Sunday, September 15, 2013

China Road

Highway 312 in China goes from Shanghai to the Khorgas on the Khazakstan border. In this book, the author travels along the entire distance of the road, takings cabs, buses, private vehicles, and even hitchhiking for various sections. He makes a few side trips to explore aids villages and other minority areas.

China in size is similar to the United States. However, in makeup, it is very different. The population is concentrated in the big cities on the east coast. However, China doesn't have a "west coast" as in the US. It is almost as if you chopped off America somewhere in the midwest or rockies. In that case, there really wouldn't be much reason for most people to go explore the rest of the country. Everything would be concentrated in the east.

In the travel, he makes keen observations on the state of the China and the Chinese people. He observes the differences from province to province and among the different minority groups and peoples. China has almost always been ruled by a single entity, whether it be an emperor or a communist party. Currently, the Chinese economy is booming. The rest of the world my criticize China, but if China were to stop its economic boom, the rest of the world would really hurt. (Is China what is helping to hold up our stock market and even our government?)

I liked to story, and the narrative helped me to better understand some of the geography of China.

The Chinese live a variety of different lives. The urban population lives a life of rampant consumerism. However, the rural people are still struggling. The local officials are often prone to corruption, further hurting the life. However, people are content with even moderate prosperity. It is the way that people live.

The stories of the people in the different provinces remind me of the people that I have met in China. "Where are you from?" is a question frequently asked. Very few people I meet in Nanjing are actually from there. Many are from the nearby provinces. A few are from places much further away. All show the pattern here of working hard and trying to get into the best university to continue upward mobility.(China has even used this as a means of quelling discontent. The minority groups (such as Tibetians and Muslims) are given great opportunities of free education in the big cities. They are also provided with significant development funds. They are also given some additional rights (such as having two children instead of one.) Instead of using the stick, the country is using the carrot.)

What happens if the economic growth shuts down? The country (and the world) will be in a great deal of hurt.

China is a huge country and really cannot be compared to other places like Taiwan and Singapore. Though they both have large Chinese populations, they would only rank as a small province in China. The people of China are diverse. The Maoists attempted to wipe out Chinese culture, leaving a vacuum in people's lives. The people, however, still need something to cling to. The Yuan has been a substitute for many of the urbanites, but for the peasant, there is still a void in need of being filled. What will become of China.

No comments:

Post a Comment