“Young & Restless in China” Response

I took notes on my laptop while I was watching the first 1:10:00 of the documentary. Rather than try to neaten up my notes to look pretty, I think just this once I am going to just post exactly wat I have typed down and then my answers to the questions from the syllabus.

Viewing Notes

Chapter 1 – Returning Turtles = Chinese that return to China Business from America; work as businessmen and entrepreneurs

Chapter 2 – Financial troubles for migrant workers; work at factories [wei zhanyan]

Rap music reflects social issues [echoes Rap history]

Wang xiaolei identify with African American culture-although expresses personal experiences even his methods of expression reflect American influence, right down to the tattoo culture

Same end goals as capitalist americans, and same justification; “I have nothing/poor living, I want a better life”

Chapter 3 – those from the Tiananmen era have tried to distance themselves from govt

The desire to have something tangible that can be built up

Common for people to lose their insurance

Chapter 4 – many do not have medical insurance

Zhang Yao chose western medical practice over the traditional practices of his father

Many patients cannot afford their medical bills or treatments

More than half the pupation lives in the country side

Farmers have a self-sense of importance, yet the male farmer do not like “tanned/darker” women; pale skin associated with pretty, while darker skin is the opposite

Yang haiyan’ mother was a victim of human trafficking – the village sees her kidnapping as shameful and something she should be ashamed of, thus leading the consensus to be that they do not want her back in the village [ yang haiyan wants her mother back though]

Chapter 5 – wei zhanyan returns to her village, on leave, after a year of migrant work

Zhanyan returns to an arranged marriage, it’s customary in her village that all of the marriages are arranged and cannot be gotten out of

Zhanyan does not want to get married

Happiness was not thought about in zhanyan’s arranged marriage, at least by the husband; just how it would look if zhanyan breaks off the marriage

Miranda hong fears her mother and serves her mother out of duty; she admires her father more than anyone else

Miranda hong experiences pressure from her parents to have children sooner rather than later, but never directly from them, she is told through her relatives

Chapter 6 – Zhang jingjing is more dedicated to work than her family

Xu weimin struggles to balance his families distance, and feels there is no clear definition between corruption and ethics; he feels corruption is deeply imbedded in Chinese business

Xu weimin – Money has to spent in a business process in order to turn yourself from stranger to friend with partners

Ben wu does not agree with corrupt practices

Xu weimin acknowledges that corruption goes on but says that it is the culture, and is not sure if he would be totally clean of corrupt decisions

Ben wu also struggles with his family; his family is in the US and he is in China y himself; while he is home he feels confused as to where home really is; often wants to return to the states to his wife, but doesn’t and he doesn’t know why

Wang xiaolei – fell victim to an internet scam; a female was lonely and wanted agreed to come stay with him but needed money for the trip, after getting his money she disappeared

Chapter 7 – Zhang jiingjing has become separated from her husband, she acknowledged that her work always came first

Wang xiaolei feels many women only believe in money and not love and experiences depression b/c of this

Jiingjing feels it is really hard for a women to balance personal life and work life

Lu dong feels that culture has changed; he feels Christianity is the answer to his loneliness

Miranda hong struggles with her job of advertising funds and people’s personal lives and is concerned b/c they don’t understand economics or mutual funds; She feels they need to be warned that they might lose their money; she doesn’t want to do her job successfully and set people up to lose their money

Miranda hong fights with her husband often b/c she does not get raises or promotions in her job and he feels guilty that she is not doing good work b/c she only came to Beijing b/c of him when the market is better in shanghi

Zhanyan broke off her arranged marriage; she is more pleased with this decision and that her father backed her decision and encouraged her to do what was best for her

Zhanyan met a man through a friend that she feels happy with and who also feels happiness with zhanyan

Chapter 8 – yang haiyan has found her mother; she was sold to a farmer after being abducted

Haiyan went through what she described as a hell when she was told she would never see her family again, after trying to run away she was caught, strung up and beat; she ran away after some years to a neighboring village to a family she thought would take care of her, but this family won’t let her leave either even though she wants too, the man she is staying with currently does not give her money for fear that she will leave and not return [obviously, Stockholm hasn’t set in]

The next morning, haiyan’s mother had changed her mind about wanting to leave b/c hope was fading that she would ever leave [I spoke too soon it would seem]

Yang haiyan returned without her mother and saddened; haiyan feels her mother is in conflict b/c she does not want to leave what she has now behind but does want to return with her daughter; haiyan also feels that her mother finally has a sense of home.


What aspects of these accounts and this documentary seem most significant?

The people being interviewed come from different backgrounds and are being followed-up on over time

Although everyone is dealing with problems specific to them, the problems faced seem to be similar almost; many experienced problems in relationships be it with a spouse, significant other, or even family member

What trends or dynamics do we see happening in daily life among different classes of people in the mid-2000s decade that resonate?

Financial hardships; Everyone is doing something in order to improve their monetary situation and increase the quality of their life

There was a lot of people feeling disconnected and unsatisfied

Seem to match other significant global trends? Differ?

Corruption in businesses seemed to be commonly understand as existing around the globe

An increase in environmentalism

Personal responses to challenges, trends?

Lu dong turned to religion in the face of his depression; wei zhanyan defied cultural norms by breaking off an arranged marriage b/c she was not happy and instead chose someone she actually likes

Other aspects, details that struck you?

The businessmen didn’t seem to be speaking of corruption in a way that signified an attitude for change but more so one that was like “yeah, it’s here to stay, live with it whether you like it or not”

Overall, I was most interested by hearing the narratives of people all over. It provided some insight into what is kind of considered normal in China (e.g. “corrupt” practices in business). The interviews also show how people are influenced by a more global world (i.e. people are turning away from less traditional methods in favor of other international methods to progress in their lives; like a rap career to make money, Western medical practices, choosing ones own partner, and ignoring  the common perception of an entire village and attempting to find one’s mother).

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January 23rd