Tuesday, September 29, 2009

60 Years of Communism

On November 1st, all of China will celebrate National Day. This year is the 60th Anniversary of Communist Party and that is a very big deal! Preparations have been going on for months to make sure this is the biggest celebration ever. You thought the 2008 Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies were elaborate? They pale in comparison to what has been planned for the celebration in Beijing. Security around Beijing (and all over the country for that matter) has been stepped up considerably in the past several months. Popular internet sites like Facebook and YouTube have been blocked as well as tons of blog sites. The only reason I am able to access mine is because a friend of mine purchased a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for me that gives me a US ISP address so I can get around the Great Firewall. The truth is, I’m a little confused by all this. China has become more and more open to media influences and is beginning to establish itself as a developing, stabilizing power on the global scene. So, why the need for such heavy handedness when it comes to the media? I realize there is always some nut job out there that wants to disrupt significant events by doing outrageous things, but please! Shutting down the internet? Having check point miles and miles away from Beijing to ensure that nothing happens? Who is this massive celebration for if no one can get into Beijing to see it. Is it for the people or just for the broadcasters to give the world an image of what a "new China" looks like. I have heard Chinese both applauding the government and criticizing it for this showy display of progress. It gives some a sense of pride in the accomplishments that China has made over the past 60 years. For others, it is an enormous waste of money and resources when the country has so many more pressing issues to deal with. Personally, I think China has changed a lot since the first time I came here in 2003. The development of industry and urban sprawl is mind boggling. Since I live in the city, I can get almost every foreign food import my little heart long as I’m willing to pay the big bucks for it! Travel is easier. I can now live in a Chinese community rather than an ex-pat development and most of the time people are pretty friendly to foreigners. It’s too bad there is still a feeling among officials that controlling things is the only way to get results. Of course, there are still plenty of limitations on things that people are and are not allowed to do. Let’s not forget that China as we know it today is only 60 years old! It has a long way to go in catching up with developed nations that have been functioning as such for many years. Will it happen overnight? Not on your life! With 1.32 billion people it is a big boat to turn and China is being very cautious about how fast and far she wants to go. I think China should be given credit for the progress that it has made, recognizing that the road ahead will require many more changes if progress is to be maintained. Will China ever arrive in its standing as an equal among other developed nations? I believe it will, but I doubt it will be in my lifetime. Although I disagree with the Communist ideals on many levels, I say that we should let China have its day to celebrate, stop being so critical of all that is wrong or things that have not yet changed and encourage China’s leaders to step up and continue making progress. Happy 60th Anniversary, China! Zhongguo Jiayou!



Zach said...

A VPN like using a mirror to look around a corner, your line of sight bounces off the mirror into the internet instead of going straight through the wall.

Be careful, as even a novice network tech would get suspicious seeing only VPN traffic from one computer to another.