Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 6 months 4 weeks ago

Over the course of the last month or so, I have worked to narrow my topic for my inquiry project down in Phase 0, and have finally settled down with change and development of Xizhou. The inquiry project stipulates me going around Xizhou and gathering information from local sources. My plan is to look on the other side of things, which means to get an opinion from the locals who have experienced the changes. A reminder why: the Chinese government has a habit of oversight, grandiosity, and sugarcoating (See: Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square 1989, Starvation Tolls... ) News outlets also have biases (See: Breitbart, Daily Stormer, NYTimes vs. WSJ) My point is not that the government is bad, because they try hard to serve the people, but that it is good to have other perspectives.

In order to be successful in my research, I spent some time trying to catalog what I already know. I have a solid knowledge on modern Chinese history in general, from the second Sino-Japanese War to the Cultural Revolution to Deng Xiaoping to the One Belt One Road Initiative. As I am Chinese, I have some root knowledge in the events preceding those, such as the Qing Dynasty, Sun Yatsen, and the like. That said, my understanding about Yunnan is minimal. Yunnan has always been a footnote in Chinese history, and I cannot seem to recall anything major about in the last 60 years or so. The last major thing that had happened was the Flying Tigers, which was about WWII. This means I still have a lot to learn.

Most of my knowledge comes from foreign news (I prefer the NYTimes and the Economist), augmented by bits and pieces I hear. I have a habit of absorbing information about places I have been to, and occasionally do research on topics I find interesting. I regularly have conversations with adults about history and sometimes culture, but since no one I know is from Yunnan, Yunnan is just left out for me. I have never been anywhere near Yunnan either, and know next to nothing about it. So this will be interesting.

But by the same logic, I also have I cannot begin to comprehend the sheer immensity of things I need to learn and understand. I have purposely left my topic open, because I have a feeling it is going to change and develop over my stay in Xizhou. I think that socio-economic change would be the easiest. Political change is a loaded topic, and I should be careful on how far to dig. I would not want anyone arrested, and I am not keen on getting arrested either. Culture would be much harder, as the story would be multifaceted and ambiguous to the point confusion. I could delve into environmental change, but I feel that will be brief. So this will be a potluck of variety of changes in Xizhou.

Now that I have done some additional research in Phase 3, it is time to create a list of some questions. Here are my questions, arranged in categories, and my guess about the answers. The guesses will be in italics.

The Past
1. How has Nationalist China affected Xizhou's, welfare?
I would say that Nationalist China implanted what little modernity Xizhou has, due to its move of factories, government facilities, and universities temporarily during the war.
2. How did things change after Mao and his Communist Party took over?
Mao's regime is marked by many multifaceted policies, but I saw that the particular policy towards minorities seemed to yield more harm than good.
3. What has changed after Mao has died and other leaders took over?
Other leaders, most notably Deng Xiaoping, have tried to open up the country and promote economic development, and I would say that would be embodied by better living standards and more variety of goods.
The Present
4. What are some major challenges facing Xizhou currently?
Poverty is probably the major problem, followed by shortages of goods and lack of infrastructure. Even as I write this I feel this is probably very wrong.
5. What are the major sources of income for Xizhou?
Tourism is a much-trumpeted part, and I would also assume traditional goods, such as cloths, sculptures, and the like also play a big part.
6. What is the current government doing that is helping/hurting Xizhou?
I think that Xi Jinping's anti-corruption drive is probably benefitting Xizhou's and removing officials who are not doing their job properly.
The Future
7. What is the general plan for economic development in Xizhou?
I think that the Belt and Road Initiative will be very beneficial for Yunnan's, and specifically Xizhou's development, as Yunnan is a frontier for China's outwards development.
8. What is the ideal Xizhou that people living there hope for?
I would say, based on the xiaokangshehui philosophy, which translates roughly into food on your table and a bed to sleep in, would mean that everyone could live a lower middle-class existence, and no one would be in poverty.
Tying it Together
9. What events in the past shaped Xizhou's challenges in question 4?
Xizhou's rich culture has shaped a positive tourism industry, but Yunnan's geography and physical distance from the capital has lead to some negligence.
10. How do the people view their history's both ups and downs?
I would say that these people are proud of their history and their unique culture.

I deleted the last 4 questions, because they do not have a concrete answer. My Inquiry Project will only contain a prediction of the future.

Even though I have done a lot of research regarding Yunnan's economic and government policies, I think more research should be done over Yunnan's culture, as often culture plays a large part people's perception of the state and the policies pursued by the government.

Now I am finished with Phase 1, and am ready to move on to Phase 2, where I will be gathering helpful resources.

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask." Over the course of Microcampus, I have experienced the individual freedom that I have been grappling with ever since I have left Shanghai. Who am I? Why am I here? My Microcampus-era posts and thoughts would go to reveal my struggle against who I am, a struggle you will soon face in Microcampus. And now that I am back, I may have but a fragment of my answer.