Changing China

Giant on the move

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From Canada, looking back


I first visited China in June 1997.  It was eight years after the Tiananmen crackdown, weeks before the Hong Kong Handover back to China marking the end of British rule, and over a decade before the 2008 Summer Olympics. It was a family trip — my parents were looking forward to a college reunion with classmates they hadn’t seen in decades and I had just finished my second year of university. I was looking forward to finally seeing the place I’d heard so much about.

Born and raised in Canada, I grew up listening to stories of the past — lessons in history, humanity, tragedy and survival. And like many children of immigrant families, there is a constant search for a balance and a place between the different worlds that shape our identity.

(Caption: Neon lights from skyscraper and 1997 Handover signs cast a glow over Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour and the extension of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (R, foreground) in this long exposure zoom photograph.  Picture taken June 21, 1997. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

Over the years I’ve witnessed a dramatic change in my parents’ attitude toward China. For them, the changes in China since they left — over 45 years ago for my father and 35 years ago for my mother — have been beyond anything they could have imagined in their lifetime.