Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sichuan Earthquake Relief Update

  • Beijing – I was surprised to learn that the Chinese government has requested, or is at least discussing logistics for, earthquake relief from Japan. If this happens it will be the first time the Japanese military has entered China since WWII. It is significant for two reasons. First it shows that the governments of both countries recognize the importance of helping people in need. Secondly, it shows that the Chinese leaders are finally coming to grips with how to behave sensibly on the world stage. This latter is very important because there have been so many things said, and done, by the Chinese government to promote its international image that have had exactly the opposite effect. Somehow, China's top leaders have begun to understand that asking for, and receiving, aid can be viewed as a sign of strength in the eyes of much of the world. This time, they are not "dropping the stone to crash their own toes."
  • Chengdu – The Chengdu Area Military Command, Earthquake Relief Headquarters gave a press briefing on May 29 at 5:00 PM. The following was reported: Through 6:00 PM on May 28th the total number of people rescued from collapsed buildings by the army was 3,666. There were 305,000 wounded people treated and 656,000 victims relocated. There have been 44 temporary schools built, including 14 middle schools and 30 primary schools, as well as 148 temporary residence buildings constructed. There were 506,000 tons of relief goods delivered by land and 5,360 tons air dropped. There were 4281 kilometers of road repaired and 139 million square meters of polluted ground sanitized. There were 119,000 tents erected and 2,000,000 cubic meters of rubble removed. This was done with a total of 133,000 troops coming from military commands all over China.
  • Boston – Within two weeks, through May 28th the Boston-Aid-Sichuan Committee has collected $613,000 toward the $1,000,000 goal set for June 14th. The relief concert held at MIT on Sunday May 25th alone collected $150,000. There will be a fund raising walk scheduled for Saturday May 31st in the Boston Common. On site registration starts at 9:00 AM in the Boston Common, or for advance registration contact GBCCA (617) 232-0377.


Anonymous said...

"Secondly, it shows that the Chinese leaders are finally coming to grips with how to behave sensibly on the world stage."

This shows how easily people fall into the trap of western media propaganda.

At issue is not so much Chinese government does not want to "behave sensibly," it is that Chinese people in general do not feel comfortable to have Japanese military aircraft flying on China. It's not difficult to tell from the backlash on various websites and news media, including those from Hong Kong.

I think Chinese government initially made a mistake and wasn't sensitive enough to the feeling of its people. Fortunately, it realizes the mistake. Now Japan will hire civilian aircraft. This is sensible.

Chinese has no problem with other military aircraft flying to China for rescue and relief efforts; Russian and US have done so. But Japan is different, it has not completely come to terms to what it did in WWII in China.

Bottom-line, it's not about what Chinese government should do, it's how Chinese people feel.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Anonymous -

Thanks for the note. Certainly I can understand, in fact I share in the emotions of people in China with respect to Japan. I am from Chongqing and there is no shortage of horror stories of the 1940s air-raids still circulating today.

However the point I was making is that the Chinese government has, in reacting to the earthquake, done many things that seem quite sensible, really surprisingly sensible. Accepting aid from Japan is another demonstration of this. I think you would agree on that. I am sure that there will be future responses from the Chinese government that aren't so sensible, but it still seems like progress to me.

And no disagreement here - being sensitive to the feelings of the Chinese people is commendable and if they have negotiated the supplies to be delivered by civilian aircraft because of this, that is even better.

Linda Austin said...

I had not heard this news and am also encouraged by both Japan's offer to assist and by Chinese acceptance. Using civilian aircraft is a wonderful compromise.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Same feeling here, Linda. Thanks for saying this.