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Growing pains in rising but fragile China

Xinhua, January 6, 2015 Adjust font size:

China's eventful year of 2014 ended in tragedy, with 36 revelers killed in a stampede as they were ushering in a new year.

The disaster, which happened in China's financial hub of Shanghai, served as a wake-up call that the world's second-largest economy is still a developing country which has fragile social management.

Similar incidents causing heavy casualties are rare in developed countries, either stampedes, coal mine explosions or plant fire.

An overwhelming majority of major human stampedes occurred in developing countries over the past decade, mainly in India, Kenya, Iraq and China.

The world's most populous country, which is working on achieving its dream of rejuvenation, is no stranger to such incidents.

In 2014, two unrelated stampedes in China killed 20 people. In January, a stampede at a mosque in Ningxia killed 14, and another in September at a primary school in Yunnan killed six students.

For China, whose per capita GDP ranked at around the 86th in 2013, natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods might lead to heavy casualties due to poor infrastructure and porous management.

Even for a metropolis like Shanghai, which leads in modern management nationwide, loopholes still exist.

The stampede came years after a high-rise building fire killing 58 people and injuring 71 in Shanghai. Officials were jailed for abuse of power and corruption found in investigations.

Safety incidents may be the distressing price China has to pay before it grows further.

In his New Year address to the nation, Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the need to continue reform and advance the rule of law in 2015, comparing them to "a bird's two wings."

Recalling natural disasters and safety accidents, including the Ludian earthquake that killed more than 600 people in August, Xi urged improving people's lives year by year.

Mentioning the word "people" over a dozen times, the president has sent a clear message that a country's development should benefit its people. Improving people's lives should become a yardstick against which national development is measured.

The bloody stampede in Shanghai is an alert to all. As China seeks greater economic achievements through a new round of reforms, people's lives should always be prioritized.

There is no development worth people's lives.

The year 2015 is expected to be a key moment for China. The Shanghai tragedy at the New Year Eve makes people think about how to make the year safer -- real development should not kill.