China Business

China: Programmed By Fellows With Compassion And Vision?

China future business

A just machine to make big decisions

Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision

We’ll be clean when their work is done

We’ll be eternally free yes and eternally young

Donald Fagan, IGY

Could not help but think of the above song after reading Silicon Hutong’s Post, Who Got Your Vision?  on the division of vision as between businesspeople and government leaders in the United States, versus businesspeople and government leaders in China.

Silicon Hutong repeats the following “interesting theory,” recently told to him by a Chinese national:

“In America … your businessmen have dreams and great vision and operate accordingly. But your leaders are preoccupied with the present, grabbing votes, staying popular.

In China, it is different….Our government leaders are the ones with the great dreams and vision, and our businessmen are preoccupied with the present, grabbing as much money as they can now, and to hell with the future.”

Silicon Hutong rightly calls this “searing generalization” “suspect,” but deserving of some contemplation, and then goes on to say that what he liked best was this person’s comment that “where both the government leaders and the businessmen are people of vision…THAT is a truly great country.” What do you think?

Does China’s government really have vision? Or is it simply doing what it needs to do to stay in power? Does any government really have vision? Do businesspeople have vision beyond their own businesses? Would it be grand to have a country where both the businesspeople and the leaders have vision? Has there ever been such a country? Should the businesspeople and the leaders have the same vision? What is vision anyway?

11 responses to “China: Programmed By Fellows With Compassion And Vision?”

  1. I think that the Party institution and the ideology that is supposed to drive the Party give the Chinese government more vision than most governments. BUT… That’s not saying much… Human nature and its interaction with the bureaucratic system inherently limit vision. HBO’s The Wire, by former Baltimore Sun journalist David Simon, is an incredible chronicle of how government bureaucracy works. Good people make up government bureaucracies, but concerns about personal job security inhibit the vision and ultimate effectiveness of the bureaucracy. These job security concerns are reinforced by a “don’t rock the boat” mentality across all levels of the bureaucracy as actions with vision by lower ranking members are discouraged because these actions can have a significant negative impact upon higher rankings members. So… Yes… The Chinese government inherently lacks vision because a TV show about the West Baltimore Police told me so.

  2. The Nightfly…what a great record! Was just listening to that over breakfast a week or two ago.
    China’s central government definitely has a vision. And it is definitely doing what it needs to do to stay in power. Not sure how far the vision makes it out into the sticks.
    It would be grand to be in a country where the politicians and businesses shared a vision, as long as that vision wasn’t say, ca. Germany 1936.

  3. I once read that in America, “smart” people tend to go into business, while in China, they go into public service. So we have Bill Gates and they have Hu Jintao.

  4. Biff – You’re thinking about Japan, where the best and brightest have been choosing government over private sector opportunities. Would not say that is the case for China…

  5. Last I checked the US government has not recently massacred people demanding that it step down. If the Chinese government has ‘vision’, then what is that vision? A China with its foot firmly planted across the windpipe of Asia is all I can see.
    Does China have a politician witht the vision of Barrack Obama? Or Margaret Thatcher? Or Ronald Reagan?
    The only Chinese politico of the modern age who ever seemed to have any idea of where he was leading China was Deng Xiao Ping, we are yet to see any Chinese politician improve on his “to grow rich is glorious”.
    Even a cursory examination of the Chinese communist party reveals an organisation far more unwilling to change than even the US republican party. What possible ‘vision’ could be found in the CCP’s scramble to strike down on disent? Or in their efforts to inflict an utterly false morality on the people which individual part members are the leaders in undermining? Or in their constant mouthing of platitudes like ‘harmonious society’, ‘motherland re-unification’ or ‘peaceful rise’?
    The only way in which I can understand the person quoted is by saying that he has mistaken the way in which Chinese official pander to their superiors (rather than make Mitt Romney-style appeals to the public) for actual belief in a common goal.
    As for the business community, I would say that at least some of the Chinese business men/women I have met have been people of great vision. Terry Guo, for example, might see a certain element of self-glorification in the growth of the Foxconn/Hon Hai empire, but he also puts great importance on the training of his staff and I was impressed by his attention to detail. Ying Fang of Evolution Securities also struck me as a business woman with a definite vision for bringing Chinese SMEs onto the world markets. I couldn’t really say whether these people had more of a ‘vision’ for their businesses than American business people do as I have never worked in America, but I did not detect the streak of arrogant hypocracy in them that I have detected in almost every Chinese government official I have come across.

  6. Will,
    I respect that, since I figure at least 50% of what I know comes from TV, with maybe an additional 45% coming from movies and song lyrics. The other 4% I just make up.
    I love The Wire, but my wife, who is a child psychologist (and who can watch shows like the Sopranos and Deadwood, no problem) cannot watch The Wire because it is just “too real.”

  7. Will,
    The Nightfly is a great album (is album still the right word?).
    Your comment raises the question, do we even want government to have great vision?
    Was it vision that got Bush into so much trouble?

  8. Biff,
    Interesting point. I am always stricken by how American businesspeople seem to be much better educated/well rounded than businesspeople from other countries. Am I right about this?

  9. I think you gotta remember the Chinese government comprises alot of different actors on a massive stage. The top echelon of government no doubt has vision – it seems a fundamental part of the job to have one, and to incorporate it into a pithy slogan involving numbers. After that, I think you probably get competing visions. The Propaganda Ministry no doubt has a very different vision from, well, alot of people.
    I think it starts coming apart when it comes to implementing any of those visions.

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