Was Democracy Just A Moment?

This is the title of a 1997(!) Atlantic piece by Robert Kaplan, the foreign correspondent and advisor to various elements of US defense and foreign affairs institutions.   I have long recommended the piece as a warning against American complacency about the health of our own democracy, and the futility of promoting democracy in places without the cultural means to sustain it - Russia and China being  prime examples.  Again, strongly recommended -

Robert Kaplan.  Was Democracy Just A Moment?  Atlantic Magazine, December, 1997.

The global triumph of democracy was to be the glorious climax of the American Century. But democracy may not be the system that will best serve the world—or even the one that will prevail in places that now consider themselves bastions of freedom.

This is the executive summary of a report prepared by students in my Modern Chinese Economic History course in spring 2014.

At that time, every Chinese university was competing to admit foreign students, mostly from Africa and the middle east.  University programs got put together on very short timeframes, with no training for staff and procedures more or less made up on the spot.  The pawns in this process were the foreign students themselves, who often arrived unprepared for college work, unfamiliar with China, lacking any Chinese language, their first time out of the home country, and certainly unprepared for Chinese university norms.   This work was an attempt to bring some efficacy, functionality (rather than efficiency) to the international student program.  Although this report is from 2014, there is no doubt that international programs in China still require upgrading to bring them to a minimal acceptable standard of responsiveness and care.

 Any student looking to attend school in China should read this, at least to get the jist of the boots-on-the-ground feel among foreign students.  This is not to say, do not attend school in China.  But forewarned is forearmed.   The full report is available by emailing me. 

This is the executive summary of a group research project conducted by students in my Modern Chinese Economic History course in spring of 2014.

This work could only have been conducted under my direction - no Chinese faculty member would dare to investigate the rampant cheating in the civil engineering department.   In addition to the widespread academic dishonesty, the investigation found that there seems to be no civil engineering program in China - with the possible exception of a program at Tsinghua - that meets international accreditation standards - meaning that no graduate from a school in China will be eligible to take the PE exam for most countries without significant additional training or experience. 

The full report is available.  Contact me if interested.

Intimidation Knows No Boundaries

This direct threat to a New Zealand academic - her office and home invaded -  is part of the intimidation pattern – transition from hard power to soft power to sharp power.  CCP is always watching.  In this case, Anne Marie Brady has studied Chinese politics, and recently wrote a report describing Chinese government infiltration in New Zealand politics, education, and media.

Zhejiang University of Science and  Technology       Hangzhou

Note to Foreign Students, late 2014

Before you came to China, you were aware of censorship by the Chinese government.   You likely knew that Youtube,  Twitter,  Facebook, and some blog site hosts – blogspot, among others – were blocked by the Chinese government.    You understand that the CCP is so desperately afraid of the Chinese people that it cannot tolerate information from the outside – or inside - that is too “dangerous” to Party longevity.

In 2012, both the New York Times and any news sites operated by Bloomberg were blocked by the Chinese government, in retaliation for reporting on the fabulous family wealth of wen jiabao and xi jinping.    All of their sites are still blocked, including economic information and opinion from Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize winning economist.

Hospital Rules                                Summer and Fall, 2012

 

(reader note - this is a bit long, but has some details about hospital care.  Forewarned is forearmed)

 

A while ago, I wrote about mysteries of the parking lot market in Hangzhou. 

There are procedural mysteries everywhere in China.    Systems that are clearly not care-full of the needs of customers, but at the same time, seem not to be in the interests of the provider.   Hospital operations are another good example.   Take the Zhejiang Pregnant Women’s Hospital, one of the AAA rated hospitals in China.   Or the Hangzhou No. 1 Hospital, across the street from the Pregnant Women’s Hospital, another AAA facility.   Or, I surmise, most any hospital in China.   The systems, both physical and procedural, seem chaotic, redundant, and stupid, for every human inside the building.

It is supposed to be a sophisticated management insight that systems try to optimize.   Something.   Maybe not customer satisfaction, but maybe management benefits, or leader salaries, or bureaucratic time.   Profits.  Maybe it is hard to see what is being maximized or minimized, but by default, something must be. 

Hospital Rules has two meanings here - the procedures and requirements that any organization must impose to maintain order; and the peculiar implementation of rules in hospitals in China for which the only discernible purpose is to grind the customers into submission.   The administrative system - the Rules - uber alles. 

Source: my Experience at a Chinese Hospital  http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2014-04/23/content_17455961_2.htm

 

News Comments

  • Huawei - Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas

    Huawei - Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas

    You know the meme – when you work with bad guys, you should expect to be labeled a bad guy. I mean no disrespect to the thousands of Chinese companies doing business across the world that manage to be profitable without intimate Chinese government relations.  But in our globalized, internet era, it is impossible for a high tech company, particularly one as fundamentally important to internet networks, to not be tarnished with the specter of theft of intellectual property and CCP internet control and monitoring of Chinese businesspeople, students, even foreigners.

    Probably no one outside a small group of analysts has the actual evidence of real dirt on Huawei.  But that is the risk of being a national champion in China.  If the government is promoting you, then there must be a government interest in promoting you, beyond just “go team.”  This is simply Chinese practical reasoning.

    But it seems that lying down with dogs is more than just a saying here.  In his extraordinary Sinocism news blog, Bill Bishop continues the Huawei stories.  From the February 9 edition, with no repetition in the stories (all should be clickable) -

    Read more ...  
  • Shuang yin Win-Win

    Shuang yin  Win-Win    February, 2019

    Now that a crash-out Brexit seems all but assured, where will Britain turn for trade deals?  The kind of relationship that the British government wanted – like that of Canada or Norway with the EU – takes years to negotiate, under favorable circumstances.  There has been discussion for more than ten years that the special relationship between the US and Britain - forged from the mid-19th century and cemented between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill in World War II – is no longer so compelling.  The EU without Britain is still a huge and attractive market for US trade in both directions.

    As of March 29, 2019 – in a bit more than a month - there will be hundreds of treaties and agreements to negotiate, suddenly, quickly, and in great detail.  Some agreements will probably get done – ability of British truck drivers to deliver goods through the Chunnel into EU turf, and ability of airplanes to take off from Heathrow bound for destinations in Europe using parts and crew that, without certification by the EU, would be not allowed.

    But where can Britain turn for trade deals, quickly, without years of complicated negotiations?  What large trading partner is willing to set aside the details of complex agreements when mercantile interests, not to mention future geopolitical support, are at stake?  What large trading partner can act quickly, based on personal leadership from a president or prime minister or general secretary?

    In October, 2015, a few months before the Brexit vote, Xi Jinping demonstrated his prescience –

    "The UK has stated that it will be the Western country that is most open to China," Xi told Reuters ahead of his first visit to the country as president.

    "This is a visionary and strategic choice that fully meets Britain's own long-term interest."

    UK Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking on CCTV, China's state broadcaster, said the visit would mark a "golden era" in the two countries' relationship.

     

    Read more ...  
  • Update on Peking U Ideological Battle

    Update on Peking U Ideological Battle    January, 2019

    In a recent post, The Ideology of Occupation, I described an ideological struggle being played out last month at Peking University, the combined Harvard-Yale of China.   Now, a followup on what has happened to the "Old Marxist" students who questioned the manner in which CCP has been providing leadership of the proletariat.  Spoiler - they are in jail.

    Read more ...  

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