What can you say about China leaving aside the obvious comments about politics.

China is as everyone should be aware by now going through an incredible period of modernisation and change. On a superficial level we have all seen the Bond movie scene in Shanghai the massive glass and steel skyscrapers that define to many of us the change in the economic and political role that modern China inhabits.

But the level of social and cultural change has to be experienced  to be believed.

The determined drive towards modernisation has brought about the an obliteration of the past.


A lack of interest in parochial, post colonial architecture means that in mega cities like Beijing and Shanghai the only evidence of the remarkable history of China is reflected in grand Imperial and religious buildings, ironically the peoples past has almost ceased to exist.

Socially this rush towards the future is allowing a blurring of the immediate or recent past which is being reinterpreted or lost or lost altogether in a blend of modern Confucius thought.

Chairman Mao once the great and glorious leader is know the respected  founder of modern China and the “cultural revolution” and red guard are seen as iconoclasts who tried to destroy large elements of Chinese cultural heritage. The dissidents of Tiananmen Square  are now spoken of with some respect as harbingers of modernisation In general the educated English speaking middle class and professional class will all be party members and if questioned about the pace of change and the destruction and the redevelopment of the cities will take the line that the China is still a poor country with many people and the most important task is to improve the lives of ordinary people, this still requires lots of development.

People are quite open about the problems that still exist in the poor rural and sparsely populated west of China which accounts for almost 64% of China’s land mass but less than 4% of the population. The attraction of the megalopolis of Beijing with 20 million population and hundreds of square miles for poor western Chinese is easy to see Giant French Supermarkets and local shops add to that the schools and Universities and the statistic that 80% of Beijing high school students go on to university and it seems an almost impossible task to stop the drift to the cities.

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