First off let me get out and say it. I think China is much more free then America.
I don't feel paranoid walking around in the middle of the night in the big cities. In fact its encouraged! Night markets, food stands, entertainment, its all about the night life here, which I have to say, America just doesn't have.
The Chinese government is more open about its regulating of the population, while in America its more cloak and dagger. The government here openly states in newspapers what it is doing to regulate businesses, money, the internet, and what not. Does it show all its cards on the table? No. Does America? Patriot Act anyone?
The Chinese government is communist. Deal with it. Don't try to change them, understand that not everyone thinks and acts the same way as Americans.
The internet here is regulated and closely watched after by the government. I've asked people I know what they think about the government watching them online. They don't care. Why? That's just the way things are here. No one cares because complaining about it won't change anything. Plenty of people are complaining about Bush and Iraq. Nothings happened.
Free Tibet? Chinese laugh at this and wonder why its America's business. David
want to pitch in on this one?
China really is the polar opposite of America. What is rude here is polite there and vice versa. For instance interrupting someone here is a way to show that you are paying attention to them. Making a lot of munching and slurping sounds while eating is polite here because it means you are enjoying your food (took me a while to get use to this one). Finishing everything on your plate means you are still hungry. Wasting some food means you are stuffed. When you go out to a big restaurant with many people its unusual if you don't order 2-3 dishes per person, to do so means you are generous, not doing so means you are stingy.
Driving here perplexes and scares the hell out of me. No one drives in a straight line, everyone expects you to swerve in and out of traffic, so if you drive in a straight controlled manor on the streets no one can predict what you are going do. Many of the drivers here when they pull up to a stop light, or are going down a hill turn off their engines to save gas, little do they know that the act of starting an engine uses far more fuel then leaving the engine on since most modern cars use little to no gas when coasting or idling. And this is the thing that gets me most: China has widely adopted alternative fuels. Many Chinese cars, taxis, and busses run on alternative based on natural gas. Even many foreign car companies like Ford, Volkswagen, Audi, and Hyundai all sell converted models that run on the alternative fuel here. In America they say it can't be done. China has an energy crisis. The country is growing faster then it can support itself. Amazing what a little motivation can do. Yes there are still petrol based cars here, a lot of them, they typically get better performance and more gas mileage, but the alternative fuel here is cheaper and who needs to go 50 KPH in a city where a long straight road is about 200 meters long
On the topic of cars, they are so incredibly expensive here. It's not uncommon to hear of the guy who just bought a 110,000 dollar BMW 5 series at 2-3 times the price in America. And the Mazda 6, which is a great car which someday I would not mind owning, routinely costs 10,000 dollars more here then in the states.
If you make 2-3000 dollars a month here you are doing pretty damn well for yourself and spend money like you just don't care.
Recently one of my girlfriends aunts sat on my backpack as well as many other peoples bags (they were all on a chair in a restaurant we were all eating at, why she decided to sit on them instead of one of the many other seats beats me) breaking my black Motorola V3 in half. It was amazing, I can't figure out how the pressure was applied to be able to break the phone in two right under the inside LCD screen above the hinge. Anyway, if I was in America and I broke your phone obviously I would compensate you. Well this is one of those odd Chinese social things I guess. Because we were all invited out to eat (it was a 3 way birthday party, a lot of people) by a different one of my gf's aunts and uncles, the aunt (who is not actually related) who broke my phone does not have to compensate me for breaking it, instead the aunt and uncle who invited everyone out would compensate me. The same would be true if I parked my car out side and someone smashed into it, whoever invited me to come would pay for repairs or whatever in that case as well. This confounds me a bit. Eye for an eye never seemed more complicated. To avoid this rather bizarre situation I just went out and bought the second cheapest phone I could find and never mentioned it again.
There are two Ferrari/ Maserati show rooms in Chongqing. A Ferrari F430 will run you just under 1 million dollars. Ouch.
In a local mall they have Michael Schumacher's F1 helmet on display and for sale. Price: 58,888 RMB (7361 dollars)
Chinese college students who have bf's/gf's routinely live with each other even if they have been together for less then a few months.
The teachers and officials at my college are deeply in denial about what the world around them is really like. When I asked my uncle, who is the head of the foreign affairs department of this school what the attitude of the school is towards the students living with each other he simply said "no they don't". When I asked him what the school thought about the students constantly cheating on their exams and homework he said "I don't think that happens". And of course two years ago when a student jumped off the 14th floor of the main school building to her death, "nothing happened".
Speaking of cheating. There are two different angles I want to touch on this subject. First boyfriends and girlfriends cheat on each other here so much that it's amazing. Its routine to find one of your friends here has 3-4 different people who share their bed on different nights of the week. Second, exams and school work. So much of it is cheated or copied. You give your ID card to a friend who kind of looks like you and they go take your English exam for you. You got some big project due soon, download someone else's work online and turn it in, this happened in my photo class. Two people turned in work they downloaded online, a few images were the same. Go to the local printing places around the school and you can ask for copies of other peoples papers that they printed there.
I got a lot more other things to say but ill save them for next time.