So it’s my last night in China. I’m ending it in the capital and it has given me a few things to think about. One important thing that came up was a filling. Not of a pie but rather my tooth. Upon arriving in Beijing a filling of mine decided it had better things to do than stay in my mouth. So after a few days of research and thinking I was at my appointment with a dentist here in China. I was a bit nervous as anyone can understand but was advised it’s better to chose a dentist while it doesn’t hurt much than accept whichever is available when you can’t take the pain anymore. So there I was 9am filling out paperwork in a Beijing dental clinic. Jump forward to 9:35 and I was on my way to the street to catch a cab! The visit was fast, professional, and state of the art. The scariest part of the visit was not getting any anesthesia other than “raise your left hand if it hurts.” Luckily, I never had to raise my hand (Although the thought did cross my mind.) I say this only to say that this incident shed new light for me on China. It showed me how this country was advancing in ways other than copycat manufacturing. It was a great example of how China is adopting advancements for the betterment of the populace. It is a sincere and honest effort to raise the standards of the Chinese population and I recognize this. This made me rethink my position on the authoritarianism here.
The other time that stuck out to me was when I was speaking with a businessman here. He was telling me about his family and his two children. I complimented him and said he was a blessed man. He agreed and added that he was also broke. He explained that since he broke the ‘one child policy’ he was fined for it. That fine was 260,000 RMB!! They also informed him that a third child would earn him a fine of 520,000 RMB. While he was obviously unhappy with the fine he was clearly willing to accept that and said his children were more than worth that amount. What I found unsettling about this story is not the law or the fine. Rather it was how something so simple can be so overlooked. Something that is a right in most places is an expensive privilege here. Such a story does not help my impression of a new and improved country. It doesn’t make me think it has regressed by any means yet I do feel it exemplifies how there is room for progress and the ‘proving period’ for changed directions is not over. I still believe I have a better insight from this trip than I did before it and really believe China is moving in right directions. What I don’t know and am still unsure of is how fast and great this new direction will end.