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In China, Some Celebrate New Year in the Dark

February 07, 2008 07:13 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
China is struggling to restore electricity and services to weather-stricken regions. Many Chinese households had a cold, dark Lunar New Year’s Eve.

30-Second Summary

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Power was being restored to Chinese cities on Wednesday, but many households still had no electricity come Lunar New Year on Feb. 6. The central, eastern and southern regions of the country had been buffeted by the worst winter weather in 50, and in some parts in a hundred, years.

Despite upbeat remarks from Premier Wen Jiabao earlier this week that “the country's production and life are in normal conditions,” he continued touring stricken areas on Wednesday, delivering promises of coming relief. Chinese President Hu Jintao also visited affected regions Wednesday.

The severe weather has affected more than 100 million people and may have cost the economy over $7.5 billion, according to Reuters.

While the stranded passengers had cleared from the train stations on Wednesday, another factor had appeared to sour the holiday mood: rising food prices and food shortages.

Chinese leaders must avoid public disaffection during the New Year festivities, which is why they have been touring the country with promises of rapid improvements, says Joseph Cheng, chief of the Contemporary China Research Project at the City University of Hong Kong.   “Leaders who do not deliver during the Chinese New Year, the people judge very harshly,” Cheng says.

Time magazine writes that discontent is well justified. China’s outdated power stations and poor infrastructure have allowed a manageable situation to get out of control.

The Wall Street Journal writes that while the damage caused by the storms will not be lasting, “the scale of the problems showed how close the country's racing economy is to hitting its physical limits.”

View Reuters coverage

Headline Links: A holiday in the dark

Opinion & Analysis: Exposing Chinese limitations

Reference: The Lunar New Year

Related Link: Freak weather to become more common

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