When Love is in the Air… in China

Statue at China's new sex-themed park.
The remnants of a typhoon piddled on Qingdao last night, whetting the thirsts of the flowers, trees and citizens, tantalizingly dewy but nowhere near wet enough to slake the dry.

So as the sere winds blow in off the Bao Hai Sea, the collective consciousness begins to fret and fray around the edges like the snapping of caged pit-bulls or the whinnying of frenzied wild horses sensing an approaching thunderstorm. Small spats break out, groups of people argue in the streets over some minor traffic accident and there appears a general malaise among the service personnel that is manifest in a snarled reply to the customer’s mildest request.

The citizenry, in general, thus, are displaying a callous lack of sympathy for the People’s Republic of China’s slogan of “Harmonious people, Harmonious world.” And all this barely since the last trumpet fanfare of the 60th Anniversary of the P.R.C. has faded.

Yet, apparently there is plenty of another kind of harmony going on in certain venerable places and drought, it would seem, is not the only thing on the minds of folk.

Chinese character for love, 'ai'.
The oldest human mischief is out and about, and the song of the turtle can be heard in the land (“Turtle-head” being the favorite euphemism for the male member). Love is in the air and it’s not necessarily the monogamous romantic love leading to marriage which is rigidly on the agenda of most young Modern Chinese. In fact, there are reports that sex has been discovered by 21st Century Chinese. (China’s ancient traditions of sexuality are rich and culturally crucial.)

But not all is rosy in the Garden of Earthly Delights. Reports of outrage among the netizenry were broadcast after photos of discarded condoms on Shanghai Jiao-tong University’s campus were circulated. The moral masses complain that sex service adverts cover pages and pages of big city newspapers. Phone movies of students snogging in the park get distributed to angry effect.

More disturbingly, there are reports of the devastation wrought by prostitution and mass migrant labor on families rent asunder by economic survival.

The new generation’s sexual mores are truly revolutionary compared to those of their parents. Before the opening-up, PRC society appeared asexual. The drab blue unisex Mao suits of the bicycle nation seemed purposely designed to dampen down the libido.

One-child families and the absolute equality of women in the workplace with marriage consent to be approved by local party committees hardly added up to a decadent, licentious Gomorrah.

But with the arrival of Modern China not only financial and business rules were loosened up. Society’s strict morality was undone like the zipper on a delineatingly tight pair of designer jeans worn by a Shanghai office girl.

Adding to the internal sense of freedom was the influence of hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese businessmen and the massive influx of foreigners of all hues. The mighty lootocrat cities of Wenzhou, Kunshan, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and the Yangtse and Pearl River Deltas were built by Taiwanese and other Hua Chao (Overseas Chinese) immigrants whose motto was “Married in Taiwan, Single in China”.

It all adds up to free love, modern China style: adultery in a post Confucian world. And the authorities appear at a loss as to how to address the situation, which is embarrassing to most Chinese. However, you have to trust the Chinese to take up someone else’s problem and re-toggle it to make money. One smart business has found just such a way. Chinese-made mobile phones now have background ambient noise programs specifically designed for spousal unfaithfulness – adultery or just plain old cheating.

The phone’s program lists as background noise the following voice camouflages : Subways (coming into station/waiting at station with announcements/leaving station), Traffic jams, Rainstorms/ Thunderstorms/Typhoons; Airport Departure/Arrival Lounge; Taxi driver’s comments; Supermarket and Department store sales promos; School classrooms; Train Stations; Open-air parks; Musical concerts – classical, opera, pop; Movie theater soundtracks…..enough to provide just about any excuse to cover one’s actual situation.

“Hello darling, just waiting for the rain to stop, looks like the floods’ll keep me here overnight….” Fiendishly cunning as would be expected. In fact, when you think about it, acting in this way to spare someone’s feelings, loss of face, misplaced trust or broken heart, is a dignified and possibly Confucian solution to the age old problem of betrayal, treachery, infidelity or just plain fooling around.
© jagchandler.com (20/10/09)

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