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Outbreak in China, impressions and feelings

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

January 25, 2020 The Chinese people are suddenly placed into confinement. Everybody becomes scared and masks are hard to find. Some people are panic-stricken and they throw the others into panic. The situation is immediately taken very seriously because the information comes from above. A virus rages through the territory and, within a few days, the 1.4 billion Chinese citizens comply with the strict rules set up by the strict government. Is it true that without a strong government China's stability would be lost? I miss the hordes of retired people who would appear in the streets and parks to dance, sing, play mahjong, and argue loudly. The disappearance of the liveliness that I so loved makes me feel lethargic. Did I really come all the way here if to experience the atmosphere of a rainy Sunday morning in Germany?


March 7, 2020 I return home to Shanghai after a five-week absence and I discover everything that has been set up since then. Temperature controls, surgical masks, repeated questions about recent travels, but behind this decor I find again the China I love, being reborn little by little. I begin to think that the Chinese people are irreducible. I cannot help but compare this to the major ideological upheavals that the country has undergone in the last few decades. The Chinese administration has sought to wipe out its multi-millennial past. Historic buildings have been replaced by high-rise apartment blocks, the passage through a period of legal vacuum with the Cultural Revolution and the recent reintroduction of a legal system in the country, the exponential economic growth... The world in which today's children are evolving is so different from the one their parents knew that it is difficult to imagine that only a single generation has passed. Today, the Chinese people are proud of what they have achieved. Technology has invaded daily life to a degree that is hard for Westerners to imagine. The emergence of the world's largest middle class is very real. Material comfort is now accessible to all. This new achievement is accompanied by a profound strength that has carried the Chinese people for so long. The individualistic Western conception is undeniably tempting, reinforced by whole generations of unique children. But the communities that China fosters are worth fighting for. The family remains the core of society. And anyone who wants to find out more can easily become part of the circle. Certainly China is not a country of freedom as we understand it in the Western sense. But what is freedom? Can freedom also be to simply feel part of a group and to be surrounded by a strong community that supports you? Overcoming the virus in such a short period of time has certainly demonstrated to the Chinese people the effectiveness of collective action. And I regret that China is so poorly understood and appreciated by the West.

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jeanne.degayffier
jeanne.degayffier
Mar 21, 2020

I completely understand your point of view, and that is what I was mostly thinking about China before living there. And I'm still very shocked by what happens to Uyghur's people and very critical about the lack of privacy to the point that I'm truly happy to live here as a foreigner.

But observing the Chinese people's life (rich and poor) and listening to their opinion corroborated the view that no country is all black or all white (except totalitarian countries maybe).

I think answering point by point to your comment in a few lines would be unsufficient but I suggest you read this pretty long (but time is on our side now) article I've red months ago that gave…

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Vlad
Vlad
Mar 20, 2020

I can generally abide, gladly so even, the narrative that there's a trade off in China citizens cede personal freedoms and privacy for the promise of economic development. The idea above specifically that freedom means something different in China, has become rather pervasive, but I feel that it's an insidious notion. Words mean things freedom most certainly does not denote "thriving in a surveillance state where one's rights are substantially curtailed." Then there's a more important point that people willfully ignore: a fundamental presupposition of the argument is basically that "I'm an average Chinese person and this all helps me, so I'm in favor of it," but the average Chinese person is not (upper) middle class, educated abroad, working in…

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jennifleur
jennifleur
Mar 20, 2020

Tres interessant a lire. J'aime bien le fait que tu nous donnes l'opportunite de decouvrir un pays aux yeux d'un jeune etudiante. J'apprecie ton perspective completement unique au lieu de ce que j'entends ici. Les gens parlent souvent de Chine quand ils sont jamais alle. D'avoir tes idees, ton experience et tes observations me donnent une idee vraiment particulare par rapport de ce que j'apprend par le media et l'ecole. Cool. I'd like to read more of your time in China.


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