Chinas image abroad.
China is said to be the worlds up and coming super power but as western tourists is all we are told about China country true? To help answer this question I have been conducting interviews with people who are not native to China but have been there as tourists. They have seen both sides and had many quite differing opinions.
When conducting my interviews I realised most people had either a very positive view or a very negative view of the country. I feel this maybe was to due with outside circumstances however. For example one person I interviewed visits China for work and connections with the universities where as another was just in China for a few days.
Weather people where prepared for it or not China seems to be a culture shock. A common thing that was mentioned was the rich to poor divide. People were not prepared for it. In China 1% of the population own 99% of the wealth. For example one person I interviewed is living in China working as a creative manager His example was:
‘In my workplace, there are around 250 staff. Only around 2 or 3 of these staff earn more than £1000 a month, with the rest earning significantly less. Everywhere you go, you see beggars and very poor looking people. You also meet very rich people who throw their money around without thinking twice. What I have noticed is that there is no middle ground, people are either rich or poor.’
The conclusion from my interviews on this topic seems to be that China’s portrayed to be very technology forward and lot wealthier than it seems whilst there. The difference between the Chinese people is not shown to the rest of the world and the poverty shocks people.
Many people weren’t prepared for the language barrier China has. As English speakers we are very complacent in thinking everyone will speak a little English. From my interviews although China maybe appears through the media to be going through globalization when visiting there it seems people are still surprised to see a European. The Chinese have different mannerism as well and people didn’t expect this. It is very foreign compared to visiting other countries. People have been brought up differently and behave differently to how we would in the West. People spit on buses and ‘kamikaze’ across roads. I was told a story by one of the interviewees that a tour guide told them he had never left Beijing and never would. All his money went to his family and for a wedding. He was shocked that two girls were traveling across the world and had funded it themselves. This culture shock is not something people realised about China before they were there. It not something that is shown or made obvious to the rest of the world but perhaps this is something that should be expected? And it is no different from the rest of the world. One interviewee said ‘ There may be a lot hidden from western media but our county hides a lot too.’
Politically the West portrays China very negatively with a lack of freedom of speech and no voting system but from the people I interviewed a different story comes out. Having spoken to Chinese people they are very positive about the government, which is there by consent.
‘I spoke to a local about the birds nest that had just been built for the Olympics he as extremely positive even though he had made it clear the governments controversial spending meant a lot of poor Chinese had no way out of deprivation.’
China shows itself to the world as being united politically and it seems to be. As long as the country is growing the Chinese people are positive and support the government. It was also said that the government is bigger part of people’s lives. The party is involved in the universities and is always around. Some people were surprised at how capitalist China was as it is always said to be communist and is associated with communism.
So given what I learnt and heard does China sell it self to tourists. Does this affect it trying to show itself as a modern country? Perhaps China is trying to hard to be modern. The vast division between the rich and poor means it isn’t the modern country it tries to make itself appear to be. The impression that concludes is that the amount of money spent in making China look superficially modern, that could be spent on its poverty, is perhaps the reason it appears not to be modern when there. They seem to put a lot of money into looking good, photo shopping pictures, rather than dealing with the countries underlying issues that seem to be more urgently needing addressed.