Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Archive for June 24th, 2011

China’s Red Year- 90th Anniversary of Communism in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 24, 2011

At times China has a dual personality, like the communism but free trade thing. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the party in China so the chicoms are going ape. The problem is that many are embarrassed by the party. They know its an anachronism and looks foolish in the 21st century. Some of my friends have admitted with embarrassment that only china and north korea do those silly USSR style parades on their birthdays.

But red it is and the place is swamped with photos like the one below and Red books, red songs and red movies. In the streets you will see the old folks practicing their communist dances and the younger set does not know where to fit in . To them communism is out of touch and not relevant, but this year the party is pushing hard for all to feel red. The impact is a hodge podge of communist books and songs but a mixed up gaggle of Chinese who do not all fee all that red.



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Photo of Chinese Travelers

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 24, 2011

These people are wearing the same colored hats so they can distinguish themselves from the swarms of others who flock to Beijing to take in the sites of Tianenman or the Forbidden city or whatever. Most of them are ‘fresh off the boat’ and seem overwhelmed at all of the concrete and electricity that surrounds them upon arriving here. In the airplanes they are harmless but spending any time on a flight with them can be tedious….

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Income Inequality in China- China Photo

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 24, 2011

China’s news sources said that the number of millionaires increased by more than 10%. The people in this photo, however, will probably never reach that level. To those 1.210,000,000 who are rejected by the party, having such an amount of cash is a mere dream. They can merely console themselves to the fact that with each bribe they pay they are adding another rung to the ladder of success for future Chinese millionaires.

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Recent History of Poor Legal Guidance in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 24, 2011

China’s history with law is shallow and poor. For a time they had a functioning legal system but that was hundreds of years ago. Since the communist party arrived, the legal system has been in disarray and less than useless in many respects The Chinese have enacted many laws, but the enforcement of them leads a lot to be desired.

Here is an excerpt on how this came to pass.

from China’s Long March toward Rule of Law-new (Randall Peerenboom)

The legal system’s brief heyday came to an abrupt end with the antirightist movement in 1957. By the mid-’50s, the revolution had begun to lose steam. Faced with the problem of governing a large and developing country, including an increasingly entrenched and inefficient bureaucracy, Mao decided to “let a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend,” and to invite criticism of the government. Judges, lawyers, and legal scholars were at first cautious and guarded in their criticisms. But upon further encouragement, they let loose a barrage of scathing criticisms that took Mao by surprise. Laws were too vague and inconsistent; the emphasis on law as a tool of class struggle was wrongheaded; there was little or no separation between law and politics. Many in the legal community challenged the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dominance of law. The stress on political criteria (“red”) at the expense of legal expertise was undermining the legitimacy of the legal system. The courts were being run by revolutionaries with little or no legal training. Former revolutionaries, used to being decisive and taking bold action, lacked the skills and temperament to succeed as judges and bureaucrats.

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China Fact- Praying to Mao in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 24, 2011

I live in China so naturally I hear a bit about local customs and whatnot. Just yesterday, as a matter of fact, a friend introduced me to an interesting bit of Chinese culture.
Praying to Chairman Mao
My friend is from the Hunan, the same place as Mao and was explaining that many Chinese revere the man. She told me that pilgrimages are made to the statue of Mao that graces his village, and people will actually pray to him and ask for niceties.
When I asked if she had prayed to Mao, she sheepishly admitted she had. I asked if her wish came true and she said it was a general one, but her brother had asked for something specific and got it. He then returned and thanked Mao’s statue for his assistance.
This woman is a college degreed engineer in China…

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Comment on Banking in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 24, 2011

Interesting comment from J on banking in China. I am surprised to hear this as to me the banking regs here are pretty strict. Absent an act of congress or signing over body parts, I found it next to impossible to send only miserly amounts of cash back home. Here is his comment and has anyone else had such good fortune?

I got a ‘statement of income form’ from Bank of China printed out and gave it to my university admin person. She signed it, stamped it, and then suddenly I could send home as much money as I wanted to … at least that’s okay for Canadians to do, supposedly.

The magical form apparently overrides what I thought was the ultimate banking-send-money-home-rule: not more than 70% of your income here. I suspect that this might be due to the fact that the bank ‘officers’ (cough, cough) don’t know anything aboutinternational banking rules other than the new 2011 policy that foreigners can only exchange RMB to other currencies up to 500 USD per day. Apparently there was some kind of insane limit (50,000 USD?) during the Olympics here so that China could ‘look’ all gracious and open for business to travelers…..or something like that.

I’m just surprised that you went to a bank without a Chinese native speaker–that usually causes lightning and dark storm clouds to immediately begin floating around the head of any foreigner heading to a bank for the first time, lol.

At least you didn’t have a janitor walk over to the desk and begin examining all the personal financial info as though it was no problem, and the bank ‘officer’ not even notice (yes, that happened to me in Korea)….

Anyways, nice story.

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Photo of a Bus Stop in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 24, 2011

In China you see people waiting everywhere, the bus stop is no exception. On a good day you have to wait for a gross of angry locals to board, before you can consider it….

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China Has a Lot of Communists- China Fact

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 24, 2011

China now has over 80,000,000 communist party members and almost 4000 grass roots communist party organizations. (you have to apply to be a party member and not all are accepted, I had a friend who got rejected).
Women, apparently do not make good communists as only about 22% are party members. Minorities, although supposedly treated well here, make up a smaller portion.
As far as education goes, the communist party members tend to be uneducated but do have degrees, by that I mean that they went to a typical ‘university’ here which based upon my experience is little more than a glorified high school, but even still, only about 38% of them have a college education, for what that is worth here…

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All Those People and No ‘Ballas- Soccer and China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 24, 2011

China was beaten by the world powerhouse Oman, in the Olympic soccer qualifiers. This is a tough blow for the Chinese whose soccer program , surprisingly enough has been besieged with reports of fraud, corruption and match fixing.
Undaunted by such things, or maybe they are merely accustomed to them, China declared they had a new attitude and set their sites on kicking some butt in London. Unfortunately the gods of all that is good had other plans for them and sent them packing.
With Yao hurting and Li na on her way home, it looks like the Chinese newsies will have to fill their papers with vitriolic hate speech about the spratley’s or the USA or Japan and maybe throw in a good word about Osama Bin Laden while they are at it….

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Sadism, Masochism and Banking in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 24, 2011

Today I met with a business partner from abroad who is setting up shop in China. First order of business, he told me, was to set up a bank account here in China. Hmmm I thought, I really don’t think it is a good day for this type of endeavor, ie a Friday in China the banks work with the efficiency of the an ancient Atari in an XBOX 360 world. But assuming him to be a masochist and I being somewhat of a sadist at times, I commended him on the idea and off we sloughed to the heart of Beijing’s financial district.

After pulling a piece of paper with a number attached which gave us the right to wait at the bank, we commandeered a few seats amongst the locals who for lack of anything better to do alternated between staring at us, spitting and sleeping. After a thirty minute interval, our number came up and we scampered off to be ‘serviced’ China style.

Waiting for us behind inches of bullet proof glass was a functionary of indeterminate gender with an abutment for a bottom lip protruding from the cinder block skull perched upon a suggestion of shoulders and the keen intellect of a hunk of leather. After establishing its dominance by burping into the mic, it then mumbled “jxxmxnt” which my associate took as a sign of friendship.

Being a Brit, the man spoke in perfect Queens English and said he’d like to open a bank account. This was met by facial lacerations that some might equate for nervousness or anxiety which played over the massive pudnam of our host. After several minutes, the helper understood our words and then produced what was in thickness and weight, an equivalent of a Chicago phone book that doubled as the paperwork necessary for such an endeavor.

My pal took one look and said that as time was of the essence he’d forgo the bank account for the day and would like to buy some Euros. The skull stared, and bottom lip trembled as the skull man considered our words while cultivating dandruff with his pincer like fingers. Covering the mic he asked the person next to him just wtf we were taking about. Turning back to us he assured us that this was not possible.

Pointing at the exchange sign, I stated that yes we could buy Euros, the man simply stared. Rising I then moved to one of the ‘managers’, who fail in that definition in western civilization but thrive in China. I approached her cautiously so she’d know that I came in peace and asked if we may buy Euros. Offering what she believed to be a smile, the hulking figure said ‘of course’ as if a sillier question had never been asked. Stumbling to the teller with me, she told him what we wanted. When the man was unable to explain how much 1000 Euros cost in communist cash, I gave up trying, figured if I had been trying to barter twine and hogs for hatchlings and twigs, I’d probably have gotten a quote and been out of there hours ago.

Finally the man figured out our needs and extended a fragile finger towards the far end of the bank and told us to wait in that line. My friend took one look at the doddering elderlies and thanked the man but said it was ok, we’d go elsewhere.

In search of the elusive Euro, we then went China everbirght bank where a chipper young lady assured us that buying euros was no problem here. She did tell us that forefingers can only buy 500U$ worth. unconcerned with the chinese vodoo math behind the purchase we explained that we wanted to buy euros and asked how much the limit was. Smiling she said 300 Euros and we said sold.

My friend began filling out the requisite papers and then signed on the dotted line. Mrs chipper showed up again and said that the only denomination they had n Euros was a 500 . We said the 500 would be fine and she said that of course we could not buy a 500 note as we were foreigners. “So a foreigner cannot buy euros here, is this right?” I asked, and she concurred.

Growing frustrated, my associated then raced out and we found a bank of beijing. We were told that buying euros was no problem, but at the moment they only had 100, but if we cared to wait a bit, they would surely have more.

Looking as if a coronary was looming on the horizon, my associate became agitated. “Dont worry, its the financial center of china, the elusive euro cannot be far away.” i said.

After sever trips to several banks we found ourselves overladen with communist cash. The sage communist government has decided that 100rmb notes are the largest currency they have, so my associate now with pants stuffed to the hilt with red Chinese bank notes and looking like Richie Rich asked what he was supposed to do.

I pointed at a local eatery and asked if he wanted chow. The guy shook his head and said nah, he was going back to the office.

Living in China it is sometimes like this. just when you think they have it dialed in and have stepped up to the new millennium, you go to a bank, or a hotel, or air china and leave shaking your head….

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