An article in the New York Times caught my attention, entitled "China presses hush money on grieving parents", it describes how officials are buying the silence of parents who lost their children in the May 12 earthquake in Southern China. About 7,000 classrooms collapsed in the earthquake, killing about 10,000 children. They are being offered the equivalent of 8,800 $ compensation, and a per person pension of about 5,600.
Due to the one child policy, if parents lose a child it is probably the end of their chances of having offspring. In the Chinese culture, children take care of ageing parents. Even after death, it is important to have someone "sweep the grave". So the death of a child takes on an even greater meaning, than the emotional loss alone. That the government is offering compensation, is already an incredible step and also some recognition that something might have been at fault. Maybe there was some negligence by the officials. The offer of a pension is also a recognition of the problem. Were the schools build with shoddy materials? Give the rampant corruption in China - some of them probably were built with sub-standard cement.I am not sure there is lack of a real investigation - there are after all 7,000 classrooms destroyed, it is a huge task. It will be interesting to see if public pressure does manage to get a reaction from the central government and a systematic treatment of all of the areas hit by the quake, not just a few token convictions of a few guilty parties.