Lee Siu Hin - Journey to My Home: China - Introduction
- Lee Siu Hin - Journey to My Home
January 15, 2003
After three days in Shenzhen, China I arrived to Shanghai yesterday.
With the January 22 Luna New Year (A.K.A. Chinese New Year) coming, the
government estimates there'll be approximate 1.9 billion travelers for the holiday
traffic from now until end of the month, most of them are migrant workers and
college students returning to their homes for the holiday.
Thanks to my family connections, I am able to setup several meetings with
some foreign factories, factory workers and government officials in China.
I was visit and work in China since 1970's, witnessed and involved at the
China in transformation from Cultural revolution to Dang Xiao Ping's reform era,
the Tiananmen incident of 1989, and the rapid economic growth of 90's.
Although I had been absent from China for past ten years, I still maintain direct
connection with many people there, however, I didn't expect it had experienced
deep social and political changes in past five years alone.
My country seems familiar but also had become very strange to me, the change
in China had over exceed my expectations, I feel like Bill Murray at the movie
"Lost in Translation"
This time marks me many of my "first time" in China:
- First time to use Internet in China
- First time to use cell phone in China
- First time to drive at China's freeways
- First time to read China's tabloid newspapers
- First time to see dozen foreign TV channels at China's TV
- First time to see MacDonald's, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, KFC, 7-11
are everywhere in China
- First time to use track mill in China (remember the scene from "Lost in
However, more the change, more still remain the same. Social and politically,
there's many similarity between China and U.S.-just happened in slightly
different way; however, there's some fundamental difference between China and
America--some qualities we are very proud of, but Americans from left to right,
would not like it.
Similarly, something American activists, from left to right, hopes China will
it have, but we against it-or at least it does not exits. One key problem,
Americans from left to right, looking for something based on their arrogance or
fantasy, based on their political motivations, it does not reflects the
political reality in China. Just what I saw in Iraq half years ago, Americans from
military officials to peace activists, are looking for something does not exist
in Iraq, and missing the bigger picture-the heart and soul of people on Iraq.
Since Opium War of the 1840, China had been fighting for the country's
soverenty, and strong economy. Everyone will tells me they want to see China will be
strong, prosperous and free from any western power control. There's no doubt
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Mao Tse Tung had liberate China from
imperialism, feudalism and colonialism, and create modern industry, nationalism and
new society. Despite many people in China have strong criticism about the
government and the CCP, most people are strong supporters of CCP and Chinese
nationalism (at least no one else can replace them), while many people express they
wish China can be as free and democratic as Europe and U.S. but will strongly
oppose any foreign powers to intervene country's affairs-it can similar to say
while in U.S. Democratic and Republicans could fight everyday, but no one
will suggest European Union to invade U.S. to resolve our problems. Any
foreigners come to China, if they don't understand to deal with this, will end up no
"Look what happened in former Soviet Union, and what America had done to
Iraq." many Chinese told me.
The modernization of China is not only to improve the living standards of
every Chinese, but also a nationalistic movements to build a strong and
prosperous country independent from western imperialist powers. Just like Peter the
Great in Russia three hundred years ago to build the Saint Petersburg, every
Chinese are visioning by the year 2050, China will be fully industrialized nation
(after 200 years from Opium War). Any foreign powers who want to slow down and
even derail China 's economy growths; will be consider conspiracies (in many
way, it also true).
This morning, I met with a branch customer manager from one of the major
Chinese state-owned bank in Shanghai, he told me despite the SARAS outbreak last
year (2003), China still have over 8% growth rate (over twice then U.S.), and
he believes for the 2004 the growths rate will be even more robust.
"We can create our strong economy because of cheap labor in China, that is
our advantages, made in China means the labor costs could be one-tenth, even
twentieth then made in the U.S." He believes if U.S. is believes in the rule of
free trade and fair trade, "like Wal-Mart, they should return some of the
profits back to Chinese workers, not just keep them all in U.S." He acknowledges
the export-oriented factories in China, owned by Taiwanese and Hong Kong firms
are the worse, "the factory is clean and OK, but workers need to work long hour
and less pay," he says, "American-run factories are generally better."
The high growth rate, created mainly by strongly domestic retail sales in
China, will help China in high economic growth for the next several years,
"within next 5 to 6 years, our economy will surpass Japan, and labor conditions will
be getting better. By the year 2010, we will finally transform to
industrialized economy. Within 20 years, we can beat U.S. and they will downgrade to
developing nations" he says.
More Stories about China, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai will follows…
Lee Siu Hin
Pudong District, Shanghai
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