In face of Harvey, the US looks like a developing country

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/31 22:58:40

Hurricane Harvey has generated big losses in the southern US state of Texas. So far more than 30 people have died, and the economic losses are estimated at $160 billion.

The Chinese people used to believe the ability of the US to cope with natural disasters was as strong as its military strength. But 2005's Hurricane Katrina revealed the vulnerable side of the US, as does Hurricane Harvey this time.

The US, although powerful as the world's superpower, has to bear the consequences of hurricanes. But US economic development far exceeds that of China and it has abundant resources to cope with disasters. Therefore, it is supposed to do better than China in this regard. But from Hurricane Katrina to Harvey, what the US has done suggests otherwise.

The problem is that people's livelihoods are not placed as a priority in the US system. The rulers in the US care most about how to satisfy public opinion and how to seek an advantageous position in the next elections. But this has nothing to do with people's livelihoods and the authorities need not shoulder responsibility for the long-term interests of the public.

The nature of capitalism is interests, and those with capital turn their interests into a nation's laws and policies. That may be the root cause.

If there is a hurricane or flood in China, officials at both the local level and the central level are required to participate in on-site rescue relief and the whole of the nation is united. China's resources and technical abilities are not as good as the US, but the importance China attaches to disasters makes up for these shortcomings, so China can perform better than the US in rescue relief sometimes.

Comparatively, relief work in the US is burdened with bureaucracy and redundant procedures. The state government and the federal government shirk responsibilities to each other.

The West is said to be serious about finding those accountable for a disaster. The US suffered heavy losses during Hurricane Katrina, but it did not call out those who should have been held accountable for the lack of precautions, the ineffective rescue and the social chaos thereafter.

It was not until four years after Katrina that the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the US Army Corps of Engineers - responsible for civil works projects in New Orleans - were accountable for the hurricane damage.

Every country has its problems. US carrier fleets cruise all the oceans and its overseas military bases spread all over the world. But when a hurricane comes, it acts like a developing country. China has its weaknesses too. Both China and the US have a long way to go to make up for their deficiencies.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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