The paragraphs below come from Liú Wěi, our friend who watches the bicycle park where we exercise (among other security duties). He’s the one on the right.
Three days after the Sichuan earthquake I was interviewing him for the Regular Zhou column (where I write little profiles on Tianjin’s 老百姓 for an expat magazine), and I asked him what he’s most concerned about right now, meaning his life, living circumstances, and future plans, etc. But instead of talking about his job or family or his personal hopes and dreams he gave me several minutes about the earthquake and the Olympics. I’ve roughly transcribed and translated/paraphrased/mangled the interview (with a lot of help), and the earthquake/Olympics portion is below. (Keep in mind this poorly translated oral Chinese.)
What I’m currently concerned about is the Sichuan province earthquake. This time the earthquake is unanticipated and sudden. Our China nation’s Prime Minister has already arrived at the scene to fight the earthquake and help disaster victims. This is an extremely difficult affair, an especially big affair. The entire country’s citizens are paying close attention to the circumstances of the earthquake disaster area’s common people. A lot of common people, the government businesses, and private commercial businesses all extend help, helping them have money to rebuild their own homes,. Whoever has money sends money, whoever has strength sends strength, whoever has things sends things. This shows the united spirit of the Chinese people: “When one place has trouble, all places provide help.”
I right now care a lot about the Wenchuan, Sichuan province great earthquake affair. According to statistics the death toll has reached more than 10,000*. A lot of people are without a home to go back to and sleep outside. These things foreigner reporters are all aware of, the influence is tremendous… the situation is unfavourable.
China holding the Olympics utilized a lot of manpower and financial and physical resources. The Chinese Olympics committee chairperson Liu Qi is confident regarding managing this Olympics well. The Olympics doesn’t assist China’s common people very much. It mainly expresses China’s place in the world, by showing that China can run this Olympics well. Furthermore the Chinese people are extremely concerned with this matter, however, “Heaven isn’t helping out.” In Sichuan province this Wenchuan great earthquake appeared, afterward very many Chinese people lost confidence. I feel we ought to transform our sorrow into strength, and strive as much as possible to manage this Olympics well.
我目前关心的是四川省地震的事，这次地震是突发的 没有预料到的，我们中国国家的总理已经到现场指挥 抗震救灾的事。这是一件非常艰难的事，特别大的事 。 全国人民非常关注这次地震受灾地区的老百姓的情况 。 许多老百姓，政府机关和企事业单位都伸出了援手， 帮助他们重建自己的家园, 有钱出钱，有力出力，有东西就出东西。这体现出来 中国人民的团结精神，一方有难八方支援。
我现在非常关心四川省汶川大地震的事。据统计死亡 人数已经达到一万多人。好多人都无家可归露宿在外 … 这些事情外国的记者都知道，影响很大。…(lots of countries help Sichuanren)…特别不顺…
…中国举办这次奥运会动用了很多的人力财力物力， 中国奥委会主席刘祺对办好这次奥运会很有信心。 奥运会 对中国的老百姓的帮助并不是很大。它主要体现出 中国在世界的地位代表中国有能力办好这次奥运会。 而且中国人民也非常关注这件事，但是天公不做美。 四川省出现这次 汶川大地震之后，很多中国人对这次奥运会失去了 信心。我觉得应该化悲痛为力量，尽力 办好这次的奥运会。
*This was three days after the earthquake. Right now the death toll is already or nearly in excess of 80,000, if I remember right.