Natural disasters test governments. Katrina tested the US administration of George Bush, and it failed by all counts. The recent Typhoon has tested the old generals in Burma (now rebranded as Myanmar), and they failed - as the misery continues unabated.
The Chinese suffered perhaps the largest disaster of all, an earthquake so large entire villages and valleys disappeared. Though many questions around the construction standards and inspections of public schools, the response of the Chinese government to the disaster has been exemplary. That's what the International Red Cross said, and I agree. Read more here. Resources were dispatched along with all available military personnel and hardware to rescue the trapped. Medicines arrived in short order and those who were injured were tended to by armies of medical professionals. The UN was impressed.
It is important to remember that over one-third of Chinese families have only one child. So many parents lost their only children to the quake. Chinese families rely on their children for support in their old age. Officials promptly relaxed population controls and set-up adoption centers for surviving orphans. Through the entire process, the face of China's leader, Grandfather Wen, was ubiquitous. He was everywhere, offering his sympathy and reassurances; while raising hopes and spirits. Brownie and Bush, take a lesson.
I have posted before about the difficult and painful situation in Tibet during China's Olympic year. It remains my sincere hope that current talks between Chinese authorities and representatives of the Tibetan government in exile will arrive at a consensus compromise agreement that allows the people of the autonomous region to freely practice their religion and perserve their culture. That said, the Chinese people are justifiably proud of the massive, coordinated and largely effective response of their government to disaster.