Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Developing Excuses

Since arriving in China in 2005, I've come across plenty of excuses. These ranged from why important information was not provided to why things don't work properly and everything else imaginable. Most of the excuses ran along the lines of "This is China." The translation of this line really means, "We have no good reason, so TS."

More recently, I have noticed a common excuse coming from the government in Beijing--it usually has something to do with development. The most common phrase is: "China is a developing country." This is used to explain why there are little to no safety regulations for workers, why pollution cannot be reduced, and why efficiency cannot be improved.

In his speech yesterday pertaining to the economy and job market, Premier Wen Jiabao said, "China is a developing country with a population of 1.3 billion, which demands us to keep the economy at an appropriate growth rate to confront the employment pressure." He neglected to define what "an appropriate growth rate" is. He also neglected to say what China is developing into. I keep imagining a giant butterfly emerging from the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Or maybe Wen is just talking about his own metamorphosis before he begins the cocoon stage.

I would like to know what the Chinese definition is of a developed nation. They consider all of Europe and North America to be "developed," but they never really state what the differences are between the nations of these regions and their homeland. I have heard that China is not developed because there are a great number of poor people in rural areas. To this, I point out Appalachia. There are plenty of poor, rural areas in so-called developed nations.

My friend likes to point out that while China is still developing, it has nuclear power and an independent space program--something that only a few countries have. I'd like to point out that China's subway systems in Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Shanghai are more modern than any in the U.S. And how many countries have a MagLev train (and second on the way)? What about that impressive marvel of engineering called the Qinghai-Tibet railway? Are these things that developing countries have?

With all the modern amenities that China has in its cities, I think it's time for this country to stop using the excuse of "We're a developing country." This line is getting old.


No comments: