Across China’s Countryside, ‘Just Too Busy’ for Olympics

Edward Cody of the Washington Post went into the countryside of China to find out what people there think of the Olympics, and discovered they are too busy working the fields to care:

About two-thirds of China’s 1.3 billion people have remained tied to farming villages, despite the economic boom of the last 30 years. Focused on their land and their crops, many of them have felt little in common with the glitter of the Olympics, the $40 billion makeover of Beijing and the nationalist pride of their countrymen as China strides onto the international stage and take its place as a world power.

“It is tea-drying time,” said Yi Song, 55, chuckling contentedly as fragrant green leaves were fluffed and warmed in a wheezing array of ovens that rotated ceaselessly behind him. “We don’t have time for that.”

Most foreigners in China, particularly those participating in or attending the Olympics, have come into contact with a recently emerged modern nation of skyscrapers, traffic-clogged streets and increasingly outward-looking people with money to spend. But most Chinese have yet to enter that world. Theirs still revolves around the land, leaving, as Yi said, little time for Olympics festivities promoted by the Communist Party.

August 14, 2008 9:02 PM
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