Ai Weiwei also infers that it wasn’t the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed 5,335 children (Weiwei’s number because there has been no official death count of how many children died) but corruption in the CCP that led to shoddy construction, and every opinion Weiwei says in the film is reported as if it were a fact.
But the film leaves out many facts of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed 69,195 with 18,392 missing; 374,176 injured; left 5 million people homeless of the 15 million who lived in the area with no mention that many of the schools that collapsed were built in the late 1970s before even the United States had tougher earthquake building codes.
if seventeen percent of China’s population is age 14 or less, then about 2.6 million children must have lived in the area hit by the earthquake—those children who died then represent 0.2% of the total number of children and that was much less than the 0.46% that represents deaths compared to the total population of the area. Why did Weiwei [and the western media] ignore the fact that 99.8% of children under age 14 survived?
China’s government did report that more than 7,000 inadequately engineered schoolrooms collapsed in the earthquake, but China’s critics—including Weiwei—never mention that few buildings survive an 8.0 earthquake without damage, and that this earthquake was rated the 21st deadliest earthquake of all time.
And according to Structure.org, the number of collapsed or seriously damaged structures exceeded 25 million. I think it is safe to say that most of the buildings in that area were not adequately engineered to survive an earthquake of that magnitude, and the schools that collapsed represent 0.028% of the total number of buildings damaged. I wonder if any schools survived and—if so—when were they built?
If you want a better perspective, I suggest reading The Christian Science Monitor that reported, “Earthquake engineers say that constructing a building to resist a quake of magnitude 7 or 8 is possible, but is often considered cost prohibitive” … and “Schools … are particularly vulnerable because they are often mid-sized buildings, smaller projects for contractors that are paid by [local] government bureaucracies. Two recent earthquakes in Indonesia and in Kashmir also resulted in a disproportionate [number of] student deaths.”
“Often school buildings suffer quite a bit,” said Amir Elnashnai, director of the Mid-America Earthquake Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In addition, why is it that China is condemned for the collapse of older concrete and brick buildings during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake when The Los Angeles Times reported in October 2013 that “More than 1,000 old concrete buildings in Los Angeles and hundreds more throughout the county may be at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake, according to a Times analysis. By the most conservative estimate, as many as 50 of these buildings in the city alone would be destroyed, exposing thousands to injury or death.”
You may also be interested in reading what Sweet and Sour Socialism has to say about this controversial artist in “Detained: Ai WeiWei, Con Artist” by Yoichi Shimatsu [the 4th media]”
Simatsu is Japanese and is the former Editor of the Japan Times Weekly. Now, do you think Ai Weiwei is a hero and the documentary offers a balanced perspective of the issues discussed?
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.
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