Chinese Regime Reports Lower Student Death Toll for Sichuan Quake

May 8, 2009 4:24 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 9:50 pm

Parents of pupils killed when the Xinjian primary school collapsed in the May 12 earthquake cry as they hold portraits of their loved ones during a commemoration of Children's Day on the rubble-strewn school campus on June 1, 2008 in Dujiangyan, China. (Andrew Wong/Getty Images)
Parents of pupils killed when the Xinjian primary school collapsed in the May 12 earthquake cry as they hold portraits of their loved ones during a commemoration of Children's Day on the rubble-strewn school campus on June 1, 2008 in Dujiangyan, China. (Andrew Wong/Getty Images)
After one year, the Chinese regime finally announced on May 7 the first official death toll of students in the devastating Sichuan earthquake just before 2008 Beijing Olympics, claiming 5,335 students killed or missing, far less than the number estimated by independent organizations.

Since September 18, 2008, the regime has maintained that the casualty toll of Sichuan earthquake remained at 69,227 dead and 17,923 missing. The regime issued no official comment until May 7 about whether low construction quality was linked to the collapse of about 7,000 school buildings, or about the number of students died in the earthquake.

Fewer Than One Student Died per Two Schools?

According to a report by the regime’s mouthpiece, Xinhua News, Tu Wentao, head of Sichuan's provincial education department, claimed the death toll was verified by schools and education bureaus, and the official survey shows 14,000 schools were ruined or damaged during the earthquake.

According to the above data, on average less than one student died in every two schools, which is far less than people expected.

Tu maintained that the casualty number was responsible and reliable, since it was based on the number of compensation application filed by deceased students’ families.

No Names of Deceased Students

Contemporary artist Mr. Ai Weiwei was compiling the names of deceased students. He has collected 5,203 dead students’ names from over 100 schools, which averages over 50 students dead in one school. However, the regime pressured him to stop his survey. Volunteers who helped Wei to visit deceased families were also harassed or even arrested.

As the regime only released the overall casualty figure without naming any of the deceased students, Wei felt the regime's figure “is not reliable and the name list should be published.”

The Regime Avoids Negative Messages

Ms. Cai Yongmei, Editor-in-Chief of Hong Kong’s Open Magazine believes the regime announced the student toll due to pressure from the public and international community, and that the regime usually reported news that was to its advantage and avoided reporting negative news.

“Forging the statistics. If it is something good and positive, they boost the number. If it is a disaster, they diminish the number. They have been following this tradition all along,” said Ms. Cai in a Epoch Times interview.

Cai continued, “If the regime’s number is lower than that of Mr. Ai, it will make the regime look like it was covering up. Therefore, the regime just released a number close to the number published by Mr. Ai.”

Shoddy Construction Reflects Government Corruption

Many bereaved parents have attributed the students’ death to government-supported shoddy construction and have even gone to Beijing to appeal, to no avail. Those who were able to make it to the State’s Appeal Office could only get a notice that said, “Will be processed as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, on May 7 the regime again denied the existence of shoddy construction. Yang Hongbo, head of the Sichuan Province Construction Department, claimed that after investigation and confirmation, they had yet to find that any building collapsed due to shoddy construction.

Cai says the whole incident shows the severity of the corruption of the Chinese regime. Government officials are acting as a protective umbrella for those builders. If the truth were uncovered, “Many officials could lose their jobs, so they must cover for each other.”

Unofficial Student Death Toll Over 30,000

According to the survey data released in mid April by Sichuan Compatriot Union in San Francisco, United State, the student death toll probably exceeds 30,000, and the total death toll should be about 300,000.

Read this article in Chinese.