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Revision as of 16:22, 2 May 2013

这是一个奇迹 (zhè shì yí gè qí jī): this is a miracle

In a press conference convened in July 2011 to discuss the Wenzhou train accident, the Ministry of Railways Spokesperson Wang Yongping, known for his nonsensical ramblings , was asked why a baby girl was found alive in the train wreckage after rescue efforts had been called off, and why the girl was only discovered by those who were in the process of dismantling the train. The following exchange took place:

Wang: This is a miracle. You ask why—

Reporter: This is not a miracle!

[reporters angrily yelling at once.]

Reporter: What I want to ask is this: Why, after you had already announced that there were no survivors, when you had already begun to disassemble the train? Why would there still be a survior?

Wang: Let me answer that. This happened. We truly did find a girl who was still alive. This is the way things are.

Many netizens were bothered by the use of the word “miracle,” not only because Wang's invocation of the term was intended to obscure the Ministry's own incompetence, but because Wang had frequently used the term to describe China's high-speed railways. For example, just weeks before the accident, Wang stated:

China's high-speed railways that were built by the people under the supervision of the Party are a modern miracle. They are a symbol of this nation's capabilities. Every Chinese person deserves to be proud of, and pleased by this.

中国高铁是中国人民在中国共产党领导下创造的人间奇迹,是我们国家实力的象征,每个中国人都为之感到骄傲和自豪。

Because the high-speed rail system had been put forward as the “miracle” posterchild of the “Chinese Model” of development, the crash had a strong symbolic impact. The question raised by the crash was: who benefits from China's modern “miracle” and who pays the price? Is China's breakneck speed of development worth the inevitable cost in human life?

As author and blogger Li Chengpeng stated:

This train is not really a train at all. It is the nation's totem. This nation is after all, a “miracle.” This nation needs a constant series of miracles to prove its superiority. That is because it understands that in a nation where very few have seen the ballot box; where internet browsers often say, “the page your looking for does not exist;” where most rural people don't know the difference between the courts and the prosecutors; where we watch movies the glorify the founding of the Party but where we can't follow the founders' examples and establish another party...in this kind of a nation, the only way we can prove our superiority is by an ever-increasing GDP.

这列火车已不是火车,它是一个国家的图腾,这个国家本身就是个奇迹。这个国家需要不断的奇迹来证明优越性。因为它明白,在一个很少有人见过选票,常显示“你所搜索的网页不存在”,大部份农民说不清法院和检察院的区别,看了建党伟业却不敢向先烈们学习建党……的国家,只有不断创造GDP奇迹才可证明优越性。

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The headline of this page of Southern Metropolis Daily reads “What friggin Miracle?”

A total of three people were rescued from the train after the government had twice announced that there were no survivors. See here (Chinese).