BACK FROM CHINA
“Let China sleep, for when she wakes up she will shake the world” (Napoleon Bonaparte)
Part of a group of almost 70, I visited Beijing, the capital of the People Republic of China, one of the four remaining communist countries in the world. It was a week of laughter, networking, education, culture, shopping and entertainment. On these, China has much to offer. We came back exhausted and jet lagged, but enriched and relaxed.
That was my second trip to the Middle Kingdom. I remain speechless by how much progress a country can achieve in 15 years, as the sheer result of patriotism and nationalism at work.
In the lapse of 60 years, China has developed from a defeated and impoverished land to a superpower in waiting. The country, humiliated then abandoned by the European powers, has soundly rebounded. Today, it has the largest economy in the world. It has curbed down its overpopulation problem. It lists among the most advanced systems of education, healthcare, science, technology, and communication.
Contrarily to Western Europe, China has a pyramidal population, where the base can sustain economic expansion and its retirees in waiting. Through protectionism and currency management, it has kept a formidable positive balance on international trade. Its military is the largest and among the most sophisticated on the planet.
Tourism is exploding, China is the third most visited country. Its international outreach goes in par. From Burma to Canada, China has established help, cooperation, and development projects on all continents; 16 major ones in Africa alone. It is internationalizing its workforce; children are learning English, in school, from the age of 5.
Flight 819 of Air China flew us out of China International Airport, at around 9:30 AM. We were airborne for 13+ hours. That was a full flight. There were close to 700 passengers on the plane, distributed over 80 rows. I slept seven straight hours, before waking up in front of an aging breakfast. The rest of the time, I read, ambulate, and engaged in conversation with my co-travelers.
We landed at around 10:30 AM at EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport), close to the time we left China. This is the magic trick of travelling from East to West. Long lines rapidly melt during the process of immigration clearance.
So much luggage! They had to be distributed on two conveyors. It took a long time. That was also the time for goodbye. Kisses, hugs and pictures were shared while everyone promised to meet again, in Dubai in April, or in South Africa in October. These meted moments in Beijing will be forever precious. Everyone felt the need to “do it again”.
In the limo driving me home, I could not wait to hug my children. They were out of school on Columbus Day… But sitting idle, I could not wait thinking at the future of the world.
China is on its way to becoming the #1 superpower on this planet. That is inevitable, barring a major war, or a major natural disaster. Beside the military, China seems to have little to envy from the U.S. Its advantage is a population five times as large, driven by debt-free education and affordable healthcare.
The rest of the world may not have to speak Mandarin; in another 15 years, most Chinese will speak English. This will be the miracle of the American-led globalization… If the West wants to keep its preeminence, it needs to change its game. And quickly
Once again, I visited a foreign land, I came back enhanced and elated. I confirmed once again, that there is little difference between the elements of the human race. Blacks, browns, reds, whites have the same goals and the same dreams. It is unfortunate that we refuse to be on the same team. It would be so much easier if we were to play “All for one, and one for all”.
I am a citizen of the world. If the Caribbean is my homeland, the world is my patria, and Warrenville is my home. I am home, back from the Far East, back to the rat race… It is so good to be back home.
I am still jet lagged, dragging my body around like an exhausted red dragon.
Until the next adventure, it was The Traveller.
(The Traveller, Saturday, October 14, 2016)
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