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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion -> 
Human life beats everything
    2015-01-12  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Wu Guangqiang

    jw368@163.com

    “REN ming guan tian” is a Chinese saying that translates to “human life is of greater value than anything else.” But in real life, human lives are often lost because of the dereliction of duty on the part of those who hold the keys to public safety in their hands, which is most deplorable.

    Nothing can be more heart-wrenching than seeing innocent lives lost while the victims were jubilantly expecting the arrival of the New Year.

    On the last night of 2014 at about 11:35 p.m., 36 people were killed and another 49 injured, some of whom are still in critical condition, in a stampede at the Chen Yi Square near the Bund riverfront area in Shanghai where a New Year countdown show was being held.

    Various causes for the stampede have been reported since the tragic event. One report said that the stampede occurred when a large number of people were blocked when trying to move upstairs to the riverfront area. Some people fell down, causing a pileup.

    Some witnesses claimed to have seen what looked like dollar bills being scattered from a window above the crowd, causing a commotion below. The initial investigation by Shanghai police ruled out that claim.

    Most witnesses attributed the tragedy to one culprit — the absence of crowd control measures for such a huge gathering of people.

    Photos taken shortly before the stampede support this theory. The narrow street was stuffed to the gills, with people crowded back to back.

    Similar deadly tragedies have occurred in underdeveloped or poorly managed countries, but they are quite unusual in China, particularly in a well-managed city like Shanghai. Though, as the world’s most populous country, China is no stranger to crowd-related problems.

    The lack of vigilance in preventing such an accident triggered by huge crowds should be blamed. Someone from the Shanghai safety authority must answer for this serious negligence of duty.

    On the morning of the same day, another tragedy claimed the lives of 17 workers and injured 20 others in Foshan City, Guangdong Province. A powerful explosion at the Fuhua Machinery Plant in Foshan ripped through a production plant, causing heavy casualties.

    The cause of the incident is under investigation, but initial evidence points to the factory’s serious deficiencies in safety management. As a global trailer axle and chassis component manufacturer, despite its fame and size, it had a lax safety control system. Reporters found multiple iron containers of combustible materials scattered around the plant but few fire extinguishers. Several workers told Xinhua they rarely received fire control training.

    According to some survivors, the blast occurred when some workers were cleaning the equipment using a flammable product while other workers were doing welding. What chaotic management the factory had!

    The State Administration of Work Safety said recently that the country’s work safety record was still poor despite improvements in recent years. Around 57,000 people were killed in 269,000 accidents in the first 11 months of 2014.

    

    More severe punishment is not the only solution, but it would certainly make those responsible for public safety attach more importance to life. Two senior officials were sacked over an explosion at a car parts factory in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, in August 2014 that killed 146. Guan Aiguo, the city’s Communist Party boss, and Lu Jun, the mayor, were removed from their posts while deputy provincial governor Shi Heping was given administrative punishment. Another 18 people will be prosecuted.

    If the widespread indifference to human life among Chinese officials is one of the major causes of frequent mass casualties, then some officials’ contempt for life is an unforgivable crime.

    On Dec. 13, a 47-year-old female migrant worker, who was trying to get money owed to her by her employer, was beaten to death by a number of police officers in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province. A stout police officer was photographed stepping on the motionless woman lying on the ground.

    Though the police officers involved were arrested, their damage to the image of China’s police force will be lasting.

    Respect for human life should be one of the most important Chinese values.

    (The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

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