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China and Earthquakes

Peter van Dyk | 18:06 UK time, Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Today we're asking if you are worried about the rise of China, talking about what it's like to live in an earthquake zone and hearing from Mexico about the nine-year-old boy who is a bullfighting sensation.

I'll be keeping up with our callers' comments, and your comments as they come in.

We were joined on the programme by Dan Harris of the China Law Blog and by "Confidential Reporter" from the blog China Confidential. Dan is bullish on China, looking at it from an economic perspective, but Confidential Reporter worries about how China might use its power.

Wei in Oregon is a regular visitor to China - her parents still live there - and she says that social stability is a great concern: even though people are getting richer the vast majority are still very poor.

John in Atlanta said that the rise of China was invitable but he worried about the lack of basic freedoms in the country, although he thought that would change. Wei said she was at Tiananmen Square and given the power of the state it would take years and years.

The first email:

I am not worried about China. I'm worried that my country -- the United States -- is unwilling to compete with it. Americans are versatile, competitive, and innovative, and competition from China will bring out the best in us. Unfortunately, many American pundits would rather cower. That scares me. Americans do their best when they compete with others.
Steve, Dammeron Valley, Utah, USA

Syed called in from Milwaukee - he was positive about the rise of China. He said that not every country is suited to democracy and that China's development was boosted by the lack of democracy. John in Taiwan disagreed strongly, expressing his fear about the hundreds of missiles pointed at the island he lives on.

Rudy joined the conversation from California to say that in time every power fades to be replaced by another. He is not worried about China's economic power. Here's an email from Abdelmonin in the USA:

In today people look for cheap products that satisfy their needs, so china found its way to middle class white collars in Africa and middle-east as a major market. And it used the surplus to penetrate the Europeans and USA markets. So it’s so powerful than many think

More emails from the US:

1) Naturally I am proud of my home country's growth, but I think the growth is more or less over blown by media.
2) I do not see China as a military threat as it has been a peaceful country, and in fact it has been invaded a thousand times. Western view of China in my opinion is still at the 1950's propaganda stage. I hope China's economic growth can eventually solve its various social issues and push global economy Thanks.
Kai, Chinese filmmaker in the US

We tend to discuss Taiwan along with HR issue. What I see is that the two have almost no relation. For example, I can imagine even if there is, say, a general voting in China on deciding whether to attack Taiwan or not, the result would probably be a yes. It is nationalistic baggage
Alex from Columbus, OH
I think China is gaining power, power which is not staying within its own borders. Proof is one their nuclear program, two their spce exploration program, three their supplying missiles to foreign countries.
kind regards Joe

And some text messages:

China is an alternative to the west, this is the China century, it is still a developing country, a type of model for Africa.
Adetunji form Lagos
Power is in a state of flux, and it is shifting to China. But poverty and closed door policy are the underminig variables in d equation.
Solomon in Sierra Leone
Earthquake memories

It's 100 years since a strong earthquake in San Francisco and we're talking about how prepared different parts of the world are for the next big earthquake, and hearing from people who survived previous big quakes.

Angela survived the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco and still lives in the Bay area. Says was driving her car on a double-decker freeway when it collapsed. She was paranoid for a long time but is not afraid now and it hasn't changed the way she lives her life.

Nilgun in Istanbul told us how she spent the night in the garden with her neighbours when an earthquake struck near the city in 1999, while Ara in Moscow said that the worst thing about the 1988 quake in Armenia was living with the fear afterwards.

Chia in Japan told us how she keeps an "earthquake kit" near the door of her appartment, but if there was a big quake she didn't expect to have time to grab it. And Jim in San Francisco told us how he had ten days' worth of food and water in the pantry, and tools in the garage to help rescue people who become trapped.

But Ara said that there is no warning system in Russia or Armenia and said the they were not at all prepared for another earthquake.

Jim said his big worry, when the next big one hits, was being in his car under a bridge, or half-way across the Golden Gate Bridge. He'd try to get out of there as quick as possible. And who can argue with that?

You can't have a warning system. just hope you are prepared for the worst.
Laura, San Francisco


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