China’s Silicon Valleys (plural)

March 25, 2014

In You Can’t Build a New Silicon Valley Just Anywhere by Margaret O’Mara, writing for Foreign Policy magazine (August 16, 2010), she said, “for many of the would-be silicon cities being constructed by the Russias and Chinas of the world; with their long histories of centralized control, they are still convinced they can order up success.”

O’Mara’s theme is that the success we have seen in California’s Silicon Valley is due to the freedom America’s republic—now a democracy—offers along with loads of money from the government and venture capitalists with no strings attached.

However, there’s evidence that democracy isn’t needed for innovation, because China (ruled by Emperors under an autocratic imperialistic monarchy) was more technologically advanced than any country on earth for almost two thousand years.

In fact, a recent December 4, 2013 issue of the Wall Street Journal reported that “Beijing’s Zhongguancun district is “studying the style, personality, management and funding of (America’s) Silicon Valley. What’s more, they reject China’s traditional top-down corporate model, deference to management and emphasis on size.” In addition, successful high tech companies in China want to branch out to be more than just a Chinese company.

After all, the Chinese invented the stirrup for saddles which revolutionized warfare on horseback, gunpowder, the multistage rocket, the compass, paper, the printing press and pasta along with a long list of other innovations that changed the world.

Without the Chinese, where would the world be today? See Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions

China may not offer the same individual freedoms the West does, but “face”, which is important in Chinese culture, is a strong motivator to improvise and invent so one gains “face” and becomes powerful and wealthy.

Before Deng Xiaoping and the “Getting Rich is Glorious” generation that he gave birth to, I would have agreed with Margaret O’Mara but not now.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Is China really responsible for all the lost jobs in the United States?

February 25, 2014

The reason for this post is because I left a comment for “Google robots, iPhone trackers—which sci-fi movie is coming true?” and a guy named Dave [I think it’s a guy] left a reply.

Dave pulled this quote from the comment I wrote: “If we don’t do something soon, the day will come when there are no jobs and no consumers because every job will be automated.” And Dave replied, “What? Have you any proof for this baseless assertion?”

Yes I do, Dave, and I’ll get to that, but first I want to deal with China getting the blame for jobs vanishing in the United States.

Heritage.org says, “Those who attack China often do not examine real economic events: They do not measure actual failed businesses and actual job losses. Instead, they assume the U.S.–China trade deficit means that both production and production jobs are moving from the U.S. to China. … Imports do not cause unemployment; quite the opposite, they are a signal of prosperity and plentiful jobs.”

Cato.org supports what Heritage says: “In the quarter century between 1983 and 2007, as real GDP more than doubled and the real value of U.S. trade increased five-fold, the U.S. economy created 46 million net new jobs, or 1.84 million net new jobs per year.”

If what Heritiage.org and Cato.org says is true, then what’s causing lost jobs in the United States?

First, after the 2007-08 global financial crises caused by US Banks and Wall Street greed, trade between the United States and the world shrunk by 12 percent and six million jobs were lost—jobs that were not lost to China where jobs were also lost.

Did you know that the United States has the largest manufacturing sector in the world, and that China is only number two? (Greyhill.com)

I wouldn’t be surprised if you said no.

Just how large are US exports to the world? NPR.org reported: “In 2011, the U.S. exported goods and services worth $2.1 Trillion”—more than what China sold to the world by about $80 billion. “China exported goods worth an estimated $2.021 Trillion to the world [in 2012] and imported goods from other countries that added up to an estimated $1.78 Trillion.”

At this point you may be confused and ask, “How can the U.S. be the world’s leader in manufacturing when millions of jobs are being lost in that sector?”

Bright Hub Engineering.com offers one answer: “Robots have replaced a lot of activities formerly carried out by a human, with one robot replacing as many as ten workers.”

“In the last fifteen years, manufacturing in the United States has undergone a fundamental shift,” Arena Solutions.com reports. “As millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost to … automation, output has steadily continued to grow. And while U.S. manufacturing output has decreased by only 1% since 1990, manufacturing jobs have decreased by over 30% in the same time period.”

Losing manufacturing jobs is not only happening in the US. The Harvard Business Review.org says, “Manufacturing employment decline is a global phenomenon. As a Bloomberg story summarized: “Some 22 million manufacturing jobs were lost globally between 1995 and 2002 as industrial output soared 30 percent.”

Instead of bashing China, blame the real culprits for millions of lost jobs on robots and the greedy rich who are behind the decisions to replace humans with automation. If one robot can replace ten humans, that’s a lot of money saved leading to increased profits and wealth for the rich.

After all, Robots don’t need Social Security, medical care, retirement plans, paid sick leave or vacations—in fact, they don’t earn any money, even minimum wage with no benefits.

One way to stop this from happening is to pass laws that protect humans from losing jobs to automation.

Other choices are to stay in school and work harder to earn a better education leading to jobs that robots can’t replace any time soon—and stop blaming teachers for a student’s lack of interest, cooperation or laziness. The other choice is to end up working for poverty wages in the fast-food industry or retail stores like Wal-Mart—that is until those jobs are also replaced by robots.

And if you drive an 18 wheeler; work for UPS or FedEx, be warned, Google—for instance—is working hard to take driving cars and trucks away from humans and turn driving over to robots. Meanwhile, Amazon is working on another project to turn delivery of goods bought from its Website over to automated drones that will fly in and deliver what you buy.

Sounds cool until you realize that means an end to a human’s job.

Also discover STEEL (no, not steal) FROM CHINA

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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The bumpy learning curve of China’s charities

February 18, 2014

Now that China is the 2nd largest economy on the planet, the responsibility of helping the needy may have come of age. Today, China has about 1.1 million millionaires in U.S. dollars and Business Insider reports that there are more than 300 Chinese billionaires—an increase of 64 from the previous year.

In October 2010, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet visited Beijing to convince China’s wealthy to give away their money for a good cause. The result was lukewarm but that may be due to distrust because charities in China do not have much transparency.

Philanthropy.com says, “To many in China, the more money rich people donate, the more respectable they are. If people pledge or donate all their money altruistically, they are regarded as heroes in China. But if they refuse to donate, they would be considered one of the ‘ruthless rich,’ people to be scorned.”

For a quick summary of charitable giving in China—in 2008, after the earthquake that killed thousands and left millions homeless, annual donations reached $15.7 billion U.S.—more than three times what was given in 2007.

However, according to China Daily.com—after several scandals related to charities causing widespread public outrage—the level of giving dropped dramatically. In 2011, 84.5 Billion Yuan ($13.96 billion U.S.) was given, and in 2012, the number dropped below 70 billion Yuan ($11.57 billion U.S.).

China Daily also reported: Charity organizations have mushroomed since 2004, when China put an end to the government’s monopoly on charity organizations. … In September 2013, the number of non-governmental charities hit 3,361. There were 1,800 in 2008.

The lack of transparency of charity organizations in China as well as a lack of tax incentives such as in the U.S. and many other countries has discouraged people from participating in charity. Meanwhile, volunteerism is still a new phenomenon and only popular among certain youth groups, China Daily reported.

To solve the problem of transparency among Chinese charitable groups, the China Foundation Center has set goals to make Chinese philanthropy more transparent. Their members are a mix of public and private foundations, including the Jet Li One Foundation.

For a comparison, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy reported, Americans donated an estimated $316.23 billion to charitable causes in 2012.… individuals gave $228.93 billion while corporations only gave $18.15 billion.

National Philanthropic Trust.org reported where the money went: “In 2011, the majority of charitable dollars [in the U.S.] went to religion (32%), education (13%), human services (12%), and grant making foundations (9%).

Another way to measure charitable giving is through volunteering—donating time and not money. In the U.S., 105 million people (ranked 1st in the world) volunteered time compared to China’s 44 million (ranked 4th). Then there’s the number of people helping strangers. China was number one with 283 million people, and the US was in second place with 178 million. [Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index 2012]

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Ai WeiWei is probably NEVER SORRY for anything he says or does: Part 2 of 2

February 5, 2014

Ai Weiwei also infers that it wasn’t the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed 5,335 children (Weiwei’s number because there has been no official death count of how many children died) but corruption in the CCP that led to shoddy construction, and every opinion Weiwei says in the film is reported as if it were a fact.

But the film leaves out many facts of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed 69,195 with 18,392 missing; 374,176 injured; left 5 million people homeless of the 15 million who lived in the area with no mention that many of the schools that collapsed were built in the late 1970s before even the United States had tougher earthquake building codes.

if seventeen percent of China’s population is age 14 or less, then about 2.6 million children must have lived in the area hit by the earthquake—those children who died then represent 0.2% of the total number of children and that was much less than the 0.46% that represents deaths compared to the total population of the area. Why did Weiwei [and the western media] ignore the fact that 99.8% of children under age 14 survived?

China’s government did report that more than 7,000 inadequately engineered schoolrooms collapsed in the earthquake, but China’s critics—including Weiwei—never mention that few buildings survive an 8.0 earthquake without damage, and that this earthquake was rated the 21st deadliest earthquake of all time.

And according to Structure.org, the number of collapsed or seriously damaged structures exceeded 25 million. I think it is safe to say that most of the buildings in that area were not adequately engineered to survive an earthquake of that magnitude, and the schools that collapsed represent 0.028% of the total number of buildings damaged. I wonder if any schools survived and—if so—when were they built?

If you want a better perspective, I suggest reading The Christian Science Monitor that reported, “Earthquake engineers say that constructing a building to resist a quake of magnitude 7 or 8 is possible, but is often considered cost prohibitive” … and “Schools … are particularly vulnerable because they are often mid-sized buildings, smaller projects for contractors that are paid by [local] government bureaucracies. Two recent earthquakes in Indonesia and in Kashmir also resulted in a disproportionate [number of] student deaths.”

“Often school buildings suffer quite a bit,” said Amir Elnashnai, director of the Mid-America Earthquake Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In addition, why is it that China is condemned for the collapse of older concrete and brick buildings during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake when The Los Angeles Times reported in October 2013 that “More than 1,000 old concrete buildings in Los Angeles and hundreds more throughout the county may be at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake, according to a Times analysis. By the most conservative estimate, as many as 50 of these buildings in the city alone would be destroyed, exposing thousands to injury or death.”

You may also be interested in reading what Sweet and Sour Socialism has to say about this controversial artist in “Detained: Ai WeiWei, Con Artist” by Yoichi Shimatsu [the 4th media]”

Simatsu is Japanese and is the former Editor of the Japan Times Weekly. Now, do you think Ai Weiwei is a hero and the documentary offers a balanced perspective of the issues discussed?

Return to Ai WeiWei is probably NEVER SORRY for anything he says or does: Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Ai WeiWei is probably NEVER SORRY for anything he says or does: Part 1 of 2

February 4, 2014

My wife bought a DVD of Ai Weiwei NEVER SORRY, a documentary film by Allison Klayman that was well done but obviously produced with the intent to portray Ai Weiwei as a hero and Communist China as evil.

Ai Weiwei is an internationally acclaimed Chinese artist-activist who was selected as the designer of the Beijing Olympic Bird’s Nest, and he is also an outspoken critic of China’s Communist government.

The film won a Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; Best Storytelling in a Documentary at the 2012 Nantucket Film Festival; the NBR Award from the 2012 National Board of Review, USA; Festival Director’s Choice Award from the 2012 Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, and the Students’ Choice Award from The 2012 Hague Movies that Matter Festival.

But—before judging if Weiwei is a hero or the film deserves the awards—I suggest you read this post (and maybe some of the linked sources) then decide if this film deserves the praise.

 

Weiwei’s advocacy for democracy and more transparency in China has attracted much attention in the Western media but how popular is his movement? For instance, he only has 233,510 followers [that’s 0.000176% of the population of China] on his Mandarin Twitter page where he is very active with more than 100,000 Tweets posted. There is also a Free Ai WeiWei Blog on Twitter with about 500 followers. Then there is an English Twitter page with 28,767 followers.

Ai Weiwei lived in the United States [1981 – 1993] to study art but dropped out of school and made a living drawing street portraits and working odd jobs. The film also reveals he had a boy with a young mistress/concubine while still married to artist Lu Qing. If he had one affair and isn’t sorry about that, why not more affairs with other women?

Weiwei’s father was a high ranking Communist Party member before becoming a victim of the teenage Red Guard during Mao’s Cultural Revolution—there are clips in the documentary that show this—and the film mentions that his father attempted suicide a number of times because of the persecution [that was happening to millions of Chinese]. It’s obvious that this experience had an impact on who Weiwei is today and why he publicly criticizes the CCP.

I couldn’t help but question where all the money comes from that supports his lavish lifestyle. For instance, there was one exhibition in London where his art was a field of ceramic hand-painted sunflower seeds—100 million according to Weiwei. Celebrity NetWorth/BBC, reported that those seeds sold for $US 782,000—that’s 4.733 million Chinese Yuan Renminbi.

HyperAllergic.com reported: “Production for creating so many seeds was an intensive and meticulous process taking two years and 1,600 factory workers to complete; it seems that when artists use factory workers it is conceptually engaging, but when Apple does it it is infuriating, neither of which seem to hinder sales.”

In the film, one of Weiwei’s criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) focuses on one incident where he alleged he was beaten by a police officer in Chengdu while investigating the collapse of public schools in Sichuan province after the 8.0 earthquake in 2008.

I don’t question that Weiwei was attacked by one cop in Chengdu, but is that incident an indictment of the CCP? For instance, Copblock.org reports that in the United States from April 2009 to June 2010 there were 5,986 reports of misconduct by police officers recorded and 382 fatalities linked to misconduct leading to about $347.5 million in settlements and judgments. If the CCP is guilty of abuse from one cop, then so is the United States Congress and the President of the United States for misconduct of police in America.

And police brutality is not exclusive to the United States or China. If we check the 10 Most Brutal Police Forces on Earth, we discover that the United States was ranked #10 and China #9. Mexico earned the number one spot.

Continued on February 5, 2014 in Ai WeiWei is probably NEVER SORRY for anything he says or does: Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


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