On a visit to the train crash site near Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, on Thursday, Chinese chief state councillor Wen Jiabao (温家宝) held a press conference, taking questions from mainland Chinese, Hong Kong, and foreign reporters. One of the questions asked was why it had taken him five days to visit the site, and Wen’s unusually personal explanation was that he had been sick, and in hospital, according to the Wall Street Journal China Blog.
Xinhua, via Enorth (Tianjin). Main Link: http://news.enorth.com.cn/system/2011/07/28/007017803.shtml
Links within the following blockquotes were added during translation, and aren’t part of the original piece by Xinhua.
The first question quoted came from Xinhua itself.
Xinhua: Chief State Councillor Wen, I’m from Xinhua news agency. After the major 7-23 Ningbo-Taizhou-Wenzhou Railway accident, the public have observed the high-speed technology’s safety, railway scheduling and rescue work on the crash site closely. There were some doubts, and the masses urgently demand that the causes be identified.
Wen: After this accident, the public had a lot of doubts about the accident’s causes and its handling. I believe that we should carefully listen to peoples’ opinions, handle them seriously, and dutifully provide them with a responsible explanation. I’ll now answer your question about how the investigation is conducted. After the accident, the state council established an investigation team, which is independent and includes [members from] supervisory, investigative and procuratorial departments. This team will, by on-the-site surveys, by taking technical samples, by scientific analysis, and experts’ proof, come to conclusions which are going to seek the truth in the facts, and which will withstand the conclusions of history. Also, in accordance with national law and regulations, it will look into the immediate and the leadership’s responsibilities. The investigation has begun, we require the handling of the investigation to be open and transparent, under the supervision of the public.
CNN: Hello, I’m American CNN’s correspondent. I’d like to ask about the government-related problems after the accident. You have just addressed the issues with the handling of the accident, dissatisfaction within the public, and accusations. I understand that China urgently wants to export high-speed rail technology to other countries, including America. What I’d like to ask is, which measures is the government, and which measures are you personally going to take to regain the international community’s trust, to show that China’s high-speed rail technology is advanced and safe?
Wen: Thank you for your question. The degree of trust in Chinese exports of high-speed rail technology, and other high-technology export products doesn’t depend on what is being said, but on practice. As far as high-speed rail technology is concerned, it should be considered comprehensively – from its design, equipment, technology, construction, and management. It is here were a degree of trust has been lost. During these years, the high-speed train industry has developed a lot, but his accident reminds us that more attention must be paid to safety in high-speed railway construction, and speed, quality, efficiency, and safety must be comprehensively achieved. Safety must come first. I’m confident that the departments in charge will conscientiously draw lessons from this accident, improve work under many different aspects, especially concerning breakthroughs in key technologies, strengthen the management, and help China’s high-speed railway technology rise truly safely, and only then it will credibly stand its ground worldwide.
Replying to other questions, Wen said that if corruption was to be found by the investigation, it would be dealt with according to the law, and unforbearingly (毫不手软). That was the only way to be worthy of (对得起) the dead (literally: the dead, buried to sleep eternally – 长眠在地下的死者). Chairman Hu Jintao had issued instructions right after the accident to put the rescue of the passengers first (胡锦涛主席当即指示要把抢救人放在第一位), and Wen himself had given a person in charge at the ministry of railways a phone call. [Pointing to one of the officials standing behind him:] “He can confirm that I only said to words, which were ‘save lives’.”
Wen reserved the use of the word “intellectual property” for a Kyodo News reporter, but by mentioning the term in a general context of China’s development, rather than in connection with one of the trains in question, and without a hint that there could be issues about intellectual property. The reporter’s question hadn’t been about intellectual property anyway, but, similar to CNN’s, about which measures or reforms it would take to restore overseas confidence.
Xinhua’s rendition of the press conference ends with a question from the Wenzhou Daily (温州日报) which is in itself a statement, rather than a question – how Wen, who had praised the Wenzhou peoples’ entrepreneurial spirit in the past, did evaluate the rescue efforts by all of Wenzhou’s CCP levels, and how the local government and the people had thrown themselves into the rescue work?
To which Wen, as quoted by Xinhua, reacted with a harmonious apotheosis of gratitude.