After reading Foreign Minister Steinmeier‘s insightful article Our Wish List For China, I'd like to say something as a native Chinese about changes of our life and our "wish list" for China, which may be a bit more detailed.
First let's start with the dramatic changes, which have happened in China during the last years. I still remember the failure in our bidding for 2000 Olympics in 1992. I was only a primary student at that time. The teachers asked us --every primary student, to donate money in order to support our country's bidding. Most of us were willing and happy to participate in these collections, because of our intense desire to have a successful Olympics in our homeland. But as we all know, we were beaten by Sydney at last. We felt regrettable about the failure in our first Olympics bidding at that time, but 16 years later, when a primary student become a graduate student, I realize it may be a doomed failure for insufficient preparation.
I mean lacking of a solid economic foundation and a more stable, tolerant, and social policy, and a more practical diplomatic strategy. Can you imagine that such a large country needs thousands of primary students to donate money in its bidding for Olympics ? But 16 years later things are totally different. China now has enough economic and financial power to hold a successful Olympics without any students' donation. Instead, old people now can have higher pensions. We have many possibilities and can make an individual choice and lead stable life.
But it's true that we still have many problems. Besides what have been mentioned in Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier's article, I'd like to say something about inefficient governance and other social problems.
One of the major problems is social inequality, which can be seen in unequal job opportunities, unequal promotion opportunities, and unequal education opportunities. I don't know whether it is also one of the major headaches in foreign countries, but these days I feel this inequality intensely. For instance, when someone, especially the government department or undertakings, are employing new employees. The most important thing they keep in mind is not, whether a candidate's education background, knowledge, working experience, etc., qualify him for the position, but that he has "GUAN XI". In English, this word means relations, here it means you just need to ask some powerful relatives or friends who know those employers to say something good about you and you will get that job, no matter how terrible your performance is during the interviews. That's insufficient governance, because those unqualified persons drive out the real excellent candidates and keep staying in that position, but do nothing. That means no matter how good your performance is in your job interview, you are doomed to fail, because every employer has a certain person in mind who they want. Even when you ask them why you are eliminated, because your score in the interview is much higher than that "certain person", you will get an absurd answer. And after the publication of every candidate's interview score, they call that "certain" candidate back and change his sore, without informing anyone. That's a real case which my classmate has experienced yesterday. That's what they do in governmental or undertaking's employment and it has became an unwritten rule. Someone may propose to go to some agencies making a complaint. But the fact is, you can try, but no quick result, or even no result at all will be there. I think most Chinese have been accustomed to this kind of things and if things aren't really terrible they won't choose to make a complaint or go to the court, because those guys can always use "GUAN XI" to do something and to block your effort.
Another major problem concerns the improvement of the farmers' living standard. It may also relate to the problem of social inequality. The party has focused on facilitating the development in rural areas and has improved the farmers' life for decades, but one of the basic problems is the unequal social insurance system. I know more about Western social insurance systems. But in China the farmers can't enjoy the same insurance as people who live in the cities. That means, if you were born in a farmer's family, the only choice is to study hard to enter the universities and leave your hometown, then find a good job in a city, or you will work in your farmland all your life without any medical insurance or pension. The only financial support comes from your children when you are so old that you can't work on the farm any more. As humans we all will have diseases, but the price for medicines and therapy is very high compared to the income of Chinese farmers. If those farmers don't have medical insurance or any pension or other income sources, one family member's disease will force the whole family into misery poverty, no matter how much you have saved during the past years. How could their living standard be improved if they obviously don't have basic insurance? That's a big problem for the Party and government, because China has such a large population living in rural areas.
What I mentioned above may focus more on the domestic problems, because that's from our real life. I may write too long, but that is only a part of my wish list. Many people always say that China should change this, China should change that, actually I think Chinese people know what they need.
All my family will stay at home watching the opening of the Olympics. Yes we feel proud. It's true that China's rise attracts the whole world's attention. I think the Party will make great efforts to take this opportunity to show their achievements of the last years, but for me, I hope this could be a good chance for the world to know more about Chinese culture, and Chinese people.
Li Yu holds a Master's degree from Zhejiang University.