Governing Disasters: A Comparative Analysis of the 1931, 1954 and 1998 Middle-Yangzi Floods in Hubei

  • Chris Courtney


Over the course of the twentieth-century the Middle Yangzi region experienced three catastrophic floods, in 1931, 1954, and 1998. This chapter uses these mega-floods as prism through which to examine the changing practice, representation, and popular perception of disaster governance in Hubei Province. It describes how a lack of investment in the hydraulic network and a narrow focus upon military objectives weakened the official response to the 1931 flood. It examines archival evidence and oral history testimony to question the generally positive assessment that historians have of the 1954 flood, demonstrating that the disaster resulted in five times as many fatalities as has been acknowledged previously. Finally, this chapter argues that, although the response to the 1998 disaster represented a considerable improvement in governance, the flood itself was exacerbated by long-term unsustainable environmental policies.


Chinese Communist Party Ordinary Citizen Flood Defence Sluice Gate Hydraulic Network 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Courtney
    • 1
  1. 1.Asia Research InstituteNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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