Just after the election of Donald Trump, some Americans discovered there is this other country, called China, that might gain a leading role in some international arenas. Unfortunately, most Americans have no clue about China, says journalist Zhang Lijia, author of Socialism Is Great!: A Worker’s Memoir of the New China, to John Pilger who visited the country for the New Internationalist Magazine.
I met Lijia Zhang, a Beijing journalist and typical of a new class of outspoken mavericks. Her best-selling book has the ironic title Socialism Is Great! She grew up during the chaotic and brutal Cultural Revolution and has lived in the US and Europe. ‘Many Americans imagine,’ she said, ‘that Chinese people live a miserable, repressed life with no freedom whatsoever. The [idea of] the yellow peril has never left them… They have no idea there are some 500 million people being lifted out of poverty, and some would say it’s 600 million.’
She described modern China as a ‘golden cage’. ‘Since the reforms started,’ she said, ‘and we’ve become so much better off, China has become one of the most unequal societies in the world. There are lots of protests now: typically, land being grabbed by officials for commercial development. But farmers are more aware of their rights; and young factory workers are demanding a better wage and conditions.’
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