China, the land that political correctness forgot

22 Nov

dalian girlChina is a fascinating and unique country. So unique, in fact, that you can almost forgive its rampant racism, its quest for global economic pre-eminence at all costs, its many and varied human rights abuses and its citizens occasionally pooing on the subway. This is, after all, a nation-civilisation that has always thought of itself as the centre of the world – the Middle Kingdom – with the Western global hegemony of the past couple of centuries a mere blip.

In fact, one of the mistakes us round-eyes make when looking at the inexorable rise of the Orient is to try and appraise it on our terms, which are Western terms, and shoehorn it into our historical narrative, which is a Western one. (This intro-ramble, by the way is basically a disclaimer for the following words, which some may unhelpfully regard as me sneering at the Chinese. That was only partly the intention.)

I am energised, fascinated and slightly terrified by what’s going on across the border in the People’s Republic. Case in point, this article from state-run rag the China Daily (via some forum). Yes, it’s apparently a survey of foreign nationals in China ranking the nation’s cities according to how fit their birds are.

For the record, girls from Dalian in the north-eastern province of Liaoning, are the tops, apparently due to their superior height, fair skin and strength of personality. Those from south of the Yantze, it says, are more graceful and yielding, but don’t have much personality – which has surely been a problem for men the world over since the dawn of time.

According to the report, Nanjing girls are ‘cultural’, Beijing girls are ‘capable’, Shanghai girls are ‘pretty’, and Guangzhou girls are ‘realistic’ … and make good soup. Now, without wanting to sound too sexist here, would you go for the Page 3 Stunner from Shanghai or the hunchback offering you a bowl of shark’s fin in broth? Yeah, thought so.

I’m sure equally bizarre, hilarious and terrifying things are happening all over the world. But all over the world, unfortunately, is not here; the country which will be the undeniable global superpower for the next few hundreds of years and therefore set the moral and cultural agenda for others to follow. Oh well, when in Rome…

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