As China Turns

When Deng Xiaoping began to open China in the late 1970’s, he said, “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white. As long as it catches mice, it is a good cat.” This motto helped catalyze China into becoming what it is today: an increasingly materialistic, money-worshipping society that has lost touch with traditional ethics. Nothing captures this moral vacuum more vividly than the recent television drama, “Wo Ju” (“Crowded Spaces”), which has been riveting Chinese audiences.

The program’s “hero,” Guo Haizao, is a fair-skinned and innocent 25-year-old woman living near Shanghai. Initially she follows in her older sister’s footsteps in quest of their common dream, to attend one of China’s top universities. But, even with a university degree, life in go-go Shanghai turns out not to be as she had imagined.

“Why is the world so full of unfairness, with the limelight only splashing on the prettiest spots in the city?” she wonders one night, as she worries about her and her sister’s struggle to buy a home.

As Song Siming, a handsome, successful, and Audi-driving – but also married – secretary to the Mayor, tells her, “On those unsightly corners in the dark where dirt, flies, and rats wander, nobody's paying attention.”