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Tags beijing , china , olympics

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Old 30th July 2008, 09:04 PM   #81
cgallaga
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Wolf can I ask an aside? What do you think of the depiction of events in the movie Gate of Heavenly Peace?
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Old 30th July 2008, 11:55 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by cgallaga View Post
Wolf can I ask an aside? What do you think of the depiction of events in the movie Gate of Heavenly Peace?
I haven't seen it, although I'd like to. It is, for obvious reasons, rather difficult to get a copy in China; and the Great Firewall has prevented my attempts to download it from other sources.

But others I know here who have seen it -- including a few Chinese -- seem to feel that it mostly deals with the issues fairly.
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Old 31st July 2008, 01:20 AM   #83
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I'll agree with the consensus you note. I thought it was very good, very moving, and showed quite well the varied sides including he cultural systems/issues. I think it gets a pretty good review as well because both sides thought it treated their side unfairly of course it was panned by Beijing but also and protesters like Wer kaizi and Chai Ling.
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Old 31st July 2008, 05:34 PM   #84
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Looks like the Chinese government is backtracking on some of the pre-Olympics assurances as well.

China restricts Web access at Olympics
Quote:
China was under fire Wednesday in another controversy leading up to next week's Olympic Games, this time after admitting foreign journalists will not have unrestricted Internet access as promised.

Adding to the controversy was the International Olympic Committee's acknowledgment that it knew and "negotiated" over the censorship plans.
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Old 31st July 2008, 09:16 PM   #85
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Yup, very true; there are a number of other promises that they've gone back on, as well. I'm not going to attempt to justify this; only to point out that there are gov't officials here who very much disagree with these decisions, and are quite angry/disappointed because of it. For the most part, the people who made the initial promises were at the municipal level of government (the Beijing government); the people who are insisting on these changes, and breaking the initial agreement, are at the national level of government.
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Old 31st July 2008, 11:46 PM   #86
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Par for the course where governments are concerned, anywhere. Anybody remember

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I AGREE
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Old 2nd August 2008, 08:56 AM   #87
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
Yup, very true; there are a number of other promises that they've gone back on, as well. I'm not going to attempt to justify this; only to point out that there are gov't officials here who very much disagree with these decisions, and are quite angry/disappointed because of it. For the most part, the people who made the initial promises were at the municipal level of government (the Beijing government); the people who are insisting on these changes, and breaking the initial agreement, are at the national level of government.
China's government seems to be unaware that the harder they try to look good by manipulating the situation, the worse they look.
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Old 2nd August 2008, 10:15 AM   #88
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Originally Posted by a_unique_person View Post
China's government seems to be unaware that the harder they try to look good by manipulating the situation, the worse they look.
Actually, there's more to it than that.

While the Communist leaders of China are coming in for a lot of criticism internationally, they are enjoying a very high level of popularity and support within China. The actions taken against Tibet? Most Chinese people support it, and would consider the gov't weak and indecisive if they had not taken action. And the earthquake? That garnered the gov't huge points with the populace, for how rapidly and effectively they responded.

Consider it this way.

'Face', as everyone knows, is very important for Chinese people. But you have to understand how 'face' works.

If a bunch of foreigners try to tell China what they should or should not do, and then start criticizing China because it doesn't do what they think they should do...the Chinese people don't feel that they've lost face. Quite the contrary, it tends to make them more self-defensive. They criticize their own government quite regularly; but get pissed off when outsiders do so (and be honest...most of us are the same way about our own countries, too).

But when foreigners come to China, they are the guests of the nation -- and anything bad that happens to them reflects negatively on the nation, causing all Chinese people to lose face.

So, for example, if a terrorist attack took place during the Olympics; or if foreign guests were the victims of other kinds of violent crime; then all of China would lose face. And the Chinese people will support pretty much any and all policies in order to reduce as much as possible the chance of such a thing happening.

When the American gov't does anything, it doesn't give much of a damn about international opinion...what it cares about is whether or not that action will have (or increase) the support of the American people. The same is true in pretty well every other country in the world, China included. Heck, look at how long the international community's been screaming about the treatment of prisoners in Guantanemo Bay...and not one single policy has changed as a result of that pressure. Any changes have come as a result of internal pressures...either pressures from the American people, or more often, pressures from the American legal system, which has found various practices illegal, and demanded change.

My point? You're barking up entirely the wrong tree if you're thinking about this from the point of view of "what the rest of the world will think".

The Chinese gov't currently has very high support among the Chinese people; and much of that is because of many of the same policies that outsiders are criticizing. The Chinese view "human rights" in terms of the collective whole, not the individual; and they believe that individuals can and should be sacrificed for the good of the whole. Nor is this a "Communist" thing...it is a cultural thing, dating back thousands of years before Communism ever even existed.

I'm not saying this is good, or bad; right, or wrong. I'm simply trying to explain the Chinese perspective on this. Ask the majority of Chinese about the current regulations and restrictions in place in China, and the vast majority will complain about the inconvenience. But they'll also support the gov't's decision to do it, and defend it as necessary.

By far the majority of change and reform in China in the future is going to be driven internally, by the Chinese people themselves; not by outsiders. Oh, outsiders can play a role, certainly -- but only if they take the time to really invest themselves in the issues, to come to China, observe the situation first-hand, and learn to understand the full complexity of the situation. And then comment on it.

Armchair critics who've never been to China, or who have had only a brief experience of it, are going to be ignored. By the government, and by the people. Not only are they going to be ignored, they are going to strengthen the gov't's position, because the Chinese people will inevitably react defensively to such criticism.
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Old 2nd August 2008, 05:13 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
Actually, there's more to it than that.

While the Communist leaders of China are coming in for a lot of criticism internationally, they are enjoying a very high level of popularity and support within China. The actions taken against Tibet? Most Chinese people support it, and would consider the gov't weak and indecisive if they had not taken action. And the earthquake? That garnered the gov't huge points with the populace, for how rapidly and effectively they responded.

Consider it this way.

'Face', as everyone knows, is very important for Chinese people. But you have to understand how 'face' works.

If a bunch of foreigners try to tell China what they should or should not do, and then start criticizing China because it doesn't do what they think they should do...the Chinese people don't feel that they've lost face. Quite the contrary, it tends to make them more self-defensive. They criticize their own government quite regularly; but get pissed off when outsiders do so (and be honest...most of us are the same way about our own countries, too).

But when foreigners come to China, they are the guests of the nation -- and anything bad that happens to them reflects negatively on the nation, causing all Chinese people to lose face.

So, for example, if a terrorist attack took place during the Olympics; or if foreign guests were the victims of other kinds of violent crime; then all of China would lose face. And the Chinese people will support pretty much any and all policies in order to reduce as much as possible the chance of such a thing happening.

When the American gov't does anything, it doesn't give much of a damn about international opinion...what it cares about is whether or not that action will have (or increase) the support of the American people. The same is true in pretty well every other country in the world, China included. Heck, look at how long the international community's been screaming about the treatment of prisoners in Guantanemo Bay...and not one single policy has changed as a result of that pressure. Any changes have come as a result of internal pressures...either pressures from the American people, or more often, pressures from the American legal system, which has found various practices illegal, and demanded change.

My point? You're barking up entirely the wrong tree if you're thinking about this from the point of view of "what the rest of the world will think".

The Chinese gov't currently has very high support among the Chinese people; and much of that is because of many of the same policies that outsiders are criticizing. The Chinese view "human rights" in terms of the collective whole, not the individual; and they believe that individuals can and should be sacrificed for the good of the whole. Nor is this a "Communist" thing...it is a cultural thing, dating back thousands of years before Communism ever even existed.

I'm not saying this is good, or bad; right, or wrong. I'm simply trying to explain the Chinese perspective on this. Ask the majority of Chinese about the current regulations and restrictions in place in China, and the vast majority will complain about the inconvenience. But they'll also support the gov't's decision to do it, and defend it as necessary.

By far the majority of change and reform in China in the future is going to be driven internally, by the Chinese people themselves; not by outsiders. Oh, outsiders can play a role, certainly -- but only if they take the time to really invest themselves in the issues, to come to China, observe the situation first-hand, and learn to understand the full complexity of the situation. And then comment on it.

Armchair critics who've never been to China, or who have had only a brief experience of it, are going to be ignored. By the government, and by the people. Not only are they going to be ignored, they are going to strengthen the gov't's position, because the Chinese people will inevitably react defensively to such criticism.
Thank you, that is very informative, and I see your point. I did read an article yesterday, though, (and I can't find the link to it), that showed the extent to which petty interference is happening. Foreigners in a large country city, refused a booking at a hotel that was made months ago, for no reason. The only hotel they were allowed to stay at was one that was intended purely to make them move on. Journalists being told that they could broadcast from the Great Wall, only to find when they get there that they are not allowed to broadcast. If it is intended to save face, it's not working.

However, it is interesting looking at China. Australia has a population of just over 20 million. I can't imagine how a country with a population of over 1.3 billion can even function.
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Old 2nd August 2008, 10:32 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by a_unique_person View Post
Thank you, that is very informative, and I see your point. I did read an article yesterday, though, (and I can't find the link to it), that showed the extent to which petty interference is happening. Foreigners in a large country city, refused a booking at a hotel that was made months ago, for no reason. The only hotel they were allowed to stay at was one that was intended purely to make them move on. Journalists being told that they could broadcast from the Great Wall, only to find when they get there that they are not allowed to broadcast. If it is intended to save face, it's not working.
I'd want more info on that hotel story...tons of people coming here to stay in hotels, and I've never heard of anyone facing a problem like that. The only time it would be likely to happen would be if these particular people had been specifically identified as 'suspicious' by the gov't (ie. planning to organize pro-Tibetan independence protests, for example). And the restrictions on the press are for a similar reason -- high profile places like the Great Wall are likely places for people to hold protests (its been done plenty of times before). I'm not saying its right (I disagree with it, personally).
Quote:
However, it is interesting looking at China. Australia has a population of just over 20 million. I can't imagine how a country with a population of over 1.3 billion can even function.
This is one of the things that many people fail to appreciate. The fact that, with a population this size, and with the significant problems it faces, it not only functions, it is growing. I would argue that, given the current conditions in China, a truly democratic system would not work...that it would cause more damage than good. I don't argue that the abuses of the current gov't are therefore justifiable; just that, for all the problems here now, the situation still could be far, far worse than it currently is. And that a change to a fully democratic system at this point in time would likely be an even worse option than what the Chinese people face right now.

ETA: I should clarify that I don't mean democracy could never work in China; only that it will take more time and further development before it could be effectively implemented.
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Old 2nd August 2008, 10:49 PM   #91
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My own feeling is that China will continue to evolve at its pace and is on the way to becoming much more of a communitarian social democracy than libertarian free market democracy.

The Confucian societal duties philosophy is far stronger and more culturally entrenched than the Taoist laissez faire philosophy.

ETA: I think I am in agreement with Wolf on his key point: That modern western societies have an odd way of demanding that what took them hundreds of years to reach (their current imperfect society) should be achieved by the rest of the world immediately. And also that these imperfect first world societies are the best way for society to evolve. Neither assertion can bear much scrutiny, no matter from what political direction one looks at the issues.
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Old 3rd August 2008, 10:52 AM   #92
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Isn't the main reason for this boom the consolidation of people? They are moving out of the rural areas into large urban cities. Could this not have some future bearing on how the government of China will work? More people will have more money (and possibly influence) and may want more freedoms.
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Old 3rd August 2008, 11:19 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by Policenaut View Post
Isn't the main reason for this boom the consolidation of people? They are moving out of the rural areas into large urban cities. Could this not have some future bearing on how the government of China will work? More people will have more money (and possibly influence) and may want more freedoms.
Actually, this is exactly what is happening. And it is why I stressed the importance of internal pressures, as opposed to external pressures. As of five years ago, the Chinese Communist Party officially changed their charter to allow "capitalists" to join the Party...with the result that a number of quite staunch capitalists are now technically members of the Party, and have a say in government. (Not sure how you can still call yourself a Communist Party with a policy like that)

My meaning is not that the rest of the world should ignore the problems or abuses in China; but that if they feel it is important enough to comment on and criticize China about, then it is also important enough for them to educate themselves first. Not just about the abuses, but about the positive changes. Not just to see the label "Communist" and denounce it as all evil, but to recognize the good things the CCP has done (including one of the fastest increases in literacy rates of any country in the world, massive funding of education to improve both access and quality, and promoting women's rights to the point where in 60 years women have gone from being third-class citizens to having among the highest levels of equality of any Asian nation).
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Old 4th August 2008, 12:20 AM   #94
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
the Great Firewall has prevented my attempts to download it from other sources.


Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
'Face', as everyone knows, is very important for Chinese people. But you have to understand how 'face' works.
Is there a moment where you have lost so much face you become faceless? Or is losing it once as bad as losing it twice and so on?

How do you measure face?
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Old 4th August 2008, 12:59 AM   #95
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Originally Posted by mrbaracuda View Post
Is there a moment where you have lost so much face you become faceless? Or is losing it once as bad as losing it twice and so on?

How do you measure face?
Certainly, the Chinese talk about someone who "has no face", or "doesn't want face". This doesn't so much mean that they've lost so much face they couldn't get it back; it means rather that the person is entirely untrustworthy, and doesn't care about their reputation or responsibility to others.

And how is it measured? There are no absolute ways...it is very much a relative thing. You can cause yourself to lose face; and others can cause you to lose face (although lost face caused by others would never lead to people saying you have no face). And likewise, you can cause yourself to gain face, and others can give you face.
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Old 4th August 2008, 01:32 AM   #96
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
ETA: I should clarify that I don't mean democracy could never work in China; only that it will take more time and further development before it could be effectively implemented.
I agree. Democracy has never been tried in a country that large and diverse. There are simply no current models of democracy that can be expected to work properly on this scale. When, and I do say when, China becomes a democracy, it will be a model developed specifically for her.

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Old 4th August 2008, 04:56 PM   #97
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MRC Hans,

How about India?
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Old 4th August 2008, 07:11 PM   #98
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
I agree. Democracy has never been tried in a country that large and diverse. There are simply no current models of democracy that can be expected to work properly on this scale. When, and I do say when, China becomes a democracy, it will be a model developed specifically for her.

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Originally Posted by gtc View Post
MRC Hans,

How about India?
I was actually going to bring up the same issue -- if we're talking simply about size, then yes, India is roughly comparable in population (and in fact will soon exceed China's population), but let me point out a few crucial issues:

* India's democracy came after an extended colonization by Britain; this introduced many of the structures and ideas necessary for a democracy. China has not had this experience.

* In India, which is democratic, it is impossible to implement effective birth control restrictions, because the people will never vote for a government that wants to impose such restrictions. Therefore, India's population continues to grow at a very rapid pace, a pace that sees it set to soon replace China as the most populous nation in the world (with significantly less land). I would argue that this is not a benefit; and although I disagree with some of the methods that China's government uses to enforce its birth control laws, I do believe that such restrictions are necessary.

* Chinese people enjoy far higher levels of social equality than Indians do. Previous systems in China that promoted social inequality -- inequality based on gender, inequality based on social level, etc. -- were largely destroyed by Communist policies. For all the abuses that happen here, the status of China's women, for example, has been massively improved. In India, on the other hand, the caste system still retains an oppressively strong grip on the culture. And again, it is difficult for any government to take strong action against is, because any government that does so will generally be voted out of power.

* To further support my argument, China's growth far exceeds that of India's. Not just economic growth, but overall improvement of standard of living, standard of education, etc.

It is a sad but true reality that countries like China and India face significant problems that more developed nations do not. And because of that, they must sometimes make hard decisions that are very unpopular with the people of that country, but nevertheless are quite necessary. A democratic country in such a situation is essentially handcuffed, because any government that tries to enact such policies will be voted out of power and replaced by a government that will immediately rescind them.
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Old 4th August 2008, 09:12 PM   #99
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Yeah I was gonna interject that India's democracy is still largely caste based and I wouldn't call it a very model democracy.
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Old 4th August 2008, 10:49 PM   #100
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I'd like to point out that even in democracies, governments are able to assume extensive dictatorial powers in times of major crisis. Just declare a state of emergency. The thing is, the crises that these countries face tend to be more short-term -- riots, or an earthquake, or a terrorist attack, for example.

But what about when the 'crisis' is one that is going to last for 25, or 50, or 100 years? China faces such a crisis in relation to its population. The country is already terribly overpopulated; and were the population to continue to grow unchecked, at the same rate it did prior to the implementation of the one-child policy, it would be an ever-increasing crisis which would affect the nation as a whole.

Implementing a 2-year or 5-year policy, in this case, won't accomplish a thing. If it was a democratic system, and one party imposed some sort of restriction on child births, it would be next to useless if they simply got voted out of power and the next party revoked those measures five years later. Any meaningful policy in this regard needs to have a guarantee that it will be in effect for 25-50 years. Which is effectively impossible in a standard democratic system.

I'll support this assertion with the following facts.

* 60%-75% of China's population is still a 'peasant' population (depending on how one defines this).

* Among the peasant populace, there is very high desire to have many children. Children are your old age pension plan...the more kids you have, there more people there will be to care for you when you are old. The desire for multiple children in such areas is very, very high.

* If there were democratic elections in China, it is absolutely certain that some of the parties would campaign based on promises to revoke or decrease the current limits on how many children a family can have.

* Any party that made such a promise would be pretty much assured a significant support from the peasant populace, as well as from a smaller portion of the urban populace (pressures for more children in urban households are not as strong).

* Once revoked, China's population would once again begin to grow out of control. Furthermore, you'd see drastically increased birthrates among the rural population -- who can least afford to care for those children -- while you'd see much less of an increase in urban households. The net result would, by any reasonable analysis or standard, be devastating for the country.

By contrast, a dictatorial government is able to impose long-term restrictions, without fear of having them revoked by a subsequent government, and enact long-term strategies. By reducing China's birthrate, the rate of population growth is significantly decreased. This means that, as the economy improves, there is more money available to improve the situation of existing peasant families -- improve both their education, and their standard of living. 25 or 50 years later, when their standard of living has improved to the point where the majority of Chinese no longer feel the need to have many children, then these laws will no longer be necessary, and a democratic government would have a far better chance of operating effectively.
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Old 5th August 2008, 03:21 AM   #101
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
Certainly, the Chinese talk about someone who "has no face", or "doesn't want face". This doesn't so much mean that they've lost so much face they couldn't get it back; it means rather that the person is entirely untrustworthy, and doesn't care about their reputation or responsibility to others.

And how is it measured? There are no absolute ways...it is very much a relative thing. You can cause yourself to lose face; and others can cause you to lose face (although lost face caused by others would never lead to people saying you have no face). And likewise, you can cause yourself to gain face, and others can give you face.
Thank you so far!
What would be the easiest way for you to lose / gain face as an 'outsider' and for a native Chinese in comparison if I may ask?
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Old 5th August 2008, 03:51 AM   #102
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Originally Posted by mrbaracuda View Post
Thank you so far!
What would be the easiest way for you to lose / gain face as an 'outsider' and for a native Chinese in comparison if I may ask?
I don't think I can answer that easily, in that there are so many different ways. But let me give some real-world examples from my own experience, to demonstrate not only how complicated -- and sometimes anti-intuitive -- it can be.

Example #1

At a banquet with various Chinese businessmen, we were all quite drunk (normal for such banquets), and someone mentioned a particular Chinese gov't official that I didn't like. I said something critical about him, essentially calling him an idiot. It was then revealed that he was the brother-in-law of one of the businessmen at the table (which was why someone else had mentioned him).

My comment caused a loss of face for that man, and effectively destroyed any chance of doing business with him. A simple apology or retraction wouldn't make a difference -- everyone there basically agreed with my opinion, but I was the one who caused the loss of face by stating it out loud.

The only way that I could remedy the situation was by giving him more face than I'd caused him to lose. Which is what I did. I was already quite drunk, but I filled a large glass with Chinese bai jiu (about 60% alcohol, tastes vile), told him that I was doing this to demonstrate my respect to him, and then downed the whole glass.

It made me quite sick...I didn't even make it to the toilet before puking up the entire contents of my stomach. Yet it did the job, because the message I gave to him and to everyone else there -- in a very visible and undeniable fashion -- was that his respect was so important to me that I'd damage my own health to demonstrate it. The result was that not only was our relationship not damaged, but it was actually strenghthened.

Example #2

I was working as a consultant for a Chinese-owned 5-star hotel in Qingdao in 1999. I was the only foreigner working there, everyone else from the Board of Directors on down was Chinese. I was hired to help them change to a more western style of management, in order to attract more foreign guests.

I did about a month of extensive research, both at our hotel, and our competitors. I wrote up a brilliant analysis of the problems the hotel faced, and the strategies we needed to adopt in order to deal with them. And I then did a half-day presentation to the Board of Directors.

The response at the meeting itself seemed quite enthusiastic, and I was given the green light to go ahead and begin implementing the changes that I'd suggested. However, I quickly discovered that every attempt I made to actually facilitate those changes was stonewalled...and eventually I figured out that it was the Board of Directors who were presenting all these barriers.

Now, the hotel was losing money; and from my western perspective, if I was on the Board of Directors of a hotel that was losing money, and I brought in someone who implemented changes that caused the hotel to become profitable, that would mean a great increase in my own face. However, that's not the way that the Chinese looked at it.

From their point of view, they were older than me, and had a longer history in hotels than me. Many of the plans and policies that I suggested directly contradicted plans and policies that they themselves had implemented in the past. To accept my ideas meant to implicitly admit that they had been wrong; and for me to be successful meant to implicitly admit that they did not know what they were doing, that they were incompetent leaders.

In other words, it meant that they lost face.

So, from their perspective, making money and becoming profitable meant losing face; but continuing to lose money meant no loss of face, because by stone-walling me to ensure I wasn't successful, they could later claim A) that my plans failed, and it was my fault, and/or B) attribute the losses to other factors, such as bad economy.

I learned my lesson the second time around...I was hired to do almost the same job for a Chinese 4-star hotel. This time, I started by going to the President of the hotel, and explaining things to him. I was very careful not to say, "This is what we should do", and rather say, "Here are some possible ideas, what do you think?". And I was careful to leave a few key questions that had obvious answers..."And what do you think we should do about such-and-such?"

Then, when we had the meeting with the full Board of Directors, the President started the meeting by saying, "I met with John to discuss these matters, and I have decided that we are going to do such-and-such". He then turned the meeting over to me to explain what we were going to do.

I presented exactly the same ideas both times; the first time was a miserable failure, the second time was a sparkling success. The difference came down to understanding how face worked. In the second situation, everyone knew that the ideas were my ideas...but I gave the President the appearance of being the one responsible for all of it, and thereby giving him face for all accomplishments.

There are numerous small ways you can cause someone to lose face (or lose face yourself)...sometimes things we wouldn't consider important at all. For example:

* When receiving a person's business card, failing to accept it with both hands, or to read it for at least 30 seconds before placing it in a special business card case (never just put it in your pocket)

* At a dinner, failing to drink exactly the same amount of alcohol as the person who toasts you (drinking more can make them lose face, unless you specifically state you are drinking more to demonstrate your respect for them; drinking less can make you lose face)

* At a dinner, not being aware of the proper seating, and sitting somewhere that you should not.

* Accepting praise for a job well done, without attempting to deny your accomplishment, or deflect the praise onto someone else.
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Old 5th August 2008, 08:30 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
Example #1
The only way that I could remedy the situation was by giving him more face than I'd caused him to lose. Which is what I did. I was already quite drunk, but I filled a large glass with Chinese bai jiu (about 60% alcohol, tastes vile), told him that I was doing this to demonstrate my respect to him, and then downed the whole glass.

It made me quite sick...I didn't even make it to the toilet before puking up the entire contents of my stomach. Yet it did the job, because the message I gave to him and to everyone else there -- in a very visible and undeniable fashion -- was that his respect was so important to me that I'd damage my own health to demonstrate it. The result was that not only was our relationship not damaged, but it was actually strenghthened.
Lesson Learned:

Drinking is good for you, and good for business.

I heartily endorse this anecdote being taught at Harvard Business school, and to any and all tea totallers who do not grasp the role of the booze for schmooze in the international business environment.

DR
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Old 5th August 2008, 10:22 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by Darth Rotor View Post
Lesson Learned:

Drinking is good for you, and good for business.

I heartily endorse this anecdote being taught at Harvard Business school, and to any and all tea totallers who do not grasp the role of the booze for schmooze in the international business environment.

DR
Oh, in China, I'd consider drinking to be almost indispensable in doing business. Oh, sure, you can do business without drinking...but you're never going to build the relationships and networks that will guarantee the greatest opportunities, and minimize your risks.
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Old 5th August 2008, 10:36 AM   #105
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I'll expand on the drinking scenario, to try to explain it more effectively.

Think of 'face' as being determined by points. Lying to someone who is a close friend means you lose eight face-points. Lying to someone you don't know means you lose one face-point. Making a sacrifice to help a friend gives you five face-points. Etc.

It is all relative, but consider my drinking story in the following manner:

When I insulted the person who happened to be this guy's brother-in-law, I effectively caused the entire family to lose face...let's say five face-points. These face-points cannot be erased (the concept of 'forgiveness' is not a strong one in the Chinese culture). Forever and always, these negative face-points will exist.

So apologies -- attempts to take back what I've said, or to ask for forgiveness -- are largely useless.

The only thing I can do is try go do something that gives more face-points than have been lost. In this case, let's say that drinking an entire glass of bai jiu (when I was already quite drunk) to demonstrate my respect to this man is worth seven face-points. Then the net sum of face-points is plus two. I haven't erased my past error; but have compensated for it.

And face-points are not cumulative. If I did three different actions that were each worth three-face points (ie. telling him what a great man he is, complimenting other people in his family, and saying that I am stupid to have said such a thing), it doesn't total to nine face-points...it will still be only three face-points, and I'll still have a negative two score on the final tally.

Of course, no Chinese think of face in terms of face-points; it is a completely subconscious thing, almost instinctive. But there are definitely relative values ascribed to different actions, and you need to be aware of what those values are. If you cause someone to lose face in a big way, you could spend the rest of your life doing small things for that person to try to regain their trust/friendship, and never get anywhere; yet one single action of high enough value could effectively compensate for it.
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Old 5th August 2008, 11:45 AM   #106
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
Oh, in China, I'd consider drinking to be almost indispensable in doing business. Oh, sure, you can do business without drinking...but you're never going to build the relationships and networks that will guarantee the greatest opportunities, and minimize your risks.
Clearly, my job is in the wrong country.
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Old 5th August 2008, 10:00 PM   #107
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
I was actually going to bring up the same issue -- if we're talking simply about size, then yes, India is roughly comparable in population (and in fact will soon exceed China's population), but let me point out a few crucial issues:

* India's democracy came after an extended colonization by Britain; this introduced many of the structures and ideas necessary for a democracy. China has not had this experience.

* In India, which is democratic, it is impossible to implement effective birth control restrictions, because the people will never vote for a government that wants to impose such restrictions. Therefore, India's population continues to grow at a very rapid pace, a pace that sees it set to soon replace China as the most populous nation in the world (with significantly less land). I would argue that this is not a benefit; and although I disagree with some of the methods that China's government uses to enforce its birth control laws, I do believe that such restrictions are necessary.

* Chinese people enjoy far higher levels of social equality than Indians do. Previous systems in China that promoted social inequality -- inequality based on gender, inequality based on social level, etc. -- were largely destroyed by Communist policies. For all the abuses that happen here, the status of China's women, for example, has been massively improved. In India, on the other hand, the caste system still retains an oppressively strong grip on the culture. And again, it is difficult for any government to take strong action against is, because any government that does so will generally be voted out of power.

* To further support my argument, China's growth far exceeds that of India's. Not just economic growth, but overall improvement of standard of living, standard of education, etc.

It is a sad but true reality that countries like China and India face significant problems that more developed nations do not. And because of that, they must sometimes make hard decisions that are very unpopular with the people of that country, but nevertheless are quite necessary. A democratic country in such a situation is essentially handcuffed, because any government that tries to enact such policies will be voted out of power and replaced by a government that will immediately rescind them.
I knew, you're a communist.
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Old 6th August 2008, 01:19 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by Cleon View Post
Clearly, my job is in the wrong country.
Also a great excuse when you're a drunk, isn't it?
'I .. dirnk to zee, *hic* I respect *slurslur* you sooo much *hic*'



Thanks again Wolfman.
Many strange things there in China.
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