Over 10,000 Protest Botched Flood Response in China

By Lu Chen, Epoch Times
October 15, 2013 Updated: October 15, 2013

After spending a week in a flood zone without receiving any aid, residents of Yuyao City in Zhejiang Province, on China’s east coast, took the streets in anger over the last several days.

Local communist authorities then dispatched around 2,000 riot police to shut them down—more personnel than had been dedicated to the rescue efforts—and the people were enraged even further.

They climbed atop police cars, smashed bus windows, and pried the characters for “Serve the People” off a Communist Party compound wall.

“There are tens of thousands of people here, and more people are still joining,” said Mr. Zheng, a resident, in an interview with Epoch Times on Oct. 13. “The flooding here is awful, but the government hasn’t done much, and they’ve concealed the disaster. So we came to seek an explanation.”

Just three days prior city Communist Party Secretary Mao Hongfang, had appeared in a television interview giving himself a passing grade for his efforts in flood relief. “I’m not boasting, but I responded very rapidly to this typhoon warning. … I score myself 60 for my humanitarian work,” Mao said in the interview. 

Locals seemed to think that a lower score, perhaps closer to zero, would have been more suitable. “60 Point Mao Hongfang, Step Down,” said a poster held by some members of the crowd. Dozens of people had their hands outstretched with smartphones and cameras, recording the scene.

For several days residents had complained of having no food or drink. “There is indeed no food, so people scrambled for it when some was sent here,” said Ms. Lu, a Yuyao resident, in a telephone interview.

After Typhoon Fitow hit the province on Oct. 7, 70 percent of Yuyao was flooded, with traffic in gridlock, communications down, and no water or electricity.

Residents of Yuyao posted hundreds of pictures to the Internet, both of the protest and the response by security forces.

In one picture a young girl presses a wound on her head with a handkerchief, blood running down her arm and neck; another picture shows a bespectacled young man with blood across his forehead, presumably having just been struck by police.

Many of these images were later deleted from the Internet, and Internet users complained about the dearth of reporting in the Chinese media. Nothing about the protest could be found on a search of Baidu, according to one Internet user.

Others were furious about false coverage. A report on the state-run Ningbo Television on Oct. 11 said, “Neon lights are everywhere in Yuyao now. The river is peaceful, and people’s lives are back to normal.” Angry locals tracked down the reporter and smashed the windows of the police car she was sitting in.

Riot police were mobilized on Oct. 15; pictures show them in lines with their black suits, helmets, and clubs, peering through their shields at the angry crowd.

Epoch Times staff members Gu Qinger and Li Xia contributed to this report.