Peter Hessler is a Beijing correspondent for the New Yorker. He has lived in China for fifteen years. After leaving the Peace Corps, Hessler freelanced for Atlantic Monthly and the New York Times before returning to China in 1999 as a Beijing-based freelance writer.
I agree with Hessler when he said in a CNNGo interview, “People in China are not forthcoming like Americans; they don’t like to tell you their personal story. It’s a type of modesty, I think, in a culture where people are not encouraged to see themselves as the center of the universe.”
I have an American born-again Christian friend who has bragged about Christianity being the fastest growing religion in China. I wonder what he’d say if he read what Hessler had to say here, “The Chinese relationship with religion is pragmatic and fluid; people often change their faith very quickly. And I don’t see them following religion to a degree where it’s clearly not in their self-interest….”
On happiness, Hessler says, “At this particular moment I think that Americans…might be less happy than Chinese people. The Chinese can roll with the punches…. Everybody in China has seen ups and downs; if they get laid off from the factory, they just go back to the village and play mah-jong….”
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