About Elephants in the room

I came to experience the country not to promote it, nor to criticise it. I should show all of it, even if some issues are uncomfortable, controversial and unmentionable.

Writing for magazines that only want positive stories, discussion with colleagues who know nothing but the party line, foreigners uninterested in politics and under the pressure of visa renewal. No one wants to be that guy that bangs on about controversial and uncomfortable issues. So  the big topics of our time, the questions people don’t ask become The Elephants in the room

The media loves to portray the news as black and white, heroes and villains, right and wrong. It’s not surprising, the reality behind even simple stories is often complex and difficult to explain in a few hundred words. News is about unusual events; they are often illustrated with dramatic pictures or show its human impact through individual’s stories chosen for their greatest impact. By its nature its negative and untypical of day to day life. The news might report the truth, but if all we know of a country, or of its people, is from the news, then it’s nothing like the whole truth
Mention China and the westerner pictures pollution billowing across cities, tanks rolling across Tiananmen square and rows of officials obediently agreeing with a leadership that demands adoration.  They think of the Hong Kong protests and Xinjiang prison camps, of censorship, corruption, heartless birth control policies, animal cruelty and forced  confessions. A  brainwashed race of superstitious peasants who beat dogs to death and use body parts of endangered animals for phony medicines. Stereotypes of a nation that are not incorect, but equally not a balanced view of a land the size of Europe

Chinese media is no better. It portrays the west as anti-China, governed by incompetent, weak and unpopular leaders. America is seen as a warmonger and bully that controls oil, trade and markets for its own benefit. It interferes with the internal politics of other countries, undermining governments and selectively supporting terrorists while championing peace and democracy. It criticises other countries for human rights abuses whilst being overtly and institutionally racist themselves. The UK does little better. Known as ‘America’s dog’, it’s remembered for burning down the summer palace, stealing land in unfair treaties and in reparation for wars that forced opium addiction and Christianity on its people.

If we are objective, we can recognise the truths in the accounts of our country and its people. But they are nothing like the experiences of our daily lives. So, when this is all we see and hear reported, it’s easy to dismiss these caricatures simply as fake news or propaganda. Social media doesn’t help, with each side just repeating, often aggressively and inaccurately, the same one-sided views that reinforce each other’s ignorance.  
This website is about living and working inChina,. It is my account of the travel, adventure and of the strange exotic culture that I came to see. It will, by its nature, be positive. The articles i’ve had published in China would not be accepted for print if critical, or they’d have chunks removed or words changed if they are considered ‘negtive’. – thats their perogative. But there is a danger that both the printed and the personal on this site provide a view of the country that is unintentionally biased. I came to experience the country, not to promote it, nor to criticise it, so In writing about working and living here I should show all of it. even if some issues are uncomfortable, controversial  and unmentionable..
And, even though I haven’t been searching out the acuracy of our Chinese stereotypes their truth should be evident in every day life. It is the ordinary life that I observe,, the incarnation of a culture’s expression,. After 10 years, I should be more informed than most , I have lived here through Covid-19, I’ve been to places where animals are reared, know people with pets,  been to Xinjiang, and lived and worked behind the great firewall of China. I have experiences of both worlds. Maybe I can provide some balance between the worst of China’s practices posted in the western news and the best of China’s self image published in the media here.
The Elephant in the room therefore looks at topics that are either asked about, or disputed in the news. My personal experiences of the country and the people met are used to comment on each subject. Its specualtion and opinion, but always based on what I know.. Where relevant, I refer to other older articles containing observations that have helped shape these views.
They are a continuous story, to be updates as I see and understand more.