Reflections on a Wandering Life.....
Friday, April 03, 2015
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Went to Think in China again last night. The Italian guy has lived in China for twenty years as a journalist. His point was to emphasize the greatness of change in China as compared to the west. He said that in the West we still dress pretty much like our grandparents. But In China, people a couple generations back would not look anything like they do today. Considering the issue of China's authoritarian system, he used an interesting analogy from the traditional method of cooking Chinese dumplings. He said you add cold water as the water is boiling to bring the temperature back down. So China tends to restrict certain activity to moderate it. If they didn't want the water to heat up at all, they would just turn off the burner. There is considerable merit to this notion. So during the Q and A section, when I asked about the actions of the party last summer in tearing down crosses in the city of Wenzhou, he tended to minimize it. He is partly right. But he was not very well informed. He said the government did not destroy any churches, and that is not true. Still, his point is well taken and worthy of consideration. The powers that be are not foolish enough to think that they can wipe out Christianity. They used to think so, that's for sure. But they have left that thinking behind. They do try to moderate Christianity in ways that seem bizarre to a westerner. In the United States you wouldn't see the leader of a community ripping crosses off churches just because he thought they were unsightly. But the repression clearly does not represent a determination to eliminate Christianity. They haven't turned off the burner. They just added a little cold water.
The Chinese professor I have heard before. He was much more philosophical about issues like pollution than I am. He said that there is a trade off when a country is in a state of development. He kept comparing China to India. That is a little worrying. If the best you can say is that you're a little bit better than India, things are not going well. But when I talked to him afterward, I mentioned the recent pollution video, and he did say, as seems evident, that is some debate now in the government, with some supporting the recent video by the CCTV broadcaster, and others opposed to it.
Although both of these guys tend to emphasize how much freer China is today than in the past, they were both quite artful in their statements about anything related to the Party. They know what country they are in. Still they did make some interesting points, and it must be admitted that the Party does allow more of this kind of discussion, especially if it takes place in a venue that is perceived to be dominated by foreigners rather than local Chinese people.