A Beijing Boy joins The Queue
My name is Chen Zeihan, I came to Britain from Beijing in order to visit my girlfriend who is studying Material Science at KCL and pick up some important documents from her. I joined the Youth League aged 8 and one of the proudest moments of my life was ascending to become a fully fledged member of the Beijing CCP. All my life I have been proud to be Chinese. Our system has its flaws but delivers order and prosperity for the majority of the people, the West is attractive for me because of its wealth and scientific progress: its political values of Democracy, the Rule of Law and a Robustly Independent Press evidenced by The Spectator newspaper, have yet to convince.
However, my visit and worldview was interrupted when on my second day in London I heard that Queen Elizabeth had died. The mass outpouring of grief at the death of a distant figurehead and synchronised media response were utterly unlike anything I had witnessed in the People's Republic of China. Normally, I would've had to cross the border to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to see such a passionate display of solidarity. I had hitherto been averse to tune into BBC news on account of its talented and freethinking broadcasters like Emily Maitliss and Huw Edwards, clinically objective in their scrutiny of dangerous foreigners like Mr. Putin. However, for the past weeks I have sat serenely rapt before what you call 'The Telly'; the deference, respect and caution taught by Kung Xi had replaced the sickly gospel of juvenile irreverence preached by Paine and Voltaire.
The businesslike way in which the British police force dealt with those who dared protest at a funeral they were paying for gave further tinder to the flames of doubt rising in my soul. All my life I had believed that the West was a dangerous place where anyone could protest anything freely: this was the sort of ruffianism I'd been exposed to in Hong Kong. Here was proof that my fears were baseless; instead of languishing under the censorship of the CCP, here in England I had the freedom to protest, respectfully, in the confines of my own home. Your wise legislators had pre-empted all criticisms Marxist-Leninist thought could make of them by tempting me with freedoms I did not even know existed; here in England I could enjoy The Freedom from Trolling Online. Whereas individual politicians in China can still suffer shocking abuse on message boards and forums for corruption or weakness towards J*pan; in Britain those who dare offend Zarah Sultana MP, or the powerful Local Boss known only as 'Diane Abbot', face swift phonecalls from the police.
Moved by such encouraging signs, I decided to embark upon a course which would've seemed unthinkable a mere fortnight before: I, a Chinese Communist,, would queue to see the Great White Queen lie in state. This itself, it struck me at the time, was proof our two realms are far more common than I first thought; it is a Communist tradition to do homage to the embalmed remnants of the Head of State. I had worried that the nascent queue would be micro-managed by tools of capitalist rationality: modern computing, after all, create a worrying degree of leisure for the customer who can be given a ticketed slot algorithmically sorted into manageable groups. My fears were baseless. In England, you understand spectacle and ideology are more important than competence and efficiency: the queue was allowed to stretch through most of London, providing a perfectly exaggerated demonstration of the public's loyalty to the regime worthy of our best Party minds. Here was a country where Socialism was not a theory but a fact.
The queue swept by; my eyes were glued to twitter where gullible Americans sedulously retweet my points about 'a new multipolarity rising'. @Logo_Daedalus enthusiastically endorsing my assertion that Chairman Xi's COVID policy is "Epicurean resistance to Fascoid Stoicism"; Peter Nemets deferentially retweeting a mention of 'vassal states' in a quirky modern context. The fools. It was only a brief twelve hours later that I was at last gazing upon the somnolent corpse of the departed executive. The impressive symbols of the British state gathered round her: the guardian phalanx of community support officers in high visibility jackets, the marbled tea-mug of the work from home bureaucrat balanced beside a Bee Brick to form the jewels of state, the minutes of a local council where 'plans for development' are soundly rejected, a soundtrack of suitably respectful Northern Soul; "Yewllll, nevuh wulk alowne." I felt saline rapids building in my eyes. O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Now I understand. To live in the United Kingdom is to be free but it is not the selfish, egoistic freedom of the West I'd been taught to hate in Communist propaganda. To live in the United Kingdom is to enjoy the freedom of a consulted Stakeholder. It is the freedom that comes from flourishing together in Local communities.
When I got back to my hotel I collapsed over my desk in heaving sobs of a Damascene conversion, my arms unconsciously toppling the framed portrait of Mao in the process. It is obvious that the West truly is better than the Best; the 'killer apps' of Hate Speech Laws, Caste Privilege, The Stakeholders and Technophobia have put her above and beyond our Asian values of free market capitalism and personal autonomy. I return to China a Monarchist and an Anglophile, where once the prospect of Hong Kong being handed back to British capitalists would fill me with dread, I now understand this would only be transferring that city from an inferior to a superior stage of Socialism. I now dream of a Hong Kong NHS trust, a Kowloon Clap for Carers, Postliberal approaches to runaway growth and chill Jamaicans in city hall. Let one thousand flowers bloom. Today, that portrait of Mao on my desk has been replaced by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Great.