Winter Storms in China Expose Problems

January 31, 2008 10:16 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Chinese government deploys nearly 500,000 troops to aid the areas hardest hit by storms, but the country’s aging infrastructure remains slow to recover.

30-Second Summary

This has been the worst winter weather to hit China in 50 years.

The costs to the Chinese economy have thus far reached $4.5 billion, but the storms may be causing more than just economic damage.

Frustrations are running high as millions of people try to get home for the Feb. 7 Lunar New Year, a holiday “as important as Christmas in the West,” explains Associated Press writer William Foreman.

So far, the harsh weather has left millions stranded and 50 dead. Compounding the situation are power shortages and blocked roads. Fights have reportedly broken out among marooned travelers.  

Testament to the severity of the circumstances, Premier Wen Jiabao has begun touring the stricken areas in an effort to calm tensions. Jiabao has even taken the rare step of personally apologizing to travelers.

Time magazine writes that passengers are justified in complaining. China’s outdated power stations and poor infrastructure have allowed a manageable situation to get out of control.

"The risk of a bigger crisis in the short run is low, but some level of grievances has been accumulated,” James Sung of the City University of Hong Kong told Time.

Headline Links: Apologies and force

Reaction: ‘Chinese Premier Visits Passengers Stranded at Guangzhou Railway Station’

Opinion & Analysis: Assessing the damage

Reference: 'In Pictures: China Weather Chaos'


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines