East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

April 27 Special Session (LOCATION CHANGE)


Workshop on East Asia:
Politics, Economy and Society Presents

“Chinese Wenchuan Earthquake and American Hurricane Katrina: A Comparative Perspective”

King Kwun Tsao
Associate Professor, Department of Government and Public Administration
Chinese University of Hong Kong

4:00-5:30pm, Tuesday
Special Session: April 27, 2010
Center for East Asian Studies, Judd 302
5835 S. Kimbark Avenue

Workshop website: http://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/eastasia/
Student coordinator: Jean Lin (jeanlin@uchicago.edu)
Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang, Cheol-sung Lee, Dingxin Zhao
The workshop is sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies and the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance, please contact the student coordinator in advance.

Disaster crisis management needs speedy and coordinated efforts to marshal all the available resources to reduce losses in lives, property and disruption, along with lessening pains and ills of those involved and subsequently launching reconstruction and rehabilitation. It is a global problem that affects every nation. However, some countries may handle and manage it without having that much criticism, while others face mounting difficulties. This talk attempts to answer the following questions: What are the conceptual variables that attribute to the success or failure of disaster management? What can we learn from the cases of natural disasters which are handled differently by different countries? Are there any particular lessons we can learn from each other? What matters most, if any, in lessening or even preventing the disastrous impacts of these natural disasters? I will use two cases, namely the Chinese Wenchuan Earthquake on May 12, 2008 and the United States Hurricane Katrina of 2005, to present the comparative perspective. By using and focusing on the administrative, institutional and policy responses towards these two cases, one can find some similarities as well as differences—-though these two nations differ tremendously politically and economically.

Specifically, the talk will be divided into four parts. Part one will outline the responses and the efforts of public emergencies preparedness initiated by the Chinese government before the Earthquake. Part two will document the American responses, primarily at the federal level, towards Hurricane Katrina. The third part will compare and contrast these two cases, and identify some variables such as leadership and timing, among others, that work for both cases. In the last part of the talk, I will offer some lessons that can be learnt from this perspective to wrap up this presentation.

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