Thursday, April 3, 2008

quick notes on China


Believe it or not, China might just be the freest country in the world. In this man's opinion you can do anything you goddamn want here, except challenge the government. There's corruption, sure. Those who rule have to be bought a drink. (Anyone reading this who wants to pretend that their country isn't corrupt is probably on the wrong blog, ha ha) Otherwise, if you want to turn your street-facing apartment into a noodle shop, off you go. If you want set up a bicycle repair cart on the street corner, or a barber's stool, or a fruit stand, no one will stop you. The results of government crackdowns are occasionally apparent. Traffic is no longer an uninterrupted chorus of car horn beeping. The footpaths are no longer covered in spit. Adult-run gangs of child beggars seemed to have disappeared. Bloody fascists!


There isn't any. Lone women walk the streets late at night. I followed my mad buddy Lulu as she plunged through pitch-black back alleys in Hohai and it never occurred to either of us that anything bad might happen. It's that kind of place. Like anywhere, it's possible to get mugged. I know a chick to whom this happened. And one time I witnessed an attempted mugging in broad daylight in Beihai Park. Everyone was astounded at this extraordinary event. (Funnily enough the sight of a tall laowai, which is to say, me, walking in their direction was enough to cause the muggers to flee. Were all crime so easily put paid to, ha!) I have never heard of anyone being burglarised. I expect it's the complete absence of smack addicts. There is also no public drunkenness. The Chinese are not drinkers. Sydney CBD at night is far more dangerous than pretty much anywhere in Beijing or Shanghai. Apparently in Xian there are lots of bag snatchers. I went there and nothing happened.


My buddy Maya took me to an art district that's been established in an old industrial estate. By way of modern art, urban Chinese are asking who they are. It was terrific. The Chinese art scene blows me away. A few of the pieces were about censorship. I wondered at this. To a far greater extent the exhibition seemed to be about money and sex in the new China. To this end there was an installation featuring a giant gold penis. There was also a statue of lingerie-clad female legs, the upper torso of which was a bas-relief 100 RMB note. And there was a large canvas that consisted of a close-up of a mouth fellating a penis with speech balloons from above asking if the fellator speaks English. Keep in mind that this is a government run art district. Forget under-the-radar, this is all in the open - officially approved vicious criticism of modern China. I expect one could get censored in China. I expect one can get censored here too. The point is...?


I'm starting to wonder if it matters what government you have. Depending on your definition, China is 'communist', or 'fascist', or a kleptocracy, or simply the imperial system of old. A strong case could be made that China is libertarian. Without exhaustive study, I declare that the government seems amazingly unobtrusive. But whatever... China is fresh, alive, exciting - people are unfettered. Anyone who wants to bang on about the superiority of 'democracy', knock yourself out. Every democracy I know has a privately owned Reserve Bank precisely designed to keep everybody in debt peonage. I don't know about you, but nearly everyone I know despises their job and would love to quit. But they can't. They're shackled to debt. They are not free. Oh, all right, they're free - free to choose between "I will ensure the independence of the Reserve Bank" candidate A and "I will ensure the independence of the Reserve Bank" candidate B. Fantastic. Meanwhile, in China, (which the Jewish media assures us is a repressive dictatorship that we must all boycott) people are emphatically not shackled in this Western 'democratic' fashion. Nobody says - the hype about China says more about the hype-merchants than it does about China.


Anonymous said...

Australia is very fortunate in the (long term) relationship we have with China.
(I think George W knows this and tries to use/abuse us accordingly)

nobody said...

Hmmm, maybe. I have a feeling we'll stiff China if our masters tell us.

And boy, I keep watching Fox and I see the anti-China campaign is high-pitch and relentless. I can barely recognise the place I know. I should add that all of my trips there are to work for Chinese companies. I spend most of my time hanging with Chinese people. What the news here seems to think is important, concerns the Chinese not at all. I have never had a single Chinese person complain to me about lack of freedom, repression, or any other goddamn thing. And if they thought that way, they'd tell me! No one there is backwards in coming forwards in expressing opinions. They ain't shy!

nobody said...

New flick over at the cinema.

Anonymous said...

Kafuffle material.
Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson sees 'conduct unbecoming of an Australian prime minister' – wrong! if only because it's coming from Nelson.
I see a PM, mindful of 'folks back home' taking the mickey.
Georgie Porgie wouldn't 'get it' so he's pretty safe in giving W the middle finger (gently, of course).
A different view I know but that's how I choose to see it.
nobody; give us your thoughts on Aussie humour.
Thank you in anticipation

kikz said...

i know this is off topic...

but riddle me this?

how can someone be physically attracted to a pic of an elegantly turned wrist >:)? blinkblink?

back on topic..

i've been fortunate enough to work w/and around many chinese... i much prefer them on many levels to paki. for whatever it's worth...

nobody said...

Middle finger? You might be on your Pat Malone with that one mate, ha ha. But yeah, I thought it was probably the least important story of the week. But it was all worthwhile just to have Nelson make an even bigger arse of himself. His days are so numbered aren't they?

And humour? Jesus Christ! Has anyone figured that out? I have a sideways view that might be interesting and probably too long for here so, er... why not whack it on the front page? The world's coming to an end but we may as well have a laugh.

nobody said...

And hey kikz,

Ha! Don't be confused mate. I put that phote in because it's the only one ever taken of me that I like, ha ha.

It all comes back, now. I was in a bar in Kuala Lumpur and had just given money to a Buddhist nun in return for one of those devotionals on my wrist. God knows what that red drink is.

Otherwise I wouldn't lump Chinese all in together. Taiwanese, Honkies, Mainlanders, and diaspora Chinese are as different from each other as English, German, Spanish etc. Not only that but my view of the Chinese is constantly evolving. The same thing happened to me in Japan. My experience is that the more time I spend somewhere (and breaks in between are good because they lend a perspective) the calmer I get and the more I like the people and groove on the whole caper. I imagine you could end up grooving on Pakistanis. Me, I get on with pretty much everyone I meet from the sub-continent. But that ain't too difficult because I'm a cricket fan, ha ha.

They only people I have a problem with are self-obsessed racists. But like anyone could miss that.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
The world's coming to an end, that's a laugh
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

kikz said...

ya ya... hard call to make in generalizations of an entire people.
really can't be done and shouldn't, although certain cultural characteristics can be quite observably constant.....

my negative nose krinkle on the was probably more circumstances.. of the age grouping (mostly young single males) doing 6mo telecom/engineering contract labor rotations here in us, the chin girls seemed very immature for their age. all a giggle, flitting thru the bldg in coveys.. like birds. chin/pak and mumbai indian......... ALL walk to the left side of hallways, and staircases which was cause for some major collisions... cripez.. we heel to the right here.... and elevators.. OMG... they have no concept as to...empty the confined space b4 you try to fill it w/others...eyeroll.
none seem too terribly eager to share thoughts on intl
politics though.

japanese are very polite generally, but enmasse as camera-toting tourists let off of buses.. will run over you....literally. very, very rude.

i've been lucky, moreso than other americans over my lifetime to've had exposure to many diff foreign natls. many americans go thru the entirety of life w/o such. coastal peepz well have it, over those from the interior .. at least until the last decade or so.

also having worked in/round a few large multinatl corps... has helped.. everybody from fr. canadian, russian, nigerian, korean, brits of all types, indian, persian, jamaican, egyptian reared greek, kenyan reared hindu...and everything in between.

i'm sure my views have more to do w/ class/caste and religious bent that ethnic bias. i hope, anyway:)

spent my early years in company of two families, mothers.. both frm mex city, american (northern/yankee) fathers.. nice peepz, but their sons were reared to believe they were god's gift.... yuk.

i've noted over the years that w/muslim, asian and latin/hispanic mothers, they more often than not.....let their sons run completely riot over them in general. >:/ w/muslims boys .. this seems to extend to any females w/in their vicinity. i am king.. you are servant. have seen it many times.. even w/teachers.. one interaction, the boy stuck out his foot, and pointing at it, demanded... his teacher tie his shoe. reminded me of... yul brenner in "anna & the king" . male 'tude indeed.

the first paki i ever knew as a kid, Vishnu, worked w/my mum... he's done univ in the in shipbuilding.. he was a wonderful human, but married to a crazed yankee frm chicago. no, i don't think all yankees are crazy.. but.. that'z a debate for another day...

my hubby grew up round large pak population in toronto, and been round them in biz for decades....he's no fan in general. must've been a class thing.. ? he has many hindu friends who share his general distaste.. again, i assume it's a class/caste thing... although, the hindu/pak snarl... goes long into the historical past.

i knew a wahabi saud at univ, whom i bugged to the point of exasperation, quizzing him on cultural mores, etc.. nice guy, but somewhat a party animal. once, told me, never known an american woman so inqusitive as to saud customs...

20+yrs ago, i was neighbor to a family of Han Chinese in NC, they were wonderful peepz too. would've died b4 they'd of driven/owned a jap car :) they were both PHD's he in math, she in linguistics...
their small boys loved Far Side toonz, the elder (8) used to bug me to tell him what some of them meant :) which are hard to convey into words.. ya either get em or ya don't.. when gramma visited frm Taiwan she would jokingly call me "Deamon" as i am green eyed/blonde.

here in the burbz, n of dallas, due to a tech corridor, we hav quite the intl community.

i hav pak friends, but they are sikh. some of the kindest, most wonderful peepz you'd wanna know.

neighbors up the block, the hubz is chin(no idea as to extraction), and the wife jap... which, after knowing the Han family earlier, i was surprized to hear of such intermarriage. i guess it's not so quite unheard of as most "round-eye" would think.

we well know a family of the ismaili sect/shia, who in day to day dealings are congenial... we even attended their grandmother's funeral, as our kids were friends, the gramma had kissed my hand the first time i met her.. she was apparently grateful that my girls wanted to befriend her granddaughter :) but, their religious views of that old testament vengeful god who brings wrath of natural disaster on humanity (long discussion on that tsunami, xmas day few yrs back) for sin... just kind of turned me off. although reading up on their aga khan was interesting and enlightening..... he's into racehorses.... and has been married multiple times...

a family of parisian fr, on the cul-du-sac... she's been my best friend for a grew up together... we have quite animated yaps about culture/politics.. and the fr's probs in dealing w/their influx of n. african's.. their colonialization mistakes have truly come home to haunt them. huge slums of unemployed youth.. crime.. yada.. neither of us are fans of sarkozy........ :/

recently , young family of guatemalan extraction has moved in... very nice, sweet kids.. looking fwd to getting to know her:)

hubz friend, who dates alot and travels the world.. we secretly joke.... imagining he's undercover CIA or somesuch.... >:).. once brought by a beautiful blond brazilian cotton geneticist.. she was a fan of lula.. this was a few yrs ago..

she was wonderful :) i wish... he'd of kept her :) she was a treasure:) but he's too busy & young... to marry... yet..

oh well, i've prattled long enuff... :) hope this rant makes some sense.. just got up.. w/a hari/kari sinus headache..

yap ya soon :)

kikz said...

oh and... about the wrist... i surprizingly found it very sexy >:) if your wrist is that well proportioned.. i imagine your hands are gorgeous too >:)

i have a thing for hands....

i know how it goes,, i maybe have 6 or so pix made over the course of my life, that i like too... :)

nobody said...

Wow, kikz. I grooved on all of that. And yeah, actually I do make generalisations all the time. It stands to reason that a foreign culture will produce people who differ from us in broad brushstrokes. And there's nothing to say we shouldn't pick aspects of a culture and discuss them - critically even. But I've found that for everything that's wrong with a culture, there's something that's right. And viewed against our own culture will leave us coming up short.

As for mothered sons, you should see Italians, ha! But I lived in Italy and loved every minute of it. They're maybe my favourite people ever. Ciao regazzi! If they're reading...

Often, it's just having something to talk about. Take Koreans. In combination with what I'd heard from mates who lived in, or visited Seoul and the Koreans I met, I was not a fan. But then I saw that flick The Host (seen it yet? It's an absolute cracker) and now whenever I meet Koreans I bring it up and we all get on like a house on fire. Oh! Yesterday I saw another Korean flick called Unknown Scandal that was just spellbinding.

But that's enough of that. Have to post a new piece of vitriol. I wonder if Mike Rivero will groove on this one?