China appointed Wang Anshun acting mayor of Beijing after his predecessor was promoted to lead the city’s Communist Party committee, as authorities cope with the aftermath of flooding that killed at least 37 people.
Wang replaces Guo Jinlong, who was named head of Beijing’s Communist Party branch in early July. The holder of the party post is typically named to China’s Politburo, which will get an overhaul as the country undergoes a leadership transition later this year.
Among Wang’s first tasks will be addressing public anger over the government response to the flooding, which occurred after the heaviest rainstorms in more than 60 years hit the city on July 21. Authorities issued a new alert today warning that more rain was forecast for the capital tonight.
Users of Chinese microblog services accused the government of hiding the actual death toll from the floods and neglecting the city’s outdated sewer systems. On July 23, the state-run Global Times newspaper said the casualties had revealed the vulnerability of Beijing’s drainage infrastructure.
In a media briefing yesterday, Wang Hui, the director of the Beijing government news department, denied a cover-up. She said the most important task in the coming days would be to confirm the casualty toll and identify the victims.
On July 23, the Communist Party’s Beijing branch ordered media to highlight “heroic and moving stories” that emerged from flooding, the city’s official Beijing Daily said yesterday.
The story quoted Guo as praising Communist cadres for “their dedication, generous quality, and serious and responsible work” in the flood-relief efforts.
“We don’t even need to tell them to do that,” Wang Hui said at the media briefing yesterday. “A lot of media are reporting that on their own.”
The weekend flood caused about 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in damage, according to the China Daily newspaper. Heavy rains have battered provinces across the country.
Chinese authorities reported that water flow into the reservoir above the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River reached a record 71,200 cubic meters per second yesterday, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
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