Ups and Downs and Ups


Longer posting today…

Today is, was, my last full day living in Chengdu, China. I head to the airport in 9 hours so will not post for 48 hours, most likely.

My time here was 95% positive. The work was rewarding (usually). I had fun learning how to play rugby. I got my health back. I got my mojo back. China was very good to me.

From a more macro perspective, I think China – considering the context and framework of history, and considering its population size – is doing very well and on the right track, despite a few of my comments below.

Let’s rewind to the Civil War and WWII. There were only two options in China: the Nationalists and the Communists. That was it. No other scenarios in this timeline.

The Nationalists sought to modernize while preserving the class and economic structure of Old China. Nationalists sought to protect the power of the traditional elites, including the landlord class, and remain quite friendly with foreign capital. Its the kind of class alliance that, according to Barrington Moore, often leads to fascism.

Fortunately, the Nationalists lost. People forget (especially in the West) that Old China was brutal. I came across historical records (while editing a paper) about a young Chinese woman sold as a slave three times in the early 20th century. Tibet, too, had a lot of slavery until its emancipation in 1959. Americans who sympathize with Tibet can be compared to Southerners and their “war of norther aggression.” (Not that slavery was the only issue of the war).

The Communist revolution, while not ideal or utopian, eradicated this old order. Fortunately. Yes, some people were put up against the wall and shot. Many deserved it, as they were seeking to preserve their status as social and economic leeches.

Routinely, I hear American writers and commentators blame Mao for “tens of millions of deaths” which is absurd. Yes, millions starved, and the population fell, but the Great Leap Forward was intended to produce economic growth. During the American Great Depression, millions died early deaths from malnutrition. It’s a bit like pinning this on Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It’s absurd.

The most absurd aspect of criticism of China – coming from Americans in particular – is that their critique rests on a mythical standpoint: a Jeffersonian democracy of some kind – as if the Bill of Rights means anything anymore. If the New World Order had a spear tip, it’d be the United States, with its non-stop coup plotting, foreign interventions, and Fortune 500 wars. The US is basically run by a motley crew of blue-blooded aristocrats, the corporate neuveau riche, usurious Jewish bankers, and an Alphabet Soup of 1984-style intelligence services – all validated by backwoods evangelical Christians and a reality-TV president whose policies are reduced to tweets.

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would pen a eulogy for the country and then stab himself in the neck with his own fountain pen. Death in Monticello.

Once the land of John F. Kennedy, the US is becoming a poor excuse for a country – and yet some of its citizens think that they have a standpoint for criticizing China.

I don’t complain about China in the main, or overall, although after living here for years, I can certainly quibble about this or that. I’ve at least earned that right; I had skin in the game. The banking system is overly bureaucratic, for example.

The workplace culture is often overly authoritarian. Supervisors are conferred a degree of papal infallibility. Strangely, it is acceptable to pay people late and remain very unclear (until the last minute of course) regarding vacation times, etc…

Even more strangely, Chinese people think that it is unseemly, or unacceptable, to lose one’s temper in the face of this. There is a time and a place for losing one’s temper. Not being paid properly is one of those times. In my view, losing one’s temper pales in comparison to the greater offense of late pay.

I advise young foreigners in China to be flexible, accommodating, diplomatic and to bend over backwards to do people favors at work. But when it comes to core issues of pay and time off, there should be no negotiation, and no consideration of other people’s “feelings.”

The Internet is controlled, but that is the sovereign right of China. It is also controlled in the US, where censorship is outsourced. Youtube routinely removes sites, de-monetizes videos, and lowers subscribers. Also, the money earned from youtube is not a function of any algorithm. The agent(s) in charge of that site simply decide to put certain youtubers on a stipend, and then raise or lower it as incentive to produce more or less. With Pavlovian precision.

Finally, I do agree with China’s One Belt and One Road plan because this version of globalization is not political or military. I finally discovered something after years here. China is not overly Machiavellian in its foreign policy because China is the world. What happens on the barbarian periphery is of secondary importance. Makes sense. This is the Middle Kingdom.

Regarding Hong Kong, I think it is inconceivable that Hong Kong would ever elect people who were anti-China. Hong Kongers know who butters their bread. So why the move for more control over Hong Kong? It becomes control for the sake of control, and this is not good public relations. One attracts more bees with honey than with vinegar…

This policy seems unnecessary and alienates the majority of people in Taiwan who are probably neutral or wavering regarding their return, and restoration, as a natural part of China (Formosa).

This website advocates complexity, and a complex configuration of political systems is still compatible with Chinese civilization and a very wide-spectrum of one-party rule. Actually I think such an approach would secure China’s status as a global leader. But it’s not my call of course. Just saying.

If anyone out there gets a chance to live and work in China, take it. Genuine people. Fascinating place. Each day is different.

Yeah, I left a piece of my heart here, besides.

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