Home > Politics, Travel > Wenzhou Train Crash Round-Up

Wenzhou Train Crash Round-Up

By now you have probably heard about the Wenzhou Train Crash, which is China’s worst train crash since the Qingdao derailment in 2008.

The actual accident and the belated, lacklustre response from the government (and you might want to do a wordcloud on how many times “government reponse appears in this post) have been amplified well beyond any level that the CCP would wish for.

The Beijing-Shanghai high speed line was, of course, one of the flagship engineering projects that the government had been trumpeting for the last year or so, and the opening of the line coincided with the 1st July celebrations that were organised to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.  It’s no big secret that things were pretty much rushed through to meet the deadline, and the Kunming Highway Project had already claimed ten lives a mere day and a half after it was opened.  What began as a unifying, rallying celebration of Chineseness has quickly dissolved into a backlash of fear and paranoia fostered on the Chinese internet through Weibo and Youku and has become a platform for scathing attacks from both the national press on the government, and for angry journlists who have begun demanding more that the usual excuses from party officials.

The China Media Project has a comprehensive  rundown of the salient points of the accident, starting with the now infamous claim from Wang Yong Ping that  “The Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway and Japan’s Shinkansen can’t even be raised in the same breath, because many of the technologies employed by China’s high-speed rail are far superior to those used in Japan’s Shinkansen,”

ChinaGeeks has been covering the days (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday since the crash, offering translations and reposts of the Chinese reaction to the accident and the government response.

Much has been made of the Chinese Propaganda Department’s media directives that were almost immediately leaked online that show exactly how the Chinese government manipulates the media to stir up feelings of national pride:

The latest directives on reporting the Wenzhou high-speed train crash:

1. Release death toll only according to figures from authorities.

2. Do not report on a frequent basis.

3. More touching stories are to reported instead, i.e. blood donation, free taxi services, etc.

4. Do not investigate the causes of the accident; use information released from authorities as standard.

5. Do not reflect or comment.

Reminder on reporting matters: All reports regarding the Wenzhou high-speed train accident are to be titled “7.23 Yong-Wen line major transportation accident.” Reporting of the accident is to use ‘In the face of great tragedy, there’s great love’ as the major theme. Do not question. Do not elaborate. Do not associate. No re-posting on micro-blogs will be allowed! Related service information may be provided during news reporting. Music is to be carefully selected!”
「温州事故报道的最新要求:1、死伤数字以权威部门发布为准;2、报道频度不要太密;3、要多报道感人事迹,如义务献血和出租车司机不收钱等等;4、对事故原因不要挖掘,以权威部门的发布为准;5、不要做反思和评论。

宣传提示:温州动车脱轨事故报道名称统一使用“7.23甬温线特别重大铁路交通事故”。温州动车事故从现在起以“大灾面前有大爱”为主题报道,不质疑,不展开,不联想,个人微博也不要转发!节目中可提供相应服务信息,音乐注意氛围!」

The Chinese microblog site has been at the centre of much of the outrage, starting with the survey that showed 97% of it’s users were unhappy with the government’s handling of the accident.  Chinese Youku users have been uploading videos to Youku and other sharing sites, including one  that shows a body being recovered from the crash.  Angry journalists demanding answers from the officials in charge of the recovery operation have also been posted online.

The Economist has an overview of how The Party responded in typical fashion – not blaming anyone and firing a few token officials (God forbid that they should resign and say sorry) and there’s blunt response from Stan Abrams over at China Hearsay to Megan MacArdle’s article in The Atlantic.

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  1. July 27, 2011 at 5:23 pm

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