The irony that from ancient Chinese antiques history, when the Economist says China was by far the richest nation in the world. Marco Polo was thought mad for all his wild stories of this fabled land, even though diamonds and gemstones, riches and silks that he wore ten layers thick under his beggars poor coat. There was also this advance in civilization called gunpowder, which was to change Europe forever.
In fact, the first use of gunpowder in Europe was not so far from Venice, over in those always feuding Balkin areas. Some genius filled a long narrow church bell with hard things and gunpowder and turned it sideways, and wicked it, lit it, again and again, and call me George or Dick but the castle wall was down, and us conquering heroes poured through the hole in the castle wall, and all inside died bloody deaths very soon. And western civilization was now on a quicker march, thank you China. No more building castles, other than for vanity in Texas or Dubai.
And this return of China to expanding wealth and the return of the Middle Kingdom to be a respected, mighty force to be reckoned with is now seen by the British television station now allowed much greater access and freedom to move and film. We begin to feel joyful at the pure sweet innocent of the younger school children as they vote for the first time for a hall monitor. Tradition says much here, the English words on the screen tells us what the little cluster of girls at the camera ask, what is this vote?
And when they learn of such a thing that does exist is such amazing news. You see them point to themselves, and their friends, and then over to the tallest boy, which is how tradition chooses we are told. But they all feel he is a bully and he pulls your shirt. We watch the days go by, and the camera crew now spend their time going home with a smaller boy who has told the smirking taller boy that he is a bully, a dictator.
I almost fell over. The teacher put her hand to her mouth. The littler boy said if you think you are so right, let us have the class vote between us to see who they choose as hall monitor. The class explodes into cheers, which the English translation shows as yeah!
The taller boy is confident, he tells his father on their way home. He is a faster thinker, he always had a quick answer, and the other finally had nothing else to say. The father patted his son and said we shall see. The next day, after the excitement dies down, and the votes are taken from a clear plastic box and counted, the smaller boy has been chosen. The classroom bursts into cheers and applause.
The teacher scolds the class that this is not tradition, and they must listen to the new hall monitor even though he is not tallest. He then gives a short speech, that he will ask politely. And he will not pull your shirt. The class again goes wild with cheering children, hugging all around, with a nervous, smiling teacher looking on. Perhaps at history. And meanwhile, the news tells us that this year for the first time that more Chinese will use or own a cellphone than Americans.
And how they will be able to use that cell phone may have them be a part of that rather disturbing video on the web. It shows the screen, the voice of an operator at Joe’s Pizza, take you through your life history by your call, which she knows is on your cell. She chats so much about your life, your voice is getting rather frantic, the bill is now huge.
You ask how can you know all this about me, we have never met but you are on my way home and I just want a pizza? she smacks her gum and says oh we plugged into the system. Oops,you are just about out of gas, I see all your credit cards are maxed. Bring cash.
The Chinese version of this, now, is that we do not know what all may eventually happen to you if you are a proud citizen of this most glorious civilization ever, and keyboard in the words Tibet. Some Chinese girl, chewing gum or not, knows you want pizza from Tibet which is code for terrorist.
Lock your door, Susie Wong, until the men with the batons get back on the train and go back up to Tibet. There were several saffron robed skulls not bashed, so this was just a courtesy call. Big Panda will return, that lovable huggy fellow, so cuddly. See him cuddle Tibet? Well, China is only a baby democracy, still soiling itself, and cannot contain all it’s old habits at once. I understand they today lectured Greece for lack of security when that Tibet man with a flag ran past just when the leader of China was speaking of brotherhood.
We can rest assured, I gather, the police of China will be much more quick than those old democracies in Athens. What do they know of crowd control? They may have thought, well, when on a stage in Athens, a man can have his moment, his statement. We will see none of that nonsense in Beijing. You can bet your Ming sword on that. Or your Chairman Now phone. Oh well, progress.