The Wenzhou Train Crash, Public Reactions, and Social Management

Doppelpod, a blog in German and Chinese, perceives a quantum leap in China’s public debate, triggered by the high-speed train accident near Wenzhou, and notes that this leap has gone mostly unnoticed by German media. Which is true – but then, even the train accident itself wasn’t big news here.

A comment by King Tubby seems to have shed a light of insight for me onto how the current internet openness is rated, and – I believe – overrated among foreigners who do  follow the events closely.

My reply to his comment:

Maybe I’m misinformed, but loss of fear is a very gradual process, and it can go back and forth. Also, some of the openness comes from the top. I’m aware of the cover-up directive, but such directives will come with every major (重大) accident or incident. (Let’s face it: this accident is only considered major for affecting a crown jewel of modernization, and is therefore a matter of trust and example).

When it comes to Wen and leaders of his kind, I’m not so sure that the current public supervision is really that unwelcome. Gorbachev’s answer to insurmountable bureaucratic problems was glasnost. That’s not on the cards even for Wen, I suppose, but while the references to the role of the Chinese internet are newsworthy, the emphasis is sometimes overblown. Way too early to think of this as a new dawn, or something like that.

I’m pretty sure the train crash has been rated a less-than-principal contradiction (非基本矛盾) by the politbureau. Hence the lightning bolts of public opinion. They are tolerated, and to some extent encouraged from the top.


Related: Social Management »


2 Responses to “The Wenzhou Train Crash, Public Reactions, and Social Management”

  1. Pretty well agree with this analysis.



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