More on China’s July 2011 Rail Accident

July 27, 2011

Passport, a Blog by the editors of Foreign Policy Magazine ran, “You think this weekend’s Chinese train crash was bad? It’s nothing compared to India’s deadly rails.”

Passport reported, “India has one of the largest railway systems in the world, carrying about 19 million passengers every day on about 7,000 trains. It’s called the ‘lifeline to the nation’, Unfortunately, that often means trains are jam packed.”

It’s worth visiting Passport for the photos to see how crowded India’s trains get.

Then a friend, the author of East of Indus, about life in the Old Punjab, sent an e-mail that said, “Accidents can occur, but Chinese technology is as advanced as anywhere in the world. India’s development is not nowhere near that level; accidents with multiple deaths are a way of life in India and don’t shock too many people there.”

At this point, I asked myself what the ratio of deaths and injured were compared to the total number of people travelling by rail in India, China and the United States.  After that, I spent several hours hunting for statistics, and finding facts for the United States was not easy.

What I discovered was, “China had 876.22 billion passenger kilometers in 2010; India had 838.03 billion passenger kilometers in 2009, and the United states had 17.21 billion passenger kilometers in 2008.

The United States has the largest railroad system in the world with 226,427 kilometers of rail (2007). China is third place with 91,000 kilometers (2010) and India is fourth with 64,215 kilometers (2011).

Then I found these statistics for the United States from an American government source.

In 1990, there were 599 fatalities and 22,736 injured in rail accidents.

In 2005, there were 525 fatalities and 10,424 injured.

In 2008, there were 514 fatalities and 7,993 injured.

In 2009, there were 458 fatalities and 7,103 injured. (Note: these numbers are much higher than the source I found for High Speed Rail Tragedy in China Reveals Small Minds in the West and may include light commuter rail). Source: RITA Bureau of Transportation Statistics

For China in 1990, no rail accidents were listed, while India had seventy killed.

For China in 2005, there were five killed, while India had 122 killed and many injured.

For China in 2008, there was seventy-two killed and 416 injured, while India had no fatalities or injuries reported.

For China in 2009, seven were killed and 280 injured, while in India thirty-two were killed and 280 injured.

Source: List of Rail Accidents (Wiki) Note: I suspect this source gets most of its information from the major media reporting on rail accidents.

In the United States for 1990, 2005, 2008 and 2009 (combined), there were about 30.3 deaths for every billion passenger kilometers traveled. In addition, according to Parilman & Associates, a National Law firm that specializes in rail accidents, “Every ninety minute (in the United States) there is a train derailment or collision.”

For every billion passenger kilometers traveled in China for the same four years, there were .02 deaths.

For every billion passenger kilometers traveled in India, there were .07 deaths.

The death rate in America was 1,515 times higher than China for each billion passenger kilometers traveled.

In addition, delays are common on long-distance Amtrak routes in the United States. This is because private railroads own the tracks used by Amtrak, and are more concerned about their own freight trains than about Amtrak’s passenger trains. Average delays vary considerably among routes. However, as of 2008, Amtrak has increased its efforts and most trains arrive on time well over 50% of the time.

Note: As a journalist, I am aware that the media does not always report on types of accidents or tragedies that happen often. However, the media does report on rare accidents and tragedies such as an airplane crash.  For this reason, it is possible that rail accidents are so common in the United States, the media does not bother to report most of them unless it is really horrendous, which leaves the public ignorant of how unsafe America’s rails are.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

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High Speed Rail Tragedy in China Reveals Small Minds in the West

July 25, 2011

If you suspect China is under a biased Western microscope being watched for every hiccup, the answer is “absolutely” yes and the evidence is overwhelming, while most of the world – especially the United States – is often ignored for the same sins and flaws.

On Saturday, July 23, 2011, China had its first railroad accident of the year, and it was reported globally with much criticism.

The Los Angeles Times shouts, “Deadly Chinese bullet train crash spawns anger, safety concerns”, and then reports that at least 43 people were killed and at least 200 injured.

The LA Times only had a few comments from readers and all that I read were insulting and negative of China.

MSNBC’s headline said, 32 die in China high-speed train crash and reported, “The total power failure rendered useless an electronic safety system designed to warn following trains of stalled trains on the tracks up ahead, and automatically halt them before a collision can occur.”

Comments such as this one followed the piece in MSNBC, “Anytime the Chinese get hosed by their own doing I just can’t feel bad for them… Better them than anyone else getting screwed by their quality control and reverse engineering.”

However, to be fair to MSNBC’s audience, there were many comments attacking ones such as the example I copied.  It was a lively debate worth reading.

Yahoo News was much more critical of China than MSNBC by focusing on safety and previous train wrecks in China dredging up as much dirt as possible.

One comment of many said, “the traffic safety in china is a joke. a very big joke. they don’t care about people, they care about face, they only interested in propaganda and fighting the big imperialist empire. they struggle to show the communism is working. guess what, is not working. so next time when you reverse engineering something do it completely. ever heard of Line blocks ? and throw the CTCS down the toilet and flush. twice.”

What causes such cruel and often evil reactions such as these from the Western media and readers?

Is it resentment because China is fast catching up to the United States as a global economic superpower?

Is it ethnic/racial hate because they are Chinese?

Is it envy because the quality of life is improving in China while life in the West is crumbling and burdened by debt?

Is it because they have a government run by China’s Communist Party?

One example of the “always beat up China” syndrome is a flawed and misleading opinion piece written by Charles Lane for The Washington Post.

Charles Lane wrote, “China’s bullet-train experience shows what can go wrong when an unelected elite, influenced by corrupt opportunists, gives orders that all must follow — without the robust public discussion we would have in the states.”

I wonder if Lane would include the “robust public discussion” we had in the states leading up to the 2008 global financial crises caused by American and Western greed and corruption.

I wanted to put Charles Lane’s Washington Post opinion to the test and I Googled the “history of global train wrecks” and found a detailed history going back to the early 19th century.

To save time and space, I decided to compare rail accidents starting from 2007 for only two of the world’s largest democracies and China.

It should be mentioned that both India and China rely on trains to move people much more than the United States, so we should expect more injuries and deaths from rail accidents in those countries. For that reason, I will compare the number of rail accidents to see which country has the best safety record.

The lowest score wins.

In 2007, there were thirty-three rail accidents listed for the world, and the United States had nine (27% of the total) killing seven and injuring more than a hundred, while India had three accidents killing 80 and injuring twelve.

China (ruled by what Charles Lane calls the unelected elite) had two rail accidents killing four and injuring two.

Score: United States 9, India 3 and China 2

In 2008, there were thirty-four rail accidents listed for the world, and the United States had eight (24%) with twenty-nine deaths and almost 300 injured, while India had one rail accident with no deaths or injured listed.

China (ruled by what Charles Lane calls the unelected elite) had one rail accident killing seventy-two and injuring 416.

Score: United States 17, India 4 and China 3

In 2009, there were thirty-nine rail accidents listed for the world, and the united States had seven (18%) with seventeen killed and five injured, while India had four accidents with thirty-two killed and 280 injured.

China (ruled by what Charles Lane calls the unelected elite) had two rail accidents killing seven and injuring 280.

Score: United States 24, India 8 and China 5

In 2010, there were fifty rail accidents listed for the world, and the United States had three (6%) with 32 injured, while India had fourteen rail accidents with hundreds killed and injured.

China (ruled by what Charles Lane calls the unelected elite) had one rail accident killing nineteen and injuring 71.

Score: United States 27, India 22 and China 6

This year by July 23, 2011, twenty-one train accidents were listed for the world, and the United States had eight (35%) killing eleven and injuring eighteen, while India had five accidents killing seventy-one and injuring two.

China (ruled by what Charles Lane calls the unelected elite) had one rail accident with at least 35 dead and 200 injured.

Score: United States 35, India 27 and China 7

From 2007 to July 23, 2011, the world had 177 rail accidents. The United States had 20% of the total, India 15% and China 4%. Source: List of Rail Accidents (Wiki)

When I Googled “train accident in China 2011” there were 55 million hits. It seems that popular “bad news” about China spreads fast and then the Western blame game begins, which represents Charles Lane’s “robust public discussion” in a democracy.

A few more interesting facts  to know before judging China’s rail system is that the average number of people traveling daily by train in China is 2.4 million, and in 2008, 1.456 billion people travelled 772.8 billion kilometers by rail.

I’d say with confidence that the odds are very good that if you travel by rail in China, you will reach your destination on time and without an accident.

A follow up post appeared two days later as More on China’s July 2011 Rail Accident and/or discover more of Really Fast Trains in and from China or China On the Fast Track

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


A “found” corruption

March 11, 2013

Have you ever heard of a “found” poem?

If not, this is what it means: “Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.” Source: Poets.org

Well, I found something about consumer related corruption, but it wasn’t linked to China. It took place in the United States, and I’m going to write a “found” post by piecing together a collage of corruption with one example from China compared to similar private sector corruption in the United States where greedy CEOs took short cuts to boost profits.

On “60 Minutes” Sunday night, March 10, 2013, I first heard about the NECC Drug Scandal: Fake names used to bypass regulations (the story first broke September 2012).  I then Googled “NECC Drug Scandal” and came up with 786,000 hits.

Then I Googled “Chinese drywall import scandal” (2001) and came up with more than 4.4 million hits.

Since the late 1990’s there has been a conservative political agenda in the United States to take away and/or limit Federal government regulatory and watchdog protection for consumers. One of those exemptions from FDA over-site led to the NECC Drug Scandal. That same conservative political agenda also led to the 2007-08 global financial crises.

Wiki reports that from the NECC scandal (started September 21, 2012 and still ongoing) there have been 48 deaths, 720 injuries and more than 400 lawsuits filed against NECC.

Let’s compare that to the potential for injury from the Chinese drywall scandal: “The Center for Disease Control, in collaboration with The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released a guide indicating the residents of affected homes reported irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infection, and asthma attacks.”

Out of curiosity, I Googled, “the Ford Pinto Case (1972) where, due to a cover up at Ford, people died.”The cases involving the explosion of Ford Pintos due to a defective fuel system design led to the debate of many issues, most centering around the use by Ford of a cost-benefit analysis and the ethics surrounding its decision not to upgrade the fuel system based on this analysis.” My Google search came up with 719,000 hits. Twenty-seven deaths were attributed to Ford Pinto fires.

Does this “found” post on corruption and good-old-fashioned universal human greed reveal that a scandal in China will cause more of an uproar than a similar or worse scandal in the United States? If so, why?  After all, no one has died yet from that tainted drywall that was made in China and sold in the US.

If the fungus tainted drugs from NECC had been made in China and exported to the United States, how many Google hits do you think would result?

Discover High Speed Rail Tragedy in China Reveals Small Minds in West (39 people died and it was an accident not linked to corruption) and More on China’s July 2011 Rail Accident (Note: a Google search of this topic came up with 22.2 million hits)

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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.

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