Saturday, March 21, 2009

Street Stories in Beijing Today

Josh Eisenman and I are in China this week, visiting Beijing, Qingdao, Shandong, and Shanghai. This trip is a nice follow up to our Beijing delegation in September, which was right after the Olympics and right during the explosion of the global financial crisis in the news. At that time, Chinese experts were pleading with us, as Americans, to make sure the U.S. economy stayed on course. Now, there is a mixture of wariness about U.S. assets and triumphalism about Chinese economic policies.

We landed in Beijing this morning at 5am and already we have seen some interesting stuff. After some baozi (steamed buns) and coffee, we took a walk around the district of Haidian. I don't want to draw too many conclusions from this but we asked a man bounding down the street for directions. He was clutching a black book. We asked him about the book and was very proud to tell us it was a Holy Bible. "Hallelujah," he said to us. That he was so open about his religiosity seems to track with a more open view toward religion here.

Another quick story: A migrant couple selling street food were harassed by police. The police, who filmed the interaction, demanded that the couple move their cart. They confiscated the cart despite their pleading that they needed to sell the food to feed their children. Possibly pointing to a big question of whether migrants in the cities have the rights they deserve, in my opinion.

No comments: