Babbling thoughts on China

Trip Start Aug 18, 2008
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Flag of China  ,
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's really hard to put into words any "final thoughts" about china.  There really isn't a final thought as China is constantly changing and who knows what the future will bring for this country.  However, at this point in time visiting the country is a paradox.  The people are incredibly friendly, accepting and welcoming and the country is beautiful but at the same time they do have a communist government which destroys homes and lives in the blink of an eye "for the good of the country".  I wonder if this is how the rest of the world views American tourists as well.  For the most part traveling I haven't experience ill-will towards me for being an American, but was told it's because most people can distinguish between me just being and American and our government (which most of the world doesn't like), they don't personally hold it against me for being from a specific country.  Some do think we are all the same, but they are usually just as ignorant and the ignorant Americans they claim to hate. 
The most confusing thing to me was the basic fact that here china is modernizing, building all these new big fancy venues and new hotels and yet they can't seem to keep the sewer lines from backing up.  Staying at a brand new 5 star hotel, they still had sewer problem with the pipes drying up and then backing up if they were not flushed daily.  And the snake in sink and toilets seemed to be non-existent to that the sewer smells all came back up.  Why they were tearing down the 500 year old homes, why not put in a new sewer system?  It was a mystery to me.  They have satellites and plasma televisions in one hotel but just a block away are homes that still use out houses, they don't have the basic comforts provided to them that we take for granted back here at home.  Clean drinking water, working sewer system, basic human rights, and freedom of religion and culture.      
China is probably the only country that is more patriotic than America.  There is so much national pride and support for the country that any type of negative speech against the government is viewed (if it's even allowed to been see or heard uncensored) as an attack on their country and they instantly become defensive on why someone is attacking their way of life (as most people would).  Therefore I don't know how much good it does for American Presidents or European Leaders to bash china and their government and human rights practices, it's kind of like preaching to the choir since the people that would actually hear their speeches probably already agree (or at least don't care enough to disagree).  Those that they are trying to reach will never hear the speech or hear the edited version put out by the government as propaganda against the rest of the world.  So what do we do?  Do we just accept their violation of human rights and destruction of other cultures?  Do we even have the right to judge?  We may not have the right to judge but we have the right to admit our country has made mistakes in the past and learned from them.  Now days we don't go into other counties and try to erase their past by banning their local languages and freedom to practice their own religion.  We can't say we haven't done it in the past but that doesn't make it right or mean we should allow cultures to be wiped out because "well, how can we judge when we did it?"  Because these cultures that are being wiped out have asked for help and since we know we did wrong in the past it is even more of our obligation to do what we can to help them survive in the future. 
There were a lot of people saying I shouldn't go to the Olympics and China because it's just supporting all the government's practices and allowing them to think everyone is ok with it.  I can see that point, but I looked at it more of a one on one opportunity to reach out and meet the people and even if it's one person at a time, I think that can make the difference.  We bring in the tourist dollars (because it's still one of the places the America dollar can go pretty far) bringing more income to the little guy buy just buying some water or noodles from the local street shop, buy souvenirs and food they sell on the street corner.  And we all know that money is power.  Now that this influx of money is coming into the country and they can see what they can get they are not going to want to go back.  They can't go back.  They have opened their doors to capitalism and that is what is going to bring about the change.  High powered people can give as many big speeches as they want.  That will do nothing.  It's us everyday people that will be the ones befriending, and sharing what our life is like outside of china, sharing insights and ideas to get them thinking on their own.  I'd say if you want to make a difference in china- go there. Meet with the local people, say at local hotels and eat at the small corner shops.  Not only will you have a great experience but you'll be part of the positive change. 
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amhphagan on

This was a great photo journey, and you were a beautiful American (as opposed to the ugly American we dread...) - I think the more we see the world, the smaller it becomes, making us want to preserve all of it, and not 'America first.'

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