Sort of a travelogue across China along Route 312, from SE supermodern Shangai to NW remote Uzbekistan border. The author is a British journalist who spent several periods in China over the past two decades. An outsider's views on China, mainly targeted for an American audience - as one can tell from references and examples....Continua
This book leaves me in a very complicated state-of-mind. You probably are yelling at me, 'what on earth are you reading China writen by a gweilo?' For my money, first, it's sometimes good and interesting to look at our own country from an outsider's eye; second, we Chinese media simply don't have the capacity and guts to investigate 'China'. I really admire the author Rob Gifford, who has presented himself a respectable journalist. This project is probably a dream-comes-true to any journalist.
Amids the havoc caused by the olympics torch, I was one of the few Chinese who doesn't wanna be Chinese for the sake of all the embarassement, while others see it as an insult and the best opportunity to 'avenge the hundred years humiliation.'. I'm glad Rob has the same doubt in mind, "China is on the verge of greatness. And yet it still tneds to think and speak like a victim." The question was raised way before all the olympics mess. Luck to be a Hong Kong people, I had the privilege to be freed from the propaganda stuff. I see China differently, I prefer to state myself as a 'liberal', tho many would simply say I'm too westernized. (In China those who accuse others being too westernize are very likely the same people who adorn the western way the deepest at heart.) Right, I'm so 'westernized' to find I often have exactly the same view of Rob on China.
To grasp the real picture you have to talk to the real people, and that's what Rob's doing. And I'm so sad to read the stories of the ordinary peasants who sum up most of the population in China. They were once the hero of the communist party and now they were ditched again. They sold blood to live. Their lands were stolen by the local officials. Their well was sealed up by the official who coerece them to buy water from the local water company, that, obviously they had shares. And the minorities in XinChang, they were losing their culture to the Han people and they could do nothing about it. I am not a pessimist at all. I'm also impressed by the development of Shanghai and all the second-tier cities. But i simply don't understand why the urban patrioits simply ignore these facts matter-of-factly. How can you enjoy all the fruit and be blinded on the sufferings of your fellow countrymen? 'What are you gonna do?" Rob often asked his interviewees, or friends, and the answers often made me cry, 'Endure, there's nothing we can do.' 'We'll never become like your country (freedom and stuff).' And I just have this feelings that is it the fate imposed on the Chinese peasants still have to go for another century?
Rob pointed out the political system flaw of China for these 2000 years was, and is still be, the lack of check and balances. It's not necessarily democrazy but maybe a power alongside the central govenrment (emporer), like what happened in the old Europe (where there's church and feudal lords). I know China is geographically and populationally too huge for any regime or system to cope with, but I sincerely hope there will be a political reform in the near future. Not until that day it doens't call living with dignity. But with the growing number of Hong Kong people who welcome the brain-washing of the communists I know it'll be a tough road ahead. Maybe somebody should have this book translated in Chinese?...Continua
"Ren shou," he says, spitting the words out between his teeth. "Endure. That is all we can do. Ren shou. We can and must endure. That is all we have ever been able to do."...Continua