Why does Chongqing's 'heroic spirit' resonate so strongly?: Global Times editorial
Published: Aug 27, 2022 01:28 AM
Firefighters are putting out the fire in Chongqing. Photo: Courtesy of Kunming forest firefighting branch

Firefighters are putting out the fire in Chongqing. Photo: Courtesy of Kunming forest firefighting branch

All open flames of the mountain fires in Chongqing in SW China have finally been extinguished on Friday. According to the latest reports, the mountain forest fires in various parts of Chongqing have fully entered the stage of clearing and guarding, with "no casualties or loss of important facilities." 

Under the continuous severe heat and drought environment, extinguishing wildfires faces unimaginable difficulties and obstacles. But it took less than 10 days since the first wildfire broke out to put them all out, which is not easy to achieve. In this process, "heroic spirit" is the most popular keyword on social media platforms.

Chongqing is a mountain city. Mountains and people are connected without clear boundaries. Therefore, the mountain fires were an urgent crisis for people living in Chongqing, which has inspired the public's great unity to protect their homes. Firefighters, armed police officers and soldiers, the People's Liberation Army, and medical staff were on the front line in this campaign to extinguish the mountain fires. Behind them, there was solid backing formed by volunteers spontaneously - with a man delivering supplies by riding a motorcycle with a five-star red flag, a father and his son carrying chainsaws to cut the isolation belt, girls coordinating supplies with loudspeakers, as well as those delivering takeaway food and water, cooking meals, and driving excavators. Among heroes in harm's way were soldiers, members of the Communist Party of China, and ordinary people from all walks of life and of different ages. In the face of the raging wildfire, their forces have come together.

Such a "heroic spirit" belongs to both Chongqing and all the Chinese people. This "epic firefighting" called by netizens was supported by the whole country. Because of the severe and urgent fire situation, the national ministries and provinces such as Gansu and Yunnan all provided firm support to Chongqing, supplying vital assistance for extinguishing the fire in a short time. At the same time, on the internet, voices of "Come on, Chongqing" cheered repeatedly, and social media platforms were full of countless touching scenes. Indeed, if there were no "heroic spirit," it would be impossible to achieve the result through "posing." What really resonates is that these ordinary and brave people shine with their courage, will and unity that Chinese people share in the face of disasters or external enemies.

Interestingly, the perspectives of some in the US and Western media outlets on the disaster in Chongqing are completely different from those in China. They have always observed China with a magnifying glass. They have reported a lot about the inconvenience caused by heat, power outage and epidemic, and even taunted them. They deliberately magnified the detailed contradictions and differences that appeared in society's response to disasters, but remained silent on the firefighting solidarity which resonated among the most in Chinese society. This is unkind or even inhumane in itself. It's not that they have not seen it, but they do not want to believe and admit that China has done a fairly good job in dealing with disasters.

The US has been also suffering from mountain fires. In addition to the California fires every year, drought in large areas is also becoming a more and more prominent problem. However, those fires only bring about a serious gap between the rich and the poor as resources are only available to the rich, with unethical "rules" of "never putting out the fire without paying," as well as soaring prices after the disasters and the frequent vicious cases of looting.

However, amid the mountain forest fires in Chongqing, what we can see is the volunteers bringing iced water to the front-line firefighters, motorcycle store owners lending free expensive off-road motorcycles for disaster relief, and the gas stations freely refueling the "motorcycle army," etc. In the meantime, despite the multiple disasters that happened simultaneously, everything is in order. 

Over the past few decades, a number of people in the US and the West have studied China and thought they knew it well. But they have made predictions and judgments that have been proven completely wrong by reality. One of the main reasons for this is their lack of understanding of the Chinese character of bravery and devotion, as well as Chinese people's resolution to defend the country. They are also unfamiliar with the Chinese tradition of social solidarity and helping each other, which has led to repeated misjudgments. 

Especially in recent years, US and Western public opinion has become more inclined to use ideology to explain "Why China can do it," trying to create an atmosphere in which China is demonized so that "Even if you did it, it's not honorable." It has to be said that this is not only arrogance, but also a kind of ideological degradation. But they cannot explain why some mountain forest fires in the US and Australia keep burning for months or even a year and why collapse of a residential building in the US faced an absurd "archaeological rescue."

The care for the family and country is the most simple, affectionate, and powerful emotion of the Chinese people. In every crisis and emergency, whenever the country and the people need it, there are always millions of people who come forward spontaneously, whether it is the Yangtze River Crossing Campaign during the War of Liberation during which the people rowed small sampans to help the PLA soldiers cross the Yangtze River in the face of gunfire, or the "blind jump" of 15 airborne soldiers at a height of 5,000 meters to the epicenter area after the Wenchuan earthquake, or the "great wall of starlight" formed by the head lamps of volunteers during fight against the Chongqing fires. These are the remarkable Chinese people, who are the base of China.