Monday, May 19, 2008

Dear Readers, my colleagues Andy Mertha, Bill Hurst, Allen Carlson and I drafted this open letter urging all to help out with the Wenchuan disaster in their own way. The political analysis will continue, but in the mean time, we should do what we can to help:

Since May 12, the catastrophic Wenchuan earthquake in China’s Sichuan province has gripped the world’s attention. As political scientists who study China, this monumental tragedy hits us close to home. Some of us have lived and worked in communities devastated by this disaster. Friends and colleagues have offered firsthand accounts of loved ones left dead, trapped, injured or homeless, many of them children attending school at the time of the quake.

In the weeks to come, there will be much discussion of how prepared China was for such a calamity, the effectiveness of Beijing’s response, and whether China’s leaders manipulated media coverage to underscore their ability to govern. As analysts of Chinese politics, we will be obliged to examine these aspects of the earthquake’s aftermath.

Now is not the time for such criticism or debate, however.

As thousands remain buried in rubble across northern Sichuan and survivors struggle desperately to come to terms with their overwhelming losses, we must remain focused on doing whatever possible to assist those who endured this tragedy.

We thus write to express our deep sympathy for those who have perished in Sichuan and the surrounding regions. We salute the heroism of those who have worked bravely to rescue victims trapped by debris and alleviate the suffering of the living. Such acts transcend politics and are beyond our collective professional expertise. They humble us as manifestations of the utmost humanity, and should be celebrated as such.

In this light we request you donate to the China Relief Fund established by the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) or any other legitimate charity now sending relief to the region. We thank you for your support.


William Hurst (University of Texas at Austin)
Andrew Mertha (Washington University in St. Louis)
Allen Carlson (Cornell University)
Victor Shih (Northwestern University)

Great letter. Thanks. Where is the letter posted, besides this web site?

Does the American Red Cross have a special donation account for the earthquake? Hong Kong Red Cross has one and its online donation is very easy and convenient. They provide proofs for tax purposes too, although I'm not sure if that works for people outside Hong Kong. China Red Cross is an option for online donation too, although they seem to have some problems with credit card donations.
Interesting to see that they couldn't keep Xi Jinping out of the earthquake limelight for long: Xinhua reports he travelled to Shaanxi on 19 May to "direct quake relief work".
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