Columbia Chinese community reacts to bridge collapse

Some have begun to raise funds for the collapse’s victims
Sunday, August 19, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:25 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008
Rescue workers search through the remains of a collapsed bridge in Fenghuang county of central China’s Hunan province, where at least 64 have already been found dead. Columbia’s Chinese community is reaching out to victims.

COLUMBIA-The bridge collapse in Feng­huang, Hunan province on Tuesday aroused quick responses from the Chinese community in Columbia this week.

“We have kept talking about the tragedy since Tuesday, though similar construction accident might not be rare in China,” said Liu Li, a waitress from the House of Chow. “Fenghuang is really pretty and famous tourist county. People there are nice and simple.”

Li said she can’t imagine how the people would handle the accident and said, “We are sorry for them.”

Cheng Liwen, manager of Hong Kong Restaurant and a member of Fujian Commercial Association, has taken action to deal with the problem. Her husband just returned from New York City, where the commercial association organized a feast to raise money for bridge collapse victims. Each member spent $100 to attend the event so extra money could be donated to the victims.

“Though Fujian Province is far away from Hunan Province, we are happy to do so for we are all Chinese,” Liwen said. “We have duty to help people in bad condition, especially when we have capability to do so.”

Meanwhile, the Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars, an MU student group, is discussing details of donating money to victims, including where to send the money and how to guarantee the money reaches victims.

Chuning Feng, president of the student group, said he collected ideas from members via e-mail Thursday and hopes they can do their best to help victims.

Besides that, some worry about the quality of construction projects in China.

Wang Hui, an MU student from Hunan province, compared the bridge collapse in Hunan to the failure of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis several weeks ago.

“The bridge in Minneapolis (was) long-standing in need of repairing,” Hui said. “But the one in China has been built recently. A new bridge is not supposed to fall apart.”

Zhang Yuji, the owner of Peking Restaurant, said he wasn’t surprised the bridge in Hunan collapsed. He saw the news and said he knew the cause of the collapse.

“Rushed, shoddy building is amid the country’s economic expansion,” he said. “Governors’ corruption can be the direct cause to the workers’ death. (The) government should take full responsibility for the accident and give adequate compensation to victims’ relatives.”

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