The now flooded Yangtze River, Wuhan China. Photo from unsplash

By Dayanara Hernandez, age 15

Originally published, July 2020

Heavy rains and flooding over late May and June in southern and central China have displaced over 2 million people, and at least 141 people are dead or missing. This is the worst flooding to hit the country in over 20 years. 

Experts say the damage caused by the massive floods has already cost China about $12.3 billion worth of damages to cities, homes and businesses. This is happening at a time when China is still dealing with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, mainly in Wuhan, the first epicenter of COVID-19. 

Extreme rains started in June in the southern region of Guangxi Zhuang and the Guizhou province. The recent flooding has caused more than 29,000 homes to be destroyed and landslides to occur, according to CNBC. Over 400 rivers have risen above the flood control line, and 33 of them have set high-level records, as stated by the Ministry of Water Resources. 

Song Lianchun, a meteorologist with the National Climate Center, said the intersection of warm and cold air is what led to constant heavy rainfall in the Yangtze River basin. He also said to South China Morning Post, “We cannot say a single extreme weather event is directly caused by climate change, but seeing it over the long term, global warming has led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.” Even though climate change may or may not cause extreme weather, other factors such as human behavior contributed to the cause. 

While incessant floods continue, Chinese media outlets appear to be embellishing the disaster and toning down the severity of the damage. Their reports only specialize in pushing their propaganda by reporting positive advancements, like fast emergency response times and beautiful landscapes, without covering the devastation. “If disaster hits, the propaganda will always focus on the victory and success of emergency management. They won’t talk about the suffering,” Mr. Zhang, a Wuhan resident, was quoted as saying on China in Focus, NTD News. In its propaganda, the Chinese Communist Party uses a well-known phrase — “positive energy”—to focus on the bright side solely and not focus on the “negative energy” such as criticism, crisis and disasters. 

Zhang Meifeng, a 67-year-old migrant worker living in Poyang county in China’s Jiangxi province, has suffered many losses, including her house, that her husband and son had spent 20 years saving to build, she told the Los Angeles Times. Many are in similar situations to Zhang Meifeng, or even worse. Countless people do not have basic needs like water or food, and the lingering feeling of uncertainty has spread all throughout China. 

 

Glossary

Displace: Cause (something or someone) to move from its proper or usual place
Embellish: Make (something) more attractive by the addition of decorative details or features
Propaganda: Information, especially of a one-sided or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view