Steven Shen Kanming and his wife and son and I went to Anji, which is in Huzhou, a small city in Zhejiang Province. A couple of you will like this one, because it is an adventure, not hiking through Afghanistan for sure, but an adventure nevertheless - hidden dragons, many waterfalls, and how face can be made in China (sometimes).
Update on the Occupation in Hangzhou - The G-20 in the Potemkin Village September 2, 2016
First off, let us stipulate –
It is vitally important for a nation to ensure security during the G20. National leaders will be present, en mass. With terrorism threats salient everywhere, China wants to show off its prowess as a new member of the elite club. In Hangzhou, terrorists and protesters, ils ne passeront pas!
At the same time, China shows the major democracies, all of which are G20 members, and the world, that there are ways to ensure stability and harmony. No Seattle 1999 here! Chinese soft power in action.
The question for the G20 members, all of whom are seeing a Potemkin village Hangzhou, is what cost for stability.
Most of you know Al Day as the local musician who made good. He does more than keep a hand in, playing with his own trio around Chicago and Evanston, and he knows more about music and musicians than I know about anything.
So Al should have been there when I attended the first anniversary at MeToo Café in Hangzhou. MeToo is an art gallery, despite the Café in the name. It is one of dozens of show spaces for young Chinese artists, and it is a gem. The look of New China is … new. There is very little that is more than thirty years old. Every hotel, every highway, every office building, every school, every store, every urban tree (almost) has that New Suburban look. Schaumburg, circa 1970 or … anytime. So the MeToo is a real find.
One of the fun things to do in Hangzhou is attend the Romance of the Song Dynasty Show. The Song Dynasty extended for about 300 years, ending in about 1275, with the conquest of the Mongols. Now I don’t think there are many people in the US who would attend a show titled the Romance of the late Dark Ages, or the Romance of the Era of the Imperial and Magnificent Church. This was the 1200’s, and we all believe in the progress of history. But Barbara Tuchman subtitled her famous book about the 14th Century, the next century, the Calamitous 14th Century. So this emphasis on romance just feels …. sort of misplaced, to me, the westerner.
Anybody in Chicago who has met Alice Zhou Xiaofang remembers her. She is the number 2 government person in the urban planning department in Shaoxing, but she is a mayoral advisor and all-around whip smart, dedicated, open, public servant. Who asks questions and tells you what she thinks. Who is also an electrical engineer and knit me the blue scarf I wore all last winter. I was in Shaoxing to look at another ancient town, called An Chang, which is on both sides of a narrow waterway on the outskirts of Shaoxing. It is now surrounded by modern buildings and cars and development, but some of the old town still remains. Old, in this case, is late Ming-early Qing dynasties, which puts the buildings at about 400 years old. This is based on fading inscriptions in stone, and on what I am told by Alice and others.
Brenna and I had colds. Not so bad, but she wanted to go to Shanghai to the Expo in a few days, so I thought we should make sure there was no serious problem developing. No fun walking around the Expo with some hacking cough.
My cough had descended into my chest, sort of a bad sign, so I called my people at the school about a medical visit.
For years, some evangelical leaders have been touting Trump as the wolf-king, anointed by God to enact the Christian right agenda. Symbols are important in this swamp-fevered world, and Trump’s immorality is actually a positive sign of his worthiness. Go figure.
Four years ago, Peter Montgomery noted 25 Religious Right Justifications for Supporting Donald Trump. Christian right leaders spoke endlessly of Trump as a chosen vessel for God's will, saying things like "God has picked him up" and that Trump is "literally splitting the kingdom of darkness right open" and that "the Lord has put His favor upon him."
Now I wonder if the coronavirus is a symbol from God as well, a sign of displeasure. Is God finished with Trump? Is Trump past his heavenly use-by date?
Two full months into the Covid-19 crisis, we see where Mr. Xi’s crackdown on communication and openness has taken him. He is himself in no danger, but CCP runs into a conceptual wall with free flow of information. That is a disability – a learning disability – for CCP and China now.