China’s New Intelligentsia

This article is truly interesting, and offers viewpoints guaranteed to infuriate just about everybody. One thing it drives home is China’s growing influence, which is a matter of fact. Which does not mean it is good – it just is.

As I read it, I kept thinking of a startling conversation I had just this week with a well known journalist. We weres talking about a common discussion topic here, the difficulty of finding native Chinese mid-level managers who can make important decisions alone and unaided, and who can be counted on to manage global projects. This reporter stunned me with his simple but incredibly bold suggestion: that China’s managers would not increasingly emulate the Western manager’s qualities of independent thinking, willingness to accept a degree of risk and striving always to “think outside the box.” Instead, he said, managers elsewhere in the world would slowly, almost by osmosis start to conform to the Chinese do-as-your-told-and-never-ask-questions model. In other words, China will not rise to Western standards, but the West will sink to Chinese standards (at least when it comes to middle managers). That is the power of China’s gravity, which will transform everything within range – or so this journalist said.

I have to reject this argument, if only because the success of so many Western enterprises is built precisely on these qualities of independent thinking and challenging the status quo – and China knows it. However, that image of China’s gravity affecting everything around it is a powerful one, and the article linked above offers some stunning examples. Such as:

In 2005 when there was a debate about enlarging the UN security council, China encouraged African countries to demand their own seat, which effectively killed off Japan’s bid for a permanent seat. Equally, Beijing has been willing to allow the Organisation of Islamic States to take the lead in weakening the new UN human rights council. This diplomacy has been effective – contributing to a big fall in US influence: in 1995 the US won 50.6 per cent of the votes in the UN general assembly; by 2006, the figure had fallen to just 23.6 per cent. On human rights, the results are even more dramatic: China’s win-rate has rocketed from 43 per cent to 82 per cent, while the US’s has tumbled from 57 per cent to 22 per cent.”

Well it’s food for thought, anyway. No matter what you may think of China, its influence and effects on the rest of the world are undeniable. For better or for worse. The article’s last paragraph will certainly evoke the greatest outrage, but it’s important that it be read within the context of the whole. This isn’t just another wide-eyed Westerner breathlessly repeating the “China is rising while the US is falling” mantra. Here goes:

China is not an intellectually open society. But the emergence of freer political debate, the throng of returning students from the west and huge international events like the Olympics are making it more so. And it is so big, so pragmatic and so desperate to succeed that its leaders are constantly experimenting with new ways of doing things. They used special economic zones to test out a market philosophy. Now they are testing a thousand other ideas – from deliberative democracy to regional alliances. From this laboratory of social experiments, a new world-view is emerging that may in time crystallise into a recognisable Chinese model – an alternative, non-western path for the rest of the world to follow.

The part about testing out new ways of doing things is true enough. But the picture still seems to me too rosy. Especially since the author sidesteps some of the most obvious issues that could keep China’s influence limited, if not generate widespread and devastating catastrophe. Things like environmental degradation. Read it anyway; it’ll certainly make you stop and think.

The Discussion: 82 Comments

I’ve always felt a little guilt for causing conflict on your site btw. But I don’t put up with BS slander by mor or anyone else, regardless of the motives.

However since nanhe is banned I’ll go to his site to argue with him ๐Ÿ˜‰

March 11, 2008 @ 3:21 am | Comment

I don’t buy it. Gravity isn’t everything. Western companies aren’t going to surrender flexibility and risk taking, strategies that work to adopt the slow-footed bone-headed middle manager practices prevelent in China. China burns a lot of coal right now and will be for the quite a while. But the west isn’t about to say “f*uck it” and start pulling the air scrubbers out of factories and begin transitioning back to 1908 just because that’s the way it is in China (improvements not withstanding).

And to Ferin, in the interest of stayin on topic:

Sins commited by western companies have been commited with far greater efficiency and much more effective managment than Chinese companies are capable of. But fear not! I’m sure the horrors China’s human rights and environmental nightmares will be greatly enhanced by western managment techniques in coming years.

March 11, 2008 @ 3:45 am | Comment

I’m sure the horrors China’s human rights and environmental nightmares will be greatly enhanced by western managment techniques in coming years.

Not so much the management techniques, but business practice as a whole.

March 11, 2008 @ 3:50 am | Comment

“Sins committed by western companies have been committed with far greater efficiency and much more effective management than Chinese companies are capable of.”

I don’t know about that, China has a long, continuous history of being able to enslave and crush.

As for western management sinking to Chinese standards, I think the two will stay apart with a few notable exceptions (lazy Western managers, most of whom are expats and eager Chinese).

And winning influence on the global scene may be the unexpected dream/nightmare many “China huggers” didn’t see coming. Sure, China is winning influence and friends, but at the cost of reversing man’s social evolution.

March 11, 2008 @ 3:51 am | Comment

China has a long, continuous history of being able to enslave and crush.

Outclassed entirely by Greece, Rome, Europe, Africa and the Muslim world. Slavery was far more widespread in all of these places (see: Carolingian Europe, African Slavery, Scramble for Africa, Viking conquests and slave raids, etc)

at the cost of reversing man’s social evolution

If you mean the last 200 years of American “social evolution” I’d say good riddance. If America votes for a black man or white woman for President is it a result of China “reversing social evolution”? I’d say they’re unrelated, but you have selective paranoia.

March 11, 2008 @ 3:57 am | Comment

and I agree that other countries will not emulate bad management techniques, unless they’re practicing them in China.

March 11, 2008 @ 4:07 am | Comment

Ferin and nanhe, it’s been a week since you were banned. I’d like to give you both another chance. Ferin, one more “I hope you get cancer and die” remark and the next ban will be a lot longer. Nanhe, if you keep attacking my site from other sites, I’ll extend the longer ban to you, too. You’re both smart and you both have things to say and you can both be incredibly obnoxious. Just control your impulses to hurt others and there shouldn’t be a problem. Okay?

March 11, 2008 @ 9:08 am | Comment

To me it sounds like the author of the comment that everyone will ‘sink’ (or rise depending on the perspective I presume) to their level spouts a common theme of inevitability (that is always a downside of any empire, corporation, person, etc).

That, or they have gotten used to so many Westerners adapting to a Chinese style of commerce for the time being that they take the next leap in that all foreigners will do business the Chinese way rather than realizing that foreigners will compete in the country (and to sell goods cheaper back in the home country) by lowering their own standards from their original country.

People often commonly complain about the low wages and poor conditions without the knowledge that those conditions are actually better than the current standard there (leaving Nike aside); however, in this case it seems to be an interesting opposite of thinking that everyone will reduce their standards worldwide.

March 11, 2008 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

Thanks for the article. Interesting. Food for thought

Given an average distribution of intelligence coefficient across Chinese population, the amount of people with over average intelligent is quite big.
That is a lot of brainpower.

If these huge think tanks centers are only used to find ever more convoluted ways for CCP to keep its grab to power, I do not think the effect will be so significant in the future. The best proposals will hit the hidden wall “I must remain in power”.

If in the other hand, if they are really allowed to shape the future of society, without limits imposed by the crave of CCP to stay in power. If the real point is to find the way to move China forward to the best possible position, inside and outside the country, it is going to be very interesting to see what the can achieve.

On the other hand, quantity has a quality of its own, but quantity alone is not enough, you need also quality beyond numbers.
Even with the greatest population china has sharply fall behind in technological and social development in the last hundred years.
Even with so many research centers, how many nobel prizes they have got?
In the ETH in Zurich, in a very small country, has won just…. 21 nobel prizes, during the same period China was going under

Yes, yes. I know all of those wonderful things invented in China history. But lately not much has been accomplished in that area. I am wrong?

By the way. I see that fering, my favorite troll is back ๐Ÿ˜‰

March 11, 2008 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

CCT Should find this article quite interesting.

I am surprised of not seen him already here.

He must be mulling something…..

Or locked in a heavy post exchange somewhere else….

March 11, 2008 @ 4:27 pm | Comment

@richard

you release ferin from his cage and the first thing he does is try to derail a thread. has he even read the article? i have quickly scanned it and it appears not, as he just spews his usual “western bad” agenda.

@everyone

if he won’t be banned, surely he should just be ignored? if we don’t feed the troll he will get bored and leave. we should ignore comments that do not stick to the topic.

March 11, 2008 @ 5:50 pm | Comment

@Si

Don’t be so hard on ferin! It was all my fault, he only reacted to my “slander”. You have to understand that all the name-calling and cursing people is necessary to defend himself and his beloved motherland that he cherishes so much while he unfortunately has to live in the evil US of A.

March 11, 2008 @ 6:39 pm | Comment

“In other words, China will not rise to Western standards, but the West will sink to Chinese standards (at least when it comes to middle managers).”

Let’s hope not! When the shit hits the fan and China runs out of drinking water and arable land, causing another big famine in China, they will be in dire need of a few friendly nations with higher moral, technological and managerial standards (not to talk about business ethics) that can help them out.

March 11, 2008 @ 6:48 pm | Comment

Hello everybody!
My name’s Mark and I’m a policy wonk!
Recently I read something about China being in Asia so I went to have a look.
“Hello!” said the Chinese policy wonk “This is China. Here people don’t always agree.”
“Really?” I said “I thought you were all mindless drones following the hive mind”
“Chuckle, chuckle” said the Chinese guy “Here in China we tend to do things by diktat and try to elicit opinion in a way that gets us the answer we want”
“That’s ok” I said “I used to work for the EU and New Labour and we do that too! You really are becoming westernised. I do have a problem though – I can’t speak Chinese at all.”
“That’s fine” said the old Chinese professor soothingly “You stay in Beijing and read the translated research that we have selected for you. If you need to go out we can arrange a translator”
“Goody goody” I said “I’ll be an expert in no time”
“I look forward to reading your book” said the professor.

March 11, 2008 @ 9:47 pm | Comment

Why is it not possible to post on the thread on Xinjiang?

March 12, 2008 @ 12:26 am | Comment

Great article.

richard, I think you do better not trying to draw conclusions (as was the case when you were busy last week). It’s possible to read text like this without having to ground it within a larger over-all prediction of whether “China is going to fail” or “China is going to succeed”.

Frankly, I didn’t see anything in this article that was “rosy”. This article was a reflection of fact, an observation as to the depth and complexity of the Chinese intellectual environment. It provided no conclusions that you need to refute.

I’m not a political scientist, so I’m not at all read-up on the various political experiments at the county level in China. Frankly, I’m surprised to hear there are “citizen juries” and “government by focus group”… these are all concepts I, as an amateur, always thought were interesting and hoped China would study.

I think articles like this serve a great purpose in terms of getting rid of the caricatures of Chinese politics that often dominates Western discussion. This idea of the Communist Party as a monolithic block intent on “preserving power”… the Communist Party is 70 million people, few of whom were born into the privilege. Many of them have families, friends, careers that have nothing to do with the Party. The Communist Party has a serious burden right now: maintaining and reforming China into a better country. And from what I can see, incompetent and conservative it may be at times, the Party treats that burden seriously. And as it’s done consistently for the last 10 years, the Party encourages intellectual (non-populist) debate.

And why would this be a surprise? In (nominally) Marxist China, economics and politics are always intertwined… and look at the approach China took with economics. Since 1976, China has really thrown away the book on economic theory, and experimented with special economic zones. 20 years later, those original experiments are over, which is why just about anyone can buy a bus ticket to Zhuhai or Shenzhen in this day and age.

Over the next 30 years, hopefully we’ll see the same thing with political systems. Hong Kong is certainly going to be one special political zone, and perhaps there will be more. (A reunified Taiwan would certainly qualify.)

I don’t think the Communist Party of the 21st century is afraid of democracy or alternate ideas; I think the Communist Party is afraid of populism.

March 12, 2008 @ 2:27 am | Comment

@Iron Buddha,

“Western companies aren’t going to surrender flexibility and risk taking, strategies that work to adopt the slow-footed bone-headed middle manager practices prevelent in China.”

Are you so sure Western companies’ have defined the standard for management style and efficiency?

There are an awful lot of companies from Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan currently kicking Western companies butts in industries like semiconductor manufacturing, assembly, and auto production. Western companies have desperately tried to catch up to the efficiencies of these companies, with some success.

“China burns a lot of coal right now and will be for the quite a while. But the west isn’t about to say “f*uck it” and start pulling the air scrubbers out of factories and begin transitioning back to 1908 just because that’s the way it is in China (improvements not withstanding).”

Silly comment. China burns coal because it’s cheap (for China), just like the United States burns oil because its cheap (for the United States). If the US had the coal reserves and mining operations that China had, it’d be using more coal today for everything ranging from power generation to natural gas production.

March 12, 2008 @ 2:32 am | Comment

richard,

By the way, about environmental degradation… really, that isn’t a China story, but rather a human development story.

For the 3-4 billion humans still struggling in developing country conditions, they will not have the comfort of living in apartments with central heating, the convenience of driving automobiles, and the luxury of plastic food wrap without burning oil, contributing to global warming, and creating billions of tons of hazardous waste.

So the question isn’t “can China grow without destroying the environment”… but can *humanity* grow without destroying the environment.

March 12, 2008 @ 3:01 am | Comment

@CCT

If the US had the coal reserves and mining operations that China had, it’d be using more coal today for everything ranging from power generation to natural gas production.

I quote Wikipedia for what it is worth:

“While China boasts the greatest use of coal power, it is 3rd in the world in terms of total coal reserves behind the United States and Russia.”

March 12, 2008 @ 3:24 am | Comment

@Amban,

You’re right. I knew that on relative terms, US coal was less economically compelling than Chinese coal. I assumed this was due to lack of supply, but there are probably other factors involved. As it happens, coal is still used for 50% of US power generation.

My point is that economics determine everything else. If the United States has been unable to transition away effectively from fossil fuels due to economic reasons, there’s no reason to think China will be able to do any better.

March 12, 2008 @ 4:00 am | Comment

“Given an average distribution of intelligence coefficient across Chinese population”

Average for Singapore and Shaanxi is 108. Hong Kong is 113-115. Shanghai is 112. Scores are rising fast due to improved nutrition, health, and education but could be lowered by pollution and trauma.

March 12, 2008 @ 4:07 am | Comment

CCT

Not talking about Taiwan, SK or Japan. We’re talking about slow-footed, bone-headed Chinese managment techniques. You can find such techniques in all countries. China has an over-abundance of them.

March 12, 2008 @ 4:08 am | Comment

I would say that the US in particular could learn alot about diplomacy from China, especially the current administration.

Other than that, China doesn’t provide any shining examples of innovation or management prowess. All of its global companies are government funded and backed by Beijing’s diplomacy. Contrast that with India’s top companies which are all independent. And take a look at which nationality packs US business schools after Caucasian westerners…Indians.

March 12, 2008 @ 4:59 am | Comment

Amban, your posts weren’t showing up because you were spamming links – the system automatically blocks your message from appearing if you post more than two in a single post.

Please do not spam the messages either. If it does not appear it is pending – repeatedly clicking “post” won’t do anything other than create more work for me and make it more likely I’ll delete them all believing you to have made a mistake.

March 12, 2008 @ 5:00 am | Comment

@Iron Buddha,

If your point is that there’s anything fundamentally different between managers in Taiwan / South Korea / Hong Kong and managers in Chinese private enterprises… I don’t get it. Back it up with specifics.

The only difference I see is a 30 year head start.

March 12, 2008 @ 5:08 am | Comment

which nationality packs US business schools after Caucasian westerners…Indians.

Because the Chinese are doing better business in China, duh. The thing about Indian immigration is that they tend to be a self-selected group that is relatively wealthy. China, while poor, is not nearly as poor as India so more people tend to stay.

India’s growth at all periods is well behind China’s.

March 12, 2008 @ 5:21 am | Comment

http://www.mccombs.utexas.edu/news/pressreleases/konana_india_op-ed.asp

I think it’s time to stop dragging India into topics about China. You might think they love you but in truth, they really don’t.

Rather than shrinking, the gap between India and China continues to expand. According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Chinaโ€™s patent filings grew by 32.9 per cent in 2005 while that of India grew by a meagre 1.3 per cent. While resident Chinese patents grew by 42.1 per cent, Indiaโ€™s actual resident filing dropped by 8 per cent. In 2005, active patents in enforcement for China were 59,087 as against 2,882 for India. China is nearly 360 per cent more than India in the number of patent filings per million dollar of R&D expenditure

March 12, 2008 @ 5:25 am | Comment

CCT,

Any of the companies in those countries (if not the governments) would kill for US per worker effieciency. Efficiency that is, in large part, due to effective management (in China’s case why organize workers for efficiency if you have armies of them that work for peanuts?)

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CEED7143FF934A15752C1A964958260

In the 80s US managers were climbing over each other in airport bookstores to read the latest book about Japanese managment “secrets.” Not so much thesedays. I think that many, perhaps most, Chinese companies have taken on the worst of Japanese and American managment techniques and none of their virtues. Japanese corruption and inflexibility, American short-sighted, get-rich-quickness.

Maybe this situation will change, maybe China, Chinese ideas and Chinese managment practices will take over the world. But it ain’t gonna happen quickly, or efficiently. There will be plenty of time, and a couple of memos.

March 12, 2008 @ 5:51 am | Comment

@Iron Buddha,

Did you really mean to link a NY Times article from 1992?

I don’t think you mean to use the word “efficiency”, but rather productivity. Worker productivity doesn’t exist independent of capital investment however (IT investment = greater worker productivity for example), so I’m not sure it’s a great gauge for what we’re talking about. I’m talking more about business efficiency, and American managers aren’t envied on that level.

In the West, business management has been turned into a science, allowing mid-/senior- level executives to become replaceable parts. Most half-decent Western executives will have 3-8 different senior management positions on his/her resume by the time he/she retires.

Culturally speaking, this is substantially different from management practices in east Asia. There are relatively few Japanese/South Korean managers educated in US business schools, you might have noticed. It’s not what Japanese and Korean businesses are interested in. And last time I checked, Japanese/Korean automakers, ship-makers, electronics makers were still kicking American butt all over the map.

If Japan/Korea had the economic scale to compete technologically with GE, GE would probably be in grave trouble as well. Same goes for Boeing/Airbus.

I suspect that China will never gravitate towards the type of institutional “job-for-life” behavior that is so characteristic of Japanese/Korean businesses… after being poor for so long, I think the Chinese are too ambitious on an individual basis to settle for life as cog in a machine.

At the end of the day, I think Chinese management culture will be an unique cross between what you see in Hong Kong/Singapore, Japan, and the United States. And yes, I absolutely do believe Chinese management culture will be increasingly significant and obvious on the world stage in the decades to come.

This isn’t a universal claim that the US economy sucks, obviously. The US economy does innovation and creativity very well… but that’s not attributable to better management.

March 12, 2008 @ 6:44 am | Comment

@CCT

“The US economy does innovation and creativity very well… but that’s not attributable to better management.”

But putting that innovation and creativity to good use requires good management.
Innovation and creativity, although important, is not enough. How many good inventions failed for lack of it?

Americans are among the best at management too.

March 12, 2008 @ 7:33 am | Comment

@ferin
“Given an average distribution of intelligence coefficient across Chinese population”
“Average for Singapore and Shaanxi is 108. Hong Kong is 113-115. Shanghai is 112. Scores are rising fast due to improved nutrition, health, and education but could be lowered by pollution and trauma”

Hope I was not misunderstood. I was speaking about the intelligence coefficient (IC)spread over the population.

Usually it looks like a Gauss bell (curve). Most of people with average IC in the middle.
As you go leftwards on the curve you get less and less people with lower IC, going to the right you get less and less people with higher IC.

Going to the extreme right side of the curve, you get few real genius people.
Due to sheer size of Chinas population, the amount of genial people should be higher than in the US.

(They also get a higher absolute value of people with lower IC, but I do not think that those with high and low IC mutually cancel each other… ๐Ÿ˜‰

March 12, 2008 @ 7:51 am | Comment

SD is about 15-15.7 iirc. Shanghai’s top 2% would be at around 143.7 (400,000 people). China’s top 15% (198 million people) are at or above 121-127.

March 12, 2008 @ 8:36 am | Comment

@Si

Great comment! I guess that Mark is working for several newspapers I used to read until recently.

@CCT

“In (nominally) Marxist China, economics and politics are always intertwined…”

You say! Tell me one country on this planet where economics and politics are not always intertwined!

“and look at the approach China took with economics.”

Hurts my eye! In a short time they won’t even be able to provide their people with clean water. But that doesn’t matter as long as we can host the Olympics and send people to the moon.

“Since 1976, China has really thrown away the book on economic theory, and experimented with special economic zones.”

They haven’t thrown away the book, they just rewrote it again and again, and if you spent more time in China, you probably would know about that. Special economic zones are no good for people who are refused treatment in hospitals because they didn’t bring enough cash.

“20 years later, those original experiments are over, which is why just about anyone can buy a bus ticket to Zhuhai or Shenzhen in this day and age.”

Anyone? Really anyone? No, it’s JUST ABOUT anyone, which excludes all those people a wealthy Chinese person living in America doesn’t know.

March 12, 2008 @ 9:10 am | Comment

But that doesn’t matter as long as we can host the Olympics and send people to the moon.

Or if you can pay foreign parasites to “teach” your children for exhorbitant prices and buy garbage like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucchi, Hollywood movies, Nikes, etc. I agree, China needs to slim down on excessive spending.

March 12, 2008 @ 9:18 am | Comment

exorbitant*

March 12, 2008 @ 9:19 am | Comment

“Over the next 30 years, hopefully we’ll see the same thing with political systems. Hong Kong is certainly going to be one special political zone, and perhaps there will be more. (A reunified Taiwan would certainly qualify.)”

I used to think Hongkong already is a special political zone. And I certainly didn’t know that Taiwan is separated in any way.
I have the feeling CCT is whiling away his time in some ashram in the Appalachian mountains. He certainly is not up-to-date on politics in Greater China.

March 12, 2008 @ 9:27 am | Comment

CCT has written some of the best comments. Whenever I have a conversation with my friends, Americans would always say, โ€œWarts and all, America is still,โ€ this and that better, more just, less crude, more open blah blah blah.The Brits would often dis the Yanks and make fairer comments on China. I listen to a certain political and cultural talk radio program from HK every night,so I know what China is like, and I have a multiply entry to HK and yet I have very little complain about China because I have chosen to live here. And like most of the Asian posters, I’d been smeared as a troll and crassly labeled as brainwashed rabid nationalists. The thing is, most of us have or, traverse or still live in US, HK, the UK and Canada etc. I dare say we know as much as, if not more or have better understanding and deeper empathy being bilingual and all on matters of our own culture than a lot of the know-it-all ungrateful grumpy expats in China making 10 times or more- more than their local peers. This was true in British Malaysia, Singapore, HK, India, apartide S.Africa, etc in the past, and NOW CHINA? When will this injustice end?
Yet, we all worked hard at learning English – only to find out that the English-speaking world is made up of too great a ratio of spoiled, selfish, individualistic self-important paranoid racists.
I used to never understand why American Chinese seem to always have a chip on their shoulders – now that Iโ€™ve lived abroad and learned their language, history,culture, and suffered racial discrimination, I fully get it, just as I get why foreigners are so full of gripes & criticism in any foreign countries, not just countries in S.E.Asia. People are, in the end, just people. We all have similar sentiments, prejudices, biases, love-hate relationship with our own culture, country and host countries. If there is a purpose in life on earth, I think it is to learn tolerance, self control and be contented with what we have. I donโ€™t believe religion nor ideology are the answer; as long as the filthy rich have the unfair advantages over the great majority of the world, weโ€™ll never have peace. I am an agnostic but I remember agreeing to this saying by an ancient rabbi, โ€œWhy do you honor the rich, what have they done for you?โ€ Something like that. I canโ€™t remember the rest of it but it really opened my eyes. Indeed, Why do we honor the rich,and the powerful when fat cats like members of the English aristocracy and monarchy for example, are but parasites ?
Standards, who’s standards? Who made who king of the universe? There are serious fear that Iran is gonna get nuked soon, but why? What have they done that they be wiped out? Why? The MSM is silent on the killings in Palestine of children and women but made a single dead Israeli soldier global headline. Suicide bombing is despicable but how else can those whose homes and people are bullied and killed daily by well equipped Goliaths? Young David’s confronting his Goliath was a suicide mission – the legend that serves to encourage the weak and the oppressed. Again we ask, What standard, who’s standard, and who made who king of the human race?
Although he was referring to China, I think what PB wrote on his blog is universally true: โ€œWhen you play with hubris, you have to expect to get burnt…., and those who disapprove of your actions (for reasons founded or unfounded) will seek to humble you. This is not rocket science.โ€ Indeed, it is basic human nature.
Thank you & peace.

March 12, 2008 @ 10:00 am | Comment

If there is a purpose in life on earth, I think it is to learn tolerance, self control and be contented with what we have.

Which, as history has shown, is something imperialists have never been able to accomplish at any point in history. It used to be slaves and land, now it’s market share, prestige, converts, more and more money, assets.

Want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want. They’ll do anything they can to get it.

March 12, 2008 @ 10:36 am | Comment

@youguys

Not to cherrypick (mainly cuz you have good points), but I thought to note what they could do:

Suicide bombing is despicable but how else can those whose homes and people are bullied and killed daily by well equipped Goliaths?

Simple non-violent sit-down protests just like what was done in India with Gandhi and the US with MLK Jr. It works quite well against democracies as cracking down on unarmed people who have not caused any trouble creates large backlashes against the respective government. If the Palestineans were truly ready to make compromises and not use violence, they would have achieved many of their goals more than a couple decades ago.

March 12, 2008 @ 10:44 am | Comment

Simple non-violent sit-down protests

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Like Rachel Corrie?

March 12, 2008 @ 11:00 am | Comment

@youguys,

Excellent comments. I agree with you that seeing China from both the “inside” and “outside” perspective is both interesting and disappointing… the level of mutual understanding, the level of ignorance that you see really explains why war, conflict, and hatred will define human interactions for centuries to come. What’s happening in Kosovo, Iraq, Turkey, India will continue to happen year after year after year.

And in fairness… while there are many American ex-pats who’re never able to walk away from their world-view and understand China, there are many who can. And there are probably equal number of Chinese living in the US or Europe who will never make an effort to understand the US or Europe.

For that matter, there are many Chinese who love the United States, and don’t understand it. I’ve talked to many Chinese who’re absolutely outraged that China has a progressive income tax, and that Beijing government is considering a property tax. They tell me, with great certainty, that no democracy would *ever* allow that.

I think the truth is, there are far too many people out there who “know” the truth, and not nearly enough with the interest or ability to discover it. I’m not looking to claim superiority here… it’s very possible I remain very far from the truth. But I do take pride in drawing conclusions from observations, and not the other way around.

March 12, 2008 @ 11:26 am | Comment

@Mor,

I’ve already posted about my personal experience with China’s economic development. I’m a little weary of repeating myself.

I will just say that as someone who can personally compare the changes in China between 1976 and 2006… you literally don’t know shit. The changes in standard of living which have happened in China over the last 3 decades are unbelievable.

You complain about being refused treatment? I think that’s outrageous too. But at least now I know there *is* basic treatment for the vast majority of society. My older sister died of pneumonia at the age of 2, during the last years of the cultural revolution, because the local hospital lacked antibiotics. At least anyone within the top 99% of Chinese society doesn’t have to worry about that, today. And I look forward to the day when all 100% of Chinese society don’t have to worry about that, either.

As far as getting into Shenzhen… I don’t know when the last time *you* were in the SEZ, but I own a home there, I’m there every year, and domestic border controls are gone. Period.

March 12, 2008 @ 11:38 am | Comment

you literally don’t know shit. The changes in standard of living which have happened in China over the last 3 decades are unbelievable.

Oh oh oh, but you don’t believe in vegan intersexed lesbian panda rights!!!

March 12, 2008 @ 11:42 am | Comment

@Demerzel

Thanks for bringing that up. Years ago as a young girl barely out of junior high, I remember screaming at my male classmates who were always taunting my friend, to learn from Gandhi. The top student in my class laughed at me and said, “And for what? Bring upon ourselves the ill fate of Gandhi, JFK, MLK, Malcolm X, and John Lennon? Never forget, it is those who have the gold & firepower that make the rules and rewrite history.” I hated him for years but now I kinda feel he was right. No offense, but I think that romantic era has long expired.

Thank you Ferin:

Rachel Corrie Memorial Website
Dedicated to a 23 year old peace activist who was killed on March 16, 2003 when she was crushed by a bulldozer on the Gaza Strip.
http://www.rachelcorrie.org

March 12, 2008 @ 12:01 pm | Comment

What’s funny is that she followed Demerzel’s advice and sat down. What ivory tower activists love about peaceful protests is the fact that they aren’t the ones under the tank.

It’s just so fucking insidious, goading idealistic youngsters into suicide. Or I could just be paranoid and cynical.

March 12, 2008 @ 12:16 pm | Comment

@Youguys

I think the Palestine/Israel thing is a little more complicated than that. Even Israeli friends of mine have argued furiously (in Hebrew, so had to ask for translation)over the situation with opinons that were amazingly divergent.

Yeah, never got the whole king/queen thing either. Guess it has got something to do with tradition and having a figure head because in the U.K.’s case I don’t think the queen has much power anymore.

March 12, 2008 @ 12:28 pm | Comment

What more or less has happened in Israel/Palestine is that two groups that hate eachother are continuing their conflict. While the land of Israel was first Jewish, Britain and America have used it to assert influence in the area.

That’s that.

March 12, 2008 @ 12:37 pm | Comment

March 11, 2008
THE CHINA SYNDROME: POISON PIG HEPARIN IS JUST AN EARLY WARNING
As Published On
The Human Conspiracy Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog3
The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com
All contents, unless otherwise indicated are
Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Jay B. Gaskill

Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article
(except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group
discussions is almost always routinely given.]
Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at
law@jaygaskill.com

Print version — http://jaygaskill.com/ChinaSyndrome08.htm

THE CHINA SYNDROME:
POISON PIG HEPARIN IS JUST AN EARLY WARNING

Without any cynicism about progress in the PRC, we can reasonably predict
that the exportation of contaminated products to the US will continue
unless we choose to stop it.
The public record so far:

Contaminated pet food. 2007:
.ht.com/articles/2007/05/17/business/trade.php .

Lead contaminated childrens toys. 2007:
nytimes.com/2007/06/19/business/worldbusiness/19toys.html .

Bio-contaminated blood thinners. 2008:
news.yahoo.com/s/afp/ushealthmedicinechina .

With the exception of some of the toys marketed in the US, none of these
products were sold with the made in China label because 3rd world
ingredients included in products assembled or mixed or processed in the
first world – outsourced because of lower cost – are not routinely
disclosed to our consumers.
This is a case of un-policed contaminant smuggling driven by state
sanctioned communist greed. The sale to the West of contaminated goods by
Chinese manufacturers is a deeply systemic problem that will go unchecked
as long as it continues to reap the expected economic results for the
mainland Chinese government.
Chinas politically totalitarian system typically responds to these
scandals by executing a prominent CEO, then continuing business as usual
with substandard health inspections, falsified records or both.
Why is the problem systemic? Having unleashed state sanctioned market
forces, the communist regime has little incentive (or ability, for that
matter) to police its own capitalists as long as they continue to reap the
foreign hard currency needed to fuel the PRCs capital hungry military
infrastructure.
THE NUCLEAR REMEDY:
UNLEASH AMERICAN TRIAL LAWYERS?

In a perfect world, the errant companies (here Chinese state-owned and
controlled foreign entities pretending to be stand-alone capitalist
businesses) could be sued for damages and brought to heel by the trial
lawyers, just as American manufacturers have.
But this is not a perfect world. Instead, trial lawyers for the victims
can only sue our own companies, the distributors, assemblers and local
pharmaceutical companies that incorporated, used or otherwise sold the
tainted Chinese ingredients — leaving the real culprit, the mainline
communist Chinese government, essentially untouched.
A few executions of a few CEOs will change little in that country. Our
current remedy is a form of legal cannibalism, in effect little victims
suing larger victims.
But we have a unique opportunity to change the dynamic in a dramatic way.
All three of the current presidential candidates are open to taking on the
problem of the China syndrome in a dramatically effective way.
Here is the solution. It would take an act of Congress and a tough
president willing to weather the economic and political firestorm that
would follow. But I promise you there is a solution: It would work like
a magic charm; even the threat of its implementation, if taken seriously,
would produce sincere, palliative changes in Chinese behavior.
WHO WILL BELL THE CAT?

Via appropriate federal legislation, the US could take the following
steps:
First: All Chinese mainland businesses and their subsidiaries would be
legally identified as agents of the Chinese government for all purposes,
and held strictly accountable for all acts and omissions that do any harm
or pose any unacceptable risk to American nationals.
Second: All Chinese assets in the US or elsewhere within the reach of
American jurisprudential jurisdiction, including especially monetary
instruments of indebtedness (like all US Treasury Bills) held directly or
indirectly by the Chinese government shall immediately become subject to
seizure and transfer of ownership by American federal courts to satisfy
any judgment.
In effect that great big Chinese credit card (as Senator Obama has put it)
by which the PRC has funded the US-Sino trade deficit and helped the US to
fund its giant fiscal deficit can be treated as an appropriable asset to
fund contamination lawsuits against Chinese business entities whose
products damage or pose risks to Americans.
Third: Appropriate implementing changes in federal tort claims law,
judgments and collection procedures and related technical changes would be
simultaneously enacted, including the power to freeze Chinese assets to
secure a likely judgment.

Turn loose our trial lawyers on the Chinese government, I say. All we
have to lose is our wimp image on the world commercial stage.
Which of the three U. S. senators running to be POTUS 09 will summon the
courage to propose this modest solution?
JBG

March 12, 2008 @ 2:15 pm | Comment

I definitely do not mean to simplify the Israel/Palestinian conflict, but if people want to look beyond their own self-interests, knowing that what they will do could result in death, but also lead to fundamental changes in society for the better in a democracy (main point on that).

I’m not talking dumbass hippie era style or the more recent idiotic peace activists who go to a rally against the IMF and bring signs advocating the end of MJ prosecutions. I mean true protests that are rallied around a central point, strict focus, all non-violent–that means prohibiting Hamas or Hezbollah from responding violently.

It has worked well against democracies. Is it tough to do? Yes–but if the will is there with the right people, then it can be done. Not by a single person on a lone quest, but by a single person who /leads/ others to follow.

March 12, 2008 @ 2:43 pm | Comment

What more or less has happened in Israel/Palestine is that two groups that hate eachother are continuing their conflict. While the land of Israel was first Jewish, Britain and America have used it to assert influence in the area.

@ferin:

Not at all, what you have is a group of Canaanites (Jews), who took over the land from the Philistines (who the Palestinians try to claim as their ancestors–not true), who were then driven out of the land by Christians essentially, who were then driven out by Muslisms that then staked claim to the region, who then were taken over by the British/French, who were then promised the land to be returned to them, who then split the land between the Palestinians and the resettled Jews.

And only then does it really go downhill…

March 12, 2008 @ 2:47 pm | Comment

Demerzel,

Not to be overly argumentative… I think you make some good points. But I do question the effectiveness of even mass action against democracies.

Let’s take the United States as an example. Probably the most two popular mass movements during the last 3 decades are the mass-protests related to the anti-war movement.

In 1972, after years of a brutal conflict against North Vietnam, after years of constant street protests, a year after protesters were actually shot at Kent State… Richard Nixon beat George McGovern (who ran on an anti-war platform) in a landslide, 60-40.

In 2004, even after years of mass action against the Iraq War, even though 2/3rds of Americans thought the Iraq War was fought under false pretenses… George Bush was re-elected to office.

March 12, 2008 @ 2:58 pm | Comment

@CCT

“In 1972, after years of a brutal conflict against North Vietnam, after years of constant street protests, a year after protesters were actually shot at Kent State… Richard Nixon beat George McGovern (who ran on an anti-war platform) in a landslide, 60-40.”

Not exactly. I guess you don’t recall Watergate (which explained why Nixon won big by eavesdropping) and that the Vietnam conflict was already in its final phase in 1972.

And the Iraq war was just only one year into its phase back in 2004. When the people realized how idiotic Bush was, they handed the Congress to the Democrats in 2006 and the Republicans were routed. Then the heads of Rumsfeld and Bolton rolled, both being the evil geniuses in the Bush Administration.

March 12, 2008 @ 3:53 pm | Comment

@CCT

“In 1972, after years of a brutal conflict against North Vietnam, after years of constant street protests, a year after protesters were actually shot at Kent State… Richard Nixon beat George McGovern (who ran on an anti-war platform) in a landslide, 60-40.”

Not exactly. I guess you don’t recall Watergate (which explained why Nixon won big by eavesdropping) and that the Vietnam conflict was already in its final phase in 1972.

And the Iraq war was just only one year into its phase back in 2004. When the people realized how idiotic Bush was, they handed the Congress to the Democrats in 2006 and the Republicans were routed. Then the heads of Rumsfeld and Bolton rolled, both being the evil geniuses in the Bush Administration.

March 12, 2008 @ 3:56 pm | Comment

SP, thanks for that excellent reality check. CCT simplifies American history, making what at first sound like erudite assessments that, when looked at critically, totally disintegrate.

March 12, 2008 @ 4:54 pm | Comment

@youguys, ferin

the point about Gandhi is that he accomplished his goal (getting the British out) without killing anyone. the point about MLK is that he accomplished his goal (civil rights for African Americans) without killing anyone.

naturally all you can say is they were both assassinated in the end. you only think of their struggle in terms of their own personal gain and not those of others, which says volumes about you. interesting that you are the people on here saying westerners are selfish and only think of themselves.

sad.

March 12, 2008 @ 5:29 pm | Comment

“even though 2/3rds of Americans thought the Iraq War was fought under false pretenses… George Bush was re-elected to office.”

Well said CCT.

@Si,

For an “intelligent” person you sure don’t read too good – I was rebuked by my classmate for believing in Gandhi’s philosophy.

Indeed, MLK, Malcolm X, John Lennon, Ali, and yes, Gandhi are my heroes; they’ve all served to push back imperialism without spilling blood but their own.

“you only think of their struggle in terms of their own personal gain and not those of others, which says volumes about you.”

What’s with your belligerence and self righteous tone? Who died and made you God? You know NOTHING about me. OK, lemme ask you this, What have YOU done for China to earn you your rights to preach about self sacrifice to me and others in our homeland, the land where we are descendants of Chinese intellectuals, artists, doctors, farmers and World war II anti-Japanese soldiers and officers?

@SP,
Vietnam, and Iraq? Too little too late – The old tactic: Don’t ask for Permission, ask for forgiveness later — is how the imperial west get things done. Then they shamelessly remain to “educate” conquered nations and stay long enough to exhaust the natural resources until the costs outweigh the profits. Only then, a raped, contaminated & fractured culture is returned to the rightful owners – all in their own good time.

@Si,
deleted by Richard
@Demerzel

(a) “Even Israeli friends of mine have argued furiously (in Hebrew, so had to ask for translation)over the situation with opinons that were amazingly divergent.”

(b) “then were taken over by the British/French, who were then promised the land to be returned to them, And only then does it really go downhill…”

(a)You are right, Demerzel. Despite forceful protest from Israelis and Jews worldwide, the US/UK backed Israeli government remains hellbent on wiping the Palestinians’ identity and culture off the pages of history.

(b)Yes, it sure did — with Israel having all the nukes & state-of-the-art Weapons of Mass Destruction and the collusive sophistry of the western MSM.

OK, I’m done for the day. I’d better stop here before the Great White “Free speech” Throne descent upon me and lecture me about watching my mouth.

*Roll of eyes* together with the wonderful CCT..haha.

[Note from Richard: youguys, you’ve been pushing the envelope here for weeks. Don’t go too far.]

March 12, 2008 @ 6:40 pm | Comment

OOOpsss…I had meant to delete this : “edited.”

Please forgive me…

Bye..off to Yoga.
Peace.

March 12, 2008 @ 6:56 pm | Comment

@CCT

I’m a little weary of reading about your personal experience. You really have a way of avoiding the points made by others. I’m writing about the water problem in China and you go on about your standard of living. I’m going to spell it out for you once and for all: We all know about the economic boom in the PRC during the last three decades and how it improved the standard of living of the Chinese people, but we also know about the ecological disaster that was caused by the same boom. Maybe you think it’s OK to destroy the natural environment for generations to come in order to boost up our own standard of living for a few decades, but I and many others (especially those who have (grand-)children) happen to disagree. I thank God the economy in my home country is not managed by the CCP.
And believe me, not anybody in China can just hop on a bus and go to Zhuhai or Shenzhen. I know people who’d love to go, if they could afford it.
Face it, CCT, somebody who owns a home in Shenzhen and spends most of his time in America is about as far from being an average Chinese person as I am.

“Over the next 30 years, hopefully we’ll see the same thing with political systems. Hong Kong is certainly going to be one special political zone, and perhaps there will be more. (A reunified Taiwan would certainly qualify.)”

A “political scientist” who writes this nonsense and then tells others that they know shit. You gotta be kidding me!

March 12, 2008 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

The myth of democracies continue… Look, Gandhi and MLK somehow worked only because if they didn’t, the other sides (the British colonists and the white establishment in the US) would have faced some explosive and violent reactions. The other sides looked down the barrel of gun and decided eventually working with Gandhi and MLK offered them the best way out.

March 12, 2008 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

@youguys

my apologies if i came across as self-righteous, though i don’t understand how i came across as belligerent. perhaps my tone was lost in translation.

regarding the student’s comments about mlk and gandhi you said “I kinda feel he was right. No offense, but I think that romantic era has long expired.” sounds to me like you now support that student’s view.

it is true that i don’t know anything about you other than the fact that you appear to support ferin, a guy who has wished cancer on others and has repeatedly expressed his hatred for miscegenation and, by association, white people. despite supporting such racist views, you tell us you hang out with white people. so the only thing i know about you is that you are clearly a racist and a hypocrite. oh, and you are from guangzhou and female. or claim to be. if you don’t like the way people respond to you then you have two options. one is leave, the other is to think about the way you are coming across and change it.

this is just a blog for english speakers who are interested in china. nobody is “preaching” to anyone. you don’t need to be so defensive and insecure. there is no need to get quite so angry. if you don’t like what we have to say, you can start you own blog in whatever language you like.

@richard

“@Si,
deleted by Richard” – i didn’t read the comment before it was deleted. could you tell me roughly what it said?

March 12, 2008 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

@CCT

In 1972, after years of a brutal conflict against North Vietnam, after years of constant street protests, a year after protesters were actually shot at Kent State… Richard Nixon beat George McGovern (who ran on an anti-war platform) in a landslide, 60-40.

In 2004, even after years of mass action against the Iraq War, even though 2/3rds of Americans thought the Iraq War was fought under false pretenses… George Bush was re-elected to office.

In Nixon’s first election campaign, he ran on ending the war–and in fact, slyly did so by creating the concept of Vietnamization–pulling out our troops while the Vietnamese took over.

His second campaign as mentioned above already was through criminal illegalities.

Yes, George W. Bush was re-elected, but there were no real protests against this war (the current ones are not what I deem to be protests when half the crowds are filled with signs about all different kinds of topics).

@ferin

Ironically, it’s quite the opposite when Hamas and Hezbollah demand the removal of the Israelis and into the sea, whereas the Israeli system of government allows for those same Palestinians to vote in the Israeli democracy (which ironically created fears of eventually Palestinian population being so large that it could outvote the Jews leading to the realization that Israel could no longer hold the West Bank / Gaza and still be some kind of democracy).

March 12, 2008 @ 11:04 pm | Comment

In a democracy is the majority who elects the government, not the people in a protest, no matter how many (while they are a minority), no matter how righteous their cause may be.

A protest campaign can nevertheless raise awareness of an issue and have an influence in the elections or government behavior if enough voters are convinced.

Sure, many people in the US were against IRAQ war, but they were either not the majority or decided to vote for Bush anyway.

But if in a democracy the majority is against something, there is no (easy) way to stop it. No matter how much the reality could be manipulated by politicians.

One word about Vietnam. In the end the pressure to end the war was high enough to change the mind of the government. The US eventually retired. Opportunity that North Vietnam used to “reunite” the country.
Knowing the history of Vietnam after the war, that that reunification was the best for the country remains an open question. Remember the boat people? Cambodia war? Economy Stagnation? Intellectuals and professor whose live was ruined because they were “enemies of the people”? etc, etc.

On the other hand. If the US were an authoritarian country, I doubt that the media could freely air the devastation of the war, raising public awareness against it. Authoritarian countries do have an advantage here.
Body count does not count….

Do we have such a free media in China, for example?

March 13, 2008 @ 1:48 am | Comment

@mor,

“We all know about the economic boom in the PRC during the last three decades and how it improved the standard of living of the Chinese people, but we also know about the ecological disaster that was caused by the same boom.”

And as I said in my post to richard, the above is a human development problem, not a China problem.

Is there any way for any human being in any poor country on this planet to aspire to a heated home, appliances, take-out food… without degrading the environment? Other than keeping 3 billion people in mud huts in order to preserve the environment, do you have any practical solutions?

You talk about “water”. What about water? What is your specific gripe about water conditions in China? The most practical complaint I’ve heard is that China keeps water utility costs (for agricultural, industrial, and consumer use) far too low. As a result, the Chinese people use too much of it and don’t have the motivation to conserve.

But what’s the solution? Raise rates and deny water from the poor? You already expressed dissatisfaction about denying medical care to the poor. Are you going to be happier when only wealth businesses + urban elites have access to water?

Fundamentally, there are just too many Chinese, and not enough water.

What’s your solution to this problem? How should China create water? Desalination plants? Great idea. Are you offering to pay for it?

I have another proposal. Let’s have the developed West take a few hundred million Chinese immigrants. Not many, just.. say.. 30% of the Chinese population. We’ll send 300 million to North America, and 100 million to Europe. I can say with great confidence that environmental challenges in China will resolved far more quickly.

March 13, 2008 @ 2:20 am | Comment

@Demerzel,

I agree that in democratic countries protests can effect policy. But it’s still striking to me that year after year, time after time… the vocal minority protesting on the streets end up disappointed.

2004, 1972… both striking examples of presidents who roused great dissent from within, but still held on to become two-term presidents. Regardless of Nixon’s willingness to withdraw American troops, he still faced huge street protests (and the killing of unarmed protesters)… and he was going up against a clear anti-war Democrat. Surely you have to admit that Watergate didn’t buy Nixon a 20 point win.

By way of contrast, let’s look at the one-term presidents. George Bush Sr. didn’t engender popular protests, but he presided over an economic decline. Jimmy Carter, similarly, did little to anger “the masses”… but he too presided over an economic decline.

In my opinion, it seems the dominant theme in American politics is that money talks. Do well economically, preserve American interests, and you will likely hold on to your job regardless of how many foreigners are killed overseas. On the other hand, do a poor job economically, and you’ll be out the door like the other “bumbling idiots” before you.

March 13, 2008 @ 2:26 am | Comment

CCT,

My bad on the old article. Check out the one below. My point stands as well now as it would have 16 years ago.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6976084.stm

March 13, 2008 @ 3:14 am | Comment

@Iron Buddha,

Yes, and in the same article you probably read this as well:

But East Asian staff are the most improved – they are now twice as productive as they were 10 years ago

The ILO productivity figure is found by dividing a country’s total output in a year by the number of people employed.

As I said, productivity is not a proper measure of management efficiency. Output is absolutely a function of invested capital. By this standard, Paris Hilton is a far, far more productive worker than anyone else here.

You have to look at specific industries and specific companies for an apple/apple comparison. And everything I said above then applies.

March 13, 2008 @ 3:48 am | Comment

CCT makes a pretty good point. The questions about industrialization, living standards and the environment concern all of humanity, not just the Chinese. China is a ready-made target because of its sheer size and the scale of its efforts (but this is not to say that I don’t think some huge policy mistakes are being made, as have been discussed on earlier threads, such as an emphasis on private car ownership or hasty coal power build-out ).

When you think about it, how can billions ‘escape’ poverty without degrading the environment? Our very understanding of what it means to be wealthy (in a global sense) involves access to and consumption of an unsustainable amount of resources. By our very definition of what it means to be materially rich or poor, I feel like we’ve painted ourselves into a corner environmentally. So we end up with convoluted policy pronouncements and unclear goals, to save the world environmentally but also make sure that evermore people are growing the rate of their resource utilization. No easy answers there, bar some tremendous technological leaps in the next 20-30 years.

And this is what gets me peeved about much of current development discourse that seeks to somehow causally link environmental degradation with poverty. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but it’s not the ‘poor’ of this planet that are tearing through its resources. We chide the ‘ignorant’ African for cutting down a hardwood tropical tree, but we think nothing of flying all the way there and back to tell them not to do it. Besides, that wood is probably on its way to China to be processed, mislabeled and assembled into some junk for an IKEA near you.

And this is why I have returned to live in my own country and work in environmental finance, to affect change in my own society – which although small population-wise, will have a huge impact on the world in terms of mineral resource/energy issues.

I am not a believer in the magic of the environmental Kuznets curve, that is as a country gets wealthier its environmental problems diminish. Apart from the major lack of causal links inherent in this model, it obscures the convenient fact that nations can reduce their environmental problems by exporting their environmental IMPACTS elsewhere (China, for example).

I am thus very wary of those who propose that everyone can simply ‘grow’ out of their environmental problems. I find this do-nothing attitude at the best intellectually lazy, and at the worst hostage to that tenacious “economic growth is the answer, so what’s your problem?” ideology. This is nothing but a lame excuse for inaction, ready-made for lame politicians hostage to the GDP cult.

Casual adherence to this sort of thinking could literally be suicide (there is absolutely no guarantee that what ‘worked’ in the past- industrialization of West in 19th/20th century – can work in the present for China, for example, particularly since a decent chunk of the environmental turmoil in that country is linked to a continued industrial expansion of the West, just not in our own backyards this time).

I think we are going to have to work very hard to affect positive change in this department, and it won’t come easy. I’m trying to do my own small part.

March 13, 2008 @ 4:26 am | Comment

“I thank God the economy in my home country is not managed by the CCP.”

What is your God initial? Does it start with J, B or A?

March 13, 2008 @ 4:43 am | Comment

@CCT

“And as I said in my post to richard, the above is a human development problem, not a China problem.”

Environmental degradation is a global problem, a problem that every country on this planet has to deal with, but it’s an even bigger and more serious problem in the People’s Republic of China than in most other countries. The ecological disaster in the PRC which was caused by the misguided CCP policy of “growth, growth and growth over everything else” and which has already begun to effect the rest of the world is a China problem.

“Is there any way for any human being in any poor country on this planet to aspire to a heated home, appliances, take-out food… without degrading the environment? Other than keeping 3 billion people in mud huts in order to preserve the environment, do you have any practical solutions?”

The age-old argument: you only advocate environmental protection, because you want us to stay poor. Nobody is against development as long as it is sustainable. What is desirable about an economic development that destroys the livelihood of future generations? I thought Chinese people love their kids so much?

“You talk about “water”. What about water? What is your specific gripe about water conditions in China? The most practical complaint I’ve heard is that China keeps water utility costs (for agricultural, industrial, and consumer use) far too low. As a result, the Chinese people use too much of it and don’t have the motivation to conserve.”

Yeah, what about water? What about the fact that water is diverted from already relatively dry areas to Beijing, because there is not enough clean water in the capital?

“But what’s the solution? Raise rates and deny water from the poor? You already expressed dissatisfaction about denying medical care to the poor. Are you going to be happier when only wealth businesses + urban elites have access to water?”

What’s the solution? What about not polluting every single river and lake in the Middle Kingdom?

“Fundamentally, there are just too many Chinese, and not enough water.”

There would be enough water, if it wasn’t polluted on a scale the world has never seen before.

“What’s your solution to this problem? How should China create water? Desalination plants? Great idea. Are you offering to pay for it?”

Wait a minute! With all their foreign currency reserves and all the money the still receive in so-called development aid every year, you are telling me, the CCP doesn’t have the financial funds to clean up the mess they themselves created?

“I have another proposal. Let’s have the developed West take a few hundred million Chinese immigrants. Not many, just.. say.. 30% of the Chinese population. We’ll send 300 million to North America, and 100 million to Europe. I can say with great confidence that environmental challenges in China will resolved far more quickly.”

So that even more people like Ferin and Jinhan can enjoy the benefits of a free society and show their gratitude with nasty comments on the Internet.

March 13, 2008 @ 4:56 am | Comment

@PB,

Very nice comments, and I say that not only because you complimented my post.

I think your global perspective is a very balanced look at what’s happening globally. I don’t think anyone can deny that mankind’s effect on the planet as a whole is indeed reaching crisis stage, and China’s ascension represents another step closer to the possible cliff.

Clearly, China has to be part of the solution. Without China (and the rest of the developing world) involved in environmental awareness, any improvements in the developed West would be meaningless.

However, the developed West absolutely has to be part of the solution as well. The richer nations are the ones with the physical ability and moral responsibility to pay a progressively higher rate to sponsor the effort to find technical solutions.

Just by way of crude example… the United States *could* eliminate fossil fuels from automobiles over the next decade, and embrace the hydrogen economy. Doing so might provide for the huge economy of scale which would eventually make fuel-cell cars economically affordable for the developing world.

Will American voters support this burden? Are American consumers ready to triple the amount they pay for an automobile? Are American petroleum companies ready to surrender their dominant position? Does the political will exist to do so?

China needs to do what it can, as well. I agree with you that growth in and of itself is not a solution; the point has already been made by many that the world simply can not sustain a China that looks like the United States, but five times larger.

But growth is critical, because real solutions cost money. Water treatment plants cost money. Cleaner burning coal plants cost money. Desalination plants cost money. If some rural county turns away a paper-making plant because of the runoff… what then? How do people eat? How do people pay for the medical care that mor cares so greatly about? Growth can not be sacrificed cheaply; there is a difficult balancing act here.

Let me throw one example out there. Many anecdotal reports I’ve heard say that in many areas of rural China, forests have grown back at a tremendous rate, as rural China itself reforms. Some have moved to cities, and others can afford alternate forms of energy for cooking/heating, beyond firewood. But even this small progress wouldn’t have been possible without money and economic development.

The Chinese government has a mixed record here, but it’s clearly aware of environmental considerations. The huge amount invested on nuclear power and hydro power in China reflects this awareness. China has also invested billions on cleaner-burning natural gas, through central Asian pipelines + LNG ports for Australian shipments.

Consistently, polls have shown that the Chinese public now place environmental damage very high on the damage list. (It was in my top 10 list of public gripes, after all.)

By the way, you mention cheap coal-based generating plants. These do need to be replaced, but it will be a gradual process. And I genuinely don’t even know what the “environmentalist” recommended solution for China is, as an alternative to coal power. Are Western environmentalists ready to compromise on nuclear? Is it hydro? Natural gas? What are the practical solutions?

March 13, 2008 @ 5:18 am | Comment

@mor,

I know it’s clear that you belong to the peanut gallery crowd, and your contributions are limited to throwing things at people trying to solve actual problems. As such, not sure what the point of engaging you in conversations like this is…

But I’ll take a shot:

“Wait a minute! With all their foreign currency reserves and all the money the still receive in so-called development aid every year, you are telling me, the CCP doesn’t have the financial funds to clean up the mess they themselves created?”

China has a foreign currency reserve is estimated to be ~$1.2 trillion. With a population of 1.3 billion, this translates into less than $1000 for each individual Chinese. What do you suppose the average Chinese can do with $1000? How much improvement in working conditions does that buy? How much in water-processing equipment does that buy?

There would be enough water, if it wasn’t polluted on a scale the world has never seen before.

Your ignorance, apparently, knows no bounds.

According to the World Bank forecast, Mainland China has only a per-capita share of 2700 cubic meters per annum, one fourth of the world’s average.

Looks like my goal of allowing 1/4 of my countrymen to emigrate isn’t enough. If you cared about preserving the environment and the interests of your fellow man, you should really support my campaign to help 800 million Chinese to emigrate to the developed West. That way, we’ll finally be at parity on a per-capita basis.

400 million Chinese to the United States, and 400 million to Europe sound about right to you? I look forward to asserting our democratic rights in our new homes.

March 13, 2008 @ 6:02 am | Comment

“naturally all you can say is they were both assassinated in the end”

Actually Gandhi was talking to Ho Chi Minh I believe, and he said peaceful protest wouldn’t work against the French.

March 13, 2008 @ 6:41 am | Comment

Wonderful wonderful comments by PB: “since a decent chunk of the environmental turmoil in that country is linked to a continued industrial expansion of the West, just not in our own backyards this time)….the convenient fact that nations can reduce their environmental problems by exporting their environmental IMPACTS elsewhere [to]China, for example.” and of cause the excellent CCT. “Peanut Gallery crowd,” Ha ha.

Bravo.

Peace

March 13, 2008 @ 8:57 am | Comment

@CCT

I agree that in democratic countries protests can effect policy. But it’s still striking to me that year after year, time after time… the vocal minority protesting on the streets end up disappointed.

2004, 1972… both striking examples of presidents who roused great dissent from within, but still held on to become two-term presidents. Regardless of Nixon’s willingness to withdraw American troops, he still faced huge street protests (and the killing of unarmed protesters)… and he was going up against a clear anti-war Democrat. Surely you have to admit that Watergate didn’t buy Nixon a 20 point win.

By way of contrast, let’s look at the one-term presidents. George Bush Sr. didn’t engender popular protests, but he presided over an economic decline. Jimmy Carter, similarly, did little to anger “the masses”… but he too presided over an economic decline.

In my opinion, it seems the dominant theme in American politics is that money talks. Do well economically, preserve American interests, and you will likely hold on to your job regardless of how many foreigners are killed overseas. On the other hand, do a poor job economically, and you’ll be out the door like the other “bumbling idiots” before you.

I wholeheartedly agree that economics plays a far larger part in how people elect their leaders than any other factor, with the exception of probably national security issues.

To me, 2004 protests were not protests in any sense of the word–these ‘protests’ were primarily consisting of people who consistently protest anything and everything with on any issue without a clear focus as in the 1970s.

W. Bush presided over economic declines as well, but national security issues changed the dynamics so much that he was able to ride on that issue against an opponent who never stood for anything concrete.

As for Nixon’s winning margin–not sure how much of a difference it would make, but you may be right in how it can affect policies, but not elections.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, was forced out do to his ineptitude with the Iran hostages combined with economic stagflation, so I would play those two together rather than just a purely economic issue there.

March 13, 2008 @ 11:42 am | Comment

Richard, the U.S. public sector has a whole bunch of “do as told” middle managers who have been ever sinking into a continuously new low with their factional politics and keeping the status quo. Their leaders are either ousted during their terms by the vindictive mediocrity machine, or are themselves the expert of such game. I wish this can be entirely blamed upon China, but alas, increasingly cynicism and self-indulgence have gotten to many Americans/Westerners. China may or may not simply play an insignificant role in exacerbating it.
Richard, I think you over-estimate the “independent thinking” of the current word outside China. The paradox is in fact that there is a mass class of identical “independent thoughts” that are loud and assertive but offer little new. This is the strange mass mediocrity that thinks it’s “critically independent” when the fact is, they critique and think in similar ways heavily influenced and manipulated by modern corporate media.
I don’t care to argue whether China’s “standard” is lower than else where and remains statically so now and in the future. However, I know that when “Western” standard drops or stagnates it has been at large because of its own will.

March 13, 2008 @ 12:47 pm | Comment

@ Ferin
used to be slaves and land, now it’s market share, prestige, converts, more and more money, assets. Want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want. They’ll do anything they can to get it.”

I love this saying by a wonderful Scotsman, a great British politician and anti-war hero: “Most believe in the prophets – peace be to all while Bush and Blair believe in the Profits and how to get a piece of it.”
If you care to know “THE TRUTH” re: Middle East Israel/Palestine history & Issues listen to the Mother of all Talk shows …. The fastest growing radio talk show on earth – Has a huge following worldwide and it’s popularity in American is exploding…soon to be syndicated.

http://www.georgegalloway.com/page.php?page=content/tsarchive.html

March 13, 2008 @ 12:48 pm | Comment

Jason, it’s pretty obvious you’ve never been a manager in China. The Chinese CEOs are the first to admit there is a problem with decision making and problem solving among their local middle managers. It is no accident they brought in so many middle and upper-middle managers from Hong Kong and Taiwan starting in the mid/late-80s. This has nothing to do with intelligence. It has to do with rote learning, with the perception of authority, and most of all with face, the great curse that keeps so many people down, that keeps them from taking the risks that are needed to “think outside the box.” The Chinese senior managers I know are the very first to admit this is a big problem for them. Working here on the ground, I have to deal with it every day. Like much else, it’s improving slowly.

March 13, 2008 @ 1:04 pm | Comment

@youguys

i love gorgeous george too! here he is on british tv:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ButQKpZ3uzg

@ferin

“Actually Gandhi was talking to Ho Chi Minh I believe, and he said peaceful protest wouldn’t work against the French.” who is “he” gandhi or ho chi minh? peaceful protest wouldn’t work against the french? but would against the british? why is that do you think? interesting…….

March 13, 2008 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

Yeah, Si, I saw that last year – it was so funny – the guy is so full of energy!

In another debate, he destroyed Christopher Hitchens: Galloway made me laugh so hard with: “Hitchens is probably the only slug I know who had turned from a butterfly back into a caterpillar.”

Here’s Galloway goes to Washington and owned the US Senate: “This is the mother of all smoke screens..”What a powerful speaker:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkxkOgQbNRI&feature=related

March 13, 2008 @ 5:49 pm | Comment

To those talking about western management…did u ever read a comic named ‘Dilbert’?

March 14, 2008 @ 12:37 am | Comment

“I know it’s clear that you belong to the peanut gallery crowd, and your contributions are limited to throwing things at people trying to solve actual problems. As such, not sure what the point of engaging you in conversations like this is…

But I’ll take a shot:”

Thank thee, CCT, great “political scientist”. that you lower yourself to the point of responding to a humble commoner like myself.

“China has a foreign currency reserve is estimated to be ~$1.2 trillion. With a population of 1.3 billion, this translates into less than $1000 for each individual Chinese. What do you suppose the average Chinese can do with $1000? How much improvement in working conditions does that buy? How much in water-processing equipment does that buy?”

Yeah, China is so poor! China actually is a unique case. It’s the only poor developing country that can afford to host the Olympic Games, have it’s own space program, give development aid to other countries like Zimbabwe, but unfortunately can’t afford to provide it’s own citizens with a functioning health care system, or drinking water for that matter.

“Your ignorance, apparently, knows no bounds.”

You are right, I’m so ignorant, while you are so smart. You have your green card for evil America and whenever you go back to China, you have your flat in Shenzhen, while stupid people like us have to stay in in places drained for the Beijing Olympics.

“According to the World Bank forecast, Mainland China has only a per-capita share of 2700 cubic meters per annum, one fourth of the world’s average.”

That’s very interesting! First you ask me what my “specific gripe about water conditions in China” is and then you point out that China doesn’t have enough water. That was my point in the first place. I don’t know which university you went to in the States, but they certainly don’t teach rhetorics.

“Looks like my goal of allowing 1/4 of my countrymen to emigrate isn’t enough. If you cared about preserving the environment and the interests of your fellow man, you should really support my campaign to help 800 million Chinese to emigrate to the developed West. That way, we’ll finally be at parity on a per-capita basis.”

After all the money we’ve given and still are giving to the future No. 1 world power, after all the “technological transfer” through pirating, after all the Chinese students who received free-of-charge education in our universities, so they can go back to China and help their motherland copy our technologies, you expect us to welcome more of your kind, so you can slander us the way Ferin, Jinhan and others do.

“400 million Chinese to the United States, and 400 million to Europe sound about right to you? I look forward to asserting our democratic rights in our new homes.”

Hu Jia is certainly welcome, if the CCP allows him and his family to go. You are already here (and you are welcome as well, in spite of your rants).

March 14, 2008 @ 11:55 am | Comment

you expect us to welcome more of your kind, so you can
That’s it ferin. You’re out

March 14, 2008 @ 1:05 pm | Comment

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