When China's greatest modern writer Lu Xun was a student of medicine in 1906, he saw a lantern slide of a group of Japanese soldiers decapitating a Chinese. What dismayed him was the indifference of the Chinese spectators at the scene. Lu wrote, "The people of a weak, laggard country, even though they may enjoy health, can only serve as the senseless subjects of and audience for public executions."
A century later, the Chinese people are no longer indifferent to the sufferings of their compatriots. After the May 12 earthquake, the whole country seemed to mobilize for relief work, showing the generosity and sense of duty expected in a civil society.
The public, officials and soldiers, worked together. Thousands of volunteers went to the quake zone, and tens of billions in cash has poured into Sichuan Province. People queued at blood donation vehicles, and many are seeking to adopt quake orphans.
A month after the 8.0-magnitude earthquake, the official death toll is almost 70,000, with more than 17,000 missing. More than 14 million survivors have to rebuild their homes from the debris.
Qiu Hua stares into the distance from the stairs of the Jiuzhou Stadium in Sichuan's Mianyang City. He is assessing his assets. "I have nothing now," says Qiu, 40. "My house in Beichuan collapsed, my crop is ruined. The plant where I worked has stopped production. I don't know what the future holds." He now lives in a tent in the stadium, which shelters almost 10,000 other people who have lost their homes.
"I've got one thing", says Qiu. "I have the affection and care of other people in other areas. If they didn't care, more people would be dead."
Qiu is fortunate, as his wife and son also survived. His son, the 11-year-old Qiu Peng, was flown out of the mountainous area in a military helicopter. "I felt pleased," says the boy, because I saw a lot of kind-hearted people." His shoes were given to him by a volunteer. On the Children's Day, he received stationery, clothes and candy.
In Qingchuan County, Wang Shizhou helps the local government and soldiers distribute food and drugs. Four days after the quake, Wang came here as a leader of a volunteer group from Beijing.