Let's First Meet Some Real People
There is no question that China is in the news today, incessantly, it seems. Every day, each portion of the Western media contains reports about something to do with China - the economy, the currency, relations with the US, trade figures, pollution, progress.
But in the Western media, almost exclusively in the US and Canada (with a bit from the UK), we seem to have instinctively negative reporting. Some of that can be discounted as emanating from the Right-Wing US media (and most of the US media is strongly Right-Wing, reflecting the makeup of the country as a whole).
But much of the reporting (and the comments posted by readers) is simply uninformed, possibly made with good intentions, believing their comments or opinions or observations to be accurate and true. Unfortunately, most often they are not true, but consist of misstatements or fabrications repeated from elsewhere, remnant imaginings from the Cold War era, misguided opinions based on questionable 'facts', and sometimes, sadly, reflecting simple bigotry and racism. To say nothing of the many published articles that are deliberately factually wrong.
It is said that if you repeat a lie five times, most people will believe it. I agree with that statement, and write this in hope that some truths will be strong enough to counter many of those repeated lies.
This section has been created, not for the bigots or racists, and not for the incurably Right-Wing extremists who need an enemy to make their lives whole. Instead, this section is for thinking people whose minds are still open and who will welcome the truth if they can recognise it as such.
Is is so easy for us to demonise a people we don't know, to criticse things we don't understand, to condemn practices or traditions that are different from our own. It is easy for us to mock unfamiliar customs, to believe that our way of doing things - whether government, childcare, saving and spending, marriages and funerals, or even parking cars - is the best way and the only 'right' way.
In this section, I want to present some facts. Facts related to real people and real lives, to try to show the Chinese people not as presented in the Western media, but as they really are. It is my belief and my hope that if we can know these people as they are, much of the suspicion and hostility will disappear. And even more, perhaps we will be less ready to believe the rubbish that is so often reported in the papers.
To begin, it seems to me that many of us have no true picture of China or its people, but only conceptions consisting of scattered fragments of information gleaned from a wide variety of sources, information which may have been accurate at one time but perhaps is now long out of date.
So we will begin by trying to dispel a few of these notions.