China’s New Expectations

By John Richardson

THE difficulties of life in modern-day China was evident from several conversations the blog has held during the first two days of its visit to the country.

“I had to get an apartment first, which cost a lot of money but luckily my parents were able to help me, and then I found a bride. There was no way I could have got married without an apartment,” said one man in his late 20s.

“I worry about my daughter, who is only one years old. I am really worried about the air quality and about food safety and really hope that the new government can do something to make it worth staying in China.

“Many of my friends think that with the new leadership, China will change for the better, but maybe in 50 years. I think the new leaders are good, but too many people have too much to lose from changing the system.”

Another man, this time in his early thirties, who also has a young daughter, said: “A lot of people have moved overseas for a better life.

“I worry about the education system as well as pollution. The system is far too restrictive – it doesn’t encourage free-thinking and innovation and there is far too much pressure on children in China, especially if they are not lucky.

“Even if you work very hard, and you take all the qualifications needed to get ahead, such as a good first degree and a good masters degree, if you are unlucky you still might not get ahead. It’s all about connections to the right type of people.”

The previous generation were, perhaps, more prepared to accept high levels of pollution and inequality because they were so grateful to have been lifted out of poverty.

But now, China’s extraordinary economic growth has created an entirely different set of aspirations.

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