As Peoples’ Daily online reported April 29, in an article signed by By Gao Yinan, “The names of over 4,000 workers, designers and engineers who played a part in the design and construction of Shanghai Tower have been put on a new Wall of Honor. The 60-meter-long structure was erected in gratitude to all the people who played a part in creating the world’s second-tallest building, said Ge Qing, Deputy General Manager of Shanghai Tower Construction and Development”.
The basement and one annex of China’s tallest building, the Shanghai Tower, have been opened to the public as a trial for the opening of the rest of the building later this year, announced the local authorities. In Peoples’ Daily report one reads not only enthusiasm for the technical accomplishments of the high-rise, which is 632 meter tall, but also a possible indication that China’s cultural attitude might be shifting.
Just think back to the time of Mao, when the single person tended to be squashed into anonymity, and people were moving as compact masses and dressed all the same. The recognition of the contribution given by all those who worked on China’s tallest building, reflects the conscience that each single individual not only counts, but has to be appreciated for his or her effort and contribution. What was a country of the masses, one might adventure to suppose, is becoming a country where the rights of the singole persons are respected.
Yet, China is still a place not only of cheap labor, but of workers working with little or no social guarantees: to the point that local revolts were pretty much common in the country. These are the conditions that allowed so many Western and Chinese companies to rapidly prosper, achieving what old Karl Marx described as “primitive accumulation”, i.e. the possibility of those who possess capital to amass greater fortunes through the exploitation of cheap labor-force.
And another aspect of the dramatic increase in economic production in China has been the increase in pollution: i.e. exploitation of the environment. It is an aspect which shall be dealt with, might a country really improve, while its environment worsens?
Maybe at this point one might look at the dramatic improvements which occurred in the economics field, as a first step towards an improvement in the self-conception of an entire nation.
As the People’s Daily reports, “Work on the tower began in 2008. It is scheduled to fully open by the end of this year. An elevator that travels at 18 meters per second will carry visitors to the 118th floor in just 30 seconds. There they will be able to take another elevator to the sightseeing platform on the 120th floor.”
But all these are all technical achievements. Much more important would be the achievements in the field of human rights. Writing those 4,000 names in a wall is a sign of hope, that after the new economy has given way to new richness, new human rights give way to a better civilization in China. It would be a great social accomplishment, and it would be coherent with China’s cultural roots, as they are expressed in the great Confucian thought.