In a previous Blog I wrote about the worry eighty percent of British mothers have about the future of their offspring and, coincidentally, later in the book reviews in The Sunday Times culture section I read about – “A society in trauma.” That was the headline.
And it isn’t about Greece or the UK or any other European country it’s about – China! It’s all very well wealthy Chinese buying up property overseas and indulging in toys like executive jets, how is it really with the country? Well, according to “The End Of The Chinese Dream – Why Chinese fear the future” by Gerard Lemos obviously all is not well and I hope the reviewer Frank Dikotter won’t mind my quoting him in part.
“Invited to lecture at a university in Chongqing between 2006 and 2010 Gerard Lemos obtained permission to erect “wish trees” in several neighbourhoods in Chongqing and Beijing. He then sampled the cards people attached to the branches, gaining access to the innermost concerns of hundreds of displaced farmers and factory workers. Rather than finding the industrious and increasingly prosperous workforce that is so often shown on state television. Lemos discovered a traumatised society in which most people are left to fend for themselves. Millions of poor farmers, forced to leave the countryside, face the prospect of unemployment, the absence of basic healthcare and lack of any state pension. Many of the elderly are financially dependent on their children. But China (like everywhere else I suppose) is an aging society and the one-child policy places a huge burden on the single children who have to provide for their relatives. Education is compulsory but not free. It can absorb one third of a family’s income as local officials discover ever more ways of gouging money from parents, ranging from fees to cover building repairs to stipends for teachers in public schools.
In the cities a university education is the highest ambition, but even here despair is the norm. Up to a third of graduates (about 2 million young people each year) cannot find a job. So desperate are they for work that when a local government in Shandong advertised for people willing to shovel excrement, five graduates were chosen out of 400 applicants.
Of 191 nations listed by the World Health organisation in an equality report in 2000 China was 188. Regular health scandals too, from contaminated milk to eggs with poisoned yolks have undermined people’s confidence in the food they eat.
As much of the world seems starry-eyed when it comes to the apparently inevitable “rise of China” Lemos shows that the country’s ordinary people are deeply pessimistic.”
We come up against that selfsame problem I keep on about, the ever increasing population that is going to increase ever faster. It’s like a snowball rolling down the mountain; it gets larger and larger and is impossible to stop. What is the answer? Who knows?