Saturday, September 26, 2009

Today is today. Today is OK 

Dagang is a new development outside of Tianjin. It appears to have
been entirely built in the last ten years. Constructed much like
those newer towns that spring around metropolitan regions, this one
has broad streets and an eye for both retail development and
commercial activity. The school I'm speaking at today (Saturday -- I
do not know if this will post today, because our internet here has
been sporadic) is at the center of this new province.

It is interesting that as you enter the main street into the district
there are two sets of intellectuals featured in the entrance. One is
Chinese, the other western. It is interesting, as my university
president observed this morning, because of the antipathy towards
intellectuals in the Cultural Revolution. It is also amazing that a
country that has a great deal of pride in its own identity would make
a public acknowledgement of the patrimony of Western thought.

It is an area that oozes hope. Built along a river, there's a broad
walking path on which people run, walk and visit. I haven't yet seen
the tai chi practitioners on the plazas or parks, but I keep looking.
The cars here are nice, perhaps nicer than the US and far nicer than
most of the developing world. (They still have the black official
sedans, though apparently they change brands every other year or so.
Honda seems to be the brand of choice right now, replacing Buicks.) I
marveled at one of our Chinese delegates who told me that her new
cellphone cost her RMB100, or about $15. There are over 700 million
cellphones in use in China, compared to 250 million in the US. And of
course there's still a great deal of market penetration still available.

As we were taken from the hotel to the university we saw a sign on top
of a commercial building. In English it declared "Today is today.
Today is OK." That will be how I think of modern China.