Alumni Commentary

Temple Law Spotlight: Beijing LLM alum, Zhao Jianwei BJLLM ’03

In July 2021, Henan, China was suffering from severe rainstorms. Houses were flooded, roads turned into rivers, and public transportation was destroyed. Many civilians were stranded in the middle of the flood, with no water, electricity, or internet.

Zhao Jianwei, a 2003 alumnus from Temple’s Beijing LL.M. program and appellate court judge in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, responded right away to the disaster. Judge Zhao used to be an outdoor rescue team leader, so when he heard about hundreds of civilians awaiting rescue, he picked up his rescue equipment and drove straight to the disaster zone with his colleagues.

Soon after he left home, the road was blocked by the floodwaters, making it impossible to drive a car. Zhao unloaded his kayak and let the passengers sit in it, while he was pushing the kayak in the water. When Zhao reached Kangzhuang village, the rescue team was already in action with motorboats. However, due to the complex alleys and roadblocks, the motorboats were unable to reach the center of the district. With no time to waste, Zhao hopped on his kayak and started to rescue the residents. After bringing the elderly and children to safety, Zhao loaded his kayak with resources and distributed them to the stranded residents. Rain was pouring, but Zhao kept rowing in the strong currents rescuing people and delivering resources. When he got thirsty, he sipped some water; when he got hungry, he ate some crackers; when he got sleepy, he napped on his kayak…

Around 2am, Zhao finished patrolling a few miles of muddy water, making sure that there were no more residents. Then he finally found dry ground and slept briefly with his clothes on. At 4am, Zhao woke up again and started a new day of patrolling. When he saw a group of residents wading in the water, he brought them to safety with his kayak; when he ran out of life jackets, he took off his own for others; when the kayak ran out of room, he jumped into water and pushed the kayak forward…

On July 22, when the floodwater finally receded, Zhao packed up his kayak and returned home, exhausted.

This article originally appears here. The above is an English translation.

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