Have just been into town and collected my passport, which much to my relief has a nice big shiny new residence permit in it, valid until the 13th July. Lovely. After that I went to sell the ebike then got a taxi back to my flat to do the bare-minimum-required cleaning before I hand the keys over later today.
And of course – I’m sure you won’t have forgotten – I need to offer some birthday congratulations. Today is the 90th birthday of the Chinese Communist Party, founded in the first meeting of the Chinese Communist Party Congress which took place in a boat on Jiaxing’s South Lake 90 years ago to the day.
There have been lots of signs and stuff up around town for weeks reminding everyone of this momentous occasion, with the hammer and sickle painted anywhere there’s space. Interestingly (controversially) the China Daily – China’s only English language (state-controlled) newspaper – has an article on the homepage of the website today about ‘reasons behind the success of the CPC’ in which the author confesses that the Party may have made ‘several serious mistakes’ during these 90 years. The article’s prompted by a book written by Xie Chuntao looking at the popularity of the Party despite little slip ups, which has caused a little bit of fuss – aside from promoting lots of ‘red’ books in the run up to this anniversary, there’s been a ban since a couple of months ago on TV showing any spy dramas or other programs of the like that might indicate that the government is anything less that a group of jolly nice chaps. (There was also an official ‘discouragement’ on programs showing time travel earlier in the year. ?!?).
The article by Xie Chuntao is quite interesting – he admits that ‘good intentions… were followed by the wrong methods’ before revealing that in the years 1957-1976 ‘one out of four Chinese people often suffered from hunger’.
However, no doubt is left that Xie is merely mentioning these facts to show that the ‘Party is straightforward and objective in its history’, explaining that ‘the Party’s attitude was not to exaggerate glory and not to deny or evade failure as well as to learn from grave mistakes’. Thrilling stuff. Hope I can get hold of an English version of it somewhere.
Right, time to stop procrastinating now and actually get to work tidying. I hope to be leaving Jiaxing within a couple of hours to leave plenty (actually, loads) of time to get to Shanghai, drop my main bag off at a hostel where I’ll pick it up when I come back from Thailand so I don’t have to rush back to Jiaxing then back to Shanghai on the 10th, then on to the airport for our flight at 21:20. We arrive in Bangkok about midnight and leave at 06:00 the next morning on the first bus down to Koh Tao, so if all goes well we should be on the island by late afternoon. Stu’s taking his laptop so expect to hear from me soon.