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China Diaries: Ignorance is Bliss

November 23, 2016

China Diaries: Ignorance is Bliss


There is one question that needs to be asked.  Did I have a good time in China?

After 4 1/2 weeks I have to say emphatically yes.  I made new friends, bonded with expats from around the world, was taken sightseeing, fed like a pig and treated with utmost respect. The job I came to do was a success and I plan to return next year to deliver more training.  Many expat workers have advised me to return and work in Ningbo on a high pay contract.  As one explained that there are so many people in China who are paying off their mortgages as they live a comfortable life in a newly created city.  Almost every high rise apartment building is less than 10 years old and more are popping up like mushrooms.  there is money here and it is being thrown in the direction of foreign teachers and specialists.  Some I met have branched out in their own businesses such as private kindergartens and nightclub bars. This is beginning of a city that is still growing.

I still expect there to be many more changes to take place over the next decade.  Almost every street business is either a cafe or a restaurant.  There are some fashionable clothes shops and the usual miscellaneous businesses.  However, these are overwhelmed by the number places to have a meal.  Apparently Chinese think with their stomachs first.  I know that in time this will change out of need and the shifting focus on tourism.  Currently, it is almost impossible to find a souvenir shop.

What will be taking from China when I leave?  Memories, photos and a better understanding of how people live.

Thus far I have been in contact with the velvet glove of China.  However, I am well aware that the iron fist of the Communist Party is still out there.

Yesterday I was asked by a local Chinese friend whether I knew much about the modern history of China.  Do I know about Mao Tse Tung and what has been happening since?  Oddly enough I explained that when I am outside of China I know plenty but once I set foot in China I know nothing.  It is my way of avoiding unnecessary conflict with local residents.  I have come across Chinese students in Australia who have no idea about their own history and, as a result, they can only repeat the propaganda that they have grown up with.  When people mention Mao’s legacy of slaughter they do not believe it or they try to justify as being for the greater good.  Never push a true believer in Communism to the point of intellectual retaliation because  ‘Tiananmen Square’ is a cognitive dissonance too far.

I have heard that the truth will set you free.  But in China, the truth can have you imprisoned for a very long time.

The Great Firewall exists for a reason.  Not save the nation from the influence of a hostile west but to hide the dreadful history of its terrible rulers.

Telling people the truth about Chinese history has its responsibilities: I can point people to websites and books;  I can show them how to bypass the firewall; I can even get them onto YouTube and I put them in contact with social media.  The question is whether they are really ready to accept what comes next.

I still enjoy the velvet glove of my visit but I am well aware that it covers a very powerful iron fist.

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