I enjoyed talking to the wonderful people at Christine’s book club meeting. They were gracious to thank me for Living Treasures. We ate Chinese food and talked like old friends.
Some spoke of the wonderful travel experience when they visited China, how warm and friendly people were, and the amazing services at the hotel. I couldn’t agree more, that many Chinese people were affectionate, kind, and generous toward their guests. As for the beautiful city landscape, many local residents suffered as the government put their best face forward to please the visitors and foreigners. For example: thousands of people were displaced due to the construction of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing. The brave people who spoke against it became dissidents and were exiled.
We joked how every person thinks they came from the “best” country in the world, while in reality, there were a lot of social problems in their home countries, and the rosy view did nothing to improve the society. My view of patriotism is divided: love the people, culture, and food—of course it is the best in the world, no matter where you came from. But not the state or government, there is always room for improvement.
I shared a true story. When I gave a book talk at San Francisco Public Library, a woman in the audience spoke about the forced abortions done in the Chinese hospitals: If the drugs couldn’t kill, a nurse injected medicine on the baby’s temple when the mother was pushing.
Then she told another story. Her own sister-in-law was brought into the hospital to have an abortion on her DUE DAY. Luckily, the building lost electricity that night. Her sister-in-law had a healthy baby girl overnight. The hospital was furious but had to let them go. The girl couldn’t get a residence card or food ration, no health benefit, nor citizenship. She, the aunt, being a resident of Hong Kong, threatened to adopt her niece and bring her to Hong Kong. She held a long negotiation with the local government. After ten years of hard work, her niece finally obtained her residence card.
A heartwarming story stemmed from unthinkable brutality. Living Treasures also tells an inspiring story of human goodness and resilience. These “grass people” make China a better country, not the autocratic government.
We talked, listened, and argued in the cozy living room like people telling stories in front of a bonfire. This is the great joy of storytelling.
Thank you, Christine, for your hospitality, your awesome friends and wonderful book club.