Happy Birthday China?
This is a tremendous time to be in China. I believe four things have converged to create an historical moment: the hosting of the Olympics, the World Expo in Shanghai this year, the hosting of the Special Olympics for the first time, and the launching of a lunar satellite on the birthday of China.
I believe the emergence of China onto the world stage began with the 2008 Olympics. China not only invited the world to it’s doorstep but it had to confront the reality of environmental deprivation. Smog shielded the blue sky from the viewer except for a handful of days a year. China enforced traffic laws to reduce the pollution in Beijing and it worked to a small degree. One of the unintended effects was the influence this had on young people in China. They yearned for a “greener” China. Many in my classes mention how they desire to protect the environment.
China has been deforested five times in it’s five thousand year history. China seems determined to not let it happen again. Around the city of Yongchuan I see heroic efforts to plant and protect trees. China will benefit from this effort in a few more years.
Second, the World Expo in China opened its doors to 192 nations who have visited Shanghai this year. This is an extraordinary act of hospitality and a clear desire to overcome a tendency to zenophobia. China has every right to be fearful. The heroin wars of more and a century ago testify to the effect of uncontrolled foreign influences. But a deeper desire is over-ruling fear and that is the desire to reach back to it’s Confucian roots. Confucius advocated the ideal man who could master his fears and balance them with hospitality and love for humankind.
Third, and perhaps the most notable display of this nurturing side of China was the hosting of the Special Olympics a few weeks ago. Many of the most vulnerable and mentally and physically challenged youth in China were given their day in the sun. The son of the late Sergeant and Eunice Shriver attended the opening event.
Fourth, China launched it’s second moon mission on National Day, October 1. What a momentous birthday present to China and it’s people. Not only is China flexing it’s muscle but it is showcasing it’s intelligence. It was a fiery display that lifted China to the heavens.