China Blasts ‘Vanity Political Appointee’ Pete Buttigieg over Ohio Train Catastrophe

This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train that dera
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, Andre Malerba/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chinese state media continued having a field day with the Ohio train disaster on Tuesday and Wednesday, crowing that the calamity has become a viral sensation on Chinese social media because it exposes the corruption, incompetence, and hypocrisy of the U.S. government.

“Many netizens, when criticizing the U.S. for not properly handling the disaster, also questioned if the U.S. government is trying to deliberately withhold information, and hype a balloon incident involving China to divert domestic media attention,” the state-run Global Times said on Tuesday, hammering Beijing’s favorite new talking point about how President Joe Biden’s administration targeted China’s harmless and lovable weather balloon to distract Americans from the Ohio disaster.

The Global Times solicited testimony from Chinese students living in Ohio about the U.S. government and media colluding to conceal the true extent of the toxic chemical spill from the derailed train:

Two Chinese students who are currently studying in Ohio told the Global Times that they have not heard of any relevant information, nor seen the story reported by mainstream US media outlets, adding that the local government had provided no notice over the incident.

“I’ve been feeling rhinitis in recent days, which never happened to me before so I am planning to see the doctor soon,” said a Chinese student surnamed Zan. She said she was only aware of “such a horrific incident” via Chinese social media.

Another student surnamed Sun, who lives 72 kilometers from the affected area said people are stockpiling mineral water. “Although the government assured people that the any immediate danger has passed, people still remain dubious.”

Chinese social media is reportedly buzzing with comparisons to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, in which the Russian government was not exactly forthcoming with honest information about the dangerous situation around the reactor.

“Why on earth is the U.S. withholding details about such a serious accident? If you look at the U.S. media right now, it is all about Chinese balloon stories. I doubt they are deliberately hyping the balloon stories to divert people’s attention from the real catastrophe,” charged one commentator on Weibo, China’s state-controlled version of Twitter. Weibo does not allow users to post messages on the platform that do not align with the Chinese Communist Party’s opinions.

Chinese social media is also obsessed with reports that a journalist was arrested while attempting to cover the Ohio derailment. 

“So much for the U.S. style freedom of press. Imagine if such thing happened in China, a big accident, and stifling journalists, how would the Western media not cover this?” hooted one Weibo user. The Chinese Communist regime is the world’s worst jailer of reporters.

Another Global Times piece on Tuesday pushed the Ohio derailment as evidence that American government has become fundamentally corrupt and utterly incompetent, unlike the supremely capable and totally honest authoritarian regime in Beijing, which has all sorts of hyper-efficient regulations.

The Associated Press

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, speaks to the Transportation Research Board gathering in Washington, Jan. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

The Global Times heaped scorn upon the Biden administration’s utterly unqualified and manifestly inept Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, but went further to argue that every level of American government must be corrupt for such a disaster to occur:

The entire issue surrounding the train derailment appears to be a massive corruption scandal, whereby corporations are dictating policies that impact the lives of millions of people – and put them at significant risk. As stated before, relevant officials have stated to Congress that there will be more trail derailments without regulation. Instead, we have a politically convenient, unqualified appointment sat in the highest position on this issue, who refuses to regulate the rail lobby.

We have actually already seen the power of this industry. At the end of last year, workers from some of the most extensive freight lines threatened a national strike that would have crippled the economy. But their demands were extraordinarily basic: paid sick leave, not being on call 24/7, not being forced to conduct trains alone and a decent wage. Instead, the Biden administration forced a skinny deal on workers on behalf of the rail lobby.

That Americans are essentially controlled by such interests is fundamentally unjust and inherently anti-democratic. It means that our basic livelihoods and safety are controlled by large cartels with no public accountability. And they own all our elected officials, meaning there is no way to impose regulations on them at even a basic level. This is not simply limited to the rail industry, but extends to the entire economy, as Americans enjoy far fewer consumer and environmental protections than peer countries.

Buttigieg himself, the column asserted, was “essentially a vanity political appointee by the administration of President Joe Biden to help boost his political score.”

A Global Times editorial on Wednesday repeated all of China’s talking points about the Ohio situation again, this time to trash the Biden administration and its media supporters for ignoring real threats to American security so they can chase Chinese spy balloons:

If similar things happen in other countries, it will most likely get real-time rolling reports from the mainstream media in the US. However, when things happen in the US, everything becomes different. Facing the anger and strong dissatisfaction of the local people, Washington, which talks about “human rights”, “security” and “environmental protection” all the time, seemed indifferent; in the over 10 days after the accident, most of the news that occupied the headlines of the US mainstream media was related to the so-called “China Threat,” while the real security and health threats to the American people has been pushed to the corner.

This contrast is extremely stark: almost all Washington elites are staring at a few “UFOs” at an altitude of about 10,000 meters and talking about “security threats,” but they turn a blind eye to the poisonous gas threat that their people are facing. Some netizens have even quipped that the best way to get the government’s attention is to put a “Made in China” label on the derailed train.


The US federal government has a number of specialized functional departments, each of which is supposed to have its own job, but now they seem to be encapsulated in the same cage called “national security.” It has spared no effort to “prevent threats.” Come and see, there are balloons in the sky, “they came from China,” we shot them down, it seems to be very hilarious and refreshing, but will the polluted air get better? Have the soil and water been disinfected? No matter how ideologically paranoid Americans are, they also know that hyping the “China threat theory” cannot solve the real environmental security problems facing the American people.

Again, for the record, China has all sorts of toxic spills and the Communist regime routinely lies about them. Chinese citizens occasionally marshal the courage to demonstrate against the horrific environmental policies of the regime, even knowing they might be killed, jailed, or ruined through the dystopian “social credit system” for daring to criticize their rulers. 

Before it unleashed a novel coronavirus on the world, the Chinese government was noted for allowing well-connected pharmaceutical companies to feed poisoned medicine to children. Whatever lessons might be drawn about government corruption and secrecy from the Ohio disaster, the tyrants of Beijing are the last people in the world who should be teaching it, unless the North Korean regime feels like chiming in.

In fact, one of the most damning criticisms of how the Biden administration is handling the toxic spill in East Palestine, Ohio is that Beijing would probably handle it the same way.


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