Lijia Zhang: The coronavirus pandemic is nature’s wake-up call to humans who have lost their Way

Lijia Zhang

In her recent opinion piece for SCMP, renowned author and speaker Lijia Zhang shared insights on the coronavirus pandemic, sustainable development and more.

Here are a few highlights:

The Tao-te Ching says: “Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from Heaven; Heaven takes its law from the Tao. The law of the Tao is its being what it is.” In the eyes of Taoists, mankind and nature are bound together in an organic chain, and therefore in a relationship of reciprocity. If nature is in agreement with mankind, the world is harmonious and prosperous. If nature is mistreated by mankind, it can retaliate by causing calamitous suffering.


The prevention of future global pandemics must be a collective effort by people from around the world, but what China chooses to do is crucial to this battle. We will have to address the roots of the problem – the destruction of our environment – and shift our development model away from an overemphasis on economic benefits towards an environmentally sustainable model.

Sustainable development is a relatively new idea. Interestingly, Taoism, in its creed and practice, is compatible with sustainable development: notably, it is deeply concerned about harmony with nature, and nature’s ability to provide for mankind’s present and future needs.
Naturally, no religion or philosophy alone can resolve an environmental crisis or a pandemic. But if we are able to hermeneutically reconstruct Taoist teachings and reintegrate them into our culture, we may benefit greatly from ancient wisdom.
Take, for example, the issue of vegetarianism. Although the two main schools of Taoism hold different views on this, the religion generally encourages devotees to avoid meat and minimise harm, because animals are sentient beings. Just imagine how much good it would do the environment if 1.4 billion people could cut their meat intake by half!

Read more about it here.

Lijia Zhang

Lijia Zhangskilled journalist, author, social commentator and speaker comes from humble beginnings. Born and raised on the banks of the Yangtze River, Lijia Zhang was pulled out of school  at the age of 16 to work at a factory that produced inter-continental missiles.  As an escape route, she taught herself English and dared to pursue her childhood dream of studying journalism.

In her long career as a journalists, Lijia Zhang’s features, features, often very human stories about the plight of China’s “little people”, have been published in South China Morning Post, Far Eastern Economic Review, Japan Times, The Independent, The Observer, Newsweek and The New York Times. Her widely acclaimed English-language memoir, “Socialism is Great!” detailed her journey from being a rocket factory girl to a prominent social commentator. Her inspiring tale of great transformation and views on China through the years have been featured on the BBC, Channel 4, ABC (Australian) CNN, CBS and National Public Radio, among others.

Lijia Zhang has been described by Tony Blair as “an inspiring example of promoting the understanding between China and Britain” in his keynote speech during his state visit to China (1998), has been voted one of the “40 Beijing heroes” by TimeOut Beijing (October, 2008), a subject of a BBC documentary Peschardts People (May 2009) and the recipient of the prestigious International Writer’s Program, University of Iowa, sponsored by the US State Department (2009).

Lijia Zhang‘s speaking  topics include:

  • “Socialism is Great!”
  • Understanding Business Culture
  • Developing a Better Understanding of China’s Past to Better Comprehend Present Day Reforms
  • The Changing Role of Women in China
  • Frog in a Well

Contact us if you would like Lijia Zhang to speak at your next event.