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Portrait of Stalin in a chinese classroom
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Shijiazhuang is a traditional part of China and classrooms can look straight out of Maoist days. Stalin gave the Chinese a great deal of help in setting up their industry and so he is still respected today. I told a teacher that some Westerners would see a picture of Stalin on the wall as perhaps only a little better than having a picture of Hitler.

Recently, I made the joke of pretending not to know who Chairman Mao was when we had a lesson about famous Chinese people. My joke was met by outright classroom rebellion! National socialism prevails strongly here and even the lightest comments can lead to the cold shoulder. For example, I made a quick comment that capitalist countries such as Norway and even England were in many respects more socialist than China. I ended up fearing what would happen next as I was confronted by students at the end of the lesson. Luckily I think they said nothing, as I persuaded them that a 'misunderstanding' had taken place. I'm sure this doesn't happen in Shanghai!

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