Lee Siu Hin - Journey to My Home: Weifang, China Vist My Grandparents
- Journey to My Home: Weifang, China
I Finally Meet My Grandparents
Lee Siu Hin
January 27, 2004
After 13 years, I finally backed to my home to visit my grandparents. They
are my mother's parents living in Weifang, China at northern costal providence
of Sangdong. When we arrived to the town four days ago, a snow welcomes our
arrival, and when sunshine greets our leaving.
For personal and family reasons I only met them three times at my life, first
in 80's, second time at early 90's. Although I had been traveling around the
World from Russia to South Africa, from Los Angeles to Baghdad, yet I couldn't
able to meet my grandparents for the past 13 years. They are now at their age
of late 80s and early 90s, they have some health problems, and I always
worried if I have no more chance to meet them. The family visits of Spring Festival
2004 (A.K.A. Chinese New Year) finally fulfilled one of my wishes.
I cried not only I saw my grandparents, but also witnessed like everywhere
China, the historical transformation of my hometown, and it's good & bad.
Weifang is a small city in China's standard: approximate 400,000 urban population
and another 600,000 at city's large rural areas. It's a historical town of 1,000
years of history, famous for kite making and woodprint posters. For the past
50 years since revolution, Weifang had transformed to a one of the Sangdong's
regional industrial and agricultural center includes high technology and heavy
industries, at countryside green houses grows many vegetables for domestic
and export business.
Living standards had been greatly improved, my grandparents had finally moved
to an apartment (my parent's financial helps) with phone, cable TV and
toilet. Unimaginable even at my 1992 visit, downtown Weifang now have dozen
high-rise buildings, several large shopping malls and supermarkets, and even several
McDonald's and KFC restaurants.
Yet, like any other Chinese cities, Weifang has their social and economical
problems. First of all, the income gap between rich and poor, urban and rural
are getting critical.
For government officials, it's kind of "trickle-down" kinds of argument. In
order to develop the city's economy (includes it's rural areas) with limited
money, it should first invest in develop industrial park, roads, highways and
hotels so it can attract foreign investments. The industrial and urban
developments can help absorb city's urban and rural labor forces. Better economic
developments helps bigger consumer demands, and helps countryside sell more farm
products and increase incomes, and eventually develop their local industries.
Yet, compare with downtown, the city's countryside is still very undeveloped,
like what happened in United States. Income gaps between rich and poor are
widen, while many city's new rich--primarily private entrepreneurs, living at
best apartments at city center; middle class who primarily government employees
and factory workers, and wealthy rural farmers--can make their living;
thousands of rural farmers without jobs, they need to leave their hometown to go to
seek for employments hundreds even thousands kilometers away.
According from a local newspaper, one of the Weifang's rural district have
90,000 semi-unemployed farm workers (excess family farm labor forces) need jobs,
amount 50,000 of them become export labors traveling across the country,
working at construction, service and manufacturing industries. Ironically, there
are also thousands of migrant workers from across country to come to Weifang
for work. As my grandmother says: "China has too many people, everything
solutions are difficult…."
Weifang is a typical city in China, a good example of Chinese society. Except
its international kite festival at spring, foreigners rarely visit the city,
throughout my five-days visit, I only saw a presumably lone American at the
shopping mall. If international activists need to understand our country, they
should come to somewhere like our town to stay, talk, touch and look. For me,
this trip I can meet my grandparents, to stay with them for few days has been
one of the greatest learning experience I ever have.
Lee Siu Hin
January 27, 2004
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