Massive protests in China? Following the examples of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and the others? Nah. Not gonna happen.
The undergrass movement of the ever so buzzing and flower-power microbloggers did try to unite, though (the proletariat of the world? Hell, no). ¨Of course people, they, we, know there´s no freedom of speech in this country, but don´t know what democracy really is. And there´s historical memory, too. Everyone is just trying to get by.¨ – says a close Chinese friend of mine, a prototype member of the emerging middle class. In her 40s, teaches at a private school, engineer husband (very traditional) and one child who studies 14 hours a day. And a beautiful abode in a high-rise with a large flat screen in the living room.
I talk to locals. And expats. The picture of the general atmophere is complex and opinions are filtered through people´s boldness to speak out or the PH level of mass brainwash. And, of course, economic status. Money makes the whirl go round in the ivory tower big time. Interestingly btw, Chinese understood laissez faire long long long time ago (see Zhuangzi (369BC – 286BC) “Good order results spontaneously when things are let alone.”)
A few weeks ago I had dinner with a young university student. Shanghainese, reads Chinese linguistics and is fluent in English. Works his ass off to qualify for an international grant. And then ¨just get the hell out of here¨. (A small group of local men next to us, the only other customers in this tiny family eatery, drunk as it gets, are playing Majong, puffing on some reeking cigarettes and talking loud. Still, mi amigo lowers his voice and blinks slightly more while he´s rowing on rebellious waters)
Some rich big wigs invest in international ventures (Japan, US etc) because they never feel their money would be safe here. ¨The government can take it away at a whim.¨ Most interestingly, besides the secretive politburo, business is just as clandestino. Cool guys lay low (and never look at explosions).
My feeling generally is similar to what I had when I was 13-14 years old and Hungary (Happiest Barrack 1) was about to change the regime. And now, this harmonious society – if not counter intellectuals or business people, whose imperitos depend on the government baromether – seem content or ¨accepted the rules and they try and get on with them as well as they can¨ (says above mentioned friend). In Li Tong´s new land, true, more and more people have a washing machine (although I miss washing my clothes in warm water), a TV (that doesn´t seem to explode like our Colorstar in the 80s) and a snazzy mobile phone. They don´t want trouble.
Naturally, in the process of this steady wealth-kick, the clash of the old (Traditonal Chinese values) and new (Western values, which mostly means American) titans seem to frustrate Everyman even more than politics.
(To be cont.)