4 Replies to “Beijing Earthquake”

  1. Long ago I knew a Postdoctoral Fellow, one of the small number who had then been let out of Red China to work/study in the West. Once he’d got the hang of things he confided to me that he’d learned the expression “civic responsibility” as a good summary of what no Chinese took seriously: they cared only for self and family. I was astonished at his courage, or foolhardiness, in saying as much to a near-stranger.

    (We also had an interesting conversation in the wake of his first visit to the British Museum. “Were the civilisations of Egypt and Mesopotamia as old as the museum said?” “Yes.” “Then I have been lied to.”)

  2. He didn’t elaborate much, apart from checking with me that he understood correctly that the British did not consider themselves the descendants of the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians and whatnot. But that he’d been taught that China pretty much predated everyone at everything was presumably the gist of it – whatever it was, it left him unhappy at the history he’d been taught.

  3. Come to think of it, there must be plenty of Chinese in their mid-sixties who could, if they wished, explain why he might have been upset. My evidence is restricted to the remarks by one clever, serious-minded, reflective but perhaps naive scientist.

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