Thursday, September 13, 2007

Call 110 for English!

A Chinese wonder! I have read this great tip, a couple of days ago, in the blog from Mark and Tina (arrived in Xiamen two months ago and living the same kind of experience as us): we foreigners who are totally unable to communicate here in the native language of this beautiful country, can be saved of any situation by just dialing 110 and having access to a translator, right there on the phone. I have not tried it yet, but I am sure I will get this opportunity soon!
There is a lot to say about this incredible service. Hospitality here in China is wonderful. We foreigners are very welcome. Not something to take for granted I believe, because it is not true of every country of the world. And I don't think that it would be fair to see it as a sign that "they need us". Let's call it a win-win! I believe we need their low-cost work very much too!
But enough said about that. What is more fascinating to me is to put this back in the context of the history of China. I have been reading a couple of very interesting books on China recently (I will definitely talk more about those). China Road is a great book written by a British journalist, Rob Gifford, about today's China, but with some references to its history. He explains how China has lived 100 years of imperial humiliation from 1850 to 1950. The same idea is conveyed in the historic novel Empress Orchid on the last Empress of China, in the middle of the 19th century. British and French were seen as humiliating the pride of China, which had lost the Opium wars. They were forced to pay large fines to these foreign countries, open their ports, welcome missionaries...
China today could very well be xenophobic.
China realizes though, says Rob Gifford, that the current times could be its chance to show its greatness again. And I hope it succeeds. It is a fascinating place.

1 comment:

Sébastien said...

Look who's becoming a heartless capitalist! Good job Ed! I owe you one.