Better disaster prevention ability needed

Source:Global Times Published: 2012-7-24 8:44:31

The heavy rainfall that pounded Beijing Saturday has claimed 37 lives and led to massive economic losses. Unfortunately, while disaster relief efforts were impressive, disaster prevention is still weak.

In March 2011, Japan's disaster relief work after the tsunami and earthquake was criticized for lagging way behind China's quick response to the earthquake that struck Sichuan Province in 2008.
But when it comes to everyday disaster prevention, why does China appear so backward compared with developed countries like Japan?
Advantages in the Chinese system enable the government to quickly mobilize all kinds of forces in an emergency. But this is of little help when it comes to disaster prevention, which relies mainly on society's willingness to invest in largescale safety.

Currently, Chinese society prioritizes making money, and many are willing to sacrifice certain safety considerations for this end. This also influences the mentality of the authorities.

The concept of "security" that prevails in developed societies is far from taking root in China. Chinese metropolises have levels of hardware similar to those of their Western counterparts, but fall behind in safety protection, especially in fields such as food and transportation.

We are also outdone in both social and individual preparation before severe natural disasters happen.

Disaster prevention is more costly than postdisaster rescue work. For instance, when the road under an overpass is swamped, it takes only a few pumps to drain the water.

But in order to ensure the flood doesn't happen at all, a grand project to repair the drainage system is required. All these costs are ultimately borne by the taxpayer.

Now the question is whether China is truly prepared to pump more money into safety.

Some officials believe the country is not ready for it. Meanwhile, there are people who take the opportunity to criticize the government for misspending money on “image projects."

Such beliefs are onesided. The public aspires to greater safety in daily life, which has been repeatedly reinforced by all kinds of incidents.

With regards to improving disaster prevention ability, the government should be more farsighted than the public, or at least shouldn't fall behind the public's wishes.

The government, media and public figures should all be honest about improving disaster prevention. They should lay out both the advantages and the costs that the public should bear. China's efforts to modernize should be adjusted to create more public security.

This is a path that all developed countries have taken, and there won't be an alternative for our nation.

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