A number of days ago a rail crash happened in China when two Chinese high speed trains collided with each other. Around forty people were killed and many more have been injured.
The crash has provoked a spate of articles suggesting that the crash is somehow symptomatic of problems within China and that it shows the extent of corruption, inefficiency and lack of accountability in China. Several commentators notably Isabel Hilton and Will Hutton have claimed that the accident serves as an indicator that unless China carries out “reforms” (code for remodelling itself on western lines) then it is heading for collapse.
I find this sort of commentary offensive. Accidents happen in every country. They are an unavoidable reality of modern life. In recent years the US has had to struggle with the oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and Japan with the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Britain in the 1990s experienced major disasters on its railway system and its ferries. There have been many other disasters in many other places. Indeed disasters are so commonplace that more often than not they scarcely get reported outside the country where they happen. There has for example just been an almost entirely unreported disaster in a coalmine in the Ukraine in which over a score of people have died.
What happened in China was a tragedy. It is a heartless and cruel abuse of the victims and their families to use this tragedy to score political and ideological points.