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.
So, no… I haven’t stopped writing blog-y articles about the unfamiliar or increasingly too familiar happenstances of China. Much to the contrary, I’ve started writing even more such articles for a bi-monthly newsletter that targets U.S. Consulate workers in Guangzhou and their families. Unlike other foreigners living abroad, those working for the Consulate are usually required to change locations (i.e. countries) every two years. The transition proves quite difficult, as by the time they begin to master one language, one culture, they are forced to move onto the next. Thus, The Pearl Jam, named after Guangzhou’s famous Pearl River, aims to help Consulate members adjust to life in China and touches upon everything from current events and performances to local culture, travel opportunities, and even restaurant reviews. Needless to say it’s enough content to leave me with depleted energy— or at least depleted enough that the thought of writing blog posts inspires nothing but a groan.
Seeing that today’s the 4th of July, I figure I’ll just share the latest holiday edition of The Pearl Jam so that you can get a sense of what it’s like 🙂 Enjoy!