Recently, we read the following:
New York Times: “Tucked Away in Shanghai, Hidden Lives” by Howard W. French
“For the last couple of months I have spent the first part of each day either teaching at a Chinese university or writing.
“Nearly every afternoon, though … I have set off with camera in hand by motorcycle and subway to some of the fast-disappearing old neighborhoods of this city, to knock on the doors of hundreds of ordinary, working-class people…
“Through the time spent in the cramped, dimly lit homes of my subjects — people whose portraits I’ve taken for a long-term photographic project about the city’s oldest neighborhoods — I may have learned as much about Shanghai and about China as I did in five busy years as a correspondent here…
“… I had not expected to find so much evidence of China’s thriving quasi-underground religious culture here. In house after house, I found people worshiping privately as Christians or Buddhists…
“I think … of the poor and jobless Shanghainese parents in the old garment district who told me of their eagerness to be relocated across the river to Pudong, where the environment would be better…
“Inevitably, the theme of relocation comes up often in encounters like these, given the frantic pace of redevelopment….
“ ‘What they are doing here is simply unfair,’ he said, telling me how thugs had been dispatched to beat up residents who refused to quietly make way for the demolition.
“Others told me the stories of corrupt local officials, whom they said offered higher compensation for relocated people who were willing to pay bribes...”
And we thought:
…In China government corruption, state arrogance, and unequal opportunities appear to remain a way of life – despite having, for more than half a century, a supposedly proletarian and pro-people party at the helm.
Openness and transparency, the capacity to listen to constructive criticism and to engage in dialogue, are necessary to the process of social change. Unfortunately, the Chinese people themselves confirm that their leaders don't practice what they preach. Remember the Tiananmen Square massacre, the repression of the Uighurs...