Jun 19

Fatherly advice: Eight success principles for being an official

Written by admin on Friday, June 19th, 2009 at 12:08 am
Filed under:Letters, politics | Tags:, , ,
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It is often said that to be successful in the Chinese officialdom, you have to acquire a thick face, and a black heart (厚黑, there is an English book if you want to learn more about 厚黑学) .

Nine years ago, the director of Jiangsu Provincial Department of Construction, Xu Qiyao (徐其耀), was arrested  for taking bribes of over 20 million yuan. He also distinguished  himself among other corrupted officials by having extramarital affairs with 146 women,  including a mother and her daughter. Recently, a letter to his son, allegedly found in his diary during the investigation, is circulating on the internet.  In that letter, he demonstrated his theoretic superiority in the application of “thick face, black heart.”

Here is a translation for your enlightenment.

Dear son,

I received your letter. I am really proud of your achievement in the university. Keep it up!

As you have chosen to join politics, you must bear in mind the following advice:

1. Don’t seek truth, and don’t search for the essence of things.

Leave these tasks to intellectuals. The credo you have to firmly keep in mind: “as long as it is advantageous to oneself, it is correct.” If you have difficulty to grasp this, then follow this simplified principle: “whatever the higher-ups promoting is correct.”

2. Not only you have to be a liar, but also you have to be a virtuoso liar.

You should build a habit of telling lies. No, actually you should treat it as a mission with the goal that you are able to believe your own lies. Prostitution and politicians are very similar professions. The difference is that being an official is to sell one’s mouth. Remember, your mouth does not belong to you anymore once you become an official. You have to say according to what you need, not what you think.

3. Get diplomas, but not knowledge, which is detrimental to your career.

With knowledge you will be able to think independently, and independent thinking is the death knell in politics. Do not be fooled that there are so many officials with master’s, or even doctoral degrees. Some people immediately enter the public service after earning their degrees. It is apparent that the true purpose of their education is not to study, but to use it as a stepping stone. They are frauds. Remember, a real doctor and an official is not truly compatible.

4, What is the purpose of becoming an official? To gain interests.

You have to work tirelessly to grab all the interests you can get. It is called corruption by some people. You must be clear that gaining interests is not “a” purpose, but “the” purpose for being an official. Your boss promote you because you can serve his interests. Your subordinates obey you because you can bring interests to them. Your colleagues and friends take care of you because you can exchange interests with them. You may forfeit your own interests, but you are useless unless others can benefit from you. Remember, once you lose focus on gaining interests, you are just one step away from failure.

5. Conduct yourself before conduct business.

Please don’t get confused and think I want you to be a mensch. What I mean is to conduct yourself in networking (guanxi). To conduct business, or to get things done, is not really important. Weave a comprehensive network and make yourself a node of this network. You see, nowadays when we say somebody is capable, we actually mean he is capable of networking. LOL. And if someone thinks otherwise and concentrates his energy on getting things done, I will be dumbfounded if his life is not miserable.

6. Our society is always a peasants’ society in essence no matter what has transpired on the outside.

Whoever caters the interests of peasants will be successful. Regardless of the appearance of the people around us, deep down, they are peasants. Peasants are characterized by their short-sightedness and the thirst for immediate benefits. Therefore, you have to do things in ways that share the characteristics of peasants, to pursue short-term benefits and to be short-sighted. If you have a long term vision, you will isolate yourself and the consequence is obvious. Learn some medieval practices, such as the ritual of pledging brotherhood.

7. Currying favor is a form of high art.

Don’t mistake blandishment simply as shameless. There are a lot of women who degrade themselves  but few of them get rich or find their sugar daddies by doing so. Most of them are stuck as low-paying sexual workers. To apply the same underlying principle, a sycophant has to be a master at pleasing his most important client, his boss. In a society without the rule of law, the only way to go “up” is via the appreciation from your superiors. All other factors are peripheral. You must be cognizant of this.

8.  All the laws and regulations, policies and protocols should not be strictly observed; or more precisely, they should be implemented flexibly.

The makers of laws and regulations, policies and protocols are intent to control others, not themselves. What you have to know is, however, the rules cannot be randomly breached. You have to know when to adhere them firmly, when to violate them secretly and who can violate them. Gauge carefully, or you’ll be in trouble.

These are the principles of being an official. Think carefully now, if you can do all of these, your will have a smooth sailing career. Not up to the task? It’s high time to switch to another profession.

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42 Responses to “Fatherly advice: Eight success principles for being an official”

  1. Otto Kerner Says:

    Is this for real? By point 3, it starts to sound like a parody …

  2. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Some people thought “The Prince”, written by Niccolò Machiavelli, was also a joke.

    But the Truth is often ruthless as a good joke.

  3. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “…a wise prince should establish himself on that which is his own control and not in that of others; he must endeavor to avoid hatred, as is noted.”

  4. JXie Says:

    One of the topics discussed widely since Deng’s reform and opening up, through the turmoil in 1989, is along the line of a Chinese renaissance (Jiang Zemin called it 中华民族的伟大复兴), or a rebuild of the national soul (再造民魂). If the core content of the Chinese civilization is what is in “Thick Face, Black Heart” to “Ugly Chinese” (partially inspired by TFBH), what’s the point of a renaissance?

    The real problem as I see it, is TFBH wasn’t based on the history. It pinned Cao Cao as a representation of TFBH based on the novel 三国演义 (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), not on the historical record 三国志 (Records of Three Empires). For instance, Cao Cao was quoted to have said 宁我负人毋人负我 (I would rather I wrongs everybody else, than anybody wrong me) after he mistakenly killed a whole family. But that line and the killing of the family were only in the novel but not in the historical record. Can you see a TFBH person, someone without a sense of morality — or someone without a soul, through the following lines? 对酒当歌,人生几何? 譬如朝露,去日苦多。 慨当以慷,忧思难忘。 何以解忧?唯有杜康。 青青子衿,悠悠我心。 但为君故,沉吟至今。 呦呦鹿鸣,食野之苹。 我有嘉宾,鼓瑟吹笙。 明明如月,何时可掇? 忧从中来,不可断绝。 越陌度阡,枉用相存。 契阔谈宴,心念旧恩。 月明星稀,乌鹊南飞。 绕树三匝,何枝可依? 山不厌高,海不厌深。周公吐哺,天下归心。

    To me, Yuan was a watershed dynasty that some great Chinese traditions didn’t get passed along. First a lot number of Chinese were killed. Second Yuan had that policy of 4-tier caste system — top-tier Mongolians, 2nd-tier 色目 including Central Asians, Tibetans, Huis, 3rd-tier Hans (northern Hans and other largely sinicized northern tribesmen), 4th-tier Southerners (people of the last fell empire Southern Song). The subsequent dynasty Ming was largely an inward-looking dynasty. In a way Qing was just another Yuan but with less cruel policies.

    The loss of some great Chinese traditions plus the defeats China had endured since Late Qing and the overall lagging in materialistic well-being, have added a whole layer of cynicism into the Chinese popular culture. As time goes on, as the improvement of living standard, I hope China can regain, reinvent and reinvigorate its soul.

  5. raventhorn4000 Says:


    I have to dispute somewhat on your account of Cao Cao. Some of the things he did were well recorded, including his own admissions when he wrote his commentaries to Sun Tzu’s Art of War, including the episode where his army was facing starvation, and he ordered the supply officer to give out small rations, and then later had his supplier officer executed for allegedly stealing from the supplies. He did so to absolve himself of bad leadership in front of his troops. And afterwards, he ordered that the supply officer’s family be well cared for by his government.

    That took some serious black heart.

    And, it was historically acknowledged that he took power by promising to restore the Han Dynasty, only to usurp the power for his own family.

    Let’s not fool around. Officialdom, or politics in general, is pretty brutal and nasty business. Those who succeed in the business are the nastiest of the bunch, dictatorship or democracy.

    Kiss ass, trade favors, legal or not, it’s always unscrupulous.

    At least greedy business people are pretty clear, they want money.

    Politicians, they want every thing, but they say they want nothing.

    It is true.

    But Sun Tzu and others teach us, that the State, and the People, must rely upon such brutal men for doing what they are not able to do. A cunning devious unscrupulous man may not be a kind neighbor, but he might be a great general. A pathological liar might not make the best farmer, but his words might convince an enemy to surrender without a fight.

    “A Prince should not flinch from necessary blood lust to protect his people.”

  6. Charles Liu Says:

    Well, 5 and 6 really speak to the reality in China, don’t they?

    It’s only been about 20 years since China’s economic development really took off, and if one subscribes to Maslow’s theory on levels of human desire, physical and social needs like conducting oneself and scurring favors, quite reasonably, come before esteem and self-actualization (spirit of public service, benefiting society at large.)

    I hope the Chinese people get there one day. Untile then to some degree such fatherly advise isn’t out of line, just realistic. Heck I find some of his advise applicable even for our enlightened 1st world. For example Dale Carnegie said the same thing about buying friends and manipulating people, no?

  7. pug_ster Says:

    I wonder what happened to this guy?

  8. raventhorn4000 Says:

    It is true.

    Even the enlightened men, like Sun Tzu and Confucius, realized that the greater societal good still required brutal men.

    Sun Tzu studied war, but absolutely hated it. That is why he wrote the Art of War, because he wanted to bring end to wars as quickly and painlessly as he could.

    Confucius, also studied war, but wrote on the higher virtues of statecraft, in order to convince the rulers to curb some of their aggressive tendencies toward the people, and redirect their aggressions toward other brutal men.

  9. TonyP4 Says:

    From Confucius, ruling a kingdom is the ultimate objective of being a scholar. In recent history in China, most high offices become an vehicle for corruption. Some buy their official jobs for the purpose of making money.

    Officials in the central government are quite different from local officials. The locals are corrupt as hell while the central officials are not in the surface but most are corrupt using their influence via their families (same as in Taiwan). Why those Chinese kids in Boston campuses buying $30,000 cars while their parents in China are making $6,000 a year? I should say there are a few good ones.

    Corruption cannot be ironed out peacefully – TSM is one example. Hope it is done gradually. Brits did iron out corruption in HK effectively by setting up a special agency. China takes note. Corruption is built-in in our 5,000 civilization. You can call it any good term like building relationship.

    The US company I used to work prevented us from receiving free dinners and gifts from our vendors, while they gave out goodies to their customers. US government is definitely not as corrupt as China. US news media reveal government corruptions, while most news media in China are doing the reverse most of the time – debatable but quite obvious.

    My definition of corruption as a computer programmer:

    corruption = wealthy folks wo power + powerful folks wo wealth

    Proof. There is no corruption in old Communist China when everyone is poor.

  10. pug_ster Says:

    I think one of the major problems is that local officials who has influence are not paid well. Yes, I think China should set up an independent unit like the ICAC in HK. Too bad Western Nations care more about Tibetans and TSM than corruption within China.

  11. JXie Says:

    Raventhorn, the supply officer’s name is 王垕, and the name of measurement bowl is 斛. Using either 垕 or 斛 as keyword searching 三国志 (available in google books) yields no return. It’s likely that the juicy story of Cao Cao killing his supply officer falls into the category of novel but not history.

    TonyP4, I wouldn’t assume most of those “rich” Chinese students are the children of corrupt officers. Nowadays there is massive wealth in China held in private hands, especially in places such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Guangdong. I have family members scattered across those provinces/cities, and even quite a few in their early to mid-30s make well over US$100,000 a year via honest ways. Yeah sure the interior provinces are indeed much poorer, but methinks China’s overall stats such as GDP and per capita income are likely quite a bit understated. The idea that the Chinese nation is rich (think $2 trillion foreign reserve), but the Chinese people are poor, to me is a myth. Forget the numbers of energy consumption, carbon emission, commodities consumption, etc. for a second, even new car sales now in China is larger than that of the US, and near 5 times of Japan’s. You think it’s not fishy that China’s GDP is only 1/3 of the US’ and smaller than Japan’s?

  12. JXie Says:

    Oh, don’t forget that if RMB is to appreciate a lot, those in China now are kind of rich will become filthily rich. A nation’s wealth is built through a combination of hard work, self-reliance, entrepreneurship and no non-sense development, much like America circa 1900 or China circa 2009. I am afraid at this pace in a couple of generations, Chinese Americans (or Chinese Canadians) to Chinese Chinese would be like today’s Japanese Brazilians to Japanese Japanese: poor distant cousins.

  13. TonyP4 Says:

    @XJie #11

    This is the real conversation that the kid told me him his father made less than $6,000 as some kind of major in a small city and he had a car over $30,000.

    GDP is the wrong measurement on how rich the average citizen is. The yardstick is average income per capita. A little better yardstick is considering the buying power as in Wikipedia. I forgot the numbers between US and China, but from my memory, it is many times.

    Hope most rich make the money without corruption – but you’ve to be very naive to believe it. The most honest deals in China may not be honest by the standard of any developed country. Personally I know an investor has to hire a dummy VP who is the daughter of some general to name one among many.

    China’s per capita incomes between rural and urban are huge. For example when we talk about the health care system in China, we really have to separate rural and urban, the rich and the poor… China is too big to generalize.

  14. TonyP4 Says:

    Just for laugh.

    My misinterpretation of the newly announced China’s one-dog policy.

    * Each Chinese citizen can eat one dog per month.

    * The reason of this policy is the dog gives births to many puppies and it obviously violates China’s one child policy. So, we need to eat enough dogs to enforce this policy for our best friend.

    * Next time, westerner comes to China to order a hot dog, most likely s/he gets the REAL thing!

    * We also help the western cities like Paris to clean up dog poos by having specialized Chinese restaurants in their cities.

  15. raventhorn4000 Says:


    It was pretty brutal of Cao Cao to grab power though.

  16. JXie Says:

    Raventhorn, you don’t get to the top of the food chain by being a nice guy. Cao Cao for sure did step on a few eggs in his life, but being a TFBH sob wouldn’t have got him enough friends and willful followers that propelled him from a nobody to a national leader. Personally I just think the whole premise of TFBH is laughably bad. You need friends, and you need followers and supporters.

    TonyP4, I certainly wouldn’t be that naive to believe most rich Chinese have got there not by corruption, or by corruption without any concrete numbers in front of me to say otherwise, and I am old enough to discount 2nd-handed and even 3rd-handed knowledge. All I can tell you is the stories among those in my first degree of separation. How much time you have spent in China in the last several years, if you don’t mind asking?

  17. Charles Liu Says:

    Tony, do you know many US metro cities have similiar animal laws to help man and beast co-exist in balance and harmony? (yes, our own river crab of sort)

    And just like those folks in Mahattan, inner city Detroit, downtown Dallas, if people in Beijing want to avoid animal restrictions within the city, move couple miles outside the city limit.

  18. raventhorn4000 Says:


    It would depend on how you define TFBH SOB. I would wager than some TFBH SOB like the official in the above article would have some “friends” and followers, other wise, how did he get away with all that he did for so long?

  19. admin Says:


    He got a death sentence with a two-year suspension, which usually means life in prison. Many former corrupted officials found save havens in western countries. It would be a hugely popular move among common people if even half of them can be extradited back to China , but this is not likely to happen.

  20. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To admin:
    Canada is serving as the safe haven for several Chinese fugitives as we speak. Unfortunately, we don’t have an extradition treaty with China, so there’s no straightforward way to return these people. And Canada doesn’t have the death penalty, so we won’t return fugitives unless there’s a guarantee that capital punishment won’t be sought. This also serves as the basis for refugee claims by these fugitives — they say they’ll be persecuted or killed upon their return. It would be nice if this type of red tape can be resolved. Similarly, there is at least one case of a Chinese national accused of murder on Canadian soil; that person went back to China, and there seems to be no way to get that person back here to stand trial.

  21. TonyP4 Says:

    Is it a myth “you know more about China when you stay in China”.

    * My friend who taught high school in Canada was surprised the recent immigrant kids from China did not know about TSM. I watched a 2006 PBS documentation to confirm the same as the college students at Beijing University did not know TSM either.

    Judging from the living standard improvement in China, I have a lot of praises for CCP, but democracy and control of corruption are lacking to the wealth improvement.

    * During Mao’s era, the starving citizens still think they are the strongest country in the world and they live in China all their lives.

    * For first-hand experience, talk to the sales persons in any expensive car dealership close to campus in US. Or talk to the Chinese kids driving expensive cars around campus.

    We cannot change others’ POV, but at least we should be open to debate.

  22. JXie Says:

    TonyP4, you are arguing with a strawman. There are 2 statements here:

    A. One needs to spend significant recent time in China to understand China.
    B. One who has spent significant recent time in China automatically understands China.

    You just disapproved the statement B, which nobody argues for. China is changing so rapidly that many of those “sea-turtles” who were born and raised in China are having problem to readjust to life in China…

    Get back to the corruption issue, like I said I can’t make a judgment one way or the other. There are enough provincial level of officials I know are honest and true believers that lumping them together as a corruptive bunch just isn’t right to me, unless someone presents something a bit more concrete than some blanket statements. Sure on the other hand I know a few officials with apparent spending power that don’t seem to match their incomes.

    China is already the 3rd largest car market for many luxury brands after their home markets and the US. In the case of Audi, the 2nd largest after Germany. This is especially amazing considered that most of the luxury cars cost at least 100% more than the US prices. Tony, methinks you need to get this idea in your head: many Chinese are making more money than your average Chinese Americans (which already make more than average Americans). Percentage-wise, it’s not a lot but in sheer absolute number, it’s huge. When a well-off Chinese student goes to America, and sees for money he can only buy a Honda Accord in China, he can buy a BMW 3-series, he will likely jump on it.

  23. raventhorn4000 Says:


    I would say that a lot of people have “heard about” TSM, but not many “know about” it in any case.

    In any case, most Americans have never even “heard about” the Bonus March, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say most Americans don’t know more about America. And just because I have “heard about” the Bonus March, doesn’t mean that I know more about America.

    “Hearing” of 1 event in history of any country doesn’t make one an expert on that country.

    Not “hearing” of 1 event in history of one’s own country/region also doesn’t make one less knowledgeable about one’s own country/region.

  24. TonyP4 Says:

    X and R, you’ve the right points. You guys argue correctly that you do not understand the rest of the world beside China as you do not spend enough time there to understand your outside world – like the Chinese saying ‘the frog inside a well’.

    With a per capita income of $5,000 or so, how can you say statement like “many Chinese are making more money than your average Chinese American”. Check the per capita of American from Wikipedia and other sources. Dumb nationalism is just dumb!

    If you ask any HKer about TSM, they can tell you the detail, but not in mainland China. This is not just ‘one event’ as you said- it is the most important event in last 20 years in China. Facts are facts, no mater how you twist it. Just cannot debate with Chinese bashers and Chinese apologists as they’ve been brain washed. From your well, the sky is as big as the hole of the well.

  25. raventhorn4000 Says:


    don’t assume. I have spent most of my life in US.

    And I think JXie had a 2nd sentence that you seem to have left out.

    “many Chinese are making more money than your average Chinese Americans (which already make more than average Americans). Percentage-wise, it’s not a lot but in sheer absolute number, it’s huge.”

    It is true. A lot of Chinese in big cities are making more money than the average Chinese American.

    I would know, my cousin owns 3 cars and a building in Shanghai, his brother owns 1 car and 1 house in Canada, and I have 1 car and no house in US. (even though I’m a lawyer.)

    It’s numbers vs. percentages, “many” vs. “average”.

  26. TonyP4 Says:

    R, X says you do not understand China as you’ve not spent enough time in China. Agree?

    Are your cousins officials? Just curious.

    I rest my case.

  27. raventhorn4000 Says:

    I was born in China, TonyP4, and I spent many years there as well.

    A person can be well traveled in many countries. Of course, I would not claim that I know more about China than a Chinese person who spent more years there than I have. But I think I understand China more than most foreigners who have never been there.

    What’s your definition of “enough time”? I don’t believe JXie suggest any kind of “absolute” criteria. He was using relative terms like “more”.


    My cousins are not officials. Just self-starter business men.

  28. raventhorn4000 Says:

    And before questions go around too much,

    I should also say, I didn’t get to my place in the world because of CCP privileges. 1 of my grandfathers was a merchant, the other one was a textile factory engineer. My parents were both engineers and teachers. None of them were CCP members.

    My parents both went to schools with some CCP members, but never got any “privileges” from their friends.

    Both my parents got sent to the country side to work during the Cultural Revolution, but were brought back into the city when Deng started his reforms.

    1 of my uncles was a CCP member, but he’s hardly better off than my parents. He’s not rich. He has no fancy cars to drive around.

  29. Wukailong Says:

    Sorry, I’m missing out here. What is TFBH?

  30. JXie Says:

    @TonyP4, First didn’t mean to come across as questioning your background or experience… As a matter of fact your viewpoints are always appreciated, just that some of your views on China to me are quite dated, hence my question.

    There are many in my first-degree separation are making some very serious money in China. Most are enterpreneurs, or near or at executive levels of various corporations, including SOEs. Chinese aren’t stupid. Given them the education, the opportunities, the infrastructure support, there is no reason an average Chinese should produce less and earn less than an average American (or an average anybody for that matter). What has held China back in recent history, by far the biggest reason is overall educational attainment in the general population.

    @Wukailong, TFBH = Thick Face Black Heart.

  31. Wukailong Says:

    @JXie: Thanks! It would have been obvious if I had reread the original passage; I saw it there but then forgot about it. I should do rereading more often, otherwise these slip-ups will happen on a regular basis… 🙁

  32. barny chan Says:

    raventhorn4000 Says: “I should also say, I didn’t get to my place in the world because of CCP privileges.”

    Your “place in the world”? You mean to say you rose to the position of full time court jester at Fool’s Mountain and part-time fantasy lawyer purely on merit? It wasn’t gifted to you by the CCP? Astounding.

  33. TonyP4 Says:

    R, forgot to respond to the argument: “many Chinese are making more money than your average Chinese Americans (which already make more than average Americans). ”

    It is not comparing apple to apple. You can twist a lot of facts when using “many” and comparing to “average”.

    For illustration to your high level, it will be unfair to use “some lawyers” like the one defending OJ and the one suing the Korean dry cleaner to say the “average” lawyer is money thirty. Right?

    Just for those who have not stayed enough time recently in US, PBS is a non-profit outfit that has very decent documentaries. The 2006 documentary I saw is sponsored by Sybase (whose CEO is a Chinese American) and many foundations with Chinese last names to promote building better Sino American relationship. It is outdated by three years, but it is still quite real. I was saddened that the college students in the top college in China do not know TSM.

  34. JXie Says:


    That was my statement. I am not trying to win an argument with you, but rather try to present something that I see that you may not see.

    China is poorer on average because its lower urbanization and lower educational level, which will take a long time to improve to America’s levels. At a personal level, you are only competing with your peers — those with similar education, intelligence, motivation and background as yours. Just so that you know, among those in my first-degree separation in China, one is a billionaire, another is a centimillionaire and a few probably are in the 8-digit range (all in USD).

    This is not a FOB type who is using nationalism as an outlet for his inner unbalance — this is a man in the midpoint of his life carefully examining his future options. I came to the US near 2 decades ago, and now speak Northeastern American English with little foreign accent that many assume me born/raised in the US. All and all I have done reasonably OK. In the last 5 years or so have done quite a bit world traveling and have spent quite a bit time in China for both pleasure and business. Me being a history fan, it’s apparent to me that China is in the cusp of some explosive wealth creation. It will be pretty sad if I can’t take advantage of that…

  35. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi Xjie, no one wins or loses an argument – just a friendly debate.

    It is hard to predict when China can go to the next phase of becoming a developed country. I can see there are several problems after the big growth.

    * Without strict regulations, the reputation of Made in China is getting worse. Personally I do not buy any tires from China, food/products with water… Sometimes we cannot avoid all of them but I try for safety and nothing to do with patriotism. Hope CCP understands it before it is too late.

    * Pollution (air and water). Industrialization has too big a price to pay for.

    * Natural resources/farm land per capita is too low to support a living standard of a developed country. What happens when oil returns back over to $100 per barrel. It is quite possible when supply/demand is considered..

    * Not too many developed countries are that corrupt and non-democratic.

    * You can tell Tier I cites are all developed, but not the rural area. We’re migrating rural workers to urban as most developed countries did. But, it has been reversed for the short term.

    * Education level may not be that important. Most of the factory jobs do not require any education past high school. When we move to the next phase, we need better quality (we already have the quantity). Judging from the high unemployment rate of college grads, some may be in the wrong majors – again, it is a supply/demand.

    There are many positives for China. As a investor, I always look at the shortcomings first.

  36. raventhorn4000 Says:


    “For illustration to your high level, it will be unfair to use “some lawyers” like the one defending OJ and the one suing the Korean dry cleaner to say the “average” lawyer is money thirty. Right?”

    I didn’t suggest that the “average” Chinese American is poor either.

    I don’t think any of us suggested that the “average” Chinese person in China is rich.

    But there are still “many”.

  37. huaren Says:


    Just curious – how do you invest in China. ETF’s? Which ones?

    Remember, “Made in Japan” was bashed for a long time. Then came against “Made in Taiwan”, “Made in Hong Kong”, “Made in Korea”, etc.. The case studies on how a region industrializes using these examples are pretty much Economics 101.

    Are the U.S., E.U., Japan, etc committed to “Made in China”? Heck yeah! Are there loosers in these regions when trade expand? Sure. Those with more to gain? They definitely outnumber those stand to loose.

    Bashing “Made in China” to slow down the on-slaught (for the loosers obviously) – yes, with some effect, but if you look at the phenomenal growth of Walmart in the last decade or two, “Made in China” is very resilient.

  38. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi Huaren, I invested in Chinese stocks that are traded in US exchanges. The result has been mixed with several losers. With market timing, I did quite well in FXI, a ETF fund. One problem with Chinese stocks is their lacking accounting practices and the laws governing the stock exchanges. I do not really trust my data on Chinese stocks. There are some good local firms in China and HK managing the funds on Chinese stocks.

    Chinese stocks have become a very small portion of my portfolio. I trade companies/countries that would benefit from China’s growth like EWZ, ETF for Brazil. I have spent a lot of time and use Vector Vest as my tool box for investment.

    All the countries you described have gone thru the different stages of becoming a developed country. I’ve written the 4 phases of becoming a developed country. China could break all rules. I’ve no doubt it will be one (all the Tier I and even some Tier 2 cities are fully developed). I am afraid they will be stuck in this cycle with my arguments in my previous post. China really has to move to the next phase to sell MORE sophisticated products at larger profit margins.

    Made in Vietnam is sneaking in. Made in India could be the big threat if India can clear their obstacles.

    WalMart can choose which country they want to do business with for the price/performance. It is not Sam Walton’s era when Sam wanted to buy America even they had to pay 5% more (the actual % is 40).

    Being a Chinese, I hope they will resolve their problems and move on to the next phase. However, with my nationalism, I still need to face reality and I can see China has a lot of problems to fix. Reputation is not a quick fix.

  39. JXie Says:

    TonyP4, there is where studying history is beneficial. Most of what you described would fit the US circa 1900, or Japan circa 1964 as well. What will likely make China excel? Work ethics, improving education, propensity to invest and save, and speed of getting things done. For example, the Empire State Building took a bit over a 1 year to build in 1930, but nowadays 8 years later the former World Trade Center is still a scar on the ground. The speed, the optimism, & the raw desire to improve one’s own lot in the early 20th century America, you can only find them in China today.

  40. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi JXie, WTC is not a good example. It is just too emotional. As I said before, US and China are countries of two extremes. I do not argue which one is better than the other but middle ground always is the best road to choose. I can argue most actions/events happen naturally and quite predictably according to their current conditions.

    China starts projects fast and finish them fast. It is good. The problem is it does not respect the opposition such as considering the environment, human suffering, safety… The Big Dam is one such example. With the neglect of many years of constructions, returns of most projects are high besides providing the needed jobs.

    US has its problems but not as bad as you described. It still has a lot to go for such as 40% (arguable) of the world top universities, infrastructure, technology, top GNP… From my memory, US’s GNP almost doubles China’s and China’s population is about 4 times US.

    I’m not too pessimistic about US. I think US needs to tighten their belt and US has a lot of fat to squeeze out. US cannot really afford to fight foreign wars – let their citizens fight for their own freedom.

    Being an investor as I said before, I do not really care about politics, nationalism, but the facts and recent facts for my investment decisions.

  41. raventhorn4000 Says:


    Reputations sometimes cannot be fixed.

    the 1st Ming Emperor was once a beggar, and people made fun of him behind his back even after he became the Emperor.

    But who cares? A wise man should not be so vain as to care for such things. A wise man should be more concerned about productive things.

    My philosophy is, if people start to talk BS about me, I just give them the middle finger and move on.


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