What the Chinese people say about communism, the economic rising star and a rapidly changing society

Mon, Oct 11, 2010, 01:00

These are turbulent days in China. Last week the dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize. In coming days the Communist Party leadership will decide on a five-year plan that will steer the world’s second biggest economy during the next half decade. What do Chinese people make of the changes that have swept their country?

ZUO WENLIN

Born in 1946, comes from Beijing, and is a retiree

What are your hopes for the future?

“I hope I can be as healthy as possible, I don’t want to have any problems with my body because I can’t afford to pay for a hospital. I want my life to be peaceful and simple.”

What does communism mean to you, and is China a communist country?

“Communism has always been an ideal for us – when I was young we sang songs ‘Communism is paradise’. I cannot say China now is a communist country, but it is still on the way to becoming a communist country. I believe the ‘route’ of the party hasn’t changed, and ultimately it will reach that goal.”

What would you change about China if you could?

“I think I would try to reduce the balance between rich and poor, since now the gap is too huge.”

YU QING

Born in 1964, comes from Beijing, and works as a gate-keeper

What are your hopes for the future?

“I just want an ordinary life like other people, peaceful and joyful, have a cozy family, happy. Not too good, not too bad.”

What do you think of the government?

“It’s hard to say . . . Can I say average? It’s good in helping to build up society, but some problems like corruption are very serious at the same time.”

Do you think foreigners understand what is happening in China?

“No, they don’t understand, because what you see from the media is not what you can see from reality. Unless they come to China, otherwise they don’t know what is happening in China now.”

XIANG DONG

Born in 1968, heads a private company

What do you think of the government?

“Not so good, but not so bad. I mean the government is good, but there are some officials that are not so good.”

What does communism mean to you, and is China a communist country?

“Communism was my dream when I was young, and is still my dream. I don’t want to call China a communist country, I prefer to call it capitalist socialist country!”

What are your fears for the future?

“I fear that with this rapid growth in economy and power, some Western countries would try and stop us. I remember that once President Obama made a speech, saying that if all the Chinese people have the same standard of living as us, the world cannot afford that. I know he is talking about China’s population, but I’m angry with his words. Why can’t Chinese people have the same living standard as you? Why?”

What would you change about China if you could?

“Me? Hahahaha, to me the Chinese government is too weak in some ways. I want a China with more respect from the whole world, a stronger and more powerful China.”

YUAN NING

Born in 1972, white-collar worker for a foreign company in Beijing

How do you think people see China outside China?

“I think they don’t know so much, or maybe they don’t care so much. When I lived in Japan, the people I encountered don’t even care so much about their own government.”

What does communism mean to you, and is China a communist country?

“I have no feeling that it is. I think even Communist Party members don’t talk about communism now. China is a socialist country to me.”

What kind of China do you want your children to live in?

“I want my children grow up in a foreign country.”

Do you think foreigners understand what is happening in China?

“No . . . I mean, they don’t understand deeply. China is such a complexity, that even Chinese people cannot say they know everything about China.”

LIU ZHAN

Born in 1982, office worker

What have been the best changes? And the worst?

“The best and the worst changes are work-related, because I learned how to get along with people, how to help others, since I’m the single child of my family. My character changed a lot after starting work. In the meantime, I also started to learn about imperfections in society, and I’m not naive anymore.”

What are your hopes for the future?

“I don’t want too many material things because I know there is no end to that. I want a simple life, with a peaceful heart, and a healthy body.”

What are your fears for the future?

“The gap between the rich and poor, and the economic pressures of life. More and more young people like me do not want to raise a child now, even though it would cause us another problem that when we get old there will be no one to take care of us.”

Do you think foreigners understand what is happening in China?

“Even Chinese people cannot say they know everything about China, it’s complex.”

HAN XIAOTAO and CUI XIAONA

Born in 1981 and 1982, are migrant workers, selling meat in a market. They come from Xingtai in Hebei province

What have been the biggest changes during your lifetime?

“Coming to Beijing from our home in the countryside.”

What have been the best changes? And the worst?

“Coming here, because we got out of the countryside, and have a brand new start in this city. But it also brought us some serious problems, like the education of our kid. He cannot enter in those schools here except if we pay a terribly high entrance fee, which we are unable to afford.”

What are your hopes for the future?

“That my kid gets the same chances as other kids living here in Beijing.”

What are your fears for the future?

“Economic pressures. We borrowed a great amount of money from others to open this little shop selling meat in this market. Till now, we haven’t earned back the money we’ve spent. Life in the city is not easy at all, and everything is expensive.”

What would you change about China if you could?

“Equal rights between cities and the countryside.”

PU QIOG CI REN

Born in 1980, is a Tibetan singer working the Tibetan bars in Beijing

What have been the best changes? And the worst?

“Coming to Beijing I think. I’ve already been here for seven years now. The worst time was at the beginning when I’d just arrived, I didn’t know anyone.”

What are your hopes for the future?

“I want to sing my Tibetan songs, and let more people hear them because they are originally from Tibet and they are gorgeous.”

What do you think of the government?

“The government is okay, I mean it gave a lot of economic support to places in Tibet, built the roads and did a lot of construction. I think people’s lives in Tibet are going much better now than before.”

What does communism mean to you, and is China a communist country?

“For all Tibetans, Buddhism is our religion. So communism is another religion to us. I think yes, China is a communist country.”

What are your fears for the future?

“I’m kind of afraid of going back. My future life will be back in Tibet, but if I cannot go back to that kind of life, that would be a problem for me.”

CHEN YIDAN and ZHANG SHIYUN

Born in 2000, and are both primary school pupils. Chen came from Shanxi, Zhang is from Beijing

What have been the best changes? And the worst?

“When the exam results go better, it’s the best change, but when the scores are going down, it’s the worst.”

What are your hopes for the future?

Chen: “I want to become a diplomat!”

Zhang: “I want to become a famous singer. A superstar!”

How do you think people see China outside China?

“Yes, we have two Korean classmates now, and before we also had two American classmates. One of them is our best friend, and we play together everyday in school!”

Do you know communism? Do you know the Communist Party?

“We don’t know communism. We know the Communist Party!”