Monday, 11 March 2013

Chinese Speed 中国速度

An interesting and somewhat faded Chinese character (sù - meaning speed, rapid or velocity) clings tenuously to a  
cracking wall. Photo by Christopher Harry. All rights reserved.


The Chinese character for "Speed" neatly sums up one of the most defining features of today's China; the speed of its modernisation and development, the rapid rise in wealth and stature of the nation, but also the incredible pace at which it is being pulled simultaneously in all directions, both positively and negatively.

As education levels rise, so too does an increasing gap between rich and poor. The rapidity of environmental degradation, in combination with the explosion in the growth of social media, has also led to an equally speedy rise in the formation of social and political awareness that is quickly supplanting the preeminence of vacuous government propaganda in the hearts and minds of the populace.

At the same time, there has been a tremendous surge in the development, deployment of, and spending on China's air force and navy that is bringing it into more frequent and threatening incidents of sabre rattling with its Asian neighbours. Meanwhile, a meteoric rise in the depth and intensity of political and corruption scandals is accompanied by a wildfire of burgeoning social unrest fanning across the country.

Ironically, the sheer velocity at which all these changes are taking place sits in stark contrast to the leadership's utter lack of action or willingness to push forward any sort of meaningful political, legal or social reform to provide a necessary ballast to ensure the country's long-term sustainability.

It will be no mean feat for China's communist leaders to keep a lid on things and rehabilitate an increasingly damaged, depleted and poisoned land, but let's all hope the leadership will quickly see the light and embrace progress, just as its people have been so willing to do since Deng Xiaoping opened up China to the world over three decades ago.

The Chinese government always likes to brag about how much faster China has accomplished its achievements than the rest of the world. Maybe now it’s time they focused on doing things better.

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