Haidian subway tunnel collapse

At 9:20 am on Wednesday, a subway tunnel under construction in Haidian (NW Beijing) collapsed trapping six workers. None are believed to have survived. The accident occurred during construction of the Number 10 subway line linking Haidian with central Beijing. Not surprisingly, the first response of the bosses from the China Railway 12th Bureau Group Co Ltd was to cover up the accident. Rather than call city emergency services, the on-site managers organized an ad-hoc rescue team, locked the gates of the site to prevent anyone from leaving, and then…wait for it…ordered the confiscation of all the workers’ cellphones. Unfortunately for the bosses, one worker managed to keep his and called the police–in his home province of Henan. Henan authorities called the Beijing police and by Wednesday evening, emergency workers were on the scene and the story had broken in the local media. Tragically, it was too late for the six men trapped underground.

What is surprising is the openess with which the state media has been reporting the incident. The People’s Daily English language edition carried the story on Thursday morning and has even included a photospread of the accident scene on its website. This morning, the China Daily ran a story on its website about the botched cover-up attempt by the site managers. The cover-up was also reported in yesterday’s edition of several Beijing Chinese-language newspapers as well. This is all particularly interesting given the recent annoucement of a new government policy to crack-down on “dishonest reporting” of accidents and deal harshly with mine-owners who try to cover up or hide accidents at their sites.

Granted the Haidian collapse has the makings of a PR headache for Beijing. All of the foreign coverage of the story featured the words “subway planned for the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing” as part of the first or second paragraph. Covering it up would would have been 1) nearly impossible and 2) just added fuel to the fire.

Other thoughts?

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 30 Comments

Sh** – where was this, exactly, Jeremiah? Do you know?

I’ll go look at the articles and see if I can figure it out. \

March 30, 2007 @ 11:14 am | Comment

According to the media reports, the site is on South Haidian Street at the southeastern entry of Suzhoujie Station.

March 30, 2007 @ 11:17 am | Comment

Yikes.

The bad news: there is still an immediate, ingrained reaction to cover up. The good news: the media/government realized this was uncoveruppable and came clean. If only they had been that smart when SARS was spreading through Beijing.

March 30, 2007 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

I couldn’t find the cover-up article. Has it already been removed?

March 30, 2007 @ 1:12 pm | Comment

Now, I can get it. I guess it’s really popular right now.

March 30, 2007 @ 1:16 pm | Comment

I think people need to get their heads straight here. Workers die on construction sites everywhere in the world without their deaths ever being reported, but when a subway tunnel collapses trapping six workers in the capital, that’s big news everywhere (except North Korea). It’s big news here, too. Why on earth does everyone think the government would even think of trying to cover this up? This is Beijing, not a township in Shanxi or Henan.

March 31, 2007 @ 12:35 am | Comment

I thought you might want to read this but the link didnt work so I put the whole article here..

Peter Chai ’06 MD’10: Free Taiwan
http://media.www.browndailyherald.com/media/storage/paper472/news/2007/03/22/
Columns/Peter.Chai.06.Md10.Free.Taiwan-2786449.shtml

Issue date: 3/22/07 Section: Columns

Imagine if, when you went to represent your country in the Olympics in 2008,
your country did not exist. Imagine if you were watching a televised meeting of
the United Nations and there was no American representative. Imagine for a
moment that one day you were no longer American, because there was no such
thing as the United States.

This is the reality of the people of Taiwan, a small island nation just off the
coast of China. We are 23 million citizens living in a country that the world
doesn’t recognize. Today, Zhou Wenzhong, the Chinese ambassador to the United
States, comes to Brown to represent a country that has fought for decades to
force the world to forget Taiwan.

Imagine that you are an Olympic Tae Kwan Do gold medalist. Imagine receiving
your medal under the Olympic flag in 2004 to the Olympic anthem because your
country isn’t recognized – you come from “nowhereland.”

Imagine you are a citizen standing in line to vote in Taiwan’s first democratic
elections in 1995, while Chinese missiles soar overhead. Imagine you are an
emergency room physician in Taiwan in 2003 battling the emergence of SARS, but
because your country is banned from the World Health Organization, you don’t
realize the disease is airborne. Imagine you are a member of Taiwan’s
presidential cabinet and send your children to school in Washington, D.C. – but
to please China, the United States bans you from visiting your home and your
children.

Taiwan has lived under a shadow cast by China for decades. Since Taiwan’s loss
of U.N. membership in 1971, China has repeatedly stated that Taiwan – a country
with its own government, flag and standing army – is not an independent state.
“Rogue province,” “necessary use of force” and “reunification” are the
“peaceful” words the Chinese government uses to placate the world.

Despite international pressure, Taiwan has sought to become a member of the
international community. Taiwan acted as a first responder during the recent
tsunami in Southeast Asia and has become an international power in
manufacturing.

Nonetheless, Taiwan remains neglected internationally. Even the United States,
a proponent of Taiwan’s transition to democracy, refuses to resolutely support
its key trading partner and important regional partner in promoting East Asian
democracy.

When you hear the Chinese ambassador speak, think about the hypocrisy of his
words when he talks about China “becoming a greater international friend.”
Don’t forget Tibet, which suffers under Chinese occupation, and the
persecutions of the Falun Gong in China. Don’t forget Taiwan.

Today, at 4 p.m. in Salomon 101, take the chance to speak up to the Chinese
ambassador. In his native country, people do not have that chance.

Peter Chai ’06 MD’10 is Taiwanese-American.

March 31, 2007 @ 12:39 am | Comment

Snow !!!

A dead man has just been dug out of the ground just round the corner from where I live. Five more are still buried. Their coworkers have been struggling desperately round the clock for two and a half days in the vain hope that just maybe they might find their friends alive. Any slim chance that these men might have had of being rescued was deliberately blown by the f***ers who were in charge of the construction site. Can you please try to find a more appropriate place to post inappropriate c**p like this!

March 31, 2007 @ 1:06 am | Comment

Snow, agreed. There is a Taiwan thread below where this would be more appropriate. Please repost there and stop derailing unrelated threads.

March 31, 2007 @ 3:27 am | Comment

“Imagine if, when you went to represent your country in the Olympics in 2008,
your country did not exist. Imagine if you were watching a televised meeting of
the United Nations and there was no American representative. Imagine for a
moment that one day you were no longer American, because there was no such
thing as the United States. Imagine if I weren’t a lactating crybaby whining about ideological bullshit on a weblog.”

This is the reality of the people of Taiwan, a small island nation just off the
coast of China. We are 23 million citizens living in a country that the world
doesn’t recognize. ONLY YOU CAN SAVE TAIWAN”

Boo fucking hoo. That sounds like a television commercial pandering to gut feeling.

March 31, 2007 @ 4:30 am | Comment

Again, let’s take the Taiwan discussion below. I’m tempted to delete the off-topic comments.

March 31, 2007 @ 6:51 am | Comment

otherlisa –

Do delete the Taiwan post, not for content, but for location.

March 31, 2007 @ 9:34 am | Comment

CLB, I want to give Snow a chance to repost before I delete, but I will delete.

March 31, 2007 @ 10:17 am | Comment

The other problem with Snow’s post, besides its insensitive posting on a thread about dead and dying construction workers, is that it is a long cut and paste. Intro and link are sufficient, thanks.

March 31, 2007 @ 10:26 am | Comment

Sorry to be off-topic, but one of you Canards might want to make up a post on this: China is not the factory of the world.

http://www.jackypeng.com/blog/2007/03/26/china-is-not-the-factory-of-the-world

Michael

March 31, 2007 @ 1:11 pm | Comment

I was in the affected neighborhood that afternoon, and the police blocked off some of the major streets abutting the thrid ring road to all traffic, turning away cars allegedly because a “water main had broken.”

March 31, 2007 @ 5:06 pm | Comment

Hi Michael

That was interesting!

March 31, 2007 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

About the Haidan tunnel.

It seems that the natural reflex reaction when somethings goes down in China is to cover it up.

Seems somethings are changing. Hope it is not only for the Olympic games.

This “saving face” way of doing things is the best way to avoit accountability and therefore a great obstacle to implement improvements in the way things are done in China.

Advantage of communications system available now to average person (handy, internet, digital camaras, etc),… it is no longer easy to cover things up.

This ability to record and transmit information is very powerful. For example suppose that in Sudan all the area were watched by drones with camaras to register any human rights violations, that would ber readily posted on the internet. Or… for example the border betwen Tibet and India were recently a camara took images of Tibetans being shot at by Chinese boder police….

Is the best way to improve human rights to distribute mobil phones, digital camaras, etc to the greates number of people?

Time for a specialize Youtube?

March 31, 2007 @ 5:29 pm | Comment

Hey, Jeremiah, why are you always reporting on something negative in China? Why you trying to put China down and not focus on the good of Olympics?

WHY YOU HATE CHINA?!?!

March 31, 2007 @ 9:30 pm | Comment

You guys must be very excited and happy: another big accident in China and so many people died! Another great material for post on this blog, and fits your theme of “everything that happens in China is bad.” Using other people’s deaths to attract readers, congratulations.

April 1, 2007 @ 7:30 am | Comment

So do we ban Hong Xing or let him pollute the site?

April 1, 2007 @ 10:24 am | Comment

He’s accusing us of gloating over the deaths of six hard-working people whose salaries probably supported other family members.

He’s a sick puppy.

Ban him.

If your respect for the spirit of the First Amendment stops you from excommunicating him, then let’s all shun him. We got rid of you-know-who that way.

April 1, 2007 @ 10:38 am | Comment

You-know-who still tries to break in and post comments. The only way to keep him out is deletion becuase he’ll never stop. I suspect Red Star is the same. He will just keep at it so deletion and banning will probably be inevitable.

Hong Xing – consider this fair warning. If you come into a thread with nothing but insults for this site, I will delete and ban you for the very first time. As always, I try to give trolls like you a lot of latitude in hopes you might actually want to contribute something here. Now you’ve crossed the line (again) and I won’t tolerate it again.

April 1, 2007 @ 11:11 am | Comment

Hi Raj
Hi Hong Xing

Not all those who raise critics do hate China.

Not a few of them do admire the country. Although they know just a little of your culture and history they are impressed by it.

Maybe you can not imagine how easy would be for china to become again the “Kingdom in the Middlle” not only in the mind but in the heart of many people.

Do not consider all critics come out of hate, I thinhk most of them come out of despair. Despair of knowing what China was and could still in the future become, but for some reason can not for the moment be.

Constructive critic is the only weapon we have. But is is only in the hands of the Chinese people to make that great future of China become true.

And now… a little constructive critic for you ;-) Hope you find it useful.

http://economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8928981

And no. I have do not forget to send my condolences to the families who lost a dear one not in the accident in Haidan Tunnel.

April 1, 2007 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

Good link, thanks. If I can find time (a huge IF) I will write it up.

I don’t think anyone here hates China except Hong Xin. See Jeremiah’s recent post about what he would do if he hated China (which he certainly does not). Hong Xing fits the description to the letter.

April 1, 2007 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

I actually thought the tone of my post was somewhat positive in that I was impressed with the openness with which the Chinese media was reporting on the accident and cover up.

I’m not surprised Hong Xing missed that given that his English reading comprehension skills are so pathetic.

April 2, 2007 @ 8:29 am | Comment

Oh my goodness, I’m very sorry please don’t interpret too much because I didn’t think through these things you’re bringing up. I just thought that since this site talks about Taiwan a lot, that I wanted to share the article. Please just do what you want with it. I just wanted to give tha article to the blogger in charge and that was it, I didnt mean it as part of the discussion. I’m sorry, But I hadnt read the topic at all I just came by to drop that article.

Peace,

Snow

PS.

I think people talk a lot about whats bad in China because they are not allowed to do so. The CCP insists that its crimes be kept under wraps and that is not cool at all. So the right thing to do is try to make up for the totally stifled information by trying to give a balanced perspective to people about China.

I think people are open to hear the good things about China as well,,, but under the CCP,, well,, face it,, its just so crappy

April 2, 2007 @ 11:00 am | Comment

“I think people are open to hear the good things about China as well,,, but under the CCP,, well,, face it,, its just so crappy”

That is just fine. I just so used to the negative comments. So I learned to ignore all the bashing, and find anything positive out of it.

April 2, 2007 @ 1:24 pm | Comment

Snow, you’re welcome to post your article, and like you said, there are plenty of conversations about Taiwan. We’re just asking you to post it in an appropriate thread next time.

Peace back atcha!

April 2, 2007 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

fatbrick,

I don’t think it’s blind bashing, not for me anyway. I don’t criticize for no reason. My reasoning is a positive intention. I know a lot of people who are oppressed by the communist party. The oppression is so severe that people are terrorized to the very core. They don’t have a safe place to grieve and tell the story of the huge injustices they’ve suffered. The Chinese people have been brutalized and even to this day are not allowed to speak about it or acknowledge it.

So when I speak about the tyranny of the communist party my intention is positive, its to try to form an environment that supports justice.

April 3, 2007 @ 1:24 am | Comment

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