Friday, May 27, 2005

One Country, Two Systems

This is the Chinese motto regarding Hong Kong and it is fitting. HK has its own currency, postal system, immigration, etc. Although it is part of China, for immigration purposes we have left China and entered HK. Mainland Chinese people do not have the right to freely travel to HK - they have to get passports and special permission. Like the Cubans on the rafts, there are numerous stories of Chinese mainlanders who swim across the shark-infested bay in search of a new life here.

Hong Kong is NY and Las Vegas put together. Bright lights, "massage" parlors with sleazy looking women wearing next to nothing and insanely crowded streets. It is what mainland China would look like if the decadent side of consumerism dominated the cultural landscape. That said, politically, HK is shaping what mainland China will ultimately become and, it seems to me that, if Taiwan wants to get in on the economic party, obtaining legal status similar to that of HK would be a win-win for both sides.

This is the first time I have been able to read my blog since I left Egypt. Wow - the little things we take for granted.

On the Chinese-side of the barbed-wire border between HK and China is a town called ShenZhen. It is a special trade zone that the Chinese government created to emulate HK on the mainland. As with HK, mainlanders need special permission to enter. It is where you find a lot of the factories and offices of multinational corporations. Perched atop the buildings are Ford, GM and Land Rover signs -- symbolizing the new world order, the new economy. Apparently, economic expansion in ShenZhen is happening so fast that they can't find enough people interested in leaving their families for a rewarding career of making snow globes, zippers and odometers. Companies are being forced to increase the wages to attract more mainlanders to a life of monotonous 6-day-per-week factory work. Current wages are around 1,000Y per month ($1 = 8.25Y).

The next time some yahoo dumbfuck American complains that Mexicans are taking jobs from Americans, he should be put on a plane to ShenZhen to see where the jobs really have gone.

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