I've been hoping to be able to travel with Daisy, but at the moment she's feeling very sick and not up for planning a trip. Her entire family is sick as well. She's really aggravated about what she's seeing here in China and I'm starting to better understand her frustrations. Her worries about her family and her country are justified. She's right that it's hard for foreigners to understand until they experience it. There's a weird pecking order in China that's unfair. Until she told me about this priority list I wouldn't have looked for it.
The rest of China
Think about life in the states. If you're reading this you probably live there. How often do you see the wants, needs, and desires of foreigners placed in front of American citizens? In general, it's rare. There are news networks that scream at the top of their lungs that this is happening every day and all the time, but it's hyperbole. I'm not just talking about the government allocating funds. I'm talking about regular people on the streets and business owners purposefully going out of their way to cater to foreigners. It's a real thing here in China. When I walk into a restaurant I'm growing accustomed to mildly special treatment. It's a combination of them expecting me to be wealthy and them being told over and over by authorities that they aren't special. If you've heard of American citizens acting like they are special snowflakes and expecting special treatment....that's not happening here in China. If anything, it's exactly the opposite for most people, even more so for women. I say most people because the kids I see at school DO get the snowflake treatment, but they're coming from wealthy families that don't represent the billion averages Joes and Janes (or Jiangrong and Jingxi). The average citizen here is constantly beat down. That's part of living in a communist society. Nobody is more important than anyone else, but sadly some get better treatment. It's got a George Orwell Animal Farm feel to it. Some of the animals were more equal than the others.
I use a VPN on my phone a lot. It's illegal for a Chinese citizen to use one, but no big deal if I use one. The Chinese government expects that I'm using a VPN all the time and they're cool with it. If I try to use a VPN at Daisy's apartment on her WiFi it doesn't work. That's not by accident. The folks in charge of tech services purposefully allow some people services that the average Chinese citizens don't have access to. An important term here is "Guanxi". It refers to connections. Who do you know and what can they do for you? If you're a party member you automatically have Guanxi and you're more equal by default. Not just internet connections, but access to health care, permission to not quarantine, freedom to travel, etc.
It's one thing to read about things. It's another thing to witness things. But it's an entirely different and more impactful thing to see these things affect someone you care about. Not sure I can call this a "realization". I think I knew about some of this before I came here. Let's call it emotions forcing something to be more impactful.
Final note: I always try to find an appropriate picture for every post. I just searched for "China Orwell" and found this picture. The tagline under it really grabbed my eye.
I searched on TaoBao for Animal Farm and I was surprised to see that there were tons of books available, some written in Chinese. Hmm. Not sure what to think about that. Take a look for yourself...
Looks readily available for a "banned" book. I also did the same search using Chinese instead of English. Here's the results...
Again. Readily available. That said, I'm guessing that Orwell isn't assigned reading in a public school here in China.