Bleeding Dragon: Catastrophe Management for a Rapidly Developing China: China's Booming Economy Offers Plenty of Opportunities for Foreign Investment. but How Manageable Is the Country's Natural Catastrophe Risk?
Lai, Jenny, Powers, Imelda Y., Risk Management
2008 was an extraordinarily bad year for natural disasters in China. In January, a quick succession of four snowstorms struck central and southern China with its most extreme winter weather in 50 years. The storms caused massive electrical disruptions and wrought havoc on the transportation system, stranding 500,000 Spring Festival travelers at the Guangzhou Railway Station for several days. A total of 107 people died during the storms, and the aggregate economic loss reached $15.3 billion. All together, the insurance industry processed approximately 800,000 claims, sustaining an insured loss of $139 million.
On April 18, Typhoon Neoguri made landfall in two provinces, shattering the previous record, held since 1971, for the earliest start of the Pacific storm season. The storm killed three and forced 120,000 people to evacuate.
On May 12, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck Wenchuan County in Sichuan province, leaving nearly 70,000 dead, 17,500 missing, 95,750 hospitalized and five million homeless. The economic loss totaled $87 billion, including the cost of 6.5 million destroyed homes. It was China's deadliest seismic event since the Tangshan earthquake of 1976, which killed more than 240,000 people, and it was China's strongest earthquake since the magnitude 8.5 Chayu earthquake of 1950. In November, the central government announced that it would spend some $146.5 billion over the next three years to rebuild Wenchuan County.
As severe as these events were, they are not uncommon for China. According to the Disaster Center, 24 of the 100 deadliest natural catastrophes of the 21st century occurred in China, killing a total of 13.1 million people. In fact, China has the worst natural disaster record of any country on the list, with the Soviet Union/Russia coming in a distant second.
Perhaps the most incredible lesson of 2008, then, is that it could have been much worse. The January snowstorms would have been much more disruptive had they blanketed areas farther north including Shanghai and Beijing, and the Sichuan …
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Publication information: Article title: Bleeding Dragon: Catastrophe Management for a Rapidly Developing China: China's Booming Economy Offers Plenty of Opportunities for Foreign Investment. but How Manageable Is the Country's Natural Catastrophe Risk?. Contributors: Lai, Jenny - Author, Powers, Imelda Y. - Author. Magazine title: Risk Management. Volume: 56. Issue: 2 Publication date: March 2009. Page number: 38+. © 1999 Risk Management Society Publishing, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale Group.
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