China: Personal Observations



My boss at one time supervised various functions at Motorola plants in China.   He says that the Chinese are so obsessed with looking good, and place so little value on human life, that a friend of his was involved in some shooting contest with the best shooter in a Chinese regiment, and won the contest, and they took the guy who lost out and shot him.   At one of the factories a woman made a mistake that messed up quite a number of wafers and cost thousands of dollars, so they were going to take her out and kill her.  My boss had to talk them out of it, "No, we don't do that".   My boss further said that in the villages "nothing has changed in a hundred years".   They hang meat out in hte air to dry, and spray it down with extemely polluted water from the river, and it swarms with flies.  If it falls, they just pick it up and eat it.   He noticed that all trash, sewage and industrial waste went in the river.   He said dysentery is an even bigger problem than cancer.   He too said corruption is rampant, and also crime.   Whenever he went anywhere at all he had to take an armed guard.  He also noticed that in the cities it was not easy to see nor to breathe.   


However, according to a variety of Chinese classmates and housemates when I was in graduate school, the true culprit in the failure at basic humanity is Maoist policy.   WHen I lived in Buffalo, most Chinese graduate students I knew had serious issues with the entire notion of covering one's mouths when one sneezes and coughs.   One guy actually said in a sociology class, with a leering grin, that our culture has a silly notion that we should cover our mouths when we cough and sneeze.   I asked him how much science he studied in school, and what he did study, and he said, mostly the sayings of Chairman Mao.   He never had so much as third grade level science.  


Finally I lived with two Chinese graduate students who DID cover their noses and mouths when they coughed and sneezed.  I asked them why they were so unique.   They told me that most people in China indeed do not know enough to cover their mouths and noses when they cough and sneeze, but they were raised by their parents, who were members of what was left of the Chinese old middle class that existed before the Revolution.   They told me that Maoist policy sent most children from their parents, to work on large farming communes in the countryside, where they were taught nothing at all, noone raised them, and they didn't even learn basic manners.  


From the above it is clear that many children were still raised by their parents, but this does not mean they necessarily saw much of them.   Another Chinese housemate, a mathematics student, honest but with serious personality problems, told me that his father was obliged to leave home and go to work in a factory in teh city to support his family by sending money home, and his mother was obliged to work very long hours every day, leaving him in charge, and when she came home she would be completely exhausted and irritable and beat her children.   Every few weeks he was sent by train on the long trip to see his father and bring back money.   I got the idea that neither of his parents was still living.   Soon after a number of Chinese wives of graduate students at the university came to work at the hotel where I worked, as housekeepers and laundry workers, a nasty Chinese version of the stomach virus rotovirus C went through our entire department and put people in the hospital with dehydration.  The virus especially felled people in the laundry department.  At that time in the 1990's, few people in the U.S. had had much exposure to rotovirus C.   Of course, it is spread by people too morally defective to wash their hands after using the bathroom, and of course it was not birds that carried the virus to Buffalo, NY just as a large influx of Chinese immigrants hit the city.  


  A woman who once her family did manage to get her out of the country lived with her successful upper class family in Washington, D.C., wrote a book about her childhood in China.  Her parents had fled the country, and somehow she had been left behind; I think that actually they were allowed to leave BECAUSE she was left behind, because officials believed it was a short term trip.  They intended to get her out later, and it proved very hard.  People she boarded with cared mostly what they could get from her.   She described a very hard life of struggle, of getting up in the middle of the night to wait in long lines for food, of a seriously substandard diet, and most of all, of her education.  She aspired to be a teacher, but washed out in the local party politics, in which she was required to survive in order to be recommended to the teacher training school.  She got particularly adroit at making pretty little speeches explaining the importance of the fine points of Communist party doctrine and the teachings of Chairman Mao.   "I think, that it is very important..."  But she was never quite good enough, she may ahve been sexually harassed, and further, local party politics brought out the worst in the dynamics of village life in the places where she was sent as a beginning teacher.  She did get very self centered, tough, hard edged, and good at taking care of herself, and have a lengthy period of resocializing as a human when she got to the United States.


The Chinese women at the hotel where I worked in Buffalo often demonstrated this skill.  The boss enjoyed getting them in his office.   The women in their pretty, charming, sing-song voices would tell him, "I think, that it is very important..." whatever piece of company bullshit he wanted all of us to swallow, not to mention the importance of getting the rooms clean.   They would elaborate all eight or so official reasons to get the rooms clean without a hitch, appearing to quite earnestly have not another thought in their minds - and preventing the spread of disease was never directly one of the reasons.


People in Buffalo often noticed that quite a number of Chinese people had real trouble with any situation in which they had to think for themselves - particularly when it came to walking, and driving, without assistance from other people on how to do it.  Many Chinese people really could not figure out how to walk or steer a car by themselves.  Usually these were undergraduates; most Chinese graduate students did appear to have IQ's well over 60.  Chinese people used to annoy and sometimes scare us by following closely behind or next to us keeping exact pace with whoever they were closest to.  If one told them to cut it out, they would act completely lost and helpless.  By themselves, they simply had no idea how to walk.  They were even worse driving automobiles.  They scared people on the road, and had alot of collisions, and hardly inspired warmth of feeling toward Chinese neighbors.  My landlord couldn't stand them.   Now why I wonder doesn't it occur to people in China that maybe drinking polluted river water, or throwing trash and sewage in the river you're about to dip drinking water out of, isn't such a good idea, in the face of strong local party official pressure to think that these are excellent ideas.  It also shelds light on the fact that Chinese people appear to think constructively about their environment mainly in groups, dressed perfectly alike, walking in a line, and waving identical green flags.  


In his slide show DvD on global warming, Al Gore shows himself visiting China, talking to scientists and government officials, and lecturing a large lecture hall filled with students.   He characterized the scientists as cutting edge.  He was shown talking to a sharp sounding man who informed him that there are huge numbers of coal powered power plants because there is tremendous profit in it, and also that most coal is extracted from the ground by strip mining.   He was shown interviewing and being photographed in organized photo opportunities with government officials.   No surprise there, partly because lots of the sort of looking good and no substance at which Chinese Communist Party leaders excel.   It seemed to fool Al Gore completely.   


Then he lectured the students.  It was quite a trip; very well orchestrated, with large cameras, lights and parades of officials in the front of the room, but until the end it actually looks like an actual lecture.  He is giving his slide show to a big hall filled with rows of Chinese students in headphones.  The students look uniformly earnest, and their heads all move in exact unison.   Their hands also make chin-stroking gestures in exact unison.   A young woman stands, and says, in a pretty sing-song voice, exactly as taught to do in party indoctrination; "I think, that ... you should tell us... what you want us to do..."   Then she sits down, and noone says another word.   Just heads and hands moving in unison.  These aren't people who can operationally be characterized as having heads.   


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