Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Peking Duck

So your humble correspondant is reporting from China this week. I'm in Beijing for another night, then fly down to Shanghai. I've been here before, but not for about 12 years.

Beijing is transformed. Other than the signage it could be a Western city. They've done a huge amount to clean it up as well. The major roadsides are all planted up, the roads kept clean, and the bicycles (previously ubiquitous) are disappearing (replaced by shiny new cars of every shape and description.

Other than the signage, it could be in the US or Europe. The whole place has such a differnt feel. Before there was still that Communistic oppression with identical grey concrete office blocks everywhere.

The best thing though is the food. Growing up in Vancouver, Chinese quisine was part of my early life. Not only at friends place, but my Mum used a Wok regularly. Its part of the life, integrated like Indian in the UK. Here though, its like what I remember growing up, flavourful and fresh. I just haven't found really good Chinese food in London. I've had a few spectacular meals. Even a breakfast of Dim Sum is superb.

The contrast with Delhi is very interesting. That is a city still growing in its wealth. The poverty and prosperity is sitting side by side. I know there is still poverty in China, and suspect it is just well hidden away from Beijing and Shanghai, but what I see here is very impressive. Globalisation has its problems, but can bringing prosperity to so many really be a bad thing? We just have to find a way to do it that doesn't ruin us ecologically.

Finally what's interesting are the social conversations. There is whistful incredulity that I have three kids. The goverment here can fine you up to £30,000 for having a second child, more for the third, don't even think of a fourth. Then the aspirations, I'm with a lot of Taiwanese here. They don't think much of the elder population (ie their generation), but think the youngsters really do know how to work hard and effectively. They all want to get on, to prove themselves. ITs quite endearing. Yes, there is also a want for things. Humanity is humanity.

So, all in a very intersting visit. More to follow, so perhaps a bit more insight, but its good to be here.


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