This first is Ed's email just to me, followed by a long description of life in China as he is living it.
Reply to letter written June 25th, 1989, received June 26, 1989
June 3, 1989
Before I begin, my reply to Harry Stevens is my journal
entry for this week. So that letter can be edited to be put
Actually there is quite a bit to look at. I would say I'm
less than a mile, as the crow flies, to the ocean, or is that
Yellow Sea? There is a lot to see but people are more interested
in daily life - which you understand can be hard work - than in
exploring the world. And when I talk to people they're not much
interested in telling me about their town, more interested in me.
I understand their interest in me, but little is said about
China, especially Dalian. But I pick up pieces here and there.
Tell Regina and Frank that I use Big Sky Telegraph as one of
my best examples in describing the power of telecom.
Most of what "I see" is via VOA and BBC. I get angry when I
hear of the executions, I understand why the government is doing
it, and of course I don't agree, but understanding why is what
makes me even more angry.
I like the reporting on VOA the best, however the editorials
on BBC are very good and seem to get to the point and remove all
the sensationalism that most people are attracted to.
I read the notices about the Washington Post, Link-up, etc.
So, what do you think of your dsylexic son now? Functional
illiteracy at youth can pay off!
I will keep writing as I can. I want to put most of what I
do down. Therefore my journal will start to have current
political situation mixed with everything else. I will try and
keep them distinct enough so you can seperate things out
easily enough. But it will be written in a chronolgical-thought
order for now (editing occurs later).
If ever I cannot be at home when I expect your call for an
upload/download I will set my system on automatic. Therefore if
you recive and send then it hangs up it mean I probably not
around. That is why I want to see how to modify the program to
send you a file to your screen to let you know if I'm here or
not, or something else important. Monday night is a good night
for calls. Sunday and Wednesday nights are usually not too good.
Concerning Dagoon Computer Company. I should be getting
names and addreses in China, as well as a company description.
Because of the situation in China things are happening a little
slowly. There is interest in giving me about 1000 Yuan FEC and
then have you send me two modems (not one) as a gift. Then I let
them use it. I have thought of this idea before but if there was
any trouble it just makes things really complicated. But if you're
interested this could save the hassle of getting an export
license. I don't care what you chose to do, it makes no
difference to me.
I think they would enjoy some literature about some modems.
That's no big deal, but it might help them understand some things
Finally, they asked about using acoustic modem instead of
direct-connect. The reason is a good-one. If they use a direct
connect they have to get permission from the Post Office
(Telecommunications office of the governemnt) for permission
which could make trouble. I personally think that acoustic won't
work with long distance. I told them of my concern. But didn't
want to push it. I think this may fall through because of this
simple problem. Getting permission is difficult and can create
alot of hassles. In fact if they found out how I was using the
phone lines here I would probably get hassled.
I still plan to pursue things with this company, but between
the trouble in China and just the hasslr of getting things done it
could be difficult.
Concerning my Okidata Microline 80. There is a little
spring that sits between the two ribbon spools. When a spool
gets to the end of a ribbon a small eyelet on the ribbon pushes a
slide and causes the ribbon to change direction. The little
spring is on the slide and prevents a gear from contacting the
other ribbon spool. Well, this spring seems to have worn out and
isn't working at all. As a result the spool sits in one spot and
just dries out. I can still use the printer having to manually
change directions, but it isn't much fun. Anyway, if you haven't
figured out what I want... I want the spring. If you can locate
one (or more) please send them to me. This is a fragile spring
so if you can send more than one please do so. I can also write
to Okidata in Japan but thought you might have a better chance.
I think that even a none standard spring might work... which
makes me think of Bob Weekly. Anyway, anything you can do is
appreciated. Just let me know what is happening.
I also made some inquires about a used printer. I might be
able to pick up something for under $200. But that's a last
resort, I can't afford that and don't think you want to either.
His email for publication wherever I want to put it.
Ed was asked many questions through my connections to him un China by modem. Here are some of his answers, reports, and
Harry Stevens, who ran the Discussion software on the Source asked several
To Harry Stevens
Reply to HARRY STEVENS mail sent June 20, 1989 and received in
China on June 26, 1989
June 30, 1989
Dear Mr Stevens,
This is quite lenghty, but I have choosen to make my reply
to you my journal entry. So bare with me. I have answered all
your questions in here.
I'm glad that you are putting some of my text in China Today
and USSR Today.
It is very important that none of the names of the people I
mention are printed. This is a very small school and the very
few people speak English. If any of what I write happens to get
back to China, which I doubt anyway, it would be difficult for
authorities to figure out whom I was talking about. Only about
20 teachers and staff here speak English, although most of the
students do. I also ask that maybe you give me some kind of pen
name. The most that the Government would do is expell me, I'm
sure. But I don't want to give them any help.
Again, the most important thing is to protect the people
here. Please change names of people, even this school, and
myself. I can always leave, the people have to stay here and in
China you can't quit your job and go someplace else.
Anyway, on to your questions.
That is an interesting stat. that more people here are
learning English in China than the US. I can believe it. As far
as I can tell, in the cities at least, every student is taught
English. I also think that the illiteracy rate in the country
side is pretty high, and the government here is trying to change
I am also opposed to English-Only in the US. A form of
Fascism, don't you think. Because of America's prosperity other
people and countries want to learn English so as to work with
America in one way or another. I consider myself very proud and
very fortunate to be an American, now more than ever being in
China for only a few months. I think its time that the US
actively show some respect and learn other countries language.
I keep hearing that some "people" are angry with some other
"people" because they don't understand the first "people" and
vice-versa. One of the simplest ways I think of learning about
another culture is to learn there language. I found that it is
much easier to deal with someone who speaks english than those
who don't. Not just because of the language barrier but people
who speak English tend to understand me better because the
understand my language and this changes there way of thinking. I
can sometimes tell (seldom though) if a Chinese was taught
American English or British English by there actions. Even if it
was a Chinese teacher that had a British or American accent.
This is becoming an information rich world but as I said
above people really don't understand each other across borders
and cultures. Telecom helps strip a lot of visual and verbal
prejudices but more has to be done. Only well paid diplomats or
individuals with an interest in learning actually go out to
understand another culture.
In many places there are programs to help foster this
understanding, such as student and teacher exchanges. This needs
to continue. And other things considered. However, it must be
an on going and an on growing project.
Getting to understand things in China can be difficult. You
asked what is required in the schools. I'm not quite sure at
this time. I can tell you that teaching in China isn't much fun
and it isn't very difficult.
It isn't much fun because teaching doesn't have much
respect. Teachers are very low on the pay scale in China, and
like I said it isn't easy to change you job in China, especially
if you current boss doesn't like you. Then it's next to
Well you might say that even though the monetary reward
isn't great the reward for touching so many minds and hearts...
Nope, sorry, not in China. From the very beginning people are
taught to respect there elders and never talk back. You know,
"seen and not heard". Getting students to talk in class is very
difficult. Not just for me being a big, tall foreigner but even
for the Chinese teachers. Pulling the tooth of a wounded female
elephant comes to mind as being easier. I can ask my students if
they understood something and ever so gently, as not to attract
attention, the shake there heads "yes". However, when ask them a
question about what they understood, an answer I often get is
"sorry". Sometimes because they didn't understand or because
they where afraid to answer.
One time I went to the Liaoning Noraml University. Normal
always refers to a school for educating people to become teachers
and people who are already teachers. I went to a class on
Linguistics taught by a Chinese teacher to Chinese teachers in
the English language. Repeatidly, the teacher would ask a
question, wait a polite two seconds and then answer the question
herself. Why? Because she knew that even these adults wouldn't
answer. Oh I would hear mumbling around me, but no student
wanted to become the center of attention and be put on the spot.
Being incorrect in China is also a social no-no.
To complicate things further I teach in a Professional High
School for Foreign Trade. Most of the students here come from
well to do families. The young in China are becoming more and
more spoiled because there are fewer childer in each family;
often only one in each family, following with the governments
attempt at slowing the population growth rate. And finally these
students know that all they have to do is graduate, even barely.
Once they graduate they will be working in the "Vogue" job in
China: Foreign Trade. That's where the money is in China. Even
the worst student at this school who gradutes, and it isn't
difficult, will be paid much better than the teachers and staff
members at this school.
This is grossly simplified and a little exaggerated. But
that's what happens in China; teachers who don't care and
students who are learning not to care.
I have been told repeatidly by the Chinese teachers who
teach English not to work so hard and not care. They say it
won't get me anything but upset and maybe make trouble for
myself. And they are right.
Imagine a place that you worked was operated politiclally.
You had to know the right people, and be friends with some but
not others. Much of the time of the leaders was spent protecting
there job from others who wanted their job. Even if you didn't
worry about getting promoted but just enjoyed doing your work
well; no, this wasn't very smart either. Because you might make
your boss look bad because you can do better than he, so he makes
sure that you don't do that. Arbritary rules can come from no
And in America an employee can depend, usually, having only one
boss. In China you have at least ten people that can tell you
what to do at anytime and you have to listen to all of them.
After awhile people find a hole that they can crawl into and
do just enough to make all the people above them satisfied and
try to be seen as little as possible.
In the US the are many infra-structures to solve problems.
In China there really isn't any. If it doesn't get solved by the
single normal path then it isn't going to be solved. I here and
see other ways that the government tries to install. But they
don't work very well for various reasons. First people don't
think they work; going to them can make trouble for yourself; and
the people who run these problem-solving things often don't care
to hear someone elses problems. They have problems of there own
and they themselves don't want to make waves.
This has become a place of who you know not what you know if
you want to get something.
The young are very enthusiastic, but they soon learn that
the little waves that the make comes back hard. An extreme
example is the massacre in Tien An Men Square on June 4th.
My personal feeling is that the government over centuries
has exploited the parts of the culture to control the people. An
anology to this would be raising a child. When you getting old
enough to have children you might say that you wouldn't do or say
some to your children that your parents did to you. At times I'm
sure you felt that your parents where unfair or maybe
inconsistant. Then you have kids of your own and you do some of
those exact things that you said you wouldn't. Maybe you realize
that it isn't that easy to be consistant and sometimes you just
have to control your child. Well that's what I feel that the
governments of China has been doing for a while.
I have recently heard that the government has just passed
new laws in China to modify the rights of protest and
demonstrations. In other words further eliminating it. When
China became the Peoples Republic of China it promised those
rights to the people because the government before wouldn't allow
it. But the current government is doing just like there
predestors did, control the people the easist way they can
Rasing a child is work. Raising it correctly is hard work.
And the leaders of this government is spening most of its time
just trying stay leaders and protect there fine way of life. And
if you're a leader anywhere, when you fall you go down to the
people that you had to step on to get up. When people fall here,
they fall hard.
So, if you happen to agree with the basic idea of this model
then place that over all of China... Not much gets done, and not
very well. Not because the people are stupid or lazy. NO WAY!
In China it's called survival. When I have talked or worked with
people privately some amazing things get done or discussed.
Where do you think I have developed most of my opinions from.
Please don't misunderstand me or the people here. This is
an excellent culture and a beautiful people. I just feel that
its culture has been bastardized by a few people who, at the
moment, control the military. But what I am learning about is
the human spirit that exits in everyone. Even with all the B.S.
that goes on here (or anywhere) people push through it and in
their own special ways do some amazing things.
Even Deng Xiao Peng and all the others would like to have a
properous China. I see evidence everywhere of what the
government is trying to do to make life better here. It's just
that any leader maybe got there with good intentions but when he
is there he has a better way of life and people want to take that
from him. So much of his time is fortifying his empire. Once
this is done, and only then, does he move on to the purpose of
Concerning Deng and all the other circle of leaders the 10
or 20 of them. They are all very old and remember the way China
was before the War of Liberation. As far as I know China wasn't
to pleasant. So things have gotten better, much better; but,
these are old men, with a memory of what was like, who are now
no longer in touch with their people, and are working with old
ideas and tired minds.
If you notice I said "he", "him", and "his". Woman do not
play much of a leadership role in China. Both men and woman work
in China. There are no housewives in China. At least none that
I have met or heard of. But just like many other places men say,
even complain, that they have to work so hard. But actually the
woman usually do much more work than the men. They have a full
time job at less pay, the clean and cook, the raise the child.
And seldom complain. Of course you occasionally you hear of the
hen-pecked husband, but not very often.
In my classes there are a few good male students, but very
few. Most of the girls work hard, some very hard. If I was
asked to pick the best of my students it would be 90% of the
girls and 10% of the boys! The sad truth is that the worst boy
student will have a better job then the best girl student. Maybe
the pay will be about the same, but the boys get the better jobs.
When went I on a Senic outing a month ago we stayed at a
carpet factory that made traditional oriental silk rugs. I was
told that the rugs made by men where much more expensive than
those made by women. I asked why. The man laughed and said that
the men are more skillful. His laugh expressed that he knew this
was silly but he knows that he and every man practice this
segretion in China.
Another note on the Culture.
As a fallout of the this "Culture Control" I feel has
happened for such a long time is that the culture hasn't changed
much for a long time. That's why you can find some of the things
you do in China. Because of this control the culture hasn't been
allowed to evolve as it normally would. The evolution is what
has made the US so strong. The US has many diffenrent cultures
and was allowed to grow that culture in any direction that it
wanted. Because of this freedom poeple where (and are) able to
explore many different things; thus always making new discoveries
about so many different things. If you look at Chinese Histroy
some of the greatest inventions where made during times of
cultural and civil freedom; conversly the controlled times
yielded little growth. Don't confuse controlled times with
times of war. Some interesting inventions have been made during
war or because of the threat of war. But people are often given
a wide breadth to freedom to do their research.
July 2, 1989
You implied that the world is "becoming" a global economy.
It already is. An excellent example of this is what is happening
in China right now.
After the Chinese Governments action on June 4 with a
massacre the world reacted. One one the many reactions was
tourists cancelling and not people not coming to China. China is
a poor country and can't afford much sustained economic loss like
this. It has been estimated that in the last few months alone
they have lost over 2 billion (b) dollars! And that's much
needed foreign currency, not just local currency.
This brings me to another point. Congress just passed a
bill that further enhances President Bush's position. Actually
it sounds like it is just imposing more restrictions and
Watching Chinese Television and listening to VOA (Voice of
America) and BBC I am starting to hear what happens when a coutry
is beginning feel pressure. Not public pressure, but more
important to any third world governemnt, economic pressure due to
individuals feelings and concerns. Li Peng is now appearing in a
Western suit. Why? I think he is trying to improve his
appearance to the west. The government is adjusting its casualty
counts. The government via the media is spending a lot of money
trying very hard to show the outside world as well as its own
people that the government acted properly and everything is OK.
This includes excuses and justifications for its actions. I can
even watched regular Chinese TV before there was any trouble and
they show things for the peoples health and saftey.
Even as late as 1970's and anytime before that the Chinese
Government has never cared one bit what other governments
thought. It never had to. China was always independent to the
world. Thousands of years ago China surpassed all others in just
about everything. It would benifit none by going outside its
borders. Doing this would just bring influence it didn't want.
So it could, and did, close its doors. As the millinea passed
the world passed China in many ways except population and now the
government has made a commitment to get itself back up with the
rest of the world.
I don't know if China could ever close its doors again. I
supposed it could but it would be catastrophic if it did. For
one reason or another a lot of people would die.
China also doesn't trust the West. If I were in the
government I wouldn't trust the West. Repeatidly, one Western
nation after another has come to China and taken advantage of
this country. Study up on the Boxer Rebillion or the Shanghai
Wars and maybe it will make since. China didn't invite these
invasions of "good faith" (they always are) but the people came
Now you have the US and other Western countries pushing its
threat of economic pressure. I think the US government should
take a stance. But it actively doesn't have to attack China like
it is. The people arounf the world are doing that more passively
and much more powerfully. Tourists aren't coming. Businesses
aren't investing. China can argue with another government
easily, but it can't with a million individual tourists.
The Government of China is slowly learning that the it's
total appearance is important to the individual. This country
has never placed much empisis on the individual.
I agree, for the most part, the sanctions that President
Bush has done. But what China needs now is not further sanctions
but passive explainations of how to deal with its problems.
If all you do is punish a child and give it no way out, no
solutions, that child gets bitter, lies and fights back. What do
you think China will do if all these governments just offer is
criticism and not the help that it needs.
You also asked about what is required in the schools. I
briefly touched on that with some of my feelings above. But my
experience is limited to this school for now and that question
deserves more time than I have now. I will try and address it
later. If I do not reply in reasonable time please ask again.
Living in China can take a lot of time, so I don't always get to
things that I would like.
As for your last question. Would I like to part of a forum
on the source. Yes, very much so. I also think I could get
people like students and teachers to respond to some the
questions that might arise.
My first problem is that I make a very good salary in China,
about 700 Yuan RMB per month. That's about 200 Dollars, US. If
you would like me to partake I will need to be subsidised almost
entierly. The communication you are getting now is through my
father and I cannot expect him to pay for my participation.
There are the obvious concerns for protecting people and
there names and I would have to screen questions sometimes. But
any question would be welcomed and I would try and get answer or
at least an explaination.
Also, my usage of the phone system, telecommunications and a
direct connect modem, is probably illegal. Or could become
illegal very quickly. China is known for its "let's make a rule"
policy. I also don't want to get to high of a profile using
telecom in this environment for various reasons.
So I am interested. I suggest that you recommend a format
that you would like use and a method covering costs and I will
give you my ideas. (It costs me about $6.00 per minute to call
the US, where as for the US to call China it costs $3.30 the
first minute and $.89 every minute after)
Even if everything is worked out my replies my not be as
timely as they could be, essentially do to my lack of time.
Sometimes I can turn around and answer things immediately, but
usually it takes a few days. If I have to get other people
involved then getting questions answered can take a while.
Always remember: this is China, people do things at there own
pace. It took me three weeks for the school to get me a pillow
from a building 15 meters from where I am sitting now; and four
weeks get my phone fixed, and only when they thought I might be
leaving China with all the other foreigners durning the unrest.
All for now...