Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

This Blog was Invented in Xi'an 5,000 Years Ago


Posted by MyLaowai on Wednesday, November 17, 2010

There has been a bit of a fire in Shanghai. Actually, it was rather a large blaze by all accounts, seeing as how a large apartment building caught fire, killing dozens and injuring many more.

Now, you all know me and you know I’m not one for shedding crocodile tears. If there’s one thing I hate about Chinese society above all else, it’s the sheer hypocrisy that permeates every aspect of life here. So, you won’t find me bleating on about some dead people I don’t know, didn’t want to know, and am not going to miss. Sorry if you think that’s a bit harsh, but quite frankly I couldn’t care less. Whether they die today in an apartment fire, or die in a few years time in a nuclear fire when they piss off a few more of their country’s neighbours; it’s all the same to me.

But there are a few points worth mentioning, because they tell you plenty about the Chinese way:

1. A fire in Shanghai gets a lot of press coverage. A fire in the countryside, or in a provincial city, wouldn’t rate a text message, and if you did make a story out of it, you and your family would be taken away, declared insane, and tortured to death. Shanghai matters because it’s highly visible, and that’s that. Face matters. That’s the Chinese way.

2. Within hours the head of the Public Security Bureau (China’s version of the KGB) was on a plane to Shanghai, to say how much he sympathised with the families blah blah blah. This is a guy who is responsible for thousands of murders every year. But hey, none of those are in the public eye, right? That’s the Chinese way.

3. Before the fire was even properly out, before the Origin & Cause investigation had even had a chance to begin, eight people were arrested. All of them from the countryside, so they won’t be missed (and if they are missed then their families can be forced to keep quiet, far from the eye of the foreign press). Why? Because someone must be blamed. It doesn’t matter what happens, it doesn’t matter who is responsible, and it especially doesn’t matter what the truth is, someone will inevitably be blamed, and that person will be the person who has the least power to defend himself. That’s the Chinese way.

4. New and ‘more stringent fire regulations’ have been ordered. Of course they have been. Nothing will change, and buildings all over China will continue to do good impressions of Roman Candles every few days, but the main thing is that the mandarins in Peking have made a proclamation, and the good folks of China believe them. The Party Bosses could order the moon to fly backwards, and The People would actually believe it happens. That’s the Chinese way.

5. For the next week, sales (and prices) of smoke hoods and fire extinguishers will increase, and so will sales (and prices) of various magical remedies for being burned to death. Little bags of magical twigs and various bits of lawn clippings will outsell smoke hoods and assorted magical incantations will take place in many homes. No one will actually consider how to get out of a building that is on fire; no one will walk the stairs down to the ground as a test-run; no one will invest in equipment to rescue people above the fourth floor; no one will unlock any of the fire exits; and no one will stop shooting fireworks at other apartments. This is the Chinese way.

I hate the Chinese way. I really do.

13 Responses to “Fire”

  1. Dave in Macau said

    You are so scathing but accurate, I really love this site.

    I’m glad things are (slightly) better here in Macau.

  2. Hans said

    Our neighbors ayi has discovered burning their trash in the hallway (stairwell? staircase area? ~ what the hell is the proper word for that area?) in the plus 20th floor of our compound. It sure beats walking downstairs to dispose of the trash. Just smells a bit like burned plastic, but well, better than many other smells.

  3. Li Feng said

    Bam, nailed it right on.

  4. Chinese Netizen said

    How can one argue with these indisputable facts, according to law? Nail hit squarely on the head.

    Next up: “Strike hard against fire” campaign.

  5. Slap2tickle said

    I wonder if anybody will be shot just like in the Milk scandal only to find out more batches of melamine milk (incidentally in Shanghai), not even a bullet in the head is enough to dissuade them from making a few fast bucks. Well at least it’ll save me money from buying fireworks during the festival if I can watch a building or two go up in smoke (CCTV anybody?).

  6. Nips Are Great said

    -One thing that was covered/staged in the ‘news’ was that a person who had escaped asked for the Communist Party to ‘help’ them. The local monkey didn’t ask for more soldier/firemen, he didn’t ask for more sophisticated equipment, he didn’t ask for assistance from neighbours, he didn’t ask to find out why the hell it fucking happened, he asked for the Communist Party to ‘help’. What a fucking moron.

    The Commies killed the cream of the crop during their first thirty years of misrule so who could be surprised that mainland Chinese are so fucking stupid.

    • Chinese Netizen said

      Again…it goes back to not having a credible judicial/justice system or civil society. They need to go on their knees in front of the emperor to beg for justice, fire fighting equipment, or reprieve from local tyranny.

      Maybe grandpa Wen will show up and look concerned with a few strategically squeezed out tears. Doubtful though since it is the turf of the “Shanghai Gang”.

  7. Hans said

    psst….there was never a cream of the crop…

  8. Neddy said

    A Priceless comment, found on Danwei’s “Aftermath of the Shanghai fire: poor govt. supervision and dodgy sub contracting”:

    “A Twitter alert from Luo Changping, the deputy editor at business magazine Caijing, said the company which started the Shanghai fire is owned by the wife of the chief of Jing An district.”

    Overheard this week…
    “Hey Sweety, can you pass me the Chicken Feet…? Try not to burn them OK?”
    “I said I was sorry!!”


  9. MyLaowai said

    FYI: all the shite and blather and faux concern aside, here are the figures (from SCMP) for the wonder and happy and very fashion Spring Festival celebration night, a.k.a. damage caused by fireworks:

    2 killed and 223 injured in Beijing
    171 fires in Beijing, up 175% on last year
    nearly 6,000 fires nationwide

    In other news, Premier Wen, known as ‘Grandpa’ by the locals, and ‘murderous thug’ by those who know anything about him, visited the drought-stricken north, and promised to help the people there by keeping the prices for grain artificially low. Quite how this helps is something only a Communist official could understand.


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