What If: Zombie Apocalypse in Chengdu

Note: Sometimes we get a kick out of imagining what-if scenario’s in Chengdu for fun. This is one of those.

With zombie attack depictions playing out in hundreds of films in Western countries, why has the plague of the undead never made it to China? The unique conditions of the Mainland, namely its huge population and ban on firearms, make it potentially a great scene for the last stand of humanity. What would happen?

Any success of the Chinese military in combating a zombie plague would depend on some key variables: are the zombies slow-limping or fast-running? Are they brain-pursuing cannibals or just do they just bite other humans to increase their numbers? Slow zombies could easily be contained, since most young 16-20 year-old PLA infantry would love a chance to finally fire their guns (China’s rarely fights actual wars). Cannibal zombies, fast or slow, would most likely eat the whole person, leaving a harmless skeleton, so zombie numbers would be unlikely to swell. While distractedly scraping at bones, the animated-dead could be conveniently shot dead-dead by soldiers and vigilantes. Fast-type, bite-and-run infected people would definitely sweep through the country’s densely populated cities and countryside very quickly. Allow me now to move our discussion toward the most likely survivors.

Searching for brains

Zombies wandering aimlessly, searching for brains

In the event of a zombie plague China wouldn’t be completely out of luck. Firstly, Chinese condos are nothing like the house in Night of the Living Dead. Buildings are solid concrete and I haven’t seen an apartment door in China that wasn’t made of heavy steel with anti-theft dead-bolts, locking deep into the door frame at the top, middle, and bottom. Anti-theft bars over first-floor windows would serve to keep the zombies at bay. Western-style cannibal zombies would break into the unbarred lobby windows and then either hobble or run up through the stairwells, and pound against the heavily steel doors which everyone in China lives behind.

Families inside could probably wait it out. I often see grandparents in convenience stores buying days worth of snacks, often potato chips, for their grandchildren. I’d estimate that a family one father, one mother, one child, a salvaged neighbor and two grandparents could live on whatever was in the refrigerator for up to a week. After using up the 5 liter cooking oil jug they keep under their stove and the extra gift jug they got for waiting in line to buy a new cell phone on a promotional Saturday – plus the other fresh-pressed bottle of rapeseed oil their cousin brought back from their family in the countryside – there would be plenty of cooking oil. With these odds and ends, and rice being bought in bulk at lower prices, we have fried rice feeding families for weeks.

Seriously, Guys

In America you'd stand a better chance

Good luck finding this in China

And now for some formal logic: If zombies don’t eat other zombies and only eat the living, they would have already attacked everybody in reach within a few hours of the plague hitting. The dense population outdoors would all be infected. Next, if zombies’ entire bodies, including their brains, decompose, and destroying a zombie’s brain kills the zombie, then it would take about a week for the natural decomposition of each zombie’s brain to kill them anyway. So we might safely assume that hundreds of thousands of Chinese families would be safely indoors to wait it out. Actually, that might depend upon the time of day.

If the zombies struck on a weekday after 7:30pm, then the children would be home from school and parents home from work. They’d all be safely eating dinner, and would just need the common sense to not open the door for anyone who moans or hisses when they ask ‘哪个?!!’ (‘who’s there?’ in Chengdu). Anytime before that, most working age urbanites would be stuck in traffic or on the new subway system, school children would be walking home with their grandparents, and university students would be in their dormitories… with low-budget, wooden, non-burglar/zombie-proof doors. Again we’d find scores of students killed due to poorly constructed schools.

If I were on my bike and saw screaming crowds running at me, I’d pedal my ass off in the opposite direction until I came across any abandoned vehicle that was faster—electric bike, vespa, motorcycle, electric pedicab, etc. Upgrading to a construction crane would have unique advantages like constructing walls to keep zombies girded in.

Can’t we write zombies in movies to do anything else? They could search for medicine, fidget with doorknobs, become entranced by their reflections in mirrors, awkwardly pursue primal sexual instincts or repeatedly dig themselves into new graves and then dig their way out again.

What Do You Think?

If a zombie apocalypse occurred while you were in China, what would you do?

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About Reed

Reed has been studying Chinese since 2001. He moved to Chengdu in 2005, and left to work in Yangzhou and Guangzhou, before returning in 2008. He is an entrepreneur in language tutoring and a freelance translator/voice-actor. Reed loves everything Sichuanese, from the cooking to the dialect.

14 Responses to “What If: Zombie Apocalypse in Chengdu”

  1. reminds me of Call of duty Nazi Zombies! Get a ray-gun!

  2. Charlie

    The more I think about it, the more I realize how fucked we’d be without access to guns.

  3. The ad link you gave in the Jin Ke La comments is a Chinese “zombie” (僵尸 jiāngshī) [http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTMzMTcyODky.html]

  4. Charlie

    Thanks for correcting me. Easy to get them mixed up

  5. superb article and a real thought-provoker. Get writing that movie script and you might just get a no.1 at the Chinese box-office.

    The chinese have some strange concept that zombies jump around with their arms outstretched all the time. So I guess they would be slow-movers.

    But come on, zombie infestation in Chengdu, with access to firearms and ammo. Deep deep down, wouldn’t you just love it…?!

  6. The hopping zombie would have to make a cameo in my movie, “Chengdu Zombie,” with the working titles “Chengdu of the Dead,” “Zombie Overpopulation,” and “Zombie Du.”

    We can host an assortment of zombies, fast and slow, with a common psychological twist: they’re passive aggressive and bi-polar. As long as you single them out and look at them mean in the eye, they’ll hobble around depressed, kicking rocks. Then, when your not looking, they’ll dart to gore you in a self-affirming victory meal.

    A good media campaign would keep their spirits down.

  7. Charlie

    We should sketch together some ideas in a podcast. I think it’d be a fun mental exercise!

  8. I agree. We gotta get on that.

  9. Oh man, this was awesome. Laughed out loud when you dropped the line about the free jug of oil for waiting in line for a new cell phone.

    Sascha has a less positive outlook, however, and has less faith in the integrity of Chinese construction than you do. Where you see safe havens for children and families, Sascha sees death traps. Hopefully, we’ll never know which of you is correct…

    http://www.rogerpresents.com/china-zombie-survival-guide/

  10. hey, funny it looks like we have similar points in the two articles, but you have more to say about the concrete homes and bolt lock doors. And the ability of people to just wait it out.

    I don’t think zombies decompose as quickly as you might hope. And even if they did, as long as the brain is “working” (as well as jaws) then the danger persists. I still say head for the hills. Or face eating your family members as the hordes howl and bang on your bolt-locked door.

  11. Charlie

    December 21st, the supposed end of the world, is this Friday. Zombie apocalypse incoming?

  12. Tonight is the night! I’m holding my breath for some Zombies. Wouldn’t that be neat?

  13. Robert Worth

    Ive used this scenario a few times for teaching English. It involves grabbing 5 people you know personally and WHY they get a slot on your “zombie team.”

    the rules are very simple – No one from immediate family, and they have to be in the city. (the guys always have a problem thinking of five people they trust, and the girls usually have a problem keeping the team under 5)

    then you have to find transport, and fight your way out of the city while obtaining supplies.

    the scenario starts in the classroom and sometimes takes the class to the streets around the school.

    Having done this a few times in China, and already having a team and a plan in the States, I have quickly realized how damn near hopeless it would be in a heavily populated city like Chengdu.

    There is also a great forum based off the concept that “if you are prepared for a zombie outbreak, you are ready for any disaster” (including floods earthquakes and the like) do a search for “zombie squad” They are a fun group, though a little crazy.

  14. Robert Worth

    p.s. … maybe a zombie bar crawl is in order… hmmm…

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