Premier Wen Jiabao bowing in apology at the Wenzhou train wreck site. Chinese people rarely bow unlike Japanese and Koreans.. but when they do, it’s to defer to great, great wrongs and tragedies.
China’s Premier Seeks Reforms and Relevance
Such indignities are not new. As Mr. Wen enters the twilight of a decade as China’s third-ranked leader, he appears to be struggling to remain relevant in a political system that covets his benevolent public image but has little use for his ideas.
The leading spokesman for what passes for political liberalism in China, Mr. Wen is by most accounts ideologically isolated on the Communist Party’s nine-member Politburo standing committee. More than once, his views have been rebuffed, tacitly or openly, in party organs. There are tantalizing hints of rifts with his boss, President Hu Jintao.
“Grandpa Wen,” who shares the common man’s pain and champions his interests, is easily China’s most popular politician. But internally, as Communist Party hard-liners strengthen their control, his advocacy of political reform has increasingly sapped his influence.
Train Wreck in China Heightens Unease on Safety Standards
The train collision [near Wenzhou] was one of several high-profile public transportation accidents in China recently. Early Friday morning, 41 people were killed when an overloaded bus caught fire in central Henan Province. Earlier this month, an escalator at a new subway station in Beijing collapsed, killing one person and injuring 28. Last week alone, four bridges collapsed in various Chinese cities.