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31. Mai 2008, 17:19 Uhr, Geschrieben von Miriam Meckel

Entering communist service society

Entering China has changed. Not just because the Chinese government definitely wants to attract people in the forefront of the Olympic Games (and has not delivered the best job in doing so up to now). So they have invested in infrastructure, e.g. in the new Beijing Capital Airport that is supposed to be the biggest building in the world and has just been finished. It welcomes the visitor with a great new terminal overdrawn by a ceiling construction that reminds me of a huge network of matches (and will hopefully never behave like that).

This airport is so big that passengers have to do quite an amount of walking which can do you good after having been squeezed into an aircraft seat for all these hours of the long intercontinental flight (but might be a burden for regular travellers as well as the crowds of people flying into and out of Beijing during the upcoming games). But immigration and baggage claim are handled in a quick and professional way so that we are spilled out of the airport into the humid morning air after a bigger while of walking but just a little while of waiting.

In this process one single observation struck me. Approaching the immigration counter I saw this little machine at the front of the counter which encourages me to evaluate the performance of the immigration officer. Mine was okay, kind of good looking, quick, friendly. He was able to recognize me as the person who owns my passport without forcing me to take off my glasses (which happened to almost everybody around) and wished me a good stay in Beijing. So I thought about pressing the „satisfied“ button on this little machine while at the same time trying to figure out what could have made me press the „greatly satisfied“ button. If he had presented a flower to me, a cup of green tea or some hot towel I would have thought about pressing „greatly satisfied“ (as to the fact that nobody received some of these pleasures this button will probably never been pressed).

Interestingly enough this little machine might be a representative object for system change and friction. It is an evaluation tool. Evaluation means comparison and comparison equals competition by results. Does this fit the communist model where ‚equality‘ is systemic precondition? I think it suits the ways and means how communist China tries to benefit from capitalism while sticking to a non democratic fundament in various fields of politics and society. Competition has long arrived in China, as a key framework of the capitalist system. Service is still awaited in a lot of fields dealing with customers. To order a coffee in a coffee shop can turn into a never ending story.

Maybe there is no such thing as a communist service society. Maybe this doesn’t matter because the Chinese have to solve some bigger problems in their country as well as in their hopefully upcoming democracy. Maybe the Chinese representatives don’t even think of solving these problems. Because a country that can live with the major discrepancy of a liberal economy and a restricted ‘democracy‘ can get along well with the gap between communist ‘equality‘ and service society.

I didn’t press any button by the way. I just thought it wouldn’t make a difference anyhow.

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