China in contrast

“A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving”.

-Ayn Rand

Spent the day walking around Sanlitun Village area of Beijing.  This area seems to be the most Western part of Beijing.  There are shopping malls, high rise condos, and western bars and restaurants.  But after wandering through this area I began to notice that in the surrounding streets next to these multimillion dollar high rise condos there is an abundance of poverty.  The boom that we keep reading about in China is really just a facade that is covering up the real poverty that exist in the shadows of these thousands of high rise buildings.  A good majority of  people in Beijing live in these narrow alley-ways called “hutongs”, which are mostly out of sight from the average tourist or passerby.  The flashy modern building serve as a subterfuge for what is happening behind the scenes.

I’m still trying to understand how this economy is booming while at the same time there are so many people living in third world conditions.  The smell of shit is around every corner and some the hutong areas are filled with trash.  Men on bicycles move trash and small quantities of building supplies from one place to another for I dont know what purpose.  Children use the streets as their toilet and no one seems to care.

I suppose that is why Beijing officials would want to destroy these parts of the city.  There is demolition and/or construction on around every corner.  China is so eager to  embrace the sparkle and bling of modernity that they are willing to destroy any of the tradition and culture had been there for many generations.

I talked politics with a kid who told me that his American name was Tom, he told me that he wished that Obama would lead America to do what she has done in other parts of the world to liberate the people and spread democracy.  The majority of Chinese people are very much put down and not given a chance to move up in their world.  There are no individual property rights and hardly and protection of civil rights.  All property is state-owned, and individuals have no say over housing issues. He explained to me that a person in a hutong has to re-purchase their property from the government every 70 years. If anyone tried to say anything different than what the government says they are easily put in jail or killed.  He says that the view that the average American has of China, that it is a thriving economy is completely wrong. The thriving economy is a facade built on the backs of the impoverished.  This is very evident in the architecture of the city;  the class line is showing the stark contrast in lifestyles is clearly visible in the scales of the buildings.  The first image below was taken right across the street from the second.

I’m not sure what happens to these people if their economy were to crash or if some global warming type crisis were to erupt.


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