China’s Self-Appraisal

Three opinion columns in the People’s Daily Online pretty much run the gamot of the takeaway from the response to the Sichuan earthquake: Chinese pride, international solidarity, and finally pan-Chinese solidarity (Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc.). I don’t think there’s anything cynical about noting that this is about the best possible narrative that could have come out of the enormous catastrophe, mainly because however much it serves the interests of the Chinese government, it also serves the interests of humankind as well. Frankly, if we couldn’t pull together around something of this magnitude, there wouldn’t be much hope left.

The only cautionary note would be to hope that to whatever degree human decision-making was responsible for exacerbating the toll of the earthquake (building codes, emergency procedures, etc.), that they won’t be disregarded in the interests of public relations. Given the mobilization of the Chinese authorities, that kind of assessment seems more appropriate for a later date. How transparent it eventually is, though, will also become an important reflection of the Chinese government’s comfort with its global status.

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