On June 10, a headline photo was put up on Beijing News, a mainstream media in China, named “Aerial Photography of the Ocean of Clouds above Yangshuo, Guilin, after the Flood Receded”. In what appeared to be an artistic attempt, it showed the fogs and clouds that hang thousands of meters above the flood-struck Yangshuo, Guilin, Guangxi Province, a popular tourist attraction. Upon clicking the picture, one enters a no-title page that briefly says that, since June 2, south China had experienced a continuous heavy rainfall, which caused floods, hail, and geological disasters that affected 1.673 million people in 200 counties in 45 cities across 8 provinces.
Picture: Headline Picture of Beijing News (http://www.bjnews.com.cn/) on June 10
For the eight consecutive days (June 2 to June 10) in which Guangxi Meteorological Administration had updated heavy rainfall emergency response from level IV to level IIV, there was little to no search results of the situation in the Guilin city on the state search engine, www.baidu.com. It was only on June 7, the day the emergency response level raised to level II, did a dozen local and state media began an almost choreo-ed perfunctory coverage on the flood. But even so, it still didn’t seem enough to make to any of the headlines until June 10, 13:00, two hours after the emergency response level of Guangxi was lowered to level IV on 10:55, when the most dangerous time for the flood had already passed.
In another report in Beijing News on June 9, the news title reads “The City of Yangshuo Became a Vast Ocean; Part of Jiaxiu Bridge, a Leaf-like Boat, Packed with Cars that Sought Refuge”, reported that since Jiaxiu Bridge was the highest point in the area, it had become a “leafy boat” among a “vast ocean”. It said that the people on the bridge had been rescued to safety, but did not say anything about the majority of the cars that got submerged outside the bridge.
Picture source: https://m.bjnews.com.cn/detail/159168807515622.html
The lighthearted, joke-like tone of the news makes one cringe. “Ocean of clouds”, “leafy boat in a vast ocean”, in the famous tourist attraction, Yangshuo, seem to be a poetic combination. It seems that the grief and strife of the millions of flood-struck people was not worth mentioning at all. One wonders why the Chinese media always responds so quickly and angrily about the natural disasters in the US, but turns a blind eye to the cries of their own people. When disasters hit US, they directed readers’ attention to the misery; when disasters hit China, they directed readers’ attention to the beauty.
- Front page of Beijing News, http://www.bjnews.com.cn/, Accessed June 10, 2020
- No-title page linked to the headline photo that reads “Aerial Photography of the Ocean of Clouds above Yangshuo, Guilin, after the Flood Receded”, Beijing News, June 10, 2020, https://cdn.bjnews.com.cn/h5/index.html#/newSubject/159167409115261
- Meteorological Bureau of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, http://gx.cma.gov.cn/zwgk/flll/
- “The City of Yangshuo Became a Vast Ocean; Part of Jiaxiu Bridge, a Leaf-like Boat, Packed with Cars that Sought Refuge”, Beijing News, June 9, 2020,