The Chinese people have responded to last week's Sichuan earthquake with an unprecedented outpouring of volunteer work and donations—outside the scope, and control, of the Chinese government, the New York Times reports. China’s regime doesn’t trust public activism, and has long restricted private charity groups. But the quake crisis and public reaction are so broad it has grudgingly accepted help.
“This is a significant turning point for China,” said one researcher. “This is going to dissolve some boundaries between the government and the common people.” The outpouring wouldn’t have been possible if media hadn’t ignored the Propaganda Department’s ban on firsthand quake coverage.