China’s earthquake response

The World

China’s Prime Minister arrived in the capitol of Sichuan province hours after the earthquake struck and today state TV showed the Prime Minister shouting encouragement to people who were trapped. The Prime Minister has said the search for the trapped will be tireless. This spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington says this all out response is only natural. Natural disasters hold special significance in Chinese culture and history: there’s a belief that any Chinese government only holds control as long as it has the mandate of heaven and when disasters strike it’s a sign that the government may be losing that mandate. This analyst says in 1976 an earthquake was interpreted as signaling the end of the Mao Zedong government. He says more than a half century of Communist rule has failed to eradicate these cultural beliefs and that may be part of why the Chinese government is responding as it is now to this earthquake.

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