Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 71“Developing international brands is a matter of great importance to China’s government today. Speaking in summer 2007, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said that domestic firms should improve the quality of their products and develop world-class brands.But the 2007 Global Business Leadership Survey, created by Fortune China and a consulting firm, found that while 83% of respondents saw the importance of developing a global brand name, only 22% demonstrated the necessary skills for operating in the global marketplace. The survey was conducted among senior Chinese business leaders and also revealed that, while 75% of them had traveled overseas, most travel was for a short period of time, and only 45% of the total was business travel.Surprisingly, only a third of leaders maintained personal networks outside China, indicating an isolationist attitude among Chinese business leaders. ‘The report indicates that there are capability gaps between business leaders who are effective and capable in the domestic market and those who can operate effectively at a global level,’ said media.”Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 72“China’s attitude to building globally recognized brands seems to be based more on the assumption that China has a right to such kudos than the need to earn it. Unfortunately, China’s ‘victim mentality’ when it comes to its rights in the world is creating real victims.In the wake of a series of scandals linked to Chinese-made products, China testily complained about ‘smear attacks’ on its goods. ‘Blowing up, complicating or politicizing a problem are irresponsible actions and do not help in its solution’ China’s Washington Embassy said in summer 2007, perfecting its ‘Sino-spite’ vocabulary. ‘It is even more unacceptable for some to launch groundless smear attacks on China at the excuse of drug and safety problems.’One of these ‘safety problems’ occurred in 2006 when tainted cough medicine from China led more than 100 deaths in Panama. The medicine had been made with a chemical called diethylene glycol, instead of the correct chemical, gylcerine. The products also used the trademark ‘glicerine.’ The original source of the diethylene glycol was a factory in China’s Jiangsu Province, which has labeled the chemical as ‘TD Glycerine.’ This product had been sold to a Spanish firm. The Chinese firm said they told the Spanish firm the product should not be used in medicines. But Panamanian businessmen brought the chemical from the Spanish firm, changed its name to ‘Pure glycerine’ and extended its sell-by date.”
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 69"In the language of politics, the German word ‘lebensraum’ (living space) has deep meaning. If you were to translate its feeling and the sense of trepidation it creates in other countries, from the German word to a Chinese equivalent, one would need to also translate the sense of need to expand, a sense of righteousness, and a sense of superiority.Today, China has chosen ‘peaceful rise’ or ‘peaceful development’ as catch-all phraseology to help pacify the fears of the independent nations orbiting the middle kingdom. But the reality of the behemoth that China is becoming both militarily and economically is casting a long shadow over the 14 nations who share a land border, and sometimes a troubled historical relationship. China presently has a common land border with more nations than any other country in the world.China’s ‘neighborly conduct’ sometimes has resulted in aggressive expansion, as is quite obvious in its military control of Tibet and Xinjiang, its claim to Taiwan, and its recent regain of control of Hong Kong and Macau."
Not much needs to be said here. China’s ‘peaceful rise’ is such obvious bullshit as not to be worth commenting on.
Now the Olympics are over, Taiwan better watch out. And as the world runs short of fuel, China will look to its immediate neighbors – and then beyond. Mongolia’s the most obvious target after Taiwan.
Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 70"Current claims of ‘peaceful rise’ aside, in its short history since 1949, China has fought wars with four of its land-based neighbors – Korea, India, Russia and Vietnam. These wars came at a time when China was surrounded by far fewer independent states than it is now, as well as at a time in which its need for resources was much lower. But today China is sucking in vast quantities of material and energy resources from all around the world and also has a much more pugnacious sense of international self-identity.China is in effect like a youth who has just joined the circus. Hired as a juggler, the ringmaster requires the youthful apprentice to juggle a far greater number of balls - or in this case, countries - than has ever been achieved before.His juggling should be ‘measured – peaceful – not aggressive,’ causing awe and respect in the audience. The task is formidable. Our juggler is allowed practice. A failure, a dropped ball, merely stops his exercise and he begins again, while the audience applauds his humility. In the reality that is China, there is no practice time, no appreciative clapping for a nice try. And China feels that its true historical calling is not to be the juggler, but the ringmaster."China’s failure in juggling just one ball – one country, carefully -- could result in catastrophic results for itself, Asia, and possibly the world.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 67“If you say the name ‘David Beckham’ many Chinese people won’t know who you’re talking about. You must say ‘Dai wei Bei ke han mu.’ And if you want to talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger, you have to call him ‘A nuo de Shi wa xin ge.’ The vast majority of Chinese people, even those with good English skills, find themselves restricted in conversation with non-Chinese speakers because they lack the understanding of other tongues due to Chinese government restrictions.In many ways the Chinese language, spoken by more than 20% of humanity, has reached a dead end. No new characters can be made. New words have to be coined by combining the present set of characters, which is a problem when using hieroglyphic languages (one character for one word).While English has been adapted by many other cultures, the Chinese language has never exerted the same influence. Historically, many characters in the Japanese language came from China, but the Japanese written language has gone off in its own direction. But Chinese does not easily incorporate new words into its lexicon.”
As far as Republicans go, A nuo de Shi wa xin ge seems largely free of the ideological lunacy of that party. Politicians are mostly image, yet they like to pretend they have substance. By that measure it’s at least a step towards pragmatic clarity to have a man who is explicitly defined as image becoming a politician. Indeed perhaps the fact that he is so overtly manufactured gives Arnie an added strength as a politician. He has no need to deny the obvious, and that endows a certain sort of freedom.
But Sarah Palin…. Now that’s some scary shit. A woman who believes in creationism possibly the next in line to the presidency of the USA? China’s leaders certainly believe in the power of violence, greed, and corruption and tell endless lies about the good things they have done for the country – but at least they stop short of the colossal stupidity of believing the world was made in seven days. They may be brutes and thugs, but they are not as cretinous as creationists.
I’ve focused a lot of the negative aspects of life in today's China, and though I have (apparently to little notice) mixed that in with positive comments throughout this blog, here I will be more overt. If I had to choose one achievement of modern China that deserves respect, I would cite its removal of the virus of religion from the mass of its people.
Now whether the ends justify the means is an argument for another entry. And certainly the bloody glee with which China went about expunging religion from its culture was a crime every bit as bad as the monstrosities christianity has visited on the world. For example, China’s suppression of Tibetan religion, a genocide in progress at this very moment, is a stain on humanity.
But even though the means are evil, the ends teach us a lesson. The majority of young people in China today have no belief in religion – and on the whole (spite of my many criticisms) they are pretty well-balanced, rational and moral. That’s one of the greatest lessons China has to teach the world – people get on just fine without religion. Sure, it’s not an undiluted lesson, for though China has dismissed the fairy tale of faith, it clings on to numerous other nonsenses, many of which have been discussed in the entries preceding this one.
Perhaps humanity needs to believe in nonsense, whether it’s the blustering arrogance of communism or the absurd self-contradictions and logical impossibilities of religion. I don’t know. But at least China has tossed one grand lie into the dustbin of history – the lie of religion.
Good for China.
Yet no message can be unmixed, and so I’ll end this entry with a thought for Thubten Jigme Norbu, who died on the 5th of this month. A great man and a fine writer, thoughtful and balanced. The world is the less for his death.
Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 68“The very fact that Chinese is such an ancient language makes some commentators see it almost as an antique. According to Wang Shuda, writing for China Daily, “You cannot learn Chinese without understanding basic background knowledge.” That’s a fair enough statement in any language. But what does Wang mean by “basic background knowledge”?‘Do you know “wu xing,” the five important elements: metal, water, wood, fire and earth, the relationships … among them?’ Wang asks, suggesting that a cultural understanding of these elements in a Chinese way equals an understanding of Chinese as a language.‘Do you know Chinese classical poems, such as “tang shi,” the Tang [Dynasty, 618-907] Poems? How many can you recite?’ he writes, as if a modern language must first be respected for its roots. His implication is that a student of English could not learn the language without first understanding the sonnets of Shakespeare.”