'Brother Anxiety' well prepared for a rainy day
Tang spoke to Ivan Zhai
Tang Tianhao, a 25-year-old legal adviser in Guangzhou, surprised a nationwide audience last year during a popular match-making television show when he told his dream girl and all others watching the show that he had stored several tonnes of food in his hometown in Sichuan for a potential crisis. After the show, viewers and internet users dubbed him 'Brother Anxiety'.
Why do you store so much grain?
I know it sounds strange now, but I do worry that one day in my lifetime the fast-growing mainland economy might stop or even crash. Then many of my fellow villagers and migrant workers from our hometown might have to come back. If there is a food shortage at that time, the money they bring back will be useless, and I hope the food I store can help them survive until they can grow their own crops in a few months.
What were the major factors that made you such an anxious person?
When I was a child, I was told by the old people that hunger had killed many people in Sichuan when natural disasters, one after another, hit China in the late 1950s and early 1960s. What's more, I had also learned that some family members of my father's generation had been persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. History showed me that there were many unpredictable things in the world, so I became anxious over the potential danger. The earthquake in Wenchuan in 2008 was another natural disaster that again told us that people cannot control such disasters.
What did you do after the Wenchuan earthquake?
I was a student in Anhui in 2008, so there was nothing I could do at university. After I graduated in 2009, I went back to Sichuan and worked in Chongqing, after which I started to carry out a plan of storing grain in my hometown, a village administered by Nanchong . From early last year to late summer, I had stored a total of more than five tonnes of food, all raw grain and wheat, in some granaries in my village built by my family. I do not store rice or flour, as raw crops can be stored for a longer time. For further processing, I have prepared a thresher. People ask what I will do if there is no power during the crisis, and I say don't worry, as I also have a stone mill down there.
But many people think you are too anxious?
Yes, although I'm living a very normal life, just like most people, my concerns seem seems to surprise many others, and sometimes I feel they regard me as a freak. To be frank, I'm far different from those who believe tomorrow will be the last day of the world and buy many items to save their lives. Also, I am not a person who panics.
What did you think of the panic buying of salt?
Some internet users called me and told me that the public were going crazy over salt. They asked whether I would store salt, but I said no. Many Chinese people have a herd mentality and they can't see past the surface to the essence: the government has large amounts of salt in storage, and it's not like food - we need only a little salt every day - so why store it?
What else do you store and what will you do in the future?
Sorry, I really do not want to talk about this in public. After I talked on the show about my storage, many internet users - I know they were joking - said that once there was a food crisis, they would come to my hometown and steal the grain I had. It was then that I thought it might not be safe to speak about some of my ideas. It's also not safe to keep the food at home, and I'm thinking about finding another place.
Have you found your dream girl? Will she have to share your ideas?
Not yet, and I can't predict the future. Fate will bring us together.