By David Bandurski — CMP has confirmed with sources inside China’s media that the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department (中宣部) has issued “numerous” directives on coverage of the Sichuan earthquake, including a directive against “critical reporting” on the disaster. The general atmosphere for coverage, however, seems to remain relatively open. While media have been instructed to follow the lead of central party media – Xinhua News Agency, CCTV and company – regional commercial media can and are, for the moment, pursuing the story with intensity. [Homepage Image: Screenshot of earthquake coverage on the news page at Netease.]
We’ll summarize, analyze and translate that coverage as we can.
For now, though, we include the latest piece from CMP director Qian Gang, in which he urges leaders to move quickly to the next level of disaster relief planning, addressing the potential collateral effects of the earthquake.

Science and Expertise: This is What our Brothers and Sisters in Need Hope For
By Qian Gang (钱钢)
At last the rescue teams have entered Wenchuan. While the manpower and equipment reaching the disaster area still lack the scale and effectiveness needed, this is a crucial turning point. It means that rescue work has begun in earnest in the heart of the disaster area.
We have every reason to expect that after today, May 15, the rescue work in the earthquake-affected area will move rapidly into high gear. Saving lives, staving off epidemic disease and settling the disaster victims [will become the next priority] . . . as thousands throng into the cramped spaces available. As countless anxious souls are thrust together, new challenges will emerge: chaos, congestion, and instructions [from authorities] overlapping or in direct conflict.
What is most urgently needed now is a high level of crisis management ability (高水平的危机管理能力). Our nation has great strengths and resources it can rally together, but in preventing and minimizing disaster situations there has always been lack of coordination between different government agencies. We have no standing body (常设机构) tasked with organizing and coordinating disaster relief efforts. Even though we have teams to deal with the various aspects of an emergency situation, these are separate strands, not twisted into a single unified system. At this moment, we have various different disaster relief teams working on various complex disaster relief matters in a dynamic, rapidly changing situation, so that leaders operating and controlling the relief effort face immense challenges. And the level and efficiency of logistical command is a matter of life and death for tens of thousands.
Those in command must have a thoroughly clear macro-view of the “disaster area”. Disaster relief resources (and not just seismic waves) must radiate out from Wenchuan across the whole Chengdu plain, from the Chengdu plain to the Chuanyu (川渝) region [Chongqing and the Jialing River] to the central plains (中原), to the southeast. The entire disaster relief effort must become a tight, rationally managed systematic effort (科学严密的系统工程). Right now, rescuing survivors has already become the overriding mission. At the same time, I urge those in command to handle the following tasks:
To seek out hidden collateral problems (次生灾害的隐患点) that might arise with the greatest urgency possible. All water reservoirs, oil depots, petrol stations, chemical storage facilities, stores of military explosives, areas where landslides are an imminent risk, or where they have already backed up river currents, geological prospecting and exploration sites that might give off dangerous fumes, all must be sought out quickly, demarcated clearly and strictly controlled with the best possible resources.
Assemble the most experienced experts, and let them turn their expertise toward organizing air and land transport issues that are becoming more complicated by the day. At present, the disaster zone is a war zone. Right now, transport and dispatch orders should be regarded with the same seriousness as military orders.
Epidemic prevention teams should be sent out in force. Aircraft sprays should be carried out immediately to stave of disease. From here on out, strict standards must be enforced for the work of burying the dead.
Expert teams must be deployed immediately to begin repairs to the electrical and gas grid so crucial to cities and towns.
Our brothers and sisters in Hong Kong have already begun relief campaigns. A lot of people ask: How can we quickly reach the disaster area? How can we help the disaster victims? At the same time, people in Taiwan and overseas have made urgent offers of aid and assistance. I believe that we should put great stock in relief experts and medical experts from Hong Kong, Taiwan and other countries, and should seek to benefit from their expert opinions. [IHT: “Japan to send disaster relief team to China to join effort to rescue quake victims“].
Lastly, we should reconsider the persistent deployment of army soldiers [in rescue work]. A disaster of this magnitude cannot possibly be resolved in a space of a few weeks, and we should ready ourselves mentally and spiritually for a prolonged effort. We must have teams in reserve, and must allow time for exhausted soldiers doing rescue work on the front lines to recoup.
In a word, our hearts must be hot, but our minds must be cool. Big words and empty speeches, gaudy, showy and useless old habits, documents that parade their achievements to those on top, posing and dramatizing for the camera lens . . . At this moment, let this all pass away! Science and expertise is what our brothers and sisters in need hope for most.

[Posted by David Bandurski, May 15, 2008, 4:21pm HK]
Phones coming back to service at China quake epicenter“, Xinhua, May 15, 2008
Quake-hit China appeals for shovels“, AFP, May 15, 2008
First-hand Accounts of Relief Volunteer Workers, Barking at the Sun Blog, May 15, 2008
China girl’s legs amputated to free her from rubble,” John Ruwitch, Reuters, May 15, 2008
AP Video shows China quake’s first moments,” AP, May 15, 2008

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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