Five boys aged between seven and 13 were found dead in a large trash bin Friday in Bijie, Guizhou Province.
They entered the steel drum to seek shelter from the cold, but died from suffocation caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. The place where they died was just a minute's walk from a local sub-district office. This news saddened the nation. These kinds of grim accidents are only supposed to happen in fairytales.
Eight local officials including two district chiefs in charge of civil affairs and education were dismissed or suspended from their duties by the Bijie municipal party committee on Monday because of the accident. Some people believe that these boys' families and society should bear the primary responsibility for the accident instead of the officials. They think that it was the ignorance and indifference from the boys' relatives and society which caused this tragedy.
However, the officials are not innocent because it is their duty to guarantee every citizen's safety. The death of the five boys reflects management problems within government.
If the education system was better, these boys would have been taking lessons in warm classrooms instead of leaving school. If the assistance system was more active, they could have been found earlier and may have escaped death. Indeed, governments and officials have done nothing which directly caused this accident. However, it was the officials' inaction which left the boys to die in the cold.
These five boys represent just one of the vulnerable groups in China. Against the condition of China's rapid development, the gap between rich and poor is increasing. Our policy permits some people to become prosperous earlier than others. However, there are still some vulnerable groups who have benefited much less from the development. In fact, they are becoming increasingly marginalized. The existence of these vulnerable groups is the root of many nagging issues we are facing currently, such as equity issues and uneven development.
This accident is a lesson to us and the dismissal of the local officials is a good sign. It shows that political achievements are no longer determining factors in terms of officials' positions. Their political future will be linked with the plight of vulnerable groups. Officials will be forced to take initiatives to improve the situation faced by vulnerable groups.