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Whether fast or slow, we face the future together

(Global Times)

13:24, August 14, 2011

A line was spread across the Chinese Internet following the deadly train crash incident on July 23, "China, please stop your flying pace … wait for your soul." It echoed the urgent public need to see quality and safety in their everyday lives.

On Wednesday, a State Council meeting made the decision to lower the operating speed of high-speed trains. An investigative team has been formed to carry out a thorough inspection of the rail industry and check safety loopholes. The decision to slow down the trains is widely regarded to be a rational decision.

Similar investigations and reflections are sorely needed in other industries in China. Speed can never come at the price of safety. But we also need to ask "if we slow down, can our soul catch up? And moreover, how did the soul come to be separated from our body to begin with?"

The country has long been plagued by safety issues during production. Food safety has been a plague for a decade, and the same goes for coal mining. After each scandal was exposed, there was another investigation and inspection, and eventually criminals being punished. However, the repeated safety accidents should be attributed to more than simply fast development.

High speed is not necessarily the sole cause of an accident. China's rail has maintained a lower casualty rate compared to many other developing countries with slower rail operating speed. It also has the previous records of several rounds of raising speeds.

The operation of a society needs to be guided by technical principles. Blindly speeding ahead would cause accidents, but slowing down, if done without care, may not lead anywhere better.

As modernization progresses, its governance will require more technical skill. Officials cannot make decisions without professional assistance.

Each individual needs to look at themselves for solutions. A society is built upon each one of us. As we pursue our dream, do we keep our soul with us? When boarding a train, we depend on others for a safe ride. Others also depend on us for a qualified service. Rules and regulations need respect from everyone. China unfortunately has the highest rate of highway traffic accidents. It can hardly blame this on any institutional flaw.

Whether we speed up or slow down, the government and each one of us need to do a tad of soul-searching for future direction.


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