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join­ing the For­eign Lan­guages Press.

As some­one who still writes for a news­pa­per, White has paid a lot of at­ten­tion to the protests in Hong Kong. He has pointed out that the prob­lems of un­em­ploy­ment, low wages and high liv­ing ex­penses some pro­tes­tors have com­plained about also ex­isted back when Hong Kong was un­der Bri­tish rule. He noted that Hongkonger­s should re­al­ize that the pros­per­ity the central govern­ment hopes for will be de­te­ri­o­rated by these dam­ag­ing protests.

Over­whelm­ing changes

White says he re­mem­bers very clearly what Bei­jing was like in the 1980s. Back then, and even through the 1990s, it was very dif­fi­cult to get a taxi, as they had to be booked in ad­vance at a ho­tel.

How­ever, over the fol­low­ing decade and a half, taxis mul­ti­plied and could be found ev­ery­where. White notes that he finds it amus­ing that in to­day’s age of smart phones, the sit­u­a­tion has re­turned to the 1980s in a way, since taxis can no longer be hailed freely on the streets and in­stead must be booked through one’s smart phone.

“Now you see empty taxis, but they’re al­ready go­ing some­where,” White pointed out.

He vis­its Britain about once a year. He noted that ex­cept for ever ris­ing prices, ev­ery­thing in his home­town has re­mained the same. As to why he hasn’t gone back for his re­tire­ment, White said that he wants to con­tinue to ob­serve the changes that are tak­ing place in the Chi­nese main­land.

In his opin­ions, China is in­ter­act­ing with the rest of the world more than ever.

Back in the 1980s, Chi­nese peo­ple sel­dom had the op­por­tu­nity to travel abroad, while nowa­days Chi­nese tourists are ev­ery­where through­out Asia, Europe, the Amer­i­cas and Aus­tralia. Back when he first came to the cap­i­tal, his first im­pres­sion was that Bei­jing was noth­ing more than a large ru­ral “vil­lage,” but over the years it has be­come an ex­tra­or­di­nary cosmopolit­an city that at­tracts for­eign­ers from all over the world.

The ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy have also grabbed White’s at­ten­tion. While he still prefers us­ing cash, ev­ery­where he goes he sees peo­ple to­day us­ing phones to make mo­bile pay­ments.

White said that he can tell that the peo­ple he sees us­ing these new pay­ment meth­ods are just or­di­nary peo­ple, not mem­bers of some rich fam­ily, yet he feels these peo­ple are far more re­laxed when it comes to money. In his eyes, this is one of the most no­tice­able changes among to­day’s Chi­nese and it shows that they are far better-off ma­te­ri­ally speak­ing.

Among the piles of trans­lated pub­li­ca­tions on the table in his liv­ing room, White showed off the newly printed ver­sion of The Analects of Con­fu­cius that he had worked on and pointed to a QR code in the book, not­ing in a rather ex­cited voice that read­ers can now lis­ten to an au­dio ver­sion of the book by scan­ning the code.

Photo: Liu Zhongyin/gt

Paul White

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