|Obamacare, not exactly a great healthcare system (thanks to its opponents) but much more egalitarian than communist China's, "no money, no treatment" take on healthcare.|
So one of the biggest culture shocks I was lampooned with when I arrived in China, was the way Chinese people treat their poor. There is no sympathy for the man sleeping in the street, the simple beggar or the cripple with no hope of finding work. Many a time I would walk past the man with no legs as he sat motionless and expressionless on the pavement outside the brand new Gucci outlet. Being British I felt an overwhelming urge to give him my money, but it seemed I was alone. At night I could see scores of homeless men sleeping rough under the highway overpasses or in the doorways of unfinished luxury apartment buildings.
No one cared.
|A Child Sleeps rough on the Streets of Zhengzhou, China.|
I asked my English students what was going on? Was this normal, and were all Chinese Cities like this? They told me that these homeless sleepers were poor but that it was their own fault. Perhaps they were lazy when young and didn't work hard enough. Maybe they didn't study at school or they were former criminals unable to get a job. I was offered a lot of explanation but not a lot of sympathy.
"Isn't China supposed to be communist?", I probed.
"We are communist!" One or two of my students proclaimed angrily.
"So why aren't you all equal then, Isn't that communism", I probed the increasingly agitated mob once more.
"China's system is communism but not everyone is the same", they explained.
"Ah, so some of you are more equal than others!"
They didn't notice my Orwellian realisation.
|This was supposed to be a picture of the pigs from animal farm. Unfortunately they Chinese Government decided I wasn't allowed to google such undesirable filth!|
Leaving aside the seemingly 19th Century Chinese attitude towards the poor is the phenomenon of fake beggars. Perfectly fit beggars who work hard for 8 hours a day trying to look as pathetic as they can to garner sympathy and cash from the more progressive and gullible elements of Chinese society. According to my Chinese friends, these people drive beamers, live in great big apartments and always have the latest iPhone. I thought this was just a creation of the Chinese government to make people less aware and less concerned about the gaping inequalities in this post communist superstate. But today, as I was coming out of work, I noticed a scruffy old man coming out of an expensive coffee chain complete with a grande latte. As he descended the escalator he checked his brand new Samsung Galaxy Smartphone before taking off his brand new hat. He turned his hat upside down and held it in his had as he got off the escalator and put the change from his coffee in his hat. He turned his attentions to me and said,
"Qian qian qian, xing xing hao ba". (Money money money, please please, I beg you).
|A supposedly fake beggar in China|
Maybe the Chinese have the right attitude to the poor after all.
Now before you judge me and call me and evil Tory, this is the reality in Zhengzhou, not in all cities (Qingdao and Xi'an are a few exceptions) but in quite a few places, these are the attitudes and fake beggars really exist.
Prepare yourself before you come to china!