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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Year of the Dragon: Not so lucky for everyone

The 2012 Chinese New Year began on January 23rd.  This year of the water dragon is being heralded by as potentially “a very energetic year, filled with optimism, power and entrepreneurship.”  The website further explains that “even the most powerful will give a patient hearing to the weaker, and will try to see through their point of view.”

However, Jane Macartney of The Australian has already reported that “Chinese forces shot dead three Tibetans and wounded about 30 amid a mass refusal by Tibetans in China to observe the Chinese
New Year.”  She then quotes a Tibetan source as saying:  “The situation is very volatile and the police are particularly sensitive because Tibetans have refused to mark the New Year to show their
discontent with Beijing rule.”  Since it is quite unusual for this type of an open-fire response, the situation is being called “one of the most
serious incidents since the 2008 [Lhasa] riots.”

Less tragic, but disturbing nevertheless, are the results of a survey that was conducted by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs.  According to VOA News, 70 percent of migrant workers in China’s six biggest cities are hesitant to go home for the traditional New Year celebration.  Many are dreading the trip itself – often a long and arduous one.  One microblogger described her journey by train, bus and ferry as “absolutely

Others dread appearing like failures to their families.  A nervous microblogger posted this as he waited for
the train that would take him back home:  “I have been in Beijing for three years now and I don’t have
anything.”  This fear of not meeting high family expectations is compounded by “the rising burden of the hongbao, the traditional red envelopes filled with money that people hand out to relatives during the holiday.”

Fortunately, some are beginning to challenge this intense preoccupation with “wealth and achievements.”   In a popular article, Beijing sociologist Zhou Xiaozheng stated that it’s far better to instead focus upon the “sense of happiness” that celebrating with family can bring.        


Copyright January 24, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved


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