Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Myth of Modern China

From City Journal: The Empire of Lies by Guy Sorman

Another sign of the desire for freedom, particularly worrisome to the authorities, is the explosion of peasant revolts in the Chinese countryside. The countryside is an immense universe, immutable and mysterious even for Chinese city dwellers, who go there only to honor the tombs of ancestors. Traveling to a village is like taking a journey in time; old China emerges, and modernity seemingly slips away. It also is to encounter China’s communication problem: peasants, unfamiliar with the national language, speak only in regional dialects—though television, the great linguistic and cultural leveler, is making the country more homogeneous by the day.

This is a good read. It seems the world has been dazzled by the economic powerhouse of a sliver of China. Upon closer inspection, China's economic dynamo, led by its rapidly industrializing cities, are but the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of the ice below, represented by China's drastically poor country folk, remains submerged below.

Update: A friend living in Shanghai offered these thoughts when I sent him the article:
Nice article, its true that all of these things happened and that the government indulges greatly in economic performance rather than social welfare. Its sad, I've been to these villages before, its so disgusting and person nevertheless becomes grave. I although believe that it indeed is very hard to control a country of over 1.3 billion residents. Domestic corruption has crippled most of these villages that westerners will perhaps never have the interest of visiting. You should come over sometime, I'll take you around Shanghai and perhaps if u like take you to one of the nasty villages. Take care bud.

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