After China's Floods, Unrest On The Plains?

The catastrophe will sharpen rural-urban tensions

Even for Chinese accustomed to brutal weather, this year's storms have been particularly disastrous. Since last month, torrential rains across central and southern China have killed some 1,500 people and destroyed more than $11 billion of crops, buildings, and infrastructure. At a time when China boasts of becoming an economic superpower, the catastrophe is a reminder of just how far it has to go. "This [flooding] is on a huge scale," says Geoffrey Prescott, head mf the Beijing mission of Doctors Without Borders. "Roads are wiped out, communications down, railways washed out."

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