It is the new way to react to and deal with daily realities. For example, the beggars of today may not have benefited greatly from China joining the WTO, but they do not completely reject it either. It is interesting how the stories in this book bring out personal tensions as well as social ones. As ministers of the grace of God, we can take careful note as interviewees share their individual aspirations, hopes, dreams, and struggles though these stories. Aspiring basketball stars are a good example— they want fame and recognition, seeking to rise above their peers.
Unlike the corporate glory and team spirit valued in the past, these ball players have far more self-orientated goals.
At the same time, market forces and the thrust of global advertising stress personal image and status. Is the team more important than the individual star? This is a good question in a culture that has a strong group mentality and in which nationalism is growing stronger by the year. The subject of corruption had to be included.
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How angry are they? What can be done? They come to the conclusion that most ordinary Chinese citizens have half-formed, ambiguous views. The rule of man is, as ever, more powerful than the rule of law; dishonesty is seen, not so much in terms of personal moral failure, but as caused by structural pressures and temptations that are impossible to resist.
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One thing we learn from this chapter is that the glory ascribed depends on how you chose to achieve it. Concerning rural women, in some respects the reform era has accentuated their inferior position in society.
Due to the one child policy and resulting gender imbalance, poorer women are treated as commodities and arranged marriages are widespread because of this. Domestic violence and divorce are both increasing to an alarming pitch— be prepared for the horror stories. Little wonder the suicide rate among rural women in China is the highest in the world. Putting begging in historical context—going right back to the Shang dynasty—it makes fascinating reading. It can certainly be an easier and more lucrative lifestyle than that of sweatshop laborers in Guangdong, many of whom are cheated out of their wages.
We read here of diverse groups, some of whom group themselves into companies for mutual support and protection. Its stories, analyses and conclusions have opened my eyes to many key issues and my heart to many desperate needs.
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