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Grandpa Wen Brings Doctor’s Note To Train Crash Site

It was an unusual public apology, a justification for tardiness that we wouldn’t expect from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. The point isn’t whether or not his sickness was dubious (with supreme devotion to duty the premier met with foreign leaders while in hospital) but that he had to publicly admit his sickness as an excuse for being late to the site of Saturday’s high speed train crash.

Add to that the similarly unusual announcement by the The Beijing National Railway Research Institute, which publicly admitted its guilt in the disaster, promising to “accept any punishment that is due, and…strictly undertake pursuing culpability of those responsible”.

The power balance is evolving between Chinese citizens, the media and the government. Public opinion carries more weight than it ever has before.

Throw democracy out the front door and it slips in though the back window; China is changing and its government will have to adapt.

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