In the past, the people of Chin thought of themselves as the Middle Kingdom. Did not the Great Khan come to conquer them but instead was conquered by them? Did not Marco Polo come adventuring to find out their secrets like pasta? And after a long freeze, Nixon did not come also. All came to China, seeking answers to problems or new horizons to explore or conquer.
Today they proclaim themselves Marxist but the country is still immersed in the thought of the world revolving around them as they milk the white cat of capitialism. Does not Wal-Mart buy many products from there? Many of the Japanese anime toys now are made in China. So too are electronic devices. The dragon is ascending and feeling its way into leadership again.
While beneath the shimmering scales of the splendid dragon lurk problems. Hong Kong SAR has seen its democratic institutions subverted and replaced in contravention of the treaty the PRC and UK signed when England turned the colony over to China. Hong Kong's status as an Asian tiger might be in decline as the Chinese Yuan becomes more valuable than the Hong Kong Dollar. Last year the Chinese auto industry produced 2 million more cars than their economy could absorb. Now it looks like China will be drilling off the Florida Keys in Cuban waters for oil. Meanwhile the Chinese effort at controlling their rising population, 1.4 billion or so, will soon start to cause severe stress on Chinese society as millions of men will find no wives to marry and their families will face extinction. Will China's neo-Mao/Marxist central controlled culture collapse when this happens or will they look to their neighbors with less than pure motives?
What brought all of this on? It was a combination of things. Reading about Red Ken in London thinking Mao was a jolly good bloke for stopping the binding of womens' feet in China. What is binding you say? It was custom in China to start tightly binding a woman's feet together as a child so when she was a young adult she was walking on the tip of her toes and heel since tiny feet on women used to be a cultural turn on for the men, talk about being an unwilling fashion victim. Reading about the falling value of the HK Dollar. Always finding things in Wal-Mart labeled Made in China. And talking with Queen Mulan on Guild Wars about the problems facing China like the cultural imperative of having sons to inherit things and take care of parents in the era of the 'one child' population law which is causing many women to abort their unborn female children. Yes the law has been lessened in farm areas to allow another child but the effect that is coming is far too many men and not enough women.
Truthfully the first time I really became aware of this tragedy in China was when I read Neal Stephenson's 'The Diamond Age' in which we see a few far-sighted Chinese elders in this alternate world seeing where this law will lead. So they secret and hide thousands of unwanted Chinese girls and set about educating them using a bootleg copy of a high tech education device disguised as a capitivating interactive story book. In the end as a resurgant Celestial Kingdom chases the gwailo from China; the young girls, all around 12 years of age and a third of a million strong, follow their Princess Nell to the West and leave China behind.
Right now mainland China seems strong and ready to confront the United States, but their world view is still shaped by the concept that they ARE the Middle Kingdom and everything orbits around them. They dress up their Marxist regieme with trappings of capitalism but in the end China is still very comformist as many workers still go to work in the plump looking Mao suits. And the mandarins in the bureacracy and military continue to create their own little empires. China will win some impressive economic and possibly political victories in the coming years but their Middle Kingdom attitude and looming numbers of military age men looking for wives could radically change that. With the attitude being the worst bane for them as they miss opportunies to further their interests. And like at the turn of the last century that saw the Chinese rise up in the Boxer Rebellion in a pitiful attempt to prove to the world they were still strong, we just might see another spasm of such as they see what they view as their rightful opportunites slip through their grasp. Stephenson postulates such in his book as China rejects the West while using Western technology to chase them away.
And where does this connect with me. Probably the new character I am running on Guild Wars since friends have joined me online and I needed a character closer to their starting level. This time around running a Monk/Mesmer and since was in an Oriental frame of mind and thought of Chinese warrior monks - Hong Kong action flicks of Michelle Yeoh running through mind. So created an Asian monk and boy is she tiny. Doing this brought up an aggravating thought. In Guild Wars one can customize things like your character's face, well there is only one Asian face which means there are alot of female monks running on Guild Wars who look alike. *sigh* Talk about reinforcing stereotypes. Maybe Factions fixes this but not spent the $50 for it. And if I wanted to be truly pendantic, in old China there were very few female monks as they tended to become Buddhist nuns and sequestered from ordinary life. But hey, it allows me to run this monk. She is right now Lvl 5 and her name is Tien Yuk. So gaming continues apace.
P.S. Gwailo means foreigner in Chinese.