China Is Not Awesome, Cont.

I eagerly await the next installment from Tom Friedman on Beijing’s shiny infrastructure that he wishes the U.S. to emulate:

What has been described as the “heaviest rain in six decades” left at least 37 people dead and raised criticism about Beijing’s infrastructure and the government’s response to disasters.

The torrential downpour lasted 10 hours over the weekend, producing gusty winds and a tornado in one suburb, according to local media.

The deluge was the largest since 1951, when the state weather record was established, according to Beijing Morning Post, bringing about 6.7 inches of rain in some parts of Beijing, and as much as 18 inches in the suburban Fangshan district.

Twenty-five people drowned, reported Xinhua. Another six were killed in collapsing houses, five were electrocuted, and one was hit by lightning, the agency reported, citing the municipal government.

The deaths from the storm triggered a torrent of criticism, even from a state-run newspaper, as well as Sina Weibo, the popular Chinese microblogging site. Some social media users implied the number of deaths was much higher.

CNN contacted Beijing’s flood control office, municipal government emergency office and municipal meteorological bureau to get an updated death toll. The agencies said that they were too busy summarizing data and couldn’t make comments at the time.

Questions CNN sent by fax to the state meteorological bureau were not returned by Monday afternoon.

But you have to go to Chinese social media to get the full extent of the anger:

“When the city hosts big conferences, there are guards at every bridge. But when the big rain comes, there are none,” wrote Dong Lu, the popular sports anchor and commentator.

“We hosted the Asian Games and Olympic Games,” wrote someone on Weibo going by the name Wen. “We spent billions of yuan to do monumental things. But now after after the heavy rains, we discover that we don’t know how to build sewers.”

And as another concluded: “The secret of Qingdao, a [coastal] city that not afraid of floods? Its drains were built by Germany.”

Oh, but they have Wi-Fi on their train to the airport to keep Tommy happy. That’s a relief to the flooded people of Beijing. 

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