Shenzhou 9 is in space, why aren’t public intellectuals happy?
Shenzhou 9 is in heaven, why aren’t public intellectuals happy?
By He Renyong, June 17 2012
The recent launch of spaceship Shenzhou 9 was accompanied with loud acclaim from the official media – and a wave of criticism from public intellectuals. Criticism ran along two main lines. The first was the low quality of the space technology. The other was the use of public money to fund a space program when China has so many social issues to solve: education, inequality, poverty, democratic participation… This post, however, questions the legitimacy of these public intellectuals to represent ‘unhappy China’, ironically suggesting that they might have developed criticism into a business. This post was very widely read on 1510 and attracted a lot of comments – some of them very critical.
Original link: 神九上天，公知们为什么不高兴？
Why do I get angry so easily?
By Rose Luqiu Luwei, June 19 2012
Who has never complained about bad service in China? And who has never witnessed an abusive customer shouting at a waiter, clerk or flight attendant? Starting from scenes in taxis, buses or planes, Rose Luqiu Luwei reflects on dysfunctional service relationships in mainland China.
Original link: 我为什麽那样容易生气？
Why does the Chinese elite emigrate?
By Feng Qingyang, June 15 2012
According to a recent report, China has become the world’s top nation of emigration, with 45 million Chinese-born people living overseas. Of particular concern is that fact that the Chinese economic and intellectual elites are migrating in large numbers. This article explores the reasons for this massive emigration: an inadequate education system, healthier living conditions overseas, safety reasons (including investment safety), and the ease of travel that a foreign passport offers. To conclude, the author proposes that developing ‘soft power’ to increase emotional attachment to the motherland and to reassure the elite about their present and future safety in the country is the only way for China to retain the people it needs to build up its future.
Original link: 中国的富豪和精英为什么移民？
Smoking ban in Hong Kong
By Wei Yingjie, June 17 2012
Hong Kong has very strict anti-smoking regulations, as this visitor from mainland China discovers on his trip. This post, however, goes beyond the anecdotal description of anti-smoking notices on bins. It provides a reflection on why Hong Kong regulations are effective and respected: not so much because the punishment if severe, but because regulations are strictly enforced. This may be a model for mainland China to emulate.
Original link: 在香港遭遇禁烟
Evaluating Chinese Science and technology (1) and (2)
By Wang Xiaoping, June 17 2012
This post presents an interview with Economics Professor Cheng Xiaonong about the state of Chinese R&D, assessing whether China is indeed about to catch up with developed countries in industrial innovation.
The first part of the interview focuses on the distinction between military and civilian industries in China. Communist countries in general can develop military technology because they can focus a large number of resources on a specific project. However, this comes at the expense of civilian technology development: the best researchers are moved away from civilian technology, and the highly controlled environment of military R&D is not conducive to creative dialogue among scientists.
But even in this field, China has not matched the the achievements of the USSR. The Chinese military industry has mostly reproduced existing models rather than developed original technology. Furthermore, because civilian technology is underdeveloped, raw materials produced in China often do not meet quality standards, and therefore have to be imported.
The second part of the interview focuses on the Chinese ‘knockoff’ industry (山寨 /shanzhai). Unlike what happens in the West, military and civilian industries are completely distinct systems in China. The military industry relies on government funding, and is not subject to any market forces. It can tolerate high levels of defective products, and often fails to meet quality standards. Overall, Chinese industrial standards are low and unstable, both for processes and the quality of raw materials – for instance, ball pens are assembled in China, but the metal ball has to be imported. Apart from a few very low quality products, nothing in China is entirely produced in the country. As a result, the whole industrial system is fragile.
The main R&D model in China is based on the shanzhai model. Businesses (as well as researchers) seek short-term profit. Importing core elements and developing a knockoff is cheaper than developing new technology. Beside, intellectual property is not respected. R&D investments are therefore at risk of being copied and never yielding returns. However, the media lets people believe that these knockoffs are actually original developments from China, causing a false impression of real technological progress. The shanzhai model can also lead to security issues – like in the case of the Wenzhou train incident: the Chinese high-speed train system is itself a knockoff, a hybrid of German, French and Japanese technology, which Chinese engineers failed to perfectly integrate.
Original article, part 1: 如何评价中国的科技现状？（上）
Original article, part 2: 如何评价中国的科技现状？（下）
All articles in this digest and a large range of other Chinese readings are accessible at Marcopoloproject.org. Some are available in English, French and Spanish translation. (You can join the project if you’d like to help with translations.)
Danwei is an affiliate of the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University. This posting is a result of one project that is part of that on-going collaboration.