In the last six months, I’ve spent about twenty days in China — twenty-five if you count Hong Kong and Macau. I would not consider myself an expert in any regard (at 26, I’m hard pressed to think it’s possible for me to be an expert about anything, really), but I find the place fascinating, and I’ve tried to unravel what goes on behind the scenes there many, many times in my head. I don’t think I’ve been successful, but it at least means I have some stories.
A R R I V A L
There’s light everywhere in China. Not just the blinding fluorescent light that douses any airport in any country — there to help you forget what godforsaken hour it is in this part of the world — but lights of every color, every shape, a colorful panoply of illumination that pulls your eyes in every direction at once. Giant Chinese characters burning with lambent neon fire, colossal LCD billboards shining like squat searchlights in the night, scrolling LED signs playing message after message written by some calligraphic pointillist. If territorial holdings were what ensured the sun never set on the British empire, it’s technological holdings that make certain the sun will never truly set on the Chinese empire.