There are lots of news articles about China nowadays. Usually, I don’t really bother to read them, especially if they are written by Australian journalists or from Western media in general. I find them too predictable and  give me little insights into what’s actually happening in China.  I am sure bad things happens in China, as in most part of the world. But usually when bad things happen in China, the reports will point to the  oppressive  system or  corrupt communist officials being involved. When such incidences happened in US, India etc, these are usually attributed by the media as isolated individual cases.

Another matter that irritates me is that such reports tend to depict the situation in China as dire, getting from bad to worse or people on the verge of rebellion. On the contrary, things are actually getting better. During my recent visit to Shenzhen, I was suprised to see that cars and taxis stopping at pedestrian crossing, allowing passengers to cross the road safely. (Well, not everyone, but it takes longer time to enforce the rule for everyone, I suppose). Also, fewer people smoked in restaurant, due to smoking prohibition in place. But such practice that we take for granted, does require time to take effect in China due to the huge population size and sizeable rural people in China. The point is that I  can truly feel  the improvements being made everytime I visit China.

I admit that I read lots of articles from Chinese websites (for example Xinhua, CRI etc). From time to time, I do look out for articles from other sources. Following is an excellent article written by someone by the name of Godfree Roberts, who lives in Chinag Mai, Thailand.


“Our country must develop. If we do not develop then we will be bullied. Development is the only hard truth.” – Deng Xiaopeng

Making negative predictions about China is a Western cottage industry. Every arm of the Western media – and sometimes every issue of every publication – joins the fun. The Economist alone has predicted the imminent collapse of China’s economy 18 times since 2001.

Nevertheless, China’s government continued to execute its well-publicized economic development plans and confounded us all.

Now – after 10 years of breakneck expansion during which President Hu established his country as the world’s largest, fastest-growing economy while dramatically reducing poverty, establishing universal health insurance, finishing the Three Gorges dam on time and on budget, creating the largest, fastest, and most profitable high-speed rail network on earth, and establishing a dramatic rapprochement with Taiwan – it’s time for a reformer.

Cometh the hour, cometh  the man. Expect to see President Xi leave a legacy of social progress every bit as dramatic as his predecessor’s material advancements. It is no accident that his colleagues chose Xi for this task.

Xi is one of the best-known and widely-admired men on earth. Despite the unwillingness of our media to write about him, he has been famous since birth and has led one of the most publicly and privately scrutinized lives imaginable.

Born famous, the son of a revolutionary hero, he suffered 7 years of deprivation in exile while his father endured humiliation and imprisonment.

Undeterred, he chose a life of public service and spent years in obscure jobs and backward provinces where his work was widely admired.

He also held extremely prestigious positions, including serving as aide to the Secretary-General of China’s Military Commission. His performance at every level was reportedly highly effective.

More importantly for a reformer was the revelation of his moral qualities.

Known from early childhood for his blunt honesty, he developed a remarkably mature character.

Asked about the Cultural Revolution (the cause and setting for his family’s suffering) he explained,  “It was emotional. It was a mood. And when the ideals of the Cultural Revolution could not be realised, it proved an illusion.”

This maturity is reflected in his first PUBLIC INTERVIEW [LINK].

Foreigners’ estimations of Xi match his domestic reputation. American leaders who have met Xi describe him as a man of “immense competence”.

Lee Kwan Yew, Singapore’s founder, said of Xi, “I would put him in the Nelson Mandela class of persons. A person with enormous emotional stability”.

That he can execute a plan is well known. If you know about the perfection of the Beijing Olympics, or even its opening ceremony, you’ve seen Xi’s handiwork.

What is even more pertinent at this point in China’s history, however, is how effectively he can deal with corruption.

Fortunately we have a case study from his career to sharpen our perceptions: Shanghai, for centuries simultaneously a corrupt powerhouse and thorn in the side of China’s government.

After a massive corruption scandal in 2006 the Shanghai leadership Xi was appointed provincial Party Chief.

The office is one of the most important regional posts in China and was clearly a sign of confidence (desperation?) from the Central Government.

Xi’s career was already notable in that he was never implicated in any serious scandals. In Shanghai he showed what effectiveness could accomplish when backed with moral example.

Since Xi took on Shanghai there has not been a single major scandal in the city/province (for comparison, multiply New Jersey’s corruption by 3 – measured over a 5-year period). Shanghai has not only outgrown its wicked ways, it is maturing into an exemplary citizen.

Today if your a foreign company embroiled in an IP lawsuit choose Shanghai as your venue. You’ll find the most honest, educated, expert judges there.

And while you’re there consider enrolling your kids in school. Shanghai now has the largest and finest school system in the world.

Expect a miracle. Expect to see China Shanghaied.

Godfree Roberts, Chiang Mai, Thailand


About kchew

an occasional culturalist
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