Public deserves warning on weather

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 November, 2009, 12:00am

The Chinese have suffered dearly due to the misguided and disastrous policies of Mao Zedong . An example was the Great Leap Forward, in which millions of mainlanders perished.

Today President Hu Jintao preaches a theory of scientific development, trying to ensure policies are made according to scientific calculations rather than leaders' whims.

But Mao's spirit lingers.

As the snow that has paralysed much of the northern and central provinces now advances menacingly south, serious questions are being asked about the authorities' tendency to tinker with nature. The government's lack of preparation and co-ordination to deal with disasters is also being questioned.

More specifically, mainlanders are asking whether the snowstorm could have been partly triggered by weather officials trying to induce rain to ease the drought.

The first snowstorm began in Beijing on November 1, the earliest snow in 22 years.

As widely reported, the Beijing Weather Modification Office publicly claimed credit and said it had blasted rockets of chemicals into the sky to induce rain. Unfortunately, what it got was snow - a lot of it.

The snow's unexpected intensity left the city's millions of residents shivering, and has led to anger about the officials' failure to warn the public.

With several northern provinces and more than 40 deaths, the question remains: Did the weather officials in Hebei and Shanxi follow their Beijing colleagues and play with nature? The authorities should make a thorough investigation and make public their findings to ease concerns.

This is an edited version of China Briefing which ran in the South China Morning Post on November 16