Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

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Hao Lao Ma

Posted by MyLaowai on Tuesday, February 1, 2011

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Hao Lao Ma- New China vs. Old China in an ancient land

China has seen it all before. The new surge of prosperity looks a lot like one of China’s dazzling periods, a new Tang or Ming era. This is a country that had so many hermits trying to get away from the bustle of life in the pre-Christian era that an emperor had to issue an edict asking people not to scrawl all over the mountains. Modern China is still China, and whether the subject of conversation is a pool pump or global finances, the reaction will be Chinese to the bone.

Old China

A brief read of Lao Tse, Confucius, Ssuma Chien and other Chinese notable books would convince anyone that China’s claim to a unique unbroken heritage is an understatement. Old China was a pretty tough place for most people. The culture that grew out of this incredible, often bloody, famine-ridden history grew literally out of the ground, fighting every step of the way. The rampages of the Yellow River alone caused national disasters on a regular basis.

Old China grew despite cataclysms. It flourished like a storm-damaged tree, despite insane emperors from Shih Huang Di onwards, invasions, and murderous civil wars. Time and again, old China grew back. It even managed to survive the insularity of the senile Qing Dynasty, which barely recognized the danger of the Europeans, and the Taiping Rebellion, which killed an estimated 20 million people.

New China

New China started among the wreckage of the Qing. The new China had a tough time right from the beginning. Despite this disadvantage, New China was still very much China. After Sun Yat Sen’s revolution, the unspeakable corruption and criminal madness of the Chiang Kai Shek regime and the Japanese invasion, new China ultimately won through, at terrible cost.

The “adolescent” years of New China were also tough, but by the time the big economic surge began, a few echoes of Old China were very visible:

  • A highly qualified, literate management class
  • A merchant class with good trading skills
  • Big ideas, and a lot of them

It’s ironic, in view of the perceived dichotomy between New and Old China, that these similarities aren’t better understood. Shanghai looks like a monster modern mega city, but it’s a concept well within Old China’s achievements. In Old China, the giant gardens, huge palaces and the growth of the ancient capitals was really quite similar. Xian, for example, was once the biggest city in the world. It’s more a matter of scale than concept.

The Three Gorges Dam is a modern marvel, but it’s also noticeably similar in scale of ideas to the Grand Canal, designed to improve communications throughout China as well as do something about huge floods.

Hao Lao Ma

“Hao Lao Ma” can mean “Good Old Horse” or “Good Old Mother”. New China’s ancestry, physical and spiritual, is as recognizable as that of the Tang Flying Horses.

The Good Old Horse is China’s apparently endless, eternal human skills. The horse is flying again, thanks to those skills.

The Good Old Mother is China herself, the indestructible source of Chinese culture, of fantastic modern art and the ancient talk-stories of the home.

There’s no real conflict between Old China and New China. Whether the subject of debate is a pool cleaner or the most idiomatic of ideographs, Zhonggou shr Zhonggou.

9 Responses to “Hao Lao Ma”

  1. justrecently said

    Shr, shr, shred this post, mylaowai. the unspeakable corruption and criminal madness of the Chiang Kai Shek regime? giant gardens? Did I miss something between the lines?


  2. RecoveredSinoholic said

    我的母亲, 祖国万万岁!!

    Happy Year of the Rabbit

    Should be the year of the rabbit every year in Zhongguoland.

    1.3 billion and counting….

  3. RecoveredSinoholic said

    This sentimental rubbish is quite typical of the dreck they feed the youngsters in Zhongguostanese schools.

    I hereby pledge to get sloppy drunk every single day I am forced to live in Zhongguostan. I pledge, while wasted, to puke all over the “I heart China” t-shirt of anyone who recites such China-loving dribble to my face. I pledge to dip my wick in a different Chinese broad every single night there. I shall roar obscene ditties when forced to croakey-okey with the Chinkies. I will do everything within my power to cause commotion, controversy and chaos while stuck in Hualand. This is how I shall repay the Chinese for the misery to which they subject everyone else on the planet.

  4. Slap2tickle said

    An anticlimax to the holiday I must admit, did you take a bump on the noggin MLW?

  5. Nips Are Great said

    It’s clear that the writer of this has a number of things wrong.

    Terms like ‘China’ and ‘modern’ are mutually exclusive.

    “It flourished like a storm-damaged tree…” Jesus that’s bad.

    “New China started among the wreckage of the Qing.” Really? Are you sure? And you’re suggesting that chinkyland run by the commies isn’t a wreck?

    “…the unspeakable corruption and criminal madness of the Chiang Kai Shek.” Are you sure you’re not a brainwashed commie chink?

    “A highly qualified, literate management class.” I know Chinese who call their commie masters ‘gangsters’ and ‘hooligans with credentials’.

    “The Three Gorges Dam is a modern marvel.” ???

    “…eternal human skills. The horse is flying again, thanks to those skills.” Pimping their wives and daughters and stealing foreign ideas/innovation/technology.

  6. MyLaowai said

    hahah you lot are a tough crowd, but then again I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Be warned, would-be guest-posters!

  7. This blog is gorgeous! I love it with so many great details. Good job!

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