The Beijing Bubble

After reading international and domestic media’s interpretations of this past month’s events in China, I am confused. Yes, Beijing does sometimes feel like a bubble centered on Sanlitun (a popular westerner hangout), and I’ve never broached controversial topics with Chinese friends or coworkers out of respect. And yes, I’ve missed historical events unfolding around me in the past, but I feel like I should feel and hear more about what’s going on here, now.

When I lived in South Africa, apartheid continued to reign; in Peru, Fujimori fell after battling the Shining Path in his War on Terror; in Mexico, the PRI party was overturned after a 70-year stint and the drug war pushed the country to the number one spot for kidnappings; in Canada…well nothing happened in Canada. Man, I love that country. Anyways, guess when I realized the extent of Mexico’s troubles? High school. When did I learn about the apartheid and Fuji Mori’s reign? College. I learned about these places I called home after I left them. I don’t want this trend to continue into adulthood, but am struggling with not being able to comment directly on events here, especially when I don’t actually see them happening. If living in this diluted experience of censorship and reading about its consequences are hard enough, how do others get by? I feel like it must be a careful diplomatic balance between curiosity and respect. But how is one supposed to be diplomatic in such an environment?

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