Chinese Twitter: School rebuilt after Sichuan earthquake pulled down for plaza
One of the main stories doing the rounds on Chinese social media today is a report that a school in Mianyang, Sichuan province, rebuilt after the devastating 2008 earthquake, is being torn down to make way for a commercial real estate project.
The middle school was rebuilt with a HK$ 4 million ($515,000) donation from the Hong Kong government and Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers and 2.56 million yuan from the local city government.
It is to be replaced by a new, larger school that will cost 70 million yuan to build, with funding coming from the government since the original site was too small to hold all 300 students, principal Cheng Xiaodi told the official People’s Daily.
What’s wrong with a big, new school you ask? Well, the land use contract to develop the site into a 6 billion yuan commercial project to be developed by conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group was signed in 2009, a mere 4 months after rebuilding work started on it.
It will also cost 70 million yuan to relocate despite the rebuilding project costing a fraction of that sum. Only 30 million yuan was raised from selling the land use rights, with the local government having to fork out the rest, according to the China Daily.
The school is closing less than a year after it reopened its doors.
“[Hong Kong] authorities came to the site for an investigation in early May, and are negotiating a solution with the local government and Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers,” a spokeswoman with Hong Kong Trade Development Council told the 21st Century Business Herald. “They are considering taking back the HK$2 million donation by the [Hong Kong] government.”
This is the second Sichuan-reconstruction related scandal to attract outrage from netizens in less than a month.
In April, we reported on how the local government in another earthquake stricken area, Wenchuan, was under fire for spending 33 million yuan from a reconstruction fund, most of which came from donations, on a lavish government building rather than being using to build schools and homes for victims.
Around 70,000 people died in a massive magnitude-8 earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan province in 2008.
Some of the most shocking images from the devastating earthquake were of schools that had completely collapsed, burying students and teachers, because of inadequate construction caused by building funds being directed to government officials.
Chinese netizens expressed their disappointment and anger in comments on Sina Weibo, China’s most popular microblogging website.
@ŚĮíśįīŤôĺ: I really think the donation is needless. Our government is actually very rich, and it is its obligation to aid and reconstruct the disaster-hit area. Why should we ordinary people pay it with our hard-earned money? What could the reason be that the children should donate with their lunch expenses? Moreover, we don’t know where our donation goes.
@ťÉĀŚīáŚĻĹ: If built by Hong Kong donors, the fund must be transparent and the local officials is hard to fish for their own goods. But when it comes to a reconstruction plan [of 70 million yuan], who don’t know what it means?
@śĚúŚģ∂ÁöĄŚ§ßŚįŹŚßź: Those who profit from the country’s disasters, what are your hearts made of?
@Ťģ®ŚéĆŤĪÜŚą∂ŚďĀ: So talking about charities, I prefer Chen Guangbiao’s way: You must keep high-profile.
[Editor’s note: Chen Guangbiao is a Chinese tycoon and a web celebrity who is famous for his high-profile but controversial charity acts such as filming the process in which he threw several bunches of 100-yuan notes to a group of people.]
@śúČśó∂Ś†ēŤźĹ: So ugly and shameful before Hong Kong people.
@śĪüśĶ∑šłÄśĚį: Whoever donates is just the coward!