Essay: Yet another avoidable tragedy has struck rural China, where a crammed school van crashed and killed 18 children. One Chinese writer’s j’accuse against public officials who are busy spending money on luxury cars instead of safe school transportation
BEIJING - China is a total disgrace in front of its children.
On Wednesday, in rural Gansu Province, a small bus carrying more than 60 kindergarten children to school had a head-on crash with a coal shuttle truck, killing 20, including 18 children. Dozens more are injured. According to the local government report, the small van had a carrying capacity of 9 persons – it was loaded with 64 children and 2 teachers.
Just two months ago, a boat – similarly well over capacity with school children – capsized, and a dozen of young lives sank to the bottom of a lake in Hunan Province.
In both cases, local authorities have blamed overloading.
Our public should demand to know why our means of transporting children are so primitive. Why can't they afford to have proper-sized buses or boats? And why, in certain areas of China, are there still youngsters who must scale cliffs each day like Spider-Man to get back and forth to their school?
Today's "China's Youth Daily" ironically reports that last year alone China's public servants spent 80 billion RMB ($12.3 billion) for the procurement of official cars. They have a particular fondness for luxurious foreign cars.
How much money is accumulated and wasted by our public officials in the pursuit of a certain lifestyle? This includes their choice of missions with the most glamour, with first-class travel on trains or aircraft. They say they represent the image of the country, but what image is this?
Where's the shame?
I do not know how much longer our children will have to suffer or how many disasters are to occur before our officials' collective moral sense of shame can be aroused.
Fifty-eight million children in this country are forced to live separately from their parents who struggle as migrant workers in the cities. Many other millions of migrant school-age children, though living with their parents, are not provided with proper educational facilities because of the current housing registration system. Uncountable children go without a nutritious meal each day. Day after day, year after year, our children are squashed into tiny, overloaded buses, and as we say, they drink the dew in the wind.
You say children are the future of our motherland, yet I do not see you protecting that future in the most basic ways.
You say, no matter how poor one is, education is not to be sacrificed. No matter how tough life is, children shall not be the ones to suffer. Yet in this country, which boasts of having the world's second-highest GDP, the financial investment in our children is lower than in some poor African countries.
You say you are serving the people with all your heart, but where is your heart?
These words amount to nothing more than propaganda and slogans. They are not the deeds that feed our earth's soil with the fertilizer to grow beautiful flowers. Instead, they are but a disgraceful decoration.
I ask again: Where is the heart of our public officials?
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