News from the waking Dragon?

I was about to go to bed when I found this article on the BBC news site John Humphrys has gone to China.  I found it interesting because the report is not really what I expected. Humphrys even notes, “I know China … I’ve been going there for more than 30 years and it’s virtually impossible to do any proper reporting there.” And then he goes on to say that he wasn’t harassed (as he expected) nor did he feel that the people were  stopped from speaking to him (which has happened in the past).  I find this all very intriguing.  There’s an almost cartoonish feel to much of the news of China  which often me leaves with the impression certain news outlets are looking for a new Great Satan now that the soviet union is consigned to history.  Do we really want that?

I grew up in the wasteland that was the Scotland Maggie Thatcher created.  I remember, only vaguely because I was very young, the fear that the bomb would drop and we’d all be dead.  I believe  mum when she tells me people were very very worried in the 60s and 70s.  When the Wind blows was so terrifying to me as a youngster that I can’t watch it now.  I’ve never been a fan of the paradigm that emerged in the west during this period.  It seems that there’s a thought that’s grabbed the powers-that-be there’s only way and it’s the Western way, as though there’s something wrong with a mix of governments.  So I think I’ll pass on a new Cold War.  Cheers.

Having said that, I am a little uncertain how I feel about how dissidents are treated in China.  And we have the workers who live a life of virtual slavery in the new satanic mills to thank for much of our modern gadgetry.  Clearly not all is well in the Middle Kingdom.

Which really sums up the vast enigma of the place.  I don’t think it’s every really changed in that regard.  If you look at history, China has always  seemed to oscillate between isolation and expansiveness.  Perhaps it’s now waking up and entering into a new outward looking period?

Humphrys talks to some students and leaves us with this observation:

They seemed genuinely baffled by my insistence that the ultimate freedom is the freedom to throw out the people in power if you don’t like them.

“You do that in your country all the time,” one of them pointed out to me, “and it doesn’t seem, to make much difference. What we want is stability – and that’s what we’ve got.”

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