Earthquake in Qinghai, China

Friday, April 16, 2010 at 11:31 AM
Recently, there was another earthquake in China. This time it occurred in the Qinghai province, which border Tibet. Qinghai is the home of my father's family, but fortunately, I am told that none of my relatives were injured.

I want to take this to reflect on another example of China's dualities. In the US, it is easy to associate China with shoddy manufacturing processes. In fact, I've seen many examples of people doing questionable business practices in China, in order to make a quick buck. In the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, one of the restaurants on campus was using industrial salt instead of the culinary-safe kind, because it was cheaper. Most likely, the owner was motivated to make more money, but it's equally likely that he was just unaware of the consequences of using industrial chemicals (less rigorous quality standards, could contain toxic substances). We'll just assume it was a mix of both.

So, on one hand, there are many examples of Chinese people being thoughtless and heartless towards each other.

Yet this does not characterize everything. Remember, I wrote about duality earlier.

Whenever disaster strikes, ie. the shit hits the fan, I find compassion to be the most prominent emotion shown by Chinese people. Strangers who normally wouldn't give a second thought that your wallet was stolen, or that you're lost, they rush to help. I don't have many specific examples to prove my point here, but I'm as sure of it as I am anything else. From the pictures taken of the Qinghai earthquake, and previous natural disasters, I can just see the emotions flooding through people's faces. As rescuers rush the injured to hospitals, as they ferret out those trapped under rubble, I can see the urgency shining from their eyes.

Strange, that the Chinese people have such a dichotomy. My theory? Perhaps the society has not adjusted to the past 25 years of rapid development and cultural shifts.


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