Thursday, 16 April 2015

Survey maps China's political split --

It's what I always say to people who look at China from the outside and see just a monolith; a communist dictatorship; a repressed populace; a police state, even.
I say the reality is different, more complex, more nuanced and way more positive.
Chinese folk are wide awake, knowledgeable, funny, curious, able to speak their minds about anything save criticism of senior leaders (just the senior leadership is out of bounds; people can and frequently do criticize and mock government officials).
They are also dramatically better off than they were 38 years ago when I first went to Peking to study Chinese.
Then the average monthly wage was US$10. Now it's US$1,000, *one hundred times* greater. That's a massive 13% growth in wages every single year, compounding for 38 years. A remarkable achievement, that's hauled 600 Million people out of poverty. Is it any wonder I'm a Confucianist!...
And that wealth has spread even to the countryside, as we saw on a recent trip to rural Yunnan Province.
The New York Times article by Michael Forsythe (no relation), gives a bit more colour to this picture of the diversity in China's population.
In the last para he says many would dispute the finding that Xinjiang is the most conservative in China since more than half its population is "ethnic minority".
But we know that the ethnic minority are Muslim Uygurs. And Muslims, even moderate ones, are conservative in their outlook. So I wouldn't dispute that particular finding at all.
A Chinese conservative supports the teachings of the philosopher Confucius, backs a strong state and wants the government to have a strong role in running the economy. Chinese liberals yearn for more civil liberties, believe in free-market capitalism and want more sexual freedom.
[If I were Chinese in China, I'd be a Chinese liberal].