“The Case of the Disappearing Shanghai Subway Apology”

A lot of reactions out today concerning the Shanghai subway crash. Luckily no one seems to have been killed, but some pictures circulating online show that many passengers were very seriously wounded. Coming so close on the heels of the Wenzhou crash this may well arouse more popular anger, which makes this story (via WSJ) interesting:

Shanghai’s subway operator was quick to post an Internet apology Tuesday after a subway accident that left about 250 people injured.

Then it was just as quick in taking it down.

Not long after the midafternoon subway accident in central Shanghai, Shanghai Metro, the operator of Shanghai subway system, issued an apology on Sina Weibo, the popular micro blogging service.

“Today is the darkest day in the operation of Shanghai subway,” the Weibo posting said. “No matter what the final reason or responsibility, [we] feel extremely ashamed and regretful for the harm and loss created for the city residents. … No matter how much we apologize, it only pales in comparison with the practical damage [the accident caused]. Still, [we] want to issue our deep apology.”

But the posting was mysteriously deleted shortly afterwards, prompting discussion–and anger–among Weibo users.

Other Weibo users were more cynical. Lawyer Yuan Yulai wrote, “The current [social] system won’t allow normal human feelings.” Another lawyer, Cui Xiaoping, said, “The original statement was deleted because it didn’t follow the [appropriate] propaganda style.”

A couple hours later, Shanghai Metro posted a positive-sounding Weibo message. It said operations will resume and further investigation into the cause of the accident will be conducted. Like most other official statements on disasters in China, it emphasizes how the victims helped each other and how the rescue workers and firemen came to the scene quickly. It ends by saying, “we did not do well. Please believe us, we’ll definitely do better!”

That posting was met with even more furious comments. Weibo user Zetongzhi sarcastically wrote, “Take back your apology. The subway did no wrong. It was the people [on the subway] who were destined for a bad fate.”

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