CAIXIN, UNITED DAILY NEWS (China)

Worldcrunch

BEIJING – It was last Saturday when the heavens opened above the Chinese capital, bringing the most deadly rain storm to hit here in at least six decades. Now, five days later, the municipality of Beijing has finally updated the death toll, which officially stood Thursday at 77, including five rescue workers, according to Caixin media.

But just getting credible -- and updated -- casualty numbers was itself becoming part of the story. After days of being lambasted by the public and media outlets, Beijing authorities still failed at their second press conference on Wednesday to update the figures of the victims. Not only did the total death count stay at 37 despite widespread reports of more victims, the names of the known dead were not provided.

When reporters shouted: "We want the figure of the dead," the spokesman exited and the debriefing was abruptly adjourned. This has caused a public uproar as well as triggering a critical opinion piece today in the People's Daily, the Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece, the United Daily reported.

Chinese officials have repeatedly shown a tin ear in these kinds of disasters. The Beijing rainstorm occurred almost exactly one year after the major high-speed train accident near Shanghai where authorities also tried to cover up the total death toll. The scale of past health crises have been downplayed or outright lied about.

The Beijing city government's director of information declared earlier this week that: "We have learned from the experience of the SARS epidemic of 2003 (in which Chinese health authorities also hid the truth for days) and we know we have to be transparent this time," according to the United Daily.

Because of the reluctance to give the official figures, in the last few days rumors have been rampant. In the hardest hit Fangshan district, rumors circulated that the district alone had lost 100 lives.

As Caixin media points out, there was widespread shock that Ding Zhijian, a man in his prime, was drowned in his car on a main road. "This could have happened to any citizen. And this is the true reason why people are so concerned with his story and the authorities' attitude."

The public remains unconvinced of the newly publicized figure as reports abound of victims' bodies being washed away, without being counted or identified.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Coronavirus

Why U.S. Vaccine Diplomacy In Latin America Makes "Good" Sense

Echoing its cultural diplomacy of the early 20th century, the United States is gifting vaccines to Latin America as part of a renewed "good neighbor'' policy.

Waiting to get the vaccine in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico

Andrea Matallana

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — Just before and during World War II, the United States' Good Neighbor policy proved a very effective strategy to improve ties with Latin America. Initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the policy's main goal was non-interference and non-intervention. The U.S. would instead focus on reciprocal exchanges with their southern neighbors, including through art and cultural diplomacy.

Keep reading... Show less
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ