T174. Life in Rural China

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Project Save the World Podcast / Talk Show Episode Number: 174
Panelists: Ellen Judd
Host: Metta Spencer

Date Aired: 29 January 2021
Date Transcribed: 15 February 2021
Transcription: Otter.ai
Transcription Review and Edits: David Millar

Metta Spencer

Hi, I’m Metta Spencer, let’s go to China. So we go to China today, this is going to be easy, because I get to sit at my computer and have a wonderful excursion, led by a professor of anthropology at the University of Manitoba, a woman who has spent a good part of her life doing research in the rural areas of China. This is Ellen Judd. Hello, Ellen, how are you? I’m fine. How are you? Wonderful. All right. So we’re, I know that you can’t go to China these days. So but… you seem to be sending your graduate students abroad. Is that… something that’s working?

Ellen Judd

Well, and they’re coming here so that that’s just the way in which teaching is going these days? But yes, things have been closed down a little bit. So I hope to get back to China later this year.

Metta Spencer

Good. I’ve been to China, but I don’t know where I was. Where were you most of the time, or did you hop around?

Ellen Judd

I went to a fair number of different places. I started out as a graduate student in China and in Beijingand Shanghai. And then I did a lot of spend a lot of time in Shandong, and then later in Sichuan — Chongqing, in the southwest of China, looking at the places that had sent migrants to the cities, and then I went to the cities, where they’ve gone to Guangzhou and Chongqing. And I’ve been to other places, but those are probably the locations where I’ve spent most time.

Metta Spencer

Okay… I was there in 1980. That’s the only time I’ve ever been to China, for a couple of weeks. It was at a time when it was really — we were a novelty. I mean, I remember being in a bus and these people would come in, they put their noses up against the glass, and look at us, as if we were really quite remarkable things. But that must not have lasted very long. But I imagined you you sort of put roots down, right?

Ellen Judd

Yes, I sort of have friends. And it’s been a large part of my life from from my early 20s. Until now.

Metta Spencer

So you have a lot of friends in China and you speak — what do you speak? I mean, I have

Ellen Judd

I speak Mandarin Chinese. And that’s… Yes. That’s usually what we call it in Canada. In China, they just call it the standard language. It’s the language of the North China plain. So it’s widely spoken across northern China and, and down into Sichuan Chongqing too, with regional variations. And then it’s taught in schools everywhere. So one can go lots of places with it. And I can understand some of the local dialects, but it’s a bit as if, when one goes to Yorkshire, one listens to how people speak. But when someone speaks, whatever version of English they speak — so what I speak is Mandarin, but I can get around.

Metta Spencer

Well, I presume that everybody in China, all the students must learn what you call standard Chinese. Right? Yeah, it’s just even if they have a local language, they also would learn the basic Mandarin. Yes, yeah. Okay. Well, that makes sense. Right, I was just reading something today about the fact that the there’s more effort to standardize education in some of the peripheral regions of China. And I, I could sort of understand why that might be helpful. But, you know, there’s always a controversy about how much to do, even within Canada, how much one should do in local or ethnic languages and so on. I think in the years past, there were a lot more Saturday schools and things like Ukrainian and stuff in Canada than there is now. So I imagine that we’re becoming more standardized in French and English. Do you think or not? Yes, I think people like to speak their own language. And certainly there’s lots of pushback in China and certainly people who speak a very different language than the minority nationalities want to keep their own language.

Ellen Judd

So that happens and even in localities, there are lots of people just want to speak their own version of Chinese — it’s sort of, it’s what feels comfortable and anything else is uppity and and they don’t want to do it. But it is important in terms of their mobility and so on to also have that ability.

Metta Spencer

Right. Okay, now you I’m impressed with your green screen, which, by the way looks like the real thing. I mean, a lot of times when people use green screens, if they move the funny looking space behind them, but you have a remarkable green screen, obviously, of China, can you can you tell us what we’re seeing in the background?

Ellen Judd

Right, this is a school that’s under construction outside a township in Sichuan, where I was, where I spent a while. And I think it’s, I thought it was nice, and it’s one I use in my classes, because it shows a little bit of the countryside. And it also hints at all the transformations that are underway as people are going to school and preparing themselves for life anywhere. And also, especially in the cities, because there’s this huge movement of people from the countryside, to the cities, that’s fueling China’s rise in the world. So it’s sort of a an optimistic, an important part of what’s happening in China. Yeah, in fact, I, I would imagine that the Chinese modernization or I don’t know, industrialization, or whatever you want to call it. The development of China in the last 30 years, must be one of the most extraordinary rapid changes social changes in the world history. I mean, they have done something spectacular with their economic development. And I’ve yet to see, you know, any of China. But that’s what I hope you’ll tell us more about the move from I think, in most cases, it’s an urbanization move, right? A lot of people in the countryside, move to the cities and take jobs in industry, is that what the basic dynamic of the thing it’s part of what’s happening. So I think that one of the important things about the the Chinese economy and society is that it’s, in a sense bifurcated between the urban worlds and the rural worlds. And to some extent, people are having entitlements and are registered as living in one or the other. And there’s this incredibly modern, fast paced world of the major cities and urban China. That is amazing, the world. And it’s probably all — it’s been a huge cultural center, you know, for 1000s of years anyway. But it is amazing right now in the in these places. And then there is where most of the people in China live, which has been in the countryside, but is increasingly being urbanized. But one of the things that has been happening is that China has that modern industrial economy that’s been developing through the 20th century and into this century. But when it did this opening up since the 1990s, it also became a place to which countries like the United States put out some of their work. So there’s a sense in which China is also a very large Export Processing Zone. So we have these

Metta Spencer

I’m sorry, are you saying that even in the countryside, there’s there are… industrial cities going in for export, or just in the cities…

Ellen Judd

There had been a period in the 1980s, when some of it was in the countryside. But what’s happened since the 1990s, is that that’s been developing more in the cities and the coastal regions, but people who are still considered to be part of the rural population and have a foot in — largely their families in the countryside — in the cities. So something like 250 million rural people are in the cities working in temporarily, but still with ties to the countryside, but they’re in the cities, doing this, making all these things that we buy in all our shops, right. So in a sense that these rural people are one of the motors of Chinese development. And I think some of the time, when we look at what China’s doing, we don’t quite see all of the people who are doing the work. And it is people from the countryside who were going to the cities that are one of the engines of, of China’s economic miracle, they don’t do it by themselves. The secret is, you know, the hinge between the the urban and the rural economies, and the ability of them to work together to transform the Chinese economy.

Metta Spencer

So you specialize more in talking to villagers, right. And people live, rural people don’t live scattered around, they live in villages, mostly right?

Ellen Judd

It depends upon the the region of China, sometimes it’s in nucleated villages. And sometimes it’s a bit more spread out. It’s partly a geographical and regional difference. So you find both. Some of the reality right now is how mobile the rural population is, and how much of it is… partly in the cities. I went to to rural China, I’ve been a student in China, in the 1970s, and I wanted to be able to see the countryside. So when it became possible for international researchers to get to the countryside in the 1980s, that’s what I wanted to do, because it seemed not visible at that time to the outside world. And it’s where most people were, and and so the majority of the Chinese people have a rural designation. So it seemed to me that to understand what was going on in China, this is sort of key to life in China, and at present, you know, people don’t necessarily see it when they traveled to China, but it is… life for a very large portion of, of the Chinese people. So I wanted to see that. So that’s what I did, but it’s not I certainly spend time with colleagues in universities and spend time in the cities as well.

Metta Spencer

So you, you visit universities, what what is it? Do you teach there? Do you hang out in research institutes? Or what what do you do in universities?

Ellen Judd

My research in the countryside is sometimes done in collaboration with people in in universities. So I I’ve given some lectures there, but I haven’t gone to teach, [as] in Canada.

Metta Spencer

Mm hmm. Well, I have heard that and and maybe you can elaborate on whether it’s true that there’s a lot of democratization going on, but it’s it is locally, it is usually in a local sense, that that people in villages have quite a lot of opportunity to make decisions locally. Is that Is that a fair statement? Or would it or not?

Ellen Judd

There’s a tension in that sense in which there there is a strong central government, but there are also local structures, and they’re one of the standard sayings in China is, you know, there’s policy from above, and there’s opposition from below. So, you know, to some extent, what, what people do is they do have some structures for managing their own affairs in communities. But it’s not without paying attention to what national policy is. So there’s a dynamic there that is not structured the same as it is here. But but it is there. And compared with when I first went to China, I would say there’s probably more sphere for people to make individual decisions about where they will go. And it’s sort of a transformation from the situation in which it was more equal. And everybody got those full employment and everybody got a job, but they got assigned one, now it is not so equal. And people have to go out and find their own work, but they get a bit more choice about what they do. And that has an upside and a downside to it as well.

Metta Spencer

I don’t know any foreign language, even French. But I wish I could understand enough of a language to just sit in a coffee shop in you know, some, some little town and listen to what people talk about. So I you know, do you ever write papers about what people are interested in or what they talk about in in everyday life in their social gatherings or so on…? What is life like, from the perspective of people living in a, one of the villages that you’ve, that you’ve studied?

Ellen Judd

…very largely about family. And so what people are dealing with their relationships with other people and their obligations and how they’re caring for their children and their elders and the work that they are doing in order to make their community work. And this life in the countryside, to a large extent, outside the suburban areas is still very hard and demanding, people are tend to be working very hard. And they also have considerable care obligations for for both children and elders, the people of working age are going to the cities, and the countryside has become a place of giving and receiving care in some ways. So there’s a great deal of concern about… how one manages all of these conflicting needs to be working and to be caring for people at the same time.

Metta Spencer

Yeah, well, that’s another thing that I’ve heard a lot about. And maybe, maybe it’s an exaggerated story, I don’t know that so many of the urban people are, are married couples, or at any rate family people who leave their children behind with their parents in the, in the village while they go off and live in the city, and then come home when they can for vacation or to stay in touch. How that’s maybe a stereotype? I don’t know. Is that a predominant pattern? Or is it… does it mean that there’s not enough housing or childcare facilities or things like that for, for them to bring their their children with them?

Ellen Judd

It’s not what one would say was, is a preference. It’s something that people more or less have to do in for at least a portion of their their life, because they can’t very well — it’s difficult for many of the rural people to be able to have a sufficient income and to be able to support their children and work full time in the city– it’s just sort of not manageable. And to some extent, even in the countryside, young people would be working well, grandmothers, and to some extent, grandfathers were also caring for their children during the day. So young people are key to the workforce. The problem with this, this model that’s existed for a while, is that people sometimes have to be more separated from their elders and generationally than in the past, when you can work in in your own grow… community. So in order to care well, for their families, people sometimes have to be separated from from some of their, from their parents and their children for a while, and people have certainly tried very hard to take [children] to the cities when they can. That’s difficult, but one of the transitions that China is working on is to urbanize so that more people are absorbed permanently into the urban workforce, and they can bring their families and they can settle permanently in cities to a greater degree. So that kind of… disruption of family life in order to work can be reduced. And and that’sa process that’s going to take a little while to make work. But there, there’s a sense in which some people are able, then to settle in the cities in a more more settled way. And that will be an important transition. And it’s happened to many other parts of the world that people first of all move temporarily to the cities, and then they become urbanized.

Metta Spencer

But you kind of confirm the impression that I’ve got from general press that this is a very widespread thing now, but that they’re trying to get past it, right. What would they be building apartments or housing for people in, in the cities that would be adequate for family life? Is that the goal or…

Ellen Judd

Increasingly, but it’s for the temporary workers. It’s not great. But yes, there is that kind of transition to a better way of life. And I think that’s one of the things that I think we sometimes don’t necessarily see in terms of contemporary press coverage about China the extent to which China’s economic and political life is driven by an internal imperative to make all of this possible for hundreds of millions of people. So basically, you have to be able to establish all that infrastructure. it’s the product of incredibly hard work, and also trying to manage the economy in such a way that it can sustain that level of growth, and build that infrastructure for people.

Metta Spencer

Well, yeah, now you tell me what, what kinds of articles you’ve written?

Ellen Judd

Well, it’s been a long period with different kinds of research, I started out studying the Cultural Revolution. But then, and I’ve studied, popular performing arts and so on. But as in the countryside, I spent a lot of time looking at the transformation of the rural economy, and how family life and gender relations have been changed. Because some of the time from a distance everything seems about political economy, but as people live it on the ground, it often turns out to be about how they manage their their family life and their household relations. So I did quite a bit of that. And then I looked at how the women’s movement responded to that, and looked at sort of indigenous ideas of the transformation of women’s roles in the economy and, and recognition of, of women’s contributions. Later on, I looked more at… migration, and at the restoration of social programs, in particular, health care in the countryside. Some of that had been dismantled, as in the rural economic reform. That happened, we sometimes call it decollectivization — in China, it was a rural economic reform, and to some extent, social programs were lost when collectives were transformed into local government. And then there’s been a rebuilding of what we would call social programs in China, health care, and pensions and so on, for the last 15 years or so, in the countryside. And so I looked at the re-emergence of the Rural Health Care Program, and then patterns of helping

Metta Spencer

health care programs did you say

Ellen Judd

yes, yes. Okay, and looking at how people manage their health care needs in terms of accessing public… familial… and private resources. So from a from a problem-solving kind of approach, in the countryside and, and for migrants, what I’m trying to get at, is looking at it from the point of view of how it’s lived on the ground. So that’s what I do professionally.

Metta Spencer

Okay. I’m interested in two of the things that you’ve mentioned. One is, what have the changes been in gender relations? And have you been able to see it over a period of time? And can you can you make any sweeping generalizations about how that has gone? And then I’d be interested in more also, the changing healthcare system, if that you’ve mentioned, I remember hearing back in the day when, you know, they were talking about barefoot doctors. And I’ve also had friends who’ve studied Chinese traditional medicine here, as if this is a good way of amplifying what they do. And it’s made me wonder, in fact, I went to China, I’ve gone to three Chinese doctors just for fun more than anything else. But, you know, I’m I’m not sure how much traditional Chinese medicine is, is still a part of the everyday practice of healthcare, in village life. Those are big questions… you can pick either one, gender or health.

Ellen Judd

Okay. So I’ll talk a bit more about gender. But I would say certainly traditional Chinese medicine is still used and and promoted, and the two tracks, and then they’re both and sometimes they’re combined. So all of that sort of flourishing. gender relations has changed a great deal. I think it’s one of the things that’s been quite transformed. A great many more opportunities are open to women than there had been in the past, transformation and access to education in the countryside in particular, that happened earlier in the cities and somewhat later in the countryside. Women are a very active part of, a part of the economy. They’re certainly not, you know, I think we used to have ideas, that they’d been left behind in the countryside. And they’re certainly not, they’re also moving and the ability to move and work in the cities gives a degree of enhanced opportunity and freedom. But they nevertheless, you’ll have extraordinary demands and obligations on them as well that that are not equal —

Metta Spencer

Gender is no nowhere equal yet, may be Scandinavia. But you know, if you were doing a cross, international comparison of progress towards gender equality, how would you say China stacks up in terms of, for example, the role of women in industry or in leadership roles, or government and so on?

Ellen Judd

I think the striking thing in China is that the the pace of change is extraordinarily rapid. But we don’t find large numbers of women at the highest levels of the political system. But as you say, these are problems that exist everywhere. So I think that —

Metta Spencer

Does anybody know whether anybody’s done an international comparison of gender advancement or feminist advancement?

Ellen Judd

I’m not aware of it but then I don’t specialize in feminism. So I don’t know. I think that there are people who have looked at that. And at one point when the Chinese women are also particularly the Chinese women’s movement, I could see efforts being made particularly to put women into positions of greater responsibility. And it was a very interesting program that the Women’s Federations at that time were developing, that were very intentional about linking women who were more professionally placed and educated, and linking them with women with less advantage, to build patterns of mentorship and cooperation. And we find that more widely in the world now as well. So I think that the pace of change is very fast, there are people who’ve done those comparative studies of women moving into elite positions. It’s not what I’ve done in particular…Yeah, but but it does, it does exist. And I think the world is improving on this, but still has a long way to go.

Metta Spencer

Okay, now, let’s turn to health. Well, if you have a choice, would you have would you choose to go to a Chinese traditional doctor or a modern hospital for whatever you’re likely to come down with in in your travels in China? Where would you rather go —

Ellen Judd

I use both. Yes, I mean, a lot of the time what happens, what’s happening with traditional Chinese medicine is it’s the use of herbal treatments that later have been adopted in pharmaceutical treatments in the West. So it’s, it’s perfectly legitimate, you may have to take — It’s not as refined as it is in tablets, but it’s quite effective for colds and various other treatments. And that’s just fine. It depends on what ails you. But some of the time, I’ll admit that I have a lot of respect for biomedicine… when really sick to go for that. But what I’ve been looking at mainly is the effort to increase people’s access to any form of health care. And because that is so critical to people’s well being. And that I think has been something that’s been really important to see.

Metta Spencer

So that we’re emphasizing or, you know, I guess I’m interested in this comparison of if the average person in a village, do they care what kind of healthcare they get, modern or traditional. And, and how do they think about this? Is it Are they is there really a lot of improvement in access to treatment? And and are they blending the two, are they mixing them? Or do you find doctors that specialize in one and the other but but have no contact with people in the other branch of medicine.

Ellen Judd

There are somewhat separate streams for training people in one or the other. But a lot of practitioners are able to use both. And so that from an ordinary person’s point of view, you can choose one or the other in the countryside, where you may have a smaller number of practitioners available, sometimes they’re able to do both to some degree. But but they are separate specialized streams and people have access to, to both. I think the the big issue is being able to ensure that people do have access. And that has been, I think, really important, because I don’t think there’s a place where access to health care is not important. So basically, being able to recreate a structure that improves people’s access to health care, I think is one of the important things that China’s managed to recreate. So at present, there’s a structure for this that ideally reaches everybody. It’s still underfunded, which is one of the reasons why China’s pushes constantly for more economic development. So there’s a structure there, that still needs to be more fully funded. But there’s… efforts to to recreate that a bit, underway for… a time, when we’re trying to talk about post-neoliberalism which one hardly hears anymore, but there had been a moment before the economic crisis in 2008, where we were talking about that in the recreation of social programs throughout the world — and some places, it’s been hard to sustain. And it’s certainly been a struggle to create in China, but there’s been a determination also to go ahead with that, with the healthcare system, and with the creation of income support for elderly people in the countryside, to some health care, and pensions are being recreated. That this there’s still a lot of inequality, but there’s work on this…

Metta Spencer

you know, in in the world now, one of the things that interests me most because I’m a political sociologist, is, is the rise of course of populism, and, and the all of these movements such as Trump in the US and … in other countries, Bolsonaro you know, you name it. And even Modi in India and so on — cleavage between rural culture and urban culture. You know, we have a real war practically going on between educated elites, in cities … in the knowledge industries and so on. And the traditional people who want to stabilize life by going backward, I found in the US that the biggest gap in voting for Trump or Biden was the gap between rural and urban residents. So that we have all these people wanting, you know, everything, opposition to abortion, right to carry guns, opposition to gay, gay marriage, or gay partnerships, and so on. And, and, and so, I see a huge cultural split in, between rural and urban. And what I’m wondering is, how much of that is similar to the case in China?

Ellen Judd

There is a similar divide. But I don’t think it gets in, the sense of there’s a rural-urban distinction. But I don’t think it’s elaborated in quite the same way, the way in which a preoccupation in China is very largely in terms of inequality and/or disparity. So that there’s a sense that life is improving very much more in the cities — not for everybody in the cities. there’s also people who’ve been laid off from failing enterprises and so on that there, there are certainly problems for some people in cities. But there’s a sense in which there’s enormous inequality in China and there’s this sense on the part of many people even privileged people in the cities, to be rather uncomfortable about the disparity and the situation that they know exists in remote rural areas. So there’s a sense that it probably comes out of this… more the socialist past in in China, which I think is how a lot of people in China would also think of it except nobody should necessarily say so at present, but there’s a sense in which things have become — the disparities have widened during this period of rapid economic growth, and greater engagement with the global capitalist economy, so that some people are doing very well and other people aren’t. So it’s this huge disparity that is felt on both sides. And there’s a sense that this is somehow not right. But nevertheless, it is. It is part of the structure. And the overall thrust has been that if China is able to economically improve its situation rapidly enough, this can be shrunk, or conditions can be approved for a larger number of people. And to some extent, you know, from… 1996, to 2010, there was sustained 10% growth in GDP. And so people did experience an enormous increase in their standard of living. And it’s still one of the issues in China in the past year, for example, is China’s seen to be such a force in the global economy. At the same time, the Premier was saying that their goal, by the end of last year was to raise 600 million people out of poverty. And looking at the standard of 1000 renminbi a month income, which is about five US dollars per capita, per day, they were trying to get, they still had that as a challenge before [COVID]. And to some extent, they felt they were on track to meet it until the COVID thing happened, but they still felt they’d gotten somewhere by the end of last year to do to meet ths goal. So in many ways, the issue is the enormous inequality between these two worlds. So there’s this enormous wealth, and then there are still people who are having to go to the cities under difficult circumstances and increasingly informal economy, and people in the countryside who are dependent on somebody else making that kind of move in order to send funds home to them to sustain life.

Metta Spencer

That’s true. I’m glad you mentioned the fact that there’s a socialist background, because maybe that explains quite a bit. You know, I’m thinking of the people you know, the the basic value that leftism promotes is aegalitarianism, you know, that that is what leftism is all about, I would say, it isn’t necessarily achieved, but it certainly is considered a very high priority, and every kind of left wing government, socialist government, and so on. And and I think, in capitalist societies, and Canada and the US and Britain and so on, I don’t think there’s ever been the sense of what you say, shame or the feeling that there’s something really wrong with having a lot of economic inequality. I don’t think most American voters are convinced that greater equality is the most important thing to be pursued. But I do see I do remember seeing it so much in Russia when I was going to Russia quite quite a lot in the 80s. And, and it it was very important then, and I think it’s not even as much the case in Russia now, I think that equality is not something that is so much a highly prized value as it used to be. And but if people in formerly socialist societies, I just wonder it’d be interesting to see whether that value still has a strong appeal to, to I don’t even know whether to call… China, a communist society, would you call it a communist country? They call themselves communist, but they don’t look like any communist I ever saw. And they look like capitalists that are beating us hands down with, you know, playing a much better game of capitalism than we are. So is that reflected in a change in in the value system that it’s okay to make more money than your next door neighbor, and be competitive and all of that. I’m asking a lot of silly questions that are all piled in together. But there’s some common thread about this transition from… communism to capitalism, or maybe they don’t think that’s what they’re doing.

Ellen Judd

Those are a lot of really important big questions.

Metta Spencer

Sorry. I shouldn’t dump that on you, too, as we’re getting toward the end of our conversation, but, but those are the, to my mind the questions I’d like to explore if I were in your shoes.

Ellen Judd

And I certainly spend a lot of time thinking about them. If I do this other research, it’s because I’m wanting to make it on the ground and concrete with real people. And sort of the the summary statement probably about, you know, if we want the aspirational goal of, of the People’s Republic, would be that simple phrase from Mo Zedong, “serve the people”. And that, in a sense, would get past some some some of the finer ideological or political points, if you think of it in those in those terms. So certainly on the official position in the United States and China, interestingly, the governments of the two countries are sort of agreed that China’s a socialist county, but you know, for quite a long time, you know, Chinese people haven’t, you know, since the 80s, they sort of suggested that they didn’t think they quite had socialism anymore —

Metta Spencer

They would tell you that they don’t see it as a socialist country is that it?

Ellen Judd

Even in the countryside they would tell me that because they thought it was being dismantled in the new economic reform —

Metta Spencer

And does that bother them? Did it did did they say, oh, shoot, we’re losing socialism, or goody goody, we’re losing socialism.

Ellen Judd

I think they had mixed feelings about it. To some extent, there’s greater opportunity and well being, but then they lost some of their social supports. In any event, they would just sort of comment on it, because everybody in China has been through political study, right. So all these categories are available to people in in different ways. And they comment on them and think about them. What’s been distinctive in or one of the things that’s been distinctive in the recent period, is that Xi Jinping is very determined to put to make China into his idea of a socialist country. And and that has… certainly included a great strengthening of the role of the party and of state owned enterprises and of end of the role of the government. And and certainly claims that China is leading the way to socialism in the world at present. And there’s a strong argument that China is making to this effect, but nevertheless, it’s still quite involved in the global capitalist system. So this is a very difficult thing to analyze… and using labels like socialism and capitalism is really complicated, because sorting out just exactly how you want to think about China in that sense, in the view of, of many people studying China, I think you could look upon China as perhaps part of the capitalist world system, but having taken a different route to get there, where it’s been really important that it has been through what was more clearly a socialist experience in the in the 50s 60s, into the 70s. And then that consciousness is still there, and it’s alive and well in the thoughts of young people who are voluntarily going into the, the informal, the unofficial labor movement in China. So these are deas are alive and well in China, and they’re promoted in certain ways… by the government of China as well, but then it’s also part of the global economy. So and labor power is a commodity, and so on. So you’re basically there are, it’s it’s really complicated to, to conceptualize, but you have elements that we would recognize as both socialist and capitalist in China at present in a, in a complex way —

Metta Spencer

You know, comparing Xi with Putin, because from what you’ve said, it sounds as if Xi would claim that he’s aiming toward a better socialist society. I don’t think Putin would ever use the word socialist as an aspiration for his politics. I don’t know whether he’d like to call himself a capitalist either. I don’t know what they say. But certainly, I think the, the role of well, there’s no role for a communist, the Communist Party in Russia, but there certainly is a role for the Communist Party of China. And they must have an identity as to whether or not they’re more socialist or capitalist.

Ellen Judd

There was a time when I was looking comparatively at other post-socialist societies in the 1980s and 90s. And I looked at the Eastern Bloc a little bit more. So I can’t say that I know very much about Russia. In China, I would say that Xi Jinping, I think, is certainly trying to create his version of socialism. I think there’s a commitment to that. And he does, you know, his father was a leading figure in the Revolution as well. And he’s supported by that generation of the children of the people who were decisive in in that era. So he, he comes out of that background, but it isn’t quite the same. So I guess there’s a question of, you know, just how one’s going to conceptualize this other the path that China is on right now.

Metta Spencer

And when you take your next trip, I will get back in and have another conversation about what surprised you. Very nice to talk to you. All right, here, and we’ll be back in touch. Thank you. Bye.