It’s the 61st Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (National Day or 国庆节). Partayyy! That’s what it was in Tiananmen Square. Cotton candy, corn on the cob, massive floral displays, and… multi-colored plastic devil horn headbands. I have yet to discover their significance. But in essence, the mood on the square tonight resembled that of our Fourth of July. It was unfortunately (or fortunately) not the security-ridden atmosphere that I’d previously conjured up in my mind. Perhaps last year when China rounded its sixth decade the mood was a bit more conflicted, but I doubt it. All the controversial censorship, arrests, and injustices that plague the foreign press coverage on China feel like bitter annoyances when you stare into the crisp, glistening characters on two giant flat screens that illuminate messages of technological success, economic progress and a harmonious society. There is no looming sense of dissatisfaction here but one of overwhelming pride. After all, tonight’s square wasn’t empty but bustling with a smiling crowd snapping photos of their kids posing with Chinese flags and peace signs. And in the end, what’s not to be proud of? All the bad aside, because every country has its dark side, China’s unprecedented growth in the last twenty years is not to be taken lightly. Recognizing the pressures experienced in the past from both within its borders and abroad we might make rational sense not only of China’s rapid economic development but also of its political system. Of course there are many problems left to tackle here, but every citizen deserves a day to honor and rejoice in the successes of the country they live in.
Yeah man, our university rocked the NY Times this past Friday:
Haven’t said a whole lot about our school in Beijing, but it’s called Minzu University (the Central University for Nationalities), and has student representation from all 56 ethnic groups in China, including a few extremely rare minority groups (some of which today have only 40 individuals total living in China). Pretty neat, but also often cause for ethnic tension and frequently barred front campus gates. Three days ago, entering campus without a student ID left you quivering under the fierce glare and intimidating threats of a middle-aged security guard, who, quite honestly, far too eagerly seized the opportunity to turn his monotonous job into a power play. At the time, we were told the heightened security was due to ambiguous 特别的活动 “special activities” on campus. It wasn’t until yesterday night when a friend posted the NY Times article on Facebook that I learned the news. According to the article, this past week, Tibetans all over the China carried out peaceful protests opposing eliminating the use of the Tibetan language in local schools. Since Minzu University minority students make up 60% of the total student population, the campus is inevitably a hot spot for protests. But it’s both a bit eerie and impressive how, in China, controversial activities can take place a 30 second walk from your dorm and you still won’t know about them.