The recent nursing home fire in Henan province that killed nearly 40 people was tragic.
What it also most likely demonstrated was the continuing failure to enforce mandatory standards in China’s construction industry.
While we have (hopefully) moved beyond the era when buildings fall over due to shortcuts taken in the laying of their foundations, there are still too many buildings with deep safety and simple quality flaws.
We are rapidly heading into an era when much that has been constructed even less than 20 years ago is deteriorating fast. Those who purchased an apartment 20 years ago may be sitting on large but mostly theoretical paper profit as the building literally crumbles around them.
Consider public buildings. Have fire resistant materials been used? Have appropriate exit paths been built in? Have best practices in restricting the ability of a fire to spread been adopted?
Or thinking of the priority now given to energy efficiency and smart buildings – have energy efficient insulation materials been used? Have double or triple glazed windows been installed?
China’s construction policies and requirements are generally good (the same can be said about food safety and environmental standards). We should make heroes out of the building inspectors who truly stand up for the requirements. They should be encouraged to publicly name and shame.
It would not take much in the world of social media in China to create a wave of public opinion that would force the adoption of better practices.