“Anger Swells After Floods Kill At Least 37 in Beijing”

The WSJ has a piece up recounting the floods that rocked Beijing this weekend, and the reaction they’re already getting from netizens:

Urban areas of Beijing were hit with an average of nearly nine inches of rain over 16 hours on Saturday — the heaviest the Chinese capital has seen in six decades, according the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The deluge, which caused more than 31 road cave-ins, led to more than 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in economic losses, Xinhua quoted Pan Anjun, deputy chief of the Beijing flood control headquarters, as saying. Even more shocking, at least 37 people died in the downpour, according to a statement released Wednesday night through the Beijing municipal government’s official account on Sina Corp.’s Weibo microblogging service. Of those, 25 drowned, six were killed as a result of collapsed structures, five were electrocuted and one was struck by lighting, the statement said.

News of the storm spread rapidly on social media, where users posted video footage of flooded intersections and where messages of support appeared alongside pointed questions about how a city that spent billions building facilities to host the Olympics could struggle so badly in dealing with a thunderstorm

Among the sharpest criticisms came in the form of a series of photos, posted to Sina Weibo around midnight, contrasting Beijing’s flooded streets with images of sewer systems in other famous capitals, including Tokyo’s massive “Underground Temple” flood prevention system.

“Sewers are not a face-giving infrastructure project,” artist Li Yijia wrote in response to the images, repeating a sentiment widely expressed elsewhere on the site.

“Beijing’s glossy appearance can’t withstand the erosion of a bout of heavy rain,” wrote another Sina Weibo user. “In just a few hours, Beijing is washed back into the old days. The city government hasn’t stopped rebuilding this city, but they can’t even deal with getting waterlogged.”

Beijing isn’t alone on that front- as far as I know, Qingdao is the only Chinese city with a proper sewer system, a legacy of the old German Concession. The bizarre thing is that even these new cities that China is building in the middle of nowhere from scratch still utilize tiny water management systems, not proper sewers. Like the netizens are saying, sewers don’t seem to be face-giving enough to justify their construction as is.

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Filed under architecture, disasters

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