Millions of Chinese are struggling to stave off the country's worst floods in years, as heavy summer rains pour relentlessly across southern and central parts of the country. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of soldiers, police and civilian volunteers have spread across 10 provinces to rescue stranded residents and reinforce embankments.
So far, China has avoided large-scale damage, thanks to its generally effective response. Few countries in the world are able to muster the leadership, manpower, and resources needed to respond to natural disasters like this, but China is one of them.
Beijing has put in place a top-down system that enables the government to respond quickly and effectively. It has also institutionalized close coordination among government ministries on the front line of disaster relief.
China has even set up a special office called "General Command Office to Prevent Flooding and Drought" under the State Council, China's cabinet.
Ramsey Rayyis, regional representative of American Red Cross in China, had praise for the Chinese efforts. "From my experience, the Chinese government and the Chinese Red Cross are doing a commendable job in responding to emergencies, whether it's flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters. The recent flooding and earthquakes have shown they are able to respond efficiently and quickly," he said.
On the ground, China has put together a network of government functionaries and volunteers to perform disaster relief. Led by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, they form the backbone of grassroots operations that involve public participation through quasi-government groups like the Chinese Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations. China relies most heavily on the 2-million-strong People's Liberation Army (PLA)， a standing army that is highly disciplined and organized. The PLA is capable of sending contingents of soldiers whenever and wherever disasters strike.
China also does a good job in using the media. Chinese officials also use media to assure the public. By giving prominence to the measures the government is taking, they are able to show that the government has everything under control.