May 26

School collapses: local government promises “answers within one month”

Written by Buxi on Monday, May 26th, 2008 at 11:31 pm
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Roland at ESWN provides this translation of an excellent Southern Metropolis story about the local government’s promises to fully investigate school collapses in the area.

Many Chinese netizens in recent days have aimed a flood of scorn and vitrol towards local Mianyang party secretary Jiang Guohua, accusing him of being involved in local corruption, and then trying to cover up the scale of the disaster from higher levels of government. The picture of him kneeling will bring cheers from many people.

I don’t know the truth of these accusations, and I will not convict Jiang Guohua on the basis of accusations alone. But if the Deyang city government (one level up from Mianyang) follows through on its promises, then China will have taken another major step forward in the long march towards rule of law.

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12 Responses to “School collapses: local government promises “answers within one month””

  1. Nimrod Says:

    When there is a crime, sometimes it isn’t only the perpetrators that want to find a scapegoat, the victims also do. If this situation is handled correctly by both sides, it would be a significant step toward the rule of law in China.

  2. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    all buildings need be investigated not only in quake effected area

    the internet is helping building the path towards the rule of law, the free expression and the democracy . the traditional media was not successful with this

  3. yo Says:

    Who do you guys think has more influence with their respective governments, netizens in China or Bloggers in America?

  4. Nimrod Says:

    yo, it’s different. Internet users in China are a lot more invested in what they do because the internet came along at the right time as one of the primary modes of social and political communication. Many other channels that exist in America for getting information or influencing government don’t exist or aren’t as fully developed in China, so it is a more important channel than in America. Still it is questionable how much effect netizens actually have on the government as they are dependent on the goodwill of those who may listen. Some days I wonder if the nutty ideas of Ross Perot on direct democracy will be realized in China of all places.

  5. Buxi Says:

    I think netizens in China have a more significant effect. I’m not sure how to explain their influence, because in many ways their voice “shouldn’t” matter. They don’t vote, and we all know there’s a limit to the level of offline political activism they can be involved in…

    But the truth is, the Internet is hugely significant. Any major campaign generated through by Chinese netizens quickly (often within 2-3 days) end up discussed in the mainstream press. Mainstream press reporters often end up trying to defend themselves on Chinese internet boards, like Tianya.

    Public figures often show up to discuss major issues… Jin Jing (the wheelchair-bound torch bearer) for example, introduced herself on Tianya (with hundreds of thousands of views) within a few days of being attacked in Paris. (I’m also going to translate a Tianya post later from the daughter of Sichuan province’s vice-governor, defending him from some of his attackers.)

    All of this without any sort of commercial promotion. As far as I can tell, this happens because the Internet has simply become the media people under the age of 40 use to communicate to each other. It’s hugely influential.

    I’m not familiar with Ross Perot’s theories on direct democracy, so maybe Nimrod could give us a summary. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Internet played a major role in “government” in 10-30 years.

  6. snow Says:

    A foreign journalist who wrote regularly on free speech and human rights issues in China has keenly observed that many Chinese journalists keep their own blogs as an effective way to communicate with the public on in issues being censored by the mainstream papers they work for.

    Certain significantly dissent voices seem also be able to survive the web police control in one way or another…. The internet will be a battle ground of ideas which may effect both positive changes and the so called “color revolution.”

  7. simple Says:

    If there is a “step forward in the long march towards rule of law.” it is not because of the government, but because the internet has been a counter power forcing the gov to take action.
    That is why in western country we like democratie which basic is counter power (possibility to change party through fair election, freedom of speech and freedom of press to be able to challenge and check the job of the official, etc…)

    As long as there is no strong counter power in China, there will be very slow progess toward rules of law

  8. Buxi Says:


    As long as there is no strong counter power in China, there will be very slow progess toward rules of law

    I’m not sure that’s really the case.

    In Taiwan, the KMT was putting the political opposition in prison all the way until the mid ’80s. While there was an opposition movement (including former president Chen Shui-bian), there was no “strong” counter-power that forced reforms. Most Taiwanese agree that it was Jiang Jianguo (Chiang Ching-kuo) who unilaterally set Taiwan on the path towards political reform.

    In Singapore, even to date there remains no meaningful “counter-power”, but it has achieved an admirable level of rule of law. Hong Kong never had a democratic voice under British colonial rule, but it also imported an excellent legal system.

    I, and many Chinese, do not believe the simple formula that government must be “forced” into action. I believe governments throughout Asia have shown the ability to reform itself. I agree that the peoples’ voice should be heard and play an important rule, but I don’t believe that the relationship between government + people must be a confrontational one.

  9. Chinaboy Says:

    One mistake is to be corrected here. Jiang Guohua is not Mianyang party secretary, but Mianzhu. However, Tan Li, who is the CPC secretary of Mianyang City, is also accused of the corruption by the Chinese netizens. Found more about Tan Li at
    I guess Tan will be fired soon.

  10. Chinaboy Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Deyang is a city having the same status with Mianyang according to the Chinese city hierarchy, not one level up from Mianyang.

  11. Buxi Says:


    Thanks for your clarification! Not sure why my fingers decided to type Mianyang; you’re completely right, it’s Mianzhu.

    But according to baidu baike, Mianzhu city is “managed” (代管) by Deyang city. This is significant because Jiang Guohua was trying to convince the petitioners from marching to Deyang, while the Deyang city government has promised a full investigation of the events in Mianzhu.


  1. Global Voices Online » China: Chinese Red Cross on corruption watch

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