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Snipe and Clam Fight, Fisherman Gets Both

May 15, 2010


Storyteller: Today’s story is well presented in the short animated movie above. You might have already noticed its unique form — Ink and Wash Painting animated film.

In 1960, ink-and-wash animated films appeared in China and caught the attention of the world as a breakthrough in the forms of expression and aesthetic conception in animated films. Children’s films in this period employ colorful means of expression. The special effects in the science fiction and fairy-tale films unfold a brand new world for children.

The story told in this short film was told 2,200+ years ago in the Warring States Period. And it successfully prevented a deadly war between two states.

Snipe and Clam Fight, Fisherman Gets Both

Once, State of Zhao was going to war with State of Yan. Envoy Su Dai visited King Hui of Zhao on behalf of Yan. He said,

Snipe and Clam

by {link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/lipkee/2216906448/}Lip Kee{/link}

“Today, on my way here, passing the Yi River, I saw a clam was sitting out in the sun when suddenly a snipe flew down to peck at the clam. Suddenly the clam slammed the shell shut, gripping the snipe’s beak in between.

“The snipe said, ‘If it doesn’t rain today, and it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I shall see a dead clam on the beach.’

Snipe and Clam

by {link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/kesta/3710781348//}kke227{/link}

“The clam said, ‘If I don’t open today, and I don’t open up tomorrow, I shall see a dead snipe on the beach.’

“While they were still grappling with each other, a fisherman passed by and netted them both.

“Now Zhao will attack Yan; if we go into a long-term stalemate, people in our two states will get exhausted. I am worried that the powerful State of Qin will become the unearned fisherman.

“I hope Your Majesty to seriously reconsider the war with Yan.”

The King Hui of Zhao replied: “I think you are absolutely right.” So He abandoned the plan to invade the State of Yan.


In all kinds of complicated contradictions and struggling conflicts, if the two opposing sides were at stalemate, they will both suffer, playing into the hands of a third party. So, in life, we should learn to grasp the principal contradiction, ignore the minor.

Snipe Clam Fight

The Fight Between the Snipe and the Clam

When facing common prevailing enemy, the weak ones should eliminate the contradictions and unite to against the enemy.

It is also the case when handling internal affairs. Local interests should be subordinated to overall interests; immediate interests should be subordinated to long-term interests; small reasons should be subordinated to major principles. Otherwise, endless internal conflicts only result in a lose-lose situation and let a third party benefit.

[Chinese keywords]
鹬蚌相争 渔翁得利

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