…looks like a very crazy combination indeed:—
- Geopolitically speaking, since they’re all municipalities under the control of China’s central government, they’re strong, politically and particularly economically. Guangzhou and Shanghai, on the other hand, are just dealing with “mere provinces” around them (although Guangzhou also has the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region interested). So that’d make the pair look a bit like Germany and France — both powerhouses in Europe, or probably the US and Canada.
- Quality-wise speaking, if we deliberately choose to ignore high speed rail and what it did to Tianjin, we are looking at something a little poorer — a little like Switzerland and France, and at times, even Switzerland and Italy.
- If we look at “how they are willing to zhuang bi, or to pretentiously “make up” to the stronger brother” (that’s Beijing), that’s just outright hilarious. It’s Apple and Samsung or even Apple and eMachines (remember these guys?).
- If we look at the attitudes to life, though, it’s a little bit like German-speaking northern Switzerland versus the Italian-speaking Ticino in the south. One’s more serious; the other is way more relaxed.
But it’s the quality bit that hit me (rather, the lack of it). Whilst getting my hair done lately, I’ve been a little _____ enough to have watched Tianjin TV’s late-night news at 23:00. These guys ran something like ten ads that were the same in something like a 30-minute period. (They were ads that looked royalesque and featured supposedly an Italian (must’ve been the generic “cheap expat we can use for about a few thousand yuan for a fake ad” — I’ve heard of horror stories like that from the expat Twitterati in China) doing an ad for — out of all things — a light switch. Out of all things!) In Switzerland if you had a 30-second “main ad” by Advertiser A, followed by a 30-seconder by Advertiser B, then followed by another 10-seconder by Advertiser A, you’d feel ratty at Advertiser A already. In China, you’d wish they gave you America’s Second Amendment, as the pure repetitiveness of the ads are probably too scary. It’s a little bit extreme to, well, shoot yourself because of these ads, but you’d at least fair well feel like banging your head into the wall.
Just before the 23:00 news show, I ran into one of these “design-my-house-right” reality shows which I hated. Never mind that a bank I knew from the show was, well, “familiar to me” (although I know no real staff inside the thing). No, it was more a case that they decided to use “canned applause”, with even a little bit of the whistling effect. You can hear that they’re the same canned sound clip from around the second time they run it. I caught the “rhythm” the second time they used that canned clip. Again, a little wishful thinking of what might happen next to me if they gave us the Second Amendment. OK, I’ll let go of that. But seriously, don’t you feel like shoving your head into the fridge when all you hear on TV are like a thousand repeats of the same canned audio clip — featuring fake applause?
Whilst I’m sure I’d be banned from Tianjin for life (well, not actually) if I called it a little bit like a Shanzhai Beijing in the making, we do have to be real, folks, and face up to reality. HSR is probably one of the biggest blessings to hit the Jin — seriously. Train-wise, I’m also happy about their old Metro Line 1, but the signage on new lines look too much like Beijing. Different, though, is their accent (that spoken accent really stands out!), and their crazy road layout, and probably the road signs… and in fact I wish they’d keep that different.
Tianjin has something better to do than to mimic neighbouring Beijing — ultimately to the extent that they might want to incorporate themselves into Beijing altogether… I’d be sad when that would happen. I’d no longer have the “real life” (as in “unbureaucratic”) port city to rush to every week or so, when the Jing throws too much on me…