Dori in Beijing, first 24 hours
Transmodern Consciousness

Dori in Beijing: Commercialism Communist Style

Beijing is fascinating with its contradictions. A Chinese speaker at the conference, Zu Dake, stated that China is torn between two value systems: the authoritarianism of the pre-reform Communist China and the commercialism of contemporary China. This was made most evident when I toured the City a few days ago. While the tour took you to the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace, it also took you to visit government silk, pearl, and tea shops. If you combined a Billy May's infomercial with the sense that if you don't buy something you will not be allowed to leave the country, you would understand the feeling of visiting a Chinese government shop.

They begin with a product demonstration of how silk,  fresh water pearls, and tea are made. 




Then they escort you into the show room with your personal sales assistant, who will offer you various incentives to buy products. "The regular price is 3900 RMB, but for you I give special 40% discount, because we are friends." It's like they took a crash course in aggressive sales techniques by watching Al Pacino in Glen Garry Glen Ross. 



When you leave the government shops, there are hawkers at the door to offer you good price on products that you could have bought inside.



Sounds like things have not changed that much in terms of organized travel in China. I was there in 2000 and your impression sounds very similar to my experience. I would be curious to know whether this controlling aspect continues to be your impression of travel in China; OR would love to know if you are able to manage any little get-aways that get you away from the capitalist side of Communist China.

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