Monday, February 4, 2008
The snowstorm is still grabbing headlines.
But now the veneer of the government praising the people for their hard work is wearing thin.
Many people in central China are living in primitive conditions without any electricity or running water. They are getting tired, cold and hungry, as food shortages are becoming more evident.
Lots of transmission towers are down and foreign media are reporting that these structures couldn't bear the weight of the snow and ice as they were placed so far apart from each other due to economics.
Millions are still stranded at railway stations and after waiting for days they are demanding to go home.
The government is trying to blame the chaos on the weather, but part of the situation was man-made.
The Chinese were grumbling about inflation so the government kept the prices of oil, electricity and water low. In turn it wasn't financially viable for small energy producers to keep going; so they either shut down or reduced output.
As a result there are coal shortages and now miners have to work through the Spring Festival so that people can have heat.
However the government is trying to put its own spin on the situation, saying the unexpected cold weather led to not enough coal meeting demand, and not being able to transport it around quick enough.
While officials are trying to persuade migrant workers not to go home for Spring Festival, some don't even have places to live in. Many of the factories that hired them are closed and didn't expect them to come back.
There's a huge gap in social services where in western countries non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross or Oxfam would step in and provide emergency shelter and food.
But the Chinese government is distrustful of others, or perhaps wants to make sure its people know the hand that feeds them.
With the Lunar New Year coming in a matter of days, all the Chinese want is their loved ones safely at home, enough food to eat and heat to keep them warm. If the government doesn't make significant progress in giving people what they want, they may begin to wonder who really is in charge.