The quiet dignity of a nation

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For China, the disaster in Morecambe Bay was a national tragedy.

Steve Middlesbrough, a DJ and music promoter from Morecambe, has since gained a personal insight into how Chinese people feel about the events of February 5 2004.

Steve, whose wife Ling is Chinese, has visited Guangdong, a province of China bordering Fujian where the cocklers were from, many times since that night.

He said the Chinese people he knows, have dealt with the disaster in their own way.

“In China, it’s country first,” said Steve.

“Ling tells me every day that she is Chinese. They are brought up to feel that way.

“Anything that shames, embarrasses or puts their country in a bad light affects their psyche, especially because the tragedy was Chinese people harming their own.

“They are a deep and dignified people, and wouldn’t understand why we are talking about it, 10 years on.

“It is also a time when they want to be celebrating, because it’s the Chinese New Year.

“There is also a lot of superstition in China and to talk about bad things is bad luck.

“How they perceive things is very different to how we would.”

Like many others, Steve first heard about the tragedy on the news.

“It was a horrible night,” he said.

“I can’t think about it without filling up.

“The thought that people were on their phones when they died is horrific. It’s beyond belief.

“I just want to say a prayer for all those lost souls.

“It must never be allowed to happen again and we must not be complacent about it.”

Steve and Ling were married later that month, in February 2004, and so their 10th wedding anniversary is coming up.

The couple have never talked to each other about the tragedy since that time.

“Ling would say it was her problem and her country’s problem,” said Steve.

“It was an event that happened in Morecambe but it happened to people from China.

“The Chinese community must be allowed to grieve for the situation in their own way, and I think it’s important to respect their wishes.”