PERSONAL NOTE: I DECIDED to share my book with friends and students in mainland China because it is too expensive to order a copy from USA. Enjoy it and share it with people you care and love. Peace, Steve, usa, april 9, 2019 firstname.lastname@example.org blog – https://getting2knowyou-china.com
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Cody, from north Fujian Province, did not have problem finding the hotel and he was delighted to receive the book about Deng Xiaoping I had carried all the way from America for him. Cody graduated from Xiamen University and had spent some time in Japan, hoping to enroll in one of the universities to study architecture. He often complained to me he could not find any young Japanese to help him to study and practice the Japanese language. In the end, he returned home to China empty-handed. He is now working in his hometown somewhere near Wuyi Mountain. He came to visit with me because of the book. Now he wants to return to school to study engineering.
The next day, David rented a car and the three of us were on the way to visit my relatives in a small village near Fuqing city, adjacent to Fuzhou. With his phone acting like a GPS machine, David was able to follow the main highway and roads to the small village in Fuqing. David is a good driver and he seems to know the roads to the village. He behaved like a seasoned driver. As we neared the village, I could see constructions, in different stages, going on on either side of the road in the village. This is not the same village he and I visited in 2008. Popping up like mushrooms, I could see signs of construction of new houses, not high risers, in this village community. I thought I could recognize the old house of my relatives I saw in 2008, with a distinct patch of vegetables near the entrance to the front door. But David decided to drive a little further to the center of the village, to ask the villagers the home of my cousin brother. We entered a building that looked like a community center because there were many tables inside the big building and also a stage for Chinese opera performances, usually for a god’s birthday. I knew we were in the center of the village, a place residents would gather to celebrate an important event. There was a small group of elderly gentlemen sitting at a table, drinking some tea. And they told David where to find the house of Mr. Chen, the family name of my cousin brother. Near this community center, I saw a building with the names of many families with the family name of Chen on the wall outside of the building. We walked a short distance to the house I had suspected was the residence of my cousin brother. And we walked passed that distinct patch of vegetables, almost like the same one I saw in 2008. The same kinds of vegetables were still there. Everything became very familiar. We came to a small courtyard in front of the house. We knocked on the door and an elderly woman came to greet us at the door. She was the wife of my cousin brother. The wooden cross and the picture of Jesus Christ are still there on the wall. We then walked up the same steps to the 3rd floor, the official residence of my cousin brother and he greeted us with a big smile on his face, happy to see me again. He had
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aged since I first met him in December 2008 but he was still strong and healthy.
The whole building was without heat. The chairs we sat on were very cold. The living room was very cold. Cousin’s wife did bring us some hot tea to keep us warm. The world has changed since we first met. Now he was using a cellphone and we exchanged phone numbers. All the children and grandchildren are living and working in Fuzhou city, he said. I got the feeling they were too busy to visit him and his wife out in the countryside, about an hour away. Stories are spreading in China about how some grown up adults, once filial sons and daughters, once caring and loving children, are now ignoring and neglecting their aging parents and the Chinese government are trying ways to urge, encourage and “legislate” these children to call or spend some time with their parents. This is China. In China, the Chinese government is trying to deal with this new social problem, how to take care of the elderly people: those who never had children in their lives, those whose only one child had died, and those whose children have decided to abandon them to live or die. In South Korea, and also in Japan and in Singapore, more and more senior citizens are feeling left behind or left to die because their children do not care to see them anymore. Suicides are becoming a common phenomenon in some of these Asian countries because the elderly are left to take care by themselves and many feel they have no reason to live or to continue living. They feel unwanted, neglected, ignored and left to fend for themselves, all by themselves. What happened to our ancient value of filial piety? Our love for our parents and grandparents and our ancestors once the core value of the Confucian society?
In China, some young adults are saying the government has no business or right to tell them how to behave or how they should treat their parents. What has become of modern China? Some are throwing out the Confucian morality and ethics, once the glue that bound people together under the emperor. Children were taught to obey their parents and to take care of them when they grew old. What has happened to modern China? There are stories in the mass media about how some adult children are treating their parents badly, ignoring them to die in isolation and neglect somewhere in some remote areas in China. Such things didn’t happen before the birth of communist China in 1949 or during the time when Chairman Mao was the Father of the nation. What has China become? An uncaring nation of young adults who will someday also have children of their own who might treat them the way they are treating their old parents? Chinese people believe in karma, essentially saying all actions will have consequences. And in this case, saying your own children one day will treat you the way you treated your own parents, I am beginning to think most young people today in China have also thrown the concept of or belief in karma out the window into the dustbin of history. This is China, albeit a modern China.
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Talking to my cousin brother, now a senior citizen, I sensed some tinge of sadness in his voice, living with his wife all alone in this big multi-story house, much colder in the winter months, because their children are too busy, like everyone else in modern China, chasing after money and wealth and a better life. Things, things, things, things. I wanted to suggest one of the children should invite them to live in the city with them. I kept quiet about this, thinking it was not my business to tell them how to live or treat their aging parents. Now my cousin and his wife were happy to see me and I could see they hope I would return again and again.
That evening David, Cody and I had a long conversation on why the hotel did not accept my American passport. It had never happened before since I came to China in 2008. My status then was a visiting professor. Now I returned to China as a tourist. Could this be the reason why my American passport has less significance? But why would the hotel clerks said “this time of the year”, that the police had informed them not to accept any foreign passports? Only during the Chinese New Year? Why? David offered his opinions and thoughts. During the Chinese New Year, he said, many bad things happened in China. Violence is on the rise. Burglary is on the rise. Maybe the hotel does not want any harm to come to foreign guests. Maybe. Maybe they—the police—do not want you to know and to see the social problems more pronounced this time of the year. The best explanation is that small hotels, like the two we visited, are not able to process the foreign passports. They are not equipped to handle your passport, David said to me. Like many things in life in China, transparency is very lacking in many areas of life, whether social, political, economic or cultural. Many foreigners continue to complain about China’s lack of transparency in everything they do. Or is it that we foreigners are used to Western democratic ways of doing things, that we do not hide anything we do? Or is it because China is China and we will never understand the Chinese ways of doing things because we are not Chinese? This is China is again the only answer making sense to my American mentality or sensitivity. If only I could learn to accept the maxim: In Rome do as the Romans do, nothing in China would then bother me.
But after the discussion, I was still in doubt about the different opinions. (This happened before I saw the ADVChina video.) So I decided to make a phone call to someone who was there when I first came to Fuzhou in 2008 and who had arranged for me to visit my cousin brother. Occasionally, I had emailed Arthur Liu since we met in 2008. Arthur continues to work for the Fuzhou government.
“Hi Arthur,” I was hoping he could explain the problem I had encountered at the hotel since it involved the Fuzhou police. “Something strange happened to me in the hotels here in your city.”
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“What happened?” He said. His slow reaction was not what I had anticipated. His voice told me something. Maybe I made a terrible mistake. Maybe I should not have called him.
So I told him what happened to me at the two hotels. “Why would the Fuzhou police tell the hotels that they should not accept my American passport?”
Arthur was dead silent on this. Not a response from him. I should have stopped right there. What did I expect him to say? He does not represent the Fuzhou government or the Fuzhou police department. What does he know? Maybe I am barking up the wrong tree. That I had talked to the wrong man.
I went on to say President Xi wants foreigners to come to China and on and on and on. And he remained silent. “Your Fuzhou government should not do this, to me or to any foreigner visiting your city.”
I could hear my own voice. Arthur said nothing except, “Enjoy your stay in Fuzhou.” Is that all?
Fuzhou left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Sorry, your foreign passport is not acceptable.
This is China.