Residents of the Chinese city of Tianjin are demanding the compensation from government in the aftermath of August 12 explosions at a chemical warehouse that caused damage to at least 17,000 homes.
A number of small protests sparked on Monday, as people are refusing to return to their home even after they have been ruled safe. High levels of sodium cyanide, a lethal chemical that can be fatal if inhaled or ingested, have been reportedly detected in the area by wastewater monitors. Metro talks to Fahim Masoud, analyst at the foreign affairs publication International Policy Digest, who analyzed the news.
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Why are the authorities reluctant to compensate local residents compensations?
The incident in Tianjin is a tragedy and one that will have large ramifications for the government of China. China does not want to pay compensations because it's afraid of the domino effect theory. How many other big businesses are there that have been built in such a way that may blow up in the future? This requires a large compensation. China doesn't want to keep paying for such incidents that will claim lives and will cost millions in damages.
Do you think people's protests will lead to something?
Yes, they will lead to some sort of answers. The Chinese government will be obligated to respond. As the authorities are so furtive, we may not be able to see what kind of a deal will be reached by the families of the lost and by the Chinese government.
Are public protests in China secure?
China is not a secure government. It's extremely insecure and is very much afraid of any noise made by any group in China. China's problems are to rise in the future so in a way these protests will grow in size — a phenomenon that could have devastating results for the Chinese government.
Can chemical storage warehouses be built in a responsible way close to residential areas?
It's up to the people of China to decide. But the government is responsible for public safety and must make it a priority. If such warehouses are presenting a threat to the people, the government must do all it can to avoid such developments.
What about the prospect of cyanide pollution?
That’s a huge threat. Things are not going well in China because the country lacks a culture of transparency. Everyone wants to erect a building without thinking of the responsibility in terms of safety that comes with it. Ultimately, it's the Chinese people that must decide what's good for them and what's bad for them and get their government to behave in accordance with their interests.