Fun conversation with a cabbie this morning. We began with why is the US going into Iran if we’re pulling out of Iraq. After I said something about Americans having few alternative models of foreign policy, he said accusingly, “You Americans only do these things when it benefits you.”
I asked if there were reasons other than profit/benefits (利) for governments to do anything.
“Of course not.”
“So,” I countered, “Why is the PLA in Xinjiang and Tibet?”
And here’s where the conversation veered past the usual historical blah blah blah. Instead, the cabbie agreed knowingly, “There’s got to be something. You do realize that Xinjiang produces the highest grade cotton in China?” he asked me.
The cabbie came from Hubei and his family was cotton farmers. Apparently, Xinjiang produces the highest grade cotton in China because of the dry climate. In contrast, Hubei cotton must be harvested as soon as it blooms, otherwise one rainstorm will ruin it. So it stood to reason that the Chinese government is investing so much in Xinjiang for the cotton.
Cotton. Oil. The US and Chinese governments didn’t seem so very different at that moment. I commented that it was hard to be one of the people (百姓).
He laughed said, “If Chinese farmers have enough to eat, we’re okay, but now we can’t even trust our food.”
Taxi cab politics at its best.