Adventures with the Venture Communist

It’s no small secret that China is the place to go if you want something made cheap and in mass quantities. I’m on a mission with my boss/CEO of chumby/venture capitalist–now venture communist (that’s him in the photo up there–no photoshopping, I took that photo of him standing underneath the portrait of Mao in Tiananmen square)–to figure out how to make chumbys cheap and on time. I know it’s a lame excuse, but this is why Name That Ware is late this month. I’ll get a new ware up early next week!

What is shocking is what China really is. China is all at once communist, capitalist, rude, and innocent. It’s the fearsome global economic powerhouse, yet shockingly third-world. It’s a people denied religion, yet cities festooned with Christmas decorations. Communism is essentially gone, and in its place has grown the most terrifyingly capitalistic place on Earth: I think they took Deng Xiaoping to the heart when he declared that “to become rich is glorious.” This blog post, and perhaps a couple more beyond it, are devoted to one American hacker’s view of China.

The most remarkable thing about China are its sheer numbers, and how it compares to America. Most of my numbers are based on what the factories there have told me, so maybe they aren’t correct, but it’s what I’m going by. Here are some of the most interesting ones:

Minimum wage In Shenzhen, the minimum wage is about $0.60/hour. However, there is a very competitive labor market in China–there is a shortage of workers and mobility between factories is unimpaired by employment agreements. Therefore, employers must provide a very competitive benefits package for their employees, which typically includes dormitory housing, food, medical care, schooling, and day care; there are no retirement or unemployment benefits. While technically required to pay tax, many minimum wage workers don’t pay any tax because first, they are migrant workers and the government has no way to find them, and second, their contribution to the tax base is minimal anyways, so why go after them? Also, most local officials can be easily bribed out of collecting full tax monies if you are caught. Furthermore, workers have an 8-hour day, 5 days a week, and employers are required to pay 1.5x overtime and 2x on weekends. As far as I can tell, employers honor this. So in the end, these laborers earn a discretionary income of at least $100 per month, or $1200 per year. This is surprisingly comparable to the $2,075/yr discretionary income of US households that earn under $50,000 (link), which is probably the correct reference point for comparing minimum wage workers in both countries. I haven’t even adjusted for the cost of living difference between China and the US–but let’s just say 100 RMB goes a loooong way if you are just buying food, and not to mention the whole copy-culture of China where you can get “Diesel” jeans for just US$10. Also, the finest hotel suites at the Sheraton Four points in FuTian ran us just over US$100, and includes free internet and water. I could barely get a shack of a room at a Holiday Inn in the Bay Area for US$120, and I had to pay US$12 for internet that night too, with US$5 bottles of water on the table next to me.

Also, minimum wage has increased by 30% per year for the past two years. It’s unclear how sustainable this is, but factory owners seem to see more increases down the pipe and 30% per year is a ridiculous CAGR. Compare this to the history of minimum wage in California.

The fully-burdened rate of a worker in China is around $1.80 it seems–this is the rate that the employer pays once all the benefits (free food, housing, medical care, day care, etc.) are factored in. At these wages, laborers are cheaper than pick-and-place machines. In the US, you typically pay between $0.05-$0.25 per component placed on a PCB with a pick and place machine in low volume (100′s to 1000′s). I saw several electronics lines where about ten workers are lined up on a bench, bending and stuffing resistors and transistors into a moderately complex circuit board, and hand-dipping them in a solder bath. They crank out about 100 boards per hour; each employee is stuffing about four components, so 400 components per hour at $1.80/hour is $0.0045 per component. Setup and training for the line I saw took about 2-3 hours. So even if you were to run a few hundred boards, this is a very cheap assembly method indeed, as long as you can keep good quality control over the process.

The amazing part is that the Shenzhen factories were complaining that labor rates were way too high. Apparently, minimum wage for factories in other regions is much less, so they are seeing contracts migrate away from their factories and inland where labor is cheaper. Think about it–Americans complain about work going to Hong Kong, Hong Kongers complain about work going to Shenzhen, Shenzheners complain about work going inland China, and to Vietnam (apparently Vietnam is the new hotness for cheap skilled labor).

Cost of life I don’t know if this is accurate, but I was told that in China, if you accidentally kill someone, you don’t go to jail. You are fined 50,000 RMB to the family (about USD 6,500) of the victim. Every time you kill someone, the fine goes up, until your fourth incident, where you will go to jail or be sentenced to death yourself, unless you pay off an official. It seems that if you intentionally kill someone, you have to face the Chinese criminal justice system, where essentially you are guilty until proven innocent and your default sentence is death or life in jail, and you have to argue with the judge as to why you deserve less. Not a pleasant system, but if you are consigned to this fate, it makes a little more sense why you see Chinese people nonchalantly walking across busy highways or into opposing traffic. If they get killed, at least their family gets the equivalent of about five years’ salary for their death. I know I saw at least one fatal accident while I was in China. Another interesting index is the price of sex. It seems that in a moral vacuum–remember, religion is not allowed in China–the equivalent of a girl coming up to you in the US and asking you to buy her a drink is for a girl to come up to you and asking you to buy her sex. While I was enjoying a beer at the Hard Rock cafe Beijing, several girls propositioned (of course I said no) but they were very forthright about what they wanted from you (1,000 RMB, or US$128) and what they wanted to do to you for that money (“I give you sex, normally 1,500 but for you 1,000! You very good man!…Why you no want me?”). These women seemed to be there of their own free will, as some were just sitting around doing nothing, just checking out guys, and others were aggressively pursuing men. I guess since the people are not allowed to have a religion, sleeping around has no taboo. Since even a human life has a price, I guess propositioning the relatively wealthy foreigners for sex (and the Hard Rock is sure to attract foreigners) is just par for the course. And despite the “higher morals” of the westerners, it seemed that several of the western-looking men there had no problem doing as the Chinese do when in China, and walking out with two or three women in tow.

This phenomon was a telling indicator of the way the winds are blowing on morality. In the absence of religion, what defines morality? On one side is the nuclear sense of morality that all humans are born with, and on the other side there is the fear of punishment by society/government, and in the middle there are the customs and ideals of society. For example, in America, I think morality is perhaps 5% instinctual morality, 80% customs and traditions, and 15% fear of law and loss. Of that 80% of customs and traditions, the bulk of it springs from the teachings found in the Bible and our Christian foundations. I was talking to some of the locals who were familiar with both Chinese and Western cultures, and it seems that in the absence of religion, the moral code is primarily enforced by family: loyalty, family reputation (or disgrace), and social status. In my naive view of the world, I would say it’s a rather Confucian, rather than Christian, ethic. The new China–with its one child per family policy, and massive emigration from villages to cities–has torn apart the fabric of family, thereby destroying the fabric of morality. Since there is no religion to fill the void, there seems to be a re-balancing of morality. In China’s case, I’d say morality is probably 5% instinctual, 20% customs and traditions, and 75% fear of law and loss, with an overall lower bar for morality. It is interesting to observe how this is very similar to how morality evolves in an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer On Line Role Playing Game). Religion has nothing to say about how your Avatar’s life should be conducted (hah! What Would Arthas Do?), and there is little rule of law on the servers. Thus, if one was to take a walk through SecondLife, one would commonly find copious quantities of sex-related items for sale, and presumably there are many people who will also sell you virtual sex for Linden dollars. Maybe this is a stretch, but I think the underlying moral lessons are not too different from the scene I saw in the Hard Rock Cafe Beijing.

Consumate corruption Since life and morality both have a defined market price, it’s easy to see how politicians also have their price too. That’s not such a big surprise–corruption is not an uncommon theme about China–but what was interesting is how commoners flip the script on the politicians. In one instance, I saw a road being built, and in front of it I saw sapling banana trees and rice paddies. These weren’t planted in any agrigultural area–they were just these random fields planted in the path of the road. Why? because if the farmers that own the land plant crops in them, the government has to compensate them for the crops that were destroyed. So once the farmers knew a road was going to be built through a particular area, they immediately cultivated the area, knowing that the crops would be wiped out in a matter of months. In another instance, I saw a section of town where a subway was being planned. Once the subway plans were made public, the residents that would be displaced built extensions to their houses, so they could collect more money from the government as compensation for displacement–again, these extensions would never really be used. It seems that the extensions were being made so cheaply that one of them collapsed recently, and killed a worker; this lead to a government investigation, which then lead to the government demolishing all of the sub-standard construction in the area…presumably once the demolition work is done, there won’t be enough time left to rebuild before the subway takes over the residence so the owner(s) won’t gain from his scheme–and of course, a worker lost his life as collateral to all of this.

Despite the consumate corruption, the government is scarily efficient and accomplishing its most important goals. Beijing is in the process of building an enormous Olympic park. They tear down whole neighborhoods and pave roads over them in a matter of weeks. They are building an 11 or 12-route subway system that promises to rival the subway system in Manhattan for connectivity and completeness. Watching this happen reminds me of how I play Sim City. If you’ve ever played the game, you’ve probably remorselessly bulldozed huge sections of Sim Cities that you messed up the planning on, and improved your city’s long-term productivity through doing that. The Beijing government seems to restructure the city with about the same attitude and efficiency…I can’t help but compare this to the Big Dig that I lived through in Boston, and wonder if one can really say that the US government is less corrupt than China, at least when it comes to urban renewal.

Huge population The Hong Kong area has about 7 million people, and Shenzhen has about 9 million. That’s a lot of people in an area comparable to the size of San Diego county. China has 1.3 billion people, or about 4.3 people for every person in the US. I guess that’s why life is so cheap out there, the market has an over-supply. According to the CIA world factbook, China has an excess of 44 million males in the age range of 0-64 years old; 17 million of them are in ages 0-14 alone. This is thanks to the one child per family policy, which is still in place. The ramifications of this are pretty astounding. 10 million military-aged men without spouses means 10 million men who have no obligations to a family or a loved one. Combined with the indoctrination of life being cheap, I suppose China has a pretty significant base of effective military mass to throw into a ground war. The other interesting question is what do these men resort to for entertainment. I’ve heard that drug use is fairly popular in the younger generations. It’s hard to say if homosexuality is common or not. Walking through Shenzhen, I saw at least five or six young men with their arms around each other. I’m cautious about assuming that means they are gay–some cultures endorse heterosexual male-male hugging and greeting kisses–but then again, you don’t see that much out here, and even the boy-girl couples rarely hold hands or put their arms around each other.

Interestingly, I saw factory floors with thousands of people on it, and the composition is about 95% female. I asked one of the factory owners out here, and he said that the women are the hardest working and most skilled component of China today. When I asked where all the men were, he said they were all either gambling or doing hard labor jobs, like construction and hauling. Looking around, that seemed to be about right–there is enormous amounts of construction in China and even a small construction site seemed to have 30-40 men busily working on it.

History and Direct Control In San Diego, a building is old if it’s aged 50 years. In China, bulidings that are 500 years old seem to be a dime a dozen, and they are being torn down as if the government really believed in that. For example, the Hutongs are a delightfully quaint area of the city. They are named as such because “hutong” is the Mongolian word for “water well”, and the ruling Mongols organized the city by the neighborhoods built around water wells. I learned a lot about Chinese history on my brief tour of the Hutongs–I’ll write about this perhaps in another blog post–but unfortunately much of the Hutongs are being demolished to make way for huge highways and modern buildings. It makes me feel sad to see these go away, but at the same time, next to these 500 year old shacks sits the 500 year old palaces of Emperors. It also seems that some of the Hutongs are being preserved.

The other interesting thing is that land is leased to the people–you can’t own land outright. The standard lease length is 70 years. So in general, buildings are built to be knocked down, and the rate of urban churn is fairly high. Buildings a dozen or so years old are routinely knocked down and replaced, as if they are somewhat expendible. The quality of construction also reflects this assumption.

Another thing that I heard which was fairly interesting is that because the government has so much control over its lands, cell phone service is apparently extremely good in this “third-world” country (infrastructure gets placed exactly where it needs to be, regardless of ownership, history or appearances). You can drive from northern Shenzhen to Shenzhen city (about an hour drive through some very rural and very urban areas) and have perfect voice quality on your call and it never drops. Comparatively, it’s a small miracle when I drive the stretch on I-5 from north county San Diego to central San Diego and I don’t drop a call–and this is Qualcomm’s home city, the city where CDMA was invented! (Okay, okay, I use a GSM phone, but the reason why is because Sprint PCS’ CDMA coverage in San Diego is abysmal compared to Cingular’s GSM).

Lack of civil liberties Of course, this is an issue that the international community harps on all the time. It’s hard to say if people are exaggerating things or not. I think as far as factory conditions go, all the ones I visited were decent and people were of an appropriate age to be working there (I’m sure there are sketchier ones but I also bet they don’t allow foreigners to tour them). Employment seems to be “at-will” by and large–hence the need for extensive benefits packages to lure in workers. As I mentioned earlier, it seems that the effective discretionary income of the average low-end Chinese worker is comparable to that of the US. Also, the currency is undervalued, thus making a direct comparison to the US look worse than it is. However, I did see a group of 30 to 40 policemen about to beat up a group of 3 or 4 women and drag them off to jail. It was unclear what their offense was–they looked like out-of-town travellers; they were wearing some rather fancy tribal outfits that were gilded, and their faces looked rough from sun, and they all carried things on their back. What was clear though is that they were not going to make it to their destination. As our car pulled around them, I could hear–almost feel–the electric snap of the tazer guns discharging in the air. The scene made the Rodney King video look farcical in comparison. I was tempted to take a photo but I realized that would be a bad, bad idea–several of the cops were eyeing my foreigner-filled van as we drove by.

It’s also obvious (to an outsider) that the press is government controlled and biased. The writing style and headlining of the China Daily reminds me a lot of The Onion. I think people in China are generally aware that there is propaganda everywhere, but few are willing to confess that openly. However, the people also vote with their feet: it turns out that the Chinese do not trust any media that looks over-produced. Websites that look too slick are discredited; the preferred source of information is from BBSes, websites that look home-made, and home videos shot with Handycams and shared on the web.

Minimal taxes I alluded to this earlier in this (now much longer than I had intended) post, but it’s worth explicitly pointing this out. The facts I’m quoting are based on conversations in Hong Kong, but I’m assuming they are common in China. The maximum tax rate is 17.5%; it’s less if you make less (minimum wage workers generally can dodge taxes it seems). There are no local taxes, no social security tax, no medicare tax, no sales taxes, no alternative minimum tax. There are no capital gains tax, although you pay a minimal tax (I don’t remember exactly what, but I seem to recall about 0.3%) when you buy a stock. If you know the right guy in the goverment, you can get your tax rate lowered if you bribe the official. Thus, there is almost nothing to limit the rate at which you can acquire personal wealth in China, if you are smart about managing your money. This is in stark contrast in the US where it is virtually impossible to break free of the ranks of the upper-middle class into the true upper-class; you pretty much have to win the lottery or have your company go public (also basically winning the lottery) to get past the enormous tax burdens. Remarkably, the infrastructure in China seems pretty robust, although everything is being privatized, including the schools, and if you’re cynical, the local goverment is effectively privatized thanks to the bribing system. While this low-tax system is creating a widening gap between the upper and the lower classes in China, it seems that there is a relatively high rate of people “living the American dream” in China and breaking free of the lower class and making it big–there is a preponderance of mom and pop shops starting up. I presume if you are a native in China, since land is cheap, labor is cheap, and equipment is cheap (you can buy knock-off industrial equipment at low prices), and foreign demand is high, you can start a company for very little coin. It seems that as long as the economy keeps on booming in China, everyone is happy; minimum wages go up by 30% per year and there are ample opportunities to work your way up to being rich.

In the end, I guess the trillion-dollar question is: will the Chinese economy surpass the US? I think, after being on the ground there and seeing where things are going, the answer is an unequivocal yes. While their current position is beneath the US, the first derivative is positive, the second derivative is also positive. Even if the economy were to start cooling down today (second derivative goes negative), I think they have enough inertia to soundly position themselves above the US for total GDP in about a decade or two. Now, the question is, can they accomplish this growth and remain stable? It’s possible, but I think their leadership needs to be very careful. There is definitely a risk of significant social problems for China in the future that could lead to unrest and destabilization of their economy. At least one opinion I heard has it that China is in for big problems as soon as shortly after the 2008 Olympics. If you drive around Beijing, the government is pushing the Olympics everywhere–there are signs, countdown posters, propaganda of all types. You’d think it was just rampant commercialism until you realize the government is behind it, and then all of a sudden it feels almost like war propaganda and jingoism. It’s effective though–the population seems to be rallying behind it–and I have little doubt that Beijing will produce the most fabulous Olympic villiage every created (I saw a scale model in the Beijing city planning office and it’s…huge…). However, once the Olympics are over, there will be a line of people with their hands out waiting to be compensated for their efforts and sacrifices, and the government might not be able to pay up. Also, the influx of foreign money and exposure to foreign spending habits may raise the awareness of the population about how badly China’s fixed currency policy is hurting the common person. The RMB is sorely undervalued; most people in China don’t realize that because they just haven’t been exposed to the buying power of the dollar in China. Should be interesting to see what happens, but at any rate I need to make sure Chumby has some kind of contingency plan just in case we can’t get chumbys made in China anymore due to political unrest.

[editorial note: please also read my follow-up post to address the fair objections to my framework of discussing morality in the context of religion]

73 Responses to “Adventures with the Venture Communist”

  1. Lewis says:

    an interesting fact about Chinese identity is that it and the “Jewish” identity are the only ones that have survived 2,000 years.

    We studied that in my USC globalization class and it helps explain why the Paarrrty is so freaked by Falun Gong. Any spiritual challenge is the only thing that has any chance to cut through the consumer gold-rush.

  2. [...] I love this: Adventures with the Venture Communist. The Chinese economy is an object of my fascination, and this blog post is far more enlightening than the sloppy BusinessWeek articles one comes across. [...]

  3. almond says:

    I don’t think that the lack of religion = lesser morals in china. I think you would find that if you went to a say a heavily catholic country in Africa and went to hard rock cafe there (if there was one) you would find the same situation.

    I think when you have a period of extreme growth such is being experienced in china these things naturally occur. you can look at Russia in the early 90′s, that had a similar situation with huge corruption and a lot of prostitution esp. in Moscow! Heck you could even go back to the wild west of the USA, with the gold rushes in California and oil in the south to see find similar examples of morals being pushed aside for money/power.

    My wife is Chinese and although there is no official religion my wife’s family values and morals are very strict, I’d compare them to 1950′s style in the UK.

  4. Mark says:

    I would agree with Almond regarding the morals in china in the absence of a state subsidised religion. Religion is not necessary for moral behaviour.

    The writer seems to have taken away some of the same impressions of china and its culture that Said Quttub did of 1950′s America – interesting.

    Other than that its a fascinating overview – more please!

  5. Andy says:

    I agree with Almond. The people from the former Soviet Block were as religious (or non-religious) as they are now. The only difference religion-wise is that they can be public about religion if they choose.

    The same people aren’t all the sudden angels and saints, they weren’t and aren’t automatically demons … they are simply people as they were before who now deal with a new set of rules. Hopefully they will make moral choices.

    That said, the lack (or presence) of religion or it’s cousin ‘spirituality’ has little to do with morality. It puzzles me why there’s any need to point that out to someone with some experience traveling.

  6. Dan says:

    Interesting article, however your assertions that people without a religion have no morals is completely false, and insulting to atheists.

  7. lineutes says:

    Lewis, can it be that you’ve never met a Greek?

  8. nex says:

    i don’t think that china is the epicentre of enlightened freethinking or humanistic philosophy, but please, you can’t claim that the lack of organized religion equals a moral vacuum. most, if not all, religions have a — to put it politely — pretty quirky way of instilling people with morals. you don’t need to believe in fairy tales about heaven and hell to realize that it’s good to help each other and bad to kill people.

    you also have to realize that many spiritual, philosophical and esoteric beliefs are quite popular in china. not all belief systems include an omnipotent god, so technically there are millions and millions of atheists in china, but they still believe in an afterlife, yin and yang, or dharma. and seriously, in a country with so many people falling for shit like feng shui, astrology, and shamanism, i think it’s good that the government discourages superstition.

    the communist party’s outright fight against freedom of religion is a different story. this is clearly not a shining example for the advance of civil liberties. but neither is the religious intolerance of the scriptures and leaders of western abrahamic religions, or their sexism. and if you think that corruption is particularly low in the most devout nations, you’ve lever lived in italy.

  9. JB says:

    I’m baffled by your implication that lack of religion results in a moral vacuum.

    Morality doesn’t come from an organized religion dictating a one-size-fits-all set of “acceptable behaviors”; these rules are simply a short-cut for individuals unable or unwilling to devise their own personal codes of ethics, and don’t necessarily represent moral behavior at all. Such rules are often arbitrary (no meat on Friday, no sparks on Saturday, don’t touch that class of person) and, as often as not, are designed more to promote the furtherance of the Church than to serve any needs of the individual or of society.

    Consider the hatred and intolerance and bloodshed practiced in the name of religion over the past few years, let alone the past few millennia – how can this possibly be considered “moral” behavior?

    True morality comes from considering one’s own place in society, devising one’s own set of ethics, and leading a life that treats all others with the same level of respect expected from them in return.

    BTW, as I travelling businessman I’ve been propositioned in many many “Christian” countries.

  10. Victor Trac says:

    Wow, that’s one of the most interesting blog posts I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for taking the time to write about such a variety of topics and really giving insight to what life is like in modern China.

  11. Guy says:

    Wow, the atheists here seem a bit defensive and almost… proselytizing?

    BTW, this was hilarious:
    http://my.break.com/media/view.aspx?ContentID=185806

  12. jk says:

    Totally felt the same way after a business trip to Shanghai last month.

    In school hey teach you that China is a sleeping dragon. Well all I have to say is the dragon has been awake and is spitting fire!

    Someday if we don’t start producing anything we will bow down to China in our life time.
    Our main Exports in the US are Info & Tech, Guns, and Garbage.

    Yes, garbage. When those supertankers come across the Pacific they come over full and have to leave full. So we fill them with our refuse.

    This refuse is burned overseas and we just sit back and laugh and breathe fresh air as they choke on our fumes and bath in pesticide water.

    So the next time you buy crap at your local .99 cent store. Think about it! It sucks for everyone.

  13. nex says:

    guy, there are many worthwhile points in the article above. the aspect that i found most interesting is that there is such a huge lack of socialism in the nominally communist republic of china. however, bunnie did expend a fair amount of words on describing the lack of morals he perceived, so it’s not too off-topic to point out that his assumption, that this shortcoming could be rectified through religious proselytisation, is debatable at best, and probably plain wrong. i think this is the reason why the comments so far mainly deal with this point.

    to me it’s not obvious how pointing out this definite mistake could be construed as defensive; could you back that up with an explanation? i also have a hard time finding a comment here that promotes atheism or claims that atheists are morally superior.

  14. Adam says:

    Look, I’m an atheist too, but it’s because I think that religion is false, not because religion isn’t useful in some respects. Think about it this way: yes, philosophy and introspection can serve as a firm basis for social harmony, but in a society where these factors don’t exist, religion can be a useful tool to compel others to act in the public interest. In China, where there is no religion, no philosophical bent, and now no family-based social countrol through shame and intimidation, there’s no sense of public responsibility or morality. I think that’s his point, not that morality only comes from religion. The question of whether you’re personally offended by the implication doesn’t matter at all – a better question is, is it true? It might be.

  15. sockdoll says:

    Having spent two years teaching English in Taiwan in the late Eighties, I found the entire article quite fascinating. My wife and I knew or knew of many Taiwan citizens illegally setting up factories on the Mainland, or partnering with Mainland factory owners.

    Like a few others commenting here I found the conclusions about Chinese morals in comparison to those in the US to be somewhat misinformed, and ethnocentric. It might be better to do a little research, and compare contemporary Mainlanders to their forebears in pre-Maoist China, or to the Chinese currently living in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and elsewhere in the world.

    As far as commenter Guy’s crack about atheist proselytism – I spent two years proselytizing full time for a Christian sect in Europe, and what I’m reading here isn’t anything like that. After having lived in Taiwan for two years I’m much more appreciative of Chinese pragmatism and their “live and let live” philosophy when it comes to religious beliefs and practices.

    I look forward to any follow-up articles on the subject of life and business in modern-day China.

  16. Quantumtroll says:

    Very good article. I found the statement about morality and the responses to it very interesting. As an atheist, I reacted similarly, but after a moment I reconsidered and came to Adam’s conclusion. Being a moral atheist requires time, thought, consideration, and (I think) a predisposition to altruism built from childhood on. Religion, however, is a boxed solution for many, and shouldn’t be disregarded as a potent moralizing force.
    Having read a lot of Confucian and Taoist writings, I don’t understand why the Chinese would have any problem with morality. Sure, stuff like sex really isn’t covered in the old texts, but stuff that matters (treat people with respect, etc) is a strong theme in ancient Eastern literature. Does anyone know whether this stuff is still being taught in school over there?

  17. alex says:

    Just quickly scrolling through this article, I saw a fair amount of crap. For example, taxation in Hong Kong is completely different to mainland China. Low taxes are a relic of British Rule under chief financial officer JJ Cowperthwaite and his successors. Another thing, morality can be based on many other things than religion or tradition.

  18. Harshal says:

    Due to the fact that morality was taken by the religion it is own hands we have a world of bloodshed and hatred. If it was left to the individual morality would have differed with an individual and things would have been much better.

  19. growabrain says:

    I was in China a few weeks ago (I posted a similar pix on my blog) and experienced a similar epiphany…

  20. sudont says:

    “I guess since the people are not allowed to have a religion, sleeping around has no taboo.”

    One would hope, but actually, the Communist countries have always been among the most prudish. I suppose that, as in Russia, the introduction of Capitalism has brought about the loosening of sexual “morality”.
    The notion the no religion = no morals, is just as naive as the notion that no religion = no hatred and killing.

  21. Stuart says:

    Overall a good read but I was cringing on the religion/morality sections of your essay, Bunnie. There is ample religion in China. For instance, in my wife’s hometown of Hangzhou there are any number of large, visible (i.e. big crosses out on display) christian churches. The one that I visited (and I just walked in off the street after noticing it while strolling around) was conducting a Wednesday morning bible study and had several hundred people in attendance. They also had speakers out by the street broadcasting the preacher’s words for all to hear.

    More importantly, before the market reforms of the early 80′s when China was arguably a real, communist state (as opposed to the political and social amalgam that you so accurately pointed out it is now) there was practically no prostitution. What little there was was most likely deep underground. My wife’s generation (she was in college in the 1980′s) saw a person having more than 1 boyfriend/girlfriend in a lifetime as unusual and even college students did not engage openly in relationships (or they were, at the very least, discrete). Clearly the 1950′s-1970′s were a period of rigid sexual, moral behavior yet there was much, much less religion during this period than exists today. The most immoral places/periods in China’s recent history have been those places where capitalism flourished. Think, Shanghai in the 1920′s and 30′s or Shenzhen now.

    The morality that exists in China is certainly more cultural than religious (Confucion based, I suppose) but the current situation has less to do with a lack of religion than with the lack of any values framework at all. The idealism and control of the Communists provided that framework in years past and the traditional framework provided by family and community has been eroded by “modern” living. I would argue that it is that erosion, more than anything else, that has brought about the current state of moral affairs… not any (incorrectly) perceived lack of religion.

    As I stated, your views on China are quite interesting and perceptive, in my opinion. It is only your take on religion and morality that I found to be off base.

  22. Adam says:

    My wife and I own a condo in Dadongfengshue, near the police station and south of the river in Shenyang, the 3rd largest city in China. About 300 miles northwest of the Yalu river, and the border with North Korea, there is a significant Korean presence here. As you know, Korea is very religious, primarily Catholic, with a smattering of other Christian sects around. Across the street from our condo is a huge Catholic church, attended by the majority of people living here, both Korean and Chinese.

    I suppose it depends a lot on where you live. I did not see as many churches in Guangzhou and Kunming (southern China) that I did in Shenyang, Dalian and Harbin (northern China).

  23. Lucas says:

    There is a large poster here in Shenzhen which loosely translated goes about saying essentially that “patriotism supersedes morality”…..I think that pretty much sums up the level and development of morality here in China.

  24. Lucas says:

    Oh, and I too walk in front of cares, not because I want to cash in…but just to fuck with Chinese drivers

  25. Chris says:

    # Lewis Says:
    >an interesting fact about Chinese identity is that it and the “Jewish” identity
    >are the only ones that have survived 2,000 years.
    >
    >We studied that in my USC globalization class and it helps explain why the
    >Paarrrty is so freaked by Falun Gong. Any spiritual challenge is the only
    >thing that has any chance to cut through the consumer gold-rush.

    # lineutes Says:
    >Lewis, can it be that you’ve never met a Greek?

    Myself, I immediately thought of the ethnic Persian portion of Iran’s population. But a careful historian-ethnographer could find a *lot* of exceptions to what Lewis paid university tuition to ‘learn’.

    Lewis and lineutes together illustrate an important point:

    There are people teaching university classes on ‘globalization’ who are *rather ignorant about the real globe*. And willing to rationalize wildly, reasoning from relative ignorance.

  26. Todd says:

    Hey, fascinating post– thanks!

  27. bunnie says:

    Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and comments. I’d like to address the assumption that I am equating religion with morality in a new post:

    http://www.bunniestudios.com/wordpress/?p=135

    Basically, I am not meaning to equate religion with morality. It’s a reference point for discussion, and I poorly phrased my commentary to shed too much bias toward the reference point. I openly acknowledge that there are many other important sources of morality other than religion.

    thanks for reading!

  28. box says:

    Many minimum wage workers don’t pay any tax mainly because the salary is less than the minimum tax standard which is about 200$ per month.It is why so many famous companies choose shenzhen as his factory!

    May be sometimes it would happen that you will not go to jail when you kill somebody,but most of time you would be sentenced to death after the media watching it.

    Compared with developed countries,china is only a developing country with 1.3 billion people ,which is our basic situation .So you have saw or listened such terrible things! Fortunately, to be exact,we are changing evey day! although china has a long way to go, more things to do :)
    BTW:you are a good man,ha ha!

  29. John,Perish says:

    i’m a 24-yr-old chinese man who never steped outside china.
    any question? feel free to fire away. fall4her#at#gmail.com

    to Quantumtroll,
    you asked about whether they still teach “Confucian and Taoist” writings here in China. well, as far as i’m concerned, i don’t remember being taught any Taoist(. and in primary school, they teach a few quotations of Confucious(what we call “Lun Yu”, believed to be recorded by his students). i believe these things are only studied by phylosophy students or people who are interested.

    thank you bunnie for writing such an article. as a chinese, i feel interested and enlighted in some way by knowing how a foreigner thinks of china.
    most common chinese people are leading a relatively hard life. low salary, high tuition fees, high medical expense(most don’t have medical insurance, in many cases, cancer does not only kill a person, it also destroys a family), high housing price(imagine each square meter of the apartment costs you a whole month salary or even more). it leaves chinese no feeling of security no room for consider moral issues. money is all we need.

    besides, the CCP gov sets a bad example, it lies and it does opposite to what it proclaims and buro-corruption is very common and out of control. (we common people joke that: if you line up the officials and kill each of them, maybe you will miss some innocent; but if you kill alternate ones, you sure will miss lots of curropted ones. ) and normally people just take their gov’s example, corruptions are filled every corner of this country. people are unanimous that if you want something to be done and benefit yourself, you gotta take the backdoor and bribe whoever in charge. so the rich are richer, the poor poorer.

    in one word, like money itself, morality seems a luxury for most chinese people. and we are struggling and defending the last defense line only by instict, but it looks like a mission impossible.

  30. Peter Dilworth says:

    Hi Bunnie!

    It’s Pete from the old AI lab (dinosaur robot dude)

    I have been spending alot of time in HK and Shenzhen over the last year
    at factories as well, I really identify with th eimpressions you wrote about.
    Whenever someone asks me how china was after a visit, I find it nearly impossible to describe in a reasonable amount of time, because it is so
    different from what I am used to in every way. We joke that the best
    asnwer would be “it’s sur-real”.

    Been to material city yet? It’s amazing, they sell every thing that
    everything is made of, in infinite quantities.

    keep up the good work!!

    -pete

  31. ADown says:

    i’m chinese boy, i feel Foreigners are prejudiced against China.
    In your vision,china is only Great wall,Political,Kung Fu。。
    In fact,chinese vision is also.
    i hope u know china culture is very Far-reaching,
    In addition to his own history in 5000, there are 55 ethnic minorities

    Today in history, Western norms of the many things the world ,but No change in the world of poverty,why………

  32. [...] We spend much time here, reading of Korea, but there are the neighbors of Korea, one being China.  Here is a very interesting thread on the state of things in China and it is interesting in comparison to what we experience here in Korea. [...]

  33. Fascinating reflections, thank you! For more on working conditions in China’s electronics sector, see the comprehensvie chapter by Apo Leong and Sanjiv Pandita, “Made in China,” in the new book, “Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry” (Temple University Press, 2006), URL: http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/1788_reg.html . Leong is Executive Director; and Pandita, Occupational Health and Safety Officer, in the Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong, URL: http://www.amrc.org.hk/ .

  34. [...] http://www.bunniestudios.com/wordpress/?p=134 SocializeThese icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  35. falun bong says:

    Know what else is cheap to produce good with? Slaves! And Christians managed to convince themselves that was moral as well. Industrialists like dictatorships because they see an orderly workforce. Ford loved Nazi Germany. For a while.

    China has no oil and dwindling water and arable land. Every couple of centuries or so the Monsoon fails for several seasons and it gets fucked. This will happen again. So much for the Chinese Century.

    And as for the Jewish/Chinese culture? The oldest culture known is that of the Australian aborigines. They have a religion that dates back around 20,000 years in similar symbolic representations. Compared to them we are all just passing through, changing our gods every couple of millenia.

  36. CaptBBQ says:

    Guys, about the morality/religion stuff:

    You must have just skimmed the article or something. The author did not insist in any way that religion is REQUIRED for morals, rather it was a avenue from which morals can be instilled. He then contrasted that in China, where family was the favored avenue for morals to be instilled. Almond, Dan nex Andy,Mark, JB et al. Read this part again:

    and it seems that in the absence of religion, the moral code is primarily enforced by family: loyalty, family reputation (or disgrace), and social status. … The new China–with its one child per family policy, and massive emigration from villages to cities–has torn apart the fabric of family, thereby destroying the fabric of morality.

    Also note that he didn’t say that religion and family were the the only avenue for instilling morals either… You guys come across as presumptuous.

  37. Newman Huang says:

    I came to this blog after looking at the abstract topic from slashdot in China. Maybe bunnie is a real ‘hacker’ from chumbys in the great US, but as for me, a chinese, I really really don’t agree bunnie is a ‘hacker’ to China. I think most of part for what bunnie said is totally bullshit to a country like China, which there is 1.4 billion people living(1/5 of the earth), and over 5,000 years history(here I am not boasting). I don’t know how many days bunnie spent in china, and then bunnie found a new continent just like what Columbus did.

    quote1: It’s the fearsome global economic powerhouse, yet shockingly third-world.

    A globalization problem is not equals to a China problem, and globalization is not fearsome or chocking either. It is not a bad thing to buy something in a more cheaper price, especially for the poor people.

    quote2: many minimum wage workers don’t pay any tax because first, they are migrant workers and the government has no way to find them, and second, their contribution to the tax base is minimal anyways, so why go after them?

    In China, those who monthly income is lower than 1,500 RMB are free to be taxed. China government is pushing a policy to balancing the tax obligation between poor and rich.

    quote3: Also, the finest hotel suites at the Sheraton Four points in FuTian ran us just over US$100, and includes free internet and water.

    In Shanghai, the most modern city of China, you can live in a three-star hotel with US$40(for chinese, maybe another price for foreigners).
    I know you guys like to live in a five-star hotel, but not the same case for chinese. Most of them feel it is enough to live in an rest house with US$10. so welcome to China. :)

    quote4: The fully-burdened rate of a worker in China is around $1.80 it seems–this is the rate that the employer pays once all the benefits (free food, housing, medical care, day care, etc.) are factored in.

    Totally wrong. I had been stayed in Shenzhen for two years several years ago. I know there are many workers from China’s country. They are hard working and dreaming a better life in a unacquainted city. They are living in a better life than what they do in country. Most of them have a habit to mail money back to hometown for the raising of their old parents and young children. If they are in a burdened situation, how to do that? I think they should mail back a bill form if as what bunnie said. Here I also want to tell bunnie one thing, chinese government has implemented another policy to derate the education fee of those children whose farmer parents are working in inshore city.

    quote5: At these wages, laborers are cheaper than pick-and-place machines.

    Very wonderful comparison! This is what our greatest and most civilized US people think of chinese.

    quote6: Cost of life I don’t know if this is accurate, but I was told that in China, if you accidentally kill someone, you don’t go to jail.

    I think bunnie is talking about the cowboy film what i saw when i was young. One guy holding a rifle killed all the people in the bar and then the poor policeman in the police station. Fantastic!

    In Chinese proverb, there is a famous word named as ‘frog in well’. It is very very interesting and thoughtful. It said there was a frog, living under a well. Everyday the frog looked up the sky from the bottom of the well, and he thought, oh god, the sky is so small, only a very very small circle. One day, a bird stopped on the well to took a rest. The frog saw the bird and felt very exciting and invited the bird to take a visiting his house. The bird said he did not like the dark and wettest surrounding what the frog living in. The bird suggested the frog jumping out of the well and took a good look at what a beautiful world outside. The frog laugh at the bird so stupid for there wasn’t any good looking views because the sky was only a small circle. bunnie, do you know what I am talking about? enjoy!

  38. ADown says:

    upstairs > Newman Huang ….

    i like your word 。。 we are chinese we let’s world to see How much the world

    we are poor ,lower… Sooner or later we become better

    “话说天下大事,分久必和,和久必分” u can translater

  39. pescado says:

    interesting post …. china has a lot of morality AND has a lot of money driven people ….. the connection in between the two just hasn’t been defined yet … so everyone is experimenting …

    let me give u an example …. a chinese taxi driver will not necessarily take the direct way (so he can make some more bucks) but will not accept a tip (chinese dont take tips, they think this is only done by poor people on the street)

  40. Newman Huang says:

    Religion is very important. Religion can make a society, a group, a family more harmonious. Religion also make a person more gentle and positive. I very respect to Christianism and Christian. I will spend this Christmas with my loving girl in Shanghai, even though I am not a Christian. But, religion is also a complicated history and society topic. Christianism was introduced into China in Qing dynasty, maybe 300 years ago. Before Christianism, there had been native religions in China, they are Confucianism and Taoism, maybe 2,500 years ago. In the loooooong history of China, chinese believes in Confucianism. One special thing is, Confucianism is not like other religions, such as Christianism, those with a special ceremony to show ‘I am believing or involving in a religion’. For example, if you believe in Confucianism, you are not need to go to the church in Sunday. Confucianism in China is beyond a religion, also is a high level ideology. One of the biggest religions in China is Buddhism. This is a foreign religion transfered from India in 2,000 years ago and prevailed in China especially in early Tang dynasty. Some of my friends are Buddhist. For me, I read both Confucianism and Buddhism books, but I don’t think I am believing in what religions. In China I think most of people are behaving just like me, they treat religion as a natural living philosophy. As for my morality, no problem I think, chinese is also a man with two eyes, two ears, one nose, one mouth, two hands, two legs…

    all in all, It is a loooong topic to describe what religion is, so, the best way to understand ‘what it is’ is to understand one country’s cultrue and history, not only doing something like bunnie spending several days in a country and then told you what religion is. I have no doubt on chinese ‘s morality, just like what I trust myself.

    By the way, the photo bunnie pasted is very funny. One foreigner in a cap with pentacle star, this is an old fashion army cap in China, maybe in 1960′s. Now chinese dressed in like this rarely excepts for those foreign visitors. Sometimes chinese also like to wear a cowboy cap like president George.Bush. :) And, it was prohibited making such a post under the picture of Mao before 80′s, else you must be put into a jail. But now? no problem, here is opening China, and welcome to China! :)

  41. Forrest Higgs says:

    This is easily the best article I’ve seen on what it’s like in China, ever. I lived in Hong Hong/Schenzhen ten years ago. It’s nice to have what’s happened since then filled in by somebody who is awake and aware.

  42. Somname says:

    . It seems that in a moral vacuum–remember, religion is not allowed in China

    Religion does not deliver morality. In most religions, fear of your diety deliver morality. Atheists choose to be moral (or not in some cases).

    The author’s subtle assumption that Religion would be good for China is severly flawed.

    There is no god. And China doesnt need to cripple themselves with dark-age dogma to be good people.

  43. Somname says:

    “found in the Bible and our Christian foundations” this is as far as im going.

    What are these “Christian Foundations” you speak of?

    Theists are not to be trusted. They believe in the supernatural. This is the litmus test for competance as a thinker. If you believe in the Supernatural (whatever strain of religion) you are capable of ‘believing’ all manner of ignorance.

    If you are a theist, you are a fundementally flawed thinker.

    I came to read an article about sourcing electronics OEMs in China.

    Not for the bleeting of an theist.

    Sorry, God doesnt exist. Take ownership for your actions. The sucess and failure of your community is soley a product of human action. No divine favour necessary. If you believe otherwise, you are actively prohibiting the success of your community, either with inaction (prayer) or worse (preaching ignorance).

  44. Somname says:

    Oh, before I go.

    There is nothing any more or less “moral” about paying money for sex.

    Using your arms, your hands and your back digging ditches is no more moral than employing your penis or vagina in labour.

    The only possibly immoral element of prostitution is its preponderance to exploit women and the economic-under-class.

    But, thankfully, with good policy (Prostitute Unions) you can avoid some of these unfortunate externalities.

  45. Nick says:

    i am a Chinese,for me, i am born in 1980′s.Altough, in China,we have many problems,like religon, corruption .
    But for commen people’s live, really improved a lot.
    take cell phone for example, three year ago, only big sharks had cell phoes,but now, everyone has a phone.
    i have three.
    for me, i don’t care reglion, or political.
    i do care my family and a good life.
    this artical it’s really really very good!!

  46. [...] bunnie’s blog » Blog Archive » Adventures with the Venture Communist ‘the trillion-dollar question is: will the Chinese economy surpass the US? I think, after being on the ground there and seeing where things are going, the answer is an unequivocal yes.’ (tags: china business Blog culture manufacturing globalization communism interesting) [...]

  47. James Williams says:

    I think you are a little off on the reasons you saw so many working girls in Shenzen. You were visiting a city freqented by (relatively) rich Westerners/businessmen such as yourself- so you are going to see a lot more sex workers.

    If you visited Las Vegas or (pre-Katrina, and maybe even now) New Orleans, you might get the same impression.

  48. Sworder says:

    To Nick,

    I am also a Chinese, and also born in 1980′s.
    Since you said you don’t care about politic but why do you wrote here?
    Take your good life you thing and be happy with your family.
    Don’t talk about anything related to CHN gov or socity which will only make your happy life worse.

    But please let some of other chineses people taking more care about their socity problems.

    Because the problems maybe threat their good life.
    Because they take more care about their own people like you.
    Because they know, only the cell-phone, good food or something like those material things will not make a real people feel happy who desire to rich their mind world.

    Material things have been supplied to animals in zoo, and maybe they feel happy. But people not, people with their own mind never been satisfied with only material things!

  49. J.R. says:

    Fascinating stuff.

    The mention of religion really touched a nerve.

    However, “Somname” seems to prove that we have a need of sources for our morality (whether they be religious or philosophical – I put confucianism in the latter category) by stating categorically that there is nothing immoral about prostitution. Well, okay. But despite his tired (and angry) dogmatic atheism, religion has been a tremendous source for good in the world, allowing people to be shaped by a Reality greater than themselves.

    And if you believe there is no such Reality – then do what you will. If God is does not exist, anything is permissible.

  50. chatterlily says:

    Chinese men hug each other all the time. In China (and Taiwan), same-gender friends hold hands on the street and nobody links this to homosexuality, maybe because there is a presumption that nobody is homosexual. When I see my Chinese friends wrapping their arms around each other’s necks as they finish a meal, get a drink, walk down the street, it makes me sad to think of how my countrymen (Americans) can’t disconnect physical contact from sex (ahem, abiding influences of the twisted Christian view of the body, ahem). American men in particular suffer from a lack of intimacy–in general, they can’t get a hug without getting laid. I really hope that this habit will not dissapear because of the inquiring glances of uptight foreigners, the world would be a much sadder place.

  51. Dayabay says:

    I lived in Shenzhen for three years. A few comments.

    The women in the Hard Rock Cafe were sex workers, not rudderless women without a moral compass. No judgements from me about that, but be clear that this was professional sex work and that despite the appearance of free will, others were profiting as well. It would be naieve to assume otherwise.

    Second, as Chatterlilly commented, men and women holding hands or linking arms is cultural. You find this all over the far East and parts of the Middle East. It has zero to do with attitudes towards homosexuality. In fact, the perceived link to homosexuality is a western construct, not an eastern one. Most Chinese would be insulted that the link was even suggested.

    I had young Chinese friends in Shenzhen. They were all educated young people, and none had travelled outside China, although all hoped to. Without exception, they found Shenzhen a liberating place. Without exception they cited “freedom” as the reason, and by freedom they meant the freedom to start businesses, enroll in training or school, buy a flat, meet new people, buy a car, use broadband, etc. These people were increasingly sophisticated and aware of their rights as human beings.

    I also spent time in the squatter villages populated by illegal migrants, the people who did not have “houkou” or household registration in Shenzhen. They were at the bottom tier of the labor market, providing cheap labor for growing vegetables or hauling endless tons of rocks for new roads or construction projects. They did not have clean water, their electricity was tapped illegally from the mains (if they had it), they had no access to health care and they lived hundreds if not thousands of kilometers from their home villages. Their dream, almost without exception, was to work in a factory, either in Shenzhen or elsewhere. These people were subject to exploitation by everyone, including local officials.

    The central government in Beijing is aware of these two Chinas. How it copes with the two is the interesting question.

  52. Vegas Vic says:

    I’ve been a dealer in Las Vegas since I turned 21. Over 40 million people from all over the world visited here last year. I’ve noticed a few things over the years.

    I’ve met many nice people from China and a few bad ones. The same it true for any country.

    The really bad ones are almost always in government or religion.

    Prostitution has always existed. Same with gambling and drugs. Experienced hookers and dealers have a very good idea if you will buy or not. That’s how they make their living. They don’t just approach everyone. You must have looked like a buyer.

  53. [...] Bunnie Huang, on China: “It’s also obvious (to an outsider) that the press is government controlled and biased. The writing style and headlining of the China Daily reminds me a lot of The Onion.” [...]

  54. sezen kaya says:

    china is the factory of the world

  55. freiz says:

    It takes me such a long time to finish your words…

    I do agree with some of your arguments in this article,but not the most,that
    I really don’t want to say they are subreptions.Yes,you are just back from china and lived a period of time in china.You can say:”these are things I saw,heard,felt myself.”but still you are wrong.

    The American culture and The Chinese culture are absolutely distinct,maybe some statistics you offer can show something.but from the beginning,on your flight to china,the way you considered Chinese problem is from your American angle of view.How can you expect yourself to get the exact conclusion?

    Here I have a question:”Do you think your understanding of China is rich?”

    you said Chinese do not have religions,well,have you heard of Chinese’s Spring festival?and what it celebrated for?

    Yes,we are far beyond rich,and there are lots of things maybe odd in western people’s eyes because you have time to think “Oh,I should buy a PS3 Or Wii for gaming?” while our children are still have nothing to eat,to swear in rural region and their parents maybe just the workers you saw .Do you really understand them?

    I admit there are problems in China,especially the income margin between
    the poor and the rich.but to the most part,it’s great.as you go deep into the Chinese culture with 5000 years, I think you must be infatuated in it.

    I am not willing to displeasing you really(just a debate), so,if you find any rude words,believe me I am not on purpose.

  56. Robert Chang says:

    There are some factual errors and misconception due to cultural differences in the blog entry, which is understandable from the point of view of a foreigner. I lived in China for 5 years recently, and I speak perfect mandarin Chinese (better than most local Chinese there), and can blend in as “one of them” when I lived there (I’m actually Chinese American). Being able to blend in there allowed me to see and hear things that no foreigner with a foreign face could ever experience, and to write about those insights will take an entire book. No country could ever be experience by a simple trip, and sometimes even living there for a year or two isn’t enough–particularly if you are a foreigner and is treated as one. There will always be things the locals will not tell you or hide from you.

  57. Carter says:

    There’s no such thing as a person with no religion. Only a corpse has no religion. Atheism is an example of a religion. Or, to be more accurate, an Ultimate Concern or a Belief System. If you didn’t have religion you would be a dysfunctional wreck because you would be hyper-paranoid, catatonic or otherwise insane. All humans needs Belief Systems to resolve the existence of parts of the world they have no knowledge of.

    The question isn’t whether there is a God (read: Ultimate Concern) – the real question is: What is your Ultimate Concern?

  58. [...] Happy Festivus (Dec 23rd). Grinchy Ph.D students want to ban Christmas China always has a clutch of weird news coming out each day so I ‘m always wondering when Festivus will be the official holiday in China.  Mu – the blood saint of Festivus Since the holidays approach including kwaanza and Saturnalia, it only fitting to celebrate Festivus and that other holiday Christmas with cheer. However, some uptight grad students in China feel otherwise. The internet in China continues to spawn weird fringe groups left and right.   As Christmas draws near, ten philosophy and education PhD students from China’s top universities jointly publicized a petition on the Internet, calling on netizens, especially the young, to be less excited about the exotic holiday, Shanghai-based Xmnext.com reported December 21, 2006. This is the latest instance of public resistance to western culture and lifestyles in China. In the online petition, titled “Out of Cultural Collective Unconsciousness, Strengthen Chinese Cultural Dominance” and dated with traditional Chinese Era Calendar, PhD students from China’s most authoritative universities including Beida, Tsinghua and People’s University hope to “wake up the Chinese people to resist western cultural invasion”.  Bunny Huang (the guy who hacked Xbox1) has a newbie rant on China where he mentions that Christmas seems to have invaded the country like spiritual kudzu or in his words “cities festooned with Christmas decorations.”  As a note, my team has voted to take Dec 25th off since we were allowed one floating holiday. However, we all have to work Dec 30 and 31st which are Sat and Sun respectively in order to have Jan 1, 2,and 3 as public holidays as mandated by the Chinese government. It all evens out at the end right?  -Frank Yu Hail Festivus – May the Mu be with you       [...]

  59. lin46 says:

    i am a chinese and some topic in your article is that what we have been aware especially in the kind of people who after 80,s (of course i am )

    some disgusting question remains this coury is long-time-need
    and actually we are getting hands on it .ever thought this is a world for before 80,s but we are different from them .i am sure of it and officelly
    in here some people 80,s dislike the culture that it is traditional we are more practistic .

    we just need time to heal the wound and all of those damned problem

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  61. Adventures with the Venture Communist….

    This thread, Adventures with the Venture Communist, contains valid points on Chinese society from bloggers own observation.  One of comments, claimed to be Chinese, made clear points about China expressing “…In one word, like money itsel…

  62. Canton Fair says:

    China Import and Export Fair (CECF) Canton Fair, also called Canton Fair, is held twice a year in Spring and Autumn since it was inaugurated in the Spring of 1957. It is China’s largest trade fair of the highest level

  63. [...] James Fallows’ excellent article in the new Atlantic about Chinese manufacturing1 referenced in passing Bunnie Huang’s (the world’s most accomplished Xbox hacker) excellent blog post about doing business in Shenzhen, which you should read if you’re a The Economist type. subscriber only, bleh [back] [...]

  64. [...] In November, Steve Tomlin and I went to China to do the factory visits, and some of my first impressions were documented in my post Adventures with the Venture Communist. [...]

  65. Pramod kshirsagar says:

    INSIDE RED CHINA
    STUDY GUIDE

    INTRODUCTION:
    Events since this film was made in 1957 have significantly changed both conditions inside China and international attitudes towards that nation. Due to the fact that at that time the US Government recognized the Chiang Kai Shek group on Taiwan as constituting the only legitimate government of China, the Chinese Mainland was referred to as “Red” or “Communist” China. In order to assist our understanding of China’s continuing evolution, therefore, this Study Guide remains essentially the same and utilizes the same political terminology as when it was first written during the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s. Viewers can benefit by comparing the conditions and attitudes depicted in this report to the current situation in China from a historical perspective.

    SYNOPSIS:

    Reporting on a six week assignment in China as a NBC-TV Special Correspondent, Robert Carl Cohen presents his observations on the progress of the Communist regime in transforming an ancient agrarian culture into an industrialized society. He has produced, without any Communist censorship, a survey of the many Chinese dynasties and some of the common misconceptions about China. It is apparent that he was allowed a far greater degree of freedom with his camera than would have been imagined, and that indeed a far greater freedom than we have come to expect in Communist Russia. His narration closely follows the camera coverage of the cities and in the countryside, farming, new industries, and numerous other facets of Communist Chinese life. He contrasts the accomplishments and limitations of the Communists in hospital construction and staffing, ship building, theater, truck building, bridge construction, information, transportation, and the propaganda and psychological value of the reconstruction of segments of the Great Wall. The films analysis of the strength of a political party which places modem tools in the hands of a people who for centuries have been dominated by an often famine stricken essentially feudal agricultural economy are enlightening. The national campaign of anti American propaganda utilizing posters and billboards is shown; as are the Communists accomplishments in cleaning up polluted water sources in slum areas such as Shanghai’s Soochow Creek. Land redistribution and the village commune system have been promoted and, despite certain drawbacks to this system, the Communists insist that the situation in the countryside is better than it was before they came to power. Other glimpses into life in Communist China include a brief discussion of how even minimal improvements in health standards have resulted in a growing population increase, the role of Mao Tze Tung; and views of a National Day Parade in Peking. Throughout this revealing film Mr. Cohen has maintained a sincere and open approach to Red China today.

  66. Ric says:

    Hello there. I don’t know much about china, but for my experience I can say that is not the lack of religion the problem. I live in Rome, capital of the majior western religion, and morality is not very high. And priests and who claim themselves as “very religious” are often who have less morality. :-)

  67. Ken Gray says:

    What Confucius really said was:
    “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single flip-flop.”

    This is our first music video, a parody about China and consumerism.

    Click
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUg0eqJQFSY

    or search on youtube for Carochina in the Morning

  68. wega says:

    The text looks garbled, maybe its my browser…

  69. I’m grateful that i have found you site, there are none like yours here in Romania

  70. I am confusing for these paided festivals, I am not sure with the instructions on it to Enroll form. Do you recommend to enclose money with the application form?

  71. Nice blog. Thank you! surely i’ll be back here soon.