An annoying liberal who drove to New Hampshire in the cruel New England weather to canvass for Hillary Clinton and interned for a very liberal congresswoman on the Capitol Hill. Grew up in a young, thriving industrial city on the southern coast of China in a pretty patriotic family under the notion that one day I should return to Motherland and devote myself to the rise of Chinese influence in the world.
I have always asked to take a side. There has always seemed to be only one side (Mhm, President Trump). Ever since my first day of school in the United States, people always ask me, “Do you like China or America better?” As time goes on, the question has become a cruel one: How can one choose between one’s homes? I’ve come to identify with many American values and New England characters, but I’ve always called Shenzhen, China home. Almost all of my friends are in the U.S., a reality proven harshly as I constantly find myself incredibly bored currently in my home in China; I use a VPN, which stands for virtual private network, so that I can escape the Internet firewall built by the Chinese government and use all social sites and apps to stay in touch with my friends. I also find an incredible, irreplaceable sense of peace as I walk around my home city and find people here more happy than they were before I moved across the ocean; Chinese government has been cracking down corruption in the government and many state-owned industries, and private citizens have profited greatly from that effort.
Yet, my uber-nationalist father never seems to get tried giving the lofty speech of why one should always choose a side when it comes to “home”. People in the United States always assume that I am completely new to America when they first meet me. My teachers professors look to me when they refer to some weird Asian traditions in class that they think no one else in the room understand and hope someone with an Asian face, aka me, can testify. If I had any annoyance years ago, I don’t now. There will always be something inherently unique about me whether I am in the U.S. or China. I will always be Chinese to Americans, and a stranger westernized Chinese to Chinese. I get to choose how I want to present myself, but I can’t choose how others see me.
More so, as a foreign International Studies student interested in development economics, I understand that I will most likely find a more interesting future in China: The Chinese government is bringing its green energy and infrastructure development game up to full speed, while the U.S. government, headed by the Trump administration align with the anti-globalist trend popular in the Western hemisphere, is cutting everything down – EPA, Paris Accord, USAID… My summer on the Hill has only confirmed my many fears about the Trump administration. I wrote previously in my blog that the fight to resist the current administration’s stupidity must go on, but perhaps my fight is on the other side of the Pacific. Many economists and scientists argue that China will catch up with and perhaps even surpass the U.S. in many areas before the U.S. recovers the damages being done currently.
I am not hawkish, nor democracy-rejecting. I have just slowly come to realize that everything good and meaningful that I imagine myself doing in my American future, I can do in China. I want to bring the world closer together so that people can understand each other better and listen to what each other has to say, so that people could spend their energy, time, and money on education instead of wars, so that there could be more homes instead of refugee camps, so that trade can proper in more places…
I believe that as a Chinese citizen who has lived and received education in both China and the United States, the two greatest global powers of the 21st Century, I, along with so many others who share similar experience as mine, have a role to play in this part of history. There are so many things that we can and need to accomplish: How can we see to the spoil of globalization reach all places, whether it is Coastal China, central Pennsylvania, London, or Bangladesh? How can we educate more girls? How can we make sure that everyone understand the danger of global climate change, and how can we unite our international community to fight global warming?
I just need to choose a side of the Pacific to live on, but I don’t need to choose a side to fight for. I’ve definitely seen too many episodes of Game of Thrones, but in the great wars to come, as residents of the Earth, we are all on one side.