(CNN) – The partial collapse of a residential building in Surfside, Miami, has drawn widespread attention in China, where images of rescue workers searching the rubble have featured prominently in state media and on nightly news.
But amid this intense attention on the tragedy that occurred in the United States, many Chinese netizens have wondered why a deadly incident in their own country has received media coverage. so minimal and so little attention on social media.
In the early hours of Friday, a fire tore through a martial arts school in central Henan province, killing 18 students – most of them children – and injuring 16 others, according to a local government statement and media reports from state communication.
Under normal circumstances, this loss of life would be a great tragedy that would shock and sadden the nation, dominating the news and social media headlines for days.
Yet just days after the Communist Party’s centenary, such dire news is the last thing the party’s propaganda apparatus wants to highlight, at least when it happens inside China.
Debate on social networks after the collapse of the building in Miami
On Weibo, the heavily censored local version of Twitter, users left angry comments asking why the fire was not among the 50 most prominent topics of the day, with some accusing the censors of suppressing the debate and preventing the news from gaining traction.
Why didn’t an incident with such a high number of victims become a trending topic? Is it because the centenary of the party does not allow negative news? “, Asked a user.
Also in the state media the coverage of the fire was limited, and most of them shared some news that was based mainly on the official statements of the local authorities.
Many pointed to the contrast with the extensive and highly emotional coverage of a condo collapse near Miami, which had been a major topic on Weibo for days.
On the way to the centenary of the Communist Party
The comparative silence surrounding the fire speaks to the intensive and widespread control exercised by government censors in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party, which is celebrated on July 1.
In the past, the Chinese authorities have redoubled their commitment to “maintaining stability” before big anniversaries, quickly censoring voices and suppressing incidents deemed jarring with “positive energy” before celebrations.
But the level of caution on the way to the centenary has now reached new levels.
Two weeks before the anniversary, Chinese officials held a high-level meeting and pledged “to spare no effort to ensure production safety, firmly prevent accidents of various kinds, and create a safe and stable atmosphere for the centenary celebration. »Of the founding of the party.
Risk activities suspended in China
As a result, local authorities are in suspense, and some have gone as far as temporarily suspending risk industries.
In Hubei, all coal mining operations were suspended between June 15 and July 5, following a gas pipeline explosion that killed 25 people on June 13. In neighboring Jiangxi province, five coal mines were closed from June 21 to July 4, according to Bloomberg.
With harmony assured at home, the Florida disaster, on the other hand, has given Chinese propagandists a chance to redouble the image of a declining America.
In a column titled “After a Miami Condo Collapse, Will the US Fix Declining Accountability on the Part of Its Officials?” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state newspaper Global Times, He said the disaster demonstrated that “the US’s ability to rescue in emergencies is much worse than people realize.”