After the three minute memorial had completed we found ourselves several city blocks from the epicenter of Chengdu heading toward Tianfu Square. Upon arrival we see that the square, overlooked by a watchful Mao Ze Dong statue, is filled with a crowd of thousands. Everyone seems to be milling around, but as we approach the center of the square I can hear a loud rumbling sound. As I turn on the camera and move closer the sound reveals itself as a crowd of 5,000 pumping fists in the air and cheering “Go China!” (????).
I had never seen patriotism this strongly in my face before, neither in the West nor the East. China has a strong tendency to rally behind social and political strife as the Tibetan protests from earlier this year have demonstrated, but this was on a scale I hadn’t witnessed before. The emotion in the crowd was overwhelming and ranged from enthusiastic shrieks of national pride from young men to teary eyed children rhythmically hoisting flowers toward the sky, but everyone was united in a public declaration of grief and patriotism. As I’ve said before, no matter which direction China chooses to go, they go together as one. It’s a dramatic difference that China has with it’s rival America – a partisan country of fractured social and political composition.
Watch the video of the crowd: