The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had not yet been eradicated when the country had to grapple with floods, the most severe after the inundation in 1998. But despite the double pressure, the loss of lives and property has been substantially lower, thanks to improved control measures.
Overcoming natural disasters runs through the history of the Chinese nation. In ancient China, according to legend, King Yu introduced flood control, which made him acclaimed as Yu the Great. Tenaciously fighting against natural disasters has been part of the Chinese spirit for thousands of years. Today, the resilience has been enhanced by modern organizational capability, social governance and extensive application of science and technology.
The organizational skill is evident in the creation of special departments and taskforces for flood control at the central as well as local levels. As the rainy season approached, these departments and local governments swung into action immediately.
The authorities made accurate predictions about the Yangtze's first flood of the year two days in advance, providing important alerts for flood control.
On July 12, President Xi Jinping urged related departments to step up flood control measures, asking officials at all levels to go to the frontline to guide the work.
Military personnel, including the People's Liberation Army, armed police and militia, helped evacuate stranded residents and reinforce dykes. Ministries like Finance, Civil Affairs and Emergency Management mobilized prompt relief to flood-hit areas to mitigate the disruptions. Advanced technologies such as 5G, unmanned aerial vehicles and satellites were used to monitor the flood situation and send the information to flood-fighting and emergency personnel. Key water control projects in the flooded areas, such as the Three Gorges Dam and the Gezhouba Dam on the Yangtze River, readjusted their water discharge according to the rainfall analysis. Such hi-tech-based measures helped minimize the losses.
All of this stems from China's governance system and capacity. In October 2019, a key meeting of the Communist Party of China discussed how to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and advance governance capacity. The decisions taken at the meeting have guided improving the social governance system and capacity building based on China's national conditions.
The timely and rapid response shown nationwide, both in COVID-19 prevention and control and subsequent flood control, with meticulously planned coordination among different departments and regions, demonstrates the modernization of China's national governance system and capacity.
This has not only effectively combated disasters such as floods, earthquakes and epidemics but also led to China's economic and social progress.
(Print Edition Title: Come Rain or High Water)