For the second time in as many years, the People’s Republic of China has been hit by a devastating earthquake causing substantial loss of life and massive damage.
A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck in the morning of Wednesday 14 April and so far more than 400 people are confirmed dead and 10,000 are known to be injured. The numbers of both dead and injured are expected to rise substantially.
The quake struck in the province of Qinghai, with the worst affected area being Yushu, a Tibetan autonomous prefecture. 93 percent of the local population are of Tibetan nationality.
Although this is a sparsely populated area, casualties will be high, due to the area’s remoteness, high altitude, low level of economic development, the fact that many local people are still living in poverty, a large number of aftershocks, bad weather conditions, and the logistical and infrastructural problems that all these factors create. Most of Yushu county is remote and inaccessible mountainous terrain, with an average altitude of 4,493 metres, which makes rescue work even more grueling due to the shortage of oxygen.
Many people are trapped in the rubble of homes and schools, most of which were made from wood and mud. The quake also toppled temples, petrol stations and electricity supply lines, triggered landslides, damaged roads, cut power supplies and disrupted telecommunications. A reservoir developed cracks which workers are trying to repair. Roads leading to the local airport have been damaged, hampering relief efforts, temperatures are below freezing, with snow, sleet and rain all forecast for the coming days. Currently all local electricity and gas supplies have been cut off.
In this bleak situation, the hope of the local Tibetan people, as with people of all nationalities across the vast land of China, rests as ever with the Communist Party, the People’s Government, the People’s Liberation Army and the working class.
President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao immediately ordered local authorities to spare no effort in search and rescue operations and in caring for the victims. Thousands of soldiers and rescue workers have been dispatched to the area. Vice Premier Hui Liangyu rushed to the quake-hit region to supervise rescue operations on behalf of the party and government.
Last night on CCTV9, China’s English-language TV station, a seismology expert, said that it is at times like this that the world must see the Chinese people at their best, sparing no effort and pulling together as one family. His words speak to the essence of socialism, which Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out long ago is the only thing that can save China. In its Thursday 15 April edition, the China Daily noted that the existence of an airport near the quake epicentre was of considerable help to relief efforts, adding that this demonstrated “the importance of building more small airports in remote regions of China, despite their limited economic potential.” The paper went on to quote a leading civil aviation official:
“Railway or road transport would be a slower way to move supplies and rescuers, and, once one point is blocked, the whole line becomes useless…
“Small airports may lose money in general, but their strategic importance cannot be gauged by money.” (Airport vital lifeline to relief effort)
At this moment, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) shares the grief and anguish of our class sisters and brothers in China. We, too, believe that only socialism can save China and all humanity, and we extend our solidarity to the heroic People’s Liberation Army, the saviours of the masses of Tibetan people for more than half a century, and all the brave and selfless comrades participating in the relief effort. No hardship or challenge has ever daunted the great Chinese people and this present tragedy will be no exception.
There is one further point which we feel compelled to make. The majority of those killed and otherwise affected by this tragedy are of Tibetan nationality. And the quake-hit area lies within what the Dalai Lama refers to as “Greater Tibet”, as part of the attempts by this disgusting feudal relic to break up China at the behest of his imperialist masters. But whilst the people of all nationalities in China, led by the Communist Party and the People’s Government, once again rally to the rescue of their Tibetan compatriots, what will the Dalai Lama, his feudal coterie and his well-heeled followers in the West do to ease the people’s suffering? Will the naïve Hollywood liberals who seem to feel some mystic aura emanating from clerical robes donate even five minutes of their income to rebuilding homes and schools? Facts once again show who are the true friends of the Tibetan people. It is high time that people in the West realised the truth and rejected the deceitful propaganda of the Dalai Lama and his supporters.
The CPGB-ML, in sending condolences to the Chinese people, also takes this opportunity to reaffirm our unyielding support for their national integrity and socialist construction.