Press Releases

Reflections In the Aftermath of the Chinese Earthquake

Yan Lin: Wednesday, June 18th, 2008 | 10:00 am

NOTE: The following is a first-hand account of the recent earthquake in China, as recalled by Yan Lin, Symantec's government relations manager in China:

It was 2:28 in the afternoon of May 19, Monday, I stood in silence on the street near our office in Beijing Oriental plaza, shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues, strangers, elders, toddlers who were passing by the busy downtown street at that moment. Cars stopped at the sides of the street with the drivers sounding their horns, shops and restaurants closed for a few minutes, and sirens wailed across Beijing. But it was not just Beijing, it was the whole country of China that grounded to a halt for three minutes in a wail of grief to mourn the tens of thousands of victims who died in one of the worst earthquakes in decades. This was the largest ever mourning activity in China, and perhaps even in human history given the size of China's population – three consecutive memorial days with all amusement and sports activities suspended, including the ceremonies for relaying the Olympic torches.

Seven days back to May 12th, at 2:28, an earthquake, magnitude 8.0, struck Sichuan province of China. Those who have never been to China before may never have heard of Sichuan province I am sure they have heard of the giant panda, whose hometown is in Sichuan and for which one of their last homes — the Wolong Nature Reserve and panda breeding center— was right smack in Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the earthquake!

My heart went out to those who lost their loved ones, their homes, their belongings, and also to the Wolong pandas experiencing such a terrible shock. What a coincidence it is to find that my recent work has a kind of connection with the black-and-white bear and the Wolong Nature Reserve.

Tai Shan is FAUX PAW's new panda friend from the Smithsonian's National Zoo. The parents of the real Taishan are coming from the Wolong Nature Reserve. In the new iKeepsafe book- " FAUX PAW Goes To The Games", the web-surfing Techno Cat gets invited to light the flame at the Great Animal Olympics in Beijing. On her way to the games she gets distracted by online games that she just can't stop playing. Tai Shan comes to the rescue when FAUX PAW's internet addiction threatens to ruin her big moment.

As the local representative of the public affairs team, it was my role to help get the book published and also family-online safety programs initiated in China so that more children have a chance to read this marvelous book and become friends with Tai Shan and FAUX PAW. Under very tight resources and timeline, my months-long work achieved rewarding results. The book was printed out on May 10th; a book launch was scheduled at May 16th; and Jackie Leavitt, the founder of iKeepsafe, hosted the event. She was joined by her husband, HHS Secretary Leavitt during his visit to China to support the message of keeping children's online behavior healthy. All these arrangements seemed to have arrived at the very right moment and they have an extra meaning and significance after the earthquake on 12th. At the beginning of the event on 16th, Jackie expressed her deep sympathy and care about victims caused by the earthquake and praised Symantec's earthquake relief efforts and our consistent social responsibility work. I was told the event went very well ending with Jackie reading the story to attentive students. I wish I could have been on the scene to experience that moving moment, but I was unable to, as I was far away at that time in San Diego for our legal offsite meeting.

On the way back to the office after a three-minute silence on the street on 19th, I knew my life ahead would not be the same. Apart from my work commitment, I would be a volunteer like many other ordinary Chinese in the coming years to spare time with those who lost everything in the earthquake; with a three-age-old girl named Song Xinying, who lost a leg and survived but whose parents did not make it as they held each other's hands and shoulders face-to-face to form an arch to shield their daughter from the falling blocks; or with Wolong pandas starting a new life in Beijing Zoo.