Going to Japan was a fantastic experience. It was great to finally get there after many years of wanting to go! There was so much to do, from ancient temples to futuristic metropolis. The food was great and the people were welcoming and helpful (and even put up with my attempts at Japanese!). This blog isn't about Japan though, so let's put the experience into contex with China.
Since the second world war, relations between China and Japan have not been the world's greatest. So much is it to the advantage of the powers that be to keep bringing up the second world war and the suffering that the Chinese went through, that even in this youthful generation there are Chinese who hate the Japanese and will express this opinion openly and readily. So much for moving on then...
Ironically, the popularity of Japanese things in China is huge. Karaoke, food, electronics, the works. You will be able to find the aformentioned xenophobes tucking into a plate of sushi, washed down with a bottle of Asahi beer while proclaiming their dislike for Japan. It's a bit topsy turvy.
Coming back from Japan (and Hong Kong) to China really has emphasised how big the difference is between them. China is nestled between these highly developed places while itself is not making the grade just yet. And there is a long way to go on many, many fronts. Comparing any developmental aspect of these places will render China the underdog. The big question is can the catch up, or will the immense size and slow bureaucracy of China prevent it from doing so fast enough?