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Beijing Flooding Compared To Katrina


In China, authorities are still counting the cost of heavy weekend flooding in Beijing. Officials now say 37 people died and more than 60,000 homes were damaged. Loses are estimated at nearly two billion dollars, but as NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Beijing, some of the damage is to the government's credibility.

LOUISA LIM, BYLINE: A propaganda war is being waged on China's airwaves and Internet. The official narrative is one of triumph and bravery, highlighting stories like a man who saved 170 people singlehandedly. But Beijingers saw their roads turn into rivers and read online tales of desperation. Few believed the official death toll.

MR. LI: (Speaking foreign language)

LIM: I think the figure should be much higher, says a man who gives his name as Mr. Li. Covering up is an old tradition for our government, but the truth can't be hidden anymore. Many are questioning why the city's infrastructure is so poor that it can't cope with heavy rain.

MR. ZHOU: (Speaking foreign language)

LIM: Government spending hasn't been transport says a Mr. Zhou. We should know where the money goes because it's our taxes. No one has confidence anymore. Indeed, a new phrase is circulating online: Terrorism by corruption. There's massive public dissatisfaction that money spent on vanity projects instead of basic infrastructure. These rains are already being called China's Hurricane Katrina. Louisa Lim, NPR News, Beijing.


WERTHEIMER: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Beijing Correspondent Louisa Lim is currently attending the University of Michigan as a Knight-Wallace Fellow. She will return to her regular role in 2014.
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