I have a friend in China right now.
His name is withheld because he’s there to do business and his comments, below, are not entirely glistening.
I said to him in an email, “Tell me your impressions of China.”
This was his reply:
It is definitely like bizarro-world in Seinfeld.
One of the worst things is to lose face or to cause someone else to lose face. Even the most minor statements can cause someone to be embarrassed and lose face. Let’s say the Library Tower wasn’t done, and I visited the WA, and said, “I thought the tower was supposed to be done by now,” this passing comment (to me) would cause you to lose face and you’d proceed to obsess about my comment all day, wondering if you are now worthless in my eyes.
They deal with this situation (of not wanting to cause even the slightest embarrassment to someone else) by making sure to say very little of import to each other.
And they love to have long meetings, which end with them planning their next long meeting. Sort of like student council in a Junior High School.
They find my directness weird but somewhat intriguing, and my creativity perplexing but perhaps good for China. In short, I’m a mystery to them.
All the stories about the Chinese lacking creativity are, from my experience, true.
Mao wiped out their history. Almost all evidence of any kind of past is more or less gone.
The smog is so thick that in most cities I’ve been to, you can’t see a building that’s 10 blocks away. The smog is like a medium fog. People think I’m kidding. I am not. Of course, there are clear days too, but not many from what I’ve seen.
Lots of weird stories to tell some time.
“The truly revolutionary thing about C-SPAN was not the televising of Congress. It was the way it downsized Washington, revealed it not as the city of giants it always pretended to be but of mere people who gather endlessly in these drab rooms and clamor for attention.“
– William Powers,
in the National Journal, March, 2004