Before we leave China, I have a final note, on the people and the country and the daily life.
Yes, it’s communist; yes, it’s authoritarian; yes, there’s the network censorship, and all that. There’s no political dissent. The press is controlled. There’s a lot of risk to speaking out.
But, day to day, there is no sense of oppression in these people. They are free to do as they like from day to day. They are happy. There’s little police presence (less than what I see in New York City, for example) and no sense that people are being watched. Apart from knowing that they can’t openly speak their minds, I feel that could be in New York, Los Angeles, London, or Frankfurt, as far as the daily life goes.
The missing stuff is important of course, and I won’t ignore that. It’s just that this is very much not Mao’s China, not the China of fifty years ago. It’s clear that one day, it won’t be the China of today, either. Things continue to change.
They’ve embraced capitalism in a big way, and the Chinese companies are competing with the rest of the world in a way that was not imaginable when I was a child. For that matter, even the idea that I might one day visit China, much less happily work for a Chinese company, was complete fantasy. I remember that when President Nixon went to China in 1972, it was a really big deal.
The world has changed, and continues to.