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Saturday, 17 September 2011


Upon my leaving, several of my friends have said, "Communism ..." etc. "Democracy ..." etc. I say: "China is big. HUGE! China is bigger than Communism." I am not going to Beijing for anything that is even remotely NOW or contemporary. I am going to Beijing to gaze into China's future, to catch a tiny glimpse of what is about to unfold.

There are a little under 5 million people living in Norway, my tiny Northern home country. I am leaving for a country of 1 400 million. There is almost something ridiculous in this comparison of numbers. How insignificant Norway seems as I sip my Roiboos. I start giggling as my thoughts stray to the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, and in my mind's eye I see a Chihuaha - wearing the face of Norwegian Labour politician Torbjørn Jagland - trying to pee on the leg of a Grand Dane.

Some weeks ago I saw an American politician on CNN. Agitated and with conviction he stated something like: "The US must maintain it's leading role in internationl affairs."

It is a pathetic statement. The Chiahuahua has shape-shifted into a Cocker Spaniel, but the picture still looks ridiculous. It makes me think of great, futile speeches made by English politicians one hundred years ago, as the British Empire crumbled and fell, just like the American Empire now is shaking in its very foundations, it's pre-crumble time; deficit, foreign debt, recession, hurricanes, wars lost even before the Americans manage to erect their first McDonald's on the battle field. The Age of China has come, and the Americans may shake, rattle and roll, but their 15 minutes of glory in the 250 000 year old Time of Man are over.

It may take 10 years, 20, 30, it does not matter. China is rising. The ads in the spacious Departure hall at Oslo Gardermoen may in 20 years time all be promoting Chinese products, and the successor of the pretty Swedish blonde at Caffè Ritazza who is serving me a Focaccia anno 2010, may well be serving glass noodles when the year 2047 arrives.

Unlike many of my Norwegian countrymen and -women, I do not worry. The Western world has not exactly been a political or moral example for the world up through the centuries. I do not read History as a succession of various politics. I go for the anthropological approach. China's written history stretches back to the Shang Dynasty, some 3700 years ago. At the time, snotty Norway did not even exist.

As the café radio starts playing Bob Sinclair's Love Generation, I feel part of a giant historical shift, and in my heart there is love for China, my soon-to-be friend, and I look forward to my journey even more. Infatuation for China grips my heart.

I feel small, humbled, insignificant, antish. A Norwegian in Beijing. A speck of dust on China's eternal cloak.

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