- Posted November 9, 2012 by
San Diego, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Life in China
Three Weeks In China
Except for a couple of gated communities near Shanghai, I saw nothing that most of the world would call middle class. People live in the country as poor farmers, or in the cities with minimal and expensive housing.
I was overwhelmed at the thousands and thousands of high rise apartment buildings now under construction all over the country, and at the apparent vacancy rate of thousands of existing high rise apartment buildings. Even if you can afford to buy one (at about a million US Dollars in mid city areas) they include no appliances, sinks, toilets, tubs etc.; you need to outfit all of that yourself.
I was astonished at how many cities have more than 7 million people, and some nearing 30 million and growing. Prices in the cities are higher than in the US.
Pollution of earth, water and sky a serious health and survival problem. People seem to have little pride in keeping even their outside home environment neat, clean and tidy - this may reflect a lack of pride of ownership since the government owns all land. Cities are clean but only because underpaid workers keep it that way.
The people in the cities are so overstressed from overpopulation they have become aggressive, rude and antagonistic in their interaction with others especially on the roads. Being on the roads in a vehicle or as a pedestrian is a death defying act.
Although in a business setting they remain incredibly polite, efficient, and hard working.
Maintenance seems to be minimal if at all. They build it, then don't keep ti clean and let it deteriorate. Even new construction reflected this observation.
It was strange being in a country that lacks diversity, meaning everybody "looks alike", basically Chinese. In USA I am so use to being in environments that have numerous different types of people from Asians to Blacks to Chicanos to Whites and beyond.
It was annoying being in a country that blocks out most of the internet world that is outside of China, such as Google, Facebook, Skype, and much much more. And it was troubling to learn that the government has made it illegal for citizens to own satellite dishes. However one can get news from outside of the country by conducting conduct illegal activity, or rent a hotel room in one of the expensive hotels that are granted access to world wide news channels.
All in all I felt like I was experiencing in real life many of the things that I have read in futuristic science fiction novels. Things that did not have a happy ending.
I just got the feeling that in spite of (or perhaps because of) their tremendously impressive achievements in mass transit (trains, high speed rail, mag lev trains, new extensive 8 lane highway systems) and new airports, and urban renewal, they are in the midst of a kind of ponzi scheme, ready to implode upon itself. The urban rich are out of control with their emphasis on glitz and glamor while the poor are completely disconnected.
And government corruption at all levels is like the weather; everybody talks about about but nothing can be done about it. People feel disenfranchised, and show not much public pride in their country or citizenship in it (except for those who are under directives to report only Good News).
The country's growth has depended upon outside investment in manufacturing and they do not appear to be adequately diversified to survive a reduction of such business activity. It felt that if they don't start taking care of their environment and don't diversity employment to other areas they may have too many eggs in one basket and may not be able to adequately survive international businesses relocating to areas that have less costly labor. But, with so large a population of people in China they might be able to create their own internal consumption of products and use what they manufacture instead of exporting it ......... at least until they discover they can have what they need and use made in another country that has cheaper labor.
Newspapers are government controlled, and it is quite apparent that numerous stories are full of propaganda designed to make the Chinese people feel that they are Top Gun and have the world at their feet.
All in all, it is a place with a tremendous 4000 year history that has all but been ignored outside of China, but it is a place that has a faux freedom, and not a place anyone of sound mind who has ever been free would knowingly and willingly move to. However moving out of China is so desirable that strict regulations control that. If you have no money or assets, forget moving out of China. If you or your parents of family have a house and cash, you might be able to obtain permission to leave the country for a short time if you sign a document that gives to the government your property if you don't return, and put up a large cash deposit to ensure that you will return. Or so we were told. Apparently China fears a brain drain of talented people who seek to live free.
China may need to experiment with a free democratic society and free economic system. Trying to control and manage 1.3 billion people (and growing) from a single central government is just plain unrealistic, unmanageable. China with almost 20 percent of the world population may need to look to India (a Democracy) with about 17 percent of the world population and develop a new type of government management system that uses what has shown to be effective and avoid that which has shown to be ineffective. China's accomplishes are great, their future challenges appear much greater to this casual visitor.