My Short March Through China – Gary Rosen

From Commentary, via A Glimpse of the World blog:

Of the ways one might choose to visit China for the first time, traveling with a delegation of American journalists, as I did in September, is not ideal. In addition to the usual frustrations of group touring, there is the burden of being “media friends,” as our Chinese hosts liked to call the nine of us (six from newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and Boston Globe, two from magazines, and one from a Texas television station). Our primary job was to attend official meetings”that is, to sit at long tables in dreary conference rooms, listening to bureaucrats run through their talking points and repeat the Delphic slogans (“peaceful rise,” “harmonious society,” “putting people first”) with which the Communist party makes known its priorities. If we were lucky, the bureaucrats spoke English; often, we had to endure line-by-line translations. Though the standard tourist stops were also on our itinerary”we wandered the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, sampled the shopping bounty of Shanghai, cruised Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor”free time was scarce. Leisurely exploration was not on the agenda. [Full Text]

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