U.S., China need not be rivals

By Holly Ammon

Who’s afraid of a little Eastern country with a population of 1.5 billion people?
News story after news story in America shows China in a negative light. They’re communists, they don’t have freedom of speech, their pollution is out of control, they force their children to attend 12 hours a day of school, they’re still foolishly using “Eastern medicine”… The only good news that is shown is their booming business economy, encouraging US businesses to trade with the Chinese. Why are we ganging up on them? There are countless good things about the Chinese that is little seen in the American press.
The Chinese sacrifice. My friend Rui works 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and the last I talked to her, her last day off was three months ago to visit her 3 year old son, who is currently living in a suburb of Beijing with his grandparents. Rui is doing this all for him. She and her husband barely make enough money to cover all their bills. The kind of selfless dedication her work schedule requires is rarely seen in the US. Rui, like most Chinese, doesn’t even have the privilege of using diapers. If every infant in China wore disposable diapers, the landfills would be full in one day. The willingness of the Chinese to sacrifice as an individual to benefit the whole is admirable; that’s something that Congress could learn a thing or two about.
Each time I visited her at the Pearl Market, she had the biggest smile on her face. She was happy. In most Americans’ eyes, her life would be completely undesirable.
Yet when the Chinese aren’t happy, they do something about it. During my time in China, the government changed a policy in one of the major parts of Beijing that negatively affected all of the taxi drivers in the city. Since they have no freedom of speech, you might think the taxi drivers accepted the new policy and moved on. Wrong! All of the taxi drivers parked their cars on the city’s biggest highway, making a barricade so that no one could get in or out of their city until the government nullified the policy. Within 48 hours it was reversed.
There are countless things I love about China. The people I met are hardworking, helpful, passionate, educated and happy. They are forward-thinking. Instead of wasting their time arguing about whether global warming exists or not, they implement “green” technology, something that the US invented.
China and the US are neck and neck to be the world’s economic leader. If Americans embraced the Chinese as their long-lost brother who they may not always understand, maybe things would be better. China could, in turn, work on branding themselves in a new way so that the world sees all the positive things they have to offer.
We are completely different from each other. It’s a good thing. Let’s embrace it.