My good friend, Dezza, runs Mask of China site (which I am also the designer of) He recently left his teaching job in Dalian and before he heads off to Hong Kong, he came back to Canada. I had a chance to meet up with him this week at a Chinese greasy spoon near Toronto City Hall.
As any reader of his blog can probably tell, he was getting increasingly irritated by the politics in China in the past few months. Maybe it was their relentless persecution of the Falun Gong, an eccentric but mostly harmless cult. Or the fact the government kept blocking access to Blogger. Or the incessant anti-Japanese propaganda.
Oded Shenkar, author of “The Chinese Century”, is very bullish about the Chinese (Reason 1: They have a diaspora. Reason 2: They have a mind for business. Reason 3: They work pretty damn hard). But while we gobbled our $4.75 charsui rice, Dezza dismissed all of this.
He told me that the journalists fly to Shanghai, take taxis from their four-star hotels to the city, are suitable impressed with the massive amounts of construction they see, and write back that China will soon kick ass.
What they don’t see, Dezza claimed, was the fact that most of these buildings are empty. Planners get chummy with bankers, one hand washes the other, and they get risk-free loans to build useless buildings.
They also don’t see the rivers that are black with pollution, and the poverty that most Chinese live in. Socialism is conveniently forgotten when the peasantry need to pay to go to elementary school; people are left outside hospitals to die when they can’t pay their medical bills.
On the way back to my office, Dezza took a picture of some striking workers. He’s going to send it to his friends in Dalian. You can’t strike in China.