Writes William L Anderson:
I’m teaching a course at Hunan University of Commerce in Changsha (Intermediate Microeconomics) and read part of your article to Paulette this morning. It is interesting to see the transformation in China, and, as always, I am processing things as I go along. This is a fascinating place and I must say I am taken by the kids I have met at the university. Interestingly, life here is not politicized in the way it has become in the USA and in Great Britain, Oceania, and Europe. There are no social justice warriors, although I doubt they would get far simply because this still is an authoritarian state.
Still, the kids don’t look like people who are cowed. What I like is the very ordinariness of a college campus. Now, the standard of living here is MUCH lower than in the states. The dorms are very crowded and living conditions are not very good. We are in an on-campus apartment that is quite primitive, especially by our own standards. Some of my colleagues are in apartments off campus that are quite nice, but I suspect that a lot more people live in what Paulette and I have rather than what my colleagues have. Still, it is not the squalor that so characterized life here for so long. I’m sure that the living standards are worse in the countryside, but there is plenty of food (and quite good), lots and lots of cars (and the Italians have nothing on the Chinese when it comes to driving) and lots of electric motor scooters. The people are friendly and helpful and crime rates, from what we can tell, seem to be low.
There does seem to be a wide openness of life. I’m sure there are rules and regulations that simply are not obeyed. It is very strange. They have the “social credit” system, but there also seems to be a good bit of personal freedom, as one of my colleagues put it, “at the street level.” This clearly is not Mao’s China.