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Chinese live in fear of 8 things, says report

By Lee Seok Hwai, The Straits Times, 18 August 2000

Man-made disasters, health costs, corruption, retrenchment, property prices, retirement woes are among things people in China are afraid of

FOR most Chinese, the thought of taking a crowded bus or cycling to and from work every day is depressing enough.

But worse, they live in fear that they might become a victim of the countless accidents that take place on Chinese roads each day. And if they do cheat death on the road, there are still other fears.

They may be killed in a building collapse caused by shoddy workmanship, or be poisoned by toxic beer served at a wedding banquet -- to name but two examples of the sort of bizarre man-made disasters that happen in China.

Man-made disasters are one of the eight greatest worries that the Chinese face each day.

The other seven identified recently by China's popular website, Sohu.com, are: official corruption, retrenchment, soaring health costs, exorbitant property prices, uncertainties after retirement, rising university fees and unpredictability of business ventures.

Of the eight, only man-made disasters are life-threatening and can be averted.

Human negligence resulting in work- and transport-related accidents has killed about 100,000 Chinese annually in recent times, a report on another website, sina.com, said.

So far this year, about 379 people have died in five major accidents, including explosions in two firework factories, the capsizing of an overloaded passenger boat in Sichuan province and a plane crash in Wuhan.

In recent years, many lives have been lost because of the so-called doufu projects, the Sohu report said.

The term doufu project refers mainly to sub-standard buildings, especially houses with visible cracks on walls stuffed with rags, cans, newspapers and other flimsy materials instead of cement.

According to China's Consumers Association, complaints lodged against the quality of buildings have topped its grievance list for many years.

The fear is not unfounded considering that an entire residential block collapsed in Zhejiang province in July 1994, killing 100 people.

The threat posed by doufu projects may also be aggravated by natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.

To cap it all, as seismologists have warned that the next 10 years will be a period of active tectonic movements in China, the people's fear of dying in a building collapse is not unjustified after all.