중앙데일리

[Perspective]A hard look at the softer side of China’s future

Aug 20,2008
Jessica Lee, Hu Jian Jing
As China is now putting its better points on display for the world, and the world is scrambling to take a peek, I decided that we needed to take a closer look at a few of the finer examples of Chinese culture living right here among us.

It wasn’t going to be easy, but I steeled myself for the task with a grim sense of journalistic responsibility.

I found two different sides of the inter-China divide: Hu Jian Jing is from Shanghai, and Jessica Lee is from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Both work for Korean companies.

I was after the real info on an elusive and mysterious country that seems determined not be analyzed.

“Some people think China is a really poor country,” Hu said. “When I came to Korea, a Korean person asked me if I had ever eaten meat. Some people think we take ox carts to school.”

But despite those few who hold such grossly inaccurate conceptions about China, most of the world now views the country as the major force that it actually is. And with its new level of international exposure, expectations of change are coming from all sides. No one, however, seems to have any illusions about how quickly that change will come about.

“China will change, but very slowly,” said Lee. “Lots of people talk about human rights and all that, but in China lots of people have no education. They don’t know what human rights are. If you give them the right to vote, they won’t know what to do. China isn’t ready for democracy.”

And despite how widely predicted those changes are, the obstacles can often seem insurmountable.

“One serious problem is that the rich people are really rich, you can’t imagine how rich,” Hu said. “And the poor people, you can’t imagine how poor they are.”

Evening out these inequalities is going to take some doing, especially with the gaping urban-rural divide.

“City people don’t like country people, because they come to the city and live like they did in the country,” Hu said. “They throw their trash in the streets, they take their clothes off in the streets. We love them because we’re all Chinese, but sometimes we can’t understand what they do.”

As a Hong Kong native, Lee suffers from “a bit of an identity crisis” because she comes from a more Westernized section of Chinese society. She doesn’t feel the “strong negative influence of the Chinese government,” she said.

“We are happy China is becoming a big world power, especially with the Olympic Games, but I don’t like the way they control the people. But I can understand the reason behind it.”

Both have become romantically entangled with Korean men - sorry, guys - and have been conducting cultural studies of their own here.

“In Hong Kong,” said Lee, “very few people will strike for their rights, like the mad cow thing here. I thought it was a bit extreme, but you could tell they love their country.”

She has some advice for Korea as it moves into its next stage of development. “Why did Hong Kong become a financial center? Because people are accommodating. Koreans need to learn about how to get closer to foreigners. The country didn’t open for a long time, so people aren’t used to interacting with a foreign culture, but they have a good attitude,” she said. “It takes time.”

And in the interim, I will continue to bravely push toward Korea’s global future, as dirty and difficult a job as it may be. Someone’s got to do it, right?


By Richard Scott-Ashe Deputy Editor [richard@joongang.co.kr]



dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장