In August 2015, a Chinese chemical warehouseexplosion killed more than 100 people and injured over 700.
It was one of the worstindustrial disasters in China’s history.
But accidents like this are extremely common.
Just a few weeks prior, a viral video showed a woman in a Chinese mall being trapped andkilled in a malfunctioning escalator.
Both incidents are said to be caused by lax safetyregulation.
So why is China’s infrastructure so dangerous? Well, in the 1970s, as China’s originalcommunist government left power, the economy was in shambles.
Chinese leaders implementeda series of economic reforms in order to compete with Western dominance.
The new changes werebased on mixed economy capitalism, and allowed businesses to expand rapidly without significantregulation.
This expansion kickstarted a modern industrialrevolution leading to nearly 10% growth every year.
However, like most industrial revolutions,labor laws and safety standards have been ignored in favor of fast growth and a competitiveedge.
Bribery and corruption are rampant, as it is often cheaper to pay off regulatorsand fines instead of changing business practices.
The current President has attempted to crackdown on corruption, but China has a longstanding history of cutting corners in government andbusiness that is difficult to overcome.
Since most companies were run by the state untilabout the 1980s, this corruption has permeated business culture as well.
One example of this “cutthroat capitalism”,was revealed in 2008.
Several manufacturers had added a poisonous chemical to baby milkto make up for a lack of protein.
This action resulted in half a dozen infant deaths.
Investigatorslater blamed company executives, but also noted that government officials contributedto the tragedy by repressing the story for months in order to save face during the 2008Beijing Olympics.
Ignoring safety standards has given Chinaa competitive edge in international trade.
But the unprecedented economic growth hascome at a high human cost.
The recently destroyed chemical warehouse was not supposed to havebeen built near residential areas, yet the building still received a permit.
Now, manywork-safety officials are under criminal investigation for this oversight.
Although China intendsto stay competitive in the global market, their ethical lapses, and many safety problemsare important issues to solve.
While there appears to be no end in sightto these accidents, China is continuing to build a supercity at the heart of Beijing.
To learn more about China’s supercity Jing-Jin-Ji, watch this video.
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