China and Libraries / by Simmon Li

I was watching the CCTV News English debate show the other day, and the topic was on Chinese intellectuals and how they compare to Western intellectuals. It was a fairly funny discussion of no great consequence, but I just found it too funny to pass up writing about it. I get the sense that the Chinese in general have a huge inferiority complex and constantly want to prove themselves to other nations. It's a kind of nationalism that I find interesting, as it seems to bind a lot of the country together. After this short segment though, I got to thinking about whether or not the idea had any merit on a larger scale. As you may or may not know, I am an ethnic Chinese person born in Hong Kong, but raised in Canada. So I don't think the issue is one of Chinese or non-Chinese, but rather I think it's a but of cultural hijacking that's happened to China and the Chinese. The materialistic tendencies of Western culture have gripped China strongly, but the heavier side of the culture seems to be left behind. One really striking difference between Beijing and Toronto is that libraries are hard to find. In fact, I'm not aware of any community libraries or centers where people can share knowledge. Of course, this may be a result of big brother.

Anyway, the discussion on TV was interesting and made me think about why some of this discussion may be warranted. I don't think it's a Chinese thing, more a big brother thing.