The article I read was titled “Healing traditions go abroad” from the “China Daily” on www.chinaculture.org. It spoke of traditional Mongolian medicine and it’s critics, as well as the recent interest shown from the west. I’d always been most interested in acupuncture, bone setting, and the use of water in the traditional medicine. It’s promising to read that the Chinese government is encouraging advances in traditional Mongolian medicine and it’s expansion; “In 2013, the health department of Inner Mongolia reached an agreement with the US National Institutes of Health to promote the study of Mongolian medicine.” The article mentioned that Chinese doctors who were studying western medicine, some even abroad, were now coming back to learn the traditional methods. Ulaan is the director of the State-owned Inner Mongolia International Mongolian Hospital, which opened in 2012. She discussed their recent invitation to an international forum organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), after specialists from WHO witnessed traditional Mongolian medicine at work for themselves.
The topic of cost was also brought up, mentioning how much cheaper the traditional medicine was. Ulaan points out that taking many of the “sophisticated medical instruments and expensive drugs” leaves the focus on the doctor’s experience and ability. I definitely agree that it’s hard to understand and comprehend the traditional methods when one hasn’t witnessed them in person, but I’d like to think I have faith in some of the traditional methods. Though I know a few people who swear by acupuncture, but have yet to experience it myself. I feel as though some of the other traditional methods are not as common or popular in the west as acupuncture has become. I’m curious to know if anyone in the class has had acupuncture before, or experienced/witnessed traditional Mongolian medicine methods. I’m also curious as to just how popular traditional medicine is in China compared to western medicine, now, in 2014, and if it has grown or dwindled in popularity in the last decade.
The generation this film seemed to focus on was the generation that was just starting, or in the middle of, college during the Tiananmen square incidents of 1989. This specific event has had significant impact on their opinions and views of the Chinese government and society. As mentioned, this generation can still remember food rations from when they were young, but are now living in a society where surplus is possible. Many of this generation are coming back from abroad as well, with different views on life, business, and love from the west. There are big dreams with an increasingly vocal middle-class. While the older generation seems caught in tradition, young adults are challenging some of those views. One thing that I definitely believe has a huge impact on the lives of the Chinese people at the time, is the large portion of the population, near 70%, that does not have health insurance. There’s also the enormous number of migrant workers pouring into the city from the countryside, looking for better opportunities and money. Another change in society is the young generation choosing work over their spouse and family, along with the take off of Internet relationships, such as Wang Xiaolei’s. Lu Dong and his emphasis on Christianity also interested me, as none of the other interviewees mentioned their religious beliefs and it’s impact on their everyday life. I was especially impressed with Ben Wu, whom I found one of the most interesting people in the film. I was happy to hear him talk about the business of bribing officials and how he struggles with that idea, as it goes against his morals. He also was working with foreign investors for his Internet café, which I understand was becoming much more common at the time. Another fascinating part of his life was his relationship with his wife, who was living in the states, along with his parents and brother. This new faction of the generation, where couples live apart from each other, both working, seems to be becoming more common. I’m glad they mention the one child policy, as I am curious to see what happened with Xu Weimin and his wife as they were expecting a second child at the end of the film. I think another huge impact on society would be the changing view on relationships. As mentioned by a few of the interviewees, many believe in marrying for money now, as stability is craved. Less and less are looking for love, but rather money and competency. I’d love to be able to follow up with the interviewees now, in 2014. I’m curious to see if Ben Wu got his solar power business running, whether or not Lu Dong has found a relationship, how well Wang Xiaolei’s rapping career has taken off, whether or not Yang Haiyan has left her home for work, and more.
Around 10 years ago, my mother made a trip to China with a group of teachers. She excitedly relayed her experience and the amazing art, food, and culture she was able to experience. However, she had one major complaint, and that was the air quality. She said the difference was so noticeable, just after stepping off the plane and her nose and throat hurt a bit the first few days as she got used to the smog. The title of the article I read is “China’s Air Pollution Monitoring Network: Too Little, Too Late?” I’m sure everyone is well aware of the air pollution problems that China is facing, but I learned some new facts in this article that shocked me a bit at just how serious it is. One that really surprised me was a study done by the National Academy of Sciences, whom revealed that their studies indicated that someone living in the north of China has their life expectancy cut short by 5½ years due to the pollution. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s official, Xu Donggun, says that the smog in 2013 has affected 600 million people, which is nearly half the nation’s population. During last year’s national holiday in October, heavy smog caused for the shut down of more than 30 highways and even some airports in Beijing and the surrounding areas. The State Council has suggested a number of initiatives to help with the ever-increasing problem, such as shifting towards renewable energy sources, improving vehicle fuel quality, and downsizing the high-polluting industrial sectors. The people are complaining that despite all the talk of different programs that will be implemented or measures being taken, the amount of time seems too long. By the time the actual process of cleaning the air starts, how much worse will the situation be? The money and time needed to build a national monitoring system, and for everyone agree to new cleaner measures as well as downsizing major industrial centers may be harder and take longer than anticipated. I’m curious as to how big the difference is now as compared to when my mother went. She spent most of the trip in Beijing, which is one of the big problem cities, along with others such as Shanghai. I’d like to read more about the specifics of the measures China was planning on taking.
Everyone seems well aware of North Korea’s ever-increasing economic dependence on China, but the question remains as to why China doesn’t turn around that dependence and use it’s importance to North Korea in more influential ways. After all, it’s not unknown that China is losing patience with North Korea. As North Korea’s strongest, and one of few, allies, China is being kept in the dark about most of North Korea’s internal happenings – politically and socially. The recent execution of Jang Song-thaek, who was in many ways, China’s primary opening into the North, only succeeds in isolating China further from North Korea’s inner activities. The real question is to why China chooses to continue supporting North Korea and only half-heartedly taking action against the isolated communist country. Considering how deeply China is entwined to the U.S., economically, and China and South Korea’s increased trade and promotion of ties, one would think that the answer is more obvious. Beijing seems to be at a standstill as to what to do with North Korea and it’s young dictator. North Koreans who are too closely connected with China are now being suspected as well. Besides the execution of Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, anyone connected to him is now in danger. Reports of more executions and purges of these governmental officials have been surfacing. Despite all this, China’s odd relationship with North Korea has been, and remains, an important aspect of the country. The two countries have sometimes been referred to as the parent and the uncontrollable, trouble-making child. There are suspects that believe that the memories of the Korean War are another reason for China’s confusing standpoint on how to handle the small Communist country. With China’s economy so tied up with the west, and North Korea’s ever increasing isolation from their only real provider, one wonders how much longer China will be willing to show any sort of backing for the country.
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Fig 2. Economan. 2008. Digital Image. Available from: Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/22566227@N07/3074783217(accessed January 14, 2014).
Fig 3. Billykid11. 2010. Digital Image. Available from: Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41892310@N08/5229174654(accessed January 14, 2014).
Fig 4. Herry Lawford. 2009. Digital Image. Available from: Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/32662631@N00/3228640890(accessed January 14, 2014).
Fig 5. Midnightmare. 2011. Digital Image. Available from: Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/38540442@N05/5884887018(accessed January 14, 2014).