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Aiyo, it's been a long day.

The last couple of hours have been spent polishing a barely comprehensible item for our 'Life in China' slot about the Tibetan chronometer, which seems to be a crazy old mumbo jumbo device for triggering your yak's next ovarian cycle or something. And polishing! ha! Could be either one of the dictionary.com definitions below, really.


Of or relating to Poland, the Poles, their language, or their culture

To make smooth and shiny by rubbing or chemical action.

To remove the outer layers from (grains of rice) by rotation in drums.

To free from coarseness; refine: polish one's manners.

To remove flaws from; perfect or complete: polish one's piano technique; polish up the lyrics.

Anyway. Last night was spent in a local watering hole talking to pissed up Swedes straight off a 48 hour train journey from Vietnam. Entertainment for the night was helpfully provided by an extremely drunk easyfm dj dicing with death on a suspended rope net floor, to the disgust of the assembled bar staff. Bloody foreigners. Appearing bored with the standard patter of newcomers to China (rant! rant! communism is awful! people should have as many children as they like! executions! argh!) DJ Liu Kwai (Trevor: Imagine calling yourself 'six bucks', man) scaled the barrier next to us and, throwing caution to the wind, almost plunged to his death. And to the almost certain inconvenience to thirty or so mid week revellers on the floor below.

I had a weird experience with the ranting swedish though - a strange moment when I found myself defending everything about China. Not just because I like an argument, you understand. More because I think it is naive and imperialistic to expect to be able to impose entirely western templates for society on a nation and culture which resolutely refuses to fit the model it's expected to. For a start, a population of 1.2 billion is unrivalled by any other nation in the world. In a sense that's enough on it's own. A country so big needs new models. And ranting about how the one child policy is an infringement of human rights is all very well, but what do you suggest, oh angry swede? You have limited resources and your population is out of control. WHAT DO YOU DO? I found myself explaining that ethnic minorities could in fact have as many children as they liked, and sets of parents who themselves are both siblingless can also have more than one child, and realised I was in fact defending something I found totally abhorrent less than a year ago. Odd to find yourself in a position like that, and it happens pretty infrequently if you think about it. China makes me re-evaluate lots of things I previously held to be irrefutable.


Mike said:

I dont care about the single child thing. Who does? Swedes are thick. Killing thousands of dissidents is a little less edifying. The idea of this being a 'Western template' problem is also a strange one. Isnt it a human problem? The exotic may be tittilating to you, but its not an excuse.

Mike said:

Also (sorry Jen there's always an also). Groups like Human Rights in China (HRIC) are run by Chinese not ignorant Westerners.

Btw its also worth remembering that the left - right continuum is not a linear one. For example do another one (up - down?) of authoritarian - libertarianism for a more rounded perspective of political views. What I'm trying to say is its possible to critique China politically not from a Western capitalist naive view of liberal parliamentary democracy (sic).

In other words (sheesh) dont assume everyone criticising China is doing so from a pro-capitalist position. The choice between 'capitalism' and 'communism' is a false one.

HRIC have recently received a copy of an open letter written by Ding Zilin and more than 100 other family members of those killed and injured in June 1989, calling for the Chinese government to recognize the same need for accountability and redress regarding June 4th as it is demanding from the Japanese government regarding the Nanking Massacre.

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This page contains a single entry by Jenny Niven published on April 6, 2005 7:10 PM.

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