Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Perception and Reality

It is now two days after the earthquake struck and the numbers of dead are almost reaching 15,000.

Soldiers have now arrived at Wenchuan, the epicenter of the quake and finding the situation there is worse than expected.

In other disaster-hit areas, there have been pictures of children pulled out alive, or seen trapped in the rubble being fed through a tube or hooked up to an intravenous drip.

The mountainous terrain has made it very difficult for rescue workers to get to the affected places, losing precious time to save who they can.

My colleagues are very anxious about the earthquake. These 20-somethings are witnessing the first major natural disaster of their lives.

One told me she has been up watching the news constantly for the latest updates on the death toll.

What has also made her upset is the Beijing Olympic Organizing committee's decision to continue the torch relay.

"All we care about are the people affected by the earthquake," she said. "They [BOCOG] should cancel the relay for the next few days because we [the people, the government] should be concentrating on the victims."

Other people had voiced similar opinions on the Internet, which influenced BOCOG's decision to tone down the relay ceremonies, include one minute of silence to remember the earthquake victims and collect donations.

Some think it's important to continue the torch relay to show that the Chinese spirit is still strong and hopefully inspire people to keep holding on, while others think it's in bad taste to celebrate something when people are dying.

Meanwhile Premier Wen Jiabao's every move and every word is covered in Chinese media. It can be quite tough to show a public face almost 24 hours a day. Strangely, President Hu Jintao has been completely out of sight.

In the past two days, Wen repeated his message that the government is doing all it can, and the government feels the victims' pain. He said even if there is a sliver of hope, we will put in 100 percent effort into helping people survive.

However, his efforts in trying to console children hasn't been his forte. Today some children who lost their parents met Wen in a conference room. They sat in chairs that were too big for them, some looking dazed. There's a shot of the Premier holding the arm of a girl who was sobbing non-stop. He keeps telling her the government will look after her and that things will get better.

But she keeps wiping her tear-streaked face with the back of her hand, moaning and not saying anything. What she really needed most was a hug than words.

It looks like relief efforts will continue for days and maybe even weeks.

But at least the Chinese are trying to save their own, unlike the Junta in Mynamar, who have totally dropped the ball and leaving their people to die.

1 comment:

ks said...

when the olympic love-in is over china should really concentrate on rebuilding its infrastructure in order to meet unforeseeable natural disasters.