Thinking About China During Corona Virus – A Different Perspective – View From The Farm

It’s cold this morning at the farm.  We live in East Tennessee which is usually much warmer this time of year.  However, this morning we awoke to a chilly 33 degrees.  It’s sunny now but still quite crisp.  So, before I start my chores I am sitting by the wood cook stove.  It’s burning again this morning; warming my aging bones.

We brought the puppies in last night to sleep inside.  It was too cold for the little critters.  The utility room was destroyed.  But they were happy.

I am happy.

Sitting here by the fire I started reflecting on our time living in China in 2012 and 2013.  It is quite sad for our family to witness what has happened with the corona virus and its deadly impact the world over.  There is so much speculation about how this all evolved and who is to blame.  I feel we will never know.

For us though, having lived in China, I have to say the people we met there were the most amazing, loving, kind, gentle hearted people you’d ever want to meet.  Our daughter had the opportunity to go to high school over there and was able to visit rural villages where she was accepted and allowed to stay in their homes to experience their lives.  They let her in without judgement.  They fed her, talked to her through translators, and let her experience their existence.  She was able to travel all over Asia as a 16 year old.  The heart and work ethic of the Chinese people puts so many others to shame.

Our daughter is being taught Chinese.

The Chinese people inspired me – in their hard work and humility.  It was such a nice combination to see.  They were happy too with their children and grandchildren.  What a culture so committed to family.  And the commitment was not just one generation wide it was four generations deep.  It was a beauty to behold.


Mike and President Xi

We were there when President Xi first came into power.  My husband met President Xi before Obama did.  He was over there to help scientists clean up the environmental footprint of coal.  At the time, President Xi was inspired to build innovation and advance science.  There was no desire to dominate on the world stage in a ‘conquest’ sort of way.  That is such a western mindset.  I wonder still if the western mindset has been cut and pasted onto the Chinese once again, like we always do.

I understand how controversial the above may be to many.  It seems in America we are good at quickly judging based on the news – which may or may not be true – who the latest villain is.

From our personal experience living in China, there was no boogy man around the corner.  There also was no desire to kill off the rest of the planet. There was a very concerted effort to bring innovation and advancement of free markets into Chinese society and begin to open up to more free thinking within the culture itself.


Amazing Gifts (Chinese China With The China Seal On Them) From Dear Friend Wen Zang & Family

Now one must truly understand the complexity of Communism and Totalitarianism to understand a free think/innovation pivot.  That is not easy to do while maintaining order of a society three times the size of America.  What we can attain in America in a given window of time isn’t the same as in other cultures with very different norms. Societal pivots are hard – particularly in this instance.

Are the stories true that Xi wants to rule for life? That the Corona Virus came from a lab?  That is was designed to hurt America?

I do not know if any of those things are true.  Hype and spin would have us all believe so.

But, for me – having lived there and been deeply involved with the Chinese people, their breakthrough science industry and the leadership under President Xi, I am going to  withhold judgement and speculation until we know more.

Mike, Chloe and I touring the spot of Peking Man, the oldest excavation of pre-human bones / dwellings on the planet (South of Beijing).

Encyclopedia Britannica says the following:

Peking man, extinct hominin of the species Homo erectus, known from fossils found at Zhoukoudian near Beijing. Peking man was identified as a member of the human lineage by Davidson Black in 1927 on the basis of a single tooth. Later excavations yielded several skullcaps and mandibles, facial and limb bones, and the teeth of about 40 individuals. Evidence suggests that the Zhoukoudian fossils date from about 770,000 to 230,000 years ago. Before being assigned to H. erectus, they were variously classified as Pithecanthropus and Sinanthropus.

President Xi had the red carpet rolled out for President Trump when he visited.  Also he invited our President to the Forbidden City. These are great honors and signs of great respect – not animosity.  What we hear on the news, and what is being presented culturally between Xi and Trump are very different stories.

As I sit here on my farm in the Smokies by my woodcook stove – I ponder.  I wonder if our amazing Chinese friends are still alive.  Is Joanna, our translator and all around guide and assistant, doing okay?  Is her child doing well?  Is Xiafai, our driver, alive, is he doing okay?  We brought him back Nike shoes – the real ones.  He loved Lebrone James and everything NBA.  I remember his joy when we brought him real Nikes that you couldn’t buy in China.

Are any of them still alive?………Joanna’s mother stitched us a beautiful cross stitch art piece saying “welcome to our home”.  Is she alive?  We gave them our treadmill when we moved back to the US.  Are they still using it?  The Welcome to our home is up in our home.


Me Being Amazed That I could drink Saranac Pale Ale in Beijing – when I lived on the Saranac River with that view on the bottle as my back yard — back in the US.

It is so odd that while our world is so interconnected – we will likely never know if Johanna is alive.  We do not know how to reach her.  The dreams that many of us had within the US Academy of Sciences and Engineering and Chinese Academy of Sciences and Engineering, to bring science to each other’s countries for the betterment of both….are those possibilities shattered now?  It is never foolish to try and bring nations together to develop new solutions for a better planet.  It is however VERY foolish to use science to create deadly weaponized elements that can kill the planet.

So which way will the US and China go?  Will we continue to come together to foster good and better in all things, for our planet and its’ people?  Or, will we devolve into totalitarianism and expect that outdated mind set to be the template for the entire world?  And, will nefarious ways be the approach of the powerful?  Are we going to ascend or descend, quite simply…?

I still believe China and the US can be a good team.  I hope the events that have unfolded have been accidents and not intentional misdeeds.

I can only hope.  I will likely never know.

But still, Joanna – wherever you are, we love you and think of you often.  Your compassion, patience, and intelligence truly touched us all and you will NEVER be forgotten.  Ever.

We miss you.


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