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China Diaries:The world is so small

November 3, 2016

China Diaries:The world is so small

I am still taken aback at how much modern China differs from how I imagined it would be.  Like most people of my generation, I grew up watching the history of China from its worst era of the 1970s to the present.  I was aware that somewhere in the 1990’s, China transformed from a strict Socialist/Marxist society living under the thumb of continual poverty to a society that embraces capitalism.  Capitalism with a twist of course.

The ruling elite is still in power and the rest of China have no say about this.  However, the rest of China seems to beyond the control of the ruling elite.  Only in certain areas does the party machine make itself known: in the Two Child Policy (previously known as the One Child Policy) and in the usual government interactions with people.  Public servants and education are the usual suspects.

There is almost a complete disinterest in what the government does.  The only true believers in Socialism that I have found so far were western expatriates who are living in cultural denial.  Even that kind of dedication is half-hearted.  They see themselves as more liberal socialists rather than Maoist/Leninists/Marxists.  Then in the next breath, they log onto WeChat on their latest iPhone or Samsung and yabber on about what they can easily afford living on their high wages.  In the span of a few seconds, you know that there will never be a Socialist paradise in China.  All that is left of socialism is the expectation of getting something for nothing.  Free stuff from the government is all these expat western socialists seem to want.  And if ever the going gets tough and the state ever demands something of these idealistic visitors you just know that they can pack up and move elsewhere.  People still like to own stuff.

For myself, I have come to the realization that China is much closer to the west than it would like to admit itself.  Every night I contact my wife through Skype and talk as if we are in the same city.  I received a call from a friend as I walk across the campus and spoke as I displayed the surroundings on my phone camera.  Even Facebook and Youtube are back after I purchased a VPN service.  Glory be the VPN gods.  Do my Chinese overloads mind me doing this?  Not at all. “No Problem, No Problem,” they keep telling me.

Every single person I meet has a VPN.  The Great Fire Wall of China is the Great Joke of China.  It is so full of holes that you have to wonder why it still exists.

In a few weeks when I go home I will be wondering where the feared fanatical Communist went.  Perhaps they traded it all for 5 seconds with an iPhone.

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