China’s flood response shows the need to prepare for extreme weather

China politics and policy updates

The flash flood outbreak in Henan Province in central China this month prompted the CCP to revise its emergency plan to deal with the ever-increasing threat of extreme weather.

Grieving family members and internet commentators criticized the local authorities in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province, for failing to prevent water from clogging tunnels and filling up subway cars. The confirmed death toll on Thursday reached 99.

On July 20, it rained in Zhengzhou for nearly 8 months. The authorities marked the downpour as “once every 5000 years.” But a Zhengzhou scholar wrote on social media that “systematic man-made disasters” exacerbated natural disasters. media.

“Natural disasters are external causes, and man-made disasters are internal causes,” they wrote. “Therefore, we must pursue the crime of negligence of senior politicians in Zhengzhou according to law.”

China must prepare for more extreme weather

China’s one-party state prides itself on leading prompt and effective rescue operations after natural disasters, and adopting strict disciplinary measures against officials deemed responsible for preventing losses.

Beijing celebrates its success in eradicating the coronavirus to a large extent, despite its early mistakes in responding to the epidemic. Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that large-scale testing, strict blockade, and fast-tracking of contacts are the “significant advantages” of the party’s leadership and the country’s political system.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency, warned officials on Monday not to rely on “luck” and encouraged them to overcome “paralysis” by closing subways, businesses and schools immediately after the extreme weather warning was issued.

Senior party leaders often rush to the front line to lead emergency response.But already taken Personal control of the party Bigger than any Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping First time to Tibet Since becoming a leader. It was not until Wednesday morning that the President sent troops and ordered officials to be responsible for fighting the flood.

Beijing’s use of large infrastructure projects to control the deadly floods of the Yellow River has become an important rumor of the Communist Party. According to Scott Moore, an expert on China’s water resources management policy at the University of Pennsylvania, this makes the threat of extreme weather events caused by global warming a sensitive issue for the party.

The Yellow River Water Conservancy Commission, a department headquartered in Zhengzhou responsible for managing seasonal floods along China’s second longest river, has established a high-tech system to control floods. But Moore said it was not designed to deal with flash floods caused by heavy rain.

“There is a mismatch between historical baseline floods and the new normal of global warming floods, which are more likely to be caused by abnormal meteorological events,” he said. “The occurrence of this catastrophic flood is a mockery of that system; this is the indictment.”

The Communist Party faces strong opposition

The party’s flood prevention strategy also includes strict control of online discussions and media coverage of the incident. Both foreign and local Chinese reporters reported that they were harassed when trying to report the death of dozens of cars trapped in the Jingguang tunnel in Zhengzhou.

According to an internal memo from the University of California’s follow-up review instructions and an online discussion of China’s Digital Age Report, local officials were instructed to conduct door-to-door visits to local companies to warn against foreign media interviews. , Berkeley.

Residents who offered flowers outside Zhengzhou Railway Station, at least 14 people were drowned in train carriages

Flowers were placed outside a station in Zhengzhou. At least 14 people died in underwater railway carriages © AP

Officials also set up a yellow barrier around the flowers at the entrance of the Shakou Road subway station. Water broke through the wall. About 500 passengers were trapped in the submerged subway car. At least 14 people were killed.

After a strong online protest against apparent efforts to limit mourning, the barrier was removed in a day, and the streets were quickly filled with hundreds of bouquets.

The flood also led to personal heroism, which became widespread on Chinese social media after videos and images went viral. A former army commando wearing a white T-shirt swims car by car to rescue the people trapped inside. A team of volunteers pulled people out of the underground shopping center, against the turbulent water.

Moved by the despair encountered online, a student in Puyang, a small city in northern Henan, set up an open-access shared Tencent spreadsheet to collect and organize data so that the rescue team can find people at risk.

Manto, who asked to be mentioned by her nickname, said that after Tencent promoted the document on its official social media channels, the initial work of 32 classmates and friends quickly turned into a large number of volunteers. Of collaborative activities.

“We are only a small part,” she said. “The real rescue depends on the great power of front-line countries.”

Supplementary Reporting by Sun Yu in Beijing

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