Photo: Getty / ChinaFotoPress
Just days after a flood that is reported to have killed 37 people, Chinese state media is reporting that Beijing mayor Guo Jinlong and his deputy Ji Lin have resigned.The exact importance of the resignations is being hotly debated (both were due to step down soon anyway), but the timing does seem to be linked with the widespread flooding, which has seen a wave of criticism launched on the Beijing government and its alleged refusal to invest in city infrastructure.
Crucially, many critics feel that the official death toll of 37 may be far too low. Bill Bishop of the Sinocism blog wrote today that the outrage could be a bigger test for the Chinese government than the SARS outbreak in 2003, which ultimately resulted in over 300 deaths.
Sam Crane, a professor at Williams College, has compared the outrage over the incident to the one in the US after Hurricane Katrina. The backlash could be even worse than the one experienced by George W. Bush, however, as Crane writes on his blog The Useless Tree:
“Central authorities are sensitive to such criticism, since infrastructural development is often held up as proof of the efficacy of Chinese style authoritarianism.”
It’s believed that a revised death toll for the floods will be announced soon.
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