A Nation of Contrasts (Final Thoughts)

I didn’t really know what to expect before I took off for China. Having been raised during the Cold War, communism has always held a horrible place in my thoughts. But this is not the China of old.

One thing is the same, no matter where you go. People. Just like all the other places we have visited, people have been a joy. The guides, the residents, the workers. Friendly, inviting and genuine. But there are differences. Many of the Chinese people we met have a very pragmatic approach to life. When they have change thrust upon them, they just deal with it. When we would object or refuse, they just do it. I suppose years of knowing their protests won’t make a difference causes people to just accept rather than fight.

Industrious. I would describe the Chinese people that way. They work hard. Everyone works. The students study hard and long, with great pressure to do well. And the population, over a billion! It makes me wonder if they are not going to walk right over us in a few years.

And building! Everywhere we went there were new high rises and roads and bridges and infrastructure going up. Even in Tibet the building was incredible.

But for all the new and fancy, so many people still live in what we would consider third world conditions. No one can drink the tap water. Community bathrooms are not uncommon. Sanitary conditions are lacking. The air quality, especially in areas like Beijing is horrible.

And Communism. Well, it’s not the days of Mao. In true communism everyone is supposed to be equal. Everyone should collectively own everything and the wealth should be distributed among all. It is a classless society.  Well, that is not China. There is a lot of private industry in China. Private schools, too. And very wealthy people.

The government is run by the Central Party and the average person in China has little to say about governing.  (But sometimes I feel like that too.) But the government still rules. Take the one-child policy. This policy enacted in the 70s brought great hardship to families. Fines for second children and second children who were unrecognized by the government which means they do not qualify for education or health care. This policy has recently changed and the government is encouraging the birth of second children. Probably a good thing when you look at the number of old people each young person is going to have to support.

I could not access my email in China because it is gmail. The Chinese government blocks Google of all types. Web searching is very limited. But I think many people find ways around that. It will be interesting to see what will happen when young people who have been influenced by western culture grow in numbers. But one thing is for sure, China is a force to be reckoned with. But will the young people want a different form of government? Time will tell.





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