BEN RETZLAFF holds his own playing ping-pong with a Chinese man in Hangzou.
BEN RETZLAFF holds his own playing ping-pong with a Chinese man in Hangzou.

     While Ripon High School students flew 7,000 miles around the world two weeks ago to learn about China, they also learned about another country: their own.

     The band and choir students’ 10-day odyssey afforded them a renewed appreciation for the privileges of being from a country that, despite its flaws, aspires to achieve self-governance, individual rights and freedom.

     This is not to denigrate the Far East. Ripon students discovered that China is, in many ways, exotic, welcoming, gentle, disciplined, scenic, plucky, devout, historic and gracious.

     Yet there is no mistaking that it is a Communist country. A Chinese guide told some Ripon students that she doesn’t vote. “Why bother?” she said, noting the president runs unopposed and also serves as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China.

     Individual rights, if there are any, are subordinate to the state, which has exclusive claim to all land. “Every [square] inch of China is owned by the government,” the guide said. ...

     China is not America, and to judge one by the other may not be fair or appropriate. But each country can appreciate the other, learning from it while cherishing its own values.

     Not a bad lesson for 100 Ripon residents to bring home.    
                         — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the April 20, 2017 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.