A Rendezvous with the Dragon

“When America sneezes, the world catches a cold,” a common phrase that has nothing to do with health of people  but the financial health of the world. Though China is yet to grow to that level, it is definitely growing to that level. The post-globalization world is so interconnected demographically that a contagion in a small country can quickly spread to the world. Then, imagine how the world can be impacted when a significant part of a bigger country sneezes together! China has the Coronavirus, so has the world!

I made one visit to China in October 2019 and covered four cities: Guangzhou — pronounced as Gonchu — Shenzhen — pronounced as Shenchen — Shanghai and Nanjing. The visit was a business trip, and I was fortunate to have a host who did everything possible to ensure that I had the best times in China. Ten days and four cities, and I had not seen a single uniformed-policeman on the public space. Number of police on the roads is a sign that I successfully used to cue on the public safety in the countries I visited. And China is placed high on this ladder.

A couple of interesting customs in China: when you toast a drink with an elderly person or anyone who is from a higher social or economic pedestal, you ought to show respect by touching your glass below the top level of his/her glass. Another one: if host takes extra care to serve you food occasionally even when all are having food together around a buffet table, it means that host considers you as a VIP guest. A praiseworthy thing that could not miss my eyes: No littering of skyscapes — the roadways and public spaces are devoid of any hoardings.This is particularly interesting that the Chinese Communist Party, the sole soul in the political space, could have easily put up hoardings of it and of its leaders to season the people but did not do so.

There are eight types of foods in China: Chuang, Yue,, Xiang, Lu, Su, Zhe, Hui and Ming. These cuisines are the culinary bouquets from eight regions of China, and each one tables a big menu. During my visit, I tried three types, with all giving plenty to relish; still, my Chinese host told me that I savored less than 5% of the Chinese cuisines. A visit to China will be a great going for a gastronome!

There is a saying that roads are the arteries of a country. These arteries are the channels through which the protagonists — people and goods — of economic development flow. As we know, for this to happen, the arteries need to be wider and free of potholes to avoid blocks of traffic jams. Good roads are part of a developed county, but having them in a developing country is definitively a sign of determination to develop. While in China, I traveled by road from Guangzhou to Shenzhen — 2 hrs. The roads were of top-class build, wide and free of potholes. I could see such good roads at all the places I visited in China.

From Shanghai to Nanjing, I travelled by bullet train. It was a 4-hour journey. China had done exceptionally well in connecting different parts of the country by bullet trains which are clean and do provide top-class services. The make and facilities at the bullet train stations, which I saw, are of sterling quality and better than those we find at airports in many countries. The travel was a smooth ride through the urban, suburban and rural areas. China has got beautiful country sides, and the journey gave me an opportunity to scan this scenic and rustic canvas. The train traveled through populated areas, and in order to protect the people residing near the railway tracks from the sound nuisance, sonic-barriers were erected on either side of the track. Wow, I was delighted to learn this from my host that such care was being taken by the government.

A country develops when the whole country, including cities and towns, develops in a similar, uniform way. Shanghai is the commercial capital, has bigger buildings and other civil structures befitting its economic importance. However, the quality of civic infrastructures like roads — covering all: thoroughfares, link-roads and pathways — public parks and other urban management systems that I saw in Shanghai were also present in cities like Guangzhou, a manufacturing hub; Shenzhen, known for fish-processing; and Nanjing, a cultural and historical city. The ratio of luxury cars to non-luxury cars, a sign of economic health, is higher in China as compared to many other countries, and this was also almost similar at the four cities as I could observe.

The economic development in China seems to have given economic and social freedom to many of its women, which was not so decades ago. As I understood from my interactions with a few people during my visit, economic development took the women along with it, resulting in the breaking of glass ceilings that once stopped women from venturing out to make career and personal choices. Now, many more women are economically independent as they are educated, employed or entrepreneurs. A commendable achievement in empowering women! And this is a great achievement for the humanity! My host was such an enterprising woman who started her business 20 years back, faced and overcame social barriers, now, a successful entrepreneur.

Nanjing is a cultural city. 

In Nanjing, I visited Sun yat-sen’s Mausoleum. Dr. Sun is considered as the Father of the Modern China, who fought against and ended the imperial Qing monarchy and established the Republic of China.

I also visited Ming Tomb Museum in Nanjing.

 

I was impressed with the progress China had made so far. Political correctness of observing only social and economic aspects but missing out factors like political freedom and human rights is questionable, I agree. 

I visited many countries, and the hospitality I received in those countries were always good. Many hosts that I came across took extra care to make me feel at home. With due respect to all these countries and the hosts, let me take the liberty to tell that my Chinese hosts — the entrepreneur-woman, her husband, her son and her staff — outdid others to give me memories galore to relish. I returned to Dubai after having a satisfying and stupendous time in China. May God bless China and its people!

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