Thursday, December 01, 2005

Disaster information in China Should be more transparent

Today, I saw an essay on Caijing magazine which is a famous economic journal in China. It said that the information about epidemic situation can not be exported first and then sold back to domestic market (疫情不能出口轉内銷), which means that epidemic information should not be reported first by foreign media. That actually minces its word to criticize that Chinese government always hide epidemic information, such as SARS, bird flu, and mine coal explosion, etc.
The recent big news in China was definitely the incident of water pollution and the discontinuity of water supply in Harbin. When a chemical plant in Jilin Province exploded, Jilin officials didnÂ’t tell Heilong Jiang province the possible threat to the downstream Songhuajiang in Heilongjiang. And when the Songhuajiang was severely polluted, Heilongjiang especially Harbin city also didnÂ’t inform other cities including the fast eastern part of Russia, where Songhuajing will pass by. They found the situation of water pollution badly influenced their drinking water system, and just informed their citizen that the city would out of water supply for four days. No any reasonable explanation. Any even lied to citizen that they were repairing the water supply system! When many people knew that they could not have clear water because the water was contaminated by poisonous chemical substance, they were pandemic, and full of disbelief with their officials. They fled to other cities, and rushed to buy bottle water. Until then, the officials in Harbin had to admit what truly happened there.
Although the information of natural disaster in China has not been considered as the state secrets any more since last year, the Chinese official especially local officials who are afraid of possible negative impact on their political career still wouldnÂ’t rather disclose those information timely and fully. However, there have been too many bloody lessons in China because those officials cover and delay the epidemic information. The innocent people are vulnerable; they much depend on the information provided by government. If our government still disregards it, they are indeed burying their people with their hands which should be used to help people.

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