In China they only want you to know what they want you to know. Imagine my surprise when I was not able to access my blog, twitter or Facebook upon my arrival in Beijing.
I quizzed my amiable tour guide Tom about recent world events such as the Arab Spring, the threat of North Korea and the hidden nuclear facilities in Iran, but he had no idea what I was talking about. He assured me, however, that North Korea, Iran, and Russia were “friends” of China, while Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and others were enemies.
His awareness of recent events in China was also limited. He knew that Chinese activist Chen Guangchen had left China for the United States and saw that as an example of the government’s benevolence. When I asked him what he knew about the disappearance of Chen’s brother he was stymied.
After four days of sightseeing in Beijing he asked me to send him the address for my blog and I did. A day later an email arrived from Tom advising me that he could not get access to it. Later I learned that thousands of websites are blocked including WordPress, the site that publishes Lawdiva.
Tom was a good sport answering all my questions and when I asked him what China’s unemployment rate was he said “the government says it is 4.5 percent, but I don’t believe it.”
I also asked him how many Christian churches there were in Beijing and he answered
“many”, but they must have been well hidden because we saw none.
With the improvement in China’s economy Tom quipped that China’s new national bird is the crane, pointing to Beijing’ grey sky with its multitude of construction cranes. The pace of construction of residential and commercial buildings is astounding.
During our time in Beijing, the weather was hot and muggy with a complete absence of blue sky. Tom knows that the level of Beijing air pollution may shorten his life span, but that’s just part of life in China, he says.
Tom’s only complaint? With China’s one child rule and preference for male babies, he is uncertain whether he will meet a girl to marry and that is his one desire. I told him there were lots of single girls in Vancouver and he smiled.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang