China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations with a history and culture that spans over several centuries. Today, China is considered one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Modern China’s economy is based significantly on the export of products. However, one of their biggest imports is tourism, which has become a monumental part of modern day China. With its historic landmarks and unique culture, China attracts people from all over the world. China is a country where the old meets the new.
Allison Weiner, a 20-year-old college student from New York, stated that her only real knowledge of China was based on the Disney movie, Mulan, a children’s film about a girl who joins the Chinese army in ancient China. “When I think of China and its culture, I honestly refer back to that movie,” said Weiner. Though the film, Mulan, is partly fictional, it does include animated scenes depicting the Great Wall of China and Beijing’s Forbidden City. At a young age, Weiner was introduced to the stereotypical imagery found in China. Weiner then states after reflecting back on the movie, ”Nothing in America is that old. I know that the Chinese architecture I saw in Mulan still stands in China today.” With America being such a young country, Weiner felt captivated by China’s vast history and ancient traditions. However interested she was in China’s history, Weiner was a bit skeptical about modern China. It was clear that her appreciation of China’s past was not the same when it came to her views of the Chinese government. Weiner was a bit intimidated by the harsh stories she’d heard about China’s oppressive government. Her current opinion of China appeared quite different from her childhood fantasy of China. She admitted that she was a bit reluctant to visit. Glasgow resident and Scottish University student, Rebecca Clow, age 19, finds herself fascinated by Chinese culture because of how different it is from her own. She understands that as a European, her exposure to Chinese culture has been altered by western influence. She is eager to experience the authentic China and learn more about their way of life. Clow is drawn to the natural landscape of China and the vast beauty it possess. In the eyes of westerners and people who have never been to China, it is represented as a country with an extensive past. Though certain political aspects are still ambiguous to most, people are enticed to travel there out of sheer curiosity.
From the perspective of two Chinese citizens, China is indeed an exotic destination. Fan Xu, age 22, from Shanghai, believes that tourists are drawn to China because it is so mysterious. The old oriental features and ancient sites attract people from all over the world. The architecture and even the people have very specific characteristics. People are inherently interested in the unknown and the different. By coming to China, tourists are introduced to the old China and the new China. The collision of both worlds is exciting to many. Diamond Ng, age 22, from Hong Kong, agrees that the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and the recently built Olympic stadium in Beijing are key contributors to tourism in China. When asked if China was accurately represented to tourists, Diamond stated that it was somewhat accurate but not entirely. She mentioned that there are beautiful places in China but there are other aspects that are hidden behind the beauty. The government, however, should not deter people from visiting China. Censorship has been an issue in China, limiting the freedom of speech for many, but this issue has lessened in recent years due to the Internet. Diamond went on to explain that those who are kept out of China are typically citizens who have spoken out frequently and negatively against the government, “Most tourist are not being monitored. Only those who are sensitive to political interest are monitored. Normal tourists are all welcome.”
Tourists have clear expectations as to what China has to offer. People who have never visited appear to know about all the featured places and famous attractions. There seems to be much more to China then what is represented in the media. Even though China is a rapidly developing modern country, the ancient aspects of China seem to be exploited over the contemporary.