Wednesday, June 4, 2008

China Visit - Part 3

I had a very interesting discussion with my college age Chinese nephew, Tiger. His English has come along and he hopes to study in the US next year. With my Chinese and his English we were able to fully communicate. I wanted to better understand Chinese perceptions of their domestic situation. One of our talks revolved around the degree of freedom experienced by a young person in China today. I asked Tiger about the degree of cultural and social freedom he experienced. When I first visited China, cultural freedom was still largely repressed and social mores were very conservative (no outward displays of public affection, etc.). Now the floodgates have opened. According to Tiger, and based on my own observations, there are no restrictions on cultural expression. Modern abstract art, music of every sort, western literature freely available. Social mores are totally transformed. Young people can dress in whatever outlandish fashion they like. Young people hold hands and kiss in public. Educational freedom. No longer are you assigned a subject to study. You can pursue whatever educational goals you’re capable of achieving, and jobs are no longer assigned for life. This goes hand in hand with economic freedom to find a job to your liking, set up a small business or a large corporation. With this freedom have come some loses as well. The so-called iron rice bowl has been smashed. Job security and social security are no longer as assured as they were twenty years ago. So let’s look at the freedom ledger. When challenged Tiger admitted that in today’s China he felt that there was cultural freedom, social freedom, educational freedom and economic freedom. He was annoyed by the lack of political freedom and had an idealized notion of our two party political system. When I began griping about the political situation in the US Tiger began to understand its limitations, but I also began to appreciate some of what we take for granted. The conclusion I came to is that the political system in China needs to evolve and assuredly will. I asked my sister-in-law if she could have anticipated the changes she’s witnessed over the last twenty years. She said in retrospect she could. I asked if she expected similar changes to occur in the future, in particular politically. She answered in the affirmative. China is in a continual state of flux. Rapprochement between the Communist and Nationalist parties is on the agenda. My sister-in-law saw the possibility of the Nationalist party entering into a political coalition with the Communists as in the early 1920s. I broached the idea of the CPC (Chinese Communist Party) dividing in two, with both parties adhering to the PRC’s constitution. Tiger thought that was a good idea, just so there was more accountability and the opportunity of some degree of political choice. I will go out on a limb and predict that something along these lines will occur in China by mid-century.

Well, those are some of my observations. Hope they’re of interest, more thoughts to come.

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