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China’s Shortsightedness

January 28, 2010

Google had threatened to leave China. No matter what might have triggered the move, one thing is for sure: It is not happy in China. Then came this from James McGregor, consider it a warning shot Zhongnanhai, the foreign business community has quite a few grievances:

“The litany includes purposefully inconsistent and nontransparent enforcement of regulations, rampant intellectual-property theft, state penetration of multinationals through union and Communist Party organizations, blatant market impediments through rigged product standards and testing, politicized courts and agencies that almost always favor local companies, creative and selective enforcement of WTO requirements”

One can argue that with China getting more developed than 20 years ago and the Chinese government and consumers at large becoming more sophisticated, foreign businesses will naturally face tougher times. The Chinese government rolled back some of the preferential policies (such as tax credit) which initially aimed at attracting foreign investment (after all it is only fair that both foreign and Chinese companies are subject to the same rules). And China doesn’t want to forever be the factory floor of the world where cheap, labor-intensive products are produced, it wants to move up the value chain like Japan and South Korea did. You can’t blame the Chinese government for being more picky nowadays as they tend to be less enthusiastic about those projects that bring little value (meaning the same labor-intensive and polluting operations). At the same time labor laws were enacted and better enforced than before, to the chagrin of many foreign businesses. Last but not least, Chinese industries and companies have gone a long way with help from experience gained and technologies transferred from joint venture operations and incentives from the Chinese government to become more competitive, some of which are increasingly giving foreign businesses a run for their money these days.

That said, China needs to listen to the grievances of the foreign business community and continue to embrace them. China needs them more than they need China. Among all China needs their technologies, know-hows and expertise to continue its journey to leap forward from the factory floor of the world to the brain of the world. The Chinese government and business community must not be complacent, they have a long way to go. The last thing they want is to see foreign businesses leaving China in droves to places like India, Vietnam, Brazil and Mexico (actually I don’t mind seeing some of them moving to Kaesong and Rason). China must not lose sight of what its priorities are and become short-sighted.

Speaking of China’s shortsightedness, no example showcases it better than China’s meager showing and the lack of strategic planning with regard to helping the Haitians who have been devastated by the earthquake. Sure China has no formal diplomatic ties with the poor island nation  (Taiwan Province of the ROC does). Sure China is not the United States, the lone superpower who has been heavily involved in Haitian nation-building and development since it gained independence from the French. But come on, a mere $1 million plus relief supplies and a quake search and rescue team? That’s it? Meanwhile South Korea pledged $12 million and they are mulling sending their quasi-aircraft carrier, the 14,000-ton Dokdo amphibious landing vessel to Haiti. It is said that the Chinese are forward-looking people. I don’t know any more.

Namchosun's dangerous war toy

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그룹 you say?

January 28, 2010

It is said that the DPRK is very serious about preserving and purifying the Korean language. And I have always been under the impression that Korean language used in the DPRK has minimal English loan words and quite a few Russian ones rather. I was amazed when I saw this photo, taken from the KCTV showing Park Chol-su, a Chinese josunjok appointed by the DPRK government to head the Taepung International Investment Group, speaking under a banner that reads “조선태풍국제투자그룹리사회 제1차회의” (Korean Taepung International Investment Group First Board Meeting). I was quite surprised to see that they use “그룹” (geurub, “group”) in the DPRK! What would the Great Leader say about this?

Would the Great Leader have approved?

Hypocrisy with Google characteristics

January 28, 2010

Now Google has painted itself into a corner in China with generous help from the US government. Earlier hopes for negotiations between Google and the Chinese government to find a middle ground are all but vaporized, with the US government publicly demanding China to back down. Google wanted the world to think the whole thing is about its unwavering principle “don’t be evil”, Google wanted to be seen as a champion of freedom, democracy, transparency and human rights (exactly what the US government thinks it stands for); however Google failed to realize that the world is not just a bunch of 4-year-olds who don’t know what “hypocrisy” means. From Google CEO Eric Schmidt:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,”

“If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines – including Google – do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”

I guess if the Chinese government was really behind hacking into the e-mail accounts of those so-called “human rights activists”, they should simply have done what the US government would have done – demanding Google to turn over the information to the authorities and Google would have happily obliged. Ahh, the stupid Chinese government again!!

Anyway, here is a must-read analysis on this fiasco. India won again. 🙂

안녕, Google!

January 14, 2010

Google shocked everyone by announcing that it is considering shutting down Google.cn, its offices in China and exiting the Chinese market, alleging that there was an cyber-attack originated from China targeting its intellectual property and the e-mail accounts of several Chinese human rights activists in December. According to David Drummond, Google’s Chief Legal Officer, Google is no longer willing to censor results on Google.cn, it will only continue its operations in China if the Chinese authorities agree to allow Google to “operate an unfiltered search engine within the law”.  Sounds like a blatant threat to the Chinese authorities: Do it our way or we are outta here.  Little did we know that Google is a freedom crusader! Hail! Hail!

I am torn on this one. While I think the GFW sucks to no end and I applaud Google’s courage to stick it up to the Chinese government to demand uncensored information, I would have been more impressed and heartened if Google had actually meant it: No uncensored information no way! This is not about censorship itself, nor is it about human rights which Google gives a scheisser about; it is really about Google’s standings in the Chinese market and its business prospect in China. It is trailing Baidu.com by some 15 to 40 percent, its market share-grabbing and revenue-generating business model which has worked very well elsewhere has so far been very disappointing in China: Google China brought in only $210 million in 2008, a mere 1% of Google’s worldwide revenue that year.  The Chinese government’s blocking of sites such as Youtube.com has seriously dampened Google’s earning potentials in China. No wonder the upper echelon at Google are frustrated and upset. This latest development is a calculated business move, it is an act of desperation rather than a showing of moral integrity. Make no mistake, Google is not in China to make friends, they are here to make money and perhaps along the way helping the US government influence the Chinese.

Yes you heard me right. I don’t like a bit about the fact that Google is closely coordinating its moves with the US government and my hunch is that the US government is somewhat behind this latest development. It is not surprising at all if this turns out to be correct, after all the US government has sought to influence China for decades to steer it toward becoming more pro-American and pro-Western (think of South Korea, folks). What better tool to influence and infiltrate China than the Internet, invented by the Americans and a vehicle of American values? Hillary Clinton issued a brief statement and is demanding the Chinese government for an explanation. I don’t know about you, for me this is the first time I am seeing the US government acting on behalf of a corporation as if Obama and Hillary Co. are sitting on Google’s board of directors. Silly me of course, the US is capitalist and capitalism is all about making a profit and everything else evolves around it, right?

My hunch is that the Chinese government will not budge, consider that they are now being pressured by the same US government which has provoked them recently with a concerted effort to send a message that “we are still No.1”.  If the US wants to play tough the Chinese can certainly play tough (however so far the Chinese have been all bark and no bite and no wonder nobody takes them seriously).  My second hunch is that Google will not just shut it all down and exit China entirely.  But if they do, I will be sorely bidding them farewell and genuinely having the greatest respect for them. For once principle triumphs over money. We shall see.

Bai Bai Google?

Once again some people should just shut up and grow up!

January 14, 2010

(1) Some Chinese netizens lashed out at Zhang Lei, a Yale business school grad and the founder/managing partner of Hillhouse Capital Management for donating over $8 million USD to his alma mater. They were upset that Zhang, a Chinese citizen and a graduate of Beijing’s renowned Renmin University, did not give the money to RenDa or a Chinese institution where $8 million will go a long way.  Some even went as far as to call him a “traitor”. Come on, have some senses people! It is his money and he can and should totally spend it as he wishes. He did not sell out Chinese interests (how can an individual not affiliated with the government ever be called a “traitor/sell-out” is completely beyond me).  What does he have to sell? Gosh. Shut up and grow up please!

(2) Danny Ayalon, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister summoned the Turkish ambassador to protest a Turkish TV show that allegedly depicts Israeli agents kidnapping babies and shooting elderly civilians. Not to mention the act itself is so pathetic (Come on, should the Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister summon the American ambassador to protest the thriller TV show “24” which painted Chinese diplomats and the Chinese government at large as a bunch of mafia-like assholes?), to make things worse Ayalon ignored all diplomatic protocols and etiquette, he refused the Turkish ambassador a handshake and had the man sit on a sofa lower than his and he was childish enough to proudly declare “we just want it to be seen that he is seated below us and that there is only one flag here”. What a jerk.  I agree 100% that Turkey has no right to preach morality to anybody, but what Avalon did was so low, so immature that should simply be condemned. What is funny that the Israelis these days are even more sensitive than the hyper-sensitive Chinese: any criticism toward Israel is somehow labeled as an act of “anti-Semitism”. Yes, you are a Jew-hater! Gosh. Shut up and grow up please!

It is about time the American masters rein in their Israeli sidekicks

唉,可笑的維穩巡邏車

January 11, 2010

今天看到一則消息,說384家企業給烏魯木齊捐助了555輛“社區巡邏、便民服務車”,  說是用來“迅速開展了社區治安巡邏、便民服務車購置、分配和落戶工作,使全市每個社區的維穩裝備得到了極大的加強”,看了不禁啞然。從前年拉薩街頭的騷亂到去年烏魯木齊的維漢暴亂,中國政府一如既往地採取鴕鳥政策,用所謂“一小撮分裂份子”和什麼“三股勢力”來掩蓋民族矛盾日益激化的事實。不知道是政府是真搞不清狀況還是裝傻,這種“維穩巡邏車”有個屁用?它們讓我聯想到日本的右翼民族主義分子宣傳車, 開著高分貝喇叭在街上哇啦哇啦地鼓噪。我想這些“維穩車”估計也會架個大喇叭來號召“大家一切以穩定為重”。穩定是很重要,可是假的穩定,高壓下的穩定早晚會有被打破的那一天。 民族矛盾是客觀事實,政府應當去分析矛盾的緣由和激化的原因,從根本上下手根治。在這方面,政府應該學習毛主席當年組織抗日聯合陣線的那套真理,團結一切可以團結的,鼓勵講真話,尤其是聽取不同意見。像伊力哈木•土赫提這樣的人完全應該團結和耐心聽取其意見和建議,搞555輛“維穩車”,不如請555個想他這樣的溫和派民族知識分子來座談,談談西藏,新疆等地區民族矛盾的化解之道。

這種東西真的很弱智。。。

새해를 축하합니다 ! Have a wonderful 주체 99 년 (2010) everyone!

December 31, 2009

KPA soliders stationing at Panmunjom taking a new year group photo