Writer Li Chengpeng is a prominent soccer commentator on Chinese TV. In 2008, he traveled to the area devastated by the Sichuan earthquake and writes about how the experience changed his attitude toward his country. From the New York Times:
I was a typical patriot before 2008. I believed that “hostile foreign forces” were responsible for most of my peoples’ misfortunes. As a soccer commentator covering games between Japan and China, I wrote lines like, “Cut off the Japanese devils’ heads.” I saw Japanese soccer players as the descendants of the Japanese soldiers who brutally killed Chinese civilians in the 1937 massacre of Nanjing. I used to curse CNN for its anti-China commentaries. I was one of the protesters who stood in front of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu and raised my fist after the U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999.
But my patriotism began to come into question as I stood in front of the ruins of Beichuan High School. It became clear that the “imperialists” did not steal the reinforced-steel bars from the concrete used to make our schools. Our school children were not killed by foreign devils. Instead, they were killed by the filthy hands of my own people.
I still believe that we should “build a New Great Wall with our flesh and blood” but now I also believe the Great Wall should protect our flesh and blood.
Li Chengpeng has become a popular blogger and has five million followers on Sina Weibo. He also ran for local election in Chengdu. Read more by and about Li via CDT, including an essay he wrote about his experience volunteering in the earthquake zone, “The True Story of the Miracle Survival of the Students and Teachers of Longhan Elementary School in Beichuan.” Read also more about the Sichuan earthquake of 2008.