A Trip to China
I picked segment II to link to because it deals with China and I just heard a fascinating story from my brother about that country just the other night.
In the Hansen interview above, Robinson quotes New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and his infatuation with how the Chinese get things done, crediting it's autocratic form of government as if it is the way of the future.
Hansen smiles and points out people were saying almost exactly same laudatory things about the Nazis and Mussolini in 1939. He said China has a myriad of problems it is going to have to deal with in the near future from demographic issues to nuclear threats on its border.
He said it is one thing to fly into Bejing airport and be impressed with how new and beautiful it is, but to see the real China, he should go further inland, get on a bike and ride through the equivalent of Nebraska. He would see a very different world than what he sees in the big cities.
Which brings me to the story my brother, the Obama supporter, told me.
A business acquaintance of his was opening a potato chip plant somewhere in the interior of China. He was going to be there for a while so he asked his fiance, a Indiana girl who had never been out of the Hoosier state, to join him. So she goes. She flys to L.A. then to Bejing where she is greeted by a car and driver arranged by her fiance. She is driving along this superhighway, where hers is the only car on the road.
Thousands of Chinese are on bicycles and walking on this highway, when, suddenly, BAM! her driver hits one of them. The victim, a woman flies over the roof of the car and lands on the roadway, obviously killed. The Indiana girl is horrified but the driver keeps going. She implores him to stop. He shakes his head and say four words in English:
"We stop, they kill."
They continue on, and are only driving another few minutes when the driver hit a SECOND pedestrian, killing her too.
By the time, she reached her destination, she was a wreck. After being consoled by her husband to be, she woke the next morning and looked outside. She saw dense gray smog hovering the landscape. The yard of their resident contained the only patch of grass for blocks. Looking out the window, she saw to two Chinese peasants. They were on the grass, squatting and evacuating their bowels.
Welcome to China. It's not futuristic, autocratic paradise Thomas Friedman seems to think.