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#41 baw1064

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Posted 19 August 2018 - 03:42 PM

de Toqueville's analysis, I believe, is more descriptive the prescriptive. In the case of France, it arguably took from 1789 until 1958 to come up with a stable form of government (the 3rd Republic persisted from 1870-1940, but it pretty much just lurched from crisis to crisis rather than truly achieving stability). What exactly the take home message is for China from a reading of de Toqueville isn't clear to me. If we set 1911 as the date for China equivalent to 1789 for France and follow a similar time line, then it's likely that China will spend most of this century working out its remaining structural-political issues.
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#42 J-CA

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Posted 19 August 2018 - 07:46 PM

View Postbaw1064, on 19 August 2018 - 03:42 PM, said:

de Toqueville's analysis, I believe, is more descriptive the prescriptive. In the case of France, it arguably took from 1789 until 1958 to come up with a stable form of government (the 3rd Republic persisted from 1870-1940, but it pretty much just lurched from crisis to crisis rather than truly achieving stability). What exactly the take home message is for China from a reading of de Toqueville isn't clear to me. If we set 1911 as the date for China equivalent to 1789 for France and follow a similar time line, then it's likely that China will spend most of this century working out its remaining structural-political issues.
First of all thank you for the reference to French history here, it often somehow escapes my mind the turmoil that was the inter-war French political environment!
I think that de Toqueville's analysis benefits from some modern research on integration of minorities in western societies.. bear with me here..
https://www.cbc.ca/r...ation-1.4183842
(I highly recommend the audio.)

Quote

"When integration, inclusion or equal opportunities are successfully implemented, they do not lead to a society which is more harmonious, or free from conflict. On the contrary. The central effect of successful integration is actually a higher potential for conflicts. In every case, more people will be sitting at the table and they all want a piece of the pie. Remember this image of the table: more people are sitting at the table and want a piece of the pie. How is this supposed to lead to fewer conflicts? This idea is either naive and romantic, in the sense of multicultural optimism. Or it is hegemonic, in the sense of expecting minorities to assimilate. Reality, however, looks different."
While the research here references "multiculturalism" one could easily imagine how this same phenomenon applies to just the general principle of "the partial enfranchisement of previously completely disenfranchised groups" instead. Polling quite clearly indicates that as virtually any minority class in the United States has seen their status rise they have become more sensitive to discrimination against them and the disadvantages of being a minority. ("Getting better makes things worse.") Seeing de Tocqueville's sentiments in this light makes it clear that casting this same frame over class issues makes prosperity breed discontent for the merchant class, the real engineers of the French Revolution.

My personal opinion is that the Chinese leadership will at some point see the benefit of a Russian/Singapore-style pseudo-democratic political environment with a commercial class that is wealthy but subservient to the political regime.
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#43 J-CA

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Posted 19 August 2018 - 08:00 PM

View PostTraveler, on 19 August 2018 - 02:55 PM, said:

Which I don't think is the case with China. The CCP misinterprets discontent as folks being in dire conditions. It sure ain't great for many in the cities, but nobody is going hungry or homeless.
I think that the Chinese leadership understand what is going on, the fanatical focus on the Great Firewall and parallel government-controlled services like WeChat is evidence of that.
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#44 George Rowell

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 02:34 AM

I think few people understand China. The common mistake is to try to analyse their actions using our western framework, it does not work. Ninety percent of foreign startups in China fail and that includes countries like South Korea, whom you might assume would understand the system. I happen to have extensive business experience in China. When I first started small scale electronic production I encountered a bewildering number of problems because I assumed you could proceed as if you were in a western country. You cannot.
One Chinese ethic in particular caused me serious losses. Here it is, 'Do not allow waste'. It cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars. Let me tell you how. Our QC determined that some resistors and diodes when encapsulated failed after repeated thermal cycling. I personally went to the factory and threw the faulty batches in the bin, specified replacements and thought it would be the end of the matter. Products began to fail. Post mortems determined the resistors and diodes were failing. The person responsible for procurement admitted to taking the components I had thrown away from the rubbish bin and putting them back on the shelves. 'Do not allow waste'. In another case I focused on an employee who did not follow the rules and I left instructions for her to be dismissed immediately, that same day with pay. She wasn't. They made her work out her last month and she irretrievably ruined thousands of dollars of equipment by getting epoxy on the enclosures.

Then our Chinese distributor started copying our product with our name and model number. I confronted him and he said 'yes, how can we do business?'. No, I said, you do not understand, we know you are faking and marketing our product. Yes, he said again, how can we do business? He was introducing me to the power concept. He knew I could do nothing about it. (You may be interest to know how we got on with this company - see below) Another time I met another copier of one of our products. They said it was my fault that they copied our product because we did not protect the code well enough. Yes, they blamed us. Perhaps the most outrageous time was when we went to order more plastic enclosures and found the supplier had had his factory stripped. He explained he had gambling debts and some bad guys had come and removed all his plastic injection tools. The tools we owned were gone too. A few months later we saw fake copies of our products in our enclosures produced by our stolen injection molds advertised on line. Legal action would have been a waste of time.

Now to say that we were not at fault would be wrong. We did not understand or fit into the Chinese system. We did not put adequate controls in place, we left our IP vulnerable to theft and did not develop close personal ties with our distributors and contractors. The heart of the Chinese experience is the family. If you want to do business outside the family you need to develop relationships.

Then there is power and control. In China power and control is everything. Using your power at every level is accepted even if it is bad mannered or illegal as long as you can get away with it. People just think of course he did, because he could.

Now does this mean Chinese are bad or should we stop doing business with them? No, it does not. It means you have to be prepared to act like a Chinese person and take the same precautions they do. You cannot judge a different culture except by being part of that culture. I might add that, in my view, the same goes for the American culture.

So how did we proceed with the distributor who faked our products? The distributor still fakes our products but only sells within China because his products are poor quality and his QC is lacking. They have a large customer base and when they get orders outside China they buy from us. We have a good Chinese style relationship with them.

Is it changing? Yes. Are we learning? Maybe.
A doctor knows a little about a lot. A specialist knows a lot about a little. In time the doctor knows less and less about more and more and the specialist knows more and more about less and less until ultimately the doctor knows nothing about everything and the specialist knows everything about nothing.

#45 Traveler

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 08:15 AM

View PostJ-CA, on 19 August 2018 - 07:46 PM, said:


While the research here references "multiculturalism" one could easily imagine how this same phenomenon applies to just the general principle of "the partial enfranchisement of previously completely disenfranchised groups" instead. Polling quite clearly indicates that as virtually any minority class in the United States has seen their status rise they have become more sensitive to discrimination against them and the disadvantages of being a minority. ("Getting better makes things worse.") Seeing de Tocqueville's sentiments in this light makes it clear that casting this same frame over class issues makes prosperity breed discontent for the merchant class, the real engineers of the French Revolution.

My personal opinion is that the Chinese leadership will at some point see the benefit of a Russian/Singapore-style pseudo-democratic political environment with a commercial class that is wealthy but subservient to the political regime.
Thanks for the post. But I would suggest more likely to go Singaporean than Russian. One is a meritocracy, the other is a kleptocracy (at the moment- and likely to persist as such for some time).
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#46 Traveler

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 08:21 AM

LLEWOP, great post. You, DCoronata and I all have experiences in China, so it is very instructive to exchange anecdotes. I know this has been posted before, but you might not have seen it. Another Chinese trait that defines how they approach things. I can verify that this is most certainly the way things get done. They short change us on our projects but not having us supervise, and then pay twice to rip out the faulty materials and replace with the proper stuff. Another element is the ever present hurry up and wait.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#47 Traveler

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 08:25 AM

View PostJ-CA, on 19 August 2018 - 08:00 PM, said:

I think that the Chinese leadership understand what is going on, the fanatical focus on the Great Firewall and parallel government-controlled services like WeChat is evidence of that.

Getting to the larger issue of the trade war, and China's purported need to play power games just to survive, is it your take that such an approach is still necessary? Even with the Great Wall, wechat and an omni-present militia?
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#48 golden_valley

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 10:30 AM

View PostLLEWOP, on 20 August 2018 - 02:34 AM, said:

...
Then there is power and control. In China power and control is everything. Using your power at every level is accepted even if it is bad mannered or illegal as long as you can get away with it. People just think of course he did, because he could.

...

Not so different in America.

#49 baw1064

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 02:18 PM

I appreciate the raising of the point about cultural differences between China and western countries. But, by the same token, it makes it a little strange that Wang looks to de Toqueville for policy guidance.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” --Dr. Seuss

#50 J-CA

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 06:23 PM

View Postbaw1064, on 20 August 2018 - 02:18 PM, said:

I appreciate the raising of the point about cultural differences between China and western countries. But, by the same token, it makes it a little strange that Wang looks to de Toqueville for policy guidance.
"Maoism" was pretty popular by western standards in France in the 60's-early 70's as I understand it, leading a lot of the Chinese elites to get educations in the France around that time. Deng and Zhou both studied in France in the 1920's as well, there are some deep roots there. I think as a result, given the current demographics of Chinese leadership, is a lot of French history and philosophy in the zeitgeist right now in those circles.
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#51 J-CA

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 06:24 PM

View PostTraveler, on 20 August 2018 - 08:25 AM, said:

Getting to the larger issue of the trade war, and China's purported need to play power games just to survive, is it your take that such an approach is still necessary? Even with the Great Wall, wechat and an omni-present militia?
Sorry, I don't quite understand the question.
I am the burrito until someone hands me to a philosopher.

#52 Traveler

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 06:31 PM

Do you think social unrest in China poses a similar threat to leadership? So much so that it is necessary to exert such mercantilsm? My take is that China is so far along now, there is no more need for it to resort to SOE tactics to keep the masses happy.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#53 LFC

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Posted 23 August 2018 - 11:13 AM

Here's a piece from TDB that backs my view that Trump publicly and brashly launching into a trade war with China predictably backed them into a corner. At this point they feel that they cannot even compromise because that will be capitulation and that means they're weak. The track record on the fates of weak leaders in China is not something the current leadership would be looking forward to.

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“The U.S. and China are now in the most dangerous period in the past 40 years,” Lu Xiang of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told Bloomberg. “Mr. Trump put a knife on our neck. We will never surrender.”

In Beijing, what Americans call a “trade war” is now considered an existential struggle, an attitude revealing fault lines in Chinese political circles. As a result, no one should expect a quick settlement of the dispute.


Trump is following in the ineffective footsteps of the neocons before him. He and they think they can solve every foreign policy situation with bluster, threats, and economic attacks. They never take the time to assess the situation they're putting the other country into and then they're surprised (yet again) at the undesirable (but predictable) reaction they get.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

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#54 Traveler

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Posted 23 August 2018 - 12:34 PM

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There is a far bigger concern for China, however. Trump’s demands to Beijing—end subsidies, stop forced tech transfers, and dismantle industrial policies like Xi’s infamous Made in China 2025 initiative—are seen, as Bloomberg describes it, as “posing an existential threat to the Communist Party.”

That by itself defines the stakes for Xi’s China. Furthermore, there is something just as fundamental: Washington, in response to persistent Chinese belligerence, is in the process of ditching its four-decade-old “engagement” approach and adopting containment-like policies. Both Trump’s National Security Strategy, issued in December, and his National Defense Strategy, released the following month, target China in unambiguous terms.

Chinese policymakers have read both documents and are now alarmed. Cheng Li of the Brookings Institution called the labeling of Beijing a strategic competitor “a big blow for China.” “For Beijing,” Li told the South China Morning Post, “everything can be discussed as long as it was treated as a possible partner or a friend. But many things can’t be negotiated as enemies.”

How can stopping predatory trade practices that no other major nation on the planet uses be an existential threat? China made this bed. Obama's TPP was a nice idea, but he let it get coopted by the MNCs so badly that Clinton even bailed. If he had confronted China more firmly, we wouldnt be in this mess. LLEWOP, DCoronata and I work in China. We know how they operate. The only effort from the west they will respond to is power. They have the ethics of a tick.

Not happy with how, but I sure see why.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#55 LFC

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Posted 23 August 2018 - 01:16 PM

View PostTraveler, on 23 August 2018 - 12:34 PM, said:

Not happy with how, but I sure see why.

To me the "how" is virtually the entire story. If this was done diplomatically we might have actually achieved at least some of our goals. We could have quietly ratcheted up pressure bit by bit so they knew we were serious but left them a face-saving way out. By turning the dials to 11 right out of the gate Trump has virtually ensured that China will not respond with anything but similarly aggressive tactics. You and I have the same goal but my problem right now is that Trump is engaging the issue in a manner that is virtually guaranteed to fail. Ditto for his dealings with Iran. And the EU. And North Korea. And...

And let's not forget that China has the only real levers of control over North Korea. What kind of mischief can they create for us there?
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#56 Traveler

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Posted 23 August 2018 - 02:16 PM

Actually, it was done diplomatically, if you recall Obama's approach. Which got us absolutely nowhere. And if anything, the lack of any substantive protest encouraged the Chinese to ignore him. Meanwhile, they ratcheted up the SCS militarization and EEZ takeovers, which was also met with resounding silence. (At least he challenged the Senkaku ADIZ). So Wang and Xi thought they could keep it up once Trump gladhanded Xi. It took Trump's bizarre backstabbing to shake them up.

Fuck saving their face. They were the ones that planted their flag on predatory practices. We gonna bend over to save Xi's obnoxious ass? You think they want an economic war? Because that is what they started. Not Trump.

As for Korea, Kim shafted himself by continuing to build missiles after the meeting. I am waiting for the drills to resume. And China is not going to like that one bit either. Again, they could have done something helpful, and didn't.

I used to think China was a natural ally. Virtually everyone that knows China now realizes that this is not to be.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#57 LFC

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Posted 23 August 2018 - 02:58 PM

View PostTraveler, on 23 August 2018 - 02:16 PM, said:

Actually, it was done diplomatically, if you recall Obama's approach.

Not the ratcheting up part. There should have been a game plan for what to do when pure diplomacy failed that might well have had final steps of ever-increasing tariffs.

The real questions for me are what do we want to get out of this, do we expect to get it with this method, and how do we expect it to impact Americans? If your answer to the first is "to punish China immediately for their trade practices" the next two questions probably don't matter to you.


View PostTraveler, on 23 August 2018 - 02:16 PM, said:

I used to think China was a natural ally. Virtually everyone that knows China now realizes that this is not to be.

I agree. All we're differing on is the approach and the approach we're taking has only one expected outcome; an ever escalating cold war. Maybe you think that's all that's left as an option but I would disagree. I think slowly boiling the frog (tariffs, trade restrictions, military exercises) while remaining eerily quiet rather than blustering would have been more effective. Let them bluster as we say "we respectfully disagree" and just go on doing what we're doing. Teddy wasn't wrong when he said "speak softly and carry a big stick."

Saving their face isn't something I suggested because I feel bad for them. It's something I suggested because it has a chance of success. Our current path has a proven track record of failure unless, again, it's all just about punishment. In that case the action is the objective and we expect nothing good to be able to come out of this ... ever.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#58 Traveler

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Posted 23 August 2018 - 04:02 PM

I think its time Xi got taken down a peg or two. There is no way out except for him to lose face. They staked their flag on a policy that will not be tolerated any more. I agree a more muscular approach with less bluster would have been far preferable. But remember, the dump has to rally his base for this to work. With the current economy, he might pull it off. The strong dollar is killing the Chinese, since they cannot use their own fiscal policy for stimulus to make up for lost markets.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#59 J-CA

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Posted 24 August 2018 - 10:58 AM

View PostTraveler, on 20 August 2018 - 06:31 PM, said:

Do you think social unrest in China poses a similar threat to leadership? So much so that it is necessary to exert such mercantilsm? My take is that China is so far along now, there is no more need for it to resort to SOE tactics to keep the masses happy.
My take is that social unrest is the threat to Chinese leadership.
Of course the primary threat to any particular leader is other members of the leadership but the only real threat to the continued rule of the Communist Party is social unrest.
I think that all of the Chinese leadership recognize that:
- Economic growth and improvement is a necessary but not sufficient condition for avoiding political turmoil
- The Chinese middle class at its current size and weight could foment a counter-revolution that would have some success through violent or non-violent means
- Nationalism is a good tool for uniting politically disenfranchised people with resources to space, to the extent that military and trade belligerence generates anger at the Chinese state it is a useful thing up to a point

I think that "Chinese mercantilsm" is necessary only in that if you want to wring the most out of your economy you should do everything you can get away with to do so. They can get away with a lot so they do.
I would also say that the behaviour of the Chinese with respect to forced technology transfers and requiring joint ventures, etc. are not in fact unprecedented or exclusively the domain of the Chinese state these days. Equity caps on foreign ownership is very widely practiced, board & workforce composition rules are the norm in SE Asia (which becomes a forced technology transfer) - non-enforcement of IP law is the only real issue with China that is exclusive to their jurisdiction. I think those complaints have merit, but I really don't think it is as big a deal as folks are getting so worked up about.
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#60 Traveler

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Posted 24 August 2018 - 12:31 PM

Thanks for the considered reply. A couple of things though. The real beef with trade practices is that the China "partner" gets the IP, and then competes with the original due to heavy subsidies. They are supposedly trying to honor IP. One huge SOE (Wuhan Steel) told me they would honor mine. But they wouldn't even honor the contract they signed. They blamed this on the government. Go figure. As I mentioned before, these practices are characteristic of far less developed countries needing a leg up. But not only more justified for them, they are not a major player either. Neither of these applies to China. "They can get away with a lot so they do." That says it all.

Have you been to China? There is absolutely no resistance, at least in Tier I and 2 cities. Folks are OK with the CCP- they consider it a necessary evil, but generally appreciate its efforts. So I just cannot fathom any sort of organized revolt that could take on the military. All of the mass incidents are directed at local governments and companies who rip poor folks off. The CCP could do a much better job enforcing good behavior, but as us China vets know, it's all power. Those without it suffer. And always will. Nationalism is also rife. You wouldn't believe the email chains I got on Japanese atrocities back when Japan was boogieman no. 1.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire





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