Governing China’s NGOs

The “governing” in the title of this article has a double meaning. First, it references the economic controls employed by the Chinese state to govern the nongovernmental sector. At minimum, the state uses funding to exert influence over non-governmental programs. However, it often outright usurps programs begun by NGOs. The second meaning of “governing” relates to the ways state interference governs the decision-making of the founders/directors of NGOs. In this way, the founders/directors are both shaped by and find space to work within government control frameworks. In this article, I analyze data from decision modelling to understand how this process … Continue reading Governing China’s NGOs

One in a Billion Names

For students of Chinese, one of the first rights-of-passage is being given a Chinese name. Usually a teacher or other person versed in the the subtle art of naming has this honor. The process occurs by: (1) Selecting a one-character family name from the surprisingly short list of most common names, one that typically begins with the same sound as the english last name; and (2) Selecting a one- or two-character given name, one that typically begins with the same sound as the english first name, and may or may not sound like the whole first name. The given name … Continue reading One in a Billion Names

The First China War

I’ve spent the weekend devouring and digesting The War for China’s Wallet. Shaun Rein takes a deep dive into China’s economic strategy, stability, and appeal to developing nations, as well as a timely critique of America’s weakness on all of these accounts. In my notes, I began using the shorthand WCW I, as this is likely the first of many iterations of China wielding its economic weapons. Shaun wisely advises governments and corporations alike to be strong over conciliatory, in order to earn the respect of the Chinese. Yet, this reveals a sobering reality: we must now earn the respect … Continue reading The First China War

More than a Middle Class

A billion people in China are NOT in the middle class. Typically we hear about the roughly 300 million people that make up China’s middle class. This figure makes marketers drool, and is the cause for much self-congratulation by the central government. Even the most cynical China watchers concede a hearty applause. Indeed, over the past generation, improvements to the lifestyles of this rising middle class are nothing short of amazing. Of course, in China having 300 million people in the middle class means that approximately 1 billion people have yet to reach this socioeconomic level. This group includes marginalized … Continue reading More than a Middle Class

Knowing what we don’t know: the Chinese economy

One thing that strikes me about us serious China observers is that we are frequently and completely wrong about the direction China is headed. In the 1980s many top analysts predicted that without democracy China would be unable to grow its economy. Later, many asserted that only with a free and open Internet could China maintain its growth. Wrong on both accounts. The Chinese development model has now become the first serious competitor to the Washington Consensus since the Cold War. More and more developing countries model their growth strategies on the Chinese state-managed market economy. We must continue to … Continue reading Knowing what we don’t know: the Chinese economy

Zika: The China Connection

Growing concern about the Zika Virus may seem like a strange topic for this blog. In recent years, China has of course had a variety of viral epidemics. However, the knee-jerk response of several South American countries raises an unfortunate reminder of parallel histories of forced population control in the two regions. China famously used doomsday models to justify its one-child policy (Greenhalgh 2005), and forced sterilizations were all too common thoughout South America, for example, in Peru. At present, El Salvador, due to perceived risks from Zika, has begun to urge woman to refrain from getting pregnant until 2018. In a … Continue reading Zika: The China Connection

Debt to a Master, Fei Xiaotong

A student of Bronislaw Malinowski, Fei Xiaotong presented an empathetic and prescient account of the problems facing changing village economies in his native land of China. His career was greatly disrupted by two decades of persecution under the Cultural Revolution (Fei 1981). So much suffering and mismanagement could have been avoided if only Mao had listened to the brightest social scientist in the land. Fei nearly mirrored the communist ideology (though not its action-plan), foreseeing that the decline in domestic industry and high land rents would lead to a peasant revolt. He argued for a “reasonable and effective land reform” … Continue reading Debt to a Master, Fei Xiaotong