After 3 or so weeks in the country, (many for the first time) they had gained the irritating view that they understood the complexities of this extremely complex and mysterious land, and that they could expel their beliefs with the confidence of a local inhabitant to all and sundry.
Firstly Beijing during the Olympics was probably as far from reality as you can get. A bit like landing in a working class street during the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations or the marriage of Charles and Diana, anyone visiting the UK for the first time during this period would have thought we were all kind, generous, happy, welcoming, and completely patriotic – if they had arrived several weeks earlier or later – maybe a different experience would have been had? Beijing was a bit like this – a street party for all comers to enjoy (as long as they were from the Chinese Middle classes or foreign), a party town, brightly decorated with flags, clean streets, painted signs and manicured green areas. People were on their best behaviours, tolerant of visitors and charitable to strangers, Christ even the taxi drivers wore shirts and ties.
So given this, I am normally very patient with this kind of conversation from ‘newbies’. After meeting your 10,000th person who knows all about the country you live in you adopt a skill I refer to as “hearing without listening”. So I was surprised when something really upset me during the conversation I was having with this particular women. I wont embarrass her or me in releasing her name, but this was the anchor lady from a UK TV News program, a very famous, well educated, well dressed, well travelled, Porsche Driving (That may give the game away to people who know her) alpha female – the type that would eat you alive, and leave most men in a jelly like state after her whip lashing tongue had finished destroying any male ego you had the audacity to possess. She was like a Chinese Moon cake (I will explain in a later Blog) tempting and attractive on the outside, only to find a strong, spicy, and pungent filling on the inside.
She berated me on my reasons for living in China, explaining that by living here I was outwardly supporting an oppressive, violent and dictatorial establishment. That by paying individual and corporate tax I was directly supporting the murder of innocent people whose only crime was to disagree with the single political party strategy.
Yes “Bollocks”, sorry but I couldn’t help it. I knew it would be impossible to talk reason with someone who had a profound believe, and such a passionate viewpoint on these matters. I could have come up with a Pulitzer Prize winning speech, a Barack Obama crowd-pleasing address to a field of party faithful, all to try and change her mind, but I reverted to type.