In response to the recent overcrowded school van accident that took the lives of 19 children and two adults in Gansu on November 16th, Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged to allocate central and local government funds to resolve China’s bus safety issue within the space of one month.
The tragedy, which involved 62 children and two adults crammed inside a van with only nine seats, highlighted the appalling and unsafe transport conditions that children in underdeveloped parts of China experience on a regular basis.
Shanghai Daily reports on Wen’s new initiatives in the wake of the accident:
The central and regional governments would provide funds for closer monitoring of manufacturing, renovation and allocation of school buses, Wen said at a conference on women’s and children’s affairs in Beijing, the government said on its official website.
The government would also work to improve management of bus systems and boost safety, Wen said.
With another swift reaction from the government in the wake of widespread anger expressed in online forums, social media platforms like Weibo have once again played an integral role in affecting political and social change in China.
Some might even declare that Weibo, which is the fastest, most direct and most widespread platform
to let leaders know they’re screwing up royally for information exchange China’s ever seen, to be the closest thing resembling a democracy on the mainland. A Weibocracy, if you will.
Until an actual functioning democracy emerges, there simply are no better options than platforms like Weibo to shame leaders into action.
How would one properly maintain the Mandate of Heaven if widely circulated news, of China sending buses to Macedonia, American-style buses for teachers-only in Gansu, and photo comparisons of China and other countries’ standard-of-living, isn’t immediately addressed with reassurances of change from the government?
Without the opinion of the Chinese public available for anyone to see online, we’d argue that there’d be little impetus for traditionally obedient state-run publications like the China Youth Daily to publish news of government car expenditures in the wake of tragedies like the one that took place in Gansu. Long live Mr. Weibocracy!