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Chinese voices reflect on a tumultuous year
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's devastating earthquake has sparked widespread volunteerism and a surge of patriotism among young people, building on earlier nationalist anger over Tibetan unrest and subsequent Western protests against the Beijing Olympic Games torch relay.
Here is a selection of voices from China's "post-'80" generation, giving their views on how this dramatic year has affected them.
Wang Junbo, a 19-year-old university student who took time off from his English-language studies to help in an earthquake refugee camp in Mianzhu, Sichuan province, where he was working in the outdoor hospital:
"My family comes from this area. When the earthquake struck, my little cousin was in a school that collapsed in Hanwang. Everyone in the family who could went there to help, and we spent 24 hours digging her out."
"In the end we found her and she's okay ... But when I saw the thousands of other people who died I decided to devote myself to volunteer work."
"Of course, it's had a big impact on me. Before now I lived in the city and didn't have much to do with farming people, including my relatives. But now I really want to get involved and get to know them."
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Li Tong, a 28-year-old nightclub manager in Beijing who has organised a series of benefit concerts for quake relief:
"I think the reason (for the widespread response) was simple. The earthquake was just too big and devastating for anyone to ignore. So we all felt we had to get involved. It wasn't political calculations or anything like that."
"I'm not sure about the long-term impact. For now, there's this sense of joint participation -- and that could continue. Before, I think, people felt more isolated and selfish and they thought the same about strangers. But the relief work has broken through that. So I hope we don't go back to how it was."
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Lai Yangjun, a 21-year-old forestry student in Beijing who donated clothes and money for quake victims, and said he earlier took part in protests against French supermarket chain Carrefour because an executive was accused of backing Tibeten independence:
"I think young people mostly believe that patriotism should be much stronger. That's why we were so angry over CNN and the torch relay in Paris. The West doesn't understand us and has all these prejudices that the media report. We felt insulted."
"All these events have made us feel more confident in our country. I think one long-term effect of a disaster this big is that it's strengthened a sense of unity and patriotism."
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