China Requests Additional Compensation For NZ Quake Victims – updated

Sichuan earthquake 2008

Stuff is reporting this morning that China has asked for additional compensation over and above the ACC payments that will be given to the next of kin of Chinese citizens killed in the Christchurch earthquake.

Reporting on a RadioNZ interview,  Stuff set the scene with with a comment that China has “demanded”  New Zealand give special compensation to families that lost their only child in the 22 February earthquake.

To-date seven deceased Chinese students have been identified and over twenty are still missing (source)

The report continued with

“… Chinese Ambassador Xu Jianguo had made repeated requests for extra compensation above that paid through Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

An embassy official coordinating the disaster relief centre, Cheng Lee, told Radio New Zealand that China’s situation was unusual due to the fact that by law families there could only have one child per family.

“There is a very notable difference in terms of the family situation between the Chinese family members and other foreign family members,” he said.

“You can expect how lonely, how desperate they are, not only from losing loved ones, but losing almost entirely their source of economic assistance after retirement.” Read the full report HERE

We’ve written many times about New Zealand’s ACC system – a no-fault state insurance organisation. The downside of which is that its provision removed a victim’s (or their next of kin’s) right to sue for loss or damage. Historically ACC payments aren’t thought to be particularly generous.

Last week businessman, Yaxun Zhang, a member of the Henan Chamber of Commerce, donated $100,000 to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal after reading about the many Chinese people who’d lost loved ones in the disaster.

China, of course, is no stranger to the utter devastation and misery caused by earthquakes. In the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake, an estimated 80,000 people lost their lives,, a terrible loss which multiplied through Chinese society in ways that the western world may not be aware of. In rural parts of China if you have no children you have no status.

And, because there is no one there to provide for you there is no financial security either. You can appreciate why China feels the loss of these children in New Zealand so very deeply.

No right to sue

New Zealand’s has a no-fault Accident Compensation Scheme. The Accident and Compensation Commission (ACC) administers a 24 hour, 7 day per week, no-fault, comprehensive accident insurance scheme covering New Zealanders and those people visiting New Zealand. In return for this cover, people do not have the right to sue for damages if another person, or organisation, is at fault.

No fault can also mean no responsibility.

We think it may be time to review the payments made to non-residents in New Zealand, many of whom come from wealthier countries with higher average earnings and standards of living. Or better still, give foreign nationals the right to opt out of ACC cover and give them (or their insurance companies) the legal right to sue for damages if they wish.

For more postings about the ACC click HERE


By way of comparison here is some information about the ACC payment made to the family of the youngest victim of the Pike River Mine disaster (source)

The family of the youngest miner to be killed in the Pike River coal underground mine will only receive a funeral grant from the Accidental Compensation Corporation (ACC).

Joseph Dunbar was only 17 and on his first shift when the blasts ripped through the mine, killing him and 28 colleagues.

But despite millions of dollars in compensation to be paid to the families of the miners, the youngest victim’s family is only entitled to funeral expenses not exceeding $5541.

The decision has left Dunbar’s mother, Pip Timms feeling like her son’s life “wasn’t worth much”.

If the parents of people killed in Christchurch are to receive similar amounts its little wonder that they feel they way they do. But as Pip timms said

It’s not about the money. I will never have grandchildren. I will never see him get married,” she said.

“He was my world, and that’s the end of it.”

Under the circumstances $5541 seems like an mean minded insult and the grieving family doesn’t even have recourse in law to challenge it.

Where’s the famed ‘Kiwi Spirit’ in that?

And what’s the lesson that will be learned by China (and other countries) from this? Simple – don’t send your kids to New Zealand.

You may also be interested in

“International students are vital to the NZ economy. They support 45,000 jobs, pay more than $600 million in direct fees and the travel and tourism industry further benefits from their visiting friends and families. link

International students are worth $2 billion annually to the economy. “If you want to put it crudely, they are seen only as cash cows,” said Professor Manying Ip, a professor of Asian studies at Auckland University.” link

2 thoughts on “China Requests Additional Compensation For NZ Quake Victims – updated

  1. In a nutshell – yes.

    John Key told reporters today
    “Our greatest sympathy goes to those families… we have a policy under ACC that applies to international citizens as much as it does to locals”

    Then why not raise the compensation for everybody.

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