Power And Dollar

Lessons Learned? What About Tibet?

The latest toll from CNN is more than 20k deaths, 160k injured, 15k still missing, 5 mil homeless, 4400 aftershocks, and unspecified number of dams are in danger, what can we learn from this natural disaster?  China has successfully minimized, thus far, the domestic political fall out of this natural disaster, can China turn this natural disaster into a contribution to the rest of us?  Will China use this event to let the Tibetan issues drop off the radar?  This could be one event that China can score some points before the Olympics starts.  


First of all, China finally learnt to take the initiative to release information themselves.  On the contrary, Myanmar is reluctant to release any information.  Although the freedom of the press is still very limited, by taking the initiative to release the news, even the bad news, China has now become a reliable source of information.  The threat of rumor (of disease, of higher death toll, of dam damage, of corruption in the local areas, inefficiency of government led relief effort) has been starved off.  This leads to a government of higher mandate, rubbing the next round of unrest off to appreciate the governance of the Beijing government.  


Secondly, accepting foreign experts to help eases the diplomatic tensions with Japan and leads a more peaceful atmosphere with Taiwan.  It also shows the confidence of Beijing government. 


Thirdly, China used different military units to assist the relief effort.  This earned a lot of credit among the overseas Chinese for the Chinese military due to Tiananmen Massacre back in 1989.


The west will see if China will use this event to divert all international media attention away from Tibet and quietly cancel all the Tibetan talks that have been in progress.  Is China using this as a pretext to their advantage?  If China can honor the promise of another round of talk with Dalai Lama’s representatives, then China can show some positive outcome in this issue, China may be able to weaken the international pressure on this front.  


A painful lesson China may have to learn is big infrastructure project are not only costly to build and maintain, but also risky to sustain over a long period of time.  Man is infinitely small before any kind of natural disaster.  Although no nuclear energy facility has been damaged, the stati of different nuclear related production facilities remain unknown to the outside world.  Many dams in the region are still under threat.  Now millions of residents are now under threat.  If China can share the lessons with the rest of world, China can now truly make a tragic disaster into a lesson for all to benefit.  


What kind of dam designs is more stable?  What kind of fault line makes an ideal dam location unsustainable?  Once we factor in the risks involved, are these dams still as financial viable as the electricity they generate?  Even though Japan may have the best expertise in earthquake, Japan never has that kind of experience in dams.  Netherland probably is the expert in dams, but they never experience with dams on fault lines.  Can China overcome this event and share the experience?  This will convince the hawks in the west that China is truly a peaceful stakeholder.  


May 16, 2008 - Posted by | China, Current Affairs, environment, opinion, politics, Thoughts, wordpress-political-blogs, 中國

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