From China




Since I was a child the thought of visit­ing China has excited me.  I fanta­sized of misty mountains, temples and forests filled with flower­ing trees and Panda bears.  I have always been attracted to delicate Chinese paint­ings depict­ing scenes of nature while China’s classi­cal music always soothed my senses and sent my imagi­na­tion to far off roman­tic places.

As I got older I began learn­ing of the other less roman­tic side of China.  I heard of China’s indul­gence in environ­men­tal destruc­tion, alter­ing and pollut­ing the planet. To make matters worse China’s reputa­tion for infring­ing upon human rights is one of the worst in the world.  It would also appear that China’s respect of animals and animal welfare is almost non-existent.



From across the world reports of China often made it sound like a cruel, repressed place and maybe not the ancient paradise of my child­hood dreams.  Through the years my thoughts on China have contin­ued to change and my desire to witness the land for myself have gone through varying degrees of inten­sity but China never fully faded from my imagination.

Recently, in response to some disturb­ing and cruel images coming out of China I have seen an increas­ing push to “boycott China”.  The term and the concept just never set well with me.  I completely agree with not wanting to finan­cially support a product that had to travel across the globe when it could have been grown or manufac­tured locally.  But to hold an entire country and its people respon­si­ble for cruel­ties or injus­tices preformed by a few is not fair.  I think that this term, “boycott China” may have got me think­ing, “its time to see China”.  I don’t believe that a country can be made up of only cruel people;  there must be compas­sion­ate people in China and I wanted to find them.  Unsure whether I would love or hate China I decided to head there after volun­teer­ing with  Inter­na­tional Animal Rescue in Indonesia.










Today, I have been in China for nearly a month.  I have witnessed the beauty that origi­nally drew me to this country as well as the ugly that pushed me away.  I have seen first-hand China’s filthy habit of clogging nearly every one of their great rivers with tremen­dous dams and mining massive holes into their mountains.  I have also seen great wind farms, thousands of solar panels and a major cities filled with only electric scooters.

I person­ally have felt the heavy hand of the govern­ment and lack of freedom that every one of China’s people live under every­day.  After only a few days in China my website was flagged and blocked, causing this blog post to take a lot longer than planned.  I have met several foreign­ers who have been detained and questioned by the police for no real reason. I have also spent serine days roaming through rice fields and living among gracious, ethnic minori­ties in the mountains, without a care in the world.











I have visited the roman­tic forests full of fragrant pink flowers, unfor­tu­nately most wildlife, includ­ing the Pandas has been cleared from the forests.  Sadly the only Pandas found in China now live within zoos and “breed­ing centers”.  I have dined with kind-hearted Chinese Buddhist monks who hold daily vegetar­ian lunches and dinners to anyone hungry.




I have seen heart-wrenching trucks crammed with panick­ing dogs (as well as pigs, chick­ens, ducks and cows) on their way to slaugh­ter.   I have seen animal cruelty and neglect on a massive scale.  I have also met incred­i­bly devoted people in China who are making amazing headway through educa­tion programs and rescu­ing animals, like those at Animals Asia and various dog and cat shelters (all of whom will get their own blog post here in the future).



















China has filled my heart with immea­sur­able sadness.  But I have hope.  There is change in the air. There is an inspi­ra­tional young gener­a­tion of Chinese that in spite of the incred­i­bly restric­tive society that they were raised in are driven to make their country and their world a better one.  This young caring gener­a­tion needs our help and support not our “boycott”.  The Chinese are proba­bly the most indus­tri­ous and ingenious people in the world and happen to have the highest popula­tion.  So if any nation has the ability to fix our planet’s great­est problems, its China.  I just hope that they will take on the challenge in a big way and succeed. Until then I will encour­age and support those trying.

Do I love or hate China?  Well the jury is still out on that one.  But I do know that it is wrong to judge and gener­al­ize an entire nation.  There are good-hearted people every­where in the world and many live in China.



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One Response to From China

  1. Craig says:

    Excel­lent post & photographs Ms. O’Neill. Knowl­edge is the key to change.

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