The successful rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile for 69 days had drawn a lot of comments from netizens in China. China’s coal mining industry is considered one of the most dangerous in the world. According to official figures, 2,631 coal miners died in 1,616 mine accidents in China in 2009, but the figures could be much higher as accidents are covered up. The latest incident came right after the Chile rescue: an explosion at a coal mine in Yuzhou, Henan province in central China killed 20 miners, and trapped another 17 underground.
While there are accusations that government officials and mine owners are using the ‘spiritual fervour’ of the rescue for other purposes, Chilean miners at least had the freedom to thank God, families and rescuers, instead of thanking the country first, a etiquette not to be neglected in China. Blogger Yu Tianren wrote:
Facing TV cameras, the second rescued miner thanked God, his family, colleagues, and almost everything else, except the government.
Perhaps because the Chilean government thinks that rescuing citizens in disasters is a natural responsibility, it does not force its citizens to recite ‘thank the government, thank the military.’ Conversely, if a government forces its citizens to thank itself for things that are apparent, does that mean that the government does not view those things as its responsibilities?
Another blogger kaiecon wrote:
No doubt, we can be cynical and say that the Chilean president had spent a lot of resources to implement this perfect rescue mission. He did not really care about those people, but only his political ratings. But if all politicians gain popularity in this way, wouldn’t the world be a better place? Why do we need to care about their motivations?
The key point is that all miners have survived. The mine has collapsed, and the rescuers spent 17 days to locate the miners after drilling unlimited number of holes. In the end, they found the miners, all in good conditions. There is a lot of luck in it. But I am curious: is there anyone in China who can guarantee that miners could survive for 17 days in a collapsed mine?
Perhaps the most sarcastic comments come from Li Chengpeng’s sina blogpost, which attracted over 100,000 readers. Here are some extracts of the post:
People as gloomy as me will suspect that Chinese people, who view the live broadcast of the rescue, can be grouped into two categories: the majority which hope that all the 33 miners could be rescued, so as to prove something; and a minority which hope that the rescue will be stuck, also to prove something… The perfect scenario would be that a middle-aged dishevelled Chilean woman rushed out and fought with the president, accompanied by a flying shoe. Then, the Chinese media could ridicule with headlines like ‘The Chilean miner reality show failed, president got beaten up by angry families, flying shoe hit Chile’s corrupt political structure.’
Unfortunately not. Not a single one of the 33 miners, all with names, died after the 69-day ordeal. Those heartless miners also did not thank the party and the government. Instead, they wet kissed with lovers, held the Bible and played football. The leader of the mining team was the last one to surface. These made the feelings of Li Wenhao, propaganda head of the State Administration of Work Safety, complicated […] Right after he made the comment that ‘the Chilean mining team leader was the last one to leave is consistent with China’s practice of regularly sending leaders down to visit mines,’ a news broke out in Nanning of Guangxi province that a leader was choked to death while on a mission to inspect safety conditions in a mine.
This is almost a coincidence made in heaven. It is very suitable to be filmed in montage. It is therefore wrong to say that China does not have good tragicomedy. Other people’s comedy is our tragedy; conversely, other people’s tragedy is our comedy. For example, if you were to make a film about the Wanjialing mining accident in a style of righteousness, and join the Cannes film festival, people might think that it is not a positive movie but a comedy, and put it in the same category as Mr. Bean.
While the miners were being raised to the ground, I tweeted the question ‘Chang’e-2 rising / miners rising, which one is greater.’ Some people are not happy about this question, and I could only reply, ‘They only have 33 people with real names, we are organizing a census. They spend 69 days to rescue people, we have spent ten thousand years on propaganda.’ Some are still not satisfied with my answer. The countering viewpoint that I find most challenging is: the fact that miners got multi-million dollars book deals is the result of advertising-driven behavior of capitalist publishers; whether above- or under-ground, those miners are classified into different classes; they are overdrawing their lifetime of blessings. My response is that I will treat this as an intellectual problem. I believe that many Chinese miners wish to be embraced by capitalist publishers: God, please classify us into different classes in whatever sensational hype you wish!