Anger Surges Online after the Worst Rain in Beijing


Updated: 2012-07-23

Chinese Internet users reacted angrily after a relentless rain hit Beijing on July 21. The worst rains ever recorded in Beijing claimed the lives of 37 people, leaving seven uncounted for, and the flooding led to economic losses of roughly 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion), according to the Beijing municipal government.

Of the 56,933 people evacuated in the city, 20,990 came from Fangshan, the worst-hit area in the southwest of Beijing. Two landslides were also reported by China Daily, a national English newspaper.

Major roads were gridlocked and some subway services were suspended. Cars were trapped in the streets, and about 525 flights in and out of Beijing Capital International Airport were delayed, leaving around 80,000 travelers stranded.

In Beijing, the second most populous city in China and host of the Summer Olympic Games in 2008, such a high death toll is a shame and crime, some critics said on their Weibo accounts, lamenting the modern city’s shabby drainage systems and the local government’s failure to respond adequately to the deluge.

The government failed to issue warning signs of trouble that might result from the heavy rain. Decades of rapid economic development has led to blind urban design and planning, some argued. In addition, the drainage systems have long been a subject of scorn, as it can be easily overwhelmed due to its low capacity.

Still, many users compared the death toll with that of another heavy rain in June 23, 2011, which caused serious water-logging and traffic congestion in the inner city.

“Last year, three people died in the storm. But one year later, no one pays serious attention to the disaster. Does the death toll really matter?” a Weibo user asked.

Ironically, in Beijing’s ancient sites, such as the Forbidden City and Beihai Park, the drainage systems built thousands of years ago still work efficiently in the deluge and no case of serious water-logging was reported, compared to the modern yet incompetent ones.

“For a while, China was seen as entering the ranks of developed countries. However, Chinese cities are apparently unpracticed in facing disasters such as Saturday's torrential downpour.” said Global Times, a major English newspaper in the nation, in an editorial published on July 23.

More to the point, many people asked the government officials to take their share of blame and be punished accordingly for their negligence, despite the wide media coverage of positive power - people who risked their lives to help those trapped in the rain.

“While we feel sorry for the victims, we have a rising outrage about the bureaucracy and corruption among the government officials. We don’t need any pretentious memorial speech; we should see someone held responsible for the accidents, on a moral, administrative, and legal level,” said 欢喜坨子.

“Repair the drainage system in earnest, I beg you. It is Beijing, the capital of China. 37 people died in a heavy rain, is it normal? Please renovate the city that I love.” said another user liv 索隆洗脑略严重.

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