September 20, 2009

Anyone heard of Banquiao Dam?

Filed under: China,politics — Kim @ 9:37 am

At a recent University of Nottingham in Ningbo conference (China’s 30 years of ‘Opening up and reform’:Continuities and Change ) Jeanette Barbieri and Li Nan gave a paper called: The Spectacle of Disaster Citizenship: A Debordian Perspective on Wenchuan which looked at how the CCP had managed the PR of last year’s big quake.

Inevitably, there were comparisons with the 1976 Tangshan quake, but then during the discussion afterwards one of the History Profs piped up that actually China has had 3 huge disasters in the last 50 years. There are of course the well known and much discussed Tangshan and Wenchuan quakes but he claimed that the third is very rarely talked about. The Prof put out the question to the 50 odd collection of Western and Chinese academics: “Has anyone here heard of “Banquiao”? No one had, or at least if they had they were not admitting to it. I chased the Prof up later about it and he gave me some links to follow.

It was indeed a huge disaster in which “approximately 26,000 people died from flooding and another 145,000 died during subsequent epidemics and famine. In addition, about 5,960,000 buildings collapsed, and 11 million residents were affected.” From what I can fathom, the disaster was caused by a freak typhoon but was made much much worse beacause Cultural Revolution era politicians ignored the advice of expert hydrologist Chen Xing.

It even has its own Wiki page now. So word is getting out.

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