GENERAL CURIOSITIES OF THE COUNTRY – PART 2

Part 2 of the General Curiosities of the Country! Although sometimes challenging, memories of travelling through China will stay with you far beyond your trip. The good, the bad and the ugly. But, not to worry, I am here to guide you through this fascinating, invigorating, incredibly beautiful, diverse and exciting country without getting nun-chucked in the face. Just take note of the following and let the burping, slurping and line-cutting commence!



THE CONTROVERSIAL ONE CHILD POLICY – WHAT IS IT REALLY ALL ABOUT?

Introduced in 1979 and formally phased out in 2015, the one child policy is a policy of much controversy. Although 36% of China’s population was subject to a strict one-child restriction, an additional 53% were allowed to have a second child if the first child was a girl and many ethnic minorities were exempt. Governments imposed fines for violations, commissions were created to ensure the law was abided by and in addition to this, sterilisations and contraceptive devices were surgically implanted. Over 400 million women were affected and although not confirmed, the Chinese government claims they prevented over 400 million births between 1980-2014.

The four-two-one
By the time the first generation of one-child policy children came around to having children themselves, they would each have to support their two parents as well as four grandparents. Because of this, couples who were only-children themselves, are allowed to have two children in order to combat this issue.

Even though the one-child policy has been lifted, recent UN rapports state that the Chinese population will be in full decline by 2028 and the population numbers will be surpassed by India, where “family planning” has not been regulated. Even though population numbers have increased since 2000, the birth rate has declined by 40%!

AIR POLLUTION – IS IT REALLY THAT BAD?

Blue skies in Beijing are rare, some days you really do not want to open a window, let alone go outside. Smog, a result of the “economic prosperity” through high demand for cheaply made products, comes in from factories surrounding the city, drifting in with the wind.

Younger generations brace the fumes, wearing face masks they hope will protect them from this by-product of economic success. Older generations, however, seem to be in denial about the quality of the air they breathe (not to mention the polluted land and toxic rain that grows their food, but we’ll save that topic for another time). But it really can’t be as bad as we are made to believe? Can it?

All and all I have “lived” in China for 6 months and I can tell you, it can be, depending on the day and weather. Some days are bad, some days are worse, and some days are really absolutely fine. Yes, those days were present too. On the bad days, though, I would be fatigued, have throat pain, spontaneous nose bleeds and I would even sometimes lose my voice. Did I mention I wore the best over-the-counter facemask I could find (3M, that is said to filter 95% of the dangerous particles)? However, friends of mine really weren’t fazed at all, so I guess it all comes down to how sensitive to it you are.

Recent studies, though show that unlike the popular belief that inhaling the smog is like smoking a pack of cigarettes day, it is actually more like smoking one-sixth of a cigarette, also known as second-hand smoke.

I guess the fact that they had to create a special pollution chart for Beijing because it simply didn’t fit within the “standard pollution” scale is something we should take with a grain of salt… Or shouldn’t we?

No matter how you spin it, pollution is bad. However, it really can be managed and it should definitely not keep you from exploring this fantastically diverse, amazingly beautiful (for a glimpse of HOW amazingly beautiful this country is, click the link below for photos of Jiuzhaigou National Park), invigorating and mesmerising country.

OPPOSITE TO COMMON BELIEF, CHINA IS NOT A COMMUNIST COUNTRY –

Though China was a communist country during Mao Zedong’s rule, after his death, the country, surprisingly enough to great sadness by many, embraced capitalism. China has a one-party political system and is currently a really rather socialist country.

The current ruling party, the Communist Party of China, is incorrectly assumed by the world to be the representation of the entire countries beliefs. That would be like assuming the whole USA is republican just because Trump is president.

THE CHARACTER CONFUSION –

A single character is not one word, but some words use just one character and most characters carry individual meaning. Confused? Let me explain. Although most words are made up of two or more characters, the characters do all carry individual meanings and multiple characters represent a single concept or word. Chinese is a morphemes language, meaning a unit of language or word (characters) can’t be further divided.

For example, the word ‘believe’ – XiangXin, is made out of two characters相信. 相 (Xiang) by itself means mutually/each other, whereas 信 (Xin) means trust. Together they make up the word – ‘Believe’. Another example is American – (MeiGuoRen) 美国人. 美(Mei) by itself means beautiful, 国 (Guo) means country and 人 (Ren) means person – Beautiful (美) Country (国)People(人), or American (America is also referred to as Beautiful Country).

Moreover, the Chinese believe that language should be harmonious (or yin-yang) so they prefer to use more than one character to describe something.

CAN YOU REALLY SEE THE GREAT WALL FROM SPACE? –

Unfortunately, no (that would be pretty cool). However, there have been beautiful pictures taken with powerful zoom lenses that would make you believe otherwise.

WHATS WITH ALL THE CRACKED TROUSERS? –

When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go and the Chinese seem to have made things a lot easier, not to mention accessible, by eliminating, well, (rather important, part of) pants.

Rain or shine, all over China you’ll see children running around with big slits down their butts. Whenever nature calls, they simply squat down and do their business. Whether that business is in the middle of the street, sidewalk, bus station or even in line on a tube platform (lovely), there they go. Although this is somewhat of an unusual way of solving a problem, you’ve got to give the Chinese credit for their sheer ballsy-ness,

inventiveness and let’s be honest here, it’s probably one of the more mundane things you’ll see on the streets of this fascinating country.

OPEN-AIR DENTISTS OFFICE –

Walking through one of the most fascinating, not to mention lovely parts of Beijing, the Hutongs, you’ll come across a whole bunch of unusual sights, snacks and activities. But who knew that you can now get a tooth pulled or get a teeth cleaning on the way to work? Sit down at one of the open-air – also
known as a chair on the side of the road – dentists and get seen by one of the rugged looking, what I can only assume are handymen, providing this, apparently sought after, service.

I’m sure you’ll definitely get bang for buck! Take your dentistry and keep ’em, NHS.

THE FACE-KINI –

The creators of the Bur-kini now bring you the latest creation in cover-up swimwear – The Face-kini.
Having porcelain-like skin has been, and still is, the desire of many Chinese and is highly regarded within the Chinese culture.

On top of the whitening products widely used throughout the country and make-up products catering to this demand, the newest trend is coming from the beaches Qingdao. The Face-kini is worn on the beach to protect the skin, keep it from tanning, and apparently to protect the wearer from jellyfish stings?…

NAPPING –

As we all know, napping is serious business. You nap, I nap, everybody naps naps? However, nobody naps like the Chinese nap. In fact, they are SO good at napping that someone has actually started a website (HERE www.sleepingchinese.com) dedicated to the unusual places people lie down their heads.

LOSING FACE – HOW NOT TO CAUSE LOSS OF FACE, OR LOSE YOUR OWN –

Losing face (being embarrassed) is not to be taken lightly and should be avoided at all times. No one is really clear on the exact rules of how not to make someone lose face (other than generally not being a knob) and truthfully when it comes to it, China is a potential-for-loss-of-face minefield.

To ensure you don’t cause someone to lose face, and to ever so graciously save your own, familiarise yourself with some of the Chinese etiquettes, do’s and don’ts HERE.

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