Most Important Issue Facing China Today

April 16th, 2013

I feel that the most important issue facing China today is the economy. China’s economy grew drastically, and it begs the question, did it grow too quickly? Will it be able to sustain this economic growth especially with its growing population? The country only has enough resources to sustain a certain amount of people, is China prepared for when those resources run out?

As we’ve been learning, China’s greatest resource is its people. Often employers can keep wages low because there will be someone willing to work for that amount. But this continues the process of many rural citizens having poor quality of life, and being vastly separated from their urban counterparts. Although it seems that China’s economy is nowhere near slowing down, and as Americans, all we hear about is how China is our economic rival, in a time of global economic hardship, China is not exempt.

Grassroots

April 4th, 2013

After reading the last 3 chapters of Yu Hua’s “China in Ten Words,” I feel that Grassroots might have had the strongest impact on the Chinese population if it weren’t censored. I feel that Copycat and Bamboozle discuss aspects of Chinese society that are already pretty apparent, whereas Grassroots is something that many people may not think about as often. Yu Hua gives an in-depth look at how easily people could gain and lose power in China, both during the Cultural Revolution and today. It illustrates the similarities between the constant state of political movement during the Cultural Revolution and the constant state of economic movement over past few years.

What’s left to do

March 31st, 2013

As I have been working on the outline for my research paper, I realized that there isn’t much else left to do besides writing it all out. I’m slightly worried about the organization. How I have it set up in my outline makes sense to me, but I’ll be interested to see if it makes logical sense to other people. At this point, it has become one of those things that I’ve been looking at for way too long, so now I need a fresh pair of eyes. I’ll just have to work on building my argument in a way that conveys it best, after that all that is left to do is write, write, write!

Yu Hua’s Critique

March 28th, 2013

Based on the chapters we have read of “China in Ten Words,” Yu Hua is critiquing what China has become. Throughout each chapter he focuses on a different aspect, but they each fit together in this commentary on how China became what it is today. He discusses how the unity of “the people” under Mao is lost because today they are only united by their desire for money. This goes hand-in-hand with his comment that there is not a leader anymore, just leadership. Personally, I feel that he is pushing for a leader to rise up and bring the people together out of their current moral despair.

That being said, Yu Hua does not want to go back to Maoist Era. Throughout these chapters Yu Hua is very critical of the Cultural Revolution as well as the Mao Cult. The one scene that stood out was when he started laughing during the announcement of Mao’s death when the rest of the auditorium was sobbing. The fact that he was on the outside of this cult atmosphere gives him a unique perspective. Yu Hua also discusses how most of the books were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, leaving him “like a starving child” looking for books. He was intellectually starved during this time, making a point that he doesn’t want to go back to that, but continue moving forward past the corruption/selfishness of the present.

Thesis – In Progress

March 21st, 2013

My thesis will argue that the irregular instruction of sex education throughout China is widening both the generational gap as well as the social and economic gap between the urban and rural areas. Sex education in China is far from uniform, every school gets to decide on their own curriculum, instruction, and age. It has just recently become compulsory for college students to take a course discussing “sexual and relationship psychology,” but this only impacts a small percentage of the Chinese people. This information was taken from a newspaper article from the People’s Daily Online, discussing the opposition to this law being passed.

My main research questions were focusing on laws/regulations, the one-child policy, and the difference between rural/urban sex education, and this working thesis is going to encompass all of them because at the moment the law only mandates that sex education be taught at the college-level, thereby furthering the gap between rural and urban residents. It will also go into depth on how the one-child policy goes hand-in-hand with sex education in terms of its irregular enforcement.

 

Reference:

YAO, Chun. “New regs call for sex ed in Chinese colleges.” People’s Daily Online, September 23, 2011, http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90882/7603311.html.

Migrant Workers

March 14th, 2013

I think that it is really interesting how closely the stories in “China Candids” matched up to the story we’re seeing play out in Blind Shaft. The similarities that struck me the most were those in “Chairman Mao’s Ark: One of the Floating Population” and “Time as Money: A Shenzhen Hooker.” In “Chairman Mao’s Ark” the man describes a scene of a people’s market where everyone would sell their labor, very similar to where Feng Ming met Tang and Song in Blind Shaft. This chapter in “China Candids” also describes why the men were leaving their villages; there were not enough job opportunities and people were tired of being poor. It wasn’t just the men either who were leaving their homes to find work. In “Time as Money” the woman talks about how she left her village, and once she saves up two hundred thousand yuan she’ll stop being a prostitute in Shenzhen and return home. This is not explicitly seen in the film, however, the prevalence of prostitution cannot be overlooked with the overall theme of migrancy.

Dutton’s analysis does not match up as well with the film. He talks more about how those who migrate are clearly separate from the residents of the cities and how they have to adapt. Dutton gives the example of migrant prostitutes whose story parallels that of the prostitute interviewed in “China Candids.” They both discuss the “good woman” vs the prostitute, and how they will combat that image. Dutton’s analysis emphasizes the irony of socialism in China, where class and status does matter. The recurring theme of all of the readings and the film is how capitalist tendencies are taking over the Maoist, socialist ways of the past. During Mao’s rule, he empowered the peasants and agriculture was a vital part of the Chinese economy, but now it has shifted to industry. Has this shift toward industry and migrant workers caused or at least influenced the economic and educational gap between rural and urban areas?

Does Mo Yan Deserve the Nobel Prize?

February 28th, 2013

After reading the articles, I believe that Mo Yan did deserve to win the Noble Prize for Literature for “The Garlic Ballads.” Mo Yan is often criticized for working within the system of the Communist Party, and making fun of sensitive subjects in China’s history. Links wrote that “For the regime, to treat them as jokes might be better than banning them outright” and I agree with this. Even though it could be offensive, at least Mo Yan is writing about events like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Although it may not seem like it, through his writing, Mo Yan is critiquing the Chinese government, especially in “The Garlic Ballads.” I think Mo Yan is balancing his critiques of the government with his desire to continue writing because if he writes something the government doesn’t like, he would easily be exiled. Even though he may be playing by the Chinese government’s prescribed writing rules and blaming the middle man, at least he is writing about these ‘taboo’ events.

“Give me a son and I’ll buy you a nice, plump hen”

February 26th, 2013

In the scene where Gao Yang’s wife is having their second child, husbands are repeatedly seen bribing their wives in order to give them a son. I thought that this was interesting since obviously whether the husband bribes her or not has no impact on the sex of the baby, but it showed how desperate all of these men were to have a son. What puzzles me is the desperation. Was it just to keep their family line going? Or was it so that they could have more help in the fields and take care of the women once the husband died? Throughout the Fang family ordeal, I felt that Jinju (the daughter) was the most loyal of all the children, especially after the father died, so why was this emphasis placed on having sons? I think that Gao Yang’s desperation is rooted in both of the aforementioned reasons as well as a second chance. Gao Yang’s new baby represents the new life he was imagining for his family. Having two children with disabilities symbolized the challenges that he already faced as well as those he still has to which have followed him throughout his life. Being a landlord’s son, Gao Yang should have had a relatively easy life, but it was far from easy as can be seen through his two children.

 

Primary Source Analysis

February 19th, 2013

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Kindergarteners giggle through sex education class in Zhengzhou. http://shanghaiist.com/2011/08/31/photos_kindergarteners_giggle_throu.php

My paper is going to be on sex education in China, and I’m going to be using a lot of newspaper articles and blog posts as my main primary sources. This particular post is from the Shanghaiist. It discusses the teaching of sex education to Kindergarteners in Zhengzhou. What I find useful about this source is how it gives a basic overview of the issues surrounding sex education in China, such as how and when it should be taught to students. This source also provides pictures of Kindergarteners being taught sex education using anatomically correct dolls, which can add insight into how the students are reacting to this education. Zhengzhou is an urban city in Henan province, thereby giving my paper a strong basis for comparison between how sex education is taught in urban and rural areas.

One of the weaknesses of this source is that it is more of a tabloid, so it is not necessarily always completely honest. However, I think that this also makes it very useful to my project. Using this tabloid-esque blog will give me a different perspective because it represents a different set of the population. Another possible weakness is the lack of bibliographic information. Although they cite the sources that they used, many of those sites are all in Chinese, so I cannot use them for my project, which makes it difficult.

“In the Heat of the Sun” Scene

February 14th, 2013

The scene that interested me the most was the montage of Ma Xiaojun and Mi Lan. This scene was showing Ma Xiaojun and Mi Lan dancing, laughing, sleeping, generally, having fun. It was also filmed in a very nostalgic way, making it seem almost dreamlike.  I think this shows an underrepresented aspect of the Cultural Revolution: the nostalgia and the confusion of reality. When we watched the documentary on the Cultural Revolution, the people being interviewed always seemed to be absent when the violence happened. The truth has been blurred over time, making people believe certain things, but few people ever talk about that. In this scene, Jiang Wen explicitly states “maybe I’m confusing reality with my dreams.” By having the scene be so cheerful dreamlike suggests a nostalgic view of the Cultural Revolution, implying that many people did benefit during this era.