Villagers Complain of Scant Help in China's Shanxi Amid Flooding, Landslides

Official state-run media reports mention no casualties and focus on rescue and evacuation efforts.
By Qiao Long
Villagers Complain of Scant Help in China's Shanxi Amid Flooding, Landslides Flooding in China's Shanxi province is shown in a photo taken in Oct. 2021.
Web Photo

Torrential rains have battered the northern Chinese province of Shanxi in the past few days, leaving parts of the provincial capital Taiyuan and other areas under water, with bridges, railway lines, and houses collapsing after multiple landslides, local residents told RFA on Thursday.

More than 10 districts and counties in Shanxi have been affected, with houses washed away in Ciying village near Jincheng, where a highway also collapsed, cutting off traffic.

Tian Yanfeng, a resident of Pu county near Shanxi's Linfen city, said most of the houses and wells in the area had been buried under a landslide.

"There are a lot of collapsed houses in Gupo village and Chengguan village," Tian told RFA. "The wells have collapsed, there's no water, and there is no one around to manage the situation."

She said local residents have had scant help from ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials.

"The village party secretary and the cadres don’t care," Tian said. "The water pipes are all broken. People in our village have been asking the county government and the provincial government for help, but they're not answering the phone."

"We are having to make arrangements as best we can."

A resident of flood-hit Jiexiu city surnamed Wang said he had heard of countless houses washed away by floods or buried by landslides in the area, including reported deaths in Houdangyu village.

"Around a third of the residents of Houdangyu village have yet to be evacuated," Wang said. "One old house collapsed, crushing people inside, and some people have died."

"There is a bridge in that town, and the river is flowing over the top of it, so people must have died for sure," he said. "Two other areas, Lianfu township and Zhanglan township, [were also affected] but I don't have specific details."

"People weren't evacuated in time, and they stayed in their homes, but the government isn't allowing any reporting about that," Wang said.

CCTV, Xinhua News Agency, and official media across Shanxi all reported the rainstorms, and covered the rescue effort in detail, but were devoid of reports on how local residents were affected.

State broadcaster CCTV reported that more than 15,000 residents of eight villages in Qingxu county had been evacuated after a river burst its banks and flooded Xiaowu village, where rescue work is still in progress.

A familiar pattern

A Shanxi-based scholar surnamed Huang said the pattern is a familiar one in the reporting of disasters by CCP-backed media.

"The usual pattern is to talk about how much leaders at a certain level are prioritizing these events, about instructions given by central government, about the meetings they held and about [local leaders] inspecting the rescue effort and telling people what to do," Huang said.

"They never tell you how many people died; it's positive reporting all the way," he said.

A local resident surnamed Sun said she doesn't even bother watching the news on state-run media.

"I don't believe the media and I never watch TV ... it's impossible to tell what the truth is," she said. "It's just hymns of praise [to the CCP] and you can't tell fact from fiction."

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people have been evacuated in and around Shanxi's Jinzhong city, according to a Red Cross rescue worker who gave only the surname Zhao.

"Residents on both sides of the river -- more than 10,000 people -- have been evacuated just to prevent accidents," Zhao told RFA. "The government has placed them in school buildings."

"Water levels have been falling for four days and four nights ... there are only People's Armed Police and local rescue teams there now."

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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