A breathless Xinhua article published online by the People’s Daily today, with coverage which reads as if the whole story had unfolded only within the past twenty-four hours.
The Xinhua article seems to be the authoritative account of what happened, and how the authorities reacted. It was announced on Saturday evening’s Xinwen Lianbo. Click picture above for video.
On June 1, at about 21:30, the “Star of the East” from Chongqing’s Dongfang Ferry Company, on its way from Nanjing to Chongqing, suddenly capsized, hit by a tornado. In the furious storm and the surging waves, 456 passengers and crew were in a desperate situation.
Life is greater than the heavens!
Under the strong leadership of the Party’s Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the Secretary General, under the State Council’s work group’s direct command, the party committees and governments of Hubei, Hunan, Chongqing and elsewhere, the united action of the central authorities, the People’s Liberation Army’s and Armed Police and maritime authorities rapid mobilization abilities, nationwide mobilization for search and rescue action quickly unfolded.
After receiving the report, Central Committee Secretary General, State Chairman, and Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping issued important instructions right away, ordering the State Council work group to go to the site to guide the rescue work, and that Hubei Province, Chongqing Metropolitan, and other work groups unfold all efforts with their adequate strength, and properly deal with the aftermath.
Standing Politburo member and Chief State Councillor Li Keqiang immediately issued written instructions and, on behalf of the Party’s Central Committee and the State Council, and on behalf of Secretary Xi Jinping, hurried to the site by plane, directing the rescue and emergency reaction work.
After the description of the political will behind the rescue work, the article goes into more technical and bureaucratic detail. Further down, the article mentions that the relevant local party committees and governments (i. e. Hubei Province, the Changjiang Maritime Bureau, Yueyang City, Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, Chongqing, Zhejiang Province, Fujian Province, Shandong Province, Tianjin Metropolitan authorities etc), on their own initiative, coordinated their actions. Support from companies with nationwide significance is also acknowledged.
The article also quotes reportedly positive coverage from the Wall Street Journal (WJS), and a Weibo message allegedly resent more than 100,000 times within a day, saying that “what most touched me is that the water level was lowered to facilitate the rescue work, with the Three Gorges Dam damming up water”.
That’s the role “social media” are meant to play in China, under the CCP’s guidance. Issuing authoritative information and news is for the authorities:
To publish authoritative news on ones own initiative is an effective medium to respond to society’s deep concerns. By the afternoon of June 6, the relevant authorites had done 13 press conferences, convened by the ministry of transport, the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the ministry of civil affairs, by the People’s Liberation Army, Hubei Province, and other people in charge who explained the situation and replied to the reporters’ questions, supplying information regarding the rescue and salvage work and the investigations in a timely, accurate, open and transparent manner.
After the incident, Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, BBC, and other foreign media, some 62 of them, arrived at Jianli, Hubei Province, covering the rescue work, the aftercare for the relatives, and how the aftermath was dealt with. Front command staff also organized three trips to the site for foreign media.
The article’s firt page ends with the same character it started with: Xi Jinping giving an important speech on the morning of June 4, concerning the next steps of rescue work.
Assuming high responsibility for the people’s life and safety – the attitude of the party’s and state’s highest decision-making levels is distinctive!
the Xinhua article jubilates, and concludes the first page of its online article (there are two more pages) with what it says is a quote from French daily Le Monde:
“At a time of disaster, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have built the image of responsible national leaders.”
The following two pages are mostly a chronicle of the rescue efforts, of blood, sweat, and respect for the dead (对逝者的尊重), apparently written to evoke the readership’s national pride and trust in the authorities.
Zhu Hongmei, a survivor saved from the wreck around noon of June 2, is hospitalized in Jianli. The article’s final line:
At Jianli County People’s Hospital, Zhu Hongmei’s condition is stable. She says that with the Party’s and government’s help, she feels at ease.
»Mourning the Victims, Radio Japan, June 7, 2015
» Rescuers, Families Bow in Silence, NYT, June 7, 2015
» En quête de réponses, Le Monde, June 5, 2015
» Search complete, L. A. Times, June 6, 2015
» To the Directorate for Religious Affairs, Russian Orthodox Church, June 4, 2015
» Reluctant to embrace Transparency, NYT June 4, 2015