Following a tragic high-speed train collision in Wenzhou on July 23, China’s railway ministry was subjected to a wave of criticism for its mishandling of the rescue effort and the investigation into the cause of the crash. The ministry’s priority on July 24 seemed to be to clear away the wreckage as quickly as possible and get trains running again. To the shock of many Chinese, train cars from the crash were dumped into shallow pits by industrial diggers — in total disregard of the need to preserve the cars as evidence in the investigation the public clamored for. The diggers became symbolic of the government’s callousness and its apparent cover-up of the truth. Diggers are of course also representative to many Chinese of the forced demolition of property to make room for urban development. In several well-documented cases, Chinese protesting the demolition of their homes and/or appropriation of their land, have been crushed by diggers. In this cartoon, posted by artist Kuang Biao (邝飚) to his blog at, personified Death (Grim Reaper) wields not his usual scythe but the scoop of a digging machine.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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