If I were a romantic, I’d paint a picture of China’s social and economic contrasts. A stalwart worker poised on his bicycle, a mode of transportation that once defined an entire generation of Chinese before the country opened up, against the backdrop of the bellowing economic beast.
If I were a skeptic, I’d say that he fits like a small piece in a huge jigsaw puzzle that is China, a cliché that journalists and pundits use to sweepingly illustrate trends like “the widening chasm of income-inequality” or “the growing flows of migrant classes”.
But today, I’m neither.
This man was merely bicycling to (or from) work at 7:30am and enjoying a cigarette in the process.
And when you smiled at him, he nodded gravely and continued along his way.
“(…) it turns out that there’s another way of comprehending the reality of modern-day China — one that captures the contradictions of the place and allows them to co-exist.”
“So the tug-of-war continues, and the stories keep rolling in. The bigger story is a long way from over. Stay tuned.” ~ Christian Caryl, Foreign Policy, 28 February 2010 “Beijing’s Labor Pains”