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Archive for March, 2008

Book reviews added
A Bull in China, Jim Rogers
Tomorrow’s Gold, Marc Faber

Updated
Beijing travel page
Art page

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Refreshing sometimes to read coverage from non-US media. 

Financial Times:
Inflation risk forces China to act on currency
Tibet: The first foreign media reports
China will not be cowed
The Olympic threat to China

Asia Times:
Power crisis for Guangdong industry
Tibet, China and the West: Back to Stereotypes
Stumbling towards Confucius-ville

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Lawyers and China.

Paul Denlinger has been churning out a number of great posts lately on his blog, China Vortex.  Recently, he blogged about his theory on why Chinese do not like lawyers (article here).  First, let me point out that most US entreprenuers also do not like lawyers.  Not only do lawyers charge a whole lot, they tend to create more friction in business dealings.  Paul points out that Chinese entreprenuers seem bring this to a whole new level and try to avoid lawyers at all costs.

In thinking more about this topic, I believe differences in culture play an important role.  Americans like to be direct and to-the-point.  Also, there’s a strong preference for efficiency.  Chinese like to preserve harmony (or face, if you will).  The concept of “wasting time” doesn’t seem to be there.  Americans find comfort in clarity; Chinese find comfort in ambiguity.  Ambiguity gives hope, leaving the door open for future negotiations.  With this, I can appreciate why the legal process pushes Chinese entreprenuers off their comfort zones.

To take this further, would you agree that the US is a preemptive society, while China is a reactive one? 

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townhouses1.jpg  palmsprings.jpg 

Yep, Beijing.  I won’t be able to tell… the townhouses (and cars) on the top-left picture are quite similar to those one can find in N. California.  

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Oh Tibet.

By now, I’m sure you’ve read a lot about Tibet.  But this will not be a China blog if I do not mention this very significant event.   I don’t know enough about the history of Tibet.  I also don’t trust any media in giving an unbiased perspective.  Thus, I won’t elaborate too much here…  I can say tho that I do not like the way the Chinese government has responded, from both a tactical and the PR prespective.  It is a sad moment regardless.

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I picked up a book about Jack Ma’s (Ma Jun) “teachings” while in Beijing.  Since every entrepreneur in China worships Jack Ma, I thought it is important for me to understand what he thinks.  I’m still half-way into the book, so I’d have to write a full review later on.  My impression so far is as follows:

1. Jack is an exceptional leader – he is charismatic, communicative, confident and visionary.  He is a great story teller.
2. Jack reads and thinks a lot.  He is certainly well aware of western management philosophies, even though he rarely follows them. 
3. Jack always has a logic behind his actions.  He can talk you into things, even though it might not be totally rational if you think through it carefully.
4. Jack is not afraid of setting stretch goals for himself and others.  And he will announce it to the world.
5. Jack has the human resource issue figured out.  He even started his own training center.
6. Jack is all about customer service.
7. Jack is Alibaba.
 

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An interview

Interviewer (I)
Candidate (C): profile – 25 yrs old, hometown in the north China province, graduated from a design college in Beijing

I: Why did you decide to get into this industry?
C: I wasn’t that good of a student in high school.  My teacher saw my talent in drawing and suggested I go to a design college.  My major was in art design.  Reason I studied that is because I think the advertising agencies will need a lot of talent.  Later, I realize that unless you’re really really good, there’s not much of a career.  It wasn’t what I thought it’d be like.  So I looked around, and the Internet was ramping up.  I thought, well, they got to need a lot of talent, so I took some classes and started this career. 

I: Are you more interested in website design, or website development?
C: Website design.

I: Why?
C: Development work is hard (long hours), and I don’t see a future.  But I can do both design and development.

I: What’s your career goal?
C: I see myself doing this (website design/development) for another few years, until 30 yrs old.  That’s it.  There are always young guys graduating so I cannot do this forever.  Again, it is not what I thought it will be like.  My hope is to move into management. 

I: What kind of management?
C: Whatever kind.  I don’t care.  Management.

I: Do you have any questions for us?
C: Yes.. well, your kind of company (startup).  A lot of these companies do not survive after 3-5 years.  What happens when you run out of money?

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