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Male
Fr. United Kingdom
Title: China has 5,000 years of history
I love China!

…I wouldn’t have spent the last 3.5 years here if I didn’t. This ever more surrealist wonderland of the senses seems never to cease amazing me. As a Child, my mind, like Tintin, wandered through the Blue Lotus and, at the bottom of the garden, discovered little shards of china pottery thinking this worthless Chinoiserie was as ancient as it was blue. Bamboo grew in the garden of my childhood too, just a few little shoots, nothing to rival the imperial yellow trunks out here, but enough to have me bewitched. China = mystical, elegant, sophisticated, dream-like. I was in love.

…and I still am.

China has 5,000 years of history, I keep of hearing. Wow, that’s a long time for bamboo to grow! 5,000 years of awesomeness, and such magnanimous dudes as Laozi were pretty awesome 2,500 years ago; I dread to think just how tremblingly awesome this place must be now. China has 5,000 years of history… oh, hang on, I’ve said that already.

The Handbook of Historical Linguistics says that the word ‘history’ comes from the Greek ‘historia’ meaning “inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation”. 5,000 years is such an incredibly long time, and not just 5,000 years of time spent chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool and all shooting some b-ball outside of school, but 5,000 years of history. That is a very long time to gain knowledge through investigation. You’d imagine you could gain an unspeakable amount of knowledge with that amount of time to investigate.

I am not so good at investigating. I was pretty average at sciences at school and certainly not born to be a scientist. I’ve only been in China for 3.5 years, not 5,000 years, but it hasn’t been difficult, even for such an ordinary citizen such as myself, to acquire the knowledge that when there are two groups of people heading in opposite directions both trying to go through a small doorway at the same time, the quickest way to do it is for one group to let the other go first before then going themselves, thus leaving a maximal amount of space for people to move. When a group of nice looking Chinese people walked at each other, exiting a lift in 大学城 A only two days ago seemed to take about 5,000 years when it could have taken a second or two.

I’ve only been in China for 3.5 years, not 5,000 years, but that seems to be enough to appreciate the fact that urinating in public is neither hygienic nor civilized. I was pretty average at biology at school and I not such a wizard in the kitchen, but even such an idiot as I can tell that to dry vegetables on a road that has been pissed on is quite a stupid thing to do.

I love the bamboo of China; it speaks of elegance and refinery. Maybe I’ll see some in Xiamen one day, behind McDonalds or KFC. “But Xiamen is such a clean city. The cleanest in China!”, I hear them say, “风景美极了 – 有山有水” .. I haven’t travelled much in China, after hearing that! If Xiamen is one of the cleanest and most modern cities in China, I dread to think what the other cities look like. If I dropped rubbish on the street every day for 3.5 years it would be shameful indeed. How much more so after 5,000 years?

China is sublime, possessed of mystic elegance. How could you ever not believe that after watching such classics as少林寺 or 卧虎藏龙. As a child in a garden of bamboo, I bought the China sold by the Chinese. Even as a child, watching nature, I could see that my own benefit was intricately connected with the benefit of my environment. Watching the bamboo sway, I knew that everything was interconnected. But Taoist, Buddhist China knew that thousands of years ago.

5,000 years of history should be enough to know that a ‘harmonious society’ does not mean banning fireworks and firecrackers, it means caring enough about others not to throw them in the street in the middle of the night. 5,000 years of history should be enough to know that a ‘harmonious society’ means not renovating your apartment with power tools at 7am and 11pm.

"Do you love your country?" – “YES!”, “Are you proud to be Chinese?” – “YES!”. 5,000 years to love your fellow countrymen, so why do people not let each other onto the bus first? Why is everyone pushing and shoving to walk all over each other so as to be the best, the first, the richest? Why did a baby bleed to death on a busy street in Foshan, a city whose name means ‘Buddha Mountain’? Why do people not feel the pain of mistreated animals? Why do so few care about the horrors of the Chinese fur trade? Why do we not feel each other’s pain? – I can only conclude that Chinese people hate China and hate each other.

Mahatma Ghandi said, 'A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.' Isn’t China meant to be a great nation?

I love China. So, it is a shame to see people pushing and shoving each other so that they can be the first. It is a shame to see people urinating in the street. It is a shame to see all the rubbish and the barbaric behaviour.

I love China but it is a shame to look you, my love, in the eyes.

China has 5,000 years of history; how shameful'
2011-11-18

Comments:

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Female
Fr. China
Reply ^Top
absolutely YES
2011-11-20 16:14:29
Female
Fr. China
Reply ^Top
Hey MrKent,

You are fascinated with China!! we do love our country and we are proud of it too!!haha.. wish you a nice time here in our city!!!
2011-11-21 20:29:31
Female
Fr. Italy
Reply ^Top
there's a missing part!
you should finish posting it, it seems that now the website works :)
2011-11-22 02:39:53
Male
Fr. United Kingdom
Reply ^Top
Ahhh, much better, no the irony is complete. Thanks WOX!
2011-11-30 16:48:34
Female
Fr. Australia
Reply ^Top
Oh, this is what you were rambling on about last week. Nicely written, I'd say most of the hypocritical behaviour just stems psychological boundaries. They *have* to be competitive or they don't get anywhere. Chinese society has a very narrow reward system. Thinking outside the box is dangerous, not just politically, but financially. Executing the idea, however noble, of stepping back and letting people off the bus first gets you slammed in the back by dozens of angry Chinese. If you're brought up with the mentality of FIRST, it's harder to consider the broader picture.

Let's hash this out over bbq this weekend :)
2011-12-02 14:48:42
Female
Fr. China
Reply ^Top
Guess I didn't read the full article last time. It's not an excuse that there is a sense of "dog eats dog" behavior around here. The people here probably lack refinement compared to west... I wonder... did you ever been to a country that has too many poor population? Have you ever ridden a crowded public transportation in a very crowded city (outside China) during rush hour? Have you ever wonder what kind of financial burden most people have? Do you know how long they have to work just to have a decent home? Do you think of dreaming for a better life for one's family is not normal? Do you think that 75% of the population in China is heartless or feel indifferent towards strangers? Do you have any clue as to how many migrant workers move in and out of the cities/places? Do you know how hard the task to discipline the whole populace? Do you know how much suffering not long ago China came under with? So if you can't understand this... I think you better go back to your sheltered life at your own country.
2011-12-05 21:55:04
Female
Fr. China
Reply ^Top
I apologize for being too direct. I would have replied it differently on my first comment if your article was completed then. BTW, 5000 yrs of history... did you have a chance to read some about it? Or maybe read more about it?
2011-12-05 22:12:30
Male
Fr. United Kingdom
Reply ^Top
ziggy828 - great reply! Thank you for your thought provoking questions and you express yourself so well in English. Excellent =)

You don't, however, need to get personal ("I think you better go back to your sheltered life at your own country.") since this distracts away from the real issues here, is quite irrelevant, and you don't, actually, know anything about my life or my experiences. So, lets me adults and talk about the issues.

Have I ever been to an overcrowded and poor country? - yes, I have been to India 3 times and travelled there extensively. I have also travelled (with very little money!) elsewhere in Asia, in Central America and North Africa. I have taken 1 peso rush hour buses in Cuba and know what it's like to be stuck, without money or hope - not, however, as a way of everyday life. My experience is limited to travelling.

I too, emotionally and intellectually realise the financial burden people are under just to survive and better themselves here in China. It is right here, right in my face, I see it everyday and it hurts my heart.
2011-12-07 16:48:15
Male
Fr. United Kingdom
Reply ^Top
I also understand, as a human being, that when resources are limited it makes people more attached to those resources. This is a basic human experience. When there is few of something, people get more attached. This happens everywhere and is not at all limited to China. I see this in my own heart.

However, that attitude of forgetting about love for your fellow human being because of having little yourself is not necessary. Actually, the most generous people I have ever met (inside and out of China) have also been the poorest people. I have some Chinese friends here who, even though they hardly have anything, they are always willing to share.

Poverty can make you understand the suffering of others, become more generous and loving, or poverty can make you selfish, rude and cold-hearted.

Why I am so saddened by the state of modern China is that, with a few notable exceptions, the lack of wealth or the presence of it has seemed to have made society in general quite cold-hearted.

This might have something to do with how materialistic modern China is. Actually, migrant workers here seem to be just as rude or just as polite, just as friendly or just as cold-hearted as people with iPhones. I'm nowhere near rich enough to have an iPhone but that has nothing to do with loving humanity or not.

Manners, kindness, love do not cost anything and are nothing to do with poverty.
2011-12-07 16:59:00
Male
Fr. United Kingdom
Reply ^Top
As for Chinese history, I'd really love to learn more. I studied the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the cultural revolution at school. The problem is, it's difficult to trust the text books in China. The government does not control the content of history publications in England and the culture in the West is that to love your country means to see it how it really is and criticise it. The culture in China is that it is un-patriotic to criticise your country so, to be honest, it is quite obvious to any foreigner that the history books in China are full of many ridiculous lies.

Anyway, I am studying Chinese really hard so that one day I can understand Chinese history and culture in a deeper way.
2011-12-07 17:05:26
Female
Fr. China
Reply ^Top
"I have some Chinese friends here who, even though they hardly have anything, they are always willing to share" The point I was implying... stop generalizing people. If you meant for the people of this country to love each other... you may do so but do not throw out the efforts of those people, who are decent and good. we criticize our own country. we are not happy that 20 yrs of our salary is put to buying a home & it is only good for 80 years! To be honest, lots of people talk about corruption, wrong policies and etc... it is just that foreigners can't go into such deep discussions with us because of language barrier. I recommend you to read at wiki.
2011-12-08 22:26:06
Male
Fr. Netherlands
Reply ^Top
Ziggy, I'd like to drop my two cents shortly.
Each generalization has exceptions. But what I noticed here in China is that a lot of the people do not care for anything outside their personal circle as much, as they don't have the time, resources or cultural background to do so.

The last 20 years, it is a known fact to sensible Western people, that China is making a great leap and it is changing.

But don't forget, without trying to be offensive, but in technological development, China was behind about 100-200 years in terms of culture and efficiency. They have bent their totally different mindview already so far in a relatively short time. But there's basic things that we do not understand as we see it as granted.

If I see a person look at me, I smile back to acknowledge that I see the person. I am being nice. A lot of Chinese don't smile back (unless it's girls who are single, they tend to smile back at foreigners) and the occasional elderly person around.

I can not judge very deeply about China, nor do I want to. It's not as bad as propaganda says outside China, but it has a long way to go. If you wish to see what I mean, just try to go abroad if you can and you will notice.
2011-12-11 19:14:28
Female
Fr. China
Reply ^Top
Hi M.
I think China is in a revolutionary period. It is a time where great changes are taking place; People working and adjusting to ever changing economic and social pressure. Change after all, just started not long ago. So, it is time for lots of self-discovery.

Just to point out, when I first arrived in XMN, it was sooo frequent for people to spit and store owners would get angry if you touch and not buy their stuff. But now, spitting still there but it has lessened. And I hardly have been scolded by store owners for not buying. About the bus thing, I think it is really normal to push. I don't see anyone pushing if the bus has lots of room. So I guess it is just getting used to it. The proper thing to do is to have queue but it is hard to impose that system as there are many buses and they don't have regular arrival time.

As for the smiles... well, I think some people just have different reactions... if you smile at me, I might be thinking..."is he smiling at me?" or I would be thinking… "What am I supposed to do"... Some might just not like foreigner... so many possible reasons... but I know that Chinese are not known to smile at complete strangers.

There are many things all of us don't understand but we all know that there are many possible answers why people are people.

Give me free plane tix to Netherlands! =)
2011-12-13 22:59:30
Male
Fr. United States
Reply ^Top
Maybe it's because I'm a robot but I find that 5,000 years of history remark quiet strange. Purveyors of this remark are trying to take the position that they are superior and that the rest of the world didn't also experience 5,000 years of history. I've also seen this comment used as an excuse for unwillingness to change, but last I checked, 5,000 years ago there weren't cars and back then, people lived in terrible conditions beneath a brutal feudal system.
2012-02-01 23:54:37
Male
Fr. United States
Reply ^Top
Besides, why say the Chinese civilization is ONLY 5,000 years old when recorded history (written history) goes back to 10,000 years and naturally, as the human species dates back about 200,000 years to Africa, 5,000 years is a drop in the bucket.

Now robots, we've had a civilization! Those of you who have seen "5th Element" know what I'm talking about! We predate humans by .... a few million years. Forget Chinese people bumping into each other trying to exit/enter the elevator, robots've got anti-grav to show for our age.

Take that Hughmans!
2012-02-02 00:03:59

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