A walk in Beijing…

2 Sep
0

Today we didn’t do too much. After all, it’s still a vacation… :-) Fan wanted to stay in the house too, to do some things on the computer. At noon we had home-made dumplings, which were very nice, but although it had already been such a nice day I didn’t really feel happy about staying inside all day long, certainly given the very nice, sunny weather outside… :-) Fan didn’t wanted to go though, and so eventually I decided to have a walk on my own in the city. I jumped on the first “Special 11” bus towards the city, and went to the area around “China Art Gallery” again… :-) I tried some shots with the Holga again, but I actually simply wanted to have a nice walk and observe life in the streets of Beijing… :-)

 

While watching three wheeled bicycles loaded with cardboard or coal briquettes being overtaken by the newest BMW or Mercedes cars (Not to mention the numerous Hummers now visible in the streets of Beijing!), I automatically started thinking about income inequality, and the influences it has on societies. According to the excellent book “The Spirit Level”, written by Wilkinson & Pickett, societies do better when income inequality is not too big. Countries with a large income inequality usually always see higher criminality rates, more murders, more overweight people, more teenage pregnancies, more mental illnesses, more drug abuses, less trust, etc… I must say I do believe this correlation, and I also believe in the causality of it, but I must admit that the theory doesn’t really seem to be applicable on the current situation in China…. (Income inequality is enormous in China, and yet criminality rates remain remarkably low…) Or is it?

 

Of course, the theory of Wilkinson & Pickett only applies on rich countries (They clearly state that in their book…), but that would be too easy as an explanation, of course… :-) If the effect is there, it should also be noticeable in communities such as Beijing, or in “modern China” in general… And in my opinion, the effects are visible everywhere you look! Chinese people do not seem to trust each other, and have – for example – a tendency to buy big SUV’s such as Hummers or Land Rovers (This is generally seen as a way to “arm” yourself in the “traffic battle” on the streets…), furthermore they obviously like darkened windows very much… “Gated communities” are now also fairly common in China, as are bars in front of the windows on the lower floors of buildings. The Chinese also seem to be obsessed with safety, as can be judged by the enormous amount of luggage scanners everywhere, from train stations to subways stations, museums and other important buildings… (A nightmare for people like me who still use film for photography… One scan is not harmful, but tests revealed that the effects of scanning on color slide film can already be seen after about 15 scans… Black & White negative film seems fine, usually no effects can be seen, not even after about one hundred scans…) Other signs include a quickly rising number of overweight people and a number of recent incidents where a man kills a large number of people around him before committing suicide… :-/ I don’t have any information on teenage pregnancies in China, but the use of drugs is apparently also on the rise… The only thing that seems to stay behind (For now?) is the usual criminality… Theft, robberies, rapes, etc… Will this also start rising, following the theory of Wilkinson & Pickett? I hope not, but I’m afraid that it will… As we can see in the USA, severe punishments will most likely not stop this from happening… What I hope is that the Chinese government strongly increases the fight against inequality in the country, by strongly raising minimum salaries, abolishing the exceptions for the so-called “Special Economic Zones” (Such as Shenzhen…), where not all social laws count, and by raising the bar for working conditions. This will be the only way to insure that the Chinese civilization won’t become one with high criminality rates and all the other problems related to income inequality… Company owners now make incredibly high profits by exploiting the poor migrant workers, mostly from the Western provinces. (Some time ago, it was discovered that a company owner from Sichuan used pure slavery in his company in Toksun, Xinjiang! The guy fled when this was discovered, and I actually don’t know whether he was actually caught and really sentenced for this…) This really can’t remain like this anymore, if China wants to become the harmonious civilization it intends to be…

 

Either way, China is still a very safe country today, compared to most western countries, and I really hope it can stay this was for a long time! But I guess the government will seriously need to deal with the fast growing income inequality, otherwise I guess criminality rates will skyrocket soon… :-/

 

After the walk (A very nice one, by the way…), I took bus “Special 11” home again, which took a lot longer than normal… it was a Friday, and then the traffic jams are apparently considerably longer than usual…

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