The Future for China

No doubt you’ve heard that China is exporting all sorts of exciting chemicals in normal household products and foods, in order to liven things up a bit. I mean, who wants regular old toothpaste when you can have toothpaste that shares ingredients with anti-freeze?! You can even get it in your cough syrup! Why feed your pets plain old purina when they could have enhanced kibble and melamine bits?!

America might be astonished, but I am not. Corruption can and will lead to all manner of truly horrendous things. Corruption is not isolated to China, but it seems to be more rampant here than anywhere else I have been. And it is not just American pet owners and Central American cough syrup purchasers who are suffering because of it. Corruption kills thousands, every day, right here in China.

From last year’s benzene spill in Northern China to the everyday chemical run-off and dumping, China’s rivers are ribbons of waste and foul. Save a few in the deep south, such as the Li River in Guangxi Province,  they are so toxic that fish no longer survive and there are entire cancer villages springing up along their shores. Go ahead and take the no-longer-scenic Three Gorges cruise. Just try not to look too closely at the gruel floating alongside your boat.

Illegal coal mines dot the Chinese interior. When they burn and explode, as they do almost daily, their owners grab the cash and flee the country, without even bothering to  notify the rescue crews because they fear getting caught. Illegal coal burning power plants pop up like corn shoots all across the industrial belt South of Beijing. They don’t even bother with emissions reducing scrubbers. So the surrounding land is permanently bathed in a brown, ashy cloud? The managers and owners have the local officials in their pockets, and they can all afford to escape to crystal clear skies whenever they want.

The victims, as always, are the peasants. Mao aimed to bring an end to the feudalism that ruled China for thousands of years, to serve the people. Now a new feudalism rules the land. The power of money and greed are the new values.

China faces a bigger battle than we can imagine. The foes? Unbelievable, pervasive corruption. So-called harmony fees (bribes) are a way of life. Local officials do whatever they can to enrich themselves at any cost. Environmental degradation. How can you prosper when you can’t even breathe or grow anything in toxic land? The widening gap between the rich and poor. Deng Xiaoping told the Chinese people to enrich themselves. But at what cost? The peasantry – the have-nots have seen the glittery audis, plush apartments, new nikes and alcohol fueled feasts of the haves and they are not happy. Morals and values. Rodney Dangerfield isn’t the only one – not even the elders get respect anymore. The Confucian backbone of China is weakening as the commercialized and consumer driven youth forget or ignore or don’t get taught the lessons of the past.

China faces a long march forward – but she’s survived in the past and I hope she can this time, too. I point out these problems because I want China to succeed. I want China to emerge from the  detritus of the past 60 years triumphant – and free. There are too many good people and too much history for it to be any other way.

%d bloggers like this: