I’m familiar with the city of Beijing — I was born in the place back in 1982 and spent my first six years there. I returned in late 2000 and in fact, the only years I have not been in the capital were 1989, 1990, and 1997 — even when in Europe, I’d always give the city a visit, even if it was for two weeks (shortest trip).
I’ve also been in nearly a hundred Chinese cities and right now, am just missing Xinjiang, Tibet, Guizhou, Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, and Ningxia before I’ve set foot on all Chinese provinces. And yes, I’ve also given Hong Kong and Macao, as well as what Zhongnanhai thinks of it as its “renegade province”, Taiwan, a visit.
There is a whole load of truthiness being spread about China. Yes, we are a communist country if you look at who’s running the show — by name (and probably in name only, if you were to come to especially our larger cities like Beijing and Shanghai). But the country is rich in things that Marx might have disapproved: expressway toll gates, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Apple Stores. We are also sometimes reported as a nation lost in smog, yet just about 50 miles northwest of Beijing are sceneries you would never imagine you’d find in the chronically polluted capital, Beijing. We are also said to be a nation of peasants, workers — ultimately not millionaires, yet it seems that the country is losing control to a new and burgeoning population of the nouveau riche with very Chinese characteristics — the tuhao.
It’s time put to put a cork in all of this fancy truthiness reporting that CNN, Auntie Beeb, and FOX News seems to be all too enthusiastic in doing. We are not “the people’s paradise”, and yet there is a lot to see and tweet about China if you just get up from your sofa and actually go places.
As someone who’s done a million kilometres and counting over nearly 200 cities in over 20 countries, he’s seen a very different China. A China that survives, even thrives, beyond the hype. Mao and the Great Wall are so yesteryear: here’s the real deal.
Welcome to Unhyped China. Here’s hoping you’ll enjoy the ride.