a journal of a researcher

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

China Fever

I have been back from China for 10 days after not seeing it for 5 years. I keep on dreaming of old friends, teachers and late family members for these days. My heart is still un-rested.

Chinese are rich

When you see so many Chinese goods full of the stores, you should know where money is flowing. But still, when I see my classmates and friends’ living, I was impressed by how rich they are. My class of people is in the middle of 30s, educated at least at university, professionals or businessmen. These people are graduated at the right time when the economics was starting and oversea companies invest heavily in China. They have no difficulties to switch between the big names. I have several friends who ever worked for Microsoft, IBM, Sun, and HP, each for one or two years. Besides easy money from the big names, several classmates work for national owned companies. Now they are at the manager or general manager level. Many of the Chinese companies go to stock market in recent years. As the stock prices are rocket high, their stock options worth millions. A few run their own companies. The successful ones earn tens of millions. Of course, not everyone can do such a job.

These people can have a living style comparable to US and Canada. They can have a big apartment, not a house though as we do not have enough space. For example, I saw a university professor who has a two-floor apartment with six bedrooms. Many have two or even more apartments. It is a fortune as, as in big cities like Beijing or Shanghai, one apartment of 100 square meter means $150,000- 200,000. They normally have one or two cars. Some buy German cars instead of Japanese cars. But none buy Chinese designed cheaper cars. They want to show off their wealth, if I remark. For daily living, the cost is minimal compared to what they earn. Think all the goods are produced in China, so you can buy very cheap and very good quality products. Food supply is very rich in China. So rich people like to buy luxury things: from cosmetic products and clothes to imported furniture. I found the imported products are at least 30% to 50% higher than in the international market. So in China, I only buy things produced in China.

Now is the era for foreign money to buy any properties, business or real estates, in China. Stock prices are increasing, housing prices are increasing, and income is increasing too. Everything is increasing dramatically. You cannot see the rapid of development in any other countries in the world, except China. The society is very vivid.

The Poor End

Old people who are from the old economic system and young people who do not have chance to get good education are at the poor end. Remember we have a large number of country side population who do not have retirement pension. If with retirement salary, the increase of the retirement salary is not comparable to the increasing of prices. That means no renovation of their houses, no new furniture or clothes, no traveling. What is better is that the government is building a new social welfare system to take care of the retirement and med-care. I have seen several of community hospitals and clinics on my trips.

For the young poor people, their future is not so promising. At least, they won’t have the same chances as my classmates and friends. But they seem to be able to coup with the situation as well. At the dinner table, my friends gave orders to the young boys and girls impolitely. At their end, the impoliteness was dissolved peacefully. They seemed to be used and even did not show impatience. Maybe the elegant restaurant uniform made them think they are doing worthy job than staying in country side. Maybe they are seeing chances for them and dreaming some day they can have a perspective life in the city as well. But now, they are working 10-12 hours a day and their annual income is worth just one square meter housing in the city.

The expectations

As a Chinese, I look at the progresses in China. Think about that we did not have enough food and clothes before 1980’s, the progresses are very exciting. Never could Chinese live so rich and so free before. My foreign friends will discuss with me about pollution, the quality of products, and human rights. I agree they are the issues. But the government engages on it. For example, China is the number one area in the world where forests increase most. The problem of the quality of the products is not severe as people read from newspapers. Actually the average supermarkets in China sell goods like in Sears, better than Walmarts or dollar stores here.

The biggest problem I saw is the pressure of population. It is not easy to give everyone a certain quality of life. Children are still going through rigid selection processes at each stage of their education, from elementary school to high school. The most difficult one is the entrance examination to the university. Though the admission rate has been increased from 4% at my time to over 25% nowadays, it is still very hard to get into a prestigious university. I would like to see people live more freely, with less surviving pressure.

In general, we still face the problem to develop a new Chinese culture. I found now we are imitating the Western culture in all aspects. Even the signs to show “the floor is wet” are identical. One possibility is that the signs are produced there. Well, I do not want to see people wear the same stupid clothes as in US, think McDonald is a bonus for their kids, and play the same rock and roll. They are just so un-Chinese. I want to see a new Chinese culture that keeps our traditional value on family and morals. Also, that means a new social system. The dream of communism seems dead. But people still can dream. Until Chinese can contribute to both culture and science, can we say China has risen.


  • China needs your help.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:56 PM  

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