Monday, November 28, 2005

Freedom, China and a suggestion for young American -- volunteer editors

Kaikaisagirl of Harbin, China was reading Gordon's Notes (she'd searched blogs for English language comments on Harbim). She added a comment to my posting on the Harbin benzene spill. We've corresponded via the blog comments and recently she updated her blogger profile: Kaikaisagirl (she is). Her recent comments provide an interesting perspective on the 'new old world', China reborn (I edited lightly):
It's totally safe to post whatever I like in English on a foreign website ... I don't have the habit of writing a blog, especially an English blog. I have to try very hard to write an article readable to native speakers on an English blog site, every time I finish an English article, I find it flat and void :(

I'm raised in China; it's hard for any Chinese to have an excess interests in politics. A lot of people, like me, do care about what's going on domestically and internationally, but to be safe you can't become an activist in China...

... Harbin is not as bad as it sounds in the news, maybe it's because I live on campus. People have so many inconveniences without tap water. Although it will resume this evening, most of us still are skeptical of the water quality since benzene is difficult to get rid of -- and we don't trust the government.
I hope Kaikaisagirl is right that she can post these things in an English language blog. Reading between the lines it seems that one can be a bit of an activist in English outside of China.

Once upon a time (1982), in another life, I was peripherally associated with long forgotten minor Montreal based Chinese dissident movement called "China Spring". I have a vague sense, from then and now, that the Chinese government distinguishes between activism among intellectuals and activism that involves the masses. The former is sometimes permitted, but the latter is dangerous.

China is an exciting nation. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the challenges we and China face, particularly when America is led by incompetents. Still, words from Harbin cannot help but be encouraging. There is hope.

I hope Kaikaigirl does continue to post to her english blog. I've added it to my feeds. It's very hard to post in a foreign language; I wonder if there's a role in these types of international blogs for 'local language editors'; native speakers who could lessen the burden of english grammatical and stylistic quirks. I wouldn't be surprised to see something like this evolve. It would be a real contribution that smart American high school students could provide, and it wouldn't look bad on a college application either.

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