Blaming the Rat

China enters the Year of the Rat under more pressure than at any time in more than a decade. Year of the Rat predictions of financial and political rumblings, strange weather phenomenons and epidemics in the year ahead seem as though they’re already started to come true here in China, with feng shui experts now noting that the Chinese New Year weather chaos was due to a conflict between the elements of water and earth — two of the five elements Chinese sages believe are at the root of all things — which is even more pronounced in 2008, given that the Rat, symbolising the most powerful water, is much stronger than the earth, which usually gets the better of water.
La Nina, the Rat? Yeah right! Nice theories but no way. The weather chaos exposed the fragility of China’s transportation and power infrastructure as never before, and the whole system was found wanting. The buck stops with the government’s incompetence.

"So long as people criticise the weather, the government can weather the criticism". So commented the Economist, 7th February 2008, asking whether China’s leaders, having weathered the transport and power outage chaos of the Chinese New Year winter storms, are pondering the lessons offered and will make good on their earnest promises to do better in future.

Faced with an ever yawning gap between the "haves" and the "have nots", inflationary pressures that are seeing prices rising faster than incomes, growing rural unrest, huge enviromental concerns, the first single digit growth forecast for six years, a US economy facing an alarming downturn, such that everyone is looking to China to step forward and prevent the world from slipping into recession, and an Olympics in August that will focus attention on China as never before, Caution will be the watchword for the Year of the Rat….

.. for how long can the government weather the criticism? 

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