ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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CHINA-Behind the Facade-Party Decides, People Respond

Behind the Facade Party Decides, People Respond K P Kannan CHINA is a massive country, much more massive than India. This alone makes it difficult to generalise on one's impressions gathered during a short visit to its capital, Beijing. Yet, it is exciting to talk about China, a country which remained forbidden for so long. After reading and listening so much about the political and economic changes, I was naturally curious to find out something about it. And what I say here has nothing to do with books and reports, or lectures and conferences. I was more interested in interacting with people I encountered, ordinary and not-so-ordinary, and their own perceptions of their situation. I was amazed by the frankness with which they spoke and the extraordinary frankness with which they suppressed their frank opinions when faced with loaded questions, Even before landing in Beijing, I knew it is a massive city. But its massiveness has some difference. Its population of over 13 million is as much as in Bombay, sorry Mumbai, but you do not really run into the kind of surging crowds as in front of the VT station or any suburban markets. Roads are wide, four or six lanes, in addition to separate lanes for bicycles. The city is relatively clean and it was really hard for me to spot such huge slums as one frequently encounters in Mumbai. Maybe, the control on inmigration was a factor although this is no longer the case. People in general looked clean, healthy and more importantly young in age. The young both men and women seemed to take great care in dressing, in western style with popular brands. A bell boy in the hotel where I stayed looked carefully into the label of the T-shirt worn by an academic colleague of mine with whom I was standing in the lobby and read aloud the brand name. And then he smiled approvingly after all, the man is wearing a decent T-shirt. From my Indian background, it was striking to see the presence of young women working everywhere and more prominently in hotels, restaurants and shops, small and big, old and new. They moved about freely even in night. The long electric buses for public transport seemed to have more women as drivers and conductors and went about their job with such natural ease that I felt embarrassed watching them curiously, These striking features do not end here, Massive construction work sites dot the landscape of Beijing, Walking around the city with a Chinese friend was indeed informative. To my repeated enquiries about the huge and new shopping complexes, offices, etc, he got a bit tired. As if to sum up his answer to all my questions he said with a smile; "My friend, Hong Kong is taking over China," I was familiar with large shopping complexes in western Europe but a number of them that I went around in Beijing were definitely bigger than what I had seen in Europe. Of course, China is massive.

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