The Tianjin blasts caused a shockwave that spread beyond the harbour port. Chief among them was the silence of authorities as social media reports spread. IBT (India) reports that Chinese censors have ‘punished’ over 50 websites and more than 360 individual accounts for ‘spreading rumours’ related to the Tianjin blasts. Their sanctions include deleting posts, and suspending accounts and websites they accuse of disrupting society and contributing to moral decay.
Is China Playing Political Star Wars?
The New York Times advises Tianjin officials are struggling to contain political fallout, as angry relatives demand answers. So-called ‘star bloggers’ were among their targets after they compared the Tianjin blasts to atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago almost to the day. Clearly, they regard this expression of digital culture unruly and wish to stamp the star bloggers out. This is regardless of the associated resentment spreading among loved ones of those who died so unnecessarily in the Tianjin blasts.
How China Failed to Stop the Digital Riot
IBT comments that China, “which has a repressive policy that ensures tight monitoring on the flow of news, failed to contain the spread of information on social media accounts”. The protests were fiercely critical of logistics company Rui Hai International for storing listed chemicals so close to worker dormitories and other residential facilities.
The information leached out through Weibo and WeChat pages while officials continued streaming soapies on television. This was absurd, given that every Tianjin resident either saw the smoke or heard the deafening thunder of the Tianjin blasts. Just as occurred at the Chernobyl disaster, officialdom was slow to react and this may have caused more deaths than necessary.
Breaking News: More Fallout from Tianjin Blasts
As I write, news breaks that sodium cyanide has seeped into drainage pipes under port facilities. This is one of most rapidly acting of all known poisons, and attacks the respiratory system.