Tragedy can be heartbreaking, and the Zhengzhou floods in China’s interior Henan province on 2021 Jul 20 is no exception. Within 3 days the area received a year’s worth of rain. This massive rainfall in such a short period of time is a natural disaster. What multiplied this natural disaster were human errors that multiplied the death count. Further, after the disaster and death, to threaten and assault news reporters for reporting on the news is incomprehensible. People need to know what happened so that it does not happen again. Yes, face might be lost in the short-term, but so many people were killed, who did not have the choice to lose face, instead losing their lives. It did not need to be this way.
It rained hard in Henan province. Multiple dams broke their embankments, flooding downstream. Water reservoirs further downstream could not contain the additional water of the rainfall and dams, were about to be breached. Instead water reservoirs let their water flow downstream, flooding out many villages. Why did not these water reservoirs and dams warn people downstream that their lives were now in danger?
All this water, eventually ends up in the 10M people city of Zhengzhou, which sits in a plain. It is here where the water can no longer flow downhill. A 4km/2.5 mile underground transportation tunnel, which was choked with bumper to bumper traffic at 5:00pm was completely flooded within 5 minutes. There would be no way for people to escape their cars and save their lives. Above ground, cars were overturned and flowed downstream, like dead fish after a poisoning. Certainly more than the reported 45 people died in this tragedy. Within this 4km tunnel it is possible that, given the number of cars, more than 7,000 people lost their lives.
The next day the tunnel was closed by police, blocking all access by citizens. The People’s Liberation Army was called in. Four huge buses with blacked out windows were called in, entered and then exited the tunnel. No explanation was given as to their use. All this, and more, are freely available on Youtube, but are now scrubbed from China’s internet.
The tragedy has happened, people have been killed, and mistakes have been made. It is logical to tell the public what happened, to try to understand what went wrong, and to correct the errors. This requires transparency and honesty. This is what a free press will do. This is what foreign and Chinese journalists, independent of the government, corporations or other powerful forces, will report.
Instead, netizens wish to not publish this tragedy and threaten and assault reporters instead? Reporters are not the ones that caused this disaster. Even if you throw out all foreign reporters from China and silence Chinese reporters, this will not bring people back to life. Your face serves no purpose to the dead, and without acknowledging the problem and correcting mistakes, this tragedy can occur again in the future. Does this remind anyone of the CoVid-19 virus that started in China?
It is unsafe for foreign journalists in China, who can be easily identified. It is even more unsafe for Chinese journalists, who cannot leave China and can be tracked down. Journalists did not cause this flood, nor can they be blamed for it. They are the bearer of bad news, which should be welcomed as they provide transparency and truth to the world.
Douyin Video of Zhengzhou flood 2021 Jul 20. All such videos are not scrubbed from the Chinese internet, but are available on Youtube.
Counterpoint: This Zhengzhou tragedy shows weakness in China and should not be published. Yes, mistakes were made but the government will see to it that this will not happen again. China has lost face due to this tragedy. Foreign and Chinese reporters should not print this for the whole world to see, as this is tarnishes the image of China. All news about the Zhengzhou floods will be erased from China and Hong Kong. This will preserve the positive image of China.
2021 Jul 29: 6300 is Confidential? Foreign media reporters smear Zhengzhou?: 2:55, Mathias Blinger, Deutsche Welle reporter and his crew gets hassled by Chinese citizens, followed by attacks on Weibo
2021 Jul 28 China Blames Foreigners After Disastrous Floods: China Uncensored: Multiple foreign reporters from multiple countries receive angry messages and threats against them and their family members. This is typical of netizen hunts for people they target.
They’ll never come back: A sea of flowers and vehicles dragged out of the deadly tunnel in Zhengzhou
Reservoirs Discharge Leaves Victims Penniless, the Unbearable Losses of the Victims
China protests against BBC’s statement on treatment of journalists covering Henan floodingChina says reports from BBC are misleading and illegal, while BBC reports receive death threats.
The foreign ministry said the BBC statement was “inverting black and white”, and foreign journalists in China have “the right to freely report in China, as long as they comply with Chinese laws and report objectively, balanced and accurately”.
Three true stories of the escape from JingGuang tunnel, Zhengzhou, China, during Henan flood
China attacks foreign media’s ‘twisted and groundless’ reporting, as flood death toll rises
“In the future, when we see reporters with cameras taking pictures of streets and alleys, I would call the police, especially in Xinjiang and other ethnic minority areas,” read one highly upvoted comment. “We should let cops check if they’re qualified for doing interviews. The reporters who lie should not be allowed in at all.”