Letter from China – No. 2

I spent the weekend here in Haikou doing Mandarin homework, going on long walks and to the gym as well as shopping and eating. The typhoon has disappeared and I enjoyed 2 days of hot humid sunshine as well as the cool of my air-conditioned room.
The best time for walking and jogging is early morning before 09.00 after which the sun is unbearably hot. So there I was doing my jogging when I was flabbergasted to see that the banks were all open and crowded at 08.00h on both Saturday and Sunday morning! The shops and the markets were crowded and nobody seemed to be lost in a daze of confusion. The same grandparents and parents were pushing the prams or holding their children’s hands – taking them to kindergarten or to the local stall for breakfast. Nobody appeared to be suffering from what our trade unions call “shell-shock-from-over-work-by-greedy-capitalists” disease…
Life was going on nice and calmly with shops, markets, banks, restaurants and bars doing a roaring trade. There was no evidence of angry workers going on strike – quite the opposite – this was a normal way to earn a living and live a life.
… and there was me enjoying excellent service and working too at my homework. The whole point of trying to learn a language is that it requires time and effort just like any job. If you want to do something, it has to be done properly and with diligence no matter where you are. I saw no point in going on strike this last Friday. I would have missed my lesson and lost a day’s learning.
Now about digitalization… Most Chinese people have a smart phone and have access to a laptop – at least the 10 million I see here in Hainan. However, few can speak English and a second language here means learning one of the many Chinese dialects. Few people here have access to Google or the international side of the internet. Mr. Government has closed it off to stop the spread of our undermining influence. People have to make do with Chinese content. The few foreigners seen on the streets are just strange curiosities to whom you say “Hello and Goodbye”.
Even when you are with business people who have travelled to Europe you quickly find that negotiating here is painfully slow and full of misunderstandings. It will be generations before ordinary folk and business will integrate with us Westerners. Big business is already there but they are less than 0.1% of the population. This means we have time to adjust our lives and economy because adjust we must. And when we have adjusted they will probably have the same cycle problems we have today – lazy managers, greedy bosses, politicians fired by lobbyists and hyper-active unions. Even today’s rather even spread of digitization still has a long way to go for the people here to see and understand how good we have things in the West. Our problem in Finland today is that we cannot afford all this good without working a little harder – and I would say that 5% is still no quite enough!

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