Day after day, week after week, citizens of China see headlines like this (in Mandarin of course), touting China’s never-in-human-history, record setting achievements, development and progress. The above article explains how Shenzhen is starting construction on five new urban metro lines, to be completed in five years. They just opened three others a year ago, with one having a station right near where we live. Everywhere I go in China, highways, bridges, subways, trolleys, trams, bus systems and high-speed railways are being expanded and built. We are spoiled rotten in communist-socialist China.
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In addition to checking out my daily palette of Western sources, which decidedly does not include BBC, NPR, NYT, et al., I love to follow Chinese media too. I check out three sites every day. People’s Daily (http://en.people.cn/) and Global Times (http://www.globaltimes.cn/) are national venues. I also pick up a paper copy of the Shenzhen Daily (http://www.szdaily.com/) every morning. There’s nothing like holding a broadsheet in your hands, over a cup of tea or coffee. A computer monitor just can’t compare!
What’s great about all the English newspapers in China is that they are tied to local Chinese ones. Thus, 90% of the content is the same thing as their fraternal Mandarin versions, which saves me a lot of time translating, to keep China Rising Radio Sinoland humming. I also check out the media in Chinese, but most of the time, the English versions do a great job. Often, the headlines and articles are identical.
I have always felt it very beneficial to take the time to read a locale’s newspapers. They truly are a window into how the place is governed, who counts and who doesn’t. When I traveled and worked all over Africa and Middle East, 1980-1990, I would regularly peruse newspapers in English, Arabic and French. It was always fascinating and informative. If I was really swamped, I would at least take the time to study the headlines. They can really be a barometer of local society, economy and government.
Reading the headlines and articles of the Shenzhen Daily is equally revealing. After a couple of months of keeping track of the headlines pertaining to the city’s and country’s development, common themes coalesce. On its front page, there is a lead article below the fold. The paper loves to put a big photo above the fold, which may or may not be related to the lead article. I have sporadically saved a pile of them over the last couple of months. Below are some frontpage headlines of articles, leaving out ones that remark on serious events around the world, like disasters, geopolitics and the like. As I have asked myself for years, living, working and traveling around the world, what kind of image does this selection of headlines evoke in your mind?
2017.11.01: Shenzhen World’s 6th in Global Urban Competitiveness
2017.11.13: Phase I of Shenzhen-Hai Phong (Vietnam) Trade Zone Operational Soon
2017.11.15: 1st Bulgaria-China Vocational Education Center Inaugurated
2017.11.16: Top High-Tech Fair Opens Today with Focus on Artificial Intelligence
2017.11.17-19: Argentine Province Inks US$300M Deals with Shenzhen Firms
2017.11.20: Mainland, Hong Kong Cooperation Deal on Co-Location Arrangement
2017.11.21: Shared Bike Deposit Issues Raised at Hearing
2017.11.22: Curtain Falls on a Weeklong Show of Tech Innovation
2017.11.23: Shenzhen Organization Inaugurates Africa Office in Ethiopia
2017.11.24-26: Shenzhen to Host China Outbound Conference Next Week
2017.11.28: Two Experts in Shenzhen Elected as Academicians
2017.11.29: Two Professors in Shenzhen Elected Chinese Academy of Sciences Academicians
2017.12.04: 4 Driverless Buses Begin Trial Operation in City
2017.12.05: Initiative on Belt and Road Digital Economy Cooperation Launched
2017.12.06: Aussie State Launches Tech Partnership with Sustech
2017.12.11: China, EU to Build Industrial Park on Maritime Economy in Shenzhen
2017.12.12: AIIB (Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank) Approves First Loan Project in China
2017.12.15-17: Hearing on Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Toll to Be Held
2017.12.19: Economic Policy for 2018 in the Pipeline as Key Meeting Opens
2017.12.25: China’s First Domestic Large Amphibious Aircraft Takes Off
2017.12.27: Airport Intl. Passenger Traffic to Hit 3.5 Million in 2017
2017.12.28: All Shenzhen Public Buses Now Electric
2018.01.04: Framework Plan for Xiongan Deliberated
2018.01.05: Visas Eased for High Skilled Foreign Workers
2018.01.09: 2 Scientists Win China’s Top Scientific Award
2018.01.11: Spring Airlines Inks $2.8B Deal for French Engines
2018.01.12-14: Huawei Wins Patent Lawsuit Against Rival Samsung
2018.01.15: City Enforces Mandatory Waste Classification Rule
2018.01.16: State Council OKs Removal of Special Economic Zone Control Line
2018.01.17: Trip from Futian (Shenzhen) to Hong Kong via Hi-Speed Rail to Cost HK$80
2018.01.18: Shenzhen Economy to Grow over 8% in 2018: Government Report
2018.01.19: Shenzhen to Host WTA Finals until 2028
Do you see what I see in all these headlines? Any common themes? Threads? I see three.
First is China’s democracy in action. Articles routinely discuss how the public, all the people, from every walk of life can have input, give suggestions and make criticisms of issues in their neighborhood and city. Headlines like Shared Bike Deposit Issues Raised at Hearing; Hearing on Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Toll to Be Held; Economic Policy for 2018 in the Pipeline as Key Meeting Opens; and Framework Plan for Xiongan Deliberated all demonstrate this. While not seen in the above articles, others recently talked about public hearings for ticket pricing in Trip from Futian (Shenzhen) to Hong Kong via Hi-Speed Rail to Cost HK$80. Public meetings and consultations are a fact of democratic life in China and citizens routinely speak their mind, across many venues and platforms. Now, every city like Shenzhen has phone apps for most or all of the departments which routinely interface with the people, where you can lodge complaints and concerns in a matter of seconds.
This worked for me. On the two-lane street below where we live, there was a low barrier running the whole length, so if a car stopped, no one could go around and pass. The low barrier was meant to protect children coming out of our school, but it was an unworkable nightmare. Tenants in two wealthy high rises across the street from us would have their chauffeurs come park outside, to wait for them to come downstairs to go to work. Mercedes, BMWs, Audis, Cadillacs, Range Rovers and even Maseratis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis would lord it over the blocked street, pissing everybody off in the process. Other less than considerate citizens would stop to run get a takeaway meal from sidewalk stands, or make a fleet footed purchase in the superette. With traffic quickly backing up, exasperated drivers would start to lay on their horns, until it was a nearly 24-hour a day, ear splitting headache for us living right above.
I took several photos with my phone, sent them to the Shenzhen traffic control department, using its phone app and explained in Chinese what was going on. I made sure to tell them about the class conflict problem of rich fucks being totally arrogant and disrespectful of everybody else of more modest means in the neighborhood.
That was in May 2017. When we came back in August from the United States, after summer break (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/08/26/china-is-the-most-plugged-in-big-economy-in-the-world-china-rising-radio-sinoland-170824/), the barrier was removed and the round the clock cacophony of overpriced car horns had disappeared.
Did my complaint to the traffic control department do the trick, or add to the cause of others doing the same thing? I’ll never know, but the street is obscure at best and the authorities would never have known about the class versus class impasse, without people speaking up, including me.
Another common theme in these headlines is win-win cooperation, especially internationally and regionally. Phase I of Shenzhen-Hai Phong (Vietnam) Trade Zone Operational Soon; 1st Bulgaria-China Vocational Education Center Inaugurated; Argentine Province Inks US$300M Deals with Shenzhen Firms; Mainland, Hong Kong Cooperation Deal on Co-Location Arrangement; Shenzhen Organization Inaugurates Africa Office in Ethiopia; Shenzhen to Host China Outbound Conference Next Week; Initiative on Belt and Road Digital Economy Cooperation Launched; Airport Intl. Passenger Traffic to Hit 3.5 Million in 2017; AIIB (Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank) Approves First Loan Project in China; Visas Eased for High Skilled Foreign Workers; Aussie State Launches Tech Partnership with Sustech; China, EU to Build Industrial Park on Maritime Economy in Shenzhen; Spring Airlines Inks $2.8B Deal for French Engines; State Council OKs Removal of Special Economic Zone Control Line; Trip from Futian (Shenzhen) to Hong Kong via Hi-Speed Rail to Cost HK$80; Shenzhen to Host WTA Finals until 2028 are headlines that show a city that is outward looking, cooperative and win-win with its dealings around the world and in its neighborhood.
The third common thread is technology, innovation and development, under the big tent of Progress. Shenzhen World’s 6th in Global Urban Competitiveness; Top High-Tech Fair Opens Today with Focus on Artificial Intelligence; Curtain Falls on a Weeklong Show of Tech Innovation; Two Experts in Shenzhen Elected as Academicians; Two Professors in Shenzhen Elected Chinese Academy of Sciences Academicians; Visas Eased for High Skilled Foreign Workers; Aussie State Launches Tech Partnership with Sustech; 4 Driverless Buses Begin Trial Operation in City; Initiative on Belt and Road Digital Economy Cooperation Launched; China’s First Domestic Large Amphibious Aircraft Takes Off; All Shenzhen Public Buses Now Electric; 2 Scientists Win China’s Top Scientific Award; Huawei Wins Patent Lawsuit Against Rival Samsung; City Enforces Mandatory Waste Classification Rule; Shenzhen Economy to Grow over 8% in 2018: Government Report all paint a very vivid image of a city and a country marching forward into the 21st century, with foresight, vision and planning (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/08/31/why-is-china-tech-smoking-the-west-because-they-have-socialist-vision-china-rising-radio-sinoland-170831/).
This is just one metro paper in China and even third and fourth tier cities are shouting out to their citizens and the world about their win-win cooperation and progress, locally, regionally and internationally – hundreds of them. The formula is really simple. Communist-socialist Baba Beijing wisely points the way and the Chinese people march into the new century, with purpose and determination, for the benefit of all, rich, poor, urban and rural (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/12/07/jack-ma-is-a-communist-capitalist-jesus-was-a-communist-socialist-china-rising-radio-sinoland-171207/). What’s amazing is that the whole system hits about 80% of the targets set for the country. As problems and conflicts arise, they are debated, discussed and addressed, so that updated goals can be announced to the citizenry (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/11/30/do-you-see-what-i-see-depends-on-where-you-look-china-rising-radio-sinoland-171130/). The reason it all works so well is because China has the best participatory democracy and best managed government in the world (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/12/10/china-loves-being-number-two-behind-the-us-officially-of-course-china-rising-radio-sinoland-171210/ and http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/10/10/us-robocops-versus-a-chinese-barney-fife-china-rising-radio-sinoland-171010/). Also, compared to the fetid swamps that call themselves Western governments, China is one of the least corrupt countries on the map, all the hysterical anti-communist-socialist Eurangloland propaganda be damned (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/10/25/how-can-western-capitalism-beat-this-thats-the-rub-it-cant-china-rising-radio-sinoland-171022/).
How many media headlines do you see in your city, that have a similar vision of shared prosperity? How many articles are as pervasive in conveying a positive outlook about where your country is heading into the future? When I was back in the United States last year, I sure didn’t see many. In fact, it was downright depressing (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/08/26/china-is-the-most-plugged-in-big-economy-in-the-world-china-rising-radio-sinoland-170824/).
You only have to look over this graph to see that communist-socialist China has the world’s best participatory democracy, best leadership and some of the lowest corruption. Pew Trust is a Western polling company, not Chinese, so we can take to the bank the above as unbiased proof: Baba Beijing has stratospheric popularity levels among its people, going back over a decade for very valid reasons.
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Why and How China works: With a Mirror to Our Own History
JEFF J. BROWN, Senior Editor & China Correspondent, Dispatch from Beijing
Jeff J. Brown is a geopolitical analyst, journalist, lecturer and the author of The China Trilogy. It consists of 44 Days Backpacking in China – The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass (2013); Punto Press released China Rising – Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations (2016); and for Badak Merah, Jeff authored China Is Communist, Dammit! – Dawn of the Red Dynasty (2017). As well, he published a textbook, Doctor WriteRead’s Treasure Trove to Great English (2015). He is also currently penning an historical fiction, Red Letters – The Diaries of Xi Jinping, to be published in late 2018. Jeff is a Senior Editor & China Correspondent for The Greanville Post, where he keeps a column, Dispatch from Beijing. He also writes a column for The Saker, called the Moscow-Beijing Express. Jeff interviews and podcasts on his own program, China Rising Radio Sinoland, which is also available on SoundCloud, YouTube, Stitcher Radio and iTunes.
In China, he has been a speaker at TEDx, the Bookworm and Capital M Literary Festivals, the Hutong, as well as being featured in an 18-part series of interviews on Radio Beijing AM774, with former BBC journalist, Bruce Connolly. He has guest lectured at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences and various international schools and universities.
Jeff can be reached at China Rising, firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, Twitter and Wechat/Whatsapp: +86-13823544196.
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