<HTML XMLNS:FB><HEAD> <META name=GENERATOR content="MSHTML 8.00.6001.19019"></HEAD> <BODY> <DIV class=headline>Of development and dictators</DIV> <H1 class=rubric>When the story of Chinese democracy is written, a train crash in Wenzhou will deserve a special mention</H1> <P class=ec-article-info>Aug 6th 2011 | from the print edition </P> <DIV id=block-ec_components-share_inline_header class="block block-ec_components"> <DIV class="content clearfix"> <DIV class=share_inline_header> <UL class=clearfix> <LI class="share-inline-header-facebook first omniture-tagged" data-ec-omniture-frame="top_fb"><FB:LIKE class=" fb_edge_widget_with_comment fb_iframe_widget" href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525419" send="false" layout="button_count" show_faces="false" font=""><SPAN><IFRAME style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; WIDTH: 90px; HEIGHT: 20px; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none" id=f2a592ee883d8be class=fb_ltr title="Like this content on Facebook." src="http://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?channel_url=http%3A%2F%2Fstatic.ak.fbcdn.net%2Fconnect%2Fxd_proxy.php%3Fversion%3D3%23cb%3Df1a7875951a43b8%26origin%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.economist.com%252Ffbe186b6f8b0c%26relation%3Dparent.parent%26transport%3Dpostmessage&amp;href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.economist.com%2Fnode%2F21525419&amp;layout=button_count&amp;locale=en_US&amp;node_type=link&amp;sdk=joey&amp;send=false&amp;show_faces=false&amp;width=90" name=f27418cd7cd7c56 scrolling=no></IFRAME></SPAN></FB:LIKE> <LI class="share-inline-header-twitter even last omniture-tagged" data-ec-omniture-frame="top_twitter"><IFRAME style="WIDTH: 110px; HEIGHT: 20px" class="twitter-share-button twitter-count-horizontal" title="Twitter For Websites: Tweet Button" src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/tweet_button.html#_=1312597169705&amp;count=horizontal&amp;id=twitter_tweet_button_0&amp;lang=en&amp;original_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.economist.com%2Fnode%2F21525419&amp;text=Dissent%20in%20China%3A%20Of%20development%20and%20dictators%20%7C%20The%20Economist&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.economist.com%2Fnode%2F21525419&amp;via=theeconomist" frameBorder=0 allowTransparency scrolling=no></IFRAME></LI></UL></DIV></DIV></DIV> <DIV class="ec-article-content clear"> <P></P> <DIV class="content-image-float clearfix"><IMG title="" alt="" src="cts20110806_LDP004_0.jpg" width=595 height=335> <SPAN class=caption></SPAN><SPAN class=credit></SPAN></DIV> <P>CHINA S history is full of natural and man-made disasters. Indeed, the ruling Communists think it vital to their own survival to manage these so that they reflect well on the party. By this reckoning, they have done well until now. But the storm created among ordinary Chinese by the collision of two new high-speed trains outside the city of Wenzhou on July 23rd raises doubts about the party s ability to carry it off in future.</P> <P>The death toll from the crash was not extreme: 40, according to official accounts, with 191 injured less than previous railway accidents on conventional lines, and a drop of blood compared with the Sichuan earthquake, in which 69,000 died. But this time is different for China s leaders, for three reasons.</P> <DIV class=related-items><STRONG>In this section</STRONG> <UL class="related-item-list special-report"> <LI class="0 first"><A href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525403">Rearranging the deckchairs</A> <LI class=1><A href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525405">Time for a double dip?</A> <LI class=2><A href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525401">Bring the Islamists in</A> <LI class=3><A href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525418">Cleaner, not cooler</A> <LI class=4><SPAN class="current-article "><SPAN class=related-current-indicator></SPAN>Of development and dictators</SPAN> <LI class="5 last"><A href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525406">Where s Britain s Bill Gates?</A> </LI></UL> <DIV class=bottom-links><A href="http://www.economist.com/rights">Reprints</A></DIV></DIV> <P>First, in the past the leaders in Beijing could portray themselves as the bulwark against malign local forces. After the Sichuan quake President Hu Jintao and the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, who likes to be known as  Grandpa Wen , were the consolers-in-chief against a powerful natural world. And if local corruption was suspected to be behind the collapse of so many shoddy school buildings, how much worse it would be without those good men at the top.</P> <P>This approach does not fly with the Wenzhou crash. The leaders have pinned their own and the country s prestige to high-speed rail. From a standing start, China has built the world s longest high-speed network a genuine achievement, but one the leaders exaggerated. High-speed rail was a patriotic symbol and the next great export. Yet even before the crash, the network was plagued by breakdowns. Earlier this year the railways minister was sacked on suspicion of vast corruption. A darling programme is in trouble.</P> <P>Second, the authorities have this time bungled the public relations. They first tried to blame the weather (lightning) before faulting the institute that designed the signalling. Rescuers rushed to bury part of the wreckage, either in haste to get the service going again before all the survivors had been accounted for, or because they wished to hide technology (either Chinese, or some lifted from foreign companies). Corpses were not at first handed over to families. And Grandpa Wen took days to pay his respects to victims. He had been sick, he said, which raised more questions than it answered (see <A href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525428">article</A>).</P> <P>Third, in their unprecedented anger over the crash and its handling, ordinary Chinese and the state media have, amazingly, suddenly found common cause against the government. China has nearly 500m internet users. On Twitter-like microblogging sites, criticisms spread so quickly that censors could not keep up. Even the state-controlled media sharply questioned official explanations for the crash and criticised the government s response to the accident. On July 29th, when the openness threatened to get out of hand, the censors ordered an end to it, but even then some state publications defied orders. Mao Zedong said that a single spark could start a prairie fire. The capacity of both journalists and the public to speak up in huge numbers has breached a firebreak not crossed since the Tiananmen protests in the pre-internet age.</P> <P><STRONG>Autocracy hits the buffers</STRONG></P> <P>China s rulers love to point out the shortcomings of Western-style democracies; the  Beijing model by contrast gets difficult jobs done. That view is often echoed by Western businesspeople. Yet breakneck economic development has cut corners, distorted priorities and created big conflicts of interest. The railways ministry is manufacturer, operator and regulator of the network. Now ordinary Chinese folk are questioning their country s less-than-triple-A politics. A hurtling train is a metaphor for runaway development that is generating its share of collapsing buildings, lethal coal mines and bulldozed neighbourhoods. By contrast, Japan s bullet train has had just one fatality in 47 years, a passenger caught in a door.</P> <P>China s technocrats managed to fix its once faulty airlines. But the issue at Wenzhou is not really the rushed engineering. Rather it is the growing need, in an increasingly complex country, for scrutiny, accountability and public debate. It has, in other words, shown the limits of dictatorship. Some of China s rulers probably know that but, to judge by the news crackdown now under way, clearly not enough of them.</P> <P>-------------</P> <P></P> <DIV class="pager-wrapper clearfix"> <DIV class="pager comments-pager clearfix"> <UL class=pager> <LI class="pager-current first">1 <LI class="pager-item even"><A class=active title="Go to page 2" href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525419/comments?page=1">2</A> <LI class=pager-item><A class=active title="Go to page 3" href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525419/comments?page=2">3</A> <LI class="pager-item even"><A class=active title="Go to page 4" href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525419/comments?page=3">4</A> <LI class=pager-next><A class=active href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525419/comments?page=1">&gt;&gt;</A> <LI class="pager-last even last"><A class=active href="http://www.economist.com/node/21525419/comments?page=3">Last</A></LI></UL></DIV> <DIV class=whatofwhat>1-20 of 73</DIV></DIV> <DIV id=comments><A id=comment-997074></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/3351488/comments">nkab</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 4th 2011 6:48 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>So this could be the grand finale of a series of Economist articles on the Weszhou train crash? The clincher, the concluding message that the state is no good and the  spring is coming? The article nevertheless can t completely hide its disappointment that after some get going the  spring is not coming after all.</P> <P>The article is not objective to begin with. It conveniently neglect to inform readers that the Wenzhou crash did not involve China s 350 Km/hr HSR (designated with prefix  G ) that runs on dedicated rail tracks and road beds that are fenced off the entire length of the HSR rail line. What involved, just as tragic, were two trains (designated with prefix  D ) running at top speed of 200 Km/hr that run not on HSR tracks but on conventional railways network in China, albeit China Rail seems to group both HSR  G trains and ordinary fast  D trains under general heading of "HSR".</P> <P>HSR or conventional, when one compares rail networks of China s 91,000 Km size with that of France s 30,000 Km or Japan s 26,000 Km (all in total operational rail length), the Chinese network is enormously much more complex in operation, scheduling, switching and safety management than the other two simply by the laws of physics. (Only the US has bigger rail network, but the operation is much less frequent in passanger scheduling).</P> <P>Yet the article uses the accident as an opening to attack HSR in China, and went on to attack China's governance.</P> <P>Of course, it can not be business as usual in Chinese Rail, a lot of introspective assessments of weakness and analyses of faults should be done after this crash and is going to be done and improved upon according to news from government. </P> <P>The extensive reporting of the crash in Chinese news web sites and a flood of questioning and frustrations of concerned netizens have been particularly encouraging for better management of our national rail network in days ahead. But the accident will not and should not be allowed to be used as a flash point for elements lurking for opening to instigate some "spring" fever in China.</P> <P>Given the fact that China is not a frequent train wreck nation, HSR in China is a tribute to the excellent Chinese railroad engineering and thousands of dedicated rail workers, in spite of this terrible accident and in spite of the recent corruption scandals of the Ministry of Railways. </P> <P>The high speed rail development in China should not be deterred from moving forward by any undue finger pointing or blame mongering, alas, this article included.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997074 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997074?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=16f020b82d6945484bdb137f6a582dc4&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (125)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997074 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997074#comment-997074" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997074 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997074?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=2566c2e0c2ce7308eda53022c93e0ee4&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997129></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/3224937/comments">Nguoiphanbien</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 4th 2011 7:27 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>Hear hear!</P> <P>Excellent points, nkab.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997129 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997129?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=c9cb03003d78ad7e21c116eb7197b6fd&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (29)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997129 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997129#comment-997129" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997129 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997129?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=80a904383345703afdd526b55cf18060&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997220></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/981959/comments">Konker</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 4th 2011 8:26 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>The Chinese government should use this unfortunate incident to make some important and visible changes.</P> <P>Like after the Ladbroke Grove train crash in London that killed 31 at 200kph, and led to safety/signalliing equipment upgrades, better driver training procedures and a revamped safety board, the Chinese should make a clear commitment to real measures that improve safety. They should also seek to make cultural changes as happened in NASA after Challenger...to instil a culture of openness and responsibility to report and listen to concerns throughout the organisation, and in this case to ensure adherence to procedure and strengthen the fight against corruption.</P> <P>The Chinese authorities have the opportunity to ensure something positive and meaningful comes out of the tragedy. I hope they will.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997220 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997220?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=024376119d0881c672a023640481cd0e&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (40)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997220 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997220#comment-997220" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997220 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997220?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=1d8ad5a517f65cb453fe8fd686a02d2e&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997280></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/4334265/comments">Tai Chi</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 4th 2011 9:04 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>"It has, in other words, shown the limits of dictatorship."</P> <P>The same could be said in 1989. However, the party took the warning to heart and implemented much self improvement. </P> <P>I foresee a much more aggressive attempt to root out corruption, but also an increasingly forceful campaign to control the media. (Not immediately though). In a year, the people in the media who were defiant will be removed as a warning. </P> <P>-Tai Chi<BR><A title=http://chinaoverindia.blogspot.com href="http://chinaoverindia.blogspot.com/" rel=nofollow>http://chinaoverindia.blogspot.com/</A></P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997280 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997280?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=644d09293b8d3fb780b00818df7965b3&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (18)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997280 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997280#comment-997280" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997280 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997280?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=aa1d39a63f6085d0782091e6f1a1d91b&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997305></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/2335386/comments">Bismarck888</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 4th 2011 9:20 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>@Tai Chi</P> <P>"Tai Chi wrote:<BR>Aug 4th 2011 9:04 GMT</P> <P>"It has, in other words, shown the limits of dictatorship."</P> <P>The same could be said in 1989. However, the party took the warning to heart and implemented much self improvement.</P> <P>I foresee a much more aggressive attempt to root out corruption, but also an increasingly forceful campaign to control the media. (Not immediately though). In a year, the people in the media who were defiant will be removed as a warning. "</P> <P>I am not so confident. China today is very different from China in 1989, political power has been monetized just like in the US.Corruption is here to stay in China, and Chinese people have to live with it and bear it. </P> <P>In 1989 it was about surprising political freedoms going after liberals etc, corruption is systematic in China and effects everyone. CPC has a greater chance of landing on Mars than getting rid of corruption in China !</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997305 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997305?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=c6fe0599d33d58bdcfc63251bb392fa8&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (21)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997305 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997305#comment-997305" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997305 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997305?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=86c385ab5473dc9d930382697da7075b&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997373></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/1487150/comments">B Walton</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 4th 2011 10:21 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>Well done those castigating the Economist for is dramatising this train accident as a failure of government and govenance. For faiure to respond to a lucky escape see the incident at Oxshott when a eady mix truck destroyed a bridge parapet and wound up falling on a moving train but merely injured rather than killed people,(viz the UK's rail accident report). Neither the rail operator nor Surrey County Council are prepared to take mimimum precautions to avoid another strike.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997373 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997373?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=6c5167f0e4f4fa35545561dba7cd96b5&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (18)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997373 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997373#comment-997373" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997373 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997373?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=9708fd4a2496ff8b554852da246f0f0a&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997522></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/3153185/comments">mug326</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 1:22 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>Day in and day out same old lines same old tricks. </P> <P>My observations:<BR>1. When accidents happen in China, the blame is on the leaders, institutions and founding principles of China.<BR>2. When accidents happen in West/Japan/India, the blame is on the individuals causing accident for not obeying institutional guidelines, (founding principles? that's self-evident truth, my friend).<BR>3. Anyhow, any accident in China is a liability to the founding principles and institutions of China. Any accident occurs in West/Japan/India, is an occasion to reaffirm and re-validate the "universal" truth whereby the West is founded.</P> <P>Such structure of logic is certainly independent of what actually are the founding principles for either China or the West. This style of journalism is the daily staple TE articles concerning China and beyond.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997522 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997522?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=5022a67021feb8a974058ec3ae88ee1c&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (54)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997522 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997522#comment-997522" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997522 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997522?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=1efbc96d99384329d583aed147a98560&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997533></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/users/ocaterer/comments">ocaterer</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 1:34 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>@nkab</P> <P>We must have been reading different articles. From where I sat the article argued for greater openness, not complete political uprising. It criticized corruption on a scale so vast it defies belief. No transparency leads directly to those problems - there is no question. The article should have been more robust. What justification is there for trying to bury a carriage that hadn't been properly searched, and subsequently a baby was found? </P> <P>The article also accurately reflects and reports on the frustration of Chinese right now at their government. I've been rather stunned and dumbfounded. The vehemence of my colleagues and friends here in China who until recently wouldn't/couldn't give a political opinion even if forced. Things have changed.</P> <P>Never seen anything like it since I first arrived in China in 1997.</P> <P>It is the Chinese people's problem and only a solution that is derived by the Chinese people can succeed. As a foreigner I admit, I have no place in this process. However I will stand on the sidelines and applaud them for every brave step they take.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997533 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997533?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=b5a107c89b690cc69f90b2210afe3d17&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (67)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997533 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997533#comment-997533" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997533 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997533?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=2b591dcdc651262bc9329840a0dcb227&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997546></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/users/a8kmyyj2zu/comments">A8kmyYJ2ZU</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 1:39 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>I am a Chinese and I think this article makes a good point. It is really not the high speed rail at issue here but the government's priority. When Confucius learned that the stable burned down, he asked if anyone was hurt and did not ask about the horses. Similarly, the government should care more about the people and conduct a proper rescue. The hurried effort to clear the wreckage for the reopening of the rail was not justified.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997546 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997546?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=43a51a8f8d7488edac9927db724ff2aa&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (34)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997546 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997546#comment-997546" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997546 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997546?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=c33482556b62e683e6b9fe7297687606&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997613></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/2170594/comments">Stephen Morris</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 2:40 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>"When the story of [Democracy] is written, [the Euro debacle and the United States debt disaster] will deserve a special mention."</P> <P>The Euro debacle and the United States debt disaster have  shown the limits of [government-by-self-serving-megalomaniac-professional-politician] .</P> <P>Some of <EM>the Economist s</EM> writers probably know that but, to judge by this article, clearly not enough of them.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997613 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997613?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=4a1f0b32a5bf97d129f2ebbcddf861dd&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (35)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997613 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997613#comment-997613" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997613 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997613?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=e819216befe643a396320f45ecba8327&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997696></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/4240650/comments">Mani Mahesh</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 4:07 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>The people makes the nation and a government's priority should be to serve the people in every way. The accident is unfortunate and it is partly true that the Chinese government is more obsessed with showing its power rather than doing the actual good.</P> <P>The moot point is that the government should take the criticism positively and hence take steps and measures to ensure the safety of the citizens in whatever they make and run.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997696 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997696?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=ea843866cc79b7b6f143cd5cd338798c&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (5)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997696 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997696#comment-997696" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997696 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997696?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=e3060a7cab35223014223e4c9dde9a0a&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997698></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/3815325/comments">bigtisas</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 4:08 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>How come every time something happen in China, the Economist always blame the Chinese government? That's over generalization. Next time when the MS Windows crash, we should blame US government.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997698 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997698?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=c9987bcc9af4453b8816eeccdc5cfde6&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (23)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997698 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997698#comment-997698" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997698 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997698?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=77129cc668c027fb4890349ea4e00bc1&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997709></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/2656638/comments">Politablog</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 4:20 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>Why does the Chinese gov't have their workers on here trying to change opinions?</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997709 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997709?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=2200ad1a5bc60675721ebae226652733&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (44)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997709 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997709#comment-997709" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997709 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997709?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=615e5a5eafc4060854010f972f3409d6&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997751></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/users/anjin-san/comments">Anjin-San</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 5:41 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>A good way to benchmark Chinese government's response to the Wenzhou crash would be against how the Japanese government responds to the Fukushima disaster. Both depicts handling of a disaster within a relatively closed industrial complex that are politically deeply entrenched for decades.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997751 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997751?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=ba68d248a3b7bf16a12cfeebf303f214&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (15)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997751 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997751#comment-997751" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997751 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997751?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=8f22fdf73189531c021e7e682d012ecb&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997785></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/3054011/comments">tell truth</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 6:08 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>I think Economist over exaggerated the Chinese rail problem.<BR>I took Chinese high speed train(350 Km/G design)last year.<BR>the train was fast, stable &amp; punctual. I don't like train does not safety bell. Its auto glass doors is a problem too when train has accident.<BR>Chinese government did expansion of country train net too quick(this could be corruption problem--biggest project means money involved).<BR>it is obviously short of experienced staffs too. high speed train needs good transport logistic management support because trains are traveling in such as high speed on same track.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997785 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997785?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=ea3e1b80bfaa58ba122b421e9eb67815&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (11)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997785 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997785#comment-997785" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997785 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997785?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=6ffb48f83b1f3d45e16d1836d7035d60&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997790></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/users/garaboncias/comments">Garaboncias</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 6:16 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>@ Anjin-San </P> <P>Yes, as well as how those responses are viewed/perceived by the respective populace. For not only the efficacy of those responses are important, but how they will be received/accepted. Although, for all fairness, the two disasters are not of the same magnitude, at all. Therefore, the needed responses will have to be of different magnitudes, as well. Guess which one will cost much, much more than the other? I am quite sure you know the answer to that question...</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997790 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997790?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=39de760894e04f956f2491f4c54c8faf&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (2)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997790 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997790#comment-997790" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997790 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997790?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=0bb429058ca510b2987c25b9b9baa3a1&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997791></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/users/ghentis/comments">Ghentis</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 6:17 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>I know the Japanese partial coverup of Fukushima will soon enter the conversation, and it was certainly wrong for TEPCO to withhold any information in this case.</P> <P>The two problems I see here that are specific to China are:</P> <P>1) Banning newspapers from talking about it. This is incredibly childish and stupid. People already suspect the government is corrupt in many ways, and stopping discussion is only going to make people think the true situation is worse than it really is. Let journalists do their job, for once. Perhaps they might uncover another vulnerability elsewhere that could save more lives down the line. This is a boon, not something to avoid. I'm pretty sure the Japanese government never told newspapers they had to stop talking about the Fukushima incident.</P> <P>2) The rail system is entirely government owned and financed. So Chinese taxpayers have a direct stake in the railways. If the whole system was built backwards, taxpayers are on the line to make the necessary repairs. All these new safety audits that have to take place are now paid for by the Chinese taxpayer. And it sucks to know you are paying to remedy government mistakes, especially when they didn't consult you about the system in the first place. TEPCO is a privately held company. At least if they make a mistake, only stockholders are held to account. When the government makes mistakes with China's railways, everyone from the farmer in Yunnan to the college professor in Beijing loses money.</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997791 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997791?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=a68f52c12fd0d8f36f00e7a31733e872&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (15)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997791 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997791#comment-997791" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997791 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997791?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=3bf54d860571cb3fbbf55bcfdf3eeaad&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997802></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/2270368/comments">Rajesh B</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 6:29 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>Hey Stephen Morris, you are supposed to remove the brackets and quotations before you copy-paste from the templates provided to you by the propaganda department :))</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997802 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997802?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=baaf553cb4b3378dda150777238e458f&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (14)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997802 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997802#comment-997802" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997802 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997802?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=a812e3178693c06c905969e32b6bb7f7&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997806></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/186252/comments">Palatinus</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 6:36 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>Photo: Japanese bullet train with Communist Chinese characteristics</P></DIV> <DIV class="comment-links clearfix"> <DIV id=recommend-cid-997806 class=recommend><A class=recommend href="http://www.economist.com/vote/recommend-comment/997806?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=8a1bb9defffc67335390bf89763e1d2d&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Recommend</A> (7)</DIV> <DIV id=permalink-cid-997806 class=permalink><A title="Permanent link to this comment" href="http://www.economist.com/comment/997806#comment-997806" rel=nofollow>Permalink</A></DIV> <DIV id=abuse-cid-997806 class=report_abuse><A class=report-anchor href="http://www.economist.com/vote/report_abuse/997806?page=&amp;nid=21525419&amp;token=d74b24b3d8bf44b2f7bc95e98419af1c&amp;sort=asc" rel=nofollow>Report abuse</A></DIV></DIV></DIV><A id=comment-997817></A> <DIV class=comment> <DIV class="comment-info clearfix"> <DIV class=comment-headline><A title="View user's comments." href="http://www.economist.com/user/2587763/comments">UniverseIsFamily</A> wrote: </DIV> <DIV class=comment-date>Aug 5th 2011 6:54 GMT </DIV></DIV> <DIV class="comment-body clearfix"> <P>@Ocaterer, </P> <P>Thanks for your post. Well said. Its hard to ask Nkab and others like him to try and explain their views (always so close to the official party views of events) to the thousands of his country-men and -women posting on Sina Weibo about the incident. Or to Han Han who has blogged about it. I sometimes wonder if they are against the central message that China should adopt an open society or they are against the messenger (The Economist, the west or westerners or Indians or Japanese or Tibetans or Uygurs). Perhaps the same message from a different messenger (for instance, Wen Jiabao) is more palatable for them.</P></DIV></DIV></DIV></DIV></BODY></HTML>