The BBC and other news agencies often make it seem like the people in China are on the edge of revolution, just waiting for their chance to rise up. It's far from the images I've seen, most people seem content with the party and their leadership, but something happened the other day that made me think otherwise.
Recently the Chinese government said they were going to introduce a smoking ban in public places, bring them into line with many other countries in the world. A move which seemed like a good idea to me, as most young people I've met don't like being around people that smoke.
It was when I went to bathroom during a break in class that I found half a dozen male students of mind all crowded round the window smoking. I asked them what they would do when the ban came into effect.
“What they going to do about?” said the most confident one, “They can't make people.” Clearly the others agreed.
Statements like this a pretty rare from students, who are normally quite nationalistic and it did make me wonder if times were changing.
On reflection, it's probably part of this unspoken agreement that seems to exist between the Chinese people and communist party:
“You get to run the country as long as things keep getting better, but don't interfere in our day to day lives.”
Like fake DVD's (including all the “banned” films), free music downloads, local gambling and other things that are supposed to be illegal in China, smoking is public places is almost certainly here to stay. For the government, to try and really enforce the ban would be to break that unspoken agreement and is something they're not going to risk their leadership over.