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2012/05/31

(Chinese) Culture Still Matters - From Victor Davis Hanson

A wicked smart guy, columnist and historian, Victor Davis Hanson's latest piece  talks about the cultural differences in Europe but it has amazing similarities in China.  He writes:

But government-driven efforts to change national behavior often ignore stubborn cultural differences that reflect centuries of complex history as well as ancient habits and adaptations to geography and climate. Greeks can no more easily give up siestas than the Swiss can mandate two-hour afternoon naps. If tax cheating is a national pastime in Palermo, by comparison it is difficult along the Rhine.

This is so true as what's been happening in China for the last 60 or so years.  Government driven efforts to overcome the culture and in each attempt they failed.  The Chinese will always yearn to breath free and make money no matter what the government and what the political situation.

Mr. Hanson continues:

...over the years I have developed an unscientific and haphazard -- but often accurate -- politically incorrect method of guessing whether a nation is likely to be perennially insolvent and wracked by corruption.
 
Do average passersby throw down or pick up litter? After a minor fender-bender, do drivers politely exchange information, or do they scream and yell with wild gesticulations? Is honking constant or sporadic? Are crosswalks sacrosanct? Do restaurant dinners usually start or wind down at 9 P.M.? Can you drink tap water, or should you avoid it? Do you mostly pay what the price tag says, or are you expected to pay in untaxed cash and then haggle over the unstated cost? Are construction sites clearly marked and fenced to protect pedestrians, or do you risk walking into an open pit or getting stabbed by exposed rebar?

The only thing in that list that wouldn't fit with China is the restaurant closing at 9pm. The rest of that is ALL the spitting image of China.  Amazing.  Perhaps he's correct as China is wracked with corruption and soon to be insolvent!




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