Human PLA Bridge

Photo of the day, Chinese soldiers helping villagers in a flood zone (via weibo, via a friend on twitter):

chinese_soldiers_bridge

I admire these men, even if I don’t envy them their jobs.

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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: 43 Comments

Uh, is the photographer standing on top of the soldiers too?

August 20, 2010 @ 11:35 am | Comment

I have …never heard of that method. That pretty much earns you the badass award for life, I think.

I wish I could figure out where in particular this was– TinEye produces no extra info.

August 21, 2010 @ 4:11 am | Comment

I tried Tineye for this photo and I got no hits. But that shouldn’t stop me, right?

I went to Google Images and I searched for photos related to the Chinese-language terms “People’s Liberation Army”+”Human Bridge” and found a number of similar pictures such as:
http://big5.chinabroadcast.cn/gate/big5/gb.cri.cn/18824/2008/06/18/106@2104344.htm

This photo dates back to the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. While technically it was an incident within a certain flood zone, it is not to be mixed up with the current floods in China. Furthermore, the soldiers in this photo appear to be younger than the ones shown here. The background also shows that there was one parallel hanging ropes instead of two.

So what? This should not distract from the central ‘fact’ that PLA soldiers apparently threw their bodies down as a human bridge for the young students, either in 2008 or 2010.

However, there appears to be a divergence in the multiple descriptions around the various similar photos. In one version, the PLA soldiers threw themselves into the human bridge in order to bring trapped children back to their families. In the other version, the PLA soldiers threw themselves into the human bridge every day so that the students can go back and forth between home and school.

The former is an emergency rescue measure. The latter is … ahem .. a reflection of inability to address a problem caused by a natural disaster. They can’t be the same.

I don’t have a firm opinion about what the ‘truth’ is. But I hope that you can understand my inability to have a definitive opinion based upon the evidence on hand. About all I can do is to look for more evidence.

August 21, 2010 @ 4:43 am | Comment

Slave labor! No Infrastructure! No scientific rescue system! No respect for the grass on the ground! This is a dictatorship bridge! Absolutely dictatorship bridge!

August 21, 2010 @ 7:34 am | Comment

Staged. Such nicely-pressed fatigues for a human Bailey bridge… and its so much easier to store and transport human construction material than, say, two-by-fours, which require food, water, regulated environments, and concern for their feelings.

August 21, 2010 @ 11:24 am | Comment

I suspect the photo is staged for propaganda purposes. The particular message being that the PLA shares your grief and is willing to risk their lives to save you. Which is certainly a worthy message, and undoubtedly heartfelt. Note that some of the planking has been installed. They are either waiting for more planking to arrive, or the river may have risen to where citizens needed to be evacuated now. Of course, this could be a simple case of: “I told you men that if this bridge was completed by 12:00, you would form a human bridge over the remainder yourselves. Now get to it!” (attempted humour)

August 22, 2010 @ 12:35 am | Comment

Staged or not, those soldiers are some hardcore mo’fos

August 22, 2010 @ 2:29 am | Comment

Someone thinks this story is fantastic…

This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report – a collection of China’s best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it….

August 22, 2010 @ 3:43 am | Trackback

Please be sure to see eswn’s comment above, which inexplicably got caught in my spam filter. Apologies.

August 22, 2010 @ 8:09 am | Comment

It may be a propaganda stunt but I don’t think that detracts from the efforts of the PLA in times of disaster. I was travelling in west Sichuan in August 2005 and the village in which I was staying got cut off by landslides after prolonged rainfall. Several people died. After being trapped there for 24 hrs because the road out of the village had crumbled into the river in several places, the PLA carved a path up the steep, densely forested slopes taking a few hundred people safely up and around the landslip area. The soldiers were lined along the entire route at intervals lending a strong arm where the path was particularly steep and slippery.

August 23, 2010 @ 4:32 am | Comment

Thanks for reminding us of your stupidity, Red Star.

August 23, 2010 @ 1:41 pm | Comment

I’d admire them too if I could be sure that the photo hadn’t been staged. No Chinese person believes photos such as these. Really, Richard, don’t be so credulous. 2008 or 2010, the photo was almost certainly staged.

August 24, 2010 @ 4:10 am | Comment

Well, we just don’t know. I simply thought it was a cool photo.

August 24, 2010 @ 4:20 am | Comment

I didn’t look. Has anyone claimed this is a propaganda photoshoot yet?

August 24, 2010 @ 5:24 am | Comment

It’s an interesting issue. People all too often take photographs to mean something more than they show. But a photograph can only show what it shows. The why, who, when, how, etc has to be confirmed independently.

August 24, 2010 @ 5:17 pm | Comment

staged or not, I salute to those soldiers…that probably was an act under command, with or without ‘propaganda’ intention from their superior, the outcome is those soldiers had helped those kids, otherwise would be strapped, crossed the river. And they were all face down, no photo op for them…they were there to help.

August 25, 2010 @ 10:19 am | Comment

This is similar to some staged pictures I saw from last year’s earthquake of PLA soldiers carrying injured Tibetans on their backs along a runway to an evacuation airliner. It’s just such a bizarre thing to portray. If someone is injured they need a wheelchair or a stretcher, not a piggy back. Same with this bridge photo stunt. The picture is a way os showing that the PLA will do anything for the masses.

Having said that, China does use the PLA very effectively in these disaster zones. Compare the Chinese response to floods to that of Pakistan.

August 25, 2010 @ 7:06 pm | Comment

Whenever a disaster strikes and casualties mount, the government officials and the PLA would stage shows to impress the people how humanistic and caring the govt can be to the people. So the whiners better shut up. Did you ever see the people in China demonstrate against the govt’s poor infrastructures that actually increase the damage and casualties in a earthquake or flood? Demonstration risks being crushed by the PLA tanks.

August 29, 2010 @ 10:19 am | Comment

100 shitty houses for 100 families or 10 passable houses for 10 families. it’s called being a developing country.

but corruption does not help, even though china’s corruption is not particularly high for a developing country.

but of course in jyekundo most of the houses that remained standing were build by the CCP

August 29, 2010 @ 1:50 pm | Comment

“it’s called being a developing country.”

The CCP have been dining out on that one for decades. Of course, when they began to feast on such privileges it was true.

August 29, 2010 @ 3:18 pm | Comment

So many questions about that photo, impressive as it appears. Was that a suspension bridge that was partially washed out, with the PLA soldiers filling in for the missing planks? Or was this an entirely new construction to span the raging river below? If it’s the former, i can’t imagine the Army Corp of Engineers would similarly ask US soldiers to do that task rather than rounding up a pile of plywood. That might speak to the relative “value” that the respective societies place on “people”. If it’s the latter, I wonder why they would overengineer the rope bridge to have to support so many soldiers’ weight on top of those actually crossing the bridge, rather than using those same ropes to make a thick tightrope for walking on with sturdy ropes on either side to hang onto as you cross. This photo might show that the PLA really cares. Or it might show that the PLA doesn’t come up with the best solutions.

August 29, 2010 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

some fool has posted it on facebook saying that it is a pic of the Indian army.. hence the increased interest in this pic.. :-)
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150317229123531&set=a.407265583530.180006.209526793530&type=1&ref=nf

October 9, 2011 @ 11:00 am | Comment

Thanks. I’ve been totally mystified as my site traffic soared, with everyone coming to this post.

October 9, 2011 @ 12:30 pm | Comment

the reason why this post is getting alot of hits is because indians think its their soldiers out there :D . there was a major earthquake in the north eastern part of the country a month back certain areas were not accessible by roads. this picture has gone viral through facebook by people who think it was the indian soldiers in action and people who wanted to prove them wrong.you could say propaganda on either side but really pathetic from the indian point of view. as the earthquake was in the north eastern part of the country where people do not look “indian”, forgive me if im sounding rascist, the authorities completely neglected their duties and began spreading pictures and videos like this to show the country how brave they are

October 11, 2011 @ 12:26 am | Comment

Hello my Dear Frenz of Mongoloid, This Pic has become Super Hit in facebook in India Because Many Indian Army Based Pages and Their Sympathisers Use This Picture to Promote Indian Army As they are Saying, Picture Shown Above is an Act of Indian Army, taken during rescue OPeration Of Sikkim Eathquake..
Since Pic shown Doesn’t look like Fucking Aryans, so We are in search of the REAL Source .. , We Got Now This PLA , not Fucking Indian Army .. IMAO ..!!
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=283655914986670&set=a.143171929035070.25405.138019789550284&type=1&ref=nf

They are Also Trying to Mislead the Indian People About Human Right Crusader Irom Chanu Sharmila
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=283766118308983&set=pu.138019789550284&type=1

October 11, 2011 @ 1:01 am | Comment

Indians are
Promoting this as their soldiers. That’s why…

October 11, 2011 @ 12:04 pm | Comment

Very interesting. This picture is being attributed by some Indians as the Indian Army. By some Chinese as the Chinese Army. And by some Japanese as the Japanese army.

It actually just goes to show how similar we all are and the armies of all countries actually do a lot to help the people.

We ‘Eastern’ people are so peaceful as compared to the west and to the middle east.

October 16, 2011 @ 11:00 am | Comment

Hi,
Someone posted this picture in facebook and commented that it is Indian army helping people during the recent earthquake. I searched the origin of the pic in google and arrived here. I guess this is how you are getting a lot of traffic :)
Thanks.

October 17, 2011 @ 1:00 am | Comment

Apparently some Indian netizen stole this picture, removed the “sina.cn” link, and posted it on facebook claiming that it’s the Indian army. More strange yet, most Indian people commenting there couldn’t even do a simple Google search and correct this error. And now it’s going viral all over facebook.

October 17, 2011 @ 3:33 am | Comment

It seems someone posted this picture on Facebook, claiming this is the Indian army saving kids in Sikkim earthquake. I think this is where the traffic comes from.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=172955132790017&set=a.111446175607580.24837.109070219178509&type=1&theater

October 17, 2011 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

Not-with-standing the origin of the team, the picture conveys the clear comitment to assist the fellow human in distress.

October 20, 2011 @ 9:03 am | Comment

Indian Army engineers are more innovative and do not need humans as bridge building material.From the picture it is seen that the bridge ia already there only decking needed for roadway was missing which was made with humans.

October 20, 2011 @ 11:28 am | Comment

@Vijoy.. Dude, why are you comparing these soldiers with our (Indian) engineers? Can’t you just admire the efforts of these soldiers? I salute these Chinese army-men for what they’re doing !

October 20, 2011 @ 10:27 pm | Comment

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.146255188723336.29427.134113386604183&type=3

people claims different things..i was looking around for truth..i knew it was china guys, coz i have seen this before…

October 23, 2011 @ 10:34 am | Comment

i came here bcz some stupid indian dumb ass said its his army so i searched for it bcz i knew its not a fact…so thts how i come here …..indians r stupid ……………. even a jack ass cn tell tht these soldiers r not indian ……….

October 25, 2011 @ 4:21 pm | Comment

same is here.. some Indian guys posted this pic on facebook showing them as indian Army…. so wanted to know , caz they never seem Indians….

October 26, 2011 @ 1:56 am | Comment

Damn. This photo appeared in one of the India’s local newspaper saying these are Indian soldiers. You might want to sue them :)

June 23, 2013 @ 7:35 pm | Comment

See the video, its Chinese

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHa0WQvweUc

June 24, 2013 @ 1:08 am | Comment

Just letting you know that it is going another round, this time due to Himalayan Tsunami

June 24, 2013 @ 11:46 am | Comment

This photo is being shown as Indian soldiers rescuing people in the on going tragedy in north India
Which is unfortunate

July 3, 2013 @ 5:52 pm | Comment

Yes indeed, right now, many of Mexican states are surviving through floods, and this pictures is beeing used as if they were mexican soldiers!

October 4, 2013 @ 12:24 am | Comment

Just watched the Youtube video of it and to clarify it was during heavy rainfall and flooding that wiped out the bridge and they were working on rebuilding it. Apparently the children only had one way to and from school and that was the only bridge home (which isn’t surprising considering the country sides in China aren’t very developed yet). They were having a hard time building the bridge because of the rain but they were almost done by the time the kids were out of school so instead of having the kids try to cross the river or risk having them slip on some temporary or half-made bridge they just made a human bridge to get the kids across first. Yea, maybe the publicity wasn’t needed but at least they were doing something when a disaster hit and not sitting on their ass until the rain and flood were over and then trying to fix things.

October 25, 2013 @ 2:39 am | Comment

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