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What an Epic Rain Revealed About Beijing

The historic rainstorm that struck the Chinese capital last Saturday washed away the gloss of decades of rapid growth, revealing the failures of its infrastructure and its leaders, write Jacob Fromer and Edward Wong.
July 28, 2012, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The catastrophic flooding that killed at least 77 in the city proper, and inundated many neighborhoods with murky water several feet deep, has encouraged much navel-gazing in a city that looked "more an accidental Venice than the capital of a superpower."  

According to Fromer and Wong, "The storm, the heaviest to hit Beijing in more than 60 years, has prompted tough questions about the management of this city of 22 million, which unveiled its bright, shiny face to the world during the Olympics four years ago. Fury has raged on the Internet, as users post messages on microblogs criticizing local officials and asking how Beijing's infrastructure, praised by many visitors, could have failed so miserably during one rainstorm."

Li Chengpeng, a prominent liberal journalist, wrote on his blog, "They never realized that in addition to putting makeup on this city to make it look pretty, they should have also built sewers that actually work."

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Published on Thursday, July 26, 2012 in The New York Times
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