Excellent post on The ACF China Co – Millstone Trading blog. This blog describes itself as “a blog for Asian furniture industry professionals offering invaluable insights, comments and ramblings about importing home furnishings from China,” but this post is highly relevant for any business involved with China.
The post is entitled, “Rising nationalism – Will it affect the business climate in China?” The post starts out explaining why the post is being written at all, when the blog normally focuses on Chinese furniture:
If I were worried about one single element of doing business in China today, it wouldn’t be inflation. Nor would it be the rising costs of exports due to the rapid appreciation of the Yuan. Or rising fuel costs for that matter. Air pollution? Nope. The cost of labor going up would not be my main concern either. No, all of these issues seem unpleasant yet manageable, in one way or another, even if difficult. So what then pray tell would it be? Definitely it would be rising Chinese nationalism. Normally I bypass politics altogether, to focus on the furniture industry and china business – two things I think are interesting enough to keep me busy. But in many ways, I find today’s topic quite relevant since one will effect the other.
It then explains how the new nationalism he is feeling “in the air” in China is different from anything he has felt in China since having moved there in 1997. He then details the specific anti-foreign sentiment he is hearing in his conversations (in Mandarin) with the Chinese:
● Pollution in China is the fault of foreigners. We foreigners have come here to manufacture our cheap garbage at the lowest price possible and consequently, the environment is polluted as a result. If we foreigners didn’t come here to make so much money, there would be no environmental problems in China.
● If there are quality problems with Chinese made products, it’s our fault. If we didn’t come here to buy low-prices trash they not have made it, so stop complaining.
● Foreigners are only here in China for the fantastic money making opportunities that are everywhere here. Money is the driving force here, not the culture, the adventure or anything else. (This one seems to hurt the most since I have spent the last few years in a culturally rewarding but fiscally less rewarding industry specifically because I like Chinese culture. Actually most of the foreigners I know here have made very little money in China and the few that have paid dearly for it).
● Yes, China’s new labor law is a pain but a good thing since as it will help to prevent the foreign business here from continuing to exploit Chinese workers (still not sure how this will prevent this sort of thing from happening: slave labor in the Shanxi brick kilns)
● If you have a complaint or problem with something, it’s probably because you just don’t like the way we do things here (and are just looking to exploit us anyways). Now there is some merit to this, but this one has shown up in some surprising situations like during quality control inspections on furniture. If it’s the wrong size, it’s the wrong size. What does that have to do with being a foreigner?
● China is rising. If you have an issue with this, live with it or get out. It’s probably because you are unhappy with the fact that even though the West is working furiously to contain China, it’s just not working. We like our government as they have made us more prosperous.
For more on rising Chinese nationalism, check out the following:
— “Foreigners Not Welcome,” at the Silk Road International Blog
— “Chinese Nationalism,” at ChrisClanton Blog
— “Kev’s Thoughts On… the Carrefour boycotts,” at genYchina [You have to read the comments on this one]
— “Fun at the Carrefour Protest,” at Stupid Pig’s China Blog
— “Jeffrey Wasserstrom on the History of Chinese Boycotts,” at Transpacifica
— “Mao meets Web 2.0: China’s User Generated Propaganda,” at ThomasCrampton.com [very interesting post/talk on how new media influences all this]
— “The Facets Of Chinese Nationalism,” By Yang Jianli, at the Washington Post
— “China’s competing nationalisms,” by David Shambaugh at the International Herald Tribune (h/t to The China Game)
— “Conversations about China and nationalism,” at Heart of Beijing
— “The Creationist Myth of Chinese Nationalism,” at Blogging for China.
— “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” at the In the Mouth of Mao-ness blog
— “You Know, Maybe Government Suits Should Read the Expat Blogs…,” at the “Scribblings of the Metropolitician” [post is mostly about Korea, but it does a great job dealing with the potential fallout from rampant nationalism]
I apologize for so many links, but the diversity of viewpoints and the plethora of excellent analysis necessitated it.
What are you hearing/seeing/feeling out there?