Friday, April 23, 2010

Mourning the Yushu Quake

 Newspapers and websites went to grayscale for the national day of mourning.  
(Collage from via

April 21, one week after the Qinghai earthquake, was declared a national day of mourning.  Here is a press release from the Ministry of Culture that gives the details of the national day of mourning.  It's long, so I've bolded the points I found most interesting:
Notice is hereby made to all Provincial, Administrative Region, and Municipality-level Culture Departments, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Culture Department, the Cultural Market Administrative Teams of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing, and all subordinate work unites:
To express the profound grief that people of all ethnic groups across the country feel for their compatriots who fell victim to the Yushu earthquake, the State Council has decided to hold a National Day of Mourning on April 21, 2010. Flags across the country and at overseas institutions will be lowered and all public entertainment activities will be suspended. To carry out the spirit of the State Council decision, notice is hereby made of the following measures:
1. According to the instructions in the State Council notice, culture administration departments at all levels across the country, general culture market administrative agencies, and culture work units that fly national flags will lower them to half-staff in mourning.
2. Departments and work units in the national culture system will suspend any entertainment activities they organize.
3. Cultural and entertainment venues across the country will suspend their entertainment activities. All cinemas and theaters, dance halls, recreation venues, and game rooms, as well as all culture centers (or cultural palaces or stations) and community activity centers will suspend all entertainment, performances, screenings, and gaming activities. Internet service providers will suspend all entertainment activities including games, music, and video. Online cultural operators will suspend all online music, online games, online animation, and online video.
4. Culture administration departments and general culture market administration agencies at all levels should carry out strict observation of how the cultural and entertainment venues and their operators implement the State Council's decision, and shall deal with violators according to the law.
Office, Ministry of Culture (via
At my campus, the main change was that the two-day school-wide sports meet (originally scheduled for Thursday and Friday) was postponed to Monday and Tuesday due to national mourning activities.  This meant that we teachers had to teach classes on Thursday and Friday with very little notice, and students who planned to use the sports meet as a 4-day weekend had to cancel their trips home. 

Forced mourning.  It's a strange concept, like forced love or forced devotion.  Can it be mandatory but still be sincere?


  1. There were 3 days of mourning after the Sichuan earthquake, and things felt like they came to a halt much more than this time around. If I remember correctly, there was also quite a bit of forced donation of money by different companies and schools. This seems to be a common concept in China, but I can't say I get it either.

  2. Thanks for sharing; I've wondered what it was like here after the Sichuan quake. I've seen a few articles on obligatory donation. On one hand, it seems wrong. On the other hand, the relief efforts no doubt need money...