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A COMPARISON OF

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CHINA SWEDEN AN INFORMATIVE PHOTO BOOK BY FILIP SVENSSON


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HEJ, NI HAO HELLO ”If you dig a hole in the ground, eventually youʼll end up in China”. This phrase is commonly heard in Swedish schoolyards, or at least it was back in the days when I attended graduate school. Basically, China was on the other side of the world for us then. A whole new world - a place far, far away. Today you can travel between Stockholm and Beijing by airplane in less time than it takes to run a marathon. My name is Filip Svensson and this is my comparison of two different cultures China and Sweden. Of course, my opinions on China may sometimes be very simplified since Iʼve only spent three weeks in this completely different environment. This book is a collection of my personal first impressions when visiting China - not a scientific study.

Filip Svensson author

CONTENTS BASIC FACTS + China & Sweden

EVERYDAY LIFE + + + + + + +

Residence Family Meal Spare Time Haircut Public Transportation The Language

POLITICS + + + + + +

Big brother is watching Pension The Police The Environment Construction Working coditions


CAPITAL

Kingdom of Sweden

中华人民共和国

Konungariket Sverige

BEIJING

STOCKHOLM

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

MANDARIN

SWEDISH

NATIONAL DAY

OCTOBER 1

JUNE 6

POPULATION

1,345,751,000

9,325,429

AREA

9,640,821 km²

450,295 km²

$ 5,970

$ 37,333

People's Republic of China

GDP/CAPITA (PPP)


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Chairman Mao Zedongs portrait on the entrance to the Forbidden City in Beijing. And the Swedish flag.


Daily life 日常生活 Vardagsliv


EVERYDAY LIFE: RESIDENCE

This picture is taken some forty minutes outside the center of Shanghai. Living large? No way. In this town, you have to pay a lot to get a big apartment. Though this might not be the most fanciest neighborhood, the people living here seemed to be as happy as can be and cheerful laughter echoed between the concrete buildings. On this particular day, the smog made it impossible to see further than a few hundred meters.


EVERYDAY LIFE: RESIDENCE

Almost half of the Swedish population lives in houses. House prices are high in the middle of cities, but if you go twenty minutes outside the city center you can get a large house at an affordable price. And I don始t think I exaggerate when I say that it始s every Swedes dream to live with a view of the ocean. But that始s very expensive.


EVERYDAY LIFE: FAMILY

I think this Colgate toothpaste box pretty much sums up the ideal Chinese family structure: mother, father and a baby boy. There is a one-child policy in China, which means that every family can have one child without any restrictions. China has a very large population, and therefore the government restricts the number of children a family can have.


EVERYDAY LIFE: FAMILY

The typical Swedish family consists of four to five people; mom, dad and two or three children. An average Swedish female gives birth to 1,66 children in her lifetime.


EVERYDAY LIFE: SCHOOL

Due to the one-child policy, there is a huge pressure on the only child to do well in school. The teenagers I spoke to in China explained that they studied most of the weekend to catch up on the homework for the upcoming week. Including Saturday night. Additionally, they said that to study at university, your grades need to be top notch. And if you don始t make it you might end up with a lousy job and a low salary. Many young adults commit suicide every year because they don始t get in to the university.


EVERYDAY LIFE: SCHOOL

The Swedish school system is free to all Swedish citizens, and university studies are for everybody. It始s not very hard to get accepted (at least not if you don始t want to study to become a doctor or a lawyer). The Swedish schools are not known for its good discipline. One might argue that this results in free thinking, non-suppressed citizens.


EVERYDAY LIFE: MEAL

Meals are festive occasions in China. When you dine, you get together with your loved ones and eat several different dishes including beef, chicken, seafood, noodles and rice. The chopsticks are used everywhere and a knife and fork is hard to find. When I asked a Chinese friend if he had a hard time eating with knife and fork he answered; ”Iʼm probably better at it than you are at eating with chopsticks.”


EVERYDAY LIFE: MEAL

If you take a look at the TV guide in Sweden, you始ll see a lot of shows about food. One might make the conclusion that Swedes love to cook. That might be true in some families, but most people come home from work and cook some macaroni and fry some deep-frozen meatballs. It始s not uncommon to eat in front of the TV.


EVERYDAY LIFE: SPARE TIME

Chinese people work a lot. Therefore, the spare time is sacred. This picture is taken at a sanctuary in Beijing. A green oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. The park was filled with people this Sunday afternoon. They were dancing, singing and playing games.


EVERYDAY LIFE: SPARE TIME

It始s hard to point out one specific thing that Swedes do in their spare time. But shopping seems to be a source of recreation. So, if you want to buy something at H&M in Helsingborg, don始t go there on a Saturday.


EVERYDAY LIFE: HAIRCUT

I was walking in Beijing when I came across this; a man getting his hair cut - on the side walk - by a man in a white coat. I like the fact that this hairdresser has his own salon in the middle of the streets, right next to the traffic jams.


EVERYDAY LIFE: HAIRCUT

Everything is expensive in Sweden due to the high taxes and the high living standard. Including haircuts. But Swedes doesn始t hesitate to pay considerably to get their hair done. Your hairdresser is a status symbol and a statement.


EVERYDAY LIFE: PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Do you cherish your personal space? Don始t use the public transportation in Shanghai. In a city with 18 million people, there will always be a problem with the infrastructure. And the subway in Shanghai really proves this. Let me put it this way; it始s harder to get in than to get out. Someone is always happy when you want to give them more space.


EVERYDAY LIFE: PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Just a few minutes until departure, and yet the bus is almost completely empty. There is no need to fight to get a seat.


EVERYDAY LIFE: THE LANGUAGE

One billion people speak Mandarin as their native language. That始s one fifth of the world. There are a lot of different versions of the Chinese language, but they all share the same writing system. This is a picture of a Chinese dictionary.


EVERYDAY LIFE: THE LANGUAGE

Å, Ä and Ö. Those are the letters that separate Swedish from (many of the) other European languages. Since Swedish is such a small language, the Swedish schools are putting a lot of effort to educate Swedish students in English.


EVERYDAY LIFE: RELIGION

Taoism, Christianity and Judaism are just a few of the religions practiced by the Chinese. The largest religions - Confucianism and Buddhism - are perhaps best described not as mere religions, but as a way of life. This man performed some kind of religious practice in a park in the middle of Shanghai. He looked very peaceful.


EVERYDAY LIFE: RELIGION

Once upon a time, Swedes were very good Christians. They went to church every Sunday and so on. But nowadays, the churches are empty. 72 000 people left the Church of Sweden between 2008 and 2009.


Politics 政治 Politik


POLITICS: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING

Censorship is a big problem in China. At least for its people. The authorities keep a close eye on what is written in Chinese newspapers and magazines to prevent criticism. But as you can see, there are a lot of magazines to choose from anyway.


POLITICS: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING

Sweden has a long tradition of freedom of speech. A lot of people were very upset when the government announced a billl that would give the Swedish ministry ”FRA” the right to spy on people who were suspected of a crime. The bill was later changed and the spying can only occur if a judge approves it.


POLITICS: PENSION

It始s not easy being old in the Chinese community. At least not if you haven始t saved a lot of money for your pension. Therefore, the elderly are very dependent on family members. This old man was walking down the road in Beijing, wearing the classic hat, popular in the days of Chairman Mao.


POLITICS: PENSION

The orange envelope is easy to recognize. It says: ”Din allmänna pension”, which translates to ”Your general pension”. This is the pension you get from the Swedish welfare society. It works kind of like this: you pay a few percent of your salary every month to the Ministry of Pension and when you get old, you get the money back.


POLITICS: THE POLICE

This picture is taken just a few minutes away from the legendary Tiananmen Square, where the police and military killed many civilian protesters in 1989. This police, or guard, was just standing by the street, watching people go by. I dare not think of the authorization he would have if I did something that made him angry... (Therefore, I took a quick photo and disappeared from the scene).


POLITICS: THE POLICE

For this page I wanted a photograph of real police officer, but to be honest, I did not find a single one to take a photo of. The fact that Sweden has few police officers visible to the public is a frequently discussed issue.


POLITICS: WORKING CONDITIONS

China is often referred to as ”the factory of the world”. “Why?” one might ask. Well, salaries are low and the workers do not have a lot of benefits. Therefore, itʼs cheap to manufacture products in China. Think of that the next time you buy a ”Happy Meal” and let your child play with the toy inside.


POLITICS: WORKING CONDITIONS

80% of the people in Europe work in the service sector. Although they may not have to endure the same bad working conditions as the industrial workers in China, they are often exposed to a lot of stress due to the high tempo.


POLITICS: THE ENVIRONMENT

Cars, cars, cars. And more cars. China is full of cars. Everyone who can afford it will buy a car. It始s a status symbol. This is a huge problem for China - and the rest of the world. The roads are always crowded. And the exhaust fumes cover the cities with smog.


POLITICS: THE ENVIROMENT

Thanks to the small population and Sweden始s natural recourses making water power the prevailing electric supply, as well as the interest in wind power stations, the environment in Sweden is quite unharmed.


POLITICS: CONSTRUCTION

The man in this picture could be a migrant worker from a province far from Shanghai. If you are a Chinese citizen you have to work where you are registered, but in the countryside it can be difficult to find a job. That始s why migrant workers come to the big cities to earn a living. There is just one catch; they don始t get any of the social rights they deserve. They only apply if you work where you are registered. The construction business is dangerous and poorly paid. That始s another explanation to why migrants get these jobs.


POLITICS: CONSTRUCTION

Sweden is a cold country. Comparing Sweden and China, the Swedish houses are very well insulated. Nowadays they are also often environment friendly.


Thank you for reading 感谢阅读 Tack för att du läste


AND A BIG THANK YOU TO:

”ERIK SVENSSON” IDA GRÄSMAN KAJSA BRINGLE WIKIMEDIA FOUNDATION KULLAGYMNASIET


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A Comparison of China & Sweden