By CHRIS MATTHEWS
I’d never even heard of China before my travel agent suggested I paid a visit. “China?” I exclaimed. “Isn’t that you eat steak off?”
Boy, was I in for a surprise! I’ve been in the news business for a pretty long time, but nothing prepared my wife Kathleen and me (pictured, right) for what we saw.
Firstly, they got a lotta people. Now, I’m not talking the crowd at Yankee Stadium here. I’m talking millions! Over a billion, even. And they all live in these cities. I got lost in this one town called Shanghai, and thought I’d ended up in Europe. When our waiter told me I was still in China, Kathleen says you shoulda seen my face!
You’re probably wondering what all these people do. Well, they’re just like us. They eat Whoppers, they love fried chicken and these guys pretty much invented the French fry. While you and me go fishing or maybe catch a movie at the weekend, the Chinese spend their spare time putting up five-star hotels and building dams, all with smiles on their faces.
Before coming, I’d read some stuff about human-rights abuses but I didn’t see any of that in the newspapers and TV over there. But it was perfectly clear from watching the news, and talking to a couple of the friendly officials, that they pretty much agree on everything – something we Americans could really learn from. They want Taiwan, Mongolia, parts of Russia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Burma, you name it. That’s the impression I got from both people I spoke to.
Not that everything looked tickety-boo. They don’t have what we call laws as such, so it’s very ‘catch as catch can.’ The one reaction I experienced in my 10 days in today’s China: respect. Respect for people’s rights, respect for animals and minorities, respect for the environment.
And it’s only just begun. Over the next few decades, I plan to pay another short visit to China. You can bet I’ll be surprised by everything I see, all over again.