BEIJING: 3 Chinas
The Great Wall of China stretches over 2000 miles through the middle of modern day China. Weaving its way over the tops of the hills as far as the eye can see. It stands as a monument to the dominance of China as a world power that stretches back thousands of years. Long before European countries began to expand across the Atlantic and take control of Africa, the Chinese were trading with countries across the Pacific. They had printing before Gutenberg printed his Bible. They invented gun powder while Europeans were still fighting with swords and spears. Today we talk about the growth of China, a world power. But the truth is they were a global force long before the west realized there was a world outside of Europe.
Standing at the top of the Great Wall of China you can't help but see that there is more to China than the latest trade dispute you see on the evening news. Just a 45-minute drive away, in the center of Beijing, stands the Forbidden City. The Washington mall of China. Walking through it, you see three China's. The ancient empire, the communist party, and the modern economic power.
To the western observer it doesn't exactly make sense, but somehow we have accepted it. We can't live our daily lives without the existence of China. The technology we use every day at some point passed through China. Traveling through the city, it doesn't seem all that different than any other global city. People are just as attached to their smart phones, playing games, or talking to friends as a distraction on their way to work. At every turn, there are trappings of a modern consumer society standing side by side with the other two Chinas: the dynasty and the one party state.