On Saturday July 23, two high-speed trains collided near the city of Wenzhou, killing at least 40 people and injuring a couple hundred. Here’s why people are pissed:
- Reporters on the scene and survivors of the crash say that the official death toll is being deliberately understated.
- The Central Propaganda Department has issued a strict series of restrictions on coverage of the crash by Chinese news outlets. Here is the complete message translated: “Newest requirements regarding Wenzhou accident reporting: 1. Use death and casualty numbers issued by authoritative departments; 2. Reporting should not be too frequent; 3. Report more moving stories, such as people donating blood, taxis drivers not taking fares, etc.; 4. Don’t investigate the cause of the accident, use information issued by authoritative departments; 5. Don’t do reflections or commentary [on the accident/issues].”
- A two-year-old girl was found alive on a carriage that rescuers had been ordered to stop searching in preparation for it to be lowered off the viaduct. It was only after a police officer, Shao Yerong, defied orders and insisted the search continue that the girl, Xiang Weiyi, was discovered.
- Yang Feng, who lost his wife, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, and unborn child in the crash, has gained over 100,000 followers on the Chinese version of Twitter, Weibo, and was demanding an explanation of why rescue attempts were stopped. He has since told people that he now has to keep a low profile for fear of his and his father-in-law’s safety.
- Earlier this month, spokesman for the Ministry of Railway, Wang Yongping, boasted that China’s new Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line and Japanese bullet trains “cannot be mentioned in the same breath, as many of the technological indicators used by China’s high-speed railways are far better than those used in Japan’s Shinkansen.” This despite claims that China was building its high-speed rail infrastructure too quickly and overlooking certain safety protocols.
Sources: The Standard, People Daily, ChinaSMACK