Friday, May 16, 2008

China, after earthquake, experiences private charity, new in a post-Communist society

The tragic earthquake in southwest China does seem staggering by American standards. The 7.9 quake was felt throughout most of the country. This is comparable to what would happen in the US if a major earthquake were to hit today along the New Madrid dimple in the lower Mississippi Valley.

The most interesting observation, though, has that a lot of private giving and charity, however unorganized, is happening within China now. This is unprecedented in a society where the Communist State was supposed to take care of all needs from cradle to grave – even though that was set up in part in the 60s by the “Cultural Revolution” where intellectuals were forced to toils peasants or “proles”, part of extreme left wing moralism that was manifest in that time. I can remember activists in the “People’s Party of New Jersey” in the early 70s (Benjamin Spock’s party) maintaining that China had a society to be emulated! Furthermore, China’s one child per family policy meant that now many families have lost all lineage.

The Washington Post has a front page story May 16 by Maureen Fen, of the paper’s foreign service, “Chinese open wallets for quake aid; individual giving booms in a society long under sole care of the state,” link here.

There is no question that China’s behavior after the disaster compares well to that of Myanmar, where the government’s reaction has led to a calamity unimaginable even on the History Channel’s “mega disasters.”

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