by Wayne Ferrier
The dichotomy of economic globalization and traditional culture is contributing to a worldwide identity crisis. But crisis and change often go hand-in-hand together. In China change is happening on an unprecedented scale. And, when the tide rushes in, as in all places, individuals rise to the challenge and play that tide. Fifty years of Soviet style communism has left a bad taste in China’s mouth, so it has turned its face to the West. But this isn’t a face that wants to be Western. It isn’t a blank slate either. It is a Chinese face and behind that face is a Chinese identity.
One of Mao’s little red children, who grew up in China and in the United States, is Jianying Zha, self-proclaimed Beijinger and New Yorker. She belongs to a generation that embraced democratic liberalization when China opened its doors to the West in the early 80s, and became disillusioned after Tiananmen Square. Zha received her BA from Peking University, and then applied to the University of South Carolina where she got her M.A. Later she got her M.Phil at Columbia University. Now Jianying Zha is an author, a writer, a media critic, and a China representative of the India China Institute. Her latest book is titled Tide Players published in the US by The New Press. Some of the chapters were previously published in the New Yorker.