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Cup Water in Firefighting

Jan 25, 2009


Storyteller: You must have heard the 700B dollar TARP money from the government.  Hope it can help the falling banks and make our economic system run right again. But some people are skeptical.  They think that comparing to trillions of bad assets and leveraged losses the banks have, 700B is nothing, is too insufficient to achieve anything.  There is a Chinese idiom to describe this kind of situation.

Cup Water in Firefighting

One day, a man named “Big Zhao” passed a tea shop, carrying a cart full load of firewood.  He stopped, parked the cart outside of the shop, sat down, and asked a cup of tea.  After drinking a cup of tea, he saw bright light shining outside the shop.He went out and saw his cart of firewood was burning.  The fire was getting heavier and heavier.

“Help! Help!” Zhao cried, and went back inside the shop, taking out a cup of tea. He poured the cup of water to his burning cart. Hearing his crying, all the people in the tea shop came out and poured their cups of water to the fire. But the fire wasn’t put out. By contraries, it got more and more heavy in the wind till all the firewood was burnt into ashes.



Afterwards, people call this story “cup water in firefighting”. This idiom is to say that: power or force is too weak to solve the problems or troubles.

Storyteller: btw, do you believe the 700B will save us or not? Is it like a cup of tea? Well, how about a cup of Lipton lemon ice tea?

[Recommended Reading on Amazon]
1. Dictionary of 1,000 Chinese Idioms
2. The Stories Behind Common Chinese Idioms

[Chinese Keyword]

1. Image from a flash by Yisong. link>> (in Chinese)

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