China has startled and fascinated the world with her sudden phenomenon and unbelievable uprising and change. Though her GDP has lowered to 6~7%, but the impact on global economy is still awesome! Many Chinese companies have made to the top Fortune 500 corporations with their inventions, technological developments and expanding market share. She is dominating the world with her high-speed rail in terms of performance, price and speedy installations.
I want to share my insights and experiences gained from
my living and working in China. The book is written from a different
perspective that you do not normally find in most foreign books written on
China. The book allows the readers to understand how China has evolved from her
rich history, culture and ideologies and turned from a glorious past to
humiliation in the last two centuries and now reborn to itself again. China has
a unique behaviour and mindset that are not well understood by outsiders.
I want to share my insights and experiences gained from my living and working in China. The book is written from a different perspective that you do not normally find in most foreign books written on China. The book allows the readers to understand how China has evolved from her rich history, culture and ideologies and turned from a glorious past to humiliation in the last two centuries and now reborn to itself again. China has a unique behaviour and mindset that are not well understood by outsiders.
In the fall of 2004, I began quarterly trips to China to meet with suppliers, visit our two sourcing offices and get a general feel for the potential of China in our overall Global Sourcing strategy. Calipe Chong was our Director of both of our sourcing offices, one in Shanghai and one in Shenzhen. He was also our guide, interpreter and fountain of knowledge about Chinese culture, habits and protocol. Over the next 7 years, Calipe not only taught all of us at MTD all of these things, but he also was instrumental in closing both of our offices, assisting in the acquisition of another sourcing company in China and leading a contingent of MTD people all around China in search for the appropriate manufacturing location to begin our own China operations. During that time, Calipe and I had the opportunity to spend many weeks together and I learned to appreciate his dedication to his business and his knowledge of all things China. It was during this period that Calipe and I became more than associates, we became friends. Calipe was always ready and willing to help in anything that we were trying to accomplish as a company.
It is a great pleasure for me to encourage all to read and learn from Calipe’s book. He is one with great insight into the Chinese culture and has great knowledge of the workings of business practices and habits in China. I congratulate him on putting all of his knowledge together for all to share.
Retired Executive Vice President of Global Sourcing
MTD Products Inc
I was born and grew up in Singapore while my dad was born in southern China. He had been brought to Malaysia at the age of three by his parents. Both of my maternal grandparents were also born in China. They all left China during the times of war, hardship, and chaos. Famine was widespread, and my paternal great-grandmother starved to death in her hometown.
My dad only had one year of primary school education due to the outbreak of World War II in Malaysia at that time. However, he never gave up learning and through self-study, he taught himself to read novels, newspaper, and academic books. He had a bookshelf with no less than a hundred of his favorite books covering history, biographies, philosophies, novels, fables, and legends, and loved to share his beliefs and insights with me. He taught me who we were, why we were like that, morals and principles of life, as well as the glory and misery throughout the Chinese history. I read all his books before turning fourteen. He was instrumental in shaping thoughts, insights, and values which have governed my whole life.
I am truly a Chinese descendant now living in a multiracial society in Singapore with strong influences of Western and Chinese cultures, morals, and values. Whenever I am asked where my homeland is, I always tell them it is Singapore. I am proud to be part of this country where different races, religions, cultures, and mindsets co-exist without acrimony on a tiny dot on the globe.
28 years of employment in American multi-national corporations further taught me to appreciate different cultures, philosophies, morals, and values. And I am still practicing American management styles, strategies, codes of conduct, and business ethics today, even though I have lived and worked in China for more than 20 years.
All these experiences helped me to comprehend the changes I saw in China from a naive and shy country during my first arrival in 1989 to an assertive and proud nation today. The country now has more self-esteem and deals with foreigners comfortably and confidently. Patriotism in China is running high now, and the nation will not take intimidation easily from other countries! Being of the Chinese race, I am pleased that China is now revitalizing. My father would be very delighted too if he was still alive.
Given my multi-cultural background, I maneuvered easily between my Western colleagues and clients with Chinese parties. My ability to provide clear explanations and illustrations on the expectations and behavior of both sides helped to foster better mutual understanding and less suspicion so that we could conclude deals in an amiable manner. It was during those years of facilitating negotiations, exchanges, and meetings, that I realized both sides need to understand each other more. This would help to enhance businesses, inter-relationships, and peace.
I wanted to write a book candidly illustrating the differences and similarities of the two cultures to help them get closer. Business commitments (or procrastination) prevented me from taking up the pen. What I did instead was post some blogs on my company website to depict my impromptu insights at that moment. I received many good comments and encouragement to write more. Nothing moved until my good friend, Henry Wong, a fellow Singaporean who has been living in the USA for many years, pushed me.
The U.S. released a documentary “Misunderstanding China” just prior to President Richard Nixon’s inaugural visit to China in 1972. It opened the eyes of Western viewers to a China which they did not know about then. This helped to gain public approval for his visit, as China was a communist state at that time. It still is today! The Cold War with Russian had made Americans apprehensive and skeptical about communist countries. It is my wish this book will enlighten Western readers with more in-depth knowledge and insights about the people and country called “China.”
China is so diverse and complex that no one can fully understand or explain it. Not even the Chinese themselves. You can find many Chinese writers and academics still debating among themselves ferociously about the core values, philosophies, historic accounts, and what constitutes Chinese identity. It is impossible to have one common voice for 1.3 billion people.
The recent changes in China in the last five years have been phenomenal! Not only have we have seen its rapid development in industry and technology capabilities, but its military power and foreign affairs are just awesome. I am not attempting to exaggerate China achievements, nor am I lauding its glory and power. I just want to present what it was previously, what it once went through, and what the nation is right now. My purpose is to depict facts and actual situations happening in China which are not reported adequately in the foreign countries.
It is not my intention to also show the weaknesses and malicious behavior of the Chinese. When you want to deal with the Chinese either as friends or foe, you need to know about the negative sides of the other party for tactical purposes. But you never hold these views as the guide, otherwise you will always misjudge the Chinese. Instead, you should find out their strengths and leverage them so that you can handle them appropriately. Knowing the strengths of the Chinese is what makes you successful in your endeavors with them.
This book is beneficial to those foreigners who want to conduct businesses or activities with the Chinese whether in their home countries or in China itself. Like Sun Zi (孙子) said in his renowned book The Art of War, “If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles – 知己知彼 百战百胜.” I am not advocating taking on the Chinese as foes. The first few things you need to know about are their background, behaviors, likes, and dislikes. You want to establish a good relationship with your neighbor. Don’t you?
Chinese nationals may also find this book helpful to enhance their understanding of their culture, history, and customs, from the view of an overseas Chinese person, while also catching a glimpse of how other foreigners see them.
Chapter 1 - The Changing China gives a quick glimpse of the rapid changes taking shape in China, primarily in military readiness, economic power, and the aspiring and assertive Chinese.
Chapter 2 – Geography provides general geographic information on China in order to enable readers to appreciate its vast land and different ethnic groups.
Chapter 3 - A Different Race – From Historical Perspectives examines the history and major events that have formed China’s peculiar mindsets and behaviors.
Chapter 4 - Humiliation and Rebirth illustrates China’s sufferings and the change of events that are pushing Chinese hard not to have that history repeated.
Chapter 5 - Religions and Philosophies deals with the various major religions, ideologies, and philosophies that the Chinese still practice. These beliefs direct the Chinese instinctively in various situations.
Chapter 6 - Belt and Road Initiative relates the historical backgrounds and goals which the Chinese government wants to resurrect, including the trade and development in the cities that were once on major trade routes.
Chapter 7 – Factory of the World recounts the path to how China transformed from a low-cost mass production center to the major factory of the world.
Chapter 8 - High Technology Industries & Achievements lists some of the leading technologies and innovations in China.
Chapter 9 - Guanxi and Giving Face explains unique Chinese behaviors that foreigners are not accustomed to.
Chapter 10 - Intellectual Proprietary Rights provides an update of the IPR violation in China.
Chapter 11 – Corruptions relates experiences encountered previously and measures taken to tackle it.
I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Henry Wong in making me to write this book.
This book is dedicated to my beloved father
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Changing China
Humiliation and Rebirth
Yi Jing (I Ching易经)
The First Transcontinental Trade Route
Recreate the Feat
Factory of the world
Clinching that PO
Strategic Leverage - Supply Chain
The change in consumer expectations
High Technology Industries & Achievements
Huawei – 5G Network and Smartphone
The Changing China
In recent years, rapid development in China’s economic economy and military has caused many Western countries to become wary about its influence and domination in the world’s political and socio-economic arenas. The change, at a pace never before witnessed by any nation, has been seen as too rapid and frightening. Less than two decades ago, the U.S. sent two aircraft carriers to the Taiwan Strait when China was perceived as flexing its muscles towards Taiwan when the latter was trying to break away. China immediately withdrew from the confrontation. If it happens again today, the U.S. navy fleet will encounter challenges from Chinese warships, missiles, and submarines. There is no guarantee that the U.S. can easily defeat China today without suffering a hefty price, including casualties.
The frontier war with Vietnam launched by late Deng Xiaoping in 1979 “to teach the Vietnamese a lesson” is a good illustration. China launched the offensive in response to Vietnam's invasion and occupation of Cambodia in 1978. The Vietnamese had also been treating the Chinese descendants badly, forcing them to flee the country. This resulted in a mass exodus of Chinese to the South China Sea in the late 1970s. Thousands of these “boat people” perished in the sea.
The Chinese army attacked Vietnam from the north in February 1979 and captured several cities near the border. The army stayed on briefly and withdrew a month later, claiming that its punitive mission had been achieved.
China, which used conventional warfare to deter Vietnam at that time, also suffered heavy casualties in those battles. The country claimed that its casualties included 9,000 deaths and 10,000 wounded while Vietnam claimed its casualties were 10,000 deaths and no reported wounded, though there were undoubtedly many.
Today, China has a full range of high technology weaponry for space, advanced reconnaissance aircrafts, drones (air and submersibles), telecommunications, and many higher firepower and more sophisticated air, naval, and land weaponries. The country has regained its self-confidence, along with a proven strategy that a country needs to be strong in order to deter other countries from taking advantage.
This is the spirit that the martial art masters like to instill in their disciples. The awesome realization is that China accomplished this formidable transformation in less than a decade. In a short span of time, you find its military arsenal keeps popping out various military hardware and software. The first aircraft carrier, Liaoning (辽宁舰), was retrofitted from a Ukraine aircraft carrier and commissioned on September 25, 2012. China launched its own aircraft carrier on April 26, 2017, while the next aircraft carrier is already near completion on the drawing boards. Many people are startled by the speed and upgrades produced by these aircraft carriers. New bombers and fighter jets are also rolling out from the assembly lines with capabilities and performance that are fast catching up with American and Russian planes.
And China is slowly phasing in its own homemade engines for these planes too. It is said that it is striving hard to make its own fifth-generation stealth fighter plane engine by 2021. It is natural for the country to expedite weapons development if it encounters hostile and unfriendly confrontation from others. Western countries are restricting high technology products and military hardware exports to China. This has forced it to develop new technologies alone. The country has proven it can do it!
Deadlier and more powerful missiles are continuously being developed and displayed to the world, with the capacity to attack distant locations, including moving targets on sea and land. The much talked about DF-26 is an Intermediate Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a range of 3,107 miles. It has multiple warheads with conventional or nuclear capabilities and is reputed to be an aircraft carrier strike force nemesis. It is being speculated that the missile can travel to very high altitudes, at supersonic speeds, guided by Chinese BeiDou satellite navigation system on its in-built GPS module in the warheads. Its multiple warheads can track targets individually. Thus, shooting down all the warheads with an anti-missile system is almost impossible. Can you imagine the impact if China has found a way to launch DF-26 missile from its formidable submarines? It completely obliterates the effectiveness of aircraft carriers and revamps global military deployment, strategies, and tactics!
In August 2017, a Chinese movie Wolf Warrior II (饿狼2) raked in ¥4 billion (US$1.9 billion) just 15 days after its debut and became the number-one box office hit of all time in China. The main character, Lenfeng (冷峰), is a Chinese version of Hollywood’s Rambo. The difference is that Rambo singlehandedly (with no help from the U.S. Army) defeated large enemy forces, while Lenfeng had the Chinese military supporting him with heavy firepower and high technology weaponry that allowed him to obliterate the enemy. Everybody loves a hero!
The famous slogan by Lenfeng in the movie is “all infiltrators on Chinese soil will be wiped out, no matter how far the place is!” The movie inspired many Chinese to stand firm and retaliate to all hostility, humiliation, and belligerence from other countries. Fortunately, the government keeps its cool and manages to deal the intricate and spiteful situations with foreign countries both tactfully and peacefully.
When I spoke to young people in the early 2000s, I do not recall any of them showing interest to join the army. Many of them preferred to work in the private sector as remunerations and opportunities are lot better than in the army. I understand from my Chinese friends that the Liberation Army now has a long line of inspired youth waiting outside the door eagerly, ready to be recruited. They are not there for the money, but for the prestige of serving their country. What a change!
The army has the liberty of choosing the best men and women for its force. When you have that attitude in the army, you can safely bet the morale and discipline of the soldiers are generally high, and this constitutes a fearsome army to be reckoned with!
China has often used a manner known as “先礼后兵” which literally means “to use diplomatic means to resolve conflict, and when it fails, then use military force” throughout its history. Though it has very strong patience and endurance, it does not mean the country has no limits. History has proven that when China does use military force, it is usually a well-planned maneuver that cripples the other party. Previously, when it was weak and limited in its resources, China would swallow the bitter pill and allow the adversarial situation to carry on. Now it tries to address such situations in a diplomatic manner first, then through other channels like economic sanctions, discouraging its citizens from visiting the antagonistic country, using a third country as a mediator, etc., before making the final move into physical retaliation. If that happens, the world will see China’s “kung fu kick.”
Japan, and subsequently Korea, began Asia’s manufacturing revolution by producing cheap and inferior products in the early years and then moving on to manufacture innovative and good quality products. I remember when I was a teenager in the early 1970s, Japanese goods were known for being cheap and poor-quality products that could not last. We used to call lousy products “Japanese made,” regardless of whether they were actually made in Japan or not. Soon, Japanese products became sought-after in the late 1980s, when it improved its manufacturing process and quality control. The most popular products were cars, cameras, Walkman, etc., and also white goods such as refrigerators, stoves, etc., which are painted in a white enamel finish.
The same phenomenon occurred in many countries and China is now also taking part in that modern industrial revolution. When I visited some top motorcycle assembly plants in 2003, I was very impressed with the level of automation and quality controls at these plants. Zongsheng was the champion in the group. It is the largest motorcycle exporter in China; and its chairman, Mr. Zuo Zong Sheng, is a mechanical fanatic who constantly works with his R&D teams to develop new products and manufacturing capabilities. The factory is simply world-class!
Zongsheng invented a welding station with a huge ring where the motorcycle frame is mounted. One robot arm on each side welds the joints simultaneously, while the ring rotates 360 degrees in both directions to facilitate the welding at all angles. This allows heat to be dissipated evenly, thus preventing distortion of the frame. The weld is strong and consistent from the two robot welding arms. It is state of the art, and possibly, the only one of its kind on earth. The rotating mechanism of the ring is kept secret in the company.
In the 1990s, buyers went to China to source cheap products. With so many similar factories in the region, they could easily cherry pick the factories of their choice. Slowly, a huge and intertwined supply chain began to form. With the continuous improvement of technologies and skills, the factories have moved up the technological and quality ladder. You can now find many state-of-the-art factories in the coastal provinces, while the more labor-intensive industries move further inland, where it is still economically viable to produce cost-competitive products.
When countries such as Japan, Korea, and Singapore moved up the value chain, they came to a saturation point where the products were no longer cost-competitive. They had no choice but to move the manufacturing out of the country in order to stay competitive. China, on the other hand, has such a huge landmass and population that its industries can move inland to stay competitive. With the establishment of high speed rails and highways, as well as river and air transportation systems, it is constantly reducing the logistics cost.
Ironically, many Chinese manufacturers are also spreading their manufacturing plants worldwide. Their sole purpose is to stay near the customers, thus providing competitive goods to the end users. The scheme has reduced the transcontinental logistics’ cost and avoids local customs’ duties and restrictions. Chinese tourists and factories are the fastest growing trend (or nightmare, to some people) in many countries.
The drastic change in China is being felt in many foreign cities. Surely, this has antagonized many people who are wary and unaccustomed to the sudden influx of Chinese at their doorsteps. This travel has allowed the Chinese to learn more from the outside world, which has provided inspiration and ideas that they then use to innovate or improve their products or services when they return home.
I can order a product valued at ¥20 (US$3), including shipping, through eCommerce, and the package arrives the following day. The item was made in another province 311 miles away and was stored in a nearby warehouse. The logistics and warehousing have reached such a remarkable efficiency that I cannot find another country that matches this low cost and speedy delivery. The Chinese is so used to such service that he takes it for granted. Overseas Chinese students lament the lack of such service in their host countries. In the early 2000s, I used to conduct training to my Chinese suppliers on supply chain, logistics management, and third-party logistics. Now, China has lots to show others.
China is also using its huge foreign reserves by acquiring many huge Western corporations, providing aid to third-world countries, and does not hesitate to use trade embargoes against unfriendly nations. It is reported on Wikipedia that China holds US$3.12 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves as of October 2016. It is reciprocating a trade war with nations which are coercing it to give in for political or economic concessions.
Friendly nations are given generous aid not only in terms of money but also in assistance for infrastructure development. Some poor nations in Africa are bartering with China for much-needed roads, railways, and port facilities. They also receive technology transfer and assistance on agriculture, medicine, industry, and village developments. The 1,156-mile TAZARA Railway linking Zambia and Tanzania, 31 hospital units, and 145 smaller health-care centers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are examples of China’s assistance in Africa. Desperate countries get military aid as well.
Chinese companies have also set up companies and factories in many Western cities and third-world countries where it is economically and strategically advantageous to do so, in turns alleviating unemployment woes in the factories’ host cities. You cannot fault China for its goodwill, even though it also profits handsomely one way or another.
President Xi Jin Ping’s charismatic and benevolent style has been evident as he has traveled to many countries since taking office. None of his predecessors had traveled extensively as he. He is given the highest reception and coverage in most countries, whether developed or developing. With the strong economic support behind him, he endorses numerous treaties on trade, joint-cooperation, cultural exchange, and assistance on healthcare, education, arts, and infrastructure development. This has been called “President Xi Diplomacy.” His humble and captivating approach has won many friends worldwide and helped push China as a friendly and willing partner which does not attach strings and conditions when providing fund and aids. President Xi likes to meet children, farmers, and workers, whether at home, or in foreign countries.
The Chinese navy and air force helps to evacuate other nationalities while also rescuing its own citizens in a foreign land where a crisis or terrorist attack has occurred. A good example is Yemen’s crisis in 2015, when the navy succeeded in evacuating 629 Chinese citizens and 279 foreign citizens from 15 countries at the end of March 2015.
China has also demonstrated its military and civil capabilities in joint efforts with other nations, such as in March 2011 when it mobilized evacuation by air, sea, and land, using chartered planes, hired ocean liners, and buses to rescue 35,860 Chinese nationals and 2,100 foreigners from 12 countries, all people who were stranded in Libya prior to the downfall of Colonel Gaddafi. The open-arm gesture of helping these desperate refuges from different countries gave China recognition as a bighearted nation.
The Chinese army and navy are also participating actively in the United Nation Peace Keeping Force in many strife-ridden countries including patrols of the Gulf of Aden against the Somali pirates since 2008. Many ships and lives have been rescued by the Chinese navy.
Unfortunately, this positive change in China is not well covered in many countries. Many foreigners still have the perception of Chinese living in the Stalin era, under coercion by its fearsome secret military. They are also skeptical about its development and intentions.
I met some of my foreign friends and clients when they first arrived in China. Some of them were startled and confused when they found a complete different China from their expectations. I was amused when one of them asked me on his first visit in 2011 where the army at Tiananmen Square was. He was expecting the Square to be surrounded by cordons of armed military personnel restricting and checking the flow of visitors. He was even more surprised when I brought him to the gates of the Zhongnanhai (中南海), where the top Chinese leaders reside and work. It was lightly guarded and food peddlers were seen not far from the gates selling their wares. In other countries, you would expect the gates to be heavily guarded while the visitors are restrained from getting close.
Two major events happened in 2008 that changed the image of China worldwide. Firstly, the Sichuan Earthquake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale, occurred on May 12, with a death toll of 69,225; 374,640 injured; and 17,939 victims that are still missing today. 4.8 million people were made homeless. The whole nation went into immediate emergency rescue operation with long lines of all kinds of vehicles from the public rushing to the area offering food, tents, water, and various essential supplies. One driver rushing to the scene had his car fully packed with a thousand packets of instant noodles. Millions of dollars were pouring in from every corner of the nation and all walks of life. Hospitals nationwide had blood donors queuing for hours to have their blood taken.
The army was mobilized to the disaster area and soldiers arrived there without weapons, only tools, relief aids, and supplies. Safety boxes and vaults in the collapsed banks were still intact after many days when the army got to the rubble. Heartfelt and heroic stories were told and almost all listeners and viewers were moved with teary eyes. It was a moment where the whole nation was standing as one, with their hearts and souls together. Foreigners were astonished seeing soldiers at the scene on TV carrying stretchers and spades instead of rifles. There were no looters to fight; they were too ashamed to be seen!
There was hardly any chaos, and everyone was focusing on rescuing as many victims as possible. Rescue workers and soldiers were fully exhausted, but they kept on digging, even with their hands. Relief supplies were distributed instantly, with the homeless queuing up orderly and patiently. Video clips of the rescue work can be found on YouTube. It was like the whole nation had found its conscience, brotherhood, and sacrifice in a sudden. I used to believe conscience and kindness were lost in China, with all the greed and evil prevailing in a society where everyone strives to get rich at all cost. I now believe that Samaritans are living everywhere, side by side with the bad and ugly.
The other remarkable event was the 2008 Summer Olympic hosted by Beijing on Aug. 8. The Opening Ceremony featured 15,000 performers and cost over US$100 million to produce. The spectacular performance was awesome and beyond imagination to everyone in the stadium and those watching it on TV. Beijing set new standards which future Olympic cities will find tough to match. Spectators and viewers were taken aback by the sheer size and number of performers displaying almost perfect synchronization. The performances were so well choreographed and colorful, with high-tech gadgets. It was just mind-boggling! The performances showed the world the four-great Chinese inventions (compass, paper, printing press, and gun powder) that shaped world history.
Performers stood in line for more than four hours, waiting for their turn to perform. They were wearing diapers, to avoid having to go to the bathroom. Getting so many performers to perform such feats would not have been possible in many other countries. The Chinese demonstrated perseverance, discipline, and ingenuity that not many nations will imitate in many years to come. The creativity and success of the show was well recognized and admired by all others.
The above two events awoke pride in the Chinese people. They were not ashamed of being Chinese anymore, and the bad feeling about being backward, poor, and inferior to the West, disappeared. When I met some Chinese in America in the late 1990s, most of them were humble and talked highly and excitedly about how fortunate they were to be in America. They were grateful to their hosts and didn’t hesitate to discuss the problems with the Chinese government and their fellow countrymen. Thus, I was amazed in 2014 when I was in my friend’s house in Boston, where a Chinese intern argued forcefully with her superior about the debacle on Diaoyu Island, which the Japanese are occupying with acknowledgement from the U.S. I could see in her the Chinese pride and understanding of the political issue. She stood firm and could not accept my friend’s rationale. A new generation of China has emerged!
On July 5, 2009, an unfortunate event happened in Urumqi, which is the provincial capital of Xinjiang province. China has 56 ethnic groups and this particular province is dominated by Muslim ethnic minority groups. The Han Chinese are the largest of all, with 91 percent of the population. Hundreds of Muslim rioters ransacked and destroyed more than 200 shops, 260 cars, and 14 houses. They killed at least 140 civilians and police personnel, with another 828 victims injured. This was clearly a terrorist attack which was orchestrated and led by a Chinese Muslim woman living in a foreign country under asylum protection. She sent orders through Facebook and Twitter for the rioters to gather at specific spots and times. The Chinese government subsequently banned the use of Facebook and Twitter across the country.
This is not the first or the last of the brutal terrorist attacks by these Muslim extremists. On March 1, 2014, a group of eight terrorists, including a woman wielding knives, killed innocent passengers in the Kunming railway station. 29 persons were killed and 143 wounded. Four terrorists were shot dead while the other four were arrested. Three of them were given death sentences, while the last one was given life imprisonment because of his age. The massacre was reported in the Western media as another protest by Muslims demanding autonomy from the Chinese government. Sympathy went to these terrorists! This attitude must be changed if we want to contain the terrorism initiated by radical Muslims worldwide. There should not be any loopholes for these terrorists to exploit.
It does not matter who has the highest GDP in the world or who has the strongest military power. The leaders fail their nation and people if there are many households living at or below poverty line, high unemployment rate, below average medical and hospitalization standards, and high mortality rate. Scandinavian countries do not have the highest GDP or the strongest army, yet their population is the happiest and healthiest group compared with all other nations, as reported in the 2017 World Happiness Report (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report#2017_report). Being content, friendly to neighbors, and not interfering in other people’s affairs are key elements that build a strong nation. These are prerequisites for holding high moral ground.
China is more vast and diverse than many people realize. I like to relate the analogy of seven blind men who each try to deduce what the animal is by touching different parts of it separately. Each gives a different answer.
The complexity of the country can be illustrated by its name. The Mandarin pronunciation of the country is “Zhong Guo, 中国” and not “China”. The name Zhong Guo means Central Kingdom and is normally used by Chinese or others who speak Mandarin. China was ruled by an imperial system for almost 5,000 years, with all subjugated states surrounding and protecting the royal city, putting the emperor in the central command post. Another common name which the Chinese usually use among themselves for their country is “Da Lu, 大陆,“ meaning Mainland. The difference between these two names is so profound that when the Taiwanese leader uses Zhong Guo, he or she is considered to be deliberately distancing him or herself from China, while if he or she uses Da Lu, he is considered pro-China. Many overseas Chinese use Zhong Guo Da Lu as Mainland China and it is acceptable in the country.
The formal name of the nation is the People’s Republic of China (Zhong Hua Ren Min Gong He Guo, 中华人民共和国). “Hua (华)” originates from Huaxia Civilization 华夏文化, which was the dawn of Chinese civilization and specifically refers to the Han Chinese. “Hua Ren (华人)” means Chinese people, while “Zhong Hua (中华)” literally comprises nation, ethnic group, and culture, all rolled into one entity.
As for the origin of “China,” it is believed the word was adopted by Portuguese explorer Duarte Barbosa in his journal written in 1516. The word was derived from the Persian word “Chin,” referring to China in the previous millennium. The word was most likely derived from the Qin Dynasty which had united China for the first time in 221 BC. This is not to be confused with the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Qin Kingdom was the most western state of China during that era and established itself by fending off the invading nomads from Central Asia. For his contribution, the leader of the horsemen tribe was granted statehood by the Zhou Dynasty in 770 BC. The name of the state, Qin (秦), was bestowed by the Zhou emperor. The Persians and Qin had a long history of engaging each other.
Map of China
While America has 50 states, China’s geography is far more complicated. It has
Each location has its own administration and slightly different policies and legislations. The central government has an uphill task coordinating and controlling all these locations toward common goals and unity. The Chinese like to call China’s map a picture of a rooster.
Many ethnic groups have their own language, writing, culture, customs, and traditional costumes. Contrary to foreign reports, they all have the freedom to maintain their identities, cultures, and dialects. They also enjoy some privileges over the Chinese in terms of being allowed to have more than one child in the family, a higher quota for their enrollment into colleges with lower entry aggregates, welfare, a special fund for economic development, etc.
Different Ethnic Groups
The five autonomous regions are mainly occupied by multiple ethnic groups and they were granted autonomy long time ago. Inner Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang became part of China sovereignty when Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, conquered China during the Song Dynasty in 1271. When he later became the great Khan of the entire Mongol empire, his rule stretched to Turkey, North India, and part of Russia.
Kublai Khan moved his capital to present-day Beijing to have better control over all of China. He wanted to adopt the Chinese culture, philosophies, art, and style of government for his empire. The new capital was named Dadu (大都), which means the Great Capital. You can still see parts of the city wall in central Beijing. When the Chinese overthrew the Mongols in 1368, the Mongol Empire was by then a fragmented empire which Mongolian generals and Genghis Khan’s descendants ruled their respective occupied territory. The Mongolian ruler at that time in China was effectively controlling only the Mongolian homeland, Tibet, Xinjiang, and China.
The new Chinese emperor of Ming Dynasty inherited these territories from the East Mongolian Empire when he drove the Mongolian army out of the country. He granted autonomy to these three provinces to prevent rebellion and promote effective governance by their local leaders. But the military, foreign affairs, and some essential administrations were still in the hand of the Chinese rulers. The appointment of local leaders had to be approved by emperors residing in Beijing. Clearly, Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang, have been part of China for more than 700 years.
More younger generations of these minority ethnic groups are also learning the national language, Mandarin, to enhance their career opportunities. The Internet, rapid transportation, and mass media have enabled the young and old to connect and interact easily with other ethnic groups, especially the mainstream Chinese population. Intermarriage and migration into other cities has led to friendlier relationships between the ethnic groups, even though conflicts do flare up occasionally.
As for the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, they were given 50 years of autonomy under the “One Country, Two Systems” devised by the late Deng Xiaoping. The central government is still in charge of the army and foreign affairs. Will these two cities convert to communist states at the end of 50 years of autonomy? I do not think so. China may not be the communist or socialist state that we are accustomed today. The nation will have integrated capitalism and socialism to create a new political and administrative system by the year 2047. China is constantly changing and enhancing itself through adaptation, adoption, and evolution, like it has been doing for the past thousand years. What the country will still retain will be its unique Chinese identity and culture, which no one will be able to eradicate or replace.
China’s land area is 3.7 million square miles, with vast and diverse landscapes ranging from cold and snow in the north to humid and hot in the south. The Himalayas and the desert are in the west, and the fertile land is in the east. With close to 1.4 billion people, the population is concentrated in the east and south, while still sparse in the west and north.
The long stretch of the Himalayan mountain range and deserts in the west and northwest of China shielded it from European invasion and influence. Likewise, its identity, culture, history, and philosophies, were unknown to the Europeans. Even though silk first appeared in Europe during the Roman Empire more than two millenniums ago, the Europeans had no idea what the country that produced it looked like, nor what its people, culture, and religion resembled. Europeans were willing to pay for silk in gold, and almost bankrupted the Roman empire. They heard stories from Arabian travelers and fantasized about the mythical land that produced silk. If not because of this natural mountainous barrier, Alexander the Great could have marched with his army into China instead of moving south to north India.
Unfortunately, China was being attacked, and its people massacred, by the nomadic tribes that had been living in the grasslands of Central Asia for more than two thousand years. These tribes were the Xiongnu (匈奴), Jin, Tartar, Western Xia, Mongolians, and Manchurians. I will cover more about these invasions in a later chapter.
It was a blessing in disguise when Shi Huang Di (秦始皇) of the Qin Dynasty united China under one rule in 221 BC. He standardized the different kingdoms’ language and writing, their unit of measurements (weights, length, volume, time, etc.), currencies, bureaucracies, etc. His stringent laws demanded that different states conform to the standards and, though harsh, resulted in the various kingdoms’ unity and coexistence in China. For example, inspectors carried standard weights when visiting markets across the country to check the weighing machines used. If there was a variance of the weight against the standard, the seller either was whipped or imprisoned, depending on the amount of variance. This conformance to the standards and practices over the millenniums caused China to become resilient to foreign influences and domination.
China had rebellions and disputes in various parts of the country at different time throughout history. But it managed to crush almost all of them and consequently, developed a string of administrative, military, and spiritual controls to make the nation one. The country had the power and ability to mobilize thousands of slaves, convicts, peasants, and workers to accomplish feats like the Great Wall, Grand Canal, Terra Cotta Warriors, royal tombs, etc. (And later, that wonderful, inimitable Olympic Opening Ceremony.)
With its large landmass, China’s climate and weather vary greatly on all four sides of the country. It has so many beautiful places of interest and historical sites that visitors must make a few trips to China in order to explore its magnificence. To truly understand China, you need to travel to multiple places in China to feel the people, food, places, and customs.
Its diverse provinces and regions also offer different dialects, cuisines, folklores, arts, and even operas. Each place cannot represent China on its own. Not even Beijing! China is a combination of all these differences that make it what the nation is today.
A Different Race – From Historical Perspectives
One of the best ways to understand business partners or even competitors is to study their history and civilization. Knowing their history and how they developed culturally provides appreciation and empathy for the other side; and of course, it also provides the appropriate strategies for tackling enemies. Sometimes a nation’s behavior is a reflection of its historical past. An aggressive country which has plundered and massacred its neighbors for centuries may still be arrogant and abusive today.
There are many books, reports, and commentaries written by Western writers on China. I have read some of them and found that many do not depict China truthfully and completely. The writers depict the symptoms they see in China, without understanding their root cause. Movies are equally bad, often depicting the Chinese man as nerdy and cowardly or as a kung-fu fighter. The Hollywood hero then appears and wins the heart of the Chinese maidens. The stereotyping of the Chinese as a weaker race will not help to bring civilizations together. The misunderstanding will just continue to obstruct the binding of the two great hemispheres.
The Chinese love to point out that they have 5,000 years of history. Amazingly, Chinese historians can provide the names of all the emperors from the first emperor of the Xia Dynasty (2070 BC) right up to the last Chin (Qing?) emperor, Pu Yi (1906-1967), who was forced to abdicate his throne in 1911. The ancient records are found in the palace libraries, bronze vessels (important events were inscribed on the inside walls), and oracles which are actually tortoise shells and animal bones with words inscribed upon them.
I will not discuss all the dynasties, but I will touch on some key milestones that shaped the Chinese identity and character. The Chinese are unique in that they have kept records of major events since ancient times. Every student, ancient and present day, is taught about major events and the lessons to be learned from them. You can find that current Chinese leaders like to use idioms, metaphors, and proverbs to illustrate their actions or thoughts. Many of these metaphors and proverbs have actual events linked to them. You often see the translator’s frustrated face when a leader uses a metaphor that there’s no direct translation for.
The new Stone Age appeared more than 8,000 year ago, and pre-historic sites are continually being discovered at various locations, giving archaeologists and historians newfound theories on the origins of Chinese civilization. The first recorded ruler was Huang Di (Yellow Emperor 黄帝, 2717-2599 BC). There were many mystical legends about him. He was credited with discovering the compass, which he used to direct the army south to …..
Born and raised in Singapore, Calipe worked for US corporations in the first 28 years of his career. He worked in automation and manufacturing engineering in Texas Instruments, CTS, and Intel Corporation for 11 years before switching to supply chain management. He also worked for Conner Peripherals, Micropolis, Seagate, Flextronics, Solectron, and MTD Corporation.
Calipe first came to China in 1989 and subsequently traveled often to Shenzhen and Guangzhou for business trips. In 1997, he joined Seagate Shenzhen as Materials Director and has been living in China since then. He set up a supply chain service company in Suzhou in August 2008 providing services to foreign clients seeing products, joint-venture partnerships, and distribution in China and ASEAN countries. With his wide network on both sides of the continents, he is now helping Chinese companies to source appropriate strategic partnerships, markets, and products in overseas countries.
During his years in China, Calipe traveled, worked, and lived in many Chinese cities and met many businessmen and government officials to conclude business deals. The exchanges helped him to understand Chinese culture, behavior, and business practices. He also witnessed the drastic change in China from what the country was in 1989 to the present day.
During his tenure in China, Calipe had a strong interest in learning Chinese history and culture and worked well to bridge the cultural gap between his co-workers and Chinese clients. He helped both sides to understand, appreciate, and accommodate each other’s differences and expectations in order to achieve common goals.
Calipe graduated from the University of South Australia with a MBA in 2002. His profiles and credentials can be found on http://www.linkedin.com/in/calipechong/ and company introduction on http://www.vipoasia.com.cn/.