Here we go round the prickly pear
All was quiet on our western front. And eastern. In fact every front was conspicuously quieter than it should have been that evening, given the season in question. The air did not smell of sulfur and carbon and chlorine, or vibrate gratuitously with the report of recreational ordnance. Fireballs of blue and yellow and green did not rain down on balconies, or ricochet off buildings, or bounce upon the roofs and bonnets of cars. The ground was not sprinkled with the red, singed paper tesserae that decorate the sidewalks on Chinese New Year. The Year of the Horse arrived with a sprightly cantor, not thundering gallop; and the collective din of the annual snap, crackle, and pop was less of a bang than a whimper.
As early as the first week of January, it was clear that festivities would be much gentler on the ears than they have been for the past decade. First, there was the conspicuous absence of the firework vendors who each January appeared out of nowhere and materialized at certain intersections and stretches of sidewalk. Then local news networks had begun asking citizens if they planned to celebrate the New Year with fireworks. Cherry-picked for broadcast or not, most citizens whose soundbites made the five-o’-clock news said “no,” citing both environmental concerns (air quality, noise pollution, litter and waste disposal) and worries about accidental injury or damage. Happily, “golden-hour,” reportage of the public spirit showed harmonious accord between the Old Hundred Names and the latest policies and advisories from relevant ministries and public security agencies. And sure enough, there were few bombs bursting in air, and less of the rockets’ red glare.
Smaug the Dragon
China’s cities became the focus of international interest (again) last autumn when images of urban skies and reports of frighteningly poor air-quality appeared in virtually all news media outlets. The promulgation and enforcement of firework bans fit nicely with the trending narrative, and the success of the policy initiative says a great deal about how the social inertia of cultural folkways can in fact be steered in new directions. The fact that the public will was not at extreme variance with the will of those in the North who craft Diktate minimized flashpoints¹.
Neighborhoods weren’t the only places that were quieter this holiday season. The emergency rooms of urban hospitals experienced a significant downtick in admissions, thanks mainly to fewer firework-related injuries.
Xinhua made the connection explicit in a news item of 15 February:
Sales of fireworks and the number of people injured due to fireworks setting off in Beijing have dropped significantly during this year’s Spring Festival holiday, which began on Feb. 10… A total of 165 people were injured due to fireworks setting off during the same period, down 22 percent from the previous year… No death or cases of eyeball extraction were reported...²
The China Real Time Report of The Wall Street Journal was among the English-language news-agencies to pick-up the item, though China Daily had reported earlier in February that firework-related injuries in the nation’s capital were, “down 33.89 percent from last year³.”
If slightly less-toxic air is a good outcome, fewer injuries are great ones. Among the people sure to be happiest about the data are the authors of the 2012 paper, “Prognostic factors and visual outcome for fireworks-related burns during spring festival in South China.” Conclusions include the recommendation that, “Laws should be passed to forbid the personal use of fireworks in China, and public education on the sale and use of fireworks should be increased⁴.” That very year, Xinhua reported:
Tongren Hospital has received 1,128 patients with fireworks-related injuries since Beijing removed its ban on fireworks during the festival in 2006. Nearly 30 percent of the patients are youngsters...During last year’s  holiday week, the hospital treated 206 patients with firework-induced injuries, 178 of whom suffered eye injuries. The youngest was only two years old⁵.
But children were not the only beneficiaries of the new policies regarding the sale of fireworks and the enforcement of ordinances pursuant to their private use. Front-line hospital staff likely avoided injuries of their own, too.
Aggravated assault against nurses, doctors, and hospital workers became talking-points outside China when major news outlets like The Atlantic gave column inches to the phenomenon.⁶ “Violence against healthcare staff is not new in China,” writes Yanzhong Huang. “It has been a topic of media concern since the early 1990s.”
National Public Radio, the broadcast brain-trust of American intellectuals, covered the same ground at the beginning of November 2013 (“In Violent Hospitals, China’s Doctors Can Become Patients”)⁷while Bloomberg was quick off the mark in responding to the March 2012 murder of a young internist at First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin University. In that commentary, Adam Minter undertook to explain why, “Violent Crimes in China’s Hospital Spread Happiness.”⁸ China Radio International (CRI) turned to the topic later that May 2012.
Scholarly concern for “hospital violence” in China (yiyuan baoli 医院暴力, or yi’nao 医闹in colloquial spoken Mandarin) is, as Yanzhong Huang points out, not new. ⁹ In 2006, authors sounded the alarm in the Hong Kong Medical Journal. ¹⁰
The historical development of both phenomena - criminal assault upon healthcare workers in China, and its position in the international news-cycle - are subjects worthy of further enquiry. What we have not seen so far, though, is interest inthe possible connection between the outcry from Chinese doctors in international English-language medical journals, and the decision to ban fireworks. And that just might be the real story.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…and probably mirrors, too
In 12 May 2012, The Lancet published, “Ending violence against doctors in China.” ¹¹ More than one year later, on 16 August 2013, The Wall Street Journal chimed-in, ¹² as did USA Today on October 24. ¹³ The May 2012 paper in The Lancet was cited in a 1 November 2013 commentary in the British Medical Journal (“Ending violence against doctors in China” ¹⁴ ), which was followed by a 23 November 2013 article again in The Lancet (“Appeals from doctors to end violence”). ¹⁵ The copy in both The Lancet and the BMJ was written by Mainland doctors working in Chinese metropolitan hospitals, and their sense of urgency is clear:
Within only 10 days in October, seven consecutive incidents of violence against medical personnel took place in Chinese hospitals, three doctors were killed and ten medical staff were injured. This recent wave of assaults on medical staff has led to widespread discussions on Chinese social media. Anger, fear, despair, and even hatred are common among doctors. Chinese doctors are under tremendous stress [ibid.].
Back to fireworks. The first mention of municipal bans on fireworks filtered into the media aquifer with Xinhua’s 12 December 2013 item, ¹⁶ which was run in the American edition of the China Daily (“Beijing to ban fireworks if new year turns foggy”) on 13 December 2013. ¹⁷ News that Wuhan would, in fact, prohibit the use of fireworks was reported by China Daily on 20 December 2013. ¹⁸
But the connection between fireworks and smog was not the only aspect of fireworks that was transparently of interest to the government.
On 22 November The Wall Street Journal reported that, “Fireworks Are Newest Target of China’s Austerity Drive.” ¹⁹ The article, based on a Central Discipline Inspection Commission report, ²⁰ suggested that, “the ban on gifts of fireworks, which can cost as much as 1,000 yuan ($164) a box, may be aimed at shutting down one more avenue for corruption rather than discouraging enjoyment of an ancient Chinese invention.”
“Shutting down one more avenue for corruption,” maybe. But these early government discussions about reducing civilian access to fireworks might have been part of a plan to make stealthy inroads on the phenomenon of hospital violence – under cover and against the backdrop of the domestic and international hue and cry about air pollution. ²¹
The West’s “Violence”
“The West,” if we may for a moment generalize and over-simplify, regularly criticizes China for (inter alia) the nation’s Yeti-sized carbon footprint. Rarely, though, are the long knives drawn for Chinese traditions and folkways. Fireworks add to the air pollution problem, but few China-hawks would go so far as to call upon the Chinese to discourage, “enjoyment of an ancient Chinese invention.” Allowing civilians to detonate fireworks en masse once or twice a year will make air quality acutely worse in the short-term, but banning the use of fireworks during the Chinese New Year will not do much to make air quality chronically better in the long-run.
What enforcement of the new policies did achieve, however, was less acute strain on accident and emergency units at hospitals during the holiday period. Because the fireworks bans reduced the number of burns and other fireworks-related injuries, there were fewer emergent-care outpatients clogging the arteries of a system that is under duress; and whenever emergent-care user-density is thinned-out, the likelihood of an aggravated assault resulting in the injury or death of front-line hospital staff drops too.
Beijing is thus in a position to announce this March - two years after the murder of the intern in Harbin - that indications for yiyuan baoli for the first two months of 2014 are positive. Simply by eliminating opportunities for predictable injuries, they reduced also opportunities for strife, conflict, and agitation in the ER. Given the outcry in the pages of The Lancet and the BMJ, such an encouraging statement from Xinhua is very likely, if not inevitable. After all, the phenomenon now has its own Wikipedia page (“Violence against doctors in China”). Not a good sign. ²²
Maybe there is in fact no connection whatsoever between this year’s firework restrictions and last winter’s concerns, from inside and outside China, about “hospital violence.” But despite the environmental impact of fireworks, and both the risks and foreseeable injuries and damage actually caused by fireworks, there’s still a lot to be said in favour of allowing the masses to celebrate Chinese New Year with them, and the government was very brave to try and clamp-down on such a beloved tradition. It is, after all, very eusocial and ethno-patriotic, enjoyed by rich and poor, urban and rural residents alike. It is a reaffirmation of the unity of Chinese culture – or at least, a public affirmation of belief in the ideal of such unity. Taking away from the people of China the freedom to enjoy an “ancient tradition” is risky business. That’s why the anti-pollution rationale is so weak: Why make the mob miserable, or risk head-on confrontations with civil disobedience, when everyone knows that a fireworks ban won’t make a dent in the air-quality problem? But arming doctors with pepper-spray is not a mark of a harmonious society, or of scientific development, or of expanding moderate-well-off-ness. ²³ And that is an issue that needs to be handled adroitly. And fast.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Chinese rarely think about or talk about baoli (“violence”) or qinlve (侵略, aggression) as problems in their own right, as problems in and of themselves – not in the way Western Anglophones do. For Chinese language-users, to start doing so would require a formidable conceptual adjustment in respect to Chinese ideas of both, “violence,” and, “victimhood;” conceptualizations, which themselves are not easily facilitated by Mandarin. It is therefore a very bad sign that the community needed to and in fact did neologize (yi’nao) to vouchsafe and secure new references to a troubling if old phenomenon.
Over the past 25 years, American scholars (social and behavioral scientists mainly) have succeeded in redirecting discussion from the crimes of assault and aggravated assault, to a discussion of violence itself. The author who deserves much of the blame (though most would say: credit) for this is James Gilligan. In his 1981, Preventing Violence, Gilligan states:
I will use the terms disease, illness, and pathology to refer to any force or process within an organism or species that tends to bring death or disability to the organism, or extinction to the species. Violence in all the forms just mentioned is, by that definition, a manifestation, form, or symptom of pathology or illness, at least as much as cancer and heart disease are… [V]iolence is a manifestation of disease… ²⁴
Gilligan and others, in the course of a single generation, have foisted upon Anglophones an entirely new concept of what violence is – viz., that Violence is a phenomenon in its own right, one which, in order to be understood, must be abstracted from the concepts of crimes and/or torts – viz., trespasses against the person – and abstracted even from the concepts of right and wrong. Those who have followed Gilligan to the outer limits of his absurdity (and there are many) currently argue that Violence is indeed – and not just metaphorically or analogically - a kind of disease-entity, something that is best understood with epidemiological paradigms and models and should be addressed in earnest by public health experts. ²⁵
This reconceptualization of Violence is philosophically very problematic, and for China to buy into it is positively dangerous. China has heretofore lacked the victim-culture we find throughout the English-speaking world; and to reiterate, this is one of the reasons why there is in China so little conversation about either Violence Itself or Aggression Itself as “problems” endemic to human beings and our societies. In spoken-Mandarin, one rarely uses the adjectives baolide 暴力的(violent) or qinlvede 侵略的 (aggressive) to describe people or their actions. ²⁶ The guy who puffs-up his chest and gets in-your-face might be shenjingbing or you maobing (colloquially: crazy), or guofen, or erbaiwu (excessive, or out-of order); but neither the individual nor his actions are likely to be described in everyday spoken Chinese as baolide, mengliede (猛烈的), or qinlvede.
But when Chinese doctors write ²⁷ about the crime of aggravated assault (specifically as perpetrated against medical personnel) for international English-language publications, they or their translators have little choice but to describe the situation and to express their concerns in terms immediately cogent and friendly to the reigning Zeitgeist of contemporary English-language culture. Inevitably, they thus present themselves as a new class of victims, whose victimhood is to be understood according to the English-speaking world’s latest concepts of “violence.” But whereas the simple fact is that Chinese doctors as a class are increasingly becoming the targets of some individual Chinese malefactors, the English-language rhetoric of Violence tells the narrative differently: All Chinese doctors are potential victims of the Violence Itself which lurks in Chinese society, and which is now seeping its way into the hospitals. That’s a mischaracterization of the phenomenon, but it plays into the hands of Western observers who have a knack for connecting Violence Itself with (inter alia.) human rights issues.
And in any case, given the historical association between the concept of Violence Itself and both class-struggle and social unrest, ²⁸ China’s leaders have very good reason to want to nip in the bud both problems: assaults perpetrated against hospital staff, and the misbegotten meme of “violence” and all its muddle-headed conceptual accoutrement.
Look again at some of the English-language headlines:
Violence against healthcare staff is not new in China (The Atlantic)
In Violent Hospitals, China’s Doctors Can Become Patients (NPR)
Violent Crimes in China’s Hospital Spread Happiness (Bloomberg)
China trying to stop patients from killing doctors (USA Today)
The least contentious of these is the USA Today headline, which is accurate if lurid, while Bloomberg deserves credit for not shying away from the fact that these assaults are crimes.
This is important. The new English-language concept of Violence aims to be non-judgmental and non-prejudicial as to whether the author of the act was right or wrong in using force or the threat of force. Violence Itself – tout court – is wrong, though this is now meant to be implied by and is taken as intrinsic to the very concept of violence. This linguistic sleight of hand is achieved only by equating Violence Itself with wrongfulness, and shunting to one side the actual human perpetrator and judgment of him or his actions. And the West has become excellent at not judging – or, at not-judging.
This, of course, is a cul-de-sac of folly. If a patient assaults a doctor, we can describe it as an act of violence. If the patient is then tackled by security personnel and forcibly manacled, that too may be described as an act of violence. From either a moral or legal point of view, however, the two “acts of violence” are not the same; but the new paradigm shift downplays or eliminates the importance of that distinction. Once upon a time (fifty years ago, roughly), the problem was the wrongful, harm-causing behavior, some of which happens to be both criminal (and/or delictual) and “violent;” currently, the “problem” is violence as such – disembodied, rarefied, and almost spectral or paranormal.
Nonsense, of course. By spinning the sow’s ear of a violent act (like an assault) into the silk purse of a pathogen or disease entity, Violence Itself can be addressed without being critical of the people who actually do harmful things wrongfully, or without burdening such people with responsibility for their actions which, of course, misses entirely the point, and the real problem: people who intentionally or recklessly cause wrongful harm have done something wrong. There’s no question of whether or not they should be judged; we’ve judged them already. That’s why a “violent” assault with a deadly weapon is a crime, but a constable’s “violent” disarming of an armed malefactor is not. ²⁹ (Like, ni-hao?)
Hence the subtle but unfortunate implications of The Atlantic headline, which removes reference both to the human agents who do the assaulting and to the fact that these assaults against doctors are crimes. NPR, meanwhile, shifts the entire weight of violence to the clinic – violent hospitals. The fact of human malefaction disappears altogether, and we’re invited to contemplate doctors as being victimized by violent hospitals, another manifestation – another incarnation! – of the specter of Violence Itself.
This is a path both Chinese citizens and their leaders do not want to travel. Western scholarship’s current conception of Violence is intellectually bankrupt, the whole field of “violence studies” a dud, and rhetoric of “violence” part of the very problem scholarship is supposed to be solving.
Or perhaps the rhetoric of violence isn’t a dud. It’s more like an A-bomb, where the fallout from which is deadlier than the blast.
¹For those who make a living scrutinizing China for signs of “development” (read: Western liberal bandwagonism), the correct induction is: not every engine of social change need be combustible. The eardrum-friendly arrival of 2014 was, if you will, the gunpowder plot that worked without becoming incendiary.
²http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2013/02/15/fireworks-sales-eyeball-extractions-plummet-in-beijing/. See also: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/chinese-new-year-2014-china-urges-firework-ban-it-grapples-smog-crisis-1434407http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/29/us-china-pollution-idUSBREA0S0CE20140129http://thediplomat.com/2014/01/shrouded-in-smog-chinese-officials-consider-a-firework-ban/
⁴J Burn Care Res. 2012 May-Jun;33(3):e108-13. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e3182335998.
⁹Nor are they confined to China – Google-search “hospital violence” and you’ll find a great deal of literature from the US and UK addressing the same issues.
²¹The smog of 2013 had already been making headlines. The Huffing Post drew their reticules upon the issue on 21 October 2013, which is when Reuters covered the topic. The Washington Post was right behind them. And while some of the worst days (pollution wise) of 2013 were indeed in December – topical chatter on Weixin and Weibo peaked that month - the off-the-charts PM figures for December 2013 might not be chief reason for the new fireworks ordinances.
²²http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_against_doctors_in_China. Put in the context of international media reporting on assaults against Chinese hospital staff, the creation date is telling: 2 November 2013. Note that we are to read “Violence against doctors” differently that we would read “Mothers against drunk driving”, or “Physicists against nuclear war”.
²⁴Gilligan J (1981) Preventing Violence, p.16, p.17 (emphasis added).
²⁵See for example see http://live.reuters.com/Event/Gun_Violence_A_Public_Health_Crisis, and http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/01/gun-violence-and-public-health. See also http://stevenpinker.com/pages/frequently-asked-questions-about-better-angels-our-nature-why-violence-has-declined.
²⁶Jiating baoli (家庭暴力) “domestic violence”, is another import, one which has been trending for a while now. But so far, native-speaking Chinese language-users do not fear or worry about baoli, “Violence”, in the generalized way many English-speakers do. An interesting point of comparison is, or may be, with the differences of semantic import between the English-language concept of allergy, and the Chinese concept of chaoguominganbing (超过敏感病, literally, “excessive-sensitivity disease/sickness”). The scope of guomin (“excessive sensitivity”) includes but is broader than the scope of “allergic”. This is why Chinese who are “excessively sensitive” to alcohol describe their condition (or: their own idiosyncratic relationship to alcohol) with the same word they would use to describe a nut or penicillin allergy. Wo dui X you mingan (我对 X 有敏感) – “ I in respect of X (alcohol, peanuts, etc.) am excessively-sensitive”. This is conceptually different from (and has different implications than) the English statement “I am allergic to X”. It is interesting also that, where an English speaker might distinguish between assertive and aggressive, and claim that Jones was not merely assertive but “was aggressive” or “acted aggressively”, the Chinese would be much more likely to say that Wang is guofen, or that Wang’s action was tai guofen – excessive or too excessive. Both mingan and guofen imply standards, limits, boundaries, thresholds, etc., to which something (a sensitivity, an action) is compared. In the new paradigm, neither ‘aggressive’ nor ‘violent’ allow for that. Both “aggression” and “violence” – and bear in mind that these are noun-forms of the useful adjectives aggressive and violent – are (following Gilligan et al.) diseases, or symptoms of diseases. As such, “aggression” and “violence” are deviations from health, not from standards of right and wrong. This tactical semantic wizardry requires a very particular and controversial (or at least: debatable) definition of health, and is an offense to the sensibility of everyday English, which allows that something may be intelligible and correctly described as both ‘violent’ (boxing, rugby, fencing) and not-wrongful, violent and not wrong, violent and good.
²⁷暴力 and 侵略 and their adjectival cognates are less uncommon as written words.
²⁸The first academic paper in 20th century American scholarship to even have the word ‘violence’ in the title is Adams TS (1906) “Violence in Labor Disputes”, Publications of the American Economic Association, 3rd Series, Vol. 7, No. 1 (February 1906), pp. 176-206. It also uses the word “violence” in the first paragraph more than any other scholarly paper in English had up to that time. This was then followed by a number of works which demonstrate clearly how a new concept of violence was taking place in the context of the rise of organized (unionized) labor – see John Haynes Holmes (1920) Is Violence the Way Out of Industrial Disputes?. Throughout the 20s, 30s, and 40s, English-language scholarship addressed a number of topics which today seem familiar – juvenile delinquency, the effects of comic books, television, and film upon children, etc. Few of these works frame their concerns in terms of “violence”, or even mention violence, a word which is in fact absent most of the inter-war and post-war literature dealing specifically with international aggression, strife, peace, war reparations, etc. “Violence Itself” does not in fact become an object of broad scholarly concern until the late 1960s, beginning in earnest with the papers in The Journal of Philosophy, Vol.66, No.19, these being from the Sixty-Sixth Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association (2 October 1969). The contributions to this issue of the Journal of Philosophy were an attempt to respond philosophically to the militant disturbances and the student protests at Columbia University and elsewhere, and the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, once again demonstrating that the idea of Violence Itself was born in the crucible of civil unrest. In the prior century, the word “violence” was used most often in connection with the weather and natural phenomena, Biblical literature, the emancipation of slaves in the ante-bellum South, attacks upon African Americans in the post-bellum South, the conflict between labour and capital, and crime. The word rarely occurs in descriptions of either the War of 1812, the American Civil War (or the works of Stephen Crane, by the way), or the macabre works of or review of the macabre works of Poe. Crime reporting in The New York Times uses the word “violence” with increasing in the years after the Civil War – noting, obiter, that the first US daytime armed bank robbery took place in 1866, which was the same year the ASPCA was founded. Hannah Arendt’s On Violence appeared on shelves in 1970, but her work is best regarded as a contemporary continuation of a Continental tradition going back at least as far as Hegel (Philosophy of Right, 1820) and Marx, in which “violence” is understood in the context of political activity (and not: political activity addressed in the context of violence, as it is today). In Arendt, the word “violence” refers mainly to force or to power, but not specifically to the character of wrongful-harms or wrongful harm-causing – that is, to those things typically designated crimes. It is not to be wondered at that On Violence followed hard on the heels of proletariat revolutions around the world, the dying gasps of colonialism, and the worst of domestic riots associated with the Vietnam War protests and the Civil Rights Movement. So when, exactly, did “violence” start to become contemplated in the West as a phenomenon in its own right, as a “disease”, as a health issue? The Seville Statement on Violence was issued in 1986, but even here the enemy was not war, intraspecific atrocity, or even Violence Itself, but what its signatories thought was the strong determinism of EO Wilson and sociobiology, which seemed to them to doom Mankind to war in perpetuity. The date we are looking for is 2002. That is when the WHO – despite over half a century of grand and grandiose declarations – finally issued a report on “the problem of violence.” The project’s house-of-cards foundation was laid by those scholars took up residence on Gilligan’s island – vide World Report on Violence and Health – here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/pr73/en/. We are left, at last, with an innocent and simple question, one which scholars are either unwilling or unable to answer: If “the problem of violence” had been in plain sight since the dawn of human existence, and has forever been one of humankind’s most intractable problems, why then did it take so long for anyone to write about it as a problem – that is, as a problem in and of itself? And with a world lately bathed in the blood of the Holocaust, why did it take the scholars and the researchers of the last half of the 20th century another two decades to discover Violence? Was the Armenian genocide, the massacre in Nanjing, the continued lynching of African Americans in the post-bellum South, the two world wars, Nazi atrocities, the Korean War, and Vietnam not quite violent enough? And if violence is in fact (and not just by stipulation or hypothesis) a disease, disease entity, or symptom of disease, why did the UN’s global hygiene secretariat wait 40 years to issue a report on the subject?
²⁹See R v Billinghurst  Crim LR 553, Newport Crown Court: Judge John Rutter: June 12 and 13, 1978. The case concerned the reasonable limits of consent to the risk or prospect of experiencing intentional physical harm-causing in sport, insofar as such harm was or should have been reasonably foreseeable to a consenting athlete and participant. The ruling makes clear that while rugby is a contact sport, and that sometimes in rugby players do in fact throw or trade punches, consent to participation in a rugby match is not or should not be taken as consent to be either punched or assaulted in a manner which is or should be considered properly outside the scope of fair and reasonable play. The court so held, citing public policy as a principal or determining factor. The language throughout, though sometimes less than unequivocal, allows and in fact insists upon the intelligibility of making and sustaining a distinction between non-wrongful “violence”(rugby is a contact sport, it is rough, and may be described as “violent”) and wrongful-violence (the nature or kind of aggression which would lead or cause a player to punch another player is unacceptable, and to punch another player would be to manifest to an inappropriate degree aggression, and so or thereby commit a wrongfully-violent act. There’s a great deal of literature on the subject which tackles the rational of violenti non injuria fit in the context of sport and rough play (Yes. I said “tackle.”). The relevance of this body of literature to “the problem of Violence” seems not to be widely acknowledged or appreciated.
Over the past eight weeks, the Wellington College International Hangzhou community has rallied together to face and overcome the challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. During this time, Wellington College International Hangzhou is experiencing an increasing number of enquiries for admissions, and from March 30th the entire Admissions team have been back on campus assisting families through the admissions process.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we are unable to host families on campus for our personalised tours, but that doesn’t mean you cannot learn more about the unique Wellington approach to holistic education. From phone conversations, email and video conferencing, through to our 360-degree virtual campus tours and online information sessions, we can still connect in this digital age despite our distance.
Online Open Day
On Wednesday 8th April, Wellington College International Hangzhou will be hosting an online information session, open to anyone keen to learn more about Wellington.
In this webinar style event, Mr. Paul Rogers, founding Executive Master of Wellington College Hangzhou, will provide a broad overview and introduction to the Wellington College family of schools, our heritage, educational philosophy and values.
Ms. Kathryn Richardson, Principal of Wellington College International Hangzhou, will take a deeper dive into what makes a Wellington education unique, as well as exploring many of the common topics that parents are curious about.
Additionally, you will have the opportunity to take a 360-degree virtual campus tour to view the state-of-the-art facilities we have on offer and how we utilize these facilities to provide the very best possible education for the children in our care.
Finally, we will host a live Q&A session where participants will be able to interact with the speakers and Admissions team, allowing us to address the questions that are important to you.
Scholarships at Wellington
In order to recognise and reward the pursuit and achievement of excellence in pupils at Wellington College International Hangzhou, and to make a Wellington education accessible to a broader range of pupils throughout Hangzhou and surrounding regions, scholarships, awards and bursaries are available to different year levels at Wellington. Awards of up to 100% of the tuition fees will be available to successful applications in Year 7 or above in August 2020. For more information, please visit this link or contact our Admissions team directly.
eLearning at Wellington
Results from our recent parent survey are conclusive. Our eLearning provision is meeting the needs of our families and ensuring that children are meeting their educational needs during this difficult time. 94% of Wellington College International Hangzhou families agree that our teachers have ensured that our pupils, irrespective of time zones, have been able to access all learning materials during this period of eLearning.
Since eLearning started, Wellington College International Hangzhou pupils have been able to maintain their close-knit relationships with their teachers and classmates. These ongoing relationships, personalised learning plans, 1:1 tutoring where required and innovative use of technology to smoothly facilitate learning objectives has ensured that our children are all progressing as they should during this time.
This high-quality eLearning provision is a testament to Wellington’s ongoing commitment to always providing the best possible learning outcomes to the children in our care, regardless of circumstance or challenge. We remain committed to this objective and welcome enquiries from all parents who are interesting in providing a world-class education to their children.
To learn more about eLearning at Wellington College International Hangzhou, please click the links below to learn more;
Top 12 FAQs | All you need to know about joining Wellington!
The Admissions team regularly fields questions from parents who are keen to learn more about Wellington, and as a result have compiled the following useful FAQ. Please click the link below to see what other parents are curious about.
Do you have different questions? Are you interested in learning more about Wellington? If so, we welcome you to join our online open day being hosted at 7pm on Wednesday 8th April. We look forward to seeing you there!
Don’t forget that our Admissions team are available at any time to answer your questions. Due to the international nature of the school, we field questions at all times of the day. Feel free to contact us using any of the methods listed below and we will respond to your enquiry within 48 hours.
The Chinese hot-pot restaurant chain Haidilao is known for a lot of things, except being moderate. They will give you a free manicure and clean your shoes while you’re waiting for your table, provide a big stuffed animal to keep you company if you’re lunching alone, and perform an acrobatic dance if you order noodles.
Haidilao is the epitome of the “client comes first” mentality that will go to great length to provide you with first-rate service. However, as experience shows, some clients find that the best service is when they are left alone and not bothered by pesky over-the-top courtesy.
At one time Chinese Internet was replete with articles titled along the lines of “Don’t let Haidilao know your birthday, it’s too scary” where users would detail their experiences dealing with the restaurant’s overblown birthday service that included singing and dancing waiters holding LED lights and more. Some have even joked saying “If you hate your friend, go to Haidilao for their birthday.”
To tackle the problem and better cater to the needs of different groups of customers, Haidilao recently introduced a witty solution. Tables in some of the chain’s restaurants are now equipped with “Do not disturb” flip-boards. Customers who do not want to be approached too often by waiters can use the sign to fend off their insistent advances.
The flip-board also provides other options such as “I’ll serve dishes myself” meaning that the waiter does not need to help with the dishes frequently or “detailed services are not required” telling waiters that they are only wanted to bring dishes and clean the table.
According to Haidilao, the service is still in the pilot stage, and it will be tried in some stores. It will continue to be optimized according to the needs of customers and different situations. Stores and employees will be continuously encouraged to innovate and provide customers with more personalized services.
Though Haidilao's service has always been known as "perverted", but sometimes it is too intimate and it can cause embarrassment. A while ago, a post named "Don't let Haidilao know your birthday" went viral on the internet.
“I went to Haidilao with my girlfriend, we just asked if we could get a discount on birthdays, then a group of people appeared with LED lights and sang the birthday song, they even gave us a ‘Most Beautiful Girlfriend Reward” and asked us to read the girlfriend vows to each other.’
“Two of us went to celebrate my friend’s birthday at Haidilao, we hid the cake in our bag and sneaked some scoops every now and then, just because we were so scared that the waiters would find out that’s her birthday, then we would be the super star of the night.”
“Look at me, I looked so surprised and happy!”
Therefore, for many customers who like Haidilao, the appearance of "Do Not Disturb" flip-board is simply a relief and has been unanimously appreciated by everyone.
From a steaming glass of traditional mulled wine, brimming with spices, to an indulgent mudslide cocktail, our winter drinks recipes are perfect for seeing in the festive season. Curl up in your fluffiest jumper with a creamy peppermint hot chocolate, or get the party started with a batch of our marvellous mulled gin.
Keep everyone's glasses topped up with our favourite festive drinks, and mouth-watering non-alcoholic drinks for every taste. Find top mixology tips, reviews of our favourite products and even more triple-tested recipes in our cocktails & drinks hub.
Spiced Apple Syrup with Clementine & Cloves
Our spiced apple syrup with clementine and cloves will add a burst of fabulous Christmas flavour to any drink. Try adding to hot apple juice or mulled wine for festive fruit and spice. It's even delicious drizzled over ice cream for an upgraded frozen treat. It will keep for about a month, so store it in the fridge ready for impromptu gatherings.
200ml apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole allspice
1 mace blade
2 whole cloves
Small strip fresh ginger
1 clementine, zest finely peeled with a vegetable peeler
100g golden caster sugar
1. Heat the apple juice with the whole spices, ginger, zest and sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins.
2. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain the syrup into small bottles.
It wouldn't be winter without a steaming mug of mulled wine, complete with a glug of sloe gin for a sweet twist. Simply leave your wine, (we recommend an unoaked tempranillo) to infuse with seasonal spices like star anise and cinnamon and a little citrus zest. Keep a batch warming on the stove and let guests top up their glasses. Want to try something different this year?
750ml bottle red wine
1 large cinnamon stick, or 2 small ones
2 star anise
2 strips lemon zest, pared using a vegetable peeler
4 tbsp caster sugar
100ml sloe gin (we used Gordon's) (optional)
1. Put the red wine, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, lemon zest and sugar in a large pan. Cook on a low heat for 10 mins.
2. Remove from the heat and cool, leaving to infuse for about 30 mins.
3. To serve, heat without boiling, stir in the sloe gin (if using) and pour into mugs or heatproof glasses.
Winter Whisky Sour
Warm up from the inside out with our simple winter whiskey sour. Give the classic sour a couple of delicious tweaks and it's ready for the festive season. Add a splash of orange juice to your favourite bourbon, a little sugar syrup, some fresh fruit and some sparkle. Need some more help getting into the spirit?
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
½ tbsp sugar syrup
2 slices of oranges
Gold edible glitter
1. Using a small paintbrush (or your finger), brush some honey around the rim of two tumblers and use another small paintbrush to stick edible gold glitter around each.
2. Fill each glass with crushed ice. Put the bourbon into a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice, orange juice and sugar syrup. Shake and strain into each glass, and serve with an orange slice and short straws.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Nothing says 'indulgence' like a velvety-smooth hot chocolate, made with rich dark chocolate and double cream. Stir our peppermint hot chocolate with a striped candy cane and let it melt into the drink for a refreshing minty flavour. These delectable drinks are hard to resist. Got something.
200g bar plain chocolate, broken into chunks
150ml pot single or double cream
Sugar, to taste
6 peppermint candy canes, to serve
1. Put the chocolate in a pan with the milk. Gently heat, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Continue heating until the milk is steaming, then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
2. Divide the hot chocolate between 6 mugs, add sugar to taste and hang a candy cane on the edge of each. Pass the mugs round and let everyone stir their hot chocolate with their candy cane – letting as much of the sweet peppermint dissolve as they fancy.
Cinnamon Buttered Rum
Once you're tried our super smooth, gently spiced cinnamon buttered rum, it'll be your drink of choice when the nights draw in. Serve up mugfuls of this buttery brilliance for your next party. Neither sickly sweet nor too citrussy, this perfectly balanced tipple will warm you up in no time. Whether you prefer white or dark, spiced or smooth, we have a rum cocktail recipe to get your party started.
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 small cinnamon sticks
200ml spiced rum
1. Gently heat the butter, golden caster sugar and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Stir in the spiced rum, then pour into four small heatproof glasses to serve.
Mulled Pear & Cranberry Punch
Our versatile mulled pear & cranberry punch can be served as a cocktail or a non-boozy version, simply miss out the sloe gin. The beauty of this all-in-one recipe means you can simply chuck your ingredients in a pan, leave to heat, then ladle out as needed. It takes just ten minutes to make, so no need to sweat it out in the kitchen.
1l pear cider
1l pear (or cloudy apple) juice
1l cranberry juice
Good handful fresh or dried cranberries
150ml sloe gin
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla pods, scored lengthways
Put all the ingredients into your biggest saucepan or casserole dish. When you're ready to serve, heat to just below simmering point, then ladle into glasses.
This creamy, coffee-flavoured cocktail is for adults only. Our mudslide is pure decadence, something to be savoured and sipped at your leisure.
50g dark chocolate
60ml coffee-flavoured liqueur
60ml Irish cream liqueur
100ml double cream
1. Put two small tumblers in the fridge to chill overnight. Put 30g of the chocolate in a shallow bowl and melt in the microwave in short bursts. Dip the rim of the chilled glasses in the melted chocolate, then stand them upright so it gradually drips down the sides. Return to the fridge until you're ready to serve.
2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then pour in the coffee-flavoured liqueur, vodka, Irish cream liqueur and double cream. Shake until the outside of the shaker is very cold.
3. Put a few ice cubes in the prepared glasses, then strain in the cocktail. Finely grate over the remaining chocolate and serve with a paper straw.
Winter Pimm's Punch
This archetypal English cocktail isn't just for summer. Our Winter Pimm's punch is paired with sweet brandy and light apple juice for an instant cocktail cabinet winner. You'll probably have most of the ingredients already lurking in kitchen cupboards. It can be served warm or cool, depending on what you prefer.
1½ l apple juice
2 cinnamon sticks
Combine the Pimm's and brandy with the apple juice in a jug filled with ice, cinnamon sticks and a sliced apple and orange.
Looking for something a little different than the standard festive fare? Move over wine, this mulled gin is our new favourite Christmas cocktail. Infuse apple juice with aromatic spices like bay, cloves and cardamom, a few crushed juniper berries and a little honey for sweetness. Cut through rich canapés and sweet treats with this more delicate drink.
400ml apple juice
½ lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 small cinnamon stick
3 juniper berries, lightly crushed
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp runny honey
For the garnish
4 bay leaves
2 lemon slices, halved
1. Divide the gin between four small heatproof glasses or teacups.
2. Tip the apple juice into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Heat gently until simmering, then strain into a jug. Pour the mulled apple juice into the glasses with the gin and stir gently to combine. Garnish each glass with a bay leaf and half a lemon slice and serve warm.
Perk up the after-dinner lull with a luxurious Irish coffee. A grating of fresh nutmeg on top of the thick layer of cream adds some seasonal fragrance. Need some help choosing the perfect dram? Read our review of the 10 best Irish whiskies, from light and smooth to rich and spicy.
2 tbsp double cream
150ml freshly brewed black coffee
50ml Irish whiskey
½ - 1 tsp brown sugar
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1. Lightly whip the cream just so it’s very slightly thickened, then set aside.
2. Pour the hot coffee into a mug or heatproof glass, then add the whiskey and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Gently float the cream on the top and sprinkle the nutmeg over the cream. Serve hot.
My first encounter with Marco was through my friend’s WeChat moments. I can’t really recall for what reason we added each other, all I could remember were his big muscles and that bright smile hailing from L.A. Later on, we had more contact due to a few common friends who are involved with martial arts and I started to know him more.
Who is Marco
Marco has gained quite a reputation in the martial arts world since arriving in Hangzhou in 2018. He used to train at Checkmat Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in USA, an international academy, competition team, and family of Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Founded in 2008 by Master Vieira, Checkmat now has affiliate academies in thirty-four American cities and sixteen countries worldwide. You can find world-class, hands-on instruction that has been tested on the practice mats and proven on the competition field.
In Hangzhou, Marco started his own brand - Marcola Jiu Jitsu. It offers Jiu Jitsu training classes to people of different ages, whether professional or not. As one of the few black belt holders in China, his classes are really popular. Marco’s lifelong love of competitive athletics has molded him into both a lover and a fighter. His passion for athletics and a genuine desire to help people reach their fitness goals motivates him to continue learning each day, and develop new techniques to challenge himself and his clients. You see doctors, lawyers, students, law enforcers, businessmen and women walk into his class for the same reason - to get better at Jiu Jitsu.
Marco’s full name is Marco Alvarado and his Chinese name is rather cute: 马可乐. His Chinese friends would just call him 可乐, same as Cola. Before we tell you more, take a look at his incredible championship records below, the man is a real fighter.
Bronze Medal at International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Pan American Championship Blue Belt
Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation All Americas Tournament Purple Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF Pan American Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF World No Gi Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF American Nationals No Gi Brown Belt
Silver Medal at Jiu Jitsu World League San Diego Championships Black Belt
Gold Medal at NABJJF All Americas Tournament Black Belt
Marco has been involved in many kinds of sports - boxing, taekwondo, karate, running, American football – and also physical rehabilitation. Like many other athletes, Marco’s first coach was his dad who was a boxer. Marco was just 5 years old when his dad introduced him to boxing. It was the classic story, his parents decided to put him in taekwondo and karate training when they found out that little Marco was being bullied in kindergarten. Six years later, he received his first black belt in taekwondo.
After that, he decided to move on to a new sport: running. From sixth grade till he graduated college, he never stopped running and he became one of the US national athletes in track and field.
Eventually, he knew he needed to find another new sport to challenge himself. One day, he went to a free Jiu Jitsu class at his college. Someone caught him in a choke, he had no idea what to do and that got him really interested. He wanted to know how it happened, how he did it, and how to do it back. He was 22 at the time. 10 years later, he won the Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Championships.
It’s Ok to Lose, Just Learn From It
As an amateur boxer who has only been training for 4 months, there was a question I really wanted to ask so I brought it up when we were having a lunch break at Blue Frog. “Before you had your first fight, how did you overcome your inner fear?” Marco took a bite of his big, juicy burger and said “My first Jiu Jitsu tournament was six months after I started training, I was very nervous. We sparred every week in college, so I learned how to deal with the fear, but this time was different. I knew who my opponents were, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. I got destroyed badly in two fights, one guy caught me in the armbar in 20 seconds, the other guy beat me so bad like 20-0. I left deflated and frustrated, but I wanted to do it again, I wanted redemption. This gives you more motivation to go back to train harder and learn from mistakes. In the fights later on, I started to get into my rhythm and started doing well. Sometimes maybe you don’t want to tap and lose in practice, because it hurts your pride for a day or two, but you come back for more training. It’s ok to lose, just learn from it. That’s an important life lesson.” During Marco’s career, his arms were almost broken a couple of times, he tore some ligaments on his knees and he got two broken teeth. With all these injuries, he had to learn about physical therapy in order to fix himself.
“Martial arts is more about avoiding problems than anything else. These days, there are always those untrained people or the ones who watched too much UFC and are looking for trouble. If you trained a little, you’ll have respect for your body. This stuff is no joke, it can really be dangerous.” Marco continues, “My teacher used to say if there is a fight, he’ll just run away, because he would feel bad for the guys once he’s had enough. He would turn around and fight.”
Back in L.A, Marco was teaching in a big chain gym where he soon became friends with a Taiwanese trainer. He followed his friend’s journey that brought him to Hangzhou to continue teaching for Checkmat and he became aware that there are a lot of blue and purple belt holders who opened Jiu Jitsu schools in Hangzhou, but there were only 2-3 with a black belt teaching here. Marco thought that he can bring people more advanced technique and professional training. So in June, 2018, Marco came to start his first job in a gym in Xiaoshan, teaching conditioning and creating a Jiu Jitsu program.
MMA vs. Traditional Chinese Martial Arts
I couldn’t help asking what Marco thinks about this outspoken Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong a.k.a. “Mad Dog”. Mad Dog has made it his mission to expose fake kung fu over the past two years by pulverising fraudulent traditional martial arts “masters”, but his actions have drawn the ire of Chinese authorities. “In my point of view, Bruce [Lee] was the first MMA fighter in the history of martial arts, because he was always so open minded about everything. He took things that he thought were useful and added on something unique of his own. I think Xu Xiaodong’s mission is to show that not one martial arts is dominating. If you know a bit of everything, that is more effective. I think Jiu Jitsu is very useful and complete, cause you go from standing to the ground, you can also go back up to defend yourself, knowledge is powerful. Martial arts is changing, and you need to keep yourself updated. Back home, some guys can use their chi to make someone fall. This is not video games, we call it McDojo.”
The Distance Between China and the World
Many are also immersed in the joy of Zhang Weili who won China’s first Gold Belt in MMA. She is now gearing up to defend her UFC strawweight title against the former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk on March 8, 2020. Marco thinks that China has started to close the gap with the other western countries and now there are more and more young Chinese fighters in UFC. Marco told me, “With Jiu Jitsu, specifically, China is a little bit behind. Brazil and US now are the two countries with the best fighters. There are a lot of 15-18 years old kids that have been training since they were 5. That means they have over 10 years of experience on the mat which is more than me. They have all those tricks that I have never seen, the level is just incredible. Even though China has a lot of catching up to do, they are doing a good job.”
How Did My First Jiu Jitsu Class Go?
I joined Marco’s class at R8 a few weeks ago. I was not only impressed by his superb Jiu-Jitsu skills, but also his passion in coaching. When a fight moves down to the ground, it can be quite brutal, especially in Jiu Jitsu where there are so many different kinds of chokes. It seems that getting bruises, breaking teeth or arms are normal in this sport. Plus, did I mention that if you are practicing with a guy, you’d better get used to some rather odd positions? Even Marco himself admitted that Jiu Jitsu positions can sometimes be awkward.
So I didn’t go in with a lot of confidence, but Marco’s explanation and demonstration of each move made everything seem possible. It is a grappling-based martial art where the central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Jiu Jitsu is centered around the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless. All those awkward positions can be very effective; the basis behind it is all about leverage. It’s about using the whole body on another body part, even if your opponent is a bodybuilder, he can’t win. If you are skilled in Jiu Jitsu, you can definitely hold yourself against 95% of the population; most people don’t even know how to fall down properly.
The Beauty of Jiu Jitsu
Marco has about 30 tough students at the moment and he’s determined to stay for a much longer time. Recently he took 7 people to attend the Shanghai Tournament and got 10 gold medals, this shows that this tiny team is going in the right direction. For the next step, Marco wants to create a kids’ program. He wants to share what he has with the next generation.
"It's important to stay focused and keep an open mind when it comes to learning Jiu Jitsu." The Jiu Jitsu lifestyle goes beyond just training. It's about taking care of yourself, making friends, and striving to put your 'best foot forward'. Setting your mind to learning and improving every week will help you to improve mind, body and soul. His over-all team goal is to improve at least 1% every week and this requires a positive attitude.
In light of the success of the first online open day, Wellington College International Hangzhou is very much aware of requests for an additional session held on a weekend, to enable more families to tune in and join the interactive Q&A session. The coming online open day will be held at 10am on Saturday 18th April.This event is open to anyone keen to learn more about Wellington College International Hangzhou.
The open day includes;
· A broad overview and introduction to the Wellington College family of schools, royal heritage, educational philosophy and values by Mr. Paul Rogers, founding Executive Master of Wellington College Hangzhou.
· 惠灵顿杭州校区总校长Paul Rogers将对惠灵顿大家庭的姊妹学校、悠久历史、以及我们的教育理念和价值观做整体介绍。
· A deeper dive into what makes a Wellington education unique, and a presentation exploring many of the common topics that parents are curious about by Ms. Kathryn Richardson, Principal of Wellington College International Hangzhou
· 杭州惠灵顿外籍人员子女学校校长Kathryn Richardson将深入阐述惠灵顿教育的与众不同之处以及就家长们关心的一些常见问题与大家进行探讨。
· A live Q&A session where participants will be able to interact with the speakers and Admissions Team, allowing the team to address the questions that are important to you.
All interested families are suggested to scan the QR code on the poster to register. Registered attendees will receive a reminder notification prior to the event starting.
Welcome Back to Wellington
As pupils quickly approach the highly anticipated return to schools in Hangzhou, Wellington College Hangzhou has been strictly following the local regulations on epidemic prevention in order to prepare the Wellington community for a smooth transition back to normality.
At Wellington College Hangzhou, ensuring the safety of the school community and protecting the health of Wellington pupils and staff always takes top priority. Over the past three months, the Senior Leadership Team and a specially appointed school emergency team have implemented a detailed COVID-19 plan that covers all aspects of school life, and ensures that strict guidelines will be followed to minimize risk and increase safety.
The Wellington College Hangzhou campus has undertaken a comprehensive site inspection by both the Education Bureau and the Hangzhou medical authority. Both inspection teams were incredibly impressed with Wellington’s preparations.
Wellington understand that this will be a difficult transition for their children, yet remain confident that with careful guidance, and through demonstrating the Wellington Values of Courage, Kindness, Responsibility, Respect and Integrity, the children will adapt quickly and fully embrace the mission of ensuring a safe return to school.
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