China’s Delayed Modernization
If you travel to Hangzhou, you might stumble upon something you wouldn’t expect – a museum showing the steps toward modernization that China was taking prior to the establishment of The People’s Republic of China.
Knowing what you do about history, such a museum might just strike you as more than a little ironic. After all, it was the very policies of China’s government that stalled this modernization for dozens of years.
Perhaps such ironies make the museum all the more interesting. Presented as a showcase of an international fair that took place in 1933 Hangzhou, it is really a mirror into the China that once was, and which might have been.
China’s First March Toward Modernization
The fair was replete with exhibits of the steps China was taking to modernize – including booths for education, hygiene, railroads, radio, technology from Siemens, medical instruments, and much, much more. A bust of Sun Yatsen (å™ä¸å±±) stood at the entrance to the fair, and a reproduction stands in the museum today.
It is obvious from the museum that China was making strides toward becoming a very modern country leading up to Japan’s invasion and World War II – and that such strides were put on hold for the lifetime of more than a few people.
China’s Lost Past
In one exhibit that I would have grabbed a picture of (but for a bored girlfriend) stood the fair’s main presenters, who with one exception (a suit) were all dressed in traditional Chinese clothing. This brought home that many of China’s customs and more traditional culture still laid intact at the time – much of which has been lost in the brutal tides of China’s history.
Seeing such a museum (another one of note is the one in the basement of The Oriental Pearl Tower, which tells the history of Shanghai) always makes me imagine what it was like to live in China during the beginning of the twentieth century – and brings visions of a China that once was and never will be again.