OPINION / OBSERVER
Slow rescue of Miami condo collapse shows 'beacon of human rights' is falling
Published: Jun 29, 2021 09:03 PM
Degradation in the Western system Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Degradation in the Western system Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Rescue workers are digging for a fifth day into the remnants of the collapsed condominium building in Miami, Florida. The death toll has risen to 11 and 150 people are still missing as of press time. Authorities said their efforts were still a search-and-rescue operation, but no one has been found alive since hours after the collapse on Thursday, according to the Associated Press Tuesday. A video widely circulated online shows rescue workers slowly passing bricks. 

Family members of the victims and the missing have been enraged by such procrastination. This has also aroused people's doubt: Is this how the US attaches importance to people's lives? Is this the country that claims to be a beacon of human rights.

The "golden 72 hours" after the collapse has long passed. Even if there are survivors, their hope of survival is decreasing due to the slow rescue. Some Chinese netizens sarcastically said this is an "archaeological" rescue in the US. Such US-style rescue is a blatant disrespect and disregard for life. The US' human rights fairy tale cannot hold water anymore. No matter how Washington brags, the results show the US' attention has not been devoted to the basic protection of people's lives.

The US' rescue capability in emergency situations is much worse than people think and lower than people's expectations. 

"People believe the collapse of a building and backward rescue capabilities will only happen in some backward country. No one could imagine this happening in such a superpower," Sun Chenghao, an assistant research professor at the Institute of American Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times Tuesday.

In some ways, the current US seems like a "third-world country:" Charles Burkett, mayor of Surfside, Florida, said on Thursday that "Buildings like this do not fall in America. This is a third-world phenomenon and it's shocking."

Everyone knows the importance of racing against time in a rescue. However, the US lacks strict organizational capabilities. This can be seen from the more than 600,000 deaths and over 33 million confirmed cases in the COVID-19 epidemic, but not a single politician is responsible. In February, a brutal winter storm in Texas killed 111 people, yet Tim Boyd, former mayor of Colorado City, said it is not the local government's duty to support people through "trying times" and it is the "product of a socialist government."

Pathetically, in the US, it seems protecting ordinary people's lives is not worthy of using US public power. How can Washington talk about human rights when even life is threatened?

The collapse of American human rights myth is also reflected in US politicians' symbolic expressions and public stunts after the disaster. A family member on Saturday told Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that more needs to be done. Sending condolences, taking some photos with family members and saying things like "believe in miracles" - as Vice Mayor of Surfside Tina Paul said on Sunday - are not enough. There needs to be concrete measures.

The US-style of rescue is a stark contrast with China's rescue capability in emergency situations. A gas explosion happened in a residential community in Shiyan, Central China's Hubei Province on June 13. After receiving the information, China's Ministry of Emergency Management sent a working team to Shiyan to guide the rescue work on the same day. Less than eight hours after the explosion, 150 people were found and rescued - with 12 dead and 138 injured.

China's human rights view has effectively guaranteed people's well-being and prosperous life, while the US' human rights boast aimed at showing off without substantial measures. In the face of lost lives, the self-claimed "beacon of human rights" has fallen.
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