28 June 2005

China and the Chinese

Everyone that I have known who has visited China has remarked upon the loveliness of the people of China. I cannot speak from first hand experience, but I do not doubt it. Visitors have remarked upon the Chinese people's friendliness, courtesy, and willingness to please. I have heard complaints about food, poverty, illness, and etc, but never about the people. Sometimes visitors remark, "How can they be so happy being so poor?" Having never been there personally, I know that I cannot speak with authority about the people or conditions in China, but I will speculate anyway. I have several questions: Should we mentally separate the government of China from the people of China? If so, how? Do the actions of the Chinese concerning foreign visitors reflect a genuine hospitality or a fear of displeasing the guests (which could result in government reprisals)? Does China have anything in common with other subservient populations? In other words, would a visitor to the antebellum South have remarked upon the same positive qualities in the slaves (the mythical happy slave) as they would Chinese peasants? What these questions boil down to is my basic concern, would the Chinese act this way if they had true freedom or is it an authority-imposed act?

One of the interesting things about a free society like ours is that we are free to be as good or as bad as we wish (with some societal and legal limitations). It is both a blessing and a curse. The Chinese are not free. They are only free to be as good as the government defines good, and the government wants those foreign dollars to continue to flow and doesn't want the capitalist pigs upset with the service staff.

To answer my basic concern, I think the Chinese would be like any free society; some would be very good, many would be very bad, and most would be somewhere in between. I hope one day that the Chinese shall have the freedom to chose for themselves, even if it means that the level of customer service in China might become as bad as it is here (although I suspect it wouldn't). I hope one day that I can visit China. I hope on that visit the waiter will be free to act surly and spit in my soup, and if he does, I will rejoice for the taste of the sweet spit of freedom.



4BoyDad said...

Hmmm. This brings to mind all the stories about horrible customer service, especially in restaurants, in the USSR.

Splitcat Chintzibobs said...

The Soviets didn't know what they were doing. The Reds got P.R. nowadays. Look at the roaring and growing tourist trade in China, Cuba, and Vietnam. What better way to finance the overthrow of capitalists than with their own money?