Shanghai Reflections part 2

This is another part of my reflections that I had during and after visit in Shanghai. The city made so deep impression on me that I still keep thinking on it. I don’t know exactly what is the reason but I suspect that the difference between what I expected to see and what I have seen was so huge that left a dissonance in my mind.

I expected to find a third-world city with unregulated traffic, unsolvable problems with infrastructure, poverty visible everywhere and people begging on streets. Instead I’ve seen the future. Now, living in Warsaw I feel like I was on the suburbs of civilization. Europe, although mighty and rich, seems to be an old man using it’s pension to live this few years until death comfortably. The centre of civilization will not move. It’s moved already. It’s there in China, in Indonesia, in south-eastern Asia. Maybe in India, but I have never been to India so I don’t know.

We in Europe strive with unions, with nationalisms, with secularization or fanaticism. We try to assimilate minorities. But focusing on these tasks we lose this basic fact, that modernization is going on in the World. We don’t have the momentum.  Maybe China is still underdeveloped. Maybe it still cannot be compared to the most developed countries in the World. However the dynamics of China growth is totally different. While we, so proud „developed” world grow 2-3 % per year (optimistic, post-crisis calculation) China grows 10%. They chase us and I am sure they will overcome very soon!

Should we be afraid of China? I don’t know. What I know is that I felt normal in Shanghai. There was no special hospitality nor any hostility. The common feeling was that if you accept and adjust to some specific rules you just disappear in the crowd as one of the Shanghai citizens. And it doesn’t matter that you are white. Or black. Or green :)

They are greener than we think. I refer to ecology. We think that they don’t care. Actually they do, but they are on the level that Scandinavian countries were 40 years ago. Poland is, I estimate, 2-5 years behind China. They are aware and they try to balance their development needs with ecological demands. They simply need time, time that our planet does not have. It’s easy to criticise when someone forgets how long the eco-consciousness was growing up in developed countries. They are required to do the same journey during drastically reduced time. It’s not that easy.

And the Nobel prize to Liu Xiaobo. Is it possible to force China to accept western standards? Why should they? Because we think it’s right? Human rights are important and I agree that they should be a foundation to build the rest of law system. Do we in western countries agree what are the human rights? I ask for in vitro or abortion. Do we agree all on the above? I don’t think so.

Americans tried to introduce what they think was democracy in Iraq. And they failed. Of course they wouldn’t try the same on America First Banker. It’s easy to see the World in black and white. What about cultural differences? Not to mention Confucianism…

One more example. I have no personal experience with crossing US border but I’ve heard many stories about it. The picture I have in my mind is that this is extraordinarily humiliating. Everyone is treated as a foe. Everyone can be turned back without right to defence. And unpleasantnesses start when man applies for US visa. It starts with detailed interrogation and the result is unknown.

Applying for Chinese visa and border control is only an administrative process. Moreover you can assess the work of immigration clerks by pressing one of four buttons ranging from totally satisfied to dissatisfied. Entering communist and so „totalitarian” country is really easy and you can give your feedback!

I really admire US for the system of democracy they have created. But they are not perfect. Nor the Chinese are. Nor we all are. I beg for more tolerance and more colourful World.