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来源:网络    作者:天之聪教育   时间:2018-11-26 10:29   点击: 次  

I was once part of a government delegation to Italy to partake in a conference being held by energy industries world wide. It was a pretty diverse event. There were speeches by energy experts on a variety of energy related topics. Panels that debated the future of the energy industry (the Nuclear Energy proponents vs Anti Nuclear energy lobby had some fiery debates!). We had some activities in which we would come up with our own amateurish proposals to resolve energy issues in the developing and developed world.


Perhaps the most time was dedicated to the exhibitions where different industries set up their booths which would offer company products and services to prospective clients.


The exhibitions weren’t really of much interest to us. The company employees knew Pakistan was “small fry” (back in 2007 we didn’t have much purchasing power or budget dedicated to energy related issues). So we Pakistanis were largely ignored by the American and European execs who were more interested in the big fish like Saudis, India, China, Brazil etc. We just mostly meandered about.


During one of our strolls, we passed the Chinese delegation. All serious, taking notes, being engaged by this stunning Italian woman from Shell i think who was explaining some kind of product to the head of the Chinese delegation.


We stood a bit to the side and listened in politely, when the head of the Chinese delegation caught our eye, offered a friendly smile and handshake and asked if we were waiting for them to finish up.


“Oh no no, please continue.”, we replied. “Just wanted to say hi, we’re from Pakistan”


The Chinese gentleman’s face lit up instantly. “Pakistan!” He shook my hand warmly “Our brother!” he exclaimed.

这位中国绅士的脸上瞬间绽放出神采。“巴基斯坦!” 他热情地抓住我的手喊道,“原来是巴铁兄弟啊!”

It was quite a moment. I remember every tiny detail from it even till today. The Italian lady’s surprise at how warmly we were being greeted. The other booth employees turning around to see what all the fuss was about. Their own looks of surprise at how the small fry, largely ignored Pakistani delegation was being treated so warmly by the most watched delegation of all, the Chinese.


It’s these small moments, these isolated incidents of human magic that people tend to miss out when they get confused over why China is so well liked by many of the developing world nations. Over the course of the conference, i interacted with other delegations from Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and so on and they all had the same respect and positive impression for the Chinese delegation. Whether it was a delegate from Africa or Asia, no matter what their country’s size and importance, they were treated warmly and with mutual respect by the Chinese as if their country was the same as China in size, importance and power.


Several analysts and commentators want to see something empirical, some hard data that quantifies this respect, that explains scientifically why China is held in a high opinion by developing world countries. They look at investments and trade, look at China’s growing foreign worker and student populations, analyze the spread of Chinese media.


And of course, they do hold true on their own. You can see from this entire thread the vast variety of reasons why people like China (economic might, non-interference in other country’s affairs, an affinity for Chinese culture etc).


So take my answer as one part of the entire canvas of reasons being presented here when i say that a lot of developing nation people, be it government employees or just common folk everywhere, like China because the Chinese still consider themselves as one of us. Not imperial overlords or racial superiors or strict masters and so on. But comrades to the developing world, partners in our struggles and a developing country just like us who share in our troubles, concerns and visions for a mutually beneficial future.


I’m no China expert so i can’t explain where this comes from. Perhaps its still the old Communist ideology at play? Back during the cold war years, the USSR and Chinese communists partnered with a lot of the developing world back then as we struggled to overthrow the colonial and imperialist powers (as well as their local feudal, tribal and monarch proxies). I’ve met old Leftists in their senior years today who tell me about how they would go to the USSR and China back when Pakistan was a dirt poor country to get training, education and what not. Revolutionaries and Leftists from Pakistan, other Asian countries, Africa, Latin America etc would go to the USSR and China in cheap, patched up suits with tattered shoes and not a dime to their name and be greeted warmly by their comrades in Beijing and Moscow and given the top notch treatment. Nations that managed to overthrow their tyrants in a successful coup would send delegations to China and the USSR who would come back full of praises for the hospitality and camaraderie of the Chinese and USSR brother Leftists. Whereas the “Free World” would only choose to associate with our feudal lords, our Shahs, our Kings and our dictators and not step foot in a single street populated by the common man.



I don’t even have to wax poetic about the old days of the Cold war. In my own experience working side by side with my Chinese coworkers, this same feeling of partnership and camaraderie is on display as well. The Chinese who come to work with us, work side by side with us, in the same heat, the same muck, the same mosquito, freezing temperatures, rain and what not. The same hectic schedules and daily annoyances are shared by us equally. We also eat at the same table, play football in the evening with each other and exchange movies and TV shows in USBs with each other.


When i told all of this to my friend who works in the Gulf at an MNC he wouldn’t believe me. His experience with Gulf Arabs and the Western Expats there has been nothing like this. Even students and workers that i know who went to South Korea are a bit amazed when they hear this.


Outside of the work place it’s the same story. Western Expats in Pakistan tend to live in huge, well guarded, walled off compounds with these giant electric generators and might as well be living on another planet given how cut off they are from the rest of the populace. Meanwhile, just 2 days ago, i reversed my car past a Chinese couple getting on their motorcycle in a busy, crowded bazaar typical of any major Pakistani city.


The Chinese live, walk, breath, eat and work among us, on our streets, our cities, our home soil. They face the same problems we do whether its load shedding, low gas supply or slow internet. And when we see them share the realities of our lives, it creates this mutual bond and sense of respect between us. They could have chosen to live in their own huge compounds and indeed, the Pak government is trying to force the Chinese expats in Pakistan to live in compounds away from ordinary Pakistani citizens due to security concerns. But the Chinese refuse. They CHOOSE to live with us. Despite the dangers they face. And that makes all the difference in the world for us.


I had similar positive experiences with the Chinese in Egypt and the African delegations and Middle Eastern delegations were absolutely delighted with the Chinese, how willing to explore the local culture they were, how respectful they were of us and how they would engage with us in social activities and general chit chat everywhere, whether at work or leisure. In the meantime, we didn’t even see the European delegations to Egypt even once (separated for security again i guess).


And my own visit to China a long time ago was no less positive for me. Senior government, military and diplomatic officials would engage with us, discuss with us, seek our view point, offer their own. They would even share stories from their personal lives and listen attentively when we told our own. We were given a royal treatment, housed in comfortable hotels, provided medical assistance immediately if someone got sick, accompanying us to the hospital to make sure we were ok, guiding us in the city. Whether it was common citizens or senior officials, they treated us like equals with a lot of protocol.



Maybe I've lost a few folk at this point who have no idea what i’m talking about because they can’t relate. But as a Pakistani, our country is associated only with poverty, violence, terror and instability abroad. No one is impressed when we say we are from Pakistan. No one cares either. So much so that we have become accustomed to it, built our lives around it.


So when i was at that exhibition and the Chinese delegate warmly shook my hand, proclaimed my country a brother in front of the entire exhibition to the surprise of onlookers, when the citizen of a country touted as the next super power of the world gives respect to the citizen of a country that’s touted as a failed state in western publications, it creates an impact on our lives.


I know there are thousands of more like me. In 10, 20, 30 years we will be senior officers, politicians or executives in our own countries. And when we see a Chinese official ask us for a favor, a Chinese company bid us for a project maybe some of us will think back to when the Chinese gave us so much respect on so and so occasion. And we will favor the Chinese because of it. Don’t believe me? Just look at the bonhomie between the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who was so dazzled to hear that the Chinese were referring to rapidly implemented Pakistani Projects as “running at Punjab speed” as a compliment to his administrative skills, that he granted several projects to Chinese companies without bidding or on very favorable terms.



Based on how i saw the delegates from Africa, Middle East, Asia also be impressed at the humble, respectful and partner like attitude of the Chinese during their interactions with them, i have no doubt the same kind of positive image of China will be created in the minds of those delegates as well. And when they rise to senior positions, they will also hold the same positive image of China and favor her. All that influence and positive image built across the globe for no cost and without needing 12 Aircraft carriers.


There was once a time i thought that maybe our positive experience of China was because of us mostly experiencing China’s “Golden Generation”. By Golden Generation i mean a generation of people who are born when their country is poor and life is hard, enter young adult life when their country is rising rapidly and go into their senior years when their country is a global power. Kind of like the US’s golden generation. This Golden generation has all the power available to a citizen of a super power but at the same time the same humbleness and respectful nature of a modest power. A person from this generation could become king of the world and still rise to meet a person of more modest means.


I would resign myself to the fact that as younger Chinese came of age who had never seen the struggles of China when she was a poorer country with less power, and he grew up only knowing China as a great, powerful nation then perhaps the Chinese too would become more arrogant and assured of their greatness like the US has become. But my interaction with the Chinese youth of Quora has put to bed such fears as i find them as respectful to us, the people of the developing world, as i found their parents and older siblings etc.


I hope this answer didn’t sound too much like rambling or disappointing due to lack of quantifiable data and science. And i hope this answer isn’t interpreted as a diss of people from the West with whom i also have great experiences. But as someone who as worked in Data analysis so long, i can tell you, some things aren’t there in the data. Some things are in the mysterious, murky sphere we call the human aspect. And in that aspect, you’ll find that this mysterious pull and attraction China has on so many people in the developing world from Africa, Asia, Middle East is based on the smallest, but oldest of all things: Respect. Equality. Partnership. Camaraderie.



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