China watching

Its big, its here, we're co-dependent. And here is a website Chinasmack that is attempting to bridge the cultural divide. Translated from the original this website offers news items to show native English speakers that perhaps the Chinese aren't so different from us after all.  Well yes and no.

This makes it a really useful site to browse from time to time. Because what you get full on is a sense of the cultural differences. What matters in China can be very different from what matters elsewhere. Best example I can think of is the man who intervenes to talk a would be suicide off a bridge but then pushes him off because his selfishness is against the public interest!  Now I don't suppose for a moment that this sort of action is remotely typical. But that it is reported and how is reported is useful. Not only for understanding China – if this is something you need to do but also to understand your own culture.

One of the brilliant insights from the movie/comic Men in Black was the idea that through popular culture ie trashy tabloids and lurid gossip magazines one could get a much better idea of what was really going on – alien activity.  The frequently lurid stories on this website have a similar vibe.

I had a series of fascinating conversations with my parents over the weekend. They were missionaries in Japan through the 1960s. They reported the astonishment of Japanese with the Profumo affair. If any politician was asked if he knew a prostitute of course he would have to deny it. Why sack a minister for lying? The UK sets high store by certain kinds of truth. Bizarre that we evaluate the integrity of our politicians by whether they ask us to pay for their flower bills. But not necessarily by their voting behaviour in the commons. I believe sites like  China Smack are wonderful for helping us to gain a little perspective.

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