Daily life as we know it is completely unknown in China. Not being able to get the news, the Chinese do not know that America saved China from the Japanese in World War 2. The Communist government does not allow the words Tiananmen Square to appear in any newspaper or magazine nor any reference to the revolt of the college kids in 1989. This is the most egregious omissions, but there are hundreds others. So there is widespread ignorance about the West. They are lead to believe that because I have 5 times the income as an average Chinese, therefore I am five times as wealthy.
They have no cars and they can’t travel for the most part out of the country because people who do stay gone. Only the very wealthy leaders and those who have been able to bribe or work their way into big jobs can do or have the means to do what many Americans consider basic living. The Chinese do not have taxes or private property therefore there is no upkeep on property as we know it. The TV reception is poor and even though there is cable, it is not very good, so they have no cable bills; they have no pets which are a great expense, they have mediocre health care, so hospital bills are not a problem; they just don’t go, unless they are at death’s door. There is no cradle-to-grave social support system. They are told that we live in a 24/7 crime scene, which justifies their confiscation of guns. Perhaps I came to China to get away from the street gangs?
They work 12 hours a day with 2 hours off for lunch. They do not take vacations, and often they work a 7 day week (there is no Christian Sunday of course!) although they may only work a few hours on the 7th day which may be Saturday or Sunday. They are not allowed to be members of groups, like a teacher’s association which they badly need. They print all their own books so the guide to English pronunciation is flawed, perhaps even unusable because they fear anything foreign no matter how badly it is required.
There are no Vacation Bible Schools or summer camps for kids. There are no expensive sports events, like Little League or soccer. People are not encouraged to be members of teams (they might gang up against the dictators!)
There is no church choir, no picnics in the park, no homeowners associations, no labor unions because the Party tells you what to do, where to work, and how much to earn. They have no credit, no credit cards, and no interest payments. They have daily newspapers but the news is whatever the government says it is, so you might read it more for the local gossip which is probably not doctored.
For entertainment they have dinners out (food is relatively cheap although getting much more expensive) and they sing to Karaoke machines. They see movies from America which specialize in violence, they sit in the square at night because it is hot in the small apartments, and they have street dancing and music made with trumpets and something akin to brass pots. Old people meet in the park to play cards and swap birds and grandmas take care of the one grandchild, a small number attend Communist Party meetings, and they have their families – period.
Consequently they can actually survive on $100 a month. (Teachers and other educated people can earn as much as $400 a month.) On the other hand nobody thrives on that either. China at nights and on weekends looks like One Giant Yard Sale. Everyone has something to sell, and while most of it is junk, most of it is usable. I bought a thermometer for 10 cents.
Can you imagine a round trip ticket to China for $100 a month’s income for a Chinese laborer? I guess not. But my ticket cost me over $1,600, and while it is over a month’s pay for me, that is 16 months pay for the Chinese worker, an unthinkable amount. We are comparing not apples and oranges, but apples and woodchucks. There is no basis for communication about “income.” They probably think I am a white, wealthy American who has a Negro house slave, and is merely teaching in China for amusement.
Americans, in fact all foreigners, are called “devils.” The Chinese word for things and for devils is the same. My Chinese tutor told me this, although I had read it in “A Foreign Devil in China: The Story of Dr. Nelson Bell” well-known missionary and Billy Graham’s father-in-law. My job in China is to demonstrate that Americans are not devils, and our God is not a Foreign Devil-God either.
China and America do have one thing in common – sexual license and it does them no more good than it does us. Fortunately God honors moral purity even in people who have no moral code, that is people who live by a Bible that they do not know exists!