A shocking sign of corruption

A shocking sign of corruption

Families around the globe celebrated Mother's Day last Sunday; but in Sichuan province, thousands marked the fifth anniversary of the 8.0-magnitude earthquake. The 2008 disaster killed more than 85,000people and left at least 4.8 million homeless.

Foreign and domestic donations have supported the relief work. New schools, hospitals and homes have been rebuilt at a cost of 800 billion yuan (HK$1 trillion).

However, big questions remain, in particular whether the new buildings will be safer. More than 7,000 schools collapsed during the two-minute-long quake. These poor-quality, "tofu-dregs schoolhouses" failed to withstand severe shaking, which led to claims of corruption, as well as poor construction. Builders allegedly replaced steel rods with thin iron wires as reinforcement, and used inferior-grade cement, as officials and businesses reportedly colluded while focusing only on profits.

Many affected families are still searching for justice, and some have reportedly been detained and even beaten up for trying to find out the truth.

Endemic corruption has plagued China for centuries; and as the economy has grown, so too has corruption. President Xi Jinping , the new leader, began a frugality campaign to fight corruption. He is targeting "tigers and flies" - corrupt, high-ranking officials and smaller bureaucrats; arrests have begun.

However, given the scale and prevalence of the mainland's corruption, it is unlikely that this problem will be eradicated any time soon.

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