Every time I am in San Jose, I meet with people who are genuinely interested in China. China is becoming hot topic here, and I was asked many questions. On one hand, I was amazed by how much people know about China (like some people visited very small cities in China, or some speaks really good Chinese), and also by how little people know about the history (especially the recent century) of China. Yesterday, over our dining table, we chatted about the change in China. 30 years ago, China was in such a chaos, that the culture revolution, and great leap forward ruined the dream, life, and sense of trust for the whole generation of people. When people see the prosperity of Shanghai, people didn’t see it, and didn’t realize how long it takes for the country to cure the pain of the last 30-40 years.
Currently, the economy reform changed the appearance of some cities, but the political reform never happened. Using the western logic combined with the fact people see may lead to wrong conclusion. For example, some people praised the city planning of Shanghai that it seems the planners reserved big area of central Greenland, and spaces for the elevated highway. The logic is, the government works the same way as western world, and the fact is, there are big public facilities in the downtown of the city. The result is, city planning is good. The fact part is correct, but the logic part is not. The government issued an order that all residents in the designated area MUST leave before the deadline. That resulted almost 1 million people moved out of downtown just for the Yunnan Elevated Highway, and Chengdu Elevated Highway. So it was not because of city planning, it was enforcement of government’s order, and sacrificing the interests of those property owners.
Many people I talked with didn’t understand why those residents cannot sue the government. Well. This just does not happen.
There are many things like this. The social architecture, how the government works, the history, and culture…. all these are different, and the image people see from outside is misleading. It takes time to learn both the fact (easier) and the logic/context around it. Hope all my visitors to Shanghai can take your time and learn both what it appeared, and why it appeared this way.
Let me re-post my story of “Six Blind Men and China” from previous entry, since the entry was quickly buried in the archive of entries.
It was six men in different part of the world, to learning much inclined,
who went to see China (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.
The first approached China, and, reading several piece of news
on Internet, at once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but China, is nothing but an evil country!”
The second visiting Shanghai the last year, cried:
“Ho! what an exciting experience. I like the food!
To me tis mighty clear, this wonder of China, is very like a paradise!”
The third approached the country, and, visiting the rural area,
“I see, “, quoth he, “China is the poorest country in the world!”
The fourth reached out his eager hand and set a branch of his international business:
“Why you still waste time here,” quoth he;
“Tis clear enough China is the powerhouse of the world economy!”
The fifth, who chanced to be have a bad life on this land, Said; “E’en the blindest man can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can, This marvel of China, is very like hell!”
The sixth kept a blog for 5 years, and also lived there,
“I see,” quothe he, “China is very like a good place for me!”
And so these men, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!
So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about China, not one of them has seen!
Written by Jian Shuo Wang, based on the work of John Godfrey Saxe (1816 – 1887)
P.S. Today, I saw Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE for the first time.