Quake divides China
On Saturday, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck China’s Sichuan Province and in the process, also struck a fault between the people and the government in China. While state-run media rushed to the epicenter of the quake to report the devastation, they also praised the authorities’ fast response compared with the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan’s Wenchuan County. However, the public thinks the opposite.
After the crisis occurred, most media extolled the merits of the government. The China Daily said “the nation has clearly been better prepared this time. The rescue efforts work better and social participation widens.”
Television channels broadcast footage of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) meeting with local government officials and rescue teams, and even clambering over the rubble to evaluate the destruction and help search for the victims. The media put emphasis on the massive relief efforts made by the government, such as in the distribution of aid and tents. However, this is only part of the real story.
The other part of the story is that some survivors in Lushan County are still in need of supplies. In order to attract attention, they held cardboard signs saying: “Lack of water and food.” Unsurprisingly, the state media ignored them. The Red Cross Society of China, China’s largest state-sanctioned humanitarian organization, is having a hard time collecting funds from donors due to its poor credibility and transparency. Some soldiers and rescue groups were reportedly not willing to start rescue operations or begin distributing goods until the press had come. Roads are still congested and many outlying villages are still out of reach.
As the days go by, information from the epicenter of the earthquake has gradually been put online and been dissemenated quickly. With 1.35 billion Internet users in China, the public can see a stark contrast between what is protrayed on the news and the real situation, creating a gap between the Chinese and their government. This fault is ready to be triggered by another crisis, so the question is: Can the Chinese government withstand the magnitude of it?
Nuclear energy goes sci-fi
Imagine if someday in the future, a headline was to appear in a newspaper in Taiwan which read: “Underwater nuclear power stations being planned for Taiwan coast.” Sounds implausible, but amid issues surrounding wind power, nuclear energy and the need to generate electrical power to power the engines of Taiwan, I just found out the other day that France — which is a big proponent of nuclear power — has plans to build underwater nuclear power reactors around the coast of France. I wish I was making this up, but any quick Google search will show that it is true.
If France succeeds with such a plan, could the rest of the world see a boom in the uptake of this kind technology?
Of course, there are some serious questions about the costs and waste disposal of underwater nuclear reactors that remain unanswered.
There are now about 58 nuclear reactors in France which provide nearly 80 percent of the country’s electricity. In a bid to bring dependable energy to remote coastal communities, the French government has decided to give the green light to a different kind of nuclear power program: smaller nuclear reactors based on the ocean floor.
Could future headlines in Taiwan speak of the central government giving the green light to small nuclear reactors on the seabed off the coast of Taipei, Hsinchu and Kenting? It sounds like science fiction, but what if these things do come to pass?