Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sichuan Earthquake Fallout: Which CPC Officials Will Bear The Blame?

With the news getting grimmer by the day in Sichuan Province, there are more angry voices being raised on the shoddy construction that led to so many buildings’ collapses. The most tragic of the building collapses are the schools in which thousands of students died.

In fact, Juyuan middle school, a magnet school that attracted the smartest kids in the province lost nearly all of its 900 students and a high school in Beichun County has lost nearly 1,000 students and teachers. In a country where there is typically only one child per family (see China’s population policy), deaths of so many children will certainly result in major protest and anger by its citizens.

According to some accounts, the schools ‘pancaked’ so quickly that most students didn’t even have a chance. The complete collapse of nearly 700 school buildings is evidence of shoddy construction. Housing Minister Jiang Weixin acknowledged this at a news conference in Beijing: "At this stage we cannot rule out the possibility that there has been shoddy work and inferior materials".

Given these evidences, I think there will be several high-ranking officials in Sichuan Province and its cities that will be blamed for the earthquake deaths of school children.

Some of the senior communist party officers[i] in Sichuan Province that may be held responsible are:

  • Jiang Jufeng, governor of Sichuan Province
  • Liu Qibao, top provincial legislator in Sichuan Province
  • Li Chuncheng, CPC Provincial Committee Secretary
  • Wei Hong, responsible for key construction and temporarily in charge of Sichuan Provincial Department of Education
  • Wang Ning, responsible for Sichuan Provincial Department of Construction
China has one of the strict penalties for corruption and malfeasance, including execution[ii]. With China’s leaders clearly sending a very strong message that it will not tolerate corruption and malfeasance at any level, I do expect to see some high-ranking provincial officials being severely punished for the poor construction quality of schools and other public buildings. The only questions now are (1) who will be blamed and (2) how long will it take for the CPC leaders to make the announcement.

Have a great weekend!

Ed Kim
Practical Risk Manager =================================================================================
[ii] China executes party official in mine disaster
China Executes Senior Official for Graft
Execution of the nation's former drug safety chief, July 2007

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