I just saw this video over on Dan Miessler‘s blog. It’s worth a watch if you’ve got five minutes. Even if you don’t, put it on and listen to the audio. This report originally aired on Sky News, probably sometime around April 2006 judging from the posting date. It shows how the Chinese government is seizing private property (they are capitalists, not socialists, so people can own property) and giving it over to developers.
Yes, this happens in other countries, but you get the sense from the video and from visiting the country that it’s a fairly frequent occurrence. All over the country, you see signs of development, construction, buildings going up, etc. Many of the old areas of Beijing have been torn down and replaced with new construction. In many places, old looking buildings are being put up and advertised as authentically ancient.
I loved my trip through China and would also love to go back some day. But not to see an artificially managed reality of what the government wants the world to see. I want to see the China that is the people and their living culture. That is where the attraction is for me. And if I ever get to go back (Would they ban me for what I’ve written in the blog? If they know it’s out here and can connect it to me they would.), I’ll be seeking out the places where I can find it. Mostly it will be in the smaller cities (only 4-5 million or so) and villages.
I might not go there for shaolin training, but I’ll certainly try to walk the Earth a little bit there. Maybe I’ll find some of the real China lurking. I heard an interesting interview yesterday with a woman who had grown up there but said she had to come to the US to become more Chinese. She’d been indoctrinated with Mao’s rhetoric and even played his wife in propagandist movies. I know that the cultural revolution is over, but the culturecide (that’s probably not a real word) continues. Instead of being in the name of communism or Mao, it’s in the name of capitalism and money.
And I’ve changed my mind about this photo. I now think it is more accurate, as Brian described it, as a small cat seeing his reflection as a tiger. China is not the gracefully powerful nation it imagines itself to be, but it is dangerous in its aspirations. That tiger still has claws.