It was in December 1978 that former leader Deng Xiaoping declared the country would not just tolerate private enterprise but encourage it.
Since then, of course, much of the country has been transformed. Millions of people have moved from the countryside to the cities in search of a better life. And after three decades of extraordinary economic growth, there are growing numbers of middle class Chinese with good jobs who are well-off relative to the rest of the population.
Now some of those who moved to cities like Shanghai for good wages in white collar jobs are starting to tire of the rat race, and in a reversal of past patterns of movement are abandoning the urban sprawl for a quieter life in the country.
Gao Hong and Yang Xiaoling, two advertising executives in their mid-thirties, decided a year ago to give up their lucrative careers to move to a quiet house in the country, eight hours drive from Shanghai in Jiangsi province.
“We have lived here for more than a year, and never for a moment have we thought, this is too bad, we have got to get back to Shanghai,” Gao Hong laughed. Leaving the front door wide open, the couple go for a stroll around the village. Facilities are very basic. Some of their neighbours are washing their clothes in the stream by hand. It is like going back 50 or 60 years.
But the couple are happy. “The dogs don’t bark at us now,” they said. “They always bark at strangers, so we know we belong.”
Deng Xiaoping’s economic redirection is working better than anyone might have hoped. Expanding middle-class incomes can be counted upon to produce better educations, a return to meditative ways formerly limited to a tiny niche of scholars and wealthy.
When you can afford to reflect upon your life and society, some will still enter the doorway leading to care and change for their fellow citizens. It’s not a prerequisite; but, it surely does help.
RTFA. Interesting read.