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Barry from Australia is a questioning soul who looks at social issues from an alternative point of view and instead of asking, “Why?”, he asks “Why not?” He’s convinced that many of his previous incarnations were spent in China. He feels drawn to the people there; attracted by their rich culture and way of life. If given one wish from God, he’d reply, “I want everyone on Earth to be the same colour, speak the same language, and treat each other as they themselves would like to be treated.”
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Perceptions of China - Part 3    

By Barry Pittman
4933 Views | 68 Comments | 3/8/2016 3:56:53 PM

After a year or so spent in China, ranging from urban areas such as Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou through to the rural regions of Sichuan Province, I feel able to present a few random recollections and musings of things I've seen.or experienced here.

 

Below are numbers 15 through to 17 of my 100 point checklist, presenting some personal perceptions, observations and facts of this vast kingdom. These may provide a few insights to those adventurous folk who are considering a visit to either meet a potential partner or those wishing to work for a while here. Native English speakers are in high demand and teaching jobs are easy to get in China.

 

DISCLAIMER

 

Views expressed are entirely my own, not necessarily shared by anyone else, especially the management of this website. If someone is silly enough to disagree with anything I've said however, please feel free to submit a comment below.  Errors or flaws in your thinking will then be pointed out to you by myself as politely as possible, in order to set you straight.

 

Remember, this is a no spin zone for the intelligentsia. Idiots, fools and drunkards please don't bother to proceed further.  We don't want to lower the tone of this series - or indeed, this website - after all.

 

 

CHINA IS....

 

15. A noisy place, with car horns, loud talking and continual activity everywhere.  Are the people here half deaf or what?  The women are just as bad as the men in this regard. Often I felt like saying to someone who was barking at me or to someone close to me, "No need to shout so the neighbours can hear you buddy, I'm standing just three feet in front of you!" 

 

I've been considering walking around here with a beefed up bullhorn, so when people bellow and bawl at me from a metre or so away, I'll raise it up and give them a good dose of their own medicine, blowing off their hats with a strong sonic blast.  Gosh, I’d love to do this, even if just once!

 

As part of my regular exercise regime, I walk along many winding narrow country roads.  Cars and motorcycles here are often blasting their horns, even when they’re right beside me. Annoying also is the fact that sometimes the smallest scooter will have the loudest horn, something akin to what you'd find on a 22 wheeled Mack truck!

 

Many drivers have zero consideration for pedestrians in this regard. It matters not a jot to them that even when they’re right next to you, they’ll blast their horn.  Compare this boorish behaviour to other countries, where quietness reigns, at least in country areas.  It just doesn't seem right that motorists should frequently blow their horns when only a metre or two away from pedestrians on narrow roads. I now carry ear plugs at all times for when traffic noise becomes too irritating. These are worn at night also.

 

I find it ridiculous though to feel the need to carry ear plugs when all I want is a peaceful stroll along a country road. Is this asking so much?  Blasting of car horns by vehicles close by is quite offputting, yet Chinese have been brought up with this disturbing habit from infancy so sadly appear to consider it a de rigueur part of life. 

 

My view is that all vehicles here should have two horns.  A standard horn for normal road use.  Plus a quieter, more mellow one, for use in situations where a 100 dB blast isn't necessary, for example, to alert pedestrians nearby to get out of the way.  This thoughtful idea of mine will never happen, of course.  But the place would certainly be more peaceful and much improved if it did.  Maybe I should write to Xi Jinping, the current President of the People's Republic of China about this?  Wouldn't it be wonderful if overnight, half of all the terrible traffic noise in China suddenly disappeared?

 

Whoever said that Chinese are all caring and kind-hearted people thus need to walk a mile in my shoes (literally). Many people here turn into ungracious oafs when behind the wheel. Even some sweet looking, demure young ladies morph into Machiavellian monsters when they're cruising the streets on their souped up electric scooters and gleefully come across a pedestrian, ready to happily victimise him with a bellowing blast from their turbocharged air horn!

 

As an aside, I was walking down a narrow mountain road the other day.  It had been snowing, so plenty of children and family groups were strolling up and down, taking a look. Suddenly an Audi driver appeared heading up the mountain road towards us with his horn blasting continuously, going way too fast for the slippery conditions.  I defiantly stood my ground and gesticulated at the rude guy, indicating to him in no uncertain terms that he needed to "Slow down!" 

 

This idiot encapsulated the feelings that some ignorant Chinese have, that because they're in a car - and particularly if they're in an expensive car - they can lord it over everyone else, especially innocent pedestrians and bicycle riders, as if there was some sort of grotesque pecking order of the road. 

 

Another anecdote was when I was visiting a monastery half way up Mt Emei.  The atmosphere there was of utmost peace and quiet, with reverential monastics quietly going about their business saying not a single word.  I felt a profound sense of calm and introspection..... until I walked out into the car park. I was then verbally assaulted by a deafening horn blast from a vehicle that had snuck up behind me driven by a young lady.  From the sublime to the ridiculous.  I felt like reaching inside and telling the unthinking driver what a rude sod she was but with incredible restraint, I held my peace. Thank Buddha for this. I merely stared daggers at her, which she completely ignored.  This type of discourteous discord and graceless bad manners is happening all across China, every day in just about every place.

 

Habitual sounding of car horns wasn’t a particular irritant of mine for the first few months of living here.  It was a bit comical in fact - I used to laugh at its frequency.  But after a while, the incessant, unwarranted noise slowly gets to you.  Rather than being merely a bit droll, it becomes annoying, particularly when drivers blast you at close quarters from behind for no good reason, almost giving you a coronary.  Maybe this is why there are so many hapless heart attack victims in China?

 

I don’t care how many bleeding heart China sycophants out there denounce my stern views here, saying "This is part of normal Chinese culture!"  Whatever it is, it's just plain wrong. It should be stopped. Period.

 

 

16.  China's tolerant and accepting of new ideas, especially if they can be duplicated.  Chinese aren’t stupid.  Most are quite intelligent. The nation is rapidly becoming Westernised in many areas, due to the introduction of new and more efficient ways of doing things.  For example, building construction, food safety and environmental standards are being gradually improved wherever possible. Chinese are smart enough to realise an idea or concept shouldn't automatically be rejected, simply because they didn't initially develop it.

 

Not all of this is positive however.  Not when you see ubiquitous fast food franchises such as McDonalds; KFC; Starbucks; etc springing up everywhere, usurping many normal Chinese eateries. There's no way a Big Mac for example, will ever be as nutritious as a traditional plate of vegetables and rice. But this is progress, like it or not.  Two steps forward, three steps back.

 

Many millions of dollars have been spent developing the appetising taste of the product in these fast food joints so that they're hard to resist for an average person.  The problem being though that often the amount of salt and fat going into some of the food being marketed to create this flavorsome taste is way too high.

 

One wonders also how much the American multinationals are making out of China from all the food (and other) franchises springing up here by the hundreds?  Walmart for example has about 450 stores in China and is expanding rapidly.  As the burgeoning middle class grows, so will its appetite for bourgeois luxuries increase also.

 

Some will argue this will inevitably put more pressure on an already overburdened world, where deleterious effects of manufacturing slowly are overpowering the resilience of the natural world to handle it.  Global warming will surely increase as millions more tons of carbon dioxide and pollutants are released into the atmosphere from thousands of new factories yet to be built in China (and elsewhere) to supply accelerating domestic (and international) demand.

 

Habitat loss is an increasing and most serious problem also, not just in China but in fact everywhere.  Need I mention the appalling scorching of the Amazon rainforests or the Sumatran jungles?  Animals there are being purged by the million to vastly increase monoculture crop and cattle farming but does anyone really care?  Can anyone envision mighty trees falling by the thousand or the cries from terrified animals within them, many species of which are bordering on extinction? Am I the only one to sustain nightmarish visions of a pending desolate world to come?

 

Yes, homo sapiens are a dominant species on Earth.  They overbearingly rule the globe. But then again, so did the dinosaurs eons ago and look what happened to them.

 

My personal view is that humans have but a limited time left on this planet. Humanity simply can't keep growing and growing, taking more and more, whilst giving less and less care and attention to the environment in any substantive, meaningful way. Some people anthropomorphically refer to China as "she".  Why limit it to one country? I take this a step further and regard the entire globe as feminine in form.... Mother Earth. It's the only real home that we all have.  Why are we all so bent on destroying it? 

 

They say anger dwells in the bosum of fools. I say stupidity and greed grows there also and mankind as as species is largely but a collection of self-serving buffoons.  Avarice, intolerance, ingratitude and the lust for more and more power reigns supreme.  Were there an omnipotent God as many believe, He must be mortified by what He sees here. Killing in the name of religion in my view is no more than an outrageous desecration perpetrated by sacrilegious misanthropics who cast shame not just upon themselves, but humanity as a whole.

 

But enough of these harsh truths.  This is a compelling topic for another time. Yes, I know this is a dating website and material such as this isn't directly relevant, but the more people who hear this crucial message even from the most unlikely of sources, the better. Let's now return however to the hopefully illuminating discussion at hand.

 

 

17.  China is blinkered in certain areas in its outlook toward the world. Just look at the Great Internet Firewall of China that inexplicably seems in 2016 to be increasing in size, rather than decreasing. Why is this?  National paranoia on a grand scale? Xenophobic fear of the outside world? A wish to keep the population living in ignorance of better conditions externally? Or is there more to it than simplistic arguments such as these?

 

As usual, the truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle.  No doubt self-serving politics will be involved somewhere.  It'll be hard to pin down precisely however, akin to trying to grasp a slippery eel with fingers covered in warm grease.

 

Many specious arguments are used to justify this partisan censorship such as it’s “for the good of the people”.  To some extent and in fact somewhat counter-intuitively, this is true.

 

I'm in full agreement that sites containing pornography or promoting drug use, violence, etc ought to be summarily banned. I agree that the West is too liberal in this regard. Fair enough. More controls over clearly inappropriate or undesirable websites are needed. Agreed.  The moving pendulum of free speech has arguably swung a little too far in Western countries, allowing some very obnoxious and/or objectionable material to be viewed. Some outright disgusting stuff. Freedom of speech is one thing, but free speech shouldn't be confused with pornography, extreme racist or violent propaganda, etc that's able to be readily viewed by unsuspecting people (minors included) on the net.

 

Thus the Chinese government has taken a paternalistic approach, curtailing from its population large swathes of the internet that it considers undesirable for one reason or another.  Okay, this is understandable and some would argue beneficial.

 

Having conceded this however, why should many apparently innocuous sites in China be blocked on top of the ones that are clearly inappropriate?  Sites containing non-threatening, non-violent, non-drug promoting content?  Certain news or information portals, for example.  I don't wish to go into specifics here.

 

There will always be apologists and those with personal agendas who'll attempt to tell us how proud we should all be of “Mother China”, a lily-white land that should be universally admired, one that can do no wrong.  Yes, I'm proud of the majority of beautifully blossoming Chinese history, its rich culture and accelerating national development.  But God damn it, I'm ashamed and outraged by other parts.

 

Unfortunately I cannot elaborate more on this, for reasons that are blatantly obvious to those thinking folk out there who realise some touchy subjects are absolutely taboo in China.

 

 

To be continued

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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#2016-03-29 16:05:35 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Barry, this is really an amazing series so far, and I will be filled with admiration if you actually make it all the way to a list of 100 items of comment or concern in China, especially given the degree of depth you are spending on each of the listed topics.

First, I can't agree more that China is a noisy place. A busy, noisy place. I was on a 4 hour bus trip once, between to cities, and was unfortunate enough to be seated directly behind the driver. For the entire 4 hours he hit his horn at least every minute, sometimes much more frequently. There may have been 2 times at most where there was even the slightest reason to honk his horn. I assume he was honking it to ensure none of his passengers fell asleep and missed anything, because it sure had that effect on me. I did not end up killing him, but it crossed my mind once every blast.

I also agree that there is little doubt that the current fitness levels of Chinese are dropping from a remarkable high of only 5% of Chinese adults being overweight. The kids on the other hand are approaching 30% overweight, and that is all thanks to the advent of American Fat (not a typo) Food Chains entering China. KFC especially has taken over the country's diet.

You and I have butted heads elsewhere on the issue of censorship on China so I think there is no need for me to belabor the issue today.

Great blog Barry, good work.

#2016-03-29 22:32:27 by Barry1 @Barry1

@JohnAbbot

"China is a noisy place. A busy, noisy place."

Thanks for your comments, John.

I think that Chinese born here don't hear half the noise around them. Their ears become attenuated to much of it, having been brought up with it since childbirth.

Westerners though have much greater sensitivity to the loud talking, the blaring horns and the general noisy hubbub surrounding them. This is one reason why a set of ear plugs is recommended to be carried by every Westerner visiting the country for any length of time, even if only to be used whilst sleeping.

On the bright side, the place is certainly not boring. Thus in my articles, I hope to highlight both the good and bad in China in a balanced way. Not just negative stuff, but positive as well. Always there will be both good and bad in every place, every country. Nowhere is perfect, after all.

Let's see how it all pans out. :^)

#2016-03-30 09:37:13 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

Barry
Once again, another interesting article that highlights the differences between China and western countries
It’s important that the word to remember is ‘differences’.
It’s these ‘differences’ that so many westerners living in China constantly whinge and complain about. China is NOT the ‘west’ - but LIKE the west, it has its rules.
I’m not going to address all of your points, because I’ll be here for hours, but there’s a couple of things that I feel are important
Firstly the internet censorship that you continue to bemoan, (despite using a VPN) -

China has the strictest internet censorship in the world....FACT! - But is it all ‘bad’?
You could always go and work in North Korea where approximately 4% of the population have internet access, or how about Burma (Myanmar) where every single e-mail is vetted by the government. (same in Tunisia)
Of course, there’s Cuba where internet is only available at government access points or maybe Saudi Arabia where more than 400,000 websites have already been blocked.
What about Iran where anyone who writes anything about the government is sent to jail, or Syria where people using internet cafe’s must show ID and ‘register’ before being allowed to log-on?
Or maybe Turkmenistan where the one-and-only internet service provider is the government?
China may not allow you to get your ‘FaceBook Fix’ but compared to the above, is it such a ‘problem’?

That brings me onto my second point (which is only conjecture), but give the following some thought for a moment..........

There maybe a few ‘social inadequacies’ that we don’t like - horns, spitting, queue-jumping and mobile-phone-screaming etc - but generally Chinese people respect each other’s feelings. They rarely swear at each other nor abuse each other - in other words, ‘polite’.

Compared to Australia, how many police do you see patrolling the streets, hiding behind bushes with speed-cameras or chasing motorists?
How often do you see fights or brawls outside bars or clubs, or drunken yobbos causing trouble?
In short, just compare the general ‘police presence’ in China to that in Australia (or any other western ‘free’ country)

People walk on the roads, drive on the pavements and ride their bikes the wrong way down one-way streets, yet there’s no ‘coppers’ waiting to arrest or fine them - as long as no-one gets hurt, no-one seems to care....
Maybe it’s the sheer number of people that make it too difficult to ‘police’ in the first place?
Who knows?......Who really cares?.......but my conjecture is this........

Is the general behaviour of Chinese people somehow connected to the censorship of the internet?
In other words, if the Chinese government just opened up the internet (as it does in the west) is is just POSSIBLE that pretty soon the general behaviour of Chinese people could change, (perhaps for the worse?)
In reality, who really knows, but perhaps.......just perhaps......it’s a risk that the Chinese government are not prepared to take

#2016-03-30 13:49:23 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@Barry1 - I don't think anyone could argue with you that the density of population of China contributes both greatly to the ongoing clatter of noise that is everywhere and as a result to the deafness of Chinese to that clatter. According to Wikipedia, both Canada and Australia have, per square km of land mass, fewer than 4 people. By comparison China has 143 persons per square km. That's a lot more people making a lot more noise.

@PaulFox1 - whether or not it is due to censorship, I agree that the Western countries are fast becoming police states, lead especially by the USA and the UK, and at the same time China, which a couple of generations ago was a police state has become very free of police interference in day to day life. When I first moved to China to live I felt suddenly free of the shackles of endless government regulations that I had become accustomed to in Canada and in my few years living in the USA. You make a good point.

#2016-03-30 14:11:07 by Barry1 @Barry1

@paulfox1

"China has the strictest internet censorship in the world....FACT! - But is it all ‘bad’?"

Thanks for the interesting statistics you gave us about different countries in the worrld re their internet access, Paul.

I hope you realise though that my criticism of the Chinese government in this area was in fact balanced by some positives that I mentioned, such as:

"I'm in full agreement that sites containing pornography or promoting drug use, violence, etc ought to be summarily banned. I agree that the West is too liberal in this regard. Fair enough. More controls over clearly inappropriate or undesirable websites are needed. Agreed. The moving pendulum of free speech has arguably swung a little too far in Western countries"

You did ask also:

"Is the general behaviour of Chinese people somehow connected to the censorship of the internet?"

My answer to this is no. Chinese generally speaking are polite to each other in my view due to their upbringing, their culture. Individuals are more tolerant and less inclined to sue each other for half a million bucks for slipping on a banana skin or whatever.

In so many ways, I love China. Yet in other ways, it could clearly be improved. I hope the content of my "Perceptions of China" blog series will highlight both aspects - the good as well as the bad - of this vast kingdom. :^)

#2016-03-30 14:20:18 by Barry1 @Barry1

@JohnAbbot

A good set of ear plugs or noise canceling headphones goes a long way toward making China more pleasant for Westerners unaccustomed to noise in China. I use them often at night here because there's a rooster that crows nearby around 4.30am or 5.00am each morning! This would be illegal in a heavily populated, built up area in Australia. The owner of the rooster would be prosecuted if he didn't get rid of it. Not so in China however! ;(

As for the police in China, they appear to be quite tolerant. The other day in town I saw a motorist overtake a police vehicle across double white lines whilst simultaneously giving a good blast of his horn to the police for being in his way! Can you imagine this ever occurring in Canada, USA or Australia? (rofl)

#2016-03-30 15:09:49 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

Not all Chinese towns and cities are the same as my little 'QLV', but there's many-a-time I have walked home in the early hours of the morning down dimly lit side-streets. Not once have I looked over my shoulder to see if there was someone following me or about to attack me, and not once have I been approached by, nor seen, any police.
It's a sad fact that I actually feel safer here than I do in the UK or Australia and I am happy to exchange that feeling of safety for a few loud car horns and people paying homage to the 'Flob-God'. As for internet censorship, I got over that after my first few days living in China.

#2016-03-31 06:44:12 by anonymous14687 @anonymous14687

Barry, I am really enjoying this latest blog series of yours. Right to the point with your opinions and I enjoy that. Great pics, glad to see a small update on Wei Wei and I will wait to see if anyone actually notices that you used "Tina's" real name Lily in one of your photo descriptions of her. :)

Cheers...

#2016-03-31 07:44:06 by sunrise68 @sunrise68

@Barry1 Traffic and noise problem is a headake in China, not that we people born here dont feel this, but that we have to bear it!
You are so lucky to be born in a western county; many people here know western countries are ideal place to live, but few people can have such opportunity to go there.

#2016-03-31 18:02:16 by WarmLifeGz7 @WarmLifeGz7

Really good writing about Your life experience in rural areas of China ... I certainly do not have any qualms with the content ... how could I? I have certainly experienced most or probably over 95% of what you have written about ... no doubt ... However, @sunrise68 -- many people living in China know Western Countries are ideal to live in ... Interesting thought -- I wonder why I have been living in China for 27 years now --- Today, I spent 10 minutes viewing the main USA Yahoo website because it loaded after installing a new version of Firefox browser -- A person ONLY needs to spend 10 - 15 minutes viewing the main US Yahoo webpage to very dysfunctional ( ok I felt very distressed about the endless News of "this ideal place to live" - hahahaha) If a person has lots of money ... If a person has a really high affluent lifestyle ... If a person is really wealthy or rich -- then there are toooo many places a person could live in ... Yeah, I know more than enough CEO or high level business managers who are nervous or anxious what the Chinese government might or might not do to them ... Thus there is more than enough people who wish to immigrate or move outside of China to continue their affluent lifestyle -- more power to them -- for me I'm neither rich nor affluent nor wealthy -- however -- I have a really comfortable living environment living at the tail end of Gz Metro system -- I have an exceptional dentist -- doctor friends -- and have used my friendly social skills to take care of my living here .. Try comparing my dental costs to USA ... or medical costs ... or many other factors ... For those comments above concerning the Net here -- Today I finally gave up on Google Chrome hahahaha -- in recent years I could find whatever I wished to find - educational material ... books .. novels ... (by the way IF you really think the Net here is that strict on porn .. uh er .. it amazes me the amount of it that comes through pop up ads and so on ... hehehehe -- I have no interest in viewing this dysfunctional unhealthy "brown stuff" but I have seen more than enough through ads and pop-ups etc... ) Before there were more than enough Chinese websites having the portable versions of Chrome or updates or plugins and whatever available ... now everything is directly linked to Google itself ... which has nothing to do with the Firewall .. so bye bye ... LOL -- move on to Firefox instead .. I deal with Life here ... and although "perceptions of China" has its point of view ... I wish to slowly begin to share another "perspective " ...

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