Author Zhang Lijia remembers her youth and tells the world it is about time to stop criticising China, in Comments are for free of The Guardian. She documents the massive changes the world has been going through but who are not seen by many in the outside world.
Yet Beijing’s Olympics will be a success because the majority of the population want them to be, not just because the government wants to use Olympic success to gain legitimacy. Xia Fengzhi, a 67-year-old retired worker and a volunteer, told me how happy and excited he is about the Games: ‘I want foreigners to see what China has achieved. We were called the “sick man of Asia”. Now we are strong and rich enough to hold such a major international event.’
Recent publications: Zhang Lijia in the New Statesman, Spitting Image, on nasty habits of the Chinese:
Nevertheless, I must admit that many of the uncivilised habits here come down to a lack of public concern. Speaking loudly in private is one thing, but doing so at dawn in a hotel when everyone else is sleeping is another. Once I took my nanny, an uneducated village girl, to the cinema to see a new film. In the middle of it, her laughing and loud comments about a black character’s large backside forced me to drag her out.