FOR a capital city unusual, and perhaps unique, in being situated neither on a coastline nor along the banks of a big river, Beijing has been under water a lot of late. Violent summer rainstorms flooded the city in June of last year, overwhelming the antiquated drainage system, flooding roads and paralysing the normally bustling city. On July 21st Beijing was struck again by an even more devastating rainstorm. According to official monitors it was the largest the city has suffered since records began to be kept in 1951.
Thirty-seven deaths have been blamed on the storm. This has raised questions about whether money spent on such prominent “vanity” projects as skyscrapers and Olympic parks might have been better spent on basic infrastructure and on improving disaster preparedness.