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Initially reported by The Guardian, this is a piece of news that I first saw on Itaaa.com, a Chinese website which aims to provide by volunteers both translated news and comments from various countries to the ordinary Chinese people. |
I often go there because I very much enjoy reading the comments put down by foreigners about China and hopefully I may learn from some of their insights and even do some occasional corrections. Among those comments are miscellaneous views: denunciation, disparagement, insult, applause, and reflection. To be honest, I was still somewhat surprised by the extent of disgust felt by many people about China even though I thought I had myself fully prepared. Later I discovered that this may be depended on what topic was being discussed. Nevertheless, there are some incisive comments that prompt me to share with you.
Below are the news report and comments.
【China Orders Square Dancers to Heel and Toe the Line】
Outdoor dancing is popular in China but authorities have decided that square dancing steps over the line.
In China few activities escape the watchful eye of the state – and soon that will include square dancing.
Ever-growing numbers of enthusiastic dancers – usually "damas", meaning elderly women – have gathered on the street corners of China's cities in recent years to gyrate in unison. Some urban dwellers have complained that the elderly participants blast their music until late at night, disturbing the peace and quiet of local residents.
In the central Chinese city of Wuhan, a simmering dispute between enthusiastic "damas" and their irritated neighbours made headlines in 2013 when the residents threw coins, rocks – and ultimately, faeces – at the group in a bid to make them stop. According to the China Daily, authorities have hired an "expert panel" to choreograph 12 state-approved square dances. The dances "will be introduced to local fitness sites in 31 provinces and municipalities in the next five months", the newspaper said, adding that authorities have yet to decide standards on music volume, dance times and venues.
Square dancing has become an improbably hot topic in China, with stories on the dancing "damas" – not all of them flattering – lighting up state media. Often clad in matching outfits and wielding fans or other props, they gather around dinnertime, performing choreographed moves to sometimes thumping dance music piped through a portable boombox or even a live band. But if the General Administration of Sport and the Ministry of Culture have their way the nightly routine will be strictly regulated.
"Square dancing represents the collective aspect of Chinese culture but now it seems that the overenthusiasm of participants has dealt it a harmful blow with disputes over noise and venues," fitness official Liu Guoyong, chief of the sport administration, told the state-run China Daily newspaper. "So we have to guide it with national standards and regulations."
Last year photos of a group of middle-aged Chinese women performing a square dance routine outside the Louvre in Paris set off a debate over whether the pastime had gone too far.
-For sure it makes people happy, why would some put a brake on it?
-Night dancers are one of the great sights in China. Wish it happened here.
-You make fair points (looks like this pal is replying to the last guy)
My experience though is that the people don't tend to live in fear here, generally speaking. Yes they know what the government is and the level of corruption but corruption is in fact a way of life. People complain about it when it negatively affects them but are happy to be party to it if it benefits them. The danger is if it goes too far. That's the trick the CCP has to pull off now. The easy period of constant rapid growth and massive improvements in living standards is waning. People are now more educated and many have been lifted out of poverty so expectations are raised (quite a contrast with 'democratic' India it must be said).
China's population is increasingly educated and free thinking. People might grumble at injustices but will still at the same time come out in favour of a system that has benefited the majority, even if some have become ludicrously rich off it. Look how many people wish to become members of the Party for example.
I think we in the West have to focus on our own corrupt elite and flawed political systems. They don't do what it says on the tin. If we manage to claw back our enlightenment values and sense of civil society then perhaps we can lead by example instead of finger-pointing from a moral high ground which really doesn't exist. Then we might see whether we actually have something real developing countries are interested in buying into, rather than having their hand forced along with empty rhetoric.