The Chinese were among the earliest peoples to codify their laws and yet, the application and enforcement of law is among the least effective in the world. Years of arbitrary feudal (before the communist came) and rigid and corrupt communist rule has led to low regard for law. It is often heard that the country is lawless. This is not true - China probably has just as many rules and regulations as any other country, perhaps even more. The problem lies in whether the law is consistently applied and whether it is being enforced. An example is that regarding the use of seat belts. Like many countries, the law stipulates that drivers must put on seat belts. But during the 3 weeks in China, I have hardly seen anyone putting on seat belts.
In addition, rules and regulations are frequently violated by officials or soldiers. It is common to see cars plated "O" (for official cars) and "Wu" (for army) beating traffic lights. I was told that a few years ago a firefight almost broke out when a military jeep was stopped by traffic police in the Chengdu city centre for speeding. The angry soldier radioed his unit and his comrades rushed to the traffic junction fully armed. The policeman reacted by calling his unit. A tense situation emerged with two armed groups facing each other. A mini traffic jam ensured and only eased after discussions by high level officials. What a total of disregard for law and due process !
Since the 1980ís, fearing a population explosion, China has been aggressively promoting the one-child policy. People who contravened are fined heavily. In recent years, this policy came under increasing strains due to the huge movement in population - the result of enormous economic changes. This makes it difficult to control actions taken by individuals. But this aside, the one-child policy has led to a new China where the sole child of the family is regarded almost like a prince or princess - to be pampered and valued. A common sight in Chinese parks is a family outing with a kid surrounded by his or her parents plus perhaps grandparents - all devoting full attention on the child. Many are over-pampered and become very dependent on others - not a desirable trend.
The Chinese child is one burdened with high expectations from their parents. The traditional Chinese emphasis on education, coupled with the one child policy, have led to the desire of Chinese parents to provide the best education for their children. And of course, this comes along with the hope that the child will do well. Despite their meagre income, parents spent huge sums to send their child to expensive tuition schools after normal school classes. Many even send their children for special coaching of music, art and other disciplines. The desire for achievement is so strong that it is common to see parents joining their children in classes and actually attempt to assist their kids in creative assignments like art. A Singaporean working in Chengdu was chided as cruel and indifferent to his child on some occasions by other parents when seen letting his child drawing alone while reading papers. Well, will such close attention affect the childís ability to be independent or creative ? Is this good for the country in the long term ? Only time will tell.