Life in Beijing Must be Interesting

There are always surprises for people in Beijing. The residence just survived from a troubled Olympic Games the last year, and they welcomed the 60th anniversary of this country.

I hosted a friend today, who just get here from Beijing. She was happy that she choose flight of last night, since the Beijing airport will be closed for two days, and she can only fly back on Saturday night. That was of short notice, because they didn’t really disclose when the biggest rehearsal will happen.

Along with the close down of airport, it is side most of shops and office buildings along the Chang’an Street have been closed. I have another friend who worked in the SOHU area of Jiang Guo Road. He wrote to me yesterday and told me that they were suddenly notified that they will be required to leave their office building before noon tomorrow and for the rest of Friday…

My friend who lives in US and just visit Beijing and Shanghai also told me that she really saw the power of a communist government.

Hmmm….

This reminded me of my conversation with Robert Mao about the topic of people’s choice of immigration to Europe and US the other day. He said: “The best solution is to have a better motherland”. He is very right, and that is exactly the pain hidden in many Chinese people’s heart.

56 thoughts on “Life in Beijing Must be Interesting

  1. David Feng (馮琰)

    Just let them run the Big Sixty. They’ll have a lot of fun (these guys are worshippers of Face-ism), and then, when this *£&$ (excuse me) is finally over, the people will REALLY rule…

    Everywhere in Beijing, slogans and stuff are all over the place. They never pulled this stuff out even for the 十七大 about a few years back. Beijing is in gaga gear right now. It has to be – remember, it’s supposed to be the capital…!

    OK, I’ll stop the whining. Subway Line 4 opens September 25th and that’s why we’re waiting in the wings… it’s not all that bad…

  2. Mary

    …but I like somehow that a government is strong and that ALL people MUST follow. Keep in mind China’s population: if everybody starts to want all sorts of rights and knowing that “One person’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins” it would be mayhem. I went to China with all sorts of wrong ideas well-fed by bias news coverage found…in a democracy. I left China amazed: what I saw from Communism made sense, a SAFE country, hard woking citizens and the pride, the pride of the people for their country. It is not a perfect regime (is there one ?) but it surpasses democracy where these days “accessible, affordable health care for ALL” is considered a communist idea :)

    I have asked many North American Chinese immigrants if they miss China. The vast majority whispered a soft… yes.

  3. Jian Shuo Wang

    Democracy and legal system are two different dimension, just as democracy and science are very different, and democracy and economy growth are also separate issues. They influence each other, but not necessarily the same thing.

    I don’t think China’s population is an excuse of dictatorship.

  4. skii

    Thank you Jian Shuo! You are right in using the right word “dictatorship” — many Chinese people don’t realize that at all.

  5. me

    I live / work in Beijing and was asked to leave office before noon of Friday.

    I am fine with it. I got extra half day off and slept earlier than other Friday nights.

    Beijing has changed a lot, for Olympics and the upcoming 60s celebration, I can hardly to link ‘troubled’ to these two events. Yes, there are inconvenience, but bearable, you just need to treat them natually.

    The prime minister of Singapore will feel difficult to manage a city like Beijing, a city with its 4th ring road not completely buildup 10 years ago and now with a 6th ring road of 180+km.

    Where else on the earth can you find a city like Beijing? With culture, economy, and lots more. I cherish things in Bejing and developed a Beijing tour guide app on iPhone to share my enjoyment to others.

    As a citizen in Bejing, I hope we can appreciate all the works being done with less complaints. No matter where you live, there are rules, regulations, complaints don’t help, efforts shall be spent on buiding up communities and contributing to society.

  6. Shelly Wolfsdorf

    Not until you live in the US, you will never appreciate the China. Grass is always greener on the other side. According to the well respected NY times, the Chinese government is enlighted and perhaps better run than the democratic US governement. That is also why the US is in decline.

    It tooks me 10 year to develop a single family house on a piece of land I purchased in 1999. The neighbors who did not want to see a house on my land can stop me by excerising their demacratic rights, and therefore diminishing my property rights.

    It is so true “one person’s freedom ends when annther person’s freedom begins”.

  7. Mary

    With all due respect, I do think that democracy and legal systems are very close. It is now a right but no longer an obligation to get an education. Look at the drop out rates (students leaving school without a diploma, sometimes only at 14-15 years of age) in democracies: 30% ? 40% The new generation does not want an education.

    When President Obama spoke to students and for students of the USA last week…there were protests from parents. He made his speech public 24 hours before adressing the nation’s youth in order to calm people that protested.

    In a dictatorship (an enlighten one in China), it leads a nation forward.

  8. GN

    @Mary, It is very strange to link school dropout rate to democracy. And what is so wrong that some people wanted to know what Obama was going to say to their kids? Would you prefer a system under which kids (I know a 9 years old) have to practice out doors till 3am in the morning for the country’s “birthday party”… and their parents dare to say a thing bout it? It is indeed pretty impressive to me that parents could object it and the whitehouse had to respond… to ordinary people’s request.

  9. GN

    It always amazes me that people who have access of NY Times and all books that “ever” published on earth show love to dictators, and believe that dictatorship maybe just as good… well, may I add… as long as they don’t have to live under it.

    I met quite a few of them, intellectuals mostly. They love Mao, They also love Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Augusto Pinochet, and Robert Mugabe. One of them is a neighbor who lives on rents (he owns a few apartments and houses in town) and wears a red beret and day dreaming of revolutions. Another two writers who live on the top of Topanga Canyon and love Mao dearly… to degree that they would not hear (“I don’t want to hear it”… their words) that Mao did horrible things to his own people.

    Enlightened dictatorship… get real.

  10. Mary

    @GN

    Obama’s speech was about the importance of an education. He asked students to: stay in school and study. Pretty basic, common sense stuff. Is there not a problem when a President has to remind the younger generation of the importance of an education ?

    True, at times you might feel a bit “tight” in China but you are way far from all the individual rights that slowly chokes democracy. City bus drivers can go on strike. Last year an entire city had no public transit system for weeks. In some cities you are forbidden to sweep the sidewalk in front of your store. Why ? You are taking away “stealing” a city worker’s job…

    Go to any big North American city. Find on the Internet a “tough” neighbourhood in that city(they all have one) and ask to go and visit with a local…Few if any will go. When the news remind citizens to avoid certain areas at night…where is the freedom ?

    No, I do not wear a red beret :) !!!

  11. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Mary, you are talking about a better society, but democracy is the least bad society. When you are talking about the “good” side of China to have a unified government to make some decisions to push things forward (which maybe good or bad), the side effect is, it is for sure will put people to jail, and when it makes mistakes, tens of millions of people dies because of the mistake, just like in China in 1966 – 1976. Maybe we are attracted to the efficiency gain, you have to accept the massacres as side effect. What is your choice?

  12. Shelly Wolfsdorf

    GN and Jianshuo

    Most of the American who are living in Shanghai today do not want to go back to the US. The career opportunity is far better in China. Chinese government is not a dictatorship – or a enlightened one. North Korea is. Indivivual has a lot of right in places like Shanghai, Beijing or other large cities.

    Indian is a democratic society, it is no better than China.

  13. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Shelly, I know many people love Shanghai. I do. And I love my country, China, and that is the reason we want it to be better.

    From the surface of everything you see, yes. It is a paradise. Many foreigners get more than they got in their home town, and the expense is about 10% or less. Everything changes, and it IS a paradise.

    However, if everyone is as happy as the foreigners in Shanghai, China is already a paradise. The reality is not that way. Again, let me say it again, IF everyone feels the same type of freedom and happiness as foreigners in Shanghai, China is really a great country. If everyone in the country live the same life as the empiror, who has the motivation to change the system?

    For the same society, there are always some people who like it and others don’t like it. Back to “Am I rich or poor” question, I should among the people who should be happy, but witness so much injustice, and proverty, I don’t think the way I thought before.

    “Indivivual has a lot of right in places like Shanghai, Beijing or other large cities. ” That is partly right, at least for the recent ten to twenty years. However, who knows what will happen in the next 10 years? That is the key.

  14. Jian Shuo Wang

    To add one point, we don’t want to build a society where only foreigners (or people who don’t need to live within the same system as the local people) don’t want to go back home, while many local citizens try everyway to immigrate to other countries if given a chance.

  15. Mary

    I think and hope that massacres are things of the past. It has happened before (WW2, Germany) and the 60’s are ages ago. With mobile phones, Internet, etc. you already have quite a bit of freedom and there is no turning back.

    Just be cautious in wanting freedom: too much freedom spoils a country and transforms a society into a collectivity of individuals. There was an advert on t.v. recently explaining another new problem: violence towards elderly people. Yes, we do abuse them, mistreat them usually for…money. It was a government advert. We live more and more in a “Me Myself and My Rights” society and few moral values left.

    I must admit that when in China, I tried to do volunteer work (work for free after my working day) and it was quite hard to find a place where my skills could be used for free. Actually I (along with a few others) did not find anything. Had I known about your Blog then, maybe I would have asked for your help.

    I TOTALLY agree with your last comment…and admire it.

  16. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Mary, I appreciate your thought about freedom, and I agree with your point about unlimited freedom. I also would argue that the current US system is not a perfect system, and there are many problems. I never think or suggest China should use the similar system of America. That is another topic.

    Regarding the trends of China, I am not as optimistic as you are. Why do you think there will be no political disaster happening to China? I only see the history will repeat itself if most of the things won’t change. Look at what is happening today, exactly at the same moment, you see the elements of the culture revolution. There is still no freedom of speech at the media level. If anything like in Xinjiang happens, the whole Internet will be shut down (illegally by the government). Why do you think there is no turning point in the future? The army is still swear to be responsible for the Party, not the country, and the people still don’t have protection. Who knows what will happen? If we don’t actively think about the future of China, when that happens, we only need to hope that there will be a correction of the “bad deed” at the mercy of the central after 30 years.

  17. Shelly Wolfsdorf

    At least for the places I traveled in China, the Chinese people today are happier than the Californian (California has a 12% unemployment rate). Chinese people wants out because they were let to believe that it is paradise in the US. And if you come here for a few days, it might appear as paradise. Grass is greener on the other side. Chinese’s proverty is in decline while the proverty in the US is rising. Chinese is already a superpower but they do not know it.

    Again until you live in the US full time, you will then appreciate China a lot more.

    Many Americans equal Bush to Chines Mao. And the fact that democracy produced Bush as our president is the proof that the system is far from perfect.

  18. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Shelly, we form our opinions because of what we see. I understand what you see is truth, just as I understand that the fact I never lived in the States causes me to think differently than people living there (again, I never thing US is a perfect place to live in. I appreciate a lot for what China has to offer). Please don’t compare China to American. The problem China has now has nothing to do with any other country, and it is not a contrast that makes the problem. It is the problems it selves.

    We believed the 60s are history and it is the past. But what happened 20 years ago made us believe it is not that far away. The reality that most people (I admit including myself) don’t dare to mention that event by name is the reality in China. When that is over, recently the event to another religious group of people (don’t mention the name in comment, please. or this blog may be blocked from China) tells us the history is not far away. We are celebrating the anniversary of the regime (I don’t want to say it is anniversary of this *country* since it is there for a long long time), and see what is happening?

    I am more optimistic to the future than most of people (I believe even more optimistic than most of my readers, including you, Mary), because I believe this country will be better, and it just a matter of time. We saw so many bad things like corruption, moral problems, and injustice. I am firmly sure that it is not the nature of the Chinese people.

  19. GN

    A few facts for Mary,

    89 is not 60’s, not 50’s, not 40’s not 30’s not 20’s (oh, in all that time there were always foreigners who went and lived in China… never left. I knew two of them).

    Cell phones and Internets are not Gods… they can be shut down, have been shut down… there is no FB nor Twitter, nor FanFou (饭否) etc. etc. etc.

    Human stupidity is not the side effect of democracy and human stupidity includes dropping out off schools, gang horrors that make nice people like you stay away from certain areas of cities (both in US and China and other cities on earth), and violence towards elderly… by the way, is that news to you… lucky you.

    Too much food can kill people… look at what happened in America… so many obesity people from old to young… guess you should kindly tell Africans to be aware of “too much food”… food kills.

    p.s “you already have quite a bit of freedom”… “Just be cautious in wanting freedom”… I promise there are some good jobs for you right now… CCTV should give you a special interview for the “birthday party”… you’ll feel at home.

  20. Adam

    I’m optimistic to China’s future as well. Although nobody can predict what’s going to happen in the next 10 years. But I do want to share with you a very interesting Chinese novel (“I’m in the dark” – story of a national security agent). It has already been banned. But you can still download it here:

    http://vv.cn/u/?u=adam_sagatex&Id=1.0.95322

    If you don’t have enough energy to go through the whole book, you may just read chapter 35 – 47, which vividly describes a coup d’etat in year 2012, launched by some high rank officials who are in desperation for the current corrupt authorities, and a series of consequent changes takes place in the following years.

  21. Mary

    The fact that this Blog is alive and kicking is a nice proof of a certain freedom no ?

    You are very right about the “nature of Chinese people”. I watched the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. The sports commentators were quiet, no speechless but for a few “Wow”, “Incredible” and that feeling of “Oh my god, no one will ever do better than that.” That’s when the analyst said (and I totally agree): “China still has the notions of: Pride, Sacrifice and Common efforts.” We (North America) have lost all of the above a while ago. Those 3 can lead a nation far and fast.

    It is 6 a.m. here and I am looking in my books for which philosopher said that a “feared leader is better than nice, benevolent one”. :) !!!

    @GN Not sure I follow you…The “Africa” comment was a bit cruel, no ? I am trying to understand your points but the bitterness makes it difficult :(

    CCTV would never invite me: I can empty a room in a few seconds from the moment I start singing. My dancing skills are known to be “strange”… And my Chinese…past “Nihao” I am lost…

  22. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Mary, yes. the fact that this blog is still live is because it is in English, and it is hosted outside China, and they public security just don’t have enough time and effort to crack down every single blog – a mission impossible, but they are working hard on it. A visit to google.com/?twitter.com in China will disconnect you from Internet at any computer. It is just a starting point. Compare the freedom we had when Internet just emerges few years ago. The trend is, in the last few years, people are enjoying less and less freedom (while more and more people like me to struggle to get more). You cannot argue that “Hey, you are still allowed to think that way, although you are not allowed to express it. You have freedom.” Yes. I think many people like me is greedy. I didn’t appreciate the freedom granted as much as I should have, did I? We have certain freedom, and we want more, and more! Call it greedy if you want. But society is driven by greediness (or dream) of a better world, no matter how good it appears to be.

  23. me

    @Jianshuo

    I thought the post is regarding the impact on daily life in Beijing by the celebration practice on last Friday (and maybe by last year’s Olympic too), so I commented that there is no hardship and people in Shanghai don’t need to assume there is hardship caused by the event(s) :). There are inconvenience, but bearable, and there are always good things coming together with inconvenience. I probably won’t go to another country and sit in the Olympic Stadium, Beijing’s host to Olympic did bring temporary traffic control but it also provided me the convenience to participate the Olympic Game right next to my door. Chinese saying – You are not a fish, how would you know the happiness of a fish?

    I did not expect it turns out to be a serious topic. I can see you are thinking big, probably because of what you saw: poverty, injustice…

    I was in the event 20 years ago as a student and burst into tears back then, it did impact my view on the life / society afterward (for example, most of my classmates, including myself, did not become officials after graduation). Yours thinking big has brought me to think – why I only think about my business and am not thinking about the system anymore?

    Buffet once said he won the ovary lottery, meaning he was born in America, got good eduction, and has been in the industry suitable for him, while those poor kids in Africa do not have the opportunity to attend the school. If Buffet was born in Africa, the story will be totally different. Poverty, injustice make him think big, and start donating.

    Buffet is thinking on the level of the whole human being, you are thinking on the level of the country system, and I am thinking on the level of my enterprise only.

    To me, I feel we are having more and more freedoms, and there are less and less poverty and injustice. I hope bad things won’t happen again, based on the theory we learned in the high school – Economy decides the upper system.

  24. Jian Shuo Wang

    Hmm.. I believe what you said: for many people, it is just inconvenience; for many people, that is so exciting (“Hey! Half day off! Shopping!”), and for many others, they don’t care (“What happened? Who cares?”), and for some, it is annoying (“Hmm… I hope it would have not happened”) and there are must be some one who think it is not bearable (“Hey! I have so important meeting to be held and all the guests have fly in to Beijing yesterday!”). But the last think I believe is, everyone feel it is just inconvenience – I happen to know two who are really angry.

  25. GN

    @Mary, It is cruel to tell people who are still struggling for guaranty of basic freedoms in life that they “already have quite a bit” and that they should “be cautious in wanting freedom”.

    I don’t think there is a need for me to state my feeling for troubled Africa, it has nothing to do with it. You are a person with accesses of papers and books and many other things… please, think before you give out warnings. And don’t label me… bitter or sweet. I didn’t think you’d like CCTV… the irony is everything you said fits their tone.

    And my comments also have nothing to do with my attitude towards China’s achievements. If I didn’t see changes and don’t see hope, I would not come up there. Wang Jian Shuo gave me hope for more.

  26. Mary

    Maybe I am wrong but…

    1. At China Post I liked the fact (and not necessarily enjoyed) that I had to show what I was mailing abroad. It made sense. In the western world the act of mailing is private. As a result you can mail dope, guns and bombs (See “Unabomber”).

    2. I liked (loved) the public transportation system of China. Affordable for most (all ?) and the more money you have, the more comfort you get. Here, it is still too expensive for the very poor. Remember the flood victims in New Orleans ? Many could not AFFORD to leave.

    3. There are many topics in the Western World one can not publish nor share in public. Groups that represent minorities (be it cultural, sexual, religious) can bite hard and destroy a career.

    4. Food in China. From cheap (street food which is by the way delicious and totally illegal in North America) to expensive: one can eat in China. We have “food banks” food for the too-poor- to eat and many schools have “breakfast clubs”: feeding kids that can not afford breakfast.

    5. Homelessness. We have more and more homeless people. They too often have psychatric problems and drug or alcohol problems, you can see them in any big city. Sleeping outside on sidewalks when it is -20, sleeping in parks etc.

    6. Safety. Never have I felt so safe as when in China. Deserted streets are hard to find :), cashiers spread the change back to you in a neat clear way (no stealing here) and it may sound strange but few “fishy-looking, up-to-no-good” individuals on the streets.

    Of course I am a Westerner, of course those are the differences I noticed and appreciated but no GN, I am not trying to be cruel. I actually thought your CCTV comment quite funny unless you meant sacarsm which I failed to see.

    Democracy is not that great a system. When thousands of people lose their homes because of banks (subprime loans), when the sick can not be insured because…they are sick, when schools feed kids…True I can read anything and Google anything (even the sick, false stuff) and Twitter “I am baking apple pies” to my friends but man…I can’t walk alone at night.

  27. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Mary, what you described is very true. Yes. You saw a great Shanghai. I love Shanghai. It is safe (as you said), its street food is cheap (as you said), and there are less homeless (as you said, since it is now allowed to be homeless)… Yes. I agree Shanghai is a great city, and it is in its economy upward trends. But unfortunately, we are talking about China, not Shanghai.

    China is a beautiful country. It is a charming country – as one of the richest country and most powerful country for several centuries, it has to have something good to offer – from culture to food. What I am seeking an answer is, what prevent it to be a better country?

    I don’t think the problem is one way – political system is simply one factor of the story. A good political system cannot solve all problems: economy issues, educational issues, social issues (safety issues, as you said). It all needs people’s effort and wisdom to build it, and improve it.

    Again, Mary, when I see these problems, I never compare it to US. To have a better things than US is not a compliment, and not surprising. The important thing for either US, or China is, there are group of people thinking about how to improve it and make it a better place.

  28. me

    A scenario with a smaller scope: every company system / process has issues, do you prefer your team members keep pointing out the issues or simply get his / her hand dirty, do something to improve the system / process without saying much? I would prefer not talking around to bring everyone’s awareness that there are issues, actually, most of coworkers already know the existence of issues (people are not blind), and some of them have already taken the initiative to improve the system / process when people are still talking.

    What I reflected on our behavior decades ago is that we pointed finger too much without knowing the bigger picture. It is good that many of our leaders have engineering background, and engineers won’t hesitate to go and get it improved. The system has evolved to a better stage during the past two decades. It is our responsibilities to improve the system, it is not that we can not do anything to improve the system until we become the country leaders, we can take the initiatives from what surrounds us, such as your company, your community…

  29. Mary

    “…are group of people thinking about how to improve it and make it a better place.”

    Beautiful and noble. Aside fomr Michal Jackson that wanted to “heal the world, make it a better place” (no pun intended) few are left in the Western World to push forward a country for the good of ALL.

    China is in very good hands as long as there are Jian Shuo Wangs around.

    I thank you very much for a most enlightening exchange (and I am a bit proud that you replied so often. You are a bit of a star for foreigners :)

    Mary

  30. Jian Shuo Wang

    @me, I agree with you on the point that talking is not very helpful. I typically avoid big topics like this one and the recent Taiwan, and Singapore discussion on this blog, and focus more on residential area committee level and company level. No matter what the upper system changes, we still need to find out a way to reach concensus of 1000 households livign in one residential area, and this basic question has not been answered. Without a clear process, and well educated people to participate and solve smaller issues like when to turn on the public lights collectively, there is no way for much more complicated issues like tax policy or foriegn policies. Democracy needs to built bottom up, not top down. This is what I am convinced to work in China.

  31. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Mary, thanks for your comments and I am very happy to exchange ideas with you on this forum. I have to say, what you observed from a foreigner’s point of view is very true to me, and I am just trying very hard to help to explain the story behind the scene. I am not very sure what impact I will bring to China. Actually I am very cautious when giving suggestions. China has suffered a lot and the last thing I want for her is to have an immature idea and push for it. The event 20 years ago was a scar on the face of China. It is not just for the government, but for the people. Just as @me (another commenter) who participated in the event and many of my other friends involved reflected, passion and dream are not that useful, even harmful for this country. We need deep thoughts, and wisdom to connect the dots. I am actually worried a lot, since I am not confident to give an answer yet. That is the reason I started the discussion. I learnt a lot, and verified a lot of my assumptions.

    Although I am not sure what I believed was right or wrong, I am very sure that more people in China should be aware of politics (while the government tried every thing to forbid the thoughts and exchange) and to have a more mature answer when an answer is needed. There are not too many places other than this blog that I can seek to people who are even interested to talk about it – my friends are generally not interested in this. I am very lucky to have a group of sensitive and knowledgable readers to help me here.

    P.S. From time to time, I saw DNS error for my blog. Every time, my heart stopped beating. I thought the day finally came, but the previous few times turned out to be just false alarm. That was exactly the moment I see the fear in my soul.

  32. GN

    @Mary, I am very sorry for such a bad life you have in the west. I am also sorry for WJS for that he has to endure worries/fear that has been created (for no good reason) by the “good hands” he’s in. I feel the most sorry for the “good hands” for that not only do they have to worry about how not to let people think/speak so they’d be safe from the harmful ideas from the West, but also do they have to worry so much about trashing products like FB and Twitter.

    I said this before I’ll say it again, it is CRUEL to give your “warning” to people who are struggling for guaranty of some basic freedoms in life… especially to people of a country you have very little experiences with… the list you put out shows so.

    The last place I heard about where there is no stealing/pocket picking/robbery/beggars… that’s Heaven. I can add more bad things of the West on your list if that would make anybody feel better. And I have no interest in offering a list of bad things of China… to say bad things about China is not the reason I come to this blog. I happen to live in both lands… I happen to have home (not house/apartment) on both lands… I happen to be able to observe life of ordinary people on both lands.

    By the way, democracy/socialist democracy was/is the goal and promise of the party, it was in the Party’s Constitution. As well as the term “people’s democratic dictatorship” (translated by XinHua)… since democratic is not a great thing as you already been there done that, shouldn’t such words been removed… it’ll make it read better… make better sense too.

    A friend of mine, an Italian who speaks perfect Chinese and was living in China since 80’s, said “Many people in the West don’t know what freedom is”. The longer I live in US, the more I agree with him.

  33. Mary

    @GN

    I am confused…not sure where you are standing but I will reply using a tone that might suit you… You seem to rely on “people you meet or know personaly” (the red beret one, now the Italian-that-spwaks-Chinese and who knows who is next…) but perhaps you might want to look at the big picture from time to time.

    “Many people in the West don’t know what freedom is” has a double meaning.

    It could mean we think we have freedom but we do not really have it OR

    We have freedom but fail to realise it…

    I do know that Italy is presently in Afghanistan to bring “freedom” along with other countries and it is a desaster. I am always cautious with people that claim that they live in the best country of the world…for they have often never travelled.

  34. Mary

    @GN

    We are in a recession (high unemployment, closing of factories etc.) It all began in the USA and it dragged down everyone else.

    Why ? Many economists point at the DEREGULATION of the banking system. Simply put, banks and individuals had the FREEDOM to do whatever without the government’s supervision. “Take the money and run”… Some have made loads of money but the vast majority lost the little money they had saved over a lifetime.

    If the West is so great, why don’t you live there all the time ?

  35. GN

    I do live in the West all the time. I live in China to spend time with my family… 2 to 3 times a year… 3 to 4 weeks at the time.

    I said before, I can add more bad things (you just brought up a few more) about the West on your list if that makes anybody happier… the point is it is not the point.

  36. 半瓶墨水

    The problem of BIG events in China is: they ruin the micro-system of people’s life.

    1. All newspaper / TV are reporting about “positive”, even the court of law – some cases is not accepted due to the 60th: Sars is suppressed in Olympic games, that’s why Sars went so wide-spread, and right now it’s H1N1 running. Those small unit which are part of normal life — court, hygiene, newspapers— suppose to work as usual, but they are not, due to force of propaganda departments.

    2. During Olympics street paddlers are cleaned, marketplace for fruit/vegetables been shut down for the spirit of “clean”(3 markertplace near me before, now only 1 left, you have to goto expensive supermarket), without any mitigations, even after Olympics. And some shortcut in the subdistrict been closed.

    3. Now the 60th, for “security” reason, many shortcuts of the district been closed, which may not open again – same with Olympics.

    It’s the micro-systems that enrich people’s life and make life easy, but BIG events in China always take those as sacrifice.

    The main reason is – Gov guys don’t care about people’s life, because they are not elected, they only be responsive for higher departments. Even if they do bad, you have NO way to kick them off until it’s REALLY TOO BAD. Under this logic, everything weird about politics could be explained in China.

  37. 半瓶墨水

    I don’t believe this gov could turn itself back.

    Look at the melamine milk case:

    1. no Gov guys was responsible for this

    2. the court of law doesn’t accept the sue from baby’s parents who suffered from this

    3. lawyers(about 40) who helped those parents got “cancellation of licence” this year, some been arrested.

    4. now newpaper/TV is recollect how to avoid this, and no promising action is taken to prevent this from happening again.

    5. even if you are VERY careful, you don’t know what’s safe to eat now.

    Look at the Sichuan earthquake:

    1. it’s a disaster, but during Chairman Hu’s talk, “Success” appears more than 20 times~! no high-order official response for this.

    2. court of low, again, doesn’t accept the sue from child/baby’s parents for the rubbish buildings

    3. again, some lawyer(s) who helped those parents got arrested

    4. now newpaper/TV is recollect how to avoid this, no promising action is taken to prevent this form happening again.

    Look at the coal pit killing people every month in China … and no promising action is taken

    Every time bad thing happens, China gov made them worse.

  38. Jian Shuo Wang

    The society follows certain laws of nature. Just as the law of forces: If there is no supporting force, any object will fall to the ground by the gravity. Without a balancing force, the human nature will tend to maximum their interest, and greedy will drive it to an extreme, until violently stopped (by the ground). US demoed it in the financial sector, and China is demoing it in the political sector. It is not about what people WISH. It is the nature of law that without the right check and balance, problem happens.

  39. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Mary, you are talking about an economy problem. There are so many different sides of the same society. A good political system does not guarantee advancement in science – you still don’t have medicines to cure cancer. A good political system does not guarantee that you become rich – it depends on your skills. A good political system does not guarantee that there is no recession, as in your example. Financial crisis is due to an error in the economy system in US, just like in China, or Russia, or US, there can be car accidents – nothing to do with political systems.

  40. me

    @半瓶墨水

    Yes, some market places are closed, and some ‘shortcuts’ of the streets are closed too, but I can not see your logic to draw the conclusion that ‘Gov guys don’t care about people’s life’.

    Jianshuo mentioned ‘the story behind the scene’, if these stories refer to facts as above, as local Chinese, we probably need to further explore the story behind ‘the story behind the scene’. We are not foreigners, so we can not stop at ‘scene’, and we can not stop at ‘the story behind the scene’ either.

    The estimation is there will be 160 millions passengers (on buses, subways and cars) during 8 days of upcoming National holiday, that is 20 millions people on the road in one single city – Beijing, per day. I guess officials at the city level are trying hard to get things organized, and the above things happened.

    During Olympic time last year in Beijing, when some people were complaining their ‘shortcuts’ of the streets were closed, there are 1.7 million volunteers on the street worked hard to help others, got things organized.

    There were world wide wars every … years? I don’t know the interval, but we probably won’t draw the conclusion that human being are in a dead end. When we see bad things, it would be better to initiate good things to make some correction / heal, starting from ourselves, then expand to groups, companies, cities, and the country.

  41. Mary

    @半瓶墨水

    You wrote “The main reason is – Gov guys don’t care about people’s life, because they are not elected “…even an elected governement does pretty much anything it wants: few people suppport the war in Irak. And there are lobbyists: they are powerful lawyers, with lots of money that push forward “rights” for specific groups only. (The right to carry a gun, for abortion for example…) and put pressure on an elected government.

    However, I did not know about the lawyers and the milk scandal. But give time to adapt. Maybe your government is cautious and not rushing into a fast-open and desastrous regime. Leading and caring for a country involves at times, restraining too.

    Your economy is on fire. The western world envies you. Go to a Western country and try to buy something that is not “Made in China” (aside from cars and food)…:)

    @Jian Shuo Wang

    “Financial crisis is due to an error in the economy system in US, just like in China, or Russia, or US, there can be car accidents – nothing to do with political systems.”

    We had a “Great Depression” from 1929-1939 and the causes were identical to today’s crisis: overspending, unregulated banks etc. Once the economy recovered, the Gov put laws and regulations…that were erased by A. Greenspan the Chariman of the Federal Reserve. Again, greed took over and again, the economy is sinking. It is not an error, it is a financial suicide: individuals can not survive without laws and strict regulations.

  42. 半瓶墨水

    @me well, I’ve been volunteer too, but how does that related to this discussion? Close shortcuts / marketplace is bad, no matter what other “good” things are happen, and they are not bring them back after Olympics. That’s what I say “don’t care about people’s life”. You could look around the streets, you could even see horse(yes, real) carrying stuff around for street paddling, which is directly caused by marketplace – people can’t afford price in supermaket got to have something to eat, that’s why it’s doesn’t work to directly close those market for “better organize”.

  43. 半瓶墨水

    @Mary you are so optimistic: “not accept” the sue, and then arrest / ban the lawyers, what else could we do(legally) to push things forward? “give time to adapt” – no, there must be someone push for it, good things won’t happen itself, and if the “legal” push has been ban, there will be disorders all the time — this is happening all around China these years.

  44. me

    @半瓶墨水

    I assume volunteers are more self-initiative, i.e. they probably won’t stop at listing issues, they may also provide solutions to issues or may have already taken actions to fix issues, not just list issues and then start blaming. Maybe my assumption is wrong. I feel it is too rush to draw the conclusion that ‘Gov guys don’t care about people’s life’, it is unfair for those person who work hard to get things better.

  45. Jian Shuo Wang

    @me, I admire your positive thinking, and I am happy that I am with you on that. Two often, we mix many things together. Like Olympic Games, and a rush holiday, there must be some organization work, and some regulations to make it happen. When we are talking about this part of the story, I believe most people would agree that we should do something to make the 8 days peaceful and secure. I don’t think anyway would say: “Hey. The government should just let it be, and do nothing!” That is exactly what people complained about government when their engagement is critical.

    There are many other factors mixed into the preparation for the anniversary, and that is much beyond the line of “approperiate”. That is something we are discussing about more. I saw a swift of topic being discussed among @Mary, @me, and other people. The things include massive shut down of Internet sites, ban of any negative comments online, or setup checkstations at every road entering Beijing and according to Southern Weekend, engage 1/30 of population in counties around Beijing to verify ID of everyone approaching Beijing. The list is very long. I think it is more productive to discuss what measures slips from the range of “proper preparation” for the sake of good of the People (like the volunteer work) to the range of “supression, and abuse of countries money”. It seems to be more productive to draw conclusion, either “the government is the best” or “the gov doesn’t care about its people”.

  46. GN

    Mary has a rosy image of China (and a dark image of the West) in her mind, she doesn’t know China.

    You can’t talk about issues with people who don’t know about the facts, nor care enough to find it out… the words were out of “good” wishes/exotic memories… and frustrations of her own current surrounding. It is rootless.

  47. me

    There was a TV show called ‘Winning in China’ which propagates the spirit of entrepreneurship, many entrepreneurs attended that show, including Liu Chuanzhi, Ma Yu, Yu Minhong… who I personally admire.

    Ma Yun started from nothing 10 years ago, and on their 10 years anniversary days ago , they were saying Alibaba will support a big number of small / medium size enterprises, and will create a big number of new job opportunities in the next 10 years. It is not just saying, they are taking actions.

    When there are people who can not afford food, I hope I can be like Ma Yu, creating new job opportunities for them, so they can buy good food. Well I don’t have the capabilities like Ma Yun to create that many new jobs, but I might be able to create hundreds. Or if I was an ordinary employee, I can work hard on my own stuff, cooperate well with my colleagues, to solve issues which everyone see but no one has taken action to improve yet.

    These entrepreneurs are getting into the parliaments, either provincial level, or country level, I believe they will provide their solutions to issues, and with their help, the system will be improved, step by step. Dream is not enough, getting dream implemented is our responsibilities.

  48. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Mary, I saw you don’t like Greenspan, and you don’t like the current and/or past US administration. Shall I ask you one question: Do you like the way the US federation is established? Do you trust in the constitution?

    You can complaining about a certain specific person (Greenspan), or administration (with 4-8 years of term, like Bush), but do you like that way that they are selected, and can alternate? No matter how people hate the current administration, there are ways to change it without violent revolution, but in China, we are still seeking for a way to change it without violence. Think about it this way: Shall I suggest American to abandon the constitution, and choose the best party possible to lead US for the next 60 years? No matter how good the part is today, bad things can happen along the road.

    Apple to apple comparison, communist party is better organized, better self-improved, and with more talented people than many party (that cannot be too wrong if you look at the resources to support it). It can make great decisions, and can conquer tough problems that many parties cannot handle (including feeding 1.3 billion people, and draw vast land united). Having said that, I don’t think an environment without check and balance can do anything good to the party itself, no to mention to the country.

    Just as the recent discussion with people in Taiwan. There are many people pointing to the nose of MA, but they complain with hope – their faith in the way the government is established.

  49. 半瓶墨水

    “No matter how people hate the current administration, there are ways to change it without violent revolution, but in China, we are still seeking for a way to change it without violence.”

    Can’t agree more.

    This is the main reason for my pessimistic view of China – too many times, for recent years, chance for peaceful evolution turns out to be a fall back and stronger suppression comes after it. There are fewer and fewer ways to access information from outside now, and internally, voice forced to be silent very quickly.

  50. Shepherd

    Speaking as an American who has lived and worked in China before (as well as in Europe), I sympathize with both sides here– both with Mary and Shelly Wolfsdorf (who are critical of the USA and admiring of China) and with GN and Jian Shuo Wang.

    I grew up an American and I still love my country, but I agree with Mary and Shelly that we have serious problems in this country and need to reform immediately, or else we’ll face disastrous decline. Health care in the United States in particular is awful– probably the worst in the developed world. In fact, we get the worst of both worlds here– the most expensive health care but the lowest quality (we’re about #54 now). And the reason is simple– the health insurance companies in the USA are for-profit, the only such country in the world, so it’s in their best interest to deny health care to Americans even as they raise premiums. A large portion of the health insurance companies (though not all) contribute nothing to the economy, they treat sick patients brutally and inhumanely, they take their money but deny them coverage– leaving them with $200,000 hospital bills, even if they go to the hospital for surgery after a car accident, or just the flu! It’s a moral outrage, but because our foolish Presidents before Obama (in both parties– Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes) deregulated the industry so much, the health insurance companies are allowed to hurt Americans with legalized racketeering, which pushes health care costs way, way up. Millions of Americans are bankrupt from health costs, and it just gets worse. In fact, a report recently showed that the USA now has the lowest birthrate in 70 years! Why? Because having a child is treated as a “preexisting condition,” and any woman who has a C-section, has to pay $30,000 in a US hospital– it’s dangerous to get sick here, and since employment is so shaky, nobody’s assured that they’ll be able to stay insured. So, as a result, women in the United States aren’t having children anymore– we’re disappearing as a nation, unless this is reformed.

  51. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Shepherd, I heard the story of US health care many times, especially when I participated a family party in silicon valley and everyone I talked with complained about the system, including doctors. I hope it is getting better with the new administration to help the American.

    For the China story, until this year, 800 million people are not covered by health care. The difference is, they don’t need to pay a penny but in return, they pay for themselves when they got sick. That is another system. It is more like a pure capitalism society in China than in US.

  52. Shepherd

    Jian Shuo Wang,

    i agree. I actually was going to add more points to my post– I sort of have a cautious view of both countries, with USA facing serious problems but China also needing much better checks-and-balances as you say. The posting software seems to have been down so I can’t really post it now, maybe later. (To make a long story short– seems to me that the European Union has the best system right now, humane and robust yet competitive, and much more pragmatic and capable of smart policy. In fact, for the first time in history, more Americans are immigrating to go to Europe, than Europeans coming here– mostly going to the German countries, which is why German is becoming so popular to learn these days.)

  53. Mary

    I am learning so much and Jian Shuo Wang: you are making me think a lot :)

    Of course I like the “idea”, the “ideal” of a Constitution where my rights are found in writing but it is not always applied. It often goes under the “interpretation of law” where it gets tricky. If you have a problem, get a good (expensive) lawyer and you will be fine. No money ? No luck.

    True: we can change government on a regular basis. We are voting less and less (Obama changed that for now…) but “Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil” (“The more it changes, the more it is the same”).

    As for AllanGreenspan, you might want to read this: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/business/economy/24panel.html (I think you can access the NY Times).

    No, 半瓶墨水 I hope I am not optimistic, I try to be as realistic as possible. I do appreciate you detailed pictures of China: it makes me (and others ?) understand better your situation. China’s strenght for now is its stability. Investors and clients or anyone business oriented will fly away from an unstable country. Look at your exportations. China is know as the “factory of the world”.

    I hope that citizens get more rights and I also hope that it comes without violence: it would destroy all. You might want to look at all the ex-communist countries (USSR). They are not doing too well and Russia is a mess. Not communist, not democratic, violent, complicated with a “fishy” government and elections that are strage (fixed ?)…

    There is an old saying in English “Be caferful for what you wish for…”

  54. Visitor

    Sometimes one can’t help to notice how much influence the QING dynasty has left on the Beijingers’ mindset. I do believe that China would be better off if it had moved the capital to elsewhere.

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