The Giant and the Three Golden Hairs

Three things that make china so different but also difficult to handle:

Number one is pride on their own culture. China looks back on thousands of years of history. This makes it to one of the worlds oldest continuous civilisations – and Chinese people are aware of it. China is called Zhongguo (中國 or 中国) in Chinese, which is translated “Middle/Central Kingdom” or german “Reich der Mitte”.

Number two is the Guanxi. This is a system of relations between single persons, it determines how you treat your friends and enemies, depending on how close you are with them. Guanxi is widely misunderstood by the western world. If they are connected only loosely to their business partners, it allows the Chinese to cancel contracts without worries. So family relations and friends are crucial for this. If two persons went to the same school or university, this is a good base for such a relation.

Number three goes hand in hand with it. The so called Renqing stands for gifts or favours in the social network. In order to “not loose the face” Chinese generally have return gifts that they received from close friends. In a western sense, this would be assessed as bribery, but in China it is fully legitimised.

So how to pull the hairs?

This country with its worlds biggest army is not so easy to conquer, so one has to see, how to adapt these basic customs, to find a solution for general conflicts. Hair Number one – hard to handle. Pride blinds eyes and ears. If the western world would adapt to this, we probably had to submit to Chinese rule. Not good. What about Guanxi? If Western worlds would follow the principles of Renqing (send lots of gifts to China) and just wait until China would pay its debt, wouldn’t that work? On “Chinese Gift Day” everybody would collect presents for the PRC (People’s Republic of China), and send them over to the party head office.

Well, but things in China are deeper. At the base there are tight relations. Around 80 to 90 percent of wealth is earned by cadre, the good connections rule. As mentioned above, the visit of the same school can be enough to introduce some determination in the tightness of the relation. So if you want to speak their language, it is not enough to learn the words, but also be able to read between the lines. It is just a bit hard to build up a close relation if you have just a very little in common. So, here are two ways to solve the problem: first, find out school mates of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, hijack and brainwash them and at last install them on top of U.N., America and E.U. institutions. If the brain wash was successful, time will do the rest.

Just in case this doesn’t work, all that needs to be done is find possible offspring from Hu and Wen, hijack and brainwash them, and then marry them to the offspring of the leaders of the institutions above.

Once this is done, send gifts to the head office and receive the payback. Their faces won’t drop to the floor, China can keep its pride.

The Three Hairs would rest secure in the boys hands.

(This blog-post is influenced by the fairytale “The Giant with the Three Golden Hairs”)

Handle with care

The first two paragraphs of the Olympic Charter:

1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.

The ugly face of ChinaThese paragraphs are a slap in the face of the Tibetan people who demonstrate for autonomy, for their country and religion. When the International Olympic Commitee (IOC) gave the Olympics to Beijing, the world was well aware that China doesn’t comply with all the articles of the human rights charter. But there was hope that the games will work as a catalyst for social and political progress, that they will enhance the freedom of the Chinese and moreover Tibetan people.

Now, it is 2008, the year of the Olympics – and the massive and brutal military crackdown on the Tibetan protesters shows that China hasn’t made any progress so far – that seems to be clear. The easiest thing right now is to call for a boycott, to demand decisive actions by the IOC and the leaders of the western world.

But it is not that easy.

On one side there is the just Tibetan call for more autonomy and religious freedom, on the other hand is a China that took a huge step forward since the days of the Cultural Revolution and Mao’s tyranny. The (western) world needs to find a way to support the Tibetan cause without making the Chinese lose their face. The notion of losing your face is one of the most powerful parts of the Chinese culture but it still does not get as much attention as it should get. The west tries to explain China with terms of its own culture, it does not see that human rights for example, as we know them, are deeply rooted in the Enlightenment. For a Chinese man in the street a human right is not the right to express himself but the right to support the community.

But the egocentric world view is dangerous. There is the possibility that China falls back into an anti-western isolationism. And that would mean that the worlds most populous country and soon enough the worlds biggest economy is out of range for most if not all western influences.…and the nice face

And: A boycott would backfire. Instead of supporting the Tibetans and punishing the Chinese, one would punish the Tibetans and just snub the Chinese. If there were no Olympic Games in China the Tibetans would have no stage for their dramatical protests. The Games cast a spotlight on China as a whole. Thousands of western tourists visit the country this year, the newspapers are full with articles about it and in the TV you find lots of documentations about ‚the rise of the red dragon‘. After a final decision for a boycott the western world would have no lever left to influence China towards a policy of more minority-autonomy.

A full boycott of the Olympics does more harm then good. Western statesmen should rather boycott the opening ceremony in Beijing, should support (even with financial aid) independent news coverage from all provinces of China and should not hesitate to rise the issue of Tibet in the security council of the U.N. A more passive, but decisive position seems appropriate.

In this way the Chinese do not lose their face and the west does not lose the Chinese.

See also: Olympics on the slant & Gallery on China