All-important China

Andrea Gross | May 3, 2012, 2:58 p.m.


The Great Wall was built to protect China from nomadic tribes to its north.

We’re amazed at their misconceptions. Chang owns a condominium, can afford to fly his family from his village on the Yangtze to Shanghai for a holiday, and has a car that he bought new two years ago. His daughter has a new iPad as well as an iPod. I tell him that this is more than many people his age in the United States can afford, and yes, they work as many or more hours than he does.

Another guide dreams of living on Wisteria Lane, the home of ABC’s Desperate Housewives, and we realize how television shapes Chinese views of the United States as well as our views on China. This, says my husband, is why it’s important for people to travel, to see things for themselves.

We’re aware that we saw only two cities, and we spoke with only a handful of people. We didn’t visit the countryside, which, despite China’s rapid urbanization, is still home to the majority of the population. We didn’t visit the factory towns churning out goods that are flooding the world’s markets. That will have to wait until next time.

In the meantime, we treasure our glimpse of a country that is, and will continue to be, a major player on the world’s stage.


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