A colleague gave me a package of tea, which was given to him by someone from mainland China. The package was big and nice-looking. However, try as I did, I could not figure out what type of tea it was. It was not marked on the outside of the package, not on the inside, not on the two smaller boxes that actually hold the tea, ...
It is symptomatic of many things from China. It looks good on the outside, but the inside is of poor quality. It is true of the high speed trains that crash because of the problems with the signal systems. It is true of many hotels that are poorly maintained. It is true of many schools that were built at great cost but poorly used.
I remember distinctly one high school in Hubei that we worked at a number of times. It looked elegant from the outside. The grounds were paved with smooth stones that looked like marble. The walls of the buildings were covered with ivy. It had the looks of an elite school. Some of the classrooms, however, were flooded with water draining from the air-conditioners. The computers were covered with dust, and looked like they were never used. There was a showroom with many scientific specimens which was locked up all the time. The worse, as is common in many places in China, were the filthy toilets, that we dared to use only for emergencies. We had to hold up our breaths and tried not to look. It was especially hard on the girls.
In Chinese, we say 金玉其外，敗絮其中. With money, it is relatively easy to modernize the hardware: the buildings, the trains, the machines, and the clothes. But it is much harder to modernize the software: the people, the culture, the behaviour, and the mind. Indeed, it is very true that the revolution has not yet succeeded - 革命尚未成功，同志仍需努力.