China’s Way Forward

James Fallows does it again, with a detailed look at why predictions that China will follow either the Soviet or Japanese paths to economic disaster don’t hold water. There are too many sharp differences between China’s economic situation and theirs.

It’s nearly 1.30am and I don’t have the fortitude to do a detailed analysis of the article now, except to say it makes some points that should be obvious to us all but somehow seem to slip off our radar screens. Like, the USSR’s manufacturing capabilities were a pathetic joke by the time they went under, while China’s are at this moment among the most robust in the world.

And that’s all I have time for. I just want to get word of this piece out there so you can read it for yourselves. One snip from the very end, after the writer has enumerated some rather startling possibilities for creativity (and for profits) the crisis poses for China and dashed the shaky comparisons of China with Japan and the USSR.

CHINA IS DOWN. It is not out. This has important implications for America.

If China were truly like the old Soviet Union, the coming mass unemployment might be the shock that finally turned the people against their rulers. If it were truly like Japan, it might spend a decade or two chugging along but not aligning its systems to new international realities. In either case, Americans might feel sorry for China’s still-impoverished masses—but less worried about its competitive challenge.

I suspect that China will be like neither. Most of its people will still be very poor. Most of the jobs they hold—when they have jobs—will still be near the bottom of the global value chain. But they will not, I believe, be in fundamental revolt against the country’s governing system. And the companies they create, manage, and work for will be constantly trying to improve their position on that value chain. Two years ago, after reporting on factories in Shenzhen, I described an economic symbiosis in which Chinese workers assembled many of the world’s products—while inventors, designers, shareholders, and consumers from America or other rich countries got the lion’s share of the financial returns. It is the announced policy of the Chinese government, and of many Chinese companies, to keep more of the rewards in China.

Outsiders can rightly criticize the Chinese government if it tries to sneak in new export subsidies or push the RMB’s value back down. But no one can criticize its ambition to increase the rewards for its people’s work. Many Chinese companies will fail or make mistakes under today’s intense pressure. But many are using the moment to prepare for their next advance. The question for Americans to think about is how we are using the same moment.

Kind of reminds me of Chas Freeman, willing to challenge sacred cows and acknowledge that whether we like the Chinese government/system or not, there are some things it’s doing that are worthy of our attention. Who know, we may even learn something from them.

The Discussion: 43 Comments

I Think The Chinese Communist Party is the Best Party in the World.

The Chinese Communist Party recently passed a decision called “The Decision to Enhance The Governing Abilities of Our Party”. In the first paragraph of that document, it said “Hostile forces’ attempts to Westernize and disunite our country have not changed”.

But, how are the hostile forces trying to Westernize and disunite China? One common technique is to use the banner of “Reform” to change the color of China’s Socialist System.

Let me first comment on Deng Xiaoping to illustrate the importance of sometimes not “reforming”. Deng Xiaoping, in 1989, resisted great pressure from Rightists to “reform”, and we all know what he did that year. I believe what he did in 1989 takes a lot more courage and determination than any type of “reform”.

We know that in the early days of China’s economic opening up, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang were the right and left hands of Deng Xiaoping. Looking back today, those two hands were not very effective, and Deng Xiaoping were dissatisfied with them. But those two were supported by many overseas rightists and domestic intellectuals. But Deng Xiaoping still fired those two people despite so much popular support they receive. This again takes extreme courage.

Then Li Peng and Jiang Zemin took over. I believe those two did a great job in implementing Deng Xiaoping’s policy, which was basically: “Both hands have to be hard, and cannot be even a little soft”. I was a rightist back then, and did not like those two people. I thought those two people were too conservative, and not “reformist” enough.

(Note how I put quotes around the word reform. Some reforms are necessary, such as tighter supervision among party cadres and tighter media controls. But to rightists, they have a different view on reform. They believe that a “reform” is anyh activity that goes against China’s Constitution. For example, China’s Constitution clearly says that government officials are elected indirectly through representatives. But rightists insist on promoting “direct elections”, trying to break the Constitution. Also, the Constitution cleary says that the Chinese Communist Party is the core leadership of the Chinese people, but the rightists insist that this is a dictatorship and not democracy. Rightists often sing praises of the importance of Constitutions, so why do they not respect China’s Constitution?)

Anyway, then came the collapse of the USSR. I was very naive back then, and I thought that: “This is such good news for the people of USSR. They captured that opportunity. China unfortunately missed that opportunity, USSR people will start to enjoy happier and better lives”.

What happened afterwards to the USSR completely changed my viewpoints.

In the early days of the economic reform, many of China’s reforms were modelled exactly after certain aspects of West’s system. But today, we can see that the West’s capitalist system is already almost collapsing, and so now China’s future reform direction is totally unclear. Can China continue to model itself after the West’s system? I do not believe so. The West is burning Chinese stores, adding tariffs for Chinese steel and shoe imports, subsidizing agricultures. Even for HK, can HK still be an example for the mainland? I do not think so. Can Taiwan be an example for the Mainland? I do not think so.

In other words, there’s no much left that’s valuable to learn from the West’s system.

Therefore, a lot of times resisting reforms is more important than carrying out reforms and takes more courage. I was in Shenzhen a few months ago, and I saw a Deng Xiaoping quote displayed as a slogan on the street: “We will not change our fundamental path for 100 years”. Therefore, anyone who wants to challenge the Chinese Constitution, to change the leadership position of the Chinese Communist Party, to change the dominance of state-owned enterprises, I think they should wait for another 100 years.

Rightists always yell “If China does not reform this and that, it’ll……”. Well, they’ve been yelling for decades, and China is still doing pretty well, but many of those Rightists have died out….

March 12, 2009 @ 1:51 am | Comment

Wow, Math – you put up that comment within minutes of my post appearing. It’s almost as if you have them pre-written or something.

I Think The Chinese Communist Party is the Best Party in the World.

You’ve obviously never been to one of those late-night parties at the Great Wall.

March 12, 2009 @ 1:57 am | Comment

They will never be cool like the Dalai Lama nor will there ever be a Han Elvis.

March 12, 2009 @ 2:43 am | Comment

Not pre-written Richard, he just changed the header,

It’s an old comment from him in 2007 on your site…

Manic and compulsive copy-pasting of Xin Hua propagand BS.

“Never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

March 12, 2009 @ 3:02 am | Comment


I am doing a round-up of China bloggers at Calling All China Bloggers. I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have been enjoying your posts since.

I am giving each blogger a chance to do a guest post if they want to. Would you stop by and introduce yourself, and re-blog/re-tweet this invite to others?

March 12, 2009 @ 3:18 am | Comment

Thomas Friedman just wrote an article for the New York Times that raises some very pressing questions. Months ago, it was already a topic of discussion but it drowned rapidly in the economic crisis brouhaha.

He interviewed Joseph Romm about this subject and in my opinion what he says is extremely pertinent.

The main question he asks is: Can we actually restart the economy based on the old model?

This important question reaches far beyond what we currently hear in the news about “global banking regulations” and “global new deals”.

He refers to our old economy system as a Global Ecological Ponzi Scheme.

I wholeheartedly agree with him.

Furthermore, I personally think we can read into Chas Freeman’s exit and see something unsuspected:

The beginning of the end of the unsustainable Chimerica model.

How would China cope if this becomes reality? Only the future can tell us.

March 12, 2009 @ 3:59 am | Comment

I find it hard to understand why anyone would think China will (now) go the way of Japan or Soviet Russia. The former was already very well developed such that a fiscal stimulus spent on infrastructure would have sod-all effect. The latter was collapsing under its own corruption and mismanagement.

China is suffering from a global recession/downturn. It will probably have its own more personalised economic crisis at some point in the future as all countries do, but this isn’t it. Yes, exports and imports are down, but when the global economy picks up again that situation will reverse. China will suffer, but after riding out the storm it will be able to pick up the pieces. And unlike Japan the stimulus can actually do a lot of good by improving infrastructure, rather than building shinkansen stations in the middle of nowhere.

March 12, 2009 @ 7:12 am | Comment

China most likely will follow Japan’s path. It is a compliment which China doesn’t deserve to compare it to the Soviet Union. Russia is truly a superpower through out history and even surpassed the U.S. during WWII and postwar time. China at best achieved a status of a regional hegemony, which was even before the rise of Japan and Western influence re-shaping Asia. Chinese and Japanese are inherently the same people and share the same good and bad genes, which dictate what China will end up being like.

The key to prolong the CCP’s survival is a good economy. Propaganda (for example, Math’s words), nationalism and iron fist may be effective for a short term only. The CCP will engage and antagonize the West and U.S. as if in a play of Tai-Chi to stay put.

If China becomes an economic giant, it is still an ideological and cultural dwarf. Taking into the account the fact that Chinese are the kind of people who are so easily manipulated and subdued by a political pariah like CCP, one can’t expect China to do better than Japan.

March 12, 2009 @ 9:39 am | Comment

To quote the BBC TV Show “Father Ted”, where Father Ted is talking to a group of Chinese: “The Chinese Communist Party. The biggest communist party in the world. And in my opinion…the best.”

That was a really great article. Thanks for posting. It kind of reflected my opinions which are all rolling around my head and could never be placed all together so succintly in a 3 page article.

In any event, I never really heard such comparisons. I don’t think any serious observer of China made such comparisons with China and Japan or the USSR, in terms of the current crisis.

In my humble opinion, I always thought comparisons are better made with the late 1990’s East Asian financial crisis. Obviously, there are key differences between how the SE Asian economies of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, et al. are operated. However, many of the same key elements exist in SE Asian economies and companies in the late 1990’s as they do in China currently: lack of corporate governance, rampant corruption, local banks sitting on a ton of bad loans, overspeculation….

I wonder why people don’t mention that comparison as much.

March 12, 2009 @ 11:37 am | Comment

I’m still wondering what Math is doing here after so many years. I think the 5maodang thing is some crap from the Chinese right to shut down discourse, but Math is good evidence to the contrary.

Is he even a poster? Or is he some sort of spammer, who never responds to others’ criticism but instead drones on and on by himself?

With regard to imports and exports, I’m surprised Professor Pettis has still not responded to Jonathan Anderson’s report on value-added Chinese exports. While China does have a trade surplus, 67 percent of the value of exports is negated by the sourcing of imports. Relevant to this article, Mr. Fallows is wrong to say that the asymmetric decline in both imports and exports is evidence of Chinese protectionism. Part of it is oil, part of it is just that Chinese exports contains large quantities of foreign inputs. But that’s just nitpicking, I don’t have problems with the other examples of Chinese protectionism.

Another point is that while I agree that the China story is not over yet (it’s just too poor and underdeveloped to stop just yet, even with lots of structural impediments to growth), I don’t think it’s wise to predict Chinese innovation. That’s been on the newspapers for almost the entirity of the 00s. Yet my Thinkpad is now inferior to the IBM versions and there’s no perception of general Chinese technology. The companies Fallows listed in his article, mind you, were mostly multinationals based in Western countries. BYD, the exception, has admitted it can’t launch the F6DM stateside until 2011, and even then, when compared to the Chevy Volt, it is not competitive. So with regard to Chinese innovation, the boy has cried wolf enough that I’ll only pay attention when I’m eaten.

March 12, 2009 @ 11:44 am | Comment

For Communist parties in democratic countries, the Communist Party of Japan is politically significant, and unlike the party-states, it’s a party of the intelligensia as opposed to a party of the nomenklatura. For Communist party states, while even the Chinese condescend towards the North Koreans, the neoliberals on this board could praise the Vietnamese Communist Party for both destroying the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge and for instituting intra-party democracy, to the antipathy of their northern Neighbors. According to David Shambaugh of George Washington University, the Chinese Communist Party also holds the Cuban Communist Party in high regard, as it perceives its counterpart of being extremely well-run as an organization with responsiveness to conditions and an extreme resistance to corruption, the main enemy of any party-state.

The problem with Chinese development is that Thailand exists. Thailand used to be one of the Asian Tigers, but has been growing at an anemic rate since the financial crisis. The problem with infrastructure and underdevelopment arguments for China is that Thailand is also very poor and very underdeveloped, hell, China recently exceeded Thailand in per capita GDP.

March 12, 2009 @ 12:04 pm | Comment

Regarding cultural and ideological influence, well, currently, China is bankrupt in the second and knows it’s bankrupt. It’s stopped attempting to export revolution for a long time. If you can get a political ideology out of China, it would be one that would support a meritocratic/technocratic party-state whose selling point is wealth and efficiency, not freedom. But to sell that you’d need real socialism in China, as opposed to a transitional phase where people mistreat each other and get cancer from industrial pollution. And the problem is that for the CPC, its political model means that it can’t advertise its political model. By advertising it has to aggrandise itself. If the CPC can survive to that point, the reason it has survived is that it has been humble and has sought to seek truth from facts instead of from pleasant fictions and delusion. By advertising its own model it threatens to destroy its own success.

With regards to cultural influence, well. Russian 19th century novels were written under a censorship regime, and look how they turned out. The main problem with successful cultural influence is that the artists involved have to be shills for social elites and the established system. That is to say, when the Chinese artists sell out enough, they’ll become soft power. And aesthetically speaking, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Compare Yu Hua’s The Past and the Punishments to Brothers. One was written in the name of aesthetics, the other in the name of social criticism. While we can disagree as to which one is more moral, which one is more beautiful?

March 12, 2009 @ 12:34 pm | Comment

Inst, I believe the ThinkPad is still being designed mainly in Japan by the same group of engineers who worked for IBM led by the same manager, Arimasa Naito. Did you read reviews of the Think X300, released last year? Most IT analysts and reporters have given it incredibly high marks. Maybe there were some duds along the way, but the ThinkPad still owns much of the enterprise notebook space.

Robert, I’m not sure the comparison with the Asian tigers works too well. That was a relatively brief, heady and disastrous confidence game. China has been in the forefront of world manufacturing for more than two decades now, for better of for worse, And despite all the corruption and crime, they still have a lot more money in the bank than we do, allowing them to shore things up better than, say, Malaysia in 1997. Their problems are horrific, unimaginable – but looking at this article, I think they may also turn out to be more flexible and open to new ways of thinking, qualities that will help buffer the blow and keep its head above water. Looking at America’s banks and other fallen titans (GM, AIG), I really wonder whether we can do the same.

March 12, 2009 @ 12:56 pm | Comment


I think the comparison with the Tigers is more apt, especially because you have the same mix of rapid economic growth, dependence on the US as an export market, dependence on FDI to drive growth, authoritarian governments, massive state sector, little support for the SMEs that actually create growth, family owned businesses, widespread lack of rule of law, and so on.

I tend to agree with Richard on China. During the 1990s there was a debate about the possible ceiling for Tiger growth, and academics had observed that if you ranked the Tigers and Japan by income, it pretty much represented the order of their take-offs — later industrializers/exporters had lower per capita incomes. In this view growth was driven by the ability of the Tigers to keep piling on human capital improvements, and once that leveled off, that was that (am writing from memory).

Looking at China, it seems like there is still substantial room for augmentation of human capital, since so many people don’t have university educations, and for so many, the post secondary education they get is awful. The potential for gains is still enormous. Of course, so many problems remain…..

What I am curious about is whether the Communist revolution whacked away the system of informal finance and petty capitalism that drove Taiwan’s high growth period. How do small industrialists in China finance their factories? Are Chinese SME’s driving growth, or are transplanted Taiwanese family firms the drivers? Do big firms with tiny suppliers drive growth? Or what? What is the shape of the Chinese economy — if I took a cross section with a chainsaw, what would it look like?


March 12, 2009 @ 1:52 pm | Comment

Michael, excellent questions, though I don’t have any good answers about which which groups are most driving growth. Sometimes it’s hard to separate them, especially when it comes to Chinese companies that claim to be independent but are in fact quasi-SOEs with deep ties to and support from the government If thinks if you took a cross-section with a chainsaw you’d find something quite messy, like sawing into a can of worms.

March 12, 2009 @ 2:37 pm | Comment

Next on NPR’s “Fresh Air”: James Fallows reports that China is not like the Soviet Union, or Japan.

March 12, 2009 @ 4:00 pm | Comment

“…if you took a cross-section with a chainsaw you’d find something quite messy, like sawing into a can of worms.”

Where did this whole “can of worms” metaphor come from anyway?

March 12, 2009 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

Having had a look at the article I can’t help feeling there is a contradiction. On the one hand, Fallows appears to be arguing that China needs to balance its trade and be less export dependent. However on the other he appears to be lauding their attempts to move to high value, high tech. Unfortunately I cannot help feeling that this is contradictory. Assuming they can produce high value, high tech who exactly are they going to sell it to? Presumably this would be a mainly export industry. So, having reach a dominant position in low value industry by exporting cheap, they are thinking of trying reach a dominant position in high tech industry by exporting cheap.


I cannot help feeling that Pettis is right – they need to re-balance their economy. Having an economy that is dependent on foreigners buying on the never never and government spending at home is ultimately about as sustainable as having a giant housing/credit ponzi scheme.

March 12, 2009 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

I don’t see the contradiction Si. China has no choice but to be less export-driven – the orders have already crashed. But exporting will still be key to China’s economy, and if it is at all to pick up the slack from the shattering halt in demand, it has to differentiate its offerings from the same old s*it, and Fallows then goes on to detail examples he’s seen of China doing exactly that. It should be common sense, but it’s not clear whether American firms like GM get it yet.

March 12, 2009 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

I don’t know what’s happened, but there’s a lot of complaints about the T60 series and the T400/500 series regarding build quality.

Regarding the T400/500 series, it’s been shown that the keyboard being used in that laptop is of significantly inferior quality to the previous series of laptops; the keyboard is a lot less stiff and it starts to bend.

Regarding Chinese SMEs, recently it has been said SMEs, whether domestic or foreign-funded, account for 60 percent of GDP and 80 percent of employment. Official financing is known to be very poor, with only 6 percent of official bank loans going to SMEs. There’s supposed to be informal lending between companies (loans on shipments, black market loan sharks).

March 12, 2009 @ 10:30 pm | Comment

I don’t really see what’s wrong with the export-led growth model historically used in East Asia. The Chinese GDP is one-fourth of the United States GDP and about 10 percent of global GDP. For the Chinese economy to produce solely for the Chinese economy means that the amount of capacity Chinese demand can absorb is a lot less than producing for the global market.

I think I understand what Prof Pettis means when he says that the CPC may be forced to make political decisions that crimp its long-term expansion. The Chinese exporters are suffering. The CPC can institute policies to support the exporters, but other countries may call foul and declare it to be protectionism. This will force the CPC to switch the Chinese economy from an export-led track to a domestic-led track sooner than it would like to (since China is not an Asian tiger; it’s far easier for it to overflow global demand than it would be for, say, Taiwan, so increasing consumption as a percentage of GDP is inevitable. The question is when.)

March 12, 2009 @ 10:52 pm | Comment


the problem is the size of china. the next largest country to have used export led policies in the recent past is japan which is a tenth of the size in terms of population. china simply swamps the world with the volume of the product. all countries need to aim for a balance between their import and export


my point is that the manufacturing they are doing is focussed towards the export market, whereas what they need to be focusing efforts on is developing their domestic markets. other than in the part about the supermarkets, i don’t see this happening. i think the domestic market will be moribund as long as china is unable to deal with quality issues and financing of smaller business problems, which are caused by the corrupt and non-transparent system.

just my two pence – i am certainly no expert

March 12, 2009 @ 11:25 pm | Comment

I think they are about to launch a stimulus plan for domestic consumption but don’t know enough about it yet to comment. True, they’ve failed miserably so far but like Obama’s plan for America, it’s too early to declare it dead in the water.

March 12, 2009 @ 11:28 pm | Comment

i look forward to your thoughts when they do. as you say, what ever they decide to do it will take many months to tell if it is working (if you can ever really trust the numbers coming out of china, or any financial institution these days!)

March 12, 2009 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

I think the comparison with the Tigers is more apt, especially because you have the same mix of rapid economic growth, dependence on the US as an export market, dependence on FDI to drive growth, authoritarian governments, massive state sector, little support for the SMEs that actually create growth, family owned businesses, widespread lack of rule of law, and so on.

Essentially. Three huge factors that make China different are, however:

1) China actually has natural resources of its own. They can grow quite a lot of food, and they have enough people to better vie for their interests on the international stage.
2) They have lots of experience from neighboring countries to draw upon
3) The Chinese Diaspora. This is a huge, huge, undying source of FDI, remittances, technical assistance and charitable donations. Most estimates put the Overseas Chinese as the third or fourth largest economy in the world and very high wealth per capita.

Just to be clear, if any of you are still unaware, China’s economy really is not as export “dependent” as the Tigers. Many of China’s “exports and imports” are indeed the Tigers sending in parts for assembly and then shipping them out to other markets.

Much of China’s economy is driven by domestic demand. Don’t want to be pedantic, but you shouldn’t jump to conclusions (and “racial theory” in the case of Bao and el chino) based on the experiences of the tigers. China has many significant advantages over them.

March 13, 2009 @ 2:01 am | Comment


“racial theory”

Wtf are you talking about? And you have the gall to accuse of creating “race theory”. As far as I know, you’re pretty much the expert here in this field, right? If there has been a racist sounding like a broken record here, it’s definitely not me.

I’m sure nobody forgot your endless rants about the subject. One of your last exchange between you and Lisa was particularly telling about yourself.

Master you are at creating bullshit theories based on skin color (yellow people should mate yellow people), genetic and pseudo science facts…

Overall, a very flimsy attempt to discredit me. But don’t worry, I can do that by myself (as it happened many times in the past).

You don’t have to reply me, for the sake of keeping the good flow where the thread is going now (including your own comments that appears to be pertinent, just leave aside the personal attacks).

March 13, 2009 @ 3:13 am | Comment

yellow people

It should be noted that “yellow” and the other “skin color” denominations are based in 18th century pseudo-science. Papuans were called “green”. It had something to do with phrenology.

March 13, 2009 @ 4:42 am | Comment

Today on yahoo is a story about Wen Jiabo’s thinly veiled threats to the U.S. about China’s U.S. Treasury Bond holdings.

What is amazing about this “threat” is the sheer stupidity of it. Over 50% of China’s foreign currency reserves are in U.S. Treasuries? Over a $ 1 trillion? I think we have them over a barrel. Can you imagine what would happen is we just default? Nowhere to send products. No cash with which to buy raw materials. China is left holding an empty bag. They would plunge back into the 19th century. If you that there is a huge amount of empty commercial space in Beijing and Shanghai now, wait until the foreign reserves go up in smoke. I think that the Chinese government should look into its own problems like overpopulation, third world education and health systems and broken, ragtag joke of ruling party consisting of aging ignorant thugs or younger, educated xenophobes. When a debtor owes that much to a creditor, the debtor is in the driver’s seat, a lesson Wen obviously doesn’t understand.

March 13, 2009 @ 10:35 pm | Comment

Can you imagine what would happen is we just default?

Japan and the Middle East will have their confidence shaken, and they will look to another currency.


Don’t you get tired of pulling the xenophobe card? It’s probably your behavior that is provoking their sentiments.

the debtor is in the driver’s seat

Not really. If you take out a huge loan and don’t pay it back you will never find a lender again for the rest of your life. The same will apply on the international stage for obvious reasons.

If America could get away with “just defaulting” they would have done it already, but they might be moving in that direction with Iraq as the first step. Don’t want them switching out of PetroDollars.

March 14, 2009 @ 5:47 am | Comment

I have to agree with Ferin. The US does not have China over a barrel, though they both have their tentacles wrapped tightly around each other and when one moves the other feels it (too many metaphors, I know).

Defaulting on US treasuries is literally a guarantee of complete and total anarchy. If the US refuses to recognize its debts we are literally destroyed as a nation. Confidence in the dollar would instantly crash to zero as people everywhere raced to get rid of the toxic currency, bringing dow the US government. Meanwhile, my guess is that the ever-secretive China is already covertly investing large chunks of its copious reserves in safer places. No, I can’t prove it and call it a guess. But I’m pretty sure I’m right, and that once it’s out in the open, the real fireworks will begin.

March 14, 2009 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

I think a lot of people have been divesting from the dollar, especially in the Middle East. Confidence in America has really shaken all around the world in the past 8 years.

China probably doesn’t want to destabilize America, but those left holding dollars are being left with a bad taste in their mouth. Especially with belligerent rhetoric coming from the far right of America, as displayed by Not_a_Sinophile.

March 14, 2009 @ 7:29 pm | Comment

(First time poster.)

OH GAWD another Blame Bush comment. Seriously, Bush is gone, you have the Messiah, the Savior, he and his three ring circus with fix everything.

The problem with China, at least from my limited perspective, is that no one really wants to live there, and they leave when they get the change. Few people, at least few Westerners, want to live in a country so devoid of freedoms, controlled by a communist party, so polluted and congested, that their assets will never match the united states. I think if you asked 99% of the world if they would rather live in Schaumburg, Illinois or or some random 3rd world metropolis in China, the answer is quite obvious. And the fact that Schaumburg is a soulless suburban Chicago shopping mall hellhole doesn’t bode well for most metropolises in China. Further complicating the matter is that China holds a lot of dollars, which America can print for free, and most american assets cannot be transferred (try moving a foreclosure house or office building accross the pacific), and the rest of America is plastic and lead trinkets that most americans would gladly return. In essence, China got played, big time. They’re new to the capitalism scene and they got burned. I just hope they don’t come back to the school yard with an uzi and start firing indiscriminately.

“I think a lot of people have been divesting from the dollar, especially in the Middle East. Confidence in America has really shaken all around the world in the past 8 years.”

March 21, 2009 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

Ron, with all due respect, I need to single this out as the single most ignorant comment I’ve seen here in a long time. People are rushing to live in China, and you basically have the freedom to do whatever you want as long as you don’t threaten the Party. China has been red-hot for years now, and expats keep flooding in. And they love it here, though many are critical of the government and some even choose to write blogs, like this one, frequently pointing out the government’s excesses. I am amazed at just how fact-free your comment is. Meanwhile I hope you are watching the dollar, and how China is slowly diverting its war-chest into other, smarter investments.

March 21, 2009 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

Ron, with all due respect, I need to single this out as the single most ignorant comment I’ve seen here in a long time. People are rushing to live in China, and you basically have the freedom to do whatever you want as long as you don’t threaten the Party. China has been red-hot for years now, and expats keep flooding in. And they love it here, though many are critical of the government and some even choose to write blogs, like this one, frequently pointing out the government’s excesses. I am amazed at just how fact-free your comment is. Meanwhile I hope you are watching the dollar, and how China is slowly diverting its war-chest into other, smarter investments.

March 21, 2009 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

Richard, whilst I don’t agree with Ron’s comment generally speaking, one’s freedoms are limited to more than just what threatens the party. I can’t see how accessing the Chinese language section of the BBC News website threatens its rule, for example.

It’s a case of horses for courses, but personally I couldn’t live in China permanently whilst the government tells me what I can and can’t do in my spare time. A temporary posting would be fine, but only because I knew that I’d have somewhere else to go at the end of it.

However, it does say something about the US that so many people still seek asylum there (or just work), whereas most people who “flee” to China only do so because they’re trying to get out of North Korea.

March 21, 2009 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

Of course I should also point out that there are many great things about China, not limited to its food, people and natural beauty (where you can find it) that do attract people, along with financial opportunities. As I said, horses for courses.

March 21, 2009 @ 9:20 pm | Comment

Raj, the blocking of a website here is a nuisance and little more. Anyone who wants to read that site badly enough can do so. The firewall is a terrible and stupid thing. But most people here look at the Internet with amazement, stunned at how much they can get. Nearly no one (except expats) look at it and complain about how much is blocked. That’s just how it is, despite all the hundreds of posts I’ve written lasting the censorship.

About your last point about asylum – Very few come to China for political asylum. People hire snakeheads to get them out of China. Very few Americans hire snakeheads to smuggle them at huge risk and cost into China. We all know that. Was there ever any doubt?

March 22, 2009 @ 9:23 am | Comment

Raj, the blocking of a website here is a nuisance and little more.

Well it does go into other things, which is why I talked generally about what one does in their spare time. My faith for example. I’m sure many people wouldn’t care about that, but it’s important to me.

March 22, 2009 @ 4:05 pm | Comment

Raj, I would love to see complete freedom of religion and expression here. Again, I hate to say it but that is something so few here care about, it’s not going to change anytime soon. My Christian and Jewish friend here all worship as they choose (they go to church and to temple). Does this excuse the persecution of Christians and others? Of course not. But this too, like web censorship, is hardly top of mind with all but the slenderest groups of Chinese people. The vast majority is indifferent and focused on other things, for better or for worse. They wonder in amazement why foreigners who don’t even live there go on about these issues, which, if they are to change, will have to be changed from within. Does that mean we should stay silent? No. But we also need to see it from their perspective.

March 22, 2009 @ 4:59 pm | Comment

Oh, of course many people can practice their religion freely in China. But being Catholic and my family history being what it is (I won’t bore you with that now) I simply wouldn’t feel comfortable practising in China. It’s purely personal, and I know most Chinese are happy to find ways around the system. I probably would too if I ended up in China, but as I have a choice I wouldn’t go unless I had to.

March 22, 2009 @ 5:16 pm | Comment

Sorry for interrupting, also my first time here (I’m free today so I browsed a lot of expat blogs this afternoon) but “it” does not go into other things. If anything, “it” has been making a retreat for the past 30 years out of people’s lives.

I was introduced to the Internet 10 years ago, and I could not open BBC’s website or many other sites. Later Wikipedia came along, and it was accessible for two years before it was blocked. But then the English version was unblocked two years later, and the Chinese one in the run-up to the Olympics. And they were never blocked again, so far.

The online argument between Chinese and foreign bloggers mainly comes from their different perceptions. For the young generation of Chinese (in their 30s now) who grew up as society progressed with increasing freedom, there’s no reason not to be optimistic about their country. But foreigners don’t have that kind of experience of life becoming freer, so they tend to, much to the chagrin of the Chinese, focus on the ugly side of China and start preaching. One of my former colleagues, an American woman, once said it to my face that she knew more about the Chinese experience and the Chinese identity than ordinary Chinese did. And she came to China one year before the conversation happened and she couldn’t even speak the language.

I will not say to foreigners, “This is our country and you know nothing about it so shut up.” But like it or not, what matters more is how Chinese view themselves.

March 23, 2009 @ 3:08 pm | Comment

Thanks for the excellent first comment. I tend to agree with much of it.

March 23, 2009 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

@Woodoo – If an American, or any other foreigner, who had only been in China for a year actually said that they knew more about what it is to be Chinese, and didn’t have a whole lot of stuff to back it up, I’d just call them a plain damn fool.

March 23, 2009 @ 5:41 pm | Comment

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