After a 6.9 magnitude earthquake that killed at least 1,900 people, injured approximately 12,000, and made more than 150 individuals missing on April 14th, the Chinese government observed a national day of mourning for the many victims. Most televised entertainment was put off at a later time during the mourning. Flags were raised only halfway on poles.
This recent earthquake has sparked public concerns over buildings suspectible to collapse as a result of the earthquake especially school buildings where large populations of students and the future work force of China groom themselves.
As more than 10,000 people wander around without a home in this northwestern Tibetan region, thousands of Tibetan Buddhist monks came forth with the express permission of the Chinese government to help rescue efforts and distribute neccessities to the victims. The monks have also taken part in rescue efforts along with clearing debris from the area.
The help offered by the monks is largely unorganized and it is a slight surprise to see Chinese toleration of these monks since a troubling history exists between the two groups.
Tibetan monks and humanitarian organizations are usually forbidden by China to help in disasters precedented by the Chinese refusal to allow Tibetan to participate in relief work after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Even with the help of thousands of workers and rescue teams, the Chinese government faces a difficult situation. The geographical location of the affected region due to its freezing weather and high elevations along with a general isolated characteristic of the area has been problematic for the deliverance of aid and much needed supplies.
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan monks who is in exile in India after fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, who observed the Chinese government’s recent toleration has requested to visit the worst affected areas and assist in helping the victims. The Chinese government has always been sensitive and ‘short-tempered’ with anything that has to do with the Dalai Lama and it is very uncertain if the government will even respond to the request.
So far, the Chinese government has not responded to the Dalai Lama but has announced that it will do its best to help the earthquake victims as quickly and effectively as possible.