Perspectives of China

Perspectives of China

As an American tourist I was quite amazed at the number of opinions, both good and bad, regarding China from various perspectives. The culture is rich and history is abundant everywhere, yet the political scene is obviously less attractive. Clear-cut poverty is much more evident as is a lower standard of living, yet still you can find towering skyscrapers and other majestic sites which only denote wealth. China is a land of great contrasts. For all the beauty of the landscape, there's horrible air and water conditions. For all the courteous customs of the Chinese people there's the annoying salesperson out to make a deal (and usually any type of deal). Hell, you can even find things for sale like this that would have potentially inhibited my ability to return back into the States. So this shirt brought up an interesting debate regarding re-entry into the U.S. If you were wearing it, would they let you through? Can they bock your re-entry simply because of a t-shirt? What if you were an Iraqi who immigrated to the States, and you actually though Saddam was a good leader? Would you be arrested for voicing that opinion (assuming you do so peacefully)? So what is really bad about that t-shirt? I'm convinced I should have gotten it. I probably could have gotten it for $1 USD.

China's political scene is pretty ugly. The Communist party has complete control over the country, and while they are not as bad as it may seem, brainwashing is evident everywhere. Pictures of Mao Zedong, statues of Communists, claims in museums of the "great accomplishments" of the Communist party members, the list goes on and on. It is no wonder that the tragedy of Tiananmen Square in 1989 occurred, yet only to be suppressed by the Communists. People are pretty hush about politics, fearing that any sort of opposing words would mean imenent doom for them. In the eyes of an American we think that that's not cool, even if it means that the competition is one George W. It's better than nothing. Perhaps it's better to simply fit in, like this, though my brother forgot to wear the black pants (This was actually hilarious - there was this entire tour group in blue as well, and my brother and I just took a series of shots of him pretending to be in the tour group. I've attached them if you want a laugh). By dumb luck though, you may very well see a friendly face like my mom did (and if you can't figure out which one is my mom.... wow). Credit must be given where credit is due, though: there's no neglecting the fact that China has the potential to become a superpower. Yes, even with it's 90% pirated crap. Then again, it is of interest to know that the wealthiest places in China are the places most influenced by the outside world: Shanghai and Hong Kong. I guess that's just yet another testament to the communism-doesn't-work campaign if you still aren't convinced.

But one must remember, most vacations to China don't concern the current political scene or the conditions of poverty (though you cannot run away from them - there's an inordinate amount of handicaps and abnormal people who are always following you begging for money). Most people come to observe the past dynasties and the history as well as the beautiful countryside. No one can deny that China's history is magnificent with world known attractions such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and the Terra-Cotta Warriors. Scenery doesn't get better than Guilin, where a river cruise is literally the scenic route. Some mountains along the way are interesting to behold too, like this one, where in theory there are nine horses on the mountain-side (in the white scratch marks - I can find like 3 clear ones only). In a separate place in Guilin, this mountain is supposed to be an elephant, but I don't see it at all, and I think it's totally a hoax to get more tourists. There are many parks with interesting scenes like this, this, and this. Hell, you can even find peacocks, fish, and chickens around. Was China worth it? I suppose so. There certainly were good times and bad times. The food (shockingly) overall was a disappointment, though it was still pretty good; I just had my expectations set too high. The people are a wide variety. Most people were alright, though more than a handful were downright annoying (see: shop vendors) or depressing. China does show promise of a wealthier nation overall in the future, and I guess that's why the U.S. wants such good relations with them.

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