My notebook entry – When I entered China for the my first business trip in early April, 2011!
News papers in general give you a good sense of a country. For a political observer like me I try to see through the tone of news papers to get the sense of the country. Hong Kong news paper, as I waited for my flight to Beijing were clearly in a different league. Mostly talking about finance and the real estate (occasionally Iphones and Ipad), they had clearly got their priorities right.
One of the interesting article I read was about how Shanghai was voted the most preferred city in Greater China for a company to base their Asia Pacific Head quarters. Interestingly Hong Kong is very much worried about this development. Traditionally Singapore was their only competitor and now Shanghai had not only emerged as a serious competitor but also had over taken them completely.
South China Morning Post, the news paper from HK had a different overtone; For starters it was talking politics and then was carrying news items which were critical of mainland china policies. It focussed one of its lead news story on an activist who incidentally was the co-designer of Bird’s nest stadium for Beijing Olympics. The activist was trying to uncover the cases of corruption in Sichuan province in China. He was arrested and SCMP had a very critical opinion on the arrest.
On the flight to Beijing, I picked up another news paper “China Daily”. Well it would have even given DoorDarashan (DD) jitters in terms of the news articles it carried. I really gained some respect for our DD for carrying news items which are not comfortable with respect to the ruling dispensation. I read through the entire newspaper and could not find anything which was not more than official press release. However there was one interesting thing that I noted.
There was not a single mention of “India”. Neither as a country of consequence, competition or even being news worthy. Only country used for reference and for competition was US. It was all about how to compete better with US. News article about GM now selling more cars in China then in US was considered as major success story. Story of HTC eclipsing Nokia in market capitalization was another.
My mind suddenly recalled Indian news papers who spend reels of news paper printing anything and everything related to China. And here it was a country who could not care less about India. As I sat through the flight, while reading through the airline magazine similar thing got reflected. Mood was upbeat (press releases usually are), however disregarding India was something an Indian could not have missed.
On a side note, as I landed in Beijing and reached my hotel, I had the comfort factor to know that if the two countries were not connected through politics, at least social behavior of taxi operators was “more or less” the same. I was duped by taxi operator who charged me 350 RMB for a 30 minute driver which usually is not more worth than 100 RMB as informed to me later by the Hotel Staff. I could not care less after then, I knew he gave me an important education of being in china.