井底之蛙

8/1/2006

A Guokui for the contemporary masses

Filed under: — Scott Relyea @ 9:28 am

I was checking through CDT the other day (as I do when I’m in the mood to circumvent certain walls that surround my current location) and came across the following translation from 東南西北 (EastSouthWestNorth), an excellent blog out of Hong Kong with translations into English of news articles and blog entries from the PRC. It’s apparently often the first source for many New York Times correspondents in Asia…

满城尽带黄金假 (at ESWN, original Chinese here) accompanied by photos perfectly depicts what we could say is the flip side of the economic miracle that continues to attract the blind rush to market of corporations across the globe, the flip side of society in the aftermath of a revolution of sorts. Indeed, with the apparent growth in income disparity across China, particularly evident within cities where those with power and money continue to amass but more, I was reminded of one of the illustrations I ran across in 通俗畫報 (Popular Pictorial), published in Chengdu in 1912, to the left; click on the image for a larger version.

Though there’s no specific indication of what city is the setting for the blog tale, I’m quite certain that the grey tile and glass in the first photo is the east corner of Chengdu Railway Station. In Chengdu, like many other cities across China, the municipal government and its ‘plan’ for growth and prosperity is the gospel of development, though this development seems to favour the welcoming of Armani and Sofitel along vast faux marble and concrete pedestrian shopping areas glittering with the fountains and neon of apparent prosperity. There was no neon in 1912, but as is apparent from this image, and as I’ve read in a few works on Chengdu, the viewpoint of these ancestors of many of today’s powerful elite wasn’t too different…

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