the claim that “not even China could have coped” with Katrina “as well as it has,” I think the whole world witnessed to how “well” Katrina was coped with, and can testify whether any government could have done better.

  66. 66 Scott Altfeld
    May 14, 2008 at 23:44

    As a NorthAmerican, citizen of an imperialist, militarist country, I am hesitant to comment on China…however this was not just a “natural” disaster.

    I was living in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake.
    The main hospital (hospital general) pancaked, a 25 story apartment building (built as “public housing”) in Tlateloco fell over, many schools and other “public”
    buildings had the most damage….. Why ? Corruption.
    Cheap or non existing reinforcing bar, contaminants in the cement mix, very low grade construction materials, nuts and bolts and beams missing. We will soon find out that Deng’s billionare children were involved in the construction of some of the worst damaged buildings.
    The next step after the earthquake was to pay off the building inspectors so they would certify that your building is repairable, and shouldn’t be demolished. Those buildings will kill their tenants in the next quake.
    Look for all these problems to appear in China soon.

  67. 67 Jeff Minter
    May 15, 2008 at 01:27

    I think it’s quite clear, whatever China do – good or bad – they can eradicate cancer, , eliminate famine – they will be made out to be the “big nasty red bad guy”, either through jealousy (that a country other than that of western origin – or in the case of Japan, one that hasn’t been “conquered” – can play such an important in the global arena), or by anally criticising them over everything that can be twisted into something negative e.g. the rescue efforts for the earthquake.

    But there comes a breaking point, when you become so pathetically childish towards a group, that any criticism aimed at them is not of in wanting them to improve, but out of blind hatred – that they will just shut down and refuse to listen and accept any more.

    Now, it goes without saying that Chinese people are more open to the west than western people are to them – do the naysayers really want to create a scenario where everyone is so hostile, so negative towards one another, that all we see in the world is mistrust and blind hate?

  68. 68 Jeff Minter
    May 15, 2008 at 01:32

    And to the Americans (and it is just the Americans) already drawing up conspiracy theories and why the Chinese Govt. OBVIOUSLY let such a disaster happen – show some humanity. Else I’ll eagerly await the day when Americans are in need of desperate help but with no-one to answer their call.

  69. 69 Tom
    May 15, 2008 at 02:52

    “[To] MONEY is ALWAYS at the back of the minds of the greedy Chinese, is what motivates him, period.”


    Dear anon text from Singapore,

    I am Chinese and you are wrong. Period.

  70. 70 Tom
    May 15, 2008 at 03:29

    To VictorK,

    “I can only smile at the Chinese bloggers insisting that their government has always looked after its people”

    I think the bloggers are referring to the central government’s typical mass response in disaster relieves. There’s no need to drag cultural vandalism into the picture as the Chinese are fully aware of this. No matter how much the Party attempts to eradicate anything traditional and spiritual, there is always something deep down inside the people’s psyche that are beyond their reach.

    Believe me, there are many corrupt and incompetent local rulers in China too. What makes them worse than those in the US is that they are ruthless to the extreme when dealing with protests (eg. forced land acquisition). Yes, these are a painful thorn to the aspirations of the central government, and a massive obstacle to the continual progress of the country.

    In regards to your earlier statement:

    “The Chinese are only capable of one response to pressure: they sulk.”

    This is a rather narrow and shallow statement as it can’t possibly explain the relative academic, cultural and economic success of the Chinese diasporas around the world. These communities have survived extreme pressures and extraordinary odds in foreign lands (often against hostile local attitudes) to get to where they are today. The answer to this lies not in “sulking”, but rather hardwork, resilience, adaptability, and tight social bond – all of which most Westerneres can also relate to.

  71. 71 Bryan
    May 15, 2008 at 06:49

    This earthquake is a major disaster and certainly worthy of coverage. But you covered it on WHYS earlier in the week so I’m wondering why it is necessary to cover it again now. It’s not like there were no other major news stories in the world on Wednesday. For example, President George Bush arrived in Israel. Here was the president of the most powerful country on earth visiting one of the major hot spots on this planet and it was not newsworthy enough?

    Now I’m not one for conspiracy theories but I was amazed that back in January when the president visited Israel WHYS chose to concentrate instead on the Democratic Party primaries (totally ignoring the
    Republican primaries, but I’m digressing). So here we had the the president’s visit completely ignored in favour of the very beginning of a contest to choose the next president. And the the BBC in general could not have given the visit less coverage.

    Now I see that tonight you have chosen this topic: “Who should protect the Amazon rainforest?”

    Has a memo gone out, guys. We know you don’t like him, but are you deliberately snubbing President Bush?

  72. 72 VictorK
    May 15, 2008 at 07:37

    @Chen: the issues on this thread are China, pressure, and greater openness. Why drag in the US? Since I’m not an American I don’t feel the slightest need to respond to your red herring.

    Re the underclass in New Orleans: the city was run – or more precisely, maladministered – for a quarter of a century by an African-American administration. You connect the dots.

    @Tom: my comments were in response to the fairy tale propaganda about the Communist government of China always having looked after the Chinese people. That’s demonstrably false. The point about sulking was with reference to the Chinese government, not the people. I’m sorry if I didn’t make myself clear.

  73. 73 Jimmy in Vancouver
    May 15, 2008 at 10:06

    I am more interested in the question “To what extent has China become different?” and I am not very sure what specific international pressure are you referring to. Is it Tibet, Olympic Games, the need to sustain CCP’s sovereignty, a knowledge-based global economy, or all of them?

    In Vancouver Canada, only Chinese international students protested the collective criticism to Chinese Government re Tibet’s riot from France, the US, the UK, and Germany. Those students waved Chinese national flags and held signs but few Chinese Canadians were involved. Later about 100 Cantonese seniors from Vancouver Chinatown organized another protest but it is more like a Saturday walk. I do not question protestors’ sincerity and freedom of speech is granted by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and so as the Magna Carta. But I do question organizers’ intention.

    I know a girl who lives in Australia and she’s a CCP member. She approached the Chinese General Consulate in Melbourne or Sydney along with two other student CCP members for the Consulate’s assistance in setting up a student communist committee or study group. However, the Consulate asked her to go home and don’t come back for the same issue. She was appalled and could not believe her ‘good will’ got ignored and declined by her own party. In addition, you might want to talk to your British secret agencies to find out the interesting connection between Chinese associations and the Chinese government. Then you can find out an answer why they ‘bark’ very loud.

    What I am trying to tell you is many opportunists in the UK, the US, France, and Germany tried to use protests to humour the central government of China.
    Most criticism re the Tibet riot in March were not harsh. The Chinese government, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in particular, should have dealt the situation in a more diplomatic way. But why did Chinese government get pissed off and perform dramatically this time?

    Olympic Games will be held in August and the 4th day of May is the Youth Day of China and in 1919, motivated by the US President Wilson’s 14 points, students from Beijing and Tsinghua Universities protested the Japanese occupation of Shantung peninsula after the First World War. As you may know, in 1989 the 5.4 gathering at the Tiananmen Square directly led to the 4th of June protest and the later tragedy. There are currently 14 million university students in China. To enhance its sovereignty, the Chinese Government used Patriotism as the perfect love pill to release the accumulated tension from students and Chinese at large before June’s anniversary and the August’s Olympic Games. Because the whole protest is a plan, the Chinese Government suddenly announced its negotiation with Dalai Lama in April. What an improvement! I only feel sorry for those young students. Some of them might get deported or cannot get work permit after their graduation. Anyway those opportunist troublemaking organizers have to be identified because they are trouble for all parties and they turned a potential civilized sophisticated conversation to a foolish show.

    China has become different. The young generation now can communicate over the Internet and there are 200 million Internet users now in China. I don’t know how many cellular phone users in China but I guess the number should be equally impressive. You now can find video clips about the earthquake and countless pictures taken by digital cameras and cellular phones over the Internet. I saw a BBC journalist this morning reporting directly from Szechuan. In a knowledge-based global economy, China is embracing the world regardless the CCP’s will and to hide information is unwise. If exposure is no longer a concern, truth is being told.

    I mentioned that the current Prime Minister of China is an honour Geology grad. Even though Mr. Wen took the flight to Szechuan for rescue in two hours after the earthquake, China is now openly questioning why the Chinese earthquake information is released later than USGS. This will eventually lead to a question to the Chinese bureaucracy system and the information control in China. Freedom of information is always the first step towards freedom of speech and freedom of press. The Chinese government now has no choice but to release information otherwise the government is going to show its double standards to the whole world. If calling Chinese a bunch of “thugs” and “goons” by Jack Cafferty is unethical and unacceptable, to refuse to disclose information about the earthquake will corner the Communist Party to an extremely difficult and embarrassing situation, which is the last thing the Party wants to see.

  74. 74 Mark Sandell
    May 15, 2008 at 10:27

    Thanks, as always for your comments on this topic, even if one or two you see agression and insults as the best way to get your points across. It appears that China joins the Israel/Palestinian issue as a subject where people struggle to keep the lid on their anger.
    A few answers to some of the other points :
    Bryan – we discussed Israel on two separate programmes in the last week or so, one last week talking about the country’s 60th anniversary. Of course we’ve discussed the earthquake before (and the cyclone in Burma) but i reject the view that an issue, once you’ve discussed it once, is somehow “done”.
    And as for a few of the rest of you, i’d be grateful if you could find the quote where anyone wrote-or said- that the Chinese authorities were only saving people as some kind of international PR exercise. To suggest this is to wilfully misunderstand the question, and i think you’re a lot brighter than that. Did anyone hear the callers in Sichuan province saying they DID think China’s comparative openness had marked a change ? I’d have thought they’d be in a good position to judge…..but as always on WHYS, you’re entitled to disagree…

  75. 75 Mark Sandell
    May 15, 2008 at 10:32

    Oh, and another thing- the Amazon day is a departure; it’s a BBC focus on the issue, which is why – as we have on other occasions, like the “India Rising” week, or the San Francisco environment programme – gone a bit off-agenda. It doesn’t mean we can’t discuss other issues too.

  76. 76 Roberto
    May 15, 2008 at 12:31

    It appears that China joins the Israel/Palestinian issue as a subject where people struggle to keep the lid on their anger.

    —— These are highly politicized issues where a large measure of fear and threat is involved.

    As such, the politicians/national leaders, and certain nefarious political operatives circulate lies, rumors, and other forms of disinformation designed to build on the percieved fear and threat which they exploit for their own purpose.

    I find the question of whether international pressure is changing China a bit disingenuous. China is obviously undergoing massive change for many reasons which can’t be easily quantified into a new blurb of the day.

    We, the world’s citizens, all have undergone massive change, sometimes forced, sometimes willingly as globalization changes the world.

    One story about the earthquake and the typhoon that is emerging is the shoddy building practices in China and the lack of notification or planning by the Burmese government in advance of the typhoon.

    Not that much different than the Katrina/Rita catastrophe which highlighted shoddy development practices of the US and incompetant disaster planning of related local/state/federal governments who were supposed to be coordinated.

  77. May 15, 2008 at 13:44

    Reality is reality,can not be changed and also can not be disregard or over looked.

    No doubt, there is worst disater being faced by chines people,God bless them all.

    May be this great tragedy may change chines rulers attituds, may be.

    Requisited items they require must be flooded in the effected area by the world countries as appealed by the authority concerned.

    In case, any one believe in God should refrain committing atrocities on innocent people confined in tibetan jails.they were passing through a great,tough and painfull test of the time.

    I would like to appreciat Dalai Lama patience and tolrance having inflicting injuries on his heart and losing good number of followers, praying God for theie security ,integrity and sliderity.

    It is need of the day, chins must change itself by restoring all human rights laws and shouldn’t refuse the presence of God our Lard.

  78. 79 Chen
    May 15, 2008 at 20:01

    To Mark Sandell
    You said “i’d be grateful if you could find the quote where anyone wrote-or said- that the Chinese authorities were only saving people as some kind of international PR exercise. To suggest this is to wilfully misunderstand the question, and i think you’re a lot brighter than that.” — Mark, we are “a little bit brighter” to know that finding such a direct “quote” in BBC will not succeed: you and your “analysts” are “a lot brighter” than expressing such an idea explicitly and be caught with written evidence. I think you’re more sophisticated than that, and we the listeners are bright enough to realize your tricks. The way is not to say something directly, but lead people to that conclusion by seemingly “objective” analysis. It would seem more credible. I don’t think it is a secret in your profession, the master of words? I’d be most grateful if you can start treating your listeners as equally intelligent as you are.

    To Victor K
    You said “Why drag in the US? Since I’m not an American I don’t feel the slightest need to respond to your red herring.” – It seems your non-American status did not stop you from praising the handling of Katrina “well as it has”, and blaming the “underclass” of New Orleans(an American city), the “population who were themselves a social disaster”, the “African-American administration” for the mishandling of Katrina. Since you, in this discussion of China’s response in this earthquake, dragged in the “history” which would “show” that the Chinese government was one of the most evil governments ever, it is quite surprising to hear from you that other people cannot “drag” other missing parts of your “history” to give their view on evil governments. You cannot have both ways.

  79. 80 VictorK
    May 16, 2008 at 15:06

    @Chen: I wonder if Mark has overestimated the brightness of some bloggers.

    You are making an issue out of something that exists entirely in your imagination. Nobody has claimed that the Chinese authorities are undertaking the rescue effort as a matter of international propaganda. To admit as you do that this has not been said but still insist that the charge is being made indirectly by the BBC, through ‘tricks’ and devious sophistication, is simply paranoid.

    You are also handicapped by your inability to understand the plain meaning of written words. I didn’t praise the handling of Katrina. The words of mine that you quoted – ‘[as] well as it has ‘- clearly under the impression that I was praising the US were actually used to praise China! Since Katrina had been irrelevantly introduced by you, I simply pointed out that the Chinese government would not have been managing the current disaster ‘as well as it has’ if it had been dealing with victims who had the characteristics of the New Orleans underclass. I pointed out the reasons why Katrina was not a suitable event to compare to the Chinese earthquake: there were a range of city and state authorities who had a more immediate responsibility for handling that disaster than the federal government; such delegated power and responsibility obviously doesn’t exist in a communist tyranny. Apples and oranges.

    You appear to have conflated to points that you made: the first was your introduction of a false comparison with Katrina; the second was a rant about US history (native Americans, Cuba, Mexico, the Philippines, Korea, etc). My statement that, not being an American, I felt no obligation to respond to your red herring, was made regarding your second point (whose relevance to this thread still escapes me).

    As to my dragging in the history that showed the evil character of the Chinese government, that was not on my initiative, but was a direct response to fantasies posted by another product of the Chinese education system about how the Chinese government had always looked after the Chinese people. I was simply pointing out that this was not the case when it was imprisoning, starving and murdering ordinary Chinese by the tens of millions a few decades ago.

  80. 81 Chen
    May 16, 2008 at 17:28

    To VictorK
    My “inability to understand the plain meaning of written words” tells me that your comments on the “overestimated” “brightness of some bloggers” has crossed the line to a personal attack rather than serious debate on the issues. Of course, it is again only my “imagination” or “simply paranoid.”

    Did I misquote you? Let me try again. “As to Katrina, isn’t this just another instance of ‘Bush Derangement Syndrome’? China is not burdened with an underclass who – too incapable to help themselves, and most of the people of New Orleans vacated the city well before the hurricane struck – complicate an already difficult emergency by looting shops and property, committing rapes, assaults and murders, and attacking and shooting at the state representatives sent to help them…. Not even China could have coped as well as it has if it had had to deal not only with a natural disaster but also with a population who were themselves a social disaster.” Well, whether you were blaming other “underclass” for Bush’s failure, let other people be the judge.
    From your “smiling” response “ to fantasies posted by another product of the Chinese education system about how the Chinese government had always looked after the Chinese people,” I can only guess that you regard yourself a higher authority to tell how Chinese government has looked after its people than Chinese people themselves. Those “product[s] of the Chinese education system” are so “handicapped” that they can only repeat what they were taught – fantasies — on BBC, but not what they experienced in their lives. Compared to them, you are certainly the only one who has the “non-overstated brightness” to tell Chinese people about their experience of their government. But its your recent discovery that “there were a range of city and state authorities who had a more immediate responsibility for handling that disaster than the federal government; such delegated power and responsibility obviously doesn’t exist in a communist tyranny” really shows your true brightness.

  81. 82 VictorK
    May 16, 2008 at 18:39

    @Chen: you made allegations against the BBC which you then admitted could not be proved objectively as a matter of fact. Despite this admission you stuck to your allegations. Since I don’t want to be accused of making personal attacks I won’t use any of the many words that come to mind to describe you. But it is clear that dialogue and argument become impossible when someone is marching to a different tune to the rest of the world and operating according to their own private sense of reality. It is your right to work yourself into a frenzy over things you admit have no objective existence. The kindest thing I can do is to say as little as possible to encourage you.

  82. 83 Bryan
    May 17, 2008 at 17:12

    Mark Sandell, I note that you have not answered my question about the BBC’s minimal coverage of George W. Bush, except in the most indirect fashion. Obviously I wasn’t suggesting that you shouldn’t discuss an issue more than once a week. I was making the point that the Bush visit was then current and it was important enough to have warranted serious coverage, not only by WHYS, but by the BBC as a whole. Two days ago he made an emotional and extraordinary speech to the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, in which he challenged us all not to be blind to the threat of terror and not to repeat the mistake of the appeasement of Hitler before World War 2 by appeasing Ahmedinejad.

    This part of the speech caused quite a stir back in America with Obama deciding that Bush had singled him out personally for criticism because of his intention to talk to Ahmedinejad, and much of the lefty US media mounting a feverish and unwarranted attack on the president over the issue.

    I accessed the Middle East page of the BBC News website to have a look at your stance on these vital issues. Apparently you don’t have one, and this is regarded as so unimportant by the BBC that it is not even worthy of any coverage at all on the website. So I repeat the question that you have dodged:

    Is the BBC deliberately snubbing the president of the United States?

  83. 84 Dennis
    May 17, 2008 at 17:54

    @ Bryan:

    To answer your question although I am NOT a Representative of the BBC and or an agent of the BBC…..Just someone who is writing his own opinion:

    Is the BBC deliberately snubbing the president of the United States?

    Dennis>>Madrid, U.S.A.

  84. 85 Roberto
    May 18, 2008 at 17:24

    Is the BBC deliberately snubbing the president of the United States?

    ———Lame duck president who polls the lowest approval ratings in the history of the presidency, and he’s being snubbed?

    Perish the thought. His team are feverishly trying to screen what footprints they want to save and want to destroy as historians are storing reams of information to pick through for their future assessments.

    What has any snubbing have to do with international pressure on China? He’s gone publically begging on bended knee to the Saudis twice now for more oil, and speechified some child like nonsense in the Holy Lands that Palestinians and Israelis both dismiss. Heck, this has been a good year as he finally got one of the twins married off, the crazy one.

    He’s already agreed to be part of the marketing campaign of the Chinese by attending the opening ceremonies at this year’s Olympics.

    His plate is full and he’s operating at the maximum of his capacities. Why if we are blessed, we might see him with axe and chainsaw clearing brush off the Chinese president’s property this year. Maybe even a down hill of Mt Everest on his mountain bike.

  85. 86 Chen
    May 19, 2008 at 22:42

    To All
    I want, and I think all the Chinese people will join me, to thank for the kindness shown by people around the world in this critical moment of disaster – many words on the blog are the best evidence even if we still have different opinions on many issues. Chinese people are capable of understanding the sincerity of the empathy from others. Yes, people in China do have different opinions about the reporting by western media on China. It is understandable. We are very different culturally and politically. However, I believe as time goes by, Western audience will see that the people of the “evil” “communist” China of “tyranny” are just as human as other peoples. The world will know the real China by more reporting on the ground. On the other hand, the Chinese people will also see that the Westerners (not just journalists), except a few, are genuine and honest people who will report truthfully what they see. On disputable issues such as Tibet, more reporting on the ground, even “biased” at the beginning, will eventually give more objective and truthful views, since China, as many Chinese people believe, has nothing to hide. Lack of first hand information will lead to speculation in Western media, foster rumors, and play to the hands of people with agendas. Trust will be returned with trust.

  86. 87 Chen
    May 19, 2008 at 23:02

    To VictorK
    Although I strongly disagree with you on issues, I don’t want you to stop speaking your mind even if your words have the dander to “encourage” me. I am sure there are many other people on the forum who are much “brighter” than I am and capable of making
    “dialogue and argument” with you possible.
    As you can see from our past posting, in terms of describing other people,I am quite opposite to you — you were very kind to refrain from “us[ing] any of the many words that come to mind to describe” me, while I always eager to use the words you used for others to describe you.

  87. 88 Roberto
    May 21, 2008 at 23:20

    ——Previously I had mentioned the shoddy building practices of China.

    Now NPR is reporting that 7000 schools collapsed in the earthquake. Many of these schools are near government buildings that didn’t collapse. The death toll keeps rising. 40,000+ was the last figure I’ve heard.

  88. 89 ester
    October 1, 2008 at 12:58

    so my question is how can responses to natural disasters be made quicker and more complete in china or in other growing country?

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