Chinese Crudeness or Cruelty

For a long time I have not written on China vs. India, though I did refer to China for its unique statistics of its progress. Though I am of opinion that both the country would have worked together to get the best from their strengths and prevailed over the rest of the developed nations who looked down upon them for a long time.

I read TCA Srinivasa-Raghavan’s article, ‘Dealing with Chinese crudeness’ in Business Standard today and I got tempted to get my readers go through it.

The Chinese take the wives of new mayors on a trip to the prisons where the older, convicted mayors are held. The Chinese ambassador has just blown a very rude raspberry at India by claiming Arunachal of India as China’s. This is typical of China, which has become a very crude and uncouth country. Successful in some ways, yes; but by and large, by any civilised yardstick, a massive failure.

The Chinese, as everyone knows, have a very focused leadership, even though mostly it is focused only on how to stay on in power. One of the things that these un-elected gangsters-as opposed to our elected ones-are discovering is that corruption gives them a bad name. So they have decided to do something about it. This consists of holding show trials and then shooting the accused. Several mayors, it seems, have been shot in the last few years. The lucky ones have been sent down for 20 years.

But this is not all. To demonstrate that corruption is a bad idea, the Chinese have started another wheeze. Every now and then, when a gaggle of new mayors have been elected, they take their wives on a trip to the various prisons where convicted mayors are held. The idea is to get the wives to have a word with their husbands as to what may await them if they get too greedy. But a little greed is permitted. The limits are defined depending on how well you have done by the boss.

The Chinese government also doesn’t have a very high opinion of its rural folk, though around 70 per cent of Chinese still live in rural areas. They are abysmally poor. But they don’t vote and that makes all the difference. So China siphons off wealth from the rural areas to the urban areas. Every rural Chinese parts with around 45 per cent of his income in one form or the other. About half of this goes towards maintaining a bloated bureaucracy in the countryside, which exploits the peasantry. Nor are there Medha Patkars or Aruna Roys in China.

I met a very experienced and senior Australian journalist a couple of months ago. She said she had gone to interview some peasants who had been thrown off their land so that some factories could be built. Within a few minutes a couple of policemen arrived and asked her to leave and they placed her under virtual arrest and took away her passport and finally sent her off after a few hours. Can we do that?

China also doesn’t allow trade unions. There is no right to association and as my young colleague Govindraj Ethiraj pointed out last Tuesday, let alone trade unions, it takes a dim view of even trade associations. Only the ruling party has the right to gang up and coerce the rest. No trade unions, no employee rights, hire-and-fire, what a lovely place, daddy!

China under a separate bilateral deal signed away things to the US by allowing the latter extraordinary rights and freedoms. But the interesting point is that in spite of what all the US can do to reduce the flood of imports from China and in spite of trying, it has failed. Why? Because the agreement didn’t say anything about the exchange rate! So the yuan remains undervalued and China’s trade surplus swells. China’s exchange reserves crossed a trillion dollars two weeks ago. How clever is that? But I have looked and looked to see if any one in China is criticising the central bank and the government. Right, you guessed it: not a soul.

China also gets up to all sorts of low trickery in the international arena. It has two major challengers in Asia-India and Japan. So what does it do? It helps Pakistan go nuclear to check India and North Korea go nuclear to check Japan, while it leaves itself free to do what it likes-like offering Muslim nations nuclear deals (Bangladesh and Egypt, to name the two latest “initiatives”). But everyone has very high regard for this country. The capitalists admire it because it allows people to get rich at the expense of the poor. The Communists admire it merely because it has styled itself communist. The question is: do we want to be like China? If not, please stop swooning over it.

China can be used as benchmark for development, but can’t be copied. India must search and evolve its own model. With our strength in knowledge sector and with help of technologies, every one must help becoming efficient, transparent and accountable.

Read ‘Secrets, Lies, And Sweatshops ‘
Friend or foe… India assesses what China means

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