A report by Melissa Chan for Al Jazeera reminded me of America’s political divide between red (Republican) and blue (Democratic) states.
If we look at the four US presidential elections between 1996 – 2008, we discover the political divide in America, and it is mostly between large urban population centers and rural/middle America as if America were two countries — not one.
A similar split may be growing in China, and Melissa Chan’s report, “China’s Youth Divided over Superpower Status” reveals the divide that parallels America’s split between old-world conservative values and new-world, compassionate idealism.
Chan reported from Beijing April 8, 2011 revealing China’s (middle-class urban) youth were living the wild life dancing the nights away as North American and European youth have been doing for decades.
For China’s form of new-world idealism, the music is heavy metal. “Stand up!” the musician sings. “Stand up! You are Chinese! Rise Up! You are the descendents of the dragon!”
“However,” Melissa Chan says, “this euphoria is qualified by a sense of duty missing in the West.”
Hu Song, the lead singer of Yakso, a popular heavy metal group, told Chan, “China most certainly has emerged as a power. But I hope with great power…people’s spirits will also rise up or else it is a problematic power.”
After watching the Al Jazeera news report, it was obvious that many rural youths do not agree with the middle-class urban youths that have the luxury to spend nights dancing to heavy metal, a lifestyle imported from the West along with American fast food, which brought an epidemic of diabetes and heart disease to urban China.
For some (mainly among China’s 700 million rural Chinese) this is expressed in pride and patriotism.
Others (mainly middle-class urban youth) are more skeptical of their leaders, raising their voices through the medium of a dynamic youth counterculture such as heavy metal music with long nights of dancing accompanied by increased drug use as in the West.
There is another difference between rural and urban China. The one-child policy, which focused mainly in urban areas while many peasants on farms in rural China were allowed to have more than one child so there were more hands to work the field. This helped most of rural China avoid raising little emperor/empresses — another explanation for the growing division in thought.
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