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Page last updated at 13:31 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 14:31 UK

China quake response under scrutiny

Chinese farmers in front of their destroyed home in Longnan, Sichuan province
Thousands of people could still be trapped in the rubble

As China copes with its worst earthquake in more than 20 years, differing views are emerging in the Chinese media of the government's response.

Official news outlets such as the main English-language paper China Daily paint a positive picture of the authorities' handling of the disaster, both in terms of rescue efforts and keeping the public informed.

But one mainland commentator - in a paper in the southern city of Guangzhou - complains that public disaster awareness has proven to be woefully inadequate, while Hong Kong dailies say the Beijing authorities still fall short in terms of openness and concern for the fate of ordinary people.

EDITORIAL IN CHINA DAILY

TV footage of Wen [Prime Minister Wen Jiabao] touring disaster zones, organising rescue work on the spot and consoling victims trapped in ruins has not just drawn tears from national audiences: we are seeing the nation joining hands to defy the ruthless forces of nature.

Wen has set an admirable example which best illustrates the current leadership's emphasis on public well-being... Our national emergency response mechanisms have emerged stronger through the tests over the years.

WU HANGMIN, OFFICIAL CHINESE NEWS AGENCY XINHUA

[The government's] performance has scored high marks [on openness about the earthquake]. Timely information disclosure, effective mobile phone messages and the internet undoubtedly played an enormously significant role in communicating the facts as quickly as possible, in order to dispel panic among the public.

LIU KEMEI IN GUANGZHOU DAILY

There is a lack of awareness of public security in both public education and the media. Unlike in economic development, where accomplishments are conspicuous, disaster awareness campaigns and public education take a lot of time and effort.

This lack of awareness has resulted in numerous insufficiencies in disaster-precaution education.

EDITORIAL IN HONG KONG'S APPLE DAILY

What has shocked and enraged people most is that a great number of kindergartens, primary and secondary schools collapsed and that numerous children and youths were buried alive and died tragically.

How could the authorities still attempt to escape with the excuse that it is a natural disaster? In comparison, those well-built government buildings remain undamaged... However, the government suppressed such information for the sake of maintaining stability.

EDITORIAL IN THE HONG KONG ECONOMIC JOURNAL

We hope the Chinese government will not shoot the messenger but instead step up investigations into the possible blunders and public grievances revealed by those reports, in order to alleviate further tragedies not directly caused by the natural disaster...

To build a completely transparent system, the Chinese government shouldn't view overseas criticism from the perspective of conspiracy theory, but instead investigate whether the state has sufficient capability to forecast earthquakes.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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