I wish I were in China at this moment...

... to see first-hand how this story is being covered and reacted to:


The suffering after the Sichuan earthquake was so widespread and horrific, and the impression of rapid, heroic, all-out response was so important to the government, that the episode really had a "9/11"-style role in popular imagination. The Chinese people standing as one to help the victims of Wenchuan and other devastated cities; premier Wen Jiabao flying directly to the disaster site that very afternoon to oversee recovery efforts; People's Liberation Army detachments flooding in from every province to haul rubble out of school yards and pull survivors to safety -- this is what the Chinese public heard, saw, and was reminded of after the earthquake and ever since.*

The idea that the disaster could somehow have been induced, invited, or worsened by governmental action -- well, no one knows how this idea will be debated or allowed to spread in China, but the consequences could be profound. This is a placeholder note to say: watch this story carefully.
* A new chapter in Postcards from Tomorrow Square, called "After the Earthquake," is about the different ways the disaster affected several villages in Sichuan province.