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The Xintai Mental Institute Scandal

A couple of days ago, the Beijing News reported how local officials in Xintai – a city in the eastern province of Shandong – locked up citizens in mental hospitals to prevent them from making journeys to Beijing to alert central government officials of local injustices going on in Xintai (see original story – and english version translated by Global Voices).

According to the report, at least 18 people may have been sent to such hospitals, with some even given debilitating drugs.

Local officials have denied wrongdoings but have promised to conduct investigations.

Excerpts of the English translation from Global Voices of the story are provided below:

Xintai Town, Shangdong.

Mr. Sun-fawu, 57, got off the car and looked around for his companion he was to meet. Yet no one was there. All in a sudden, a microbus rushed to him and stopped, 3 people coming off and closing him in. One of them was identified as An-shizhi, Sun recalled, who is the director of the Petitioning Office (the official agency handles complaints) in the town.

“what are doing?”
“to find a job in Beijing。”
“Looking for a job? No, you are to petition. You are not let go!”

Two men came up, snatched away the cellphone Sun was to use for police-calling, and pushed him into the microbus.

Sun yelled to the doctor coming to him, “I am not lunatic! I am just going to petition!”

The shout was heard by many “patients” there, including Mr. Shi, a close friend to Sun later.

The doctor says, “I don’t care whether you are ill. You are sent by the town government, and I’ll treat you as of psychosis.”

“I had all my limbs tied to the bed legs, and head wrapped up by a mask.” Sun heard some one saying “pouring the medicine quickly”, and his mouth was forced to open. Mandible clutched, the pills ran into his throat. At 7 pm, Dr. Zhu gave Sun a shot, and he then lost all his consciousness.

According to the criteria, Sun’s family could get over 40 thousand. But as Sun and some other villagers said, over 300 households in the village got no compensation at all.

Three days later, 1, Oct, at night, over 10 people broke into Sun’s home when he was not there, and hacked down Sun’s son, who got married only 5 days ago, to be seriously injured. Sun’s wife, Zhang-xuefang recalled, those people yelled “We’ll kill out your family if you keep on petitioning.”

“Every day I took pills and injection.” Sun was sensitive to medicine. “I felt dizzy, and can’t stand up.”

Mr. Shi, 84, has his own secret mission. Up till now, he has recorded 18 petitioners penned up into the hospital.

Sun made a lot of record, writing them on paper slips, sometimes even on used pill boxes. He said, all this was secret, because nurses didn’t allow the “petitioner patients” to talk. The diary and papers were hidden under quilts.

“some patients kept beating me up, as long as I quarreled with doctors and nurses. After they were gone, the patients would come up and hit me, clutched my neck. They must have been ordered to do so by the doctors.”

Since the second day in the asylum, he was forced to take pills. He would hide the pill down the tongue, and spit them after the nurses turned away. It was soon found out, however. And then, nurses would inspect their tongues every single time. Shi and another patient both said so.

There has been a lot of interest on this story both in Western media as well as on Chinese Internet forums.

I personally think this is an interesting story – but is not a big deal.  It is an embarrassing local scandal but nothing more.

Am I right in that assessment?  Do people know more than what I disclosed above?

Do people find it slightly surprising that the Beijing News is allowed to publish such a story?

There are rumors that the editor of Southern Metropolis Daily was recently removed due to the paper’s persistent reporting earlier this year on the Yang Jia case despite clear government discouragements.

Would the editors of the Beijing News suffer a similar fate?

  1. WillF
    December 11th, 2008 at 07:12 | #1

    I don’t think it’s “no big deal.” Violence against innocent civilians is never OK in any country. But if what this guy says is accurate, these citizens aren’t disturbing the peace in any way. They are simply going to Beijing to alert the central government to what they feel are problems. From what I understand, this is acceptable in China, and is wholly within the spirit of popular action that has been a tradition in Chinese politics since 1949. Furthermore, the “forced medication” aspect seems particularly cruel and sadistic. Those local government officials who were involved should be ashamed of themselves. Those that committed wrongdoing should be severely punished, and perhaps their supervisors should resign, even if they didn’t know what was going on.

    I think it’s great that the Beijing News published the story, and I hope the editors are not punished for publishing it. By shedding light on these deeds, the Chinese media can demonstrate how civilized societies such as China do not stand by and say nothing when wrongdoings are perpetrated.

  2. Wukailong
    December 11th, 2008 at 08:01 | #2

    “Do people find it slightly surprising that the Beijing News is allowed to publish such a story?”

    There is actually a policy that originated under Hu (I think) that allows provinces to cross-report on each other’s cases. So, if a Shandong scandal can’t be reported there, it might as well be reported in Beijing or Guangdong. I’m not sure how well this policy works in practice, but there have apparently been a group of province leaders who want the policy abolished, so at least it’s creating some worry among leaders.

  3. Raj
    December 11th, 2008 at 11:29 | #3

    I personally think this is an interesting story – but is not a big deal.

    Tell you what, Allen, why don’t you or your wife nip over to a similar area of China, do what these people did in complaining about something either to a distant relative or someone in their town/village, spend a couple of weeks in one of these institutions and tell us again that it’s no big deal.

    In all seriousness, that this could happen at all in China is a national scandal. It’s not just that the local authorities did it, it’s that they had the power/ability to do it, that the victims either had no rights to protect against it/their rights had no legal effect and that there was no monitoring system in place to stop it – they had to find someone in the press to take up their case.

    Would the editors of the Beijing News suffer a similar fate?

    Not if they are given permission to discuss the matter. The thing with SMD is that it was happier to do its own thing. The Chinese censors don’t mind what newspapers publish if they are told it’s ok by their bosses – it’s when their surprised that they start demanding editors be sacked.

  4. orangeking
    December 11th, 2008 at 12:24 | #4

    I strongly believe you have underestimated the significance of this report.Look at English media–many major news organizations including the AP,AFP,New York Times and BBC has reproduced this report or conducted their own based on the original story.It’s indeed rare for a Chinese-language report being given so much attention.

    China’s has been known for suppressing citizens including petitioners with mental facilities.You can Google these keywords.Even the professional World Psychiatrist Association publicly denounced it.It’s one thing that international media reported these abuses which had no direct impact within China’s border,but it’s completely different that a Chinese-language publicly devoted a lengthy story into it.It’s just a single case in a small place,but has profound background and meaning.Actually it reminded people of the Sun Zhigang case by Southern Metropolis Daily several years ago.You know what happened to SMD later?Its chief editors have been sentenced to prisons,please refer to Wikipedia if you don’t know that.As to whether The Beijing News would encounter such fate,wait and see.A latest blog,published by a reporter working inside The Beijing News, said the journalist who wrote the Xintai scandal has been called into State Bureau for Letters and Calls,which is responsible for dealing with petitioners.The blog is here http://www.bullog.cn/blogs/alading512/archives/240557.aspx.Any reprisal?Who knows~

    By the way,the editor you mentioned is Ms. Jiang Yiping who previously oversaw Southern Weekend.It’s fair to say that she established two most outspoken newspapers(bot belonging to Southern Media Group) in contemporary press.The Beijing News is also a joint venture of SMG and Beijing’s Guangming Daily,a party mouthpiece.However,The Beijing News has been known for bravery since its founding several years ago.

  5. pug_ster
    December 11th, 2008 at 14:41 | #5

    Who knows, maybe the patients are schizo. Many schizo patients more or less don’t think they are sick so in many cases they are forced to take medication.

  6. Yantao BI
    December 12th, 2008 at 09:51 | #6

    Xintai is my birthplace where I was brought up. Now I am concerned about what will happen next.

  7. Kalmany
    December 12th, 2008 at 11:07 | #7

    It’s only not a big deal if its really an isolated incident. But, you mention the Yang Jia case, where there was a similar incident which occurred, right in Beijing. Namely, Yang Jia’s mother being detained in a mental hospital under a false name for the duration of the murder case and then suddenly released right before her son’s execution.

    And it’s not like this is a new phenomenon in countries ruled by communist parties… I don’t know much about the issue in relation to China, but it’s been well documented how often this occurred in the Soviet Union.

    Hopefully the fact that this sort of thing is getting published means that some people in the government think that its a problem.

  8. December 12th, 2008 at 16:50 | #8

    This is reminiscent of the Abu Ghraib scandal – a single incident which many will want to explain as an isolated one, and not representative of the whole. My suspicion is that, as with Abu Ghraib, it is merely the tip of the iceberg, and there is evidence to support that in other reports from Amnesty etc of similar ocurences. The fact that tis has been made public, and that discussion has been allowed on the subject is, however, a positive step.

    Raj is quite right to point out that the seriousness of this case is vastly magnified by the way in which all involved – from the local party officials downwards – treated it as an ordinary occurence. Neither the officials nor the doctors saw anything wrong with the treatment, and the doctors were quite willing to give psychiatric ‘treatment’ on orders from local government. They are a shame to their profession.

  9. Tom
    December 12th, 2008 at 23:41 | #9

    “They are a shame to their profession.”

    Indeed.

    Folks, remember ‘The Thud Experiment’ ?

    The Rosenhan experiment was a famous experiment into the validity of psychiatric diagnosis conducted by David Rosenhan in 1972. It was published in the journal Science under the title “On being sane in insane places.”[1]

    Rosenhan’s study consisted of two parts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenhan_experiment

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqaptRYjhq4&feature=related

  10. Tom
    December 13th, 2008 at 00:39 | #10

    Ho Ho Ho…it’s the season to be jolly….

    It is twelve days to Christmas, today. A memorial to the birth of the season’s central figure, Santa Claus.

    Most children are unaware that Christmas has anything to do with the Jewish prophet,Yeshua. To some adults, X’mas is merely a Christian bastardization of pagan festivals that celebrated the winter solstice. In either case, it’s clear that the “Santa vs. Jesus” battle represents a victory of fantasy over real history.

    There is a delicious irony here. After all, Santa Claus (or Saint Nicholas) was a real life person from the fourth century. Though little is known about him, it is doubtful he was a tubby, white-haired, red-suited man who gave gifts. More likely, according to many scholars, he was a petty bureaucrat who played a central role in establishing the dogmatic Roman Catholic structure, and was rewarded with an elaborate PR campaign.

    Re; The Christ Killer

    Jerry mentioned somewhere that Jews were labelled as “Christ Killer” … another myth. Although the accusation has over the centuries caused infinite grievances to Jewish people, the accusation is absolutely false.

    An archaeologist, historian, mythologist, and linguist by the name of Acharya S, has since the 1990s gathered a mountain of evidence for her attack on the central belief of Christian theology — or, more precisely, the central belief system of Western civilization.

    In her book, The Christ Conspiracy, (1999) Acharya had established her reputation as the religious myth buster of the western central belief system, just as what Erich Von Däniken was to the God-myth with his Chariots of the Gods of 40 years ago…

    The most impressive is her comparison of the Jesus tale to that of earlier savior-gods Krishna and Horus …Here’s a list of some facts on Horus alone:
    He was born of a virgin on December 25th. His birth was announced by an eastern star and visited by three wise men. He was a child teacher at 12 and was baptized at 30 after disappearing for 18 years (with the priest who baptized him later decapitated). He had 12 disciples. He performed miracles, walked on water, exorcised demons and raised El-Azarus from the dead. He was crucified between two thieves, buried three days in a tomb, and then resurrected. He was given the titles “Messiah,” “Son of Man,” the “Good Shepherd,” and “Lamb of God.” Oh yeah, Horus was also called the “Anointed One,” spelled out as “KRST.”

  11. WillF
    December 13th, 2008 at 00:59 | #11

    @Tom

    Stay on topic please. Can we get some moderation here?

  12. December 13th, 2008 at 01:29 | #12

    @WillF,

    Hmm … maybe we should send Tom to the psychiatry ward???

    Hehe – OK … maybe I need to stay on topic, too! 😉

    Cheers!

  13. December 13th, 2008 at 01:38 | #13

    I think I understand where Tom is coming from…

    Whether one is considered “sane” or not depends really on society’s point of view.

    In the future – in a truly open society with much more resources than we can afford today – no one would ever have to be put in psychiatric wards.

    People then may look back to legitimate psychiatric wards (of today) with shock and dismay in the same way we look with shock and dismay at what has happened in Xintai.

    I mean – let’s be honest: one always have to be a little “crazy” and “mad” to truly make a contribution – whether it’s the never-call-quits investigative reporter, the ever diligent nobel prize scientist, the prodigy composer, the champion of social justice lawyer, … or little Mr. Sun-fawu fighting against the league of local officials.

    To be honest: all these people are – they have to be – a little mad (i.e. insane).

  14. Tom
    December 13th, 2008 at 01:40 | #14

    Thanks WillF & Allen for directing me back on to the straight-and-narrow 🙂

    Admin, please highlight

    # 2 and # 13 … People who possess Powerful critical thinking + strong conviction with great Passion are sometimes misunderstood or are a threat to saints and villians alike…sometimes.

    WKL: “There is actually a policy that originated under Hu (I think) that allows provinces to cross-report on each other’s cases. “

  15. Wukailong
    December 13th, 2008 at 03:33 | #15

    @Allen (#13): Back in the good old days (the 50s), the psychiatric clinics in Sweden were anything but humanitarian institutions. Then in the 70s, with the leftist wave, it was decided that most of these people were getting out into society, to get better naturally, so to speak.

    In some cases it might have worked. In others, it caused problems. The trend now seems to be to move more people to psychiatric wards again because they can’t interact with others, they feel tense, they can’t take care of themselves or many other reasons. We’ll probably need some sort of asylums in any country, but with enlightened staff, I hope…

    As for moving dissenters to psychiatric wards, it was a common practice back in the Soviet Union, and I always wondered why China didn’t do the same. Well, now I know. 😉

  16. WillF
    December 13th, 2008 at 04:14 | #16

    I think there are definitely legitimate arguments to be made for and against institutionalization. However, from what we know about this case these guys weren’t institutionalized for any reasons considered acceptable by the medical community. They were just put somewhere to be shut up, and it appears tortured through forced medication to boot. Of course, it could all be just a misunderstanding, but even if this case isn’t what it looks like, I doubt anyone would deny that local officials in China take unsavory steps to keep their misdeeds hidden from the central government.

    I wonder if misconduct like this has increased as a result of the anti-corruption drives initiated by Hu and Wen? If so, perhaps it indicates the limits of top-down corruption reform?

  17. Ted
    December 13th, 2008 at 07:34 | #17

    I just have questions. Did the author(s) intend to release the story in tandem with the anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights or was the timing of the article just a coincidence?

    @ Orangeking: You mentioned that the Beijing News has party affiliations. Does the central government sanction the release of certain media stories through secondary outlets in order to send unofficial messages to local government?

    The second question was also directed towards Wukailong’s comment # 2. Was that policy meant to promote a level of competitive check and balance? Top down reform?

  18. Wukailong
    December 13th, 2008 at 08:47 | #18

    @Ted: As far as I know, it was meant to promote (and works as) a sort of competitive check and balances between provinces. It was promulgated by the central government.

  19. December 13th, 2008 at 21:07 | #19

    @WillF #16,

    You wrote:

    However, from what we know about this case these guys weren’t institutionalized for any reasons considered acceptable by the medical community.

    I think part of the point of comment #9 is that just because something is considered acceptable by the medical community does not mean that something should be acceptable at all.

    In general, if the line between sanity and insanity is based on social norms, and if social norms is powerful tool for socio-political control – then it is perfectly legitimate to question so-called medical community’s definitions of insanity based on such norms.

    I mean – it’s not hard to imagine allegedly free governments from funding medical studies that define sanity and insanity in a way that comports to the government’s needs for socio-political control – and thus to legitimately lock away “troublesome” elements of society – in a convenient, legal, and morally acceptable way.

  20. Raj
    December 13th, 2008 at 21:45 | #20

    Allen (19)

    I think part of the point of comment #9 is that just because something is considered acceptable by the medical community does not mean that something should be acceptable at all.

    I think you’re missing the point. WillF was saying that despite the fact there can be reasonable justifications to institutionalise someone, there is no way that anyone can suggest this was one because it was done solely to shut sane people up who wanted to criticise the authorities.

  21. December 13th, 2008 at 23:08 | #21

    “Whether one is considered “sane” or not depends really on society’s point of view.

    In the future – in a truly open society with much more resources than we can afford today – no one would ever have to be put in psychiatric wards.

    People then may look back to legitimate psychiatric wards (of today) with shock and dismay in the same way we look with shock and dismay at what has happened in Xintai.

    I mean – let’s be honest: one always have to be a little “crazy” and “mad” to truly make a contribution – whether it’s the never-call-quits investigative reporter, the ever diligent nobel prize scientist, the prodigy composer, the champion of social justice lawyer, … or little Mr. Sun-fawu fighting against the league of local officials.

    To be honest: all these people are – they have to be – a little mad (i.e. insane).

    Errrr . . . Allen, ‘society’s view’ is not the same as ‘the professed view of corrupt officials who I obey because it is convenient to do so’. People who petition officials are not insane, doctors who administer ‘treatment’ because they are ordered to do so are crooks – this seems very simple to me. It is true that there is a degree of satisfaction in castigating something which is both nothing to do with you and obviously wrong, and perhaps you feel that critics of this situation are engaged in producing hypocritical hot air, but still, the wrongness of this situation seems as plain as it can possibly be, nor does it seem likely that it is a minor incident or limited to the facts we are aware of.

  22. December 14th, 2008 at 03:19 | #22

    @Raj #20 and @FOARP #21,

    Agreed, agreed….

    I think I’m misunderstood though.

    I don’t think that politically motivated putting someone in asylums is justified either …

    But I am also trying to say that simply trusting the medical community to draw the line when to put someone in asylums (see #16) is not the way to go either…

  23. December 15th, 2008 at 15:22 | #23

    @Allen

    Talking of off-topic … do you really think discussions of the lines drawn between sanity/insanity are relevant here? Are we talking about sick people and whether they should have been hospitalized against their own will?

    No, we’re talking about healthy people being interned (confined without criminal charge) and tortured to silence political protest. Calling it no big deal or joking about if the people were insane is offensive.

    I’m in with the tip of the iceberg observation. The whistle blower in the Chinese article seems to hint at this being standard and regular at that institution and we have the recent case of Yang Jia’s mother.

    This is an issue of ‘prisoners of conscience’ and is global. The UK (my home country) famously interned people applying for refugee status in criminal jails while processing their applications. I don’t have the name off hand but the Kurdish professor who came to lecture in the UK and had his passport revoked in transit by Turkey ended up doing 7 years in jail while waiting.

  24. December 15th, 2008 at 19:53 | #24

    @Andy #23,

    Thanks for you comment.

    Let me clarify myself.

    I personally believe that the boundary of “sanity” and “insanity” is a slippery slope that can change according to changing social norms and that can often be abused. Looking to history, we see what is defined as sane in one era or society can be defined as insane in another era or society.

    I don’t believe deferring to the “medical” community to define that boundary once and for all is helpful.

    Now perhaps this particular issue is not relevant to our topic of discussion – since the real gist of the problem here is the clear abuse of the definition of “sanity” for political ends – not the ephemeral definition of sanity in general.

    If that’s your point – fair enough.

    Second – regarding my comment that this episode is “not a big deal” – I probably chose my words poorly.

    Of course this is a big deal in terms of the personal tolls taken (it’s almost shocking to the conscience). I was not saying what happened was no big deal per se, but only that I thought this was more a local scandal and not something endemic to the nation.

    Of course, you can disagree with me on this (I think you believe this is endemic and is probably just tip of the ice berg), and I can definitely be wrong in my views, but I still want to defend myself that I did not mean the event per se to be no big deal.

  25. Steve
    December 15th, 2008 at 21:41 | #25

    I just see this as a convenient way for provincial officials to shut people up who want to bring local injustices to the attention of the central government officials. This way they can keep them locked up without putting them in jail, so it was a convenient solution. Now that it’s been exposed, they are diving for cover while officials in other provinces might be thinking, “Hey, that’s a pretty good idea.” It always amazes me that instances like this can be reported without the central government stepping in to punish said officials. I think if they did, the positive publicity the central government would reap among the people would be tremendous.

    I figured Allen meant by his “no big deal” comment to imply that this was just a new way to solve a common provincial problem. People have petitioned the central government to address injustice since ancient times, and I’d guess officials since ancient times have tried to stop them. This has nothing to do with sanity or insanity, it is strictly a convenience. I wonder if they have their own version of Nurse Ratched??? 🙂

    @Tom #10: In the spirit of the Christmas season,I believe Horus also came riding into the city on the back of a donkey while palm fronds were laid before him. I’m a big fan of Joseph Campbell’s mythology texts and think it’s fascinating how each new religion borrows from past ones, e.g. the concept of heaven/hell from Zoroastrianism, etc. However, I think you might be a little off on Saint Nicholas. He wasn’t a petty bureaucrat, he was a bishop and with the Orthodox tradition rather than the Roman Catholic. Anyway, that’s the common historical speculation but I always wonder how much anyone really knows when we go back that far.

  26. Tom
    December 15th, 2008 at 23:17 | #26

    Steve,

    “each new religion borrows from past ones, e.g. the concept of heaven/hell from Zoroastrianism, etc.”

    Yes, indeed… For example every culture had its own version of a Great Flood; many of these tales contained similarities: 1)Humans are guilty of transgression. 2)A God sends a flood as punishment. Instructions are sent to an individual to build a craft. 3)The instructions include ensuring the survival of all species. 4)The flood destroys the old race. 5)After the flood, a new, less sinful race emerges to repopulate the earth.

    The Miao and Yao people of the Guizhou province of South China relate the story of Fu Xi and his sister Nu Gua (meaning melon). They befriended the Thunder God who gave them a gourd seed. As the deluge began, the two survived inside the gourd, the only two survivors.

    The Sumerian flood legend:
    In the eleventh tablet of the Semitic Babylonian epic of Gilagamesh is a flood story that is the source for the Noah story. The Gods resolved to cleanse the earth of an overpopulated humanity, but Utnapishtim was warned by the God Ea in a dream. He and some craftsmen built a huge (seven decks encompassing one acre in area) ark. Utnapishtim then loaded it with his family, the craftsmen, and “the seed of all living creatures.” The waters rose up, and a storm continued for six days and six nights. The Gods repented and wept upon seeing the global destruction of living beings and stilled the flood on the seventh day. The waters covered everything but the top of the mountain Nisur, where the boat landed. A dove was loosed, but it returned, having found no place to rest. A swallow was sent, but it too returned. Seven days later, after having loosed a raven that did not return to the ark, the people began to emerge. Utnapishtim made a sacrifice to the Gods. He and his wife were given immortality and lived at the end of the earth.

    The Babylonian:
    Three times (every 1200 years), the Gods became distressed by the disturbance from human overpopulation. The Gods dealt with the problem first by plague, then by famine. Both times, the God Enki advised humans to bribe the God causing the problem. The third time, Enlil advised the Gods to destroy all humans with a flood, but Enki had Atrahasis build an ark and so escape. Also on the boat were cattle, wild animals and birds, and the family of Atrahasis. After seeing the suffering caused by the flood, the Gods regretted their action, and Enki established barren women and stillbirth to avoid the problem in the future.

    The Hebrew: Noah was 600 years old when it began to rain for what ended up being 40 days and 40 nights. After the end of 150 days, the waters were abated. The ark rested in the seventh month upon the mountains of Ararat.

    Aztec
    In the Valley of Mexico there lived a pious man named Tapi. Creator told him to build a boat to live in, to take his wife and a pair of every animal that existed. Neighbors thought he was crazy. As soon as he finished, it began to rain. The valley flooded; men and animals went to mountains, but they were submerged. The rain ended, waters receded, etc. Tapi realized that the flood waters had receded after having sent a dove that did not return. Tapi rejoiced.

    Zoroastrian
    Ahura Mazda warned Yima that destruction in the form of floods, subsequent to the melting of the snow, was threatening the sinful world and gave him instructions for building a vara in which specimens of small and large cattle, humans, dogs, birds, fires, plants and foods were to be deposited in pairs.

    Mayan
    God sent the flood because the people made from wood (an early version of humans) had no souls, minds or hearts and had forgotten how they were made. They wanted to escape, but the animals that they had starved and beaten, the pots they had burnt, and the trees they’d stripped refused to help them. Only a few escaped the flood, and it is said that their descendants are monkeys.

    Hindu
    Manu, the first human, was warned by a fish about an imminent flood and told him to build a boat, stocking it with samples of every species…..

    Greco-Roman

    According to Plato: “Many great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years.”

    Zeus decided to punish humanity for its evil ways. Other Gods grieved at the destruction because there would be no beings to worship them. Zeus promised a new stock, a race of miraculous origin.

  27. Steve
    December 16th, 2008 at 01:46 | #27

    @Tom: Are you familiar with the story of Yao, Shun and Yu? Since this is a Chinese blog and this particular myth is my favourite of all, I’ll give a brief rundown from memory.

    One of fhe most famous of all ancient Chinese emperors was Yao. During his rule, the rains came and flooded large areas, killing many of his subjects. His prime minister Shun went with a man (forget his name) to control the floods. His idea was to build large dikes to control the waters but when any of those dikes broke, they flooded the lowlands to devastating effect.

    This man’s son was Yu. He disagreed with his father’s method and was eventually appointed as minister to control the floods. His plan was to dredge out the streams, gullies, creeks and rivers in order for the water to drain more quickly to the sea. His plan was successful and as Shun succeeded Yao, so Yu succeeded Shun, and his reign was the beginning of the great Xia Dynasty.

    So unlike the rest of the world, the Chinese flood myth never mentions “god” or theological concepts, just good engineering skills. Yu was my kind of guy! 😛

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