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Sunday, May 08, 2011

There Were Probably Women And Song Involved Also

Sinopec scandal: The popular outrage in China is really because of the price of gas, but this is hardly the austere management of the people's resources that Friedman seems to believe dominates:
At a time of rising public anger over high gas prices, Chinese Web sites and even some official media have bubbled with fury over Sinopec’s spendthrift ways and mocked the company’s claim that a lone, wayward executive is to blame — and has now coughed up for wine already drunk.

A couple of years ago I read a book, "RIVER TOWN" by Peter Hessler. He was a Peace Corps volunteer who taught English in the small town of Fuling on the banks of the Yangtse River. Although there were many strange things about the culture that he reported, one of the strangest was the practice of the Chinese faculty and administrators, most of whom were Party members, to hold periodic banquets where they would get totally drunk. Part of the ritual was to heap abuse on those who could not hold their liquor as if being a two fisted drinker was a badge of honor.
He also observed that the more prestigious Party members tended to bully their less important fellow travelers.

This may have been isolated to a backwater like Fuling, but if it is a wider practice in China, it means we have little to fear from them as a legitimate competitor - economic or political. If it is practiced in their businesses, they will be just that much less efficient.
Jimmy, in my experience there are some Chinese businessmen and technologists who (I believe, anyway) truly have the desire to get ahead by creating value. The system is rigged, however, so that they only exist at the whim of the people you describe. They just don't have a legal system capable of defending property rights, even in the most rudimentary fashion, so the way to get ahead is to go for the quick buck.

I've been hoping to see this change, but it hasn't, IMHO.
Happy MOM day. :)
Neil, some behavior of Chinese government officials and of Chinese merchants would be instantly recognizable as unchanged by their ancestors of 2500 years ago. Even communism couldn't scourge those traits out of the culture.
Everyone - isn't corruption and self-dealing pretty much a human characteristic?

The theory of communism was that it would change human nature. That much is clearly debunked.

What interested me so much about the article were the social forces behind the backlash; these companies have been getting away with this behavior, but now the pain of the gas prices in China is forcing heightened scrutiny.
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