Thursday, October 01, 2009

Let’s Celebrate

By Chip Tsao | published Oct 01, 2009

Was it a move carefully calculated to add a cherry to the top of the cake celebrating National Day on October 1? The new CEO of HSBC has voted with his feet for the second time, by choosing to set up his office not in London, but here in Hong Kong—a move of remorse by the oldest colonial bank in Asia to make up for its vote of no confidence in China during the 80s?

After three solid decades of economic reform behind it, China has proven to the world that its commitment to jungle capitalism (“socialism with Chinese characteristics”) is indeed a great leap forward, with no return.

Even the west is being re-educated about the remarkable change achieved by the Middle Kingdom, and is acclimating to the new rules of the game. So long as China remains a dictatorship, it benefits the US, Europe and Japan. Multinationals take advantage of the world’s cheapest labor factory in exchange for low inflation. To balance the trade surplus, cargoes of second-hand computer keyboards and mobile phones are shipped to rural villages in the Chinese countryside, where they poison the children with lead.

Any uprising will be promptly smacked down by the Chinese police to protect investment profits. President Obama and Hillary Clinton have wisely stopped whining about China’s human rights. Had China enacted labor laws to protect the health and safety of their works as demanded by American liberals, it would cost three times as much to put the made-in-China plastic Christmas tree up this year in every house in America. Beijing is tightening its grip on online speech thanks to electronic technologies sold by Intel and other western firms. If Beijing wants to catch a dissident who writes “down with Chairman Mao,” Yahoo and Google will gladly provide his whereabouts to help thugs track him down, much like a kitchen porter helping the chef catch an errant rat in the kitchen.

Haven’t Chinese men benefited too from the rise of China, in a very practical way? Twenty years ago, how often did you see a single Chinese man with his arm around a western girl walking around Tsim Sha Tsui? The sexual surplus has for long weighed one-sidedly in pairs such as Robert Lomax and Suzie Wong, Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeo, or any gweilo, even ones who look like Mr. Bean or Austin Powers, with a woman who looks like Gong Li. Despite the rise of Bruce Lee, Asian men are widely snubbed as sexless by western women. Now the equation is quietly changing. Walk into Shanghai Tang, and you’d be surprised by the number of Chinese boyfriends happily choosing colorful traditional Chinese costumes for their English, French, or even German girlfriends, who look enchanted with Oriental culture (and who look like Elizabeth Taylor or Catherine Deneuve in their younger days
rather than future lesbians). What a heart-warming scene. Although some argue that they are working girls from Eastern Europe staying temporarily in Macau. But I’m not that cynical.

I think it’s all because of the strength of China.

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