Frustrated Rescue Volunteers Blame Henan Local Authorities for Inaction, Corruption

By Daniel Holl
Daniel Holl
Daniel Holl
China reporter
Daniel Holl is a Sacramento, California-based reporter, specializing in China-related topics. He moved to China alone and stayed there for almost seven years, learning the language and culture. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
August 2, 2021 Updated: August 3, 2021

As people throughout in China’s Henan provinces begin to clean up after the disastrous floods, civilian rescue teams are being turned away from offering help. Coordinators and members of the teams say that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials are impeding rescue efforts and endangering civilian lives.

The CCP municipal Secretary of Weihui City, Nie Changming, said in a July 26 broadcast on provincial television that efforts for clearing the flooded city were underway. He said the floodwater level “would go down significantly in the afternoon.”

The City Flood and Drought Control Command released a comment on the same day saying that donations have also been “streaming” in to Weihui.

But volunteers who have been forced to coordinate their own rescue efforts tell a different story. A man surnamed Sun (pseudonym) told The Epoch Times on July 29 that he was part of a 40 man team that had been assembled from neighboring provinces.

“We volunteered to help. The local [Weihui] government told us to leave the first day we arrived, but we have stayed to help people,” he said.

Henan flooding
Rescue workers evacuating residents following heavy rains in Xinxiang, in China’s central Henan province, on July 23, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)

Sun added that the water level has been rising the whole time he was there.

He recounted using inflatable boats to ferry stranded residents to safety. He and other rescuers help move people through flooded intersections, and past functioning traffic lights and other electrical risks.

“[Officials] don’t take the lives of volunteers seriously,” he protested.

People delivering donated supplies have also complained about the handling of flood recovery efforts by party officials. A truck driver, surnamed Chen (pseudonym), said he spent three days buying food and water to deliver to Weihui.

“There is no one doing inventory,” Chen told The Epoch Times on July 29. He said most of the food is just off-loaded into temporary shelters. “Each truckload of supplies is worthy of tens of thousands of dollars.”

Chen then accused officials of “dirty tricks.” Sun said that supplies like milk and meat are not distributed, and that officials resell them for personal profit.

Another truck driver surnamed Wang (pseudonym) told The Epoch Times on July 29 that his team took action into their own hands. They chose to deliver supplies directly to students who were stranded in dormitories at Henan Normal University.

He similarly criticized the officials’ coordination efforts, saying there were enough supplies, but flood victims were not getting access to them.

Gu Xiaohua, Gu Qinger, and Sophia Lam contributed to the report.

Daniel Holl
Daniel Holl
China reporter
Daniel Holl is a Sacramento, California-based reporter, specializing in China-related topics. He moved to China alone and stayed there for almost seven years, learning the language and culture. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.