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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 10:08 GMT
Chinese papers condemn Harbin 'lies'
Chinese Press

Chinese newspapers have grown more explicit in their criticism of the official response to the toxic leak which has hit the north-eastern city of Harbin.

Commentators in Beijing and further afield condemn the 'lies' told before the authorities revealed what had really happened, although a paper in Harbin itself tries to play down the crisis.

A Beijing paper also worries about the country's environmental record.

BEIJING'S ZHONGGUO QINGNIAN BAO

The initial reason given for stopping the water supply was "comprehensive maintenance of municipal water-supply pipe network facilities". Obviously, this was an unjustifiable lie. Under the momentum of increasing public suspicion and panic, a second more reasonable account, based on the true facts, came too late. Although the truth was revealed this time, the aftermath of the previous "lies" persists and has reduced public trust in the government.

BEIJING'S ZHONGGUO JINGJI SHIBAO

If individual leaders tell lies irresponsibly, this is an extremely terrible crime against society, because any rumour could trigger a social disaster! This matter is about to come out into the open, and by then, those who have lied irresponsibly will certainly be punished severely.

HARBIN'S HARBIN RIBAO

The authorities at all levels in Harbin have spared no effort and done their utmost to build a stable social order while a million residents in the city are striving to store water. After a brief rush to buy water, calm has been restored.

SHANGHAI'S DONGFANG ZAOBAO

What we have seen is an extremely slow and slack information response system. Harbin was caught off guard when faced with a crisis. The panic and chain reaction caused by the failure to make information public will do great harm to the government's credibility. Delays, cover-ups and lack of vigilance can cause disasters to expand rapidly. A fast, effective, prompt and transparent public information system is an urgent priority.

HONG KONG'S HONG KONG ECONOMIC TIMES

The cover-up of an especially big ecological disaster has once again exposed how the mainland, when encountering major accidents, is only concerned with covering them up, neglecting the people's safety and making the disasters become irredeemable. These kinds of hazards in China have not disappeared, and also pose a threat to the Hong Kong economy and Hong Kong people.

HONG KONG'S SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

The way in which the affair has been handled raises fresh concerns about the willingness of mainland officials to disclose bad news. The rumours fuelled by the failure to make the situation known increased, rather than eased, people's fears.

BEIJING'S ZHONGGUO QINGNIAN BAO

The explosion at the benzene factory workshop has sounded the alarm bell in an extreme fashion. It is time for us to face up to pollution and take practical action. What must we do, and how must we do it, to ensure that our cities no longer cut off water supplies for long periods and that our descendants still have water to drink in the future?




SEE ALSO:
Toxic leak threat to Chinese city
23 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's murky waters
23 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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