China's decision to donate school buses to Macedonia has been met with strong criticism at home as concerned Chinese citizens noted the country's inferior transport safety record.
The Chinese government gave 23 buses last week to the Macedonians, who, in a statement on their Web site, said that all buses met safety requirements, could seat 35 students apiece and would be used primarily in rural areas.
However, as many as 480,000 comments were posted on Sina Weibo, China's popular micro-blogging service, by irate Chinese questioning the decision when schools in their own country have to function with substandard transport.
The Yutong Group, which built the buses, has received a number of calls since the announcement of the donation, asking if it was, in fact, its decision. The company, however, confirmed that it was the government's decision to do so, according to a report by Guangzhou's Southern Metropolis Daily.
To illustrate the context of the Chinese citizens' ire, last year approximately 70,000 people died in road accidents in the country. In the most recent incident a minibus crashed and caused the death of 17 children; the bus had in excess of 60 children packed into a nine-seater when it collided with a truck in Gansu province.
Under no insignificant amount of pressure, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made a statement promising to improve child safety. He said the authorities would provide more school buses and that children should be the last ones in society to suffer from any disaster.