Differences between Eastern and Western culture

How to confront a problem

In 2008, these images were sent to me by a friend working at Reuters.  They are copyrighted by Yang Liu, a Chinese raised in Germany whose biography is at the end of this post. The pictures appear in her book “Ost trifft West” (East meets West).  These images depict simplified and generalized differences & commonality between groups in their approaches, perspectives, and moments in history. In the images, Blue –> Westerner and Red –> Asian.

Relative sense of self
Type of weekend activities
Public expression
Differences in queuing
Relative status of the leader
Relationship models: Simple vs Complex
Differences in Sense of Punctuality
Differences in Transportation

Update: See JapanNewbie.com’s additional narrative on the pictures.

Update II: at the request of the artist, a number of images were removed from the original post. Please visit the artist’s webpage below to see more and to learn about shows of the artist’s work.

Update III: Yang Liu, the artist, drew my attention to an “interview” a Chinese newspaper conducted, allegedly with me. In fact, the “reporter” never contacted me and there was never an interview, with the paper Ms. Liu brought to my attention, nor any other on the subject of these images or their concepts.

All of the images are from Ms. Liu’s book “Ost trifft West” (East meets West) Hermann Schmidt Verlag Mainz -Differences between Germans and Chinese – A diary of Yang Liu @YangLiu Design, www.yangliudesign.com

BIOGRAPHY: Yang Liu was born in 1976. In age of 13, she moved with her parents to Germany. At the age of 17, she started her studies at the University of Arts  in Berlin. After her master degree, she worked as a designer inSingapore, London, Berlin and New York City. In 2004 she has started her own design studio. While she is giving workshops and lectures on several international conferences, she was as well as teaching at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Glasgow school of Art. Her works had been awarded with several international design awards and are shown in Museums and became partof the collections.

China Blogging for September 14, 2007

Some catch-up on China blogging included here to clear my China queue

China is upset, claiming foreign nations are causing “massive and shocking” damage by hacking into computers to “ferret out political, military and scientific secrets.” Some might say that turnaround is fair play. Another thought is someone might be showing off for DHS that it’s worthwhile to revisit a denied application?

Continue reading “China Blogging for September 14, 2007

China leads a peacekeeping op

The UN announced the first-ever Chinese led peacekeeping operation.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Major-General Zhao Jingmin as the new Force Commander for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO), the first time that the world body has had a Chinese national head one of its missions.

This syncs with Chinese public statements to use peacekeeping as a way of increasing its profile with governments and people directly (like with a hospital). The public diplomacy angle has been stated repeatedly, perhaps most clearly when they voiced their intent to up their contribution to the Lebanese PKO to increase their profile in the Middles East (as well as in Europe).

As China builds its expeditionary capability and while building prestige and influence, how exactly is the US improving its image by forcing democracy at the barrel of a gun?

Chinese Tuesday

It’s Tuesday and time for news on China

Preeti Aroon writes at Foreign Policy about Chinese becoming the language of choice for Sudanese students. It’s one thing to provide English-language training, it’s another to provide a viable and immediate use for the acquired language. (See previous post on Chinese policy in Africa)

Sudan sells around 60 percent of its oil to China, and Chinese companies, products, and restaurants have made inroads into the African country. Sudanese university students who learn Chinese can get jobs as translators and work for Chinese oil and telecommunications companies. Recently, Khartoum University had a Chinese speech competition, and a Chinese professor there said, “… nearly 100% of students who graduate from the department get jobs with Chinese companies.” In a troubled country like Sudan, that prospect is a great motivator to learn the language.

More than a billion people speak Mandarin Chinese, and the Chinese government actively promotes the language as a way of extending its influence. The country has sent hundreds of teachers to Africa, and it has established “Confucius Institutes” around the globe to encourage speaking the language.

And the trend to learn Mandarin Chinese isn’t limited to Sudan. In Britain, the number of university students studying Chinese more than doubled from 2002 to 2005. Other Western countries have had similar increases.

From Howard French in the International Herald Tribune, China is displacing France in Chad.

Less than a decade ago, the French claim on this region was still so strong, and Africa’s importance to France’s view of its own place in the world correspondingly so, that the French were paranoid about expanding American influence on the continent…

Imagine my surprise then, arriving in Ndjamena late at night on a visit from China, when I turned on my television at the French-run Sofitel Hotel to find that the program blaring from Channel 1 was a starchy variety show in Chinese, courtesy of that country’s state broadcaster CCTV…

Fast forward to the present, and here in Chad what one finds is a U.S.-based oil multinational, Exxon, running the country’s biggest and most lucrative business, with Chinese companies investing heavily to match or surpass it…

From oil to telecommunications, all the big new investments seem to be Chinese. And to the extent there is any construction going on, as in so much of the continent today, it is Chinese companies landing the contracts…

FranceAfrique has lessons for China, too, however: no durable interests can be secured on African soil where institutions are neglected and profit and flattery are the only considerations.

Sam duPont at Foreign Policy writes about China’s silver-plated bullet. How deep is the economic shot in the arm provided by China? Not as deep as China promotes it to be.

But it seems naive to suggest, as the [Fitch] report’s authors do, that China’s involvement in sub-Saharan Africa will do much to “reduce poverty and promote development and the region’s global integration.” The success of Chinese oil firms at securing investment contracts in the region is largely attributable to the “no-strings-attached” loans they provide to the governments. Considering the weak, authoritarian nature of many of these states, it should come as no surprise that this money is rarely spent to benefit the African poor…

Some unsolicited advice to the purchasers of this Fitch report: Be wary of loaning money where mobs of angry young men are likely to arrive soon.

Chinese Tuesday

As is the trend here, it’s Tuesday and time for news on China.

  • VOA reports on how Chinese are gaining African respect because of their “simple” living:

    …in contrast with Western expatriates, says Brautigam, the Chinese always live at or below “local standards” – even when it’s quite within their means to live lavishly….
    …”The Italian project had a container of food brought in from Italy every two weeks! And the (Italian) experts were living in very comfortable houses that were built (specially) for the project.”…
    …”The United States.had eight experts and they had built ranch-style houses in a little subdivision, with street lights and sidewalks, and everything the way it would be in Texas or someplace like that!”…
    In Nigeria…the Chinese are perceived as being “better able to transfer technology to Nigerian employees than Western expatriates.” …China is popular amongst businesspeople in Africa because of a simple reason: Money. “Africans associate the Chinese with profits,”…

  • China confirms terrorist camps in Pakistan 19 Apr 07:

    China has for the first time publicly acknowledged the existence of terrorist camps within the territory of its “all-weather” ally.
    It said that some East Turkistan separatists, who have been fighting for decades to make oil-rich northwest China’s Xinjiang province an independent state, received training at the terrorist camps in Pakistan.

  • China to Send Military Unit to Darfur 8 May 07. Posting on the article, T P M Barnett asks a question (“What is our military really doing to encourage this? What is our government doing?”) that emphasizes the structural failure in American diplomacy. On the action itself, the Chinese should be expected to do the minimum necessary for appearances while pressuring Bashir behind the scenes to make a show of acceptance.

Chinese Tuesday

Some bits on China for your Tuesday.

  • From the Enterprise Resilience Blog: According to The Economist, the United States was surpassed last by China as the world’s leading producer of automobiles and the Associated Press notes that China is now the globes second leading market for automobiles — behind the United States but ahead of Japan. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that carmakers are flocking to China to show their goods [“Automakers Display New Products in China,” by Elaine Kurtenbach, Washington Post, 20 April 2007]. It used to be that the most important auto shows were held in places like Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles.
  • From Pambazuka News (2 Mar 06): Chinese medical, agricultural and engineering teams continue to operate in many African countries. ‘Since 1963, some 15,000 Chinese doctors have worked in 47 African states treating nearly 180 million cases of HIV/AIDS. At the end of 2003, 940 Chinese doctors were still working throughout the continent. Beijing prefers technical support over financial aid to African countries for obvious reasons. Financial aid stretches resources and diverts capital from significant needs at home, therefore investments in trade and projects that have a chance at providing returns are more popular than direct aid and loan programs.’
  • From People’s Daily Online (3 Mar 06… apparently I’m doing some inbox cleaning): About 190 Chinese police officers are serving under the UN flag for peacekeeping efforts around the world, state media said Friday. China is the second-largest contributor of peacekeeping police forces among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and its police officers are working under the UN flag in Kosovo, Liberia, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, Sudan and Haiti, China Daily said. The United States has some 340 police officers in UN peacekeeping missions, the paper said.
    [MountainRunner: At the time, China was the 2nd largest contributor of Police forces as the article mentions, but it was the top SC contributor to peacekeeping missions, accounting for nearly half of the total SC participation. Additionally, it should be noted that the bulk of the US police contribution was, and continues to be, through private security companies. In other words, the US is not mobilizing its own but outsourcing the responsibility. Question: would there be a difference if the US simply paid Germany (203 police in Aug 06) to double their force?]

China’s FCS…

News on China’s version of the Future Combat System? Not quite, but they seem proud of their progress of equipping their troops with “digital technology”. It’s not the Fourth ID, but it’s a start.

In recent years, the PLA armored forces have made great efforts to improve their ability to attack air and ground targets. It has endeavored to improve its long-distance mobility, rapid assault strength and information collecting and analysis ability. It has also made notable achievements in the development of information technology. It is reported that a number of digital equipments have been applied in the military forces. A light armored and mechanized unit and a digitalized armored unit have been set up.

The officer in charge of the military training department of the PLA Headquarters of the Central Staff said that the PLA has basically replaced first-generation equipment with second-generation or third-generation equipment. Some of their facilities and technologies are world standard. The structure of armored and mechanized units also has been improved.

I don’t know about you, but the last paragraph was almost quaint.

China and Peacekeeping

Briefly, from the UN News Centre: More Chinese police arrive to serve with UN Mission in Haiti.

The United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) today announced the arrival of nearly 100 Chinese officers, including seven women, who are serving with a Formed Police Unit (FPU) in the Caribbean country.

The 95 new police, who joined a group of 30 FPU members of the same contingent that arrived last week on 4 April, brings the total number of Chinese officers in Haiti to 125.

China has contributed more than 1,000 officers in Formed Police Units since the Mission was established in October 2004 after an insurgency forced then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile.

The latest contingent, replacing one which has rotated out, comes from Guandong Province. Prior to their deployment to Haiti, its members underwent a five-month training course covering language, shooting, driving and combat/defensive tactics.

Good for them. See my previous posts highlighting Chinese public diplomacy vis a vis peacekeeping in general, including Sept 2006 news of China upping it’s UNIFIL (Lebanon) numbers for the same reason (although they seem to only doubled their contribution to 343 as of February 07). 

Tuesday’s China posting

Ok, perhaps I’ll get the 7 thematic days or perhaps my title is simply lazy, either way, a collection of interesting and useful links on China:

REQUEST: This is not on China but on Indonesia, Barnett commented on a WSJ article about FDI in Aceh. I am doing a project on FDI in Aceh, if anyone has sources they’d recommend on this, I’d appreciate any information you could offer or direct me to. Email or post as comment please.

Is Somalia seeking Chinese protection?

Thanks JS (not the Armchair Generalist, another JS) for sending this story on Somalia a while back (that I’m just getting to now):

U.S. hires military contractor to back peacekeeping mission in Somalia
By Chris Tomlinson
1:20 p.m. March 7, 2007

NAIROBI, Kenya – The State Department has hired a major military contractor to help equip and provide logistical support to international peacekeepers in Somalia, giving the United States a significant role in the critical mission without assigning combat forces.

DynCorp International, which also has U.S. contracts in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, will be paid $10 million to help the first peacekeeping mission in Somalia in more than 10 years.

The article continues… blah blah blah… but it concludes on an interesting note:

The United States is not the only country seeking to provide private military services in Africa.

In 2005 the Somali government signed a $50 million contract with New York-based TopCat Marine Security to help create a coast guard to protect its coast and shipping from pirates. The State Department blocked TopCat from deploying because of a U.N. arms embargo, Hassan Abshir Farah, Somalia’s marine resources minister said.

Farah said his government was now discussing a deal with the Chinese government and Chinese marine security firms.

Of course the US isn’t the only one offering protection, private or public, to Africa. (why the focus on private military services? Right, it’s the “in topic”.) DynCorp’s involvement isn’t special, spectacular, or really innovative. Not really interesting but noteworthy is the reason given for the death of the TopCat deal, but I won’t waste my time on TopCat. If you care, see Kathryn Cramer’s post on the cease-and-desist order by State to TopCat Marine or see links off my recent summary of the events around the TopCat screw-up.

What is interesting is the last sentence. The Chinese are in a full court press on the continent, as I’ve noted in various blog posts. While they don’t care about the plight of the people, they do care about the plight of the elites. There’s money to be made on fishing etc (the same fish stocks China’s poaching) that China is more than happy to help the gov’t protect (for a fee). Also, keep in mind the Chinese way of sealing the deal is different than that the Americans. We include lawyers and the Chinese include promises of unrelated business to sway the decision maker as necessary, sweetening the deal and ignoring details to be dealt with later. While we look over the details with lawyers, China says “Deal! We’ll work out the details later.”

It will be interesting to see if we see a headline with both China and Somalia in it in the near future.

China and Peacekeeping

Stratfor published a useful chart depicting China’s increased participation in peacekeeping operations.
This is a semi-regular topic on this blog.  Back in 2003, the PLA Daily, the newspaper of the Chinese Army, stated the intent to increase participation in peacekeeping operations to raise China’s global profile.  In other words, peacekeeping would be a tool of both public diplomacy and traditional diplomacy.

In 2005, China was the 15th largest contributor of forces, moving earlier this year to 12th, which included increasing its contribution to 1,000 in Lebanon in 2006 for the declared purpose of raising its profile in the Middle East and in Europe.

Not surprisingly, China prefers to send its peacekeepers to Africa over other destinations.  This fits with Chinese stated public diplomacy strategy (and here for more specific example).  However, as was the case in Haiti, China doesn’t play exclusives and will go where it feels it can get a big bang for its disaster relief and humanitarian aid renminbi.

In addition to being seen, this has the added benefit of practicing for deployments away from their very-near abroad.

I’m sure we will see more Chinese peacekeepers.  The UN maintains about 20 operations at any one time with a new rotation starting every 6 months.

The Top 5 “peacekeepers for hire” have little in the way of international interests and get paid about $1100 per man per month (and require on top of that transport, equipment, and support).  These Top 5 collectively contribute nearly 50% of all UN forces, while the top 3 are 39% of the total.

If China ramps up its peacekeeping, will it have a ripple effect to these poor nations counting on the cash?  Will that create new opportunities for the Chinese to provide aid, in the variety of forms they provide “aid”?

Stay tuned.

Image credit: Stratfor

China, UN Peacekeeping, and Public Diplomacy

The Chinese, following their stated plan to do so, continue on their path of engaging the world through peacekeeping. Through participation in UN peacekeeping operations, the Chinese expose their military to different parts of the world, allow others to meet them, and invariably share some culture through engagement with civilians and military alike. It would be a clever move it wasn’t such a well-known option.

From the International Herald Tribune back in September 06:

BEIJING Prime Minister Wen Jiabao confirmed on Monday that his country would increase its UN peacekeeping presence in Lebanon to 1,000 troops, raising China’s profile in the Middle East and bolstering ties with Europe.

Wen recently discussed China’s contribution to United Nations forces in Lebanon with European leaders gathered in Helsinki, but until now China had not publicly specified numbers.

“China has decided to increase its peacekeeping force in Lebanon to 1,000,” Wen said at a joint news conference in Beijing with Prime Minister Romano Prodi of Italy.

“China is very concerned about the situation in Lebanon and hopes it can be fundamentally resolved,” Wen said.

China had contributed 187 troops to the previous, 1,990-strong peacekeeping force in Lebanon, according to the United Nations

[This post has lingered in the draft folder for the last three months…. it’s about time it was published.]

China and Africa, a brief update

At the beginning of 2006, China released an impressive policy towards Africa that had all the right nouns and verbs for an effective public diplomacy strategy. The real result was to be seen over time as China needed to overcome its reputation in Africa, despite some successes that were mostly lauded by China itself.

This month, however, China seems to be finding some success with its new policy: China and African Nations Set Trade Deals Worth $1.9 Billion.

China and a number of African nations agreed Sunday on 16 trade and investment deals valued at $1.9 billion, as Beijing extended its efforts to create a broad economic and diplomatic partnership with Africa, a resource-rich continent.

President Hu Jintao also pledged to extend $5 billion in loans and credits to Africa, forgive past debts and double foreign aid to the continent.

The aid announcement and deal-making capped a weekend of meetings that brought high-level representatives of 48 of the 53 African countries to Beijing. It was an unusually sweeping diplomatic initiative by China, which until recently had tended to focus mainly on domestic development rather than overseas expansion…

More recently, Mr. Hu has made cultivating new economic and diplomatic ties to Africa a foreign policy priority even as the United States concentrates on combating terrorism.

China has been busy throughout Africa. While China actively moves into areas ignored by and to the detriment of the United States, we continue to borrow from them, partly financing their forays around the continent. As we address problems through largely superficial methods, they are softly and quietly creating (potentially) long-term partnerships.

Let’s not be naive and think China will immediately ‘win’ Africa and have partners for life. For sure China still has to follow through with its commitments and perhaps more importantly, do a better job integrating with Africa to not annoy the locals. However, they are much further along the path of combating the root-causes of terrorism than we are.

On the bright side, al-Qaeda and its associates movements will probably learn to hate the Chinese as well. I’d be interested to hear how believers in the Clash of Civilizations will frame anti-Chinese attacks (when they happen ‘in public’).

See earlier posts on China in Africa.

Technorati tags: China, Africa, Public Diplomacy