Answer by Gabriel Butler:
There was a good article about what China has been doing right recently. One of the authors responded by making a list. Be sure to read the whole piece though. It's one of the best, most informative things I think I've ever read about China. ()
Here are the five things I agreed with the most from that list:
- A culture of hard work, thrift, and diligence that emphasises the importance of education.
- State atheism, broad state support of science over superstition and religion.
- Real family values: China is a culture that supports families; you can take a baby anywhere and no one will give you nasty looks about crying, etc.
- Acknowledgement of climate change and environmental problems at highest levels of government.
- Active state support for new energy and renewables.
There are a few things that I'd like to add to this list:
- Public transportation: Even the poorest cities in China have public transportation systems that function better than those in most major American cities. You need to have a car in most American cities because you can't rely on public transportation. In my hometown of San Diego, I have to wait at least half an hour for a bus or a trolley to arrive and they never arrive on time. I went to college in Los Angeles and the situation was even worse. In Huanggang, Hubei, the most impoverished place I've been to in my life, buses came about every five minutes every day of the week. Public transportation in major Chinese cities like Shenzhen and Beijing is even better. The subway system in Beijing is heavily subsidized, so you can travel as far as you need to on only 2 RMB. Shenzhen's subway system charges by distance, but it's still pretty cheap. Also, subway stations in China are usually very, very clean.
- Public safety: People generally aren't afraid to go out alone at night in China. This includes women. Chinese people aren't aren't afraid of getting shot either. Contrast that with the American crusade to arm as many people as possible in as many places as possible. That doesn't mean there isn't any violent crime here, but I like living in a country that isn't awash with guns because guns make violence worse than it has to be. ()
- Food: I look forward to every meal I have here, no matter how simple. China has an extremely rich culinary culture that will probably take a lifetime to explore. Also, I think the way Chinese people eat together is far superior to the way Americans eat together because Chinese people usually share everything at the table. When I go to a restaurant in America, I have a hard time picking what I want to eat because I want to try so many things, but I can only have one thing per visit. But in China, people order lots of dishes and share everything, so it's possible to try lots of things you're curious about or enjoy several things you know that you like in a single sitting.
No country is perfect and China certainly has its share of problems, but there are definitely a lot of things that are going quite well in China that aren't going so well in the US these days.