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There’s China, Then There’s The Chinese

There’s China, Then There’s The Chinese

Over the past four years or so there has been a significant increase in anti-China sentiment. This is particularly so across the pond. 

In my opinion we need to separate China from the Chinese; the state from the people.

Regardless of political ideology what I have found on my travels is that people are people. Most of whom you like, some of whom you don’t. Whether you are in a village in rural Vietnam, a small bar in a small town of eight hundred in Alabama, or a bed-sit in Melbourne, Australia chances are you will get along with just about everybody you meet.

Why?

Because we are all 100% human.

We may share different cultures and traditions, but for the most part, at the human level, this is interesting, amusing though occasionally baffling. Whether you agree or disagree with all the weird and wonderful personal opinions people hold, if you (and they) are open, and you smile, these inter=personal human relationships whether brief passing ships in the night or life-long friendships are the 'stuff of life'. We all are threads in the rich tapestry of humanity; some a little more colourful than others.

I want to stress that I am not talking about political systems or religious ideologies. There are extremists from every camp at that level. Rather, I am talking about average people you meet every day in every corner of the globe. People who are just getting on with things, doing the best they can to survive whatever their travails, and have a natter and a laugh at every opportunity.

We all laugh and cry at the same things after all.

Well that may not be strictly true. Apparently, the British sense of humour (we like to call it dry) is incomprehensible to most other people, even those that share a common language. Go figure. Mind you I remember being told a long joke by a Syrian friend of mine, at the end of which the other Syrian friend was in stitches and I was left with a bemused, somewhat inane grin. I understood every word that was actually uttered (she spoke excellent English) but the humour was lost on me. Something about a dad and popcorn. Any Syrians out there to add some cultural reference?

As a good friend pointed out once (I take no credit) “everybody everywhere sniggers when someone let’s out unintended flatus”.

I can attest to that. I have seen it with my own eyes. Even very young kids get that one. Everywhere.

I digress.

China and the Chinese.

Why would we want to stock any products that are sourced in China? A country with a poor record on human rights. A country that for all intents and purposes is brutalising its Uighur population?

Simply put, because it is not the Chinese people that are doing these awful things, it is the Chinese Communist Party. That part is made up of a small subset of the entire population. If we are to hold anybody accountable, it should be them, not your average person who happens to have been born under that regime.

If you are lucky enough to travel in China, particularly in rural China – away from the mad hustle and bustle of city life – you will find people just like you and me. Artisans are everywhere, eking out a living making reed diffusers, designing and making atomisers, whole families carefully carving out soap flowers. Small family businesses in other words, that work very hard to make ends meet.

How can we in good faith blame them for the vagaries of their government? They can’t even vote! How can these people possibly effect regime change when the slightest dissent brings down the iron fist of the government with little recourse? Peaceful demonstrations are met with bullets and tanks.

We believe that they too deserve a chance. We buy a few products sourced from China only from distributors we trust to have done the legwork to ensure that our ethics are met. We encourage you to support these artisans’ efforts with the same compassion and empathy you would any other artisan be they from Malawi, India or China, or even Kent.

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