The Chinese government has turned down Japan’s offer to help with relief efforts following an earthquake in China's southwest Sichuan province that left at least 193 people dead and more than 12,000 injured [zh].
The quake, measured at magnitude of 7.0 by the China Earthquake Administration, stuck on the morning of April 20, 2013 in the mountainous areas near Ya’an, a city of 1.5 million people known for its population of pandas and tea industry.
Shortly after the quake, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered condolences and assistance to Chinese leaders, saying that Japan was “ready to offer its maximum support”.
In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in its daily news briefing on April 21 said the government was grateful for the gesture, but overseas aid at the moment was not necessary, citing congested roads and the competency of Chinese authorities to cope with the relief work:
After the April 20 Lushan earthquake in Sichuan, the international community has swiftly offered condolences and support, some countries have shown willingness to offer assistance of all kinds, to which the Chinese government and its people are grateful. Chinese government are carrying out all-out disaster-relief work. At the moment, we have sufficient relief and medical workforce, as well as sufficient relief supplies, given the inconvenience of telecommunication and traffic in the quake-hit zones, for now don’t need foreign rescue teams, medical teams, and relief supplies. If we are in need of them, we will make the demand to relevant countries where necessary. The China Red Cross has released the contact for the acceptance of overseas financial aid.
But at the same time, Chinese state media reported the imminent arrival of nearly 200 Russian rescue workers [zh].
Japan's offer to help comes at a shaky time for relations between China and Japan as the two countries continue to spar over islands in the East China sea.
The ministry's rebuff of Japan's help sparked lively debates on Chinese social media, with some netizens shelving the recent territorial dispute and historic bitterness between the two countries.
“Kuaile Songxiang” from Beijing wrote[zh] that China should learn from Japan about disaster prevention, commenting on popular Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo:
Not only should we accept Japan's assistance, we also need to introduce the advanced disaster prevention and reduction from Japan, of course, fundamentally
Echoing the same sentiment, Weibo user “name no longer meaningful” lamented [zh]:
Narrow nationalism, it's just biting off more than we can chew, is it really humiliating to accept Japanese assistance?
“Yanger Dini” from the northwestern city of Xi'an, however, came to the government's defense by offering his analysis [zh]:
There are many political elements involved, many heavy industries and nuclear facilities are near Sichuan, choosing to shut ourselves off is for the reason of national defense.
“Pushan Pushan De Yanjing” from the provincial capital Nanchang of eastern Jiangxi province wrote sarcastically [zh]:
Japan is the the subject of negative propaganda used to rally nationalism, if we let them do good deeds in China, it will elevate their positive image among ordinary Chinese people, which will be bad for the negative propaganda, so…
“Yihao Caomin” seemed dismayed [zh] at the comparison between the two nations,hinting about China's Red Cross scandal and media reports about leaders eating instant noodles as nothing more than image boosting.
Japan experiences sensible earthquakes more than 1,000 times, 10 percent of all the earthquake in the world occur in Japan. But earthquakes in Japan rarely cause large casualties. Why? 1. Houses that can sustain quakes, not shoddy construction projects. 2. Professional and timely relief work, no inexperienced army sent to do the work, no declining foreign aid. 3. No photos of leaders eating instant noodles and millet porridge to boost their image. 4. Red Cross (in Japan) does not have Guo Meimei. 5. People can access Twitter without posts being deleted. 6….any addition is welcome