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Culture Corner Pt. 2

CHINA | Sunday, 4 September 2011 | Views [377] | Comments [2]

As I shared with you last time this week we will focus on Chinese people and authority. Now I don't want to assume but since I have been asked some strange questions in my day about China I am going to assume that most people in America are fairly ignorant of China. Maybe we watch BBC news or listen to NPR and feel like that is giving us a clear view of the Chinese. I think the picture that we get is that the Chinese people are oppressed. That the government is a big bad machine that crushes the people under its tread. The government suppresses the internet and controls the media and turns out automatons. While some of that is going on there is obviously more to this story than that. When was the last time you yelled at a Police Officer, and I don't mean yelled at him once angrily after you weren't able to get out of a ticket. I mean when was the last time you went down tot he police station and just harangued the duty officer for a good 30 minutes. While you are yelling at him, he is just staring off into space and the other guys are pretending to type away on their computers so they don't get noticed. I have seen cops pull up at accident scenes and just stand there and let people yell at each other for 20 minutes and then they get in their car and leave. The police themselves seem to have a laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing. On the bridges in Wuhan they have police stationed at regular intervals in glass boxes, on pedestals, at attention. It is the same for around the police stations and city government buildings. I am not sure what they are there to protect from, but I am certain it builds character to stand on a bridge at attention for like 5 hours at a time. This is all the regular police and I get the feeling that most Chinese people have no fear and maybe no respect for the regular police. 

Above the regular police are the armed police, think FBI, ATF, DEA, and National Guard all rolled into one, and then above them is the army. This year is the first time I have heard about the armed police and they were discussed with some reverence. Not as much as the army gets though, I think it is similar to American, and I would think most of the world except maybe Japan. If you don't know why Japan wouldn't revere its army take a history class. They have an army day where they celebrate the army, because as it has been caste historically even though it is the Chinese army as we see it to the Chinese it is still the PLA. Which is the People's Liberation Army, the army formed by Chairman Mao to combat Chiang Kai-shek and the nationalist army. Where in American we often times go through periods where we humanize our military by showing they are just people and not perfect and they do terrible things sometimes while wearing the uniform there is no thought given to that here. The army is full of brave men and women that are from your hometown and they are sacrificing on the front lines of Tibet and Mongolian to keep you safe. The funny thing is that I have had at least 5 students drop out of college to join the army because either a. they didn't have enough cash or b. they weren't doing very well because they didn't care about school. Sounds like a familiar tale. Even though I haven't seen it in person I am sure most of you can think of time when people in China have defied the army and the government. It seems to me that a metaphor is in order to finish up and it requires a story. The main thing I have learned about Chinese buildings is never judge the inside by the outside or the stairwell. Even if the outside is bordering on condemned and the stairwell is covered in filth and the walls have advertisements and graffiti scrawled everywhere, the homes on the inside can be wonderful and well kept. So in the case of our stairwell it was just awful. I have told the story of the man urinating in it already, and there are advertisements and phone numbers scrawled everywhere on the inside. My favorite is that Chinese people hang posters and notices on the concrete walls using glue on the four corners, so when you rip them off the corners are always left and they accumulate. So the owners of our building decided to do a little cleaning up like the rest of the city. So lets see two gallons of paint go around 330 RMB, plus the time and energy to clean of the paper scraps, they can just paint over the dirt and other stuff. However a 50 kg (math note 1kg = 2.2 lbs) cost only 18 RMB and you don't have to do any pre-cleaning. So which do you think they went with, yes they re-plastered the stairwell walls. Someone has already written a new advertisement on the walls in two places. So that was a long story to get to my metaphor, have you guessed it already, on the outside we see nice white walls and every now and then we do see the "advertisements" on the wall, but we don't really see beneath the veneer that is presented to us. We assume that beneath it is human suffering and hardship at least that is what I sometimes think everyone thinks. However after being over here for just a short time it appears to me that it isn't as bad as we think. Yeah maybe they don't have the freedoms everyone enjoys, even though I have 3 Chinese facebook friends that live in China, but it isn't that bad either. I think the real problem is not actual directed aggression but complacency and greed. China has been selling to its populace for many years now the need to modernize and get better, it has engendered a very competitive attitude and marketplace. I would almost say a more free market system than ours, but I don't want to start a fight. The problem is that in their rush to achieve and reach the new "Chinese Dream" people do not seem to care who they have to walk over. A condition America has been blamed for having for years. There is definitely a cut throat society developing and the government only cares to intervene as far as they have to keep up appearance, because lets be honest they need to have time to count their bribe money. Now to be fair that is just a malicious statement aimed at getting a chuckle from people reading this and is in no way based on any research or knowledge. Please don't go telling all you friends that China is corrupt because you read my blog. 

Do you ever wonder what would make me literally dance in the middle of the street and threaten to kiss a Chinese man on the cheek, well come back next time to find out. We call that a tease in the business!



WOW so that is what all those classes at wright state did to you. Next time I will need a bowl of popcorn and good strong cup of coffee.

  gail Sep 21, 2011 8:25 AM


Josh, I hate to tell you this, but those stairwells in your apartment were freshly painted late last semester. I only wish I were kidding. That graffiti and filth you see? It's only from the summer.

  Jamey Oct 9, 2011 12:56 PM

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