There are still plenty of foreign observers of China – although not so many who still live here – who believe that China is, in its own way and on its own schedule, making progress toward a more open and inclusive society. This doesn’t mean Westernization or democratization, but a gradual shift in the direction of rational and transparent governance and a society that is culturally confident while remaining open to the world.
That’s a nice dream, and it certainly felt that way back in 2012 or maybe even 2014 but it does not feel that way right now. National Security Education Day has become a part of the calendar like Spring Festival and the day Beijing turns on the heat in November. I live here and I have to adapt, but as an educator and a writer, it’s something of which I always need to be aware.