Well, I’ve managed to access Facebook, Twitter and Blogger for the time being. They had just blocked everything a few days before our team arrived. Perhaps what is going on in Iran scared them, or the riots happening in western China.
Some odds and ends from the first few days. I’ll say what I can…
There is an increased security presence here in Beijing. After we checked into our hotel I took some of the team to Tiananmen Square. We had to go through a security checkpoint just to get on the square. Couple of reasons for this. This is the 20th anniversary of the student protests at Tiananmen Square. Even though the younger generation knows nothing about the event, China doesn’t want anyone commemorating the event. Also, there are riots going on with Uighur minority out in western China. The Uighurs are muslim and many of them have been killed during the riots.
China doesn’t like anything that has a higher authority than their own government. That’s why they view religions as threats. If it’s a Chinese church they don’t care. For instance, there is a Chinese Catholic church, but that church doesn’t recognize the Vatican. The churches outside their control worry them.
In talking with some people here the government views Christianity and Islam differently. They see Islam has being a more cultural-centric to certain minority people groups, which is why it hasn’t faced crackdowns on it, whereas Christianity is seen as being a more political movement. Many types of people are Christian, whereas Islam is confined to certain minority groups here in China. However, they see Islam as being more violent than Christianity.
Our hotel is near Wangfujing Street, which is a combination of Times Square and The Strip. It’s packed with everything. Lots of tourists. High-end shops. Big billboards of Kobe and LeBron. Unfortunately, these kind of locations also bring out the forgotten people. The lame, beggars, hookers and more. Someone on the team woke up early our first night here and went to the nearby McDonald’s to get something to eat, around 3 AM, and there were over 10 people sleeping on the seats in the back of it. (It’s open 24-7, the one near us.) Last night when I was walking back to the hotel around 10 PM, I had four different hookers offer their services.
Hardest thing for me? Moms sitting on the sidewalk with their kids, hoping to get change from the tourists. That is hard to see, and that is when I slip them some change. Those kids and babies deserve better, and I hope they know they aren’t forgotten. I always try and put my hand on the kid’s head and say a quick prayer for them. It’s a life I know they don’t want. Perhaps I’m enabling the parent/adult with them in their way of life, but I try and hope for the best. There are the beggars who are pros at what they do. I don’t know… Just hope and pray for the best. It obviously hits me harder now that I have kids.
Weather has been hot and humid. Thrown in the bad air quality, and it makes for good times when walking around. It’s always nice to be able to stare right into the sun and not blink or squint at all due to the haze. I’m hoping to not get sick with any kind of congestion stuff while here.
Now? Well, it’s Monday morning here in Beijing. Today we are headed to the Great Wall. Better to do during the week because on the weekend it is insane. Way too many people to enjoy on Saturday or Sunday.