China in Pictures

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 16 Comments

Ignorance is truly bliss -

If you go to the Transportation Departments (交通局’s) for a driver’s license or whatever – take a look at the pictures they have all over the walls.

Really, really nasty accident photos (I still remember them from the first time, I tried not looking but for some stupid reason I did it anyways) – I guess it was to alert people about the dangers of driving in China but it was still terrible to see.

What kind of stuff can they do make people follow traffic laws to avoid these kinds of accidents? Or is it just impossible for Asian drivers?

April 30, 2006 @ 9:58 pm | Comment

the question should be: Why should they do anything to make people follow traffic laws? They don’t get extra pay for teaching people about traffic laws. A one party system will never care about this kind of situation. It is possible for Asian drivers, just look to Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, or Asians in US.

April 30, 2006 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

With the utmost respect, Chairman Yao, calling yourself stupid for having looked at those photos is a terrible example to set for your subjects. Your guess is right—that’s precisely why those photos are there.

Secondly, with slightly less respect, I’m offended by your association of poor driving (eyesight? mental dexterity?) with Asians—the kind of bash bash China comment increasingly seen on websites around here that brushes lips with language that sets the tone for a eugenic rant.

Assuming you have a driver’s license or whatever, even if you (or any foreigners reading) have managed to squeeze through the swarmiest traffic while driving here in China without ever so much as a scratch, as a non-Chinese someone with standard eyesight, eye-hand coordination and mental competency who back home left dents in several cars, not only my own, nearly run people down and nearly been run over myself (here and home), it just doesn’t fly to slam down judgements like that.

Unless, of course, your remarks are a clever attempt to subvert the perceived image of your nicknamesake.

April 30, 2006 @ 11:22 pm | Comment

The way people drive in China is consistent with the spirit of the times: me first. You see a lot of that in America and other countries, too, of course. But everyone who’s lived in China, or even visited briefly, can tell many stories of things theyve seen on the roads of China that they never saw elsewhere, things that had them scared out of their wits but that are considered the norm over there (like driving the wrong way into one-way traffic). A friend of mine who lived in India, however, told me the driving there puts China to shame. I don’t believe that making such observations – for example, that drivers in India drive in such and such a way, as compared to drivers in China, who [fill in the blanks] – is necessarily inviting a “eugenic rant,” unless you are saying it’s part of their genetic makeup, which I don’t think Chairman Yao was doing.

May 1, 2006 @ 1:49 am | Comment

I may have mentioned before how much I liked Chengdu when I visited there two years ago. One of the reasons was…people actually obeyed the traffic laws! Kind of, for the most part. I mean, pedestrians waited for “walk” signals before crossing the streets, and…cars actually stopped for them! It was so nice!

Driving in LA is increasingly driving me crazy. Between the over-amped, testosterone-fueled aggression on the one hand and the oblivious yakking on their cellphones…the quality of driving has gotten so much worse the last few years.

May 1, 2006 @ 2:08 am | Comment

Wait til you see what it’s like in Shanghai nowadays

May 1, 2006 @ 2:20 am | Comment

I agree with Lisa, throw Hangzhou behind Chengdu and add rush to add that it probably has more to do with education, standard of living (such factors a la LA) and the practicality of law enforcement here than, as Chairman Yao did imply, race.

May 1, 2006 @ 3:22 am | Comment

Nothing extraordinary about it, it is just a series of accident photos. No wonder ESWN likes Apple Daily so much. With his judicious selection of gore and sex, the two of them are cut from the same marble.

Michael

May 1, 2006 @ 6:05 am | Comment

I dunno, Michael – the photos blew me away; they might be a series of accident photos, but I disagree with the word “just.” Some of them capture the moment in a way that transcends their gory subject matter.

May 1, 2006 @ 6:43 am | Comment

I think the bad driving in China has mostly do do with a country that has gone from very few cars to a lot in the space of twenty years. People aren’t really used to it; there isn’t much of a tradition of driving and obeying traffic laws. Add in the disparate combination of vehicles that are sharing the road – underpowered, ancient farm vehicles versus big trucks and new cars – and you get the chaos that you so often see on the streets.

In all seriousness, safe driving is one campaign I could get behind – while it’s true as I mentioned that driving in Los Angeles has gotten worse (and it really is the cell phones, I think), it’s nothing compared to the level of craziness I’ve seen in China – Chengdu aside.

Now I’m really going to have to visit Hangzhou.

I thought the photos were more than accident photos, personally. In some way they document the human costs of a society undergoing wrenching changes.

May 1, 2006 @ 9:52 am | Comment

I recently put some of my recent China pics online here: http://88photos.blogsome.com/

Sorry, no accident victims, though.

May 2, 2006 @ 8:24 am | Comment

ESWN commented:

About Maohair (05/02/2006) There is an obviously problem with a blog post like The Chinese Photojournalist Maohair. If I just post the photographs and say nothing, people may say things like: “Oh, it’s just a bunch of photographs from road accidents. Who gives a sh*t except for people who enjoy blood and gore?” Those kinds of statements may offend people inside China.

‘Those kinds of statements may offend people inside China.’ I feel sorry for them, offended at the restraint of others. I might sympathize more if they’d quit pointing missiles at me, and quit hating our democracy here.

Michael

May 2, 2006 @ 9:32 am | Comment

What a poor, chaotic and depraved country!

Is this the superpower some people are crying for?

May 4, 2006 @ 1:32 pm | Comment

I like China. I don’t think it’s depraved.

I don’t think you can judge whether a country is or isn’t a superpower based on pictures like these, or personal tragedy. Do you?

May 4, 2006 @ 11:42 pm | Comment

Well, it’s not just those pictures. As a Chinese who grew up in China, I see many other things behind those pictures. Every picture tells a story.

Look at their clothing, their gestures, their expressions, their surroundings, and feel their despair, agonies, indifference, and brazenness.

You might be able to gather a simliar set of pictures from other countires like UK or USA. The point is, while any of most of those events would have outraged the public in western countries, they are for many Chinese simply too common to be given a second thought in nowadays China.

May 5, 2006 @ 2:50 am | Comment

I won’t disagree with you there.

May 5, 2006 @ 4:13 am | Comment

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