上海 Blog #20
Tuesday June 9th, 2015
Local Time: 20:29 Shanghai Time
I’ll admit the French concession was a bit boring. The history behind it was cool though. Turns out the Shanghaiese government willing gave the French, British and U.S. governments concessions of land because they didn’t want the foreigners mixing with the local people. It’s kind of funny actually, at least in my opinion. We visited the home of famous Chinese writer, Ba Jing, who was persecuted later in life for his political unrest.
I’m beginning to notice the effects of communism now. It wasn’t obvious to me at first. China seemed just like the U.S. really. There were no noticeable differences in the way the government operates other than really poor security in the metro stations. But now the magnitude of the elementary school children wearing red scarves around their necks representing allegiance to the communist party is really starting to hit me. Also, the prevalence of statues of Chairman Mao as well as memorabilia portraying his face that can be found pretty much everywhere. When we drive on the highway, about every mile a camera flashes, taking pictures of our bus’s plates. Mark absolutely refuses, on principle, to even discuss politics in China, particularly in regards to Taiwan. My other CIEE mentors are also reluctant to discuss politics or the communist party and will definitely not talk badly of the Cultural Revolution. It seems the only place anyone will discuss politics is in our International Relations Class, but even there our Chinese Professors refuses to touch the topic of Tibet. Those students on our trip who are involved with American grass roots movements or ongoing protests were instructed not to discuss such things with Chinese people for fear they might be seen as trying to start an uprising. The anniversary of a particularly famous uprising in recent Chinese history occurred within the last week and no body mentioned a thing. Apparently that is likewise not open for discussion.
To buy property in Shanghai, one must work there for seven years AND be married. Each couple is only allowed to purchases one apartment or house. Even if you meet the qualifications, good luck being able to afford anything. It costs $15,000 to register a vehicle in Shanghai. These rules sort of make sense to me given Shanghai’s staggering population. Obviously, they wouldn’t fly in the U.S. The one child policy is being lifted, but everybody between about my age and fifty don’t have siblings.
All in all though, contrary to popular American belief, going about my daily life here, I don’t feel much of a difference between the democratic and authoritarian governance. I imagine if I tried to settle down here though, I’d feel it more.
We had dinner with Wisconsin senior who has studied in Shanghai for a year now. The restaurant of choice was Korean (she’s originally from Korea) and CIEE paid which was awfully nice of them. Now I have to research and prep for my presentation tomorrow regarding Chinese and American mutual perceptions. Sometimes it’s easy to forget I’m here to actually study and not just adventure and sight see.