By Horace Lu
China has donated school buses to Macedonia, and these buses were handed over to the south-eastern European country yesterday.
Said China’s ambassador to Macedonia Cui Zhiwei in a statement,
Although faced with challenges such as economic structure adjustment and development mode innovation, China has been offering aid within its own capacity. China has helped Macedonia with personnel training, school construction and other projects, making its contribution to Macedonian social-economic development. The donation will further improve the study environment for Macedonian students and shows that China attaches great value to the Sino-Macedonia relationship.
The school bus donation has whipped up a backlash among Chinese internet users who recall Gansu’s recent school bus tragedy, in which a severely overloaded school bus collided with a truck, killing 19 children. Major problems with school buses have since been exposed nationally after the accident.
Said Zhang Ming (张鸣), a professor of Renmin University of China, on Weibo, “Don’t cram more than 60 of our own children into a van, while donating school buses to European countries. Is that internationalism or just vanity?”
New Weekly (新周刊), a popular news magazine in China, has described the news as something that “makes you not dare to believe your own eyes”.
Update: According to new information we’ve received, this might just have been a business transaction. Southern Weekly says a 202 bus contract was signed between Yutong, a China-based bus company and the Macedonian government. Blogger Ran Xiang says those buses handed over yesterday were just ordinary buses painted yellow and not American-style school buses. We wonder though, if this was just another commercial transaction, why should the foreign ministry step in with a statement and call it aid?
How some kids are still getting to school in rural China today