Before reading anything, please watch and contrast these two videos:
As you can probably expect from the videos, the injured dog lived, and the 2-year-old girl died on October 21st, 2011.
Enough has been written about the Chinese incident online. The WSJ reported that Chinese observers and journalists have blamed the apparent apathy on “everything from the trauma of the Cultural Revolution to fear of legal action to Chinese culture itself.”
Firm control from the top has always been considered the only path to peace and prosperity in China. One reason is that China is a shame-based society, very different from the guilt-based West. In the West, with society’s religious orientation, many controls are internalized. Guilt, which is ultimately the fear of sin and eternal damnation, puts a check on bad behavior. In China, it is the fear of exposure and the accompany shame that tarnishes the entire extended family. As a result, the Chinese can feel pretty good about doing almost anything as long as they don’t get caught. In that atmosphere, the only efficient form of law and order is a strong and omnipresent government that increases the likelihood of getting caught if you do something wrong.
– One Billion Customers (McGregor, 2005)
If we borrow McGregor’s frame and project it onto a gross generalization of the whole Chinese population and all of their possible actions, it is a scary thought that people aren’t killing each other and stealing each other’s money only because they don’t want to be caught doing so.
An equally depressing blogger concluded that “China seems to have become so utilitarian that it can’t understand or even tolerate people who do things for altruistic reasons” (emphasis added).
But even with an ultra-utilitarian system, not everyone’s sociopathic or else we wouldn’t have the society we have today. Altruism isn’t nonexistent in China, and utilitarianism isn’t the main problem. The Chinese may be overtly obsessed with money and wealth, but even that doesn’t warrant the actions witnessed in the first video.
The problem, in my opinion, is trust. And there is none.
Chinese cities are infiltrated with deceptive and malicious schemes aimed straight at your wallet: phone calls, texts, and even strangers calling for “help.” This accompanied by the media whose job is to sell these stories that keep people on their feet. Take a look at Baidu’s Top Ten search items daily and you’ll learn what catches the Chinese people’s attention – not how to make money (surprise!), but what to watch-out for in China: poisonous food & beverages, corrupt government officials, ineffective legal system, natural disasters, prostitution, even random stranger stealing your new-born child from the hospital. Scared? Me too.
There are few Good Samaritans in China not because people have no faith or belief or have lost their souls, but because the Good Samaritans have either been tricked in the past or have heard too many horror stories to maintain their confidence in strangers.
The basic rule to survival, as anyone who has traveled the country would quickly learn, is to not trust anyone. People are constantly living in an environment where they feel unsafe. It didn’t need to be a 2-year-old girl; it could’ve been a full-grown adult lying there. People would need to start gathering around him, starring from a distance, muttering conjectures in each other’s ears; finally, when enough people have gathered around to make it feel “safe,” when it feels like there are enough witnesses and no one is going to hold you responsible for what has happened, someone might jump in and do the right thing – help. That’s typically what you’d see if someone is dying on the streets in China. Populated streets with many pedestrians.
In China, you can expect help from a friend, a colleague, a distant relative, or anyone that has the slightest knowledge of who you are or who you might be. But don’t expect the help of a stranger.
As Aaron said, there is something intriguing about the fact that the NMD is the only division in GCC that has been handed off to a third Director since GCC was first founded. The first sign of “longevity” – even if only relative in comparison to the other divisions or student groups – is a sign of inner stability.
Building GCC was very much like building a company. The management structure has morphed from a strict division of responsibilities, to a more organic entity, back to a very well-defined system of individual divisions. Like an entrepreneurial firm, the structure needed to adapt constantly to the environment – timing, location, people. If this sounds familiar it’s because it is the familiar “天時，地利，人和” trinity, the circumstances that will determine the success or failure of any entity.
Just as instrumental music became popular in Europe when the technology of making musical instruments flourished, GCC grew and prospered drastically as China became the outlier of economic performance, exceeding expectations and creating exceptions. We have tapped into the biggest shift of paradigm in the 21st century in so many different ways it’s impossible to foresee what will be the exact outcome. But in an environment where too many factors are changing and too many uncertainties lay ahead, the best thing to do is to follow your instinct – and the worst thing to do is to stay stationary.
自古亂世出英雄 – if you only live once, which I assume we all do, why not make something special of your life?
The exposure to the outside world through GCC has profoundly altered my interpretation of risk versus uncertainty. We are all risk-averse. But we cannot avoid uncertainty no matter what we do. Risk and uncertainty both exist as pure consequences of time, but risk can be calculated, modeled, and predicted; uncertainty however, is inevitable and must be embraced. The realization of the inevitability of uncertainty is the single most fundamental factor that changed much of my decision making process, and consequently, yielded the following decision:
I am going to take a semester off and spend it in China.
The decision is almost risk-free. But the decision is ridden with uncertainty. I have come to realize that while I am extremely risk-averse, I am not averse to uncertainty.
So I decided on a whim that getting an iPad for my dad would make him a very happy father.
While there is no question about the validity of my presumption, my purchase of the iPad has come under attack, scrutiny, mockery, and other forms of insult. The most unexpected of these exchanges, and possibly one of the more intellectually engaging ones, took place with strangers on the Facebook wall of a mutual friend:
(Context: a high school pupil of mine updated his status to say that “iPhones are about to get alot better” – probably referring to the OS4 coming out. This stirred some dismissal of Apple’s OS in general for the iPhone. Someone then commented that “iPads are about to continue to be useless,” which then ignited a series of attack on the iPad: can’t multitask, expensive, useless, cash-cow for Apple, bigger iPhone, what’s Steve Jobs thinking, etc. etc. etc. As a proud new owner of the iPad, I stepped in to express my opinions because, well, it’s a free country last time I checked. The names of the people are taken out for confidentiality purposes.)
The “speed” you mention comes from a 1GHz processor (pretty paltry), which is specifically designed to perform and do exactly what Apple wants and specifies. This is why Apple is terrible – complete lack of open-sourceness in order to make things “just work”. What do customers do to combat that? Jailbreak. Now that JB and Apple’s so called “multi-task” is being released for the iPad, I can only see that the iPad will struggle with it’s 1GHz A4 lamesauce processor.
And by the way, I do experience the “universal+connectivity” of Apple products every day – when I sync my iPod on my PC. It’s great, but why does iTunes have to struggle on a 3.8GHz i7 processor? Why does Apple such terrible developers? WHYY?!http://ragecomic.appspot.com/packs/rage2/images/Horror.png
TL;DR: Apple is fucking evil. We all know it.
yea i agree with albert, the ipod touch and iphone are way better compared to ipads. plus it fits into your pocket! 😀
i’m a regular commuter and i rather have something portable and mobility-friendly for the same functions as iphone or touch. and since i already have a laptop that i always carry to school, i guess i dont need it lol
but ipod touch or iphone i’ll take it 😀
As a comment from the VentureBeat-Mobile Beat article puts best:
“The iPad is not a phone replacement, it is not a laptop replacement, it is not a portable gaming device replacement, it is not a portable DVD replacement, it is not a Kindle replacement (Kindle has a 10 day not 10 hour batter life, for example. It is also much lighter), etc. It is an entirely new personal device that has a place. I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but I can feel it. This is not enough to be an effective relayer of word-of-mouth. I bought my iPad as a personal indulgence and a desire to feel the future in my hands. That’s not mass market motivation.”
I would rather not pay $500 dollars for a convenience I did not need until this monstrosity was conceived. You’re only strengthening the argument that Apple is milking its fans by creating new niches that shouldn’t have been created in the first place. Bottom line – a Netbook is more functional, a cellphone is more portable and *almost* as functional (though, if you look at the HTC HD2 for example, it out-specs the iPad, LOL, so one can assume that *gasp* user created content */gasp* will allow cellphones to match the iPad in functionality), and it doesn’t support flash.
I’ll end with a quote from that link:
“But you have to think of this device as something like a MacBook Air. That, too, is missing a lot of functional things that other laptops have, but it is so thin and cool that people who buy it, and pay more money for it than a regular laptop, don’t seem to care.”
Lol MacBook Air.
I concede that it seems really cool, and is probably really awesome to use at first, but it has just absolutely terrible value for the amount of money you are putting in, and the novelty will wear off shortly.
And say I was to invent the iTurd, an amazing new device that fills the niche between a laptop and a desktop (requires an AC power source at all times, too big to fit in a convenient case, but small enough to carry around the house to a new location easily), so that its almost portable, but not really. It comes with the processing power of a laptop (the lowest common denominator in this situation), a price tag of a souped up desktop (the highest common denominator), and is very aesthetically pleasing with some very cool, unique user friendly functions that grab your attention but are intrinsically flawed in that a desktop would do them better. Would you get it?
P.S. Expect this in two years if Apple keeps with their current business strategy (invent niche, fill niche).
If you are happy with it, that’s great David. Canadian’s haven’t had the opportunity to play with it yet – I’m looking forward to visiting the Apple store soon.
“PC fanboys” (I use this term VERY loosely) have rejected the iPad for one single reason: it doesn’t do anything exceedingly well, although the price point says it should, especially for what you physically get. However, you’re right. No one needs an iPad, but no one should judge what a person can or can’t buy.
The way I see it, the iPad is a toy. If you need to do serious work, what are you going to choose – a mouse and keyboard or a touchscreen keyboard with no tactile feedback? If you’re outside and want to watch a video or play music, what are you going to use – an iPhone or an iPad? IF you want to play some games or use some over-the-top (aka useless) apps, I guess I’d use an iPad.
This new tablet niche won’t die. It’s a great concept, and it shows the amazing steps we have taken in technology over the years. The point I’m trying to make, however, is that Apple stepped forward with a product that lacks the software and hardware to take full advantage of this tablet niche, while charging an exorbitant amount. Let’s wait for the Google tablet (actually coming), shall we?
Apple will always be Apple – if that’s a synonym for being assholes.
My last comment:
Bob – very much appreciate your comment. I completely agree that the iPad is a toy – but it creates the possibility beyond what traditional gaming consoles can do.
With the iPad, I can imagine classes being remotely taught, house lights/sound/windows/curtains/TVs being remotely controlled, meetings being held (with an external camera), presentations being made, and more that I have not thought of.
If someone wants to tell me that you can do all of the above with some sort of software on a PC netbook – forget it. Niche softwares on PCs are glitchy enough that no one will devote the energy and time into making amazing softwares that will make the users happy with it. It will also probably cost a million bucks for something like that. I owned a netbook once – I hated it because the screen was too small, the keyboard was too small, the trackpad was too small, and it was also heavy for its size.
The possibility of coming home from school, taking out a device, turn on various parts of the room, turn on the clock app when going to bed, and set alarm for the next day; wake up, take device to school, read the news on the bus, take notes in class, draw pictures, record class lectures, and come home with homework assignments entered automatically from school’s server – this is the kind of combo beyond that of a netbook or a mobile phone.
I do not disagree the Google might be able to come up with something better – in fact I am very much looking forward to it as well. Competition is a positive trait of free market economy, and filling niches as a strategy is nothing wrong as well.
Albert – You mentioned that “Apple is milking its fans by creating new niches that shouldn’t have been created in the first place.” So what do you say about Microsoft? Sony? Nintendo? Or online farming games? I do not understand the concept of a niche that should *not* have been created. Innovation drives the world forward, unless you’re developing weapons.
So I just wanted to hear what are your opinions here. I might just be a blind consumer who’s trying to justify my impromptu decision. Let’s not focus on the tech spec too much here – ultimately, none of us are computer engineers or product managers with the knowledge base to debate the merit of the iPad’s intrinsic (endogenous) value. Rather, I think we should focus on the American consumer culture – who are going to buy the iPads, who will like it, how has Apple successfully marketed itself?
Ultimately though, I am of course not going to regret my decision because after all, I am bringing the iPad to China. Consumer culture is completely different over there. Products derive value not based on their usefulness, but almost solely on their desirability. Desirability is in turn determined by numerous exogenous factors such as word-of-mouth, foreignness, or lack of supply (the Chinese golden rule of “物以稀為貴”).
As someone on Venture Beat comments:
“The iPad is not a phone replacement, it is not a laptop replacement, it is not a portable gaming device replacement, it is not a portable DVD replacement, it is not a Kindle replacement (Kindle has a 10 day not 10 hour batter life, for example. It is also much lighter), etc. It is an entirely new personal device that has a place. I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but I can feel it. This is not enough to be an effective relayer of word-of-mouth. I bought my iPad as a personal indulgence and a desire to feel the future in my hands. That’s not mass market motivation.
For most people, the iPad is simply unjustifiable. Kids may nag their parents for it (or not), but the parents will push back.
It’s too damn expensive and it isn’t a clear upgrade for anything. Who (besides developers and fools like me) can justify it?
Still, it’s one of the most satisfying consumer purchases I’ve ever made and I drink in the envy everywhere I go. I am so cool I don’t even need a refrigerator for my beer.”
Meet the iPad – a new gadget for developers, fools, and the Chinese.
Mr. Ronnie Chan of Hang Lung Properties Ltd. recently published an article at the Financial Times. The title is rather catchy – “The west’s preaching to the east must stop” – a title filled with patriotism and a hint of annoyance. A talk last Thursday night focused predominantly on the content of this article.
In essence, Mr. Chan argues for five of what he calls “global rebalancing” between East and West:
- a rebalancing of moral authority
- a shift in decision-making power in global economic affairs
- a shift in the centre of economic gravity from the Atlantic to the Pacific
- a movement away from a total dependence on the US dollar as the global trading currency
- a movement to a more balanced and stable world
In his speech delivered to a group of around thirty at the Citi Executive Conference Center, Ronnie surprised me as someone that is not only successful in business, but also extremely bold and intelligent.
His article sounds great to Asian ears – who doesn’t like to hear that your side of the world is triumphing while the old “winner” is now on the “losing” side? On the issue of morality, Mr. Chan wrote, “Now some in America are advocating a G2 with only the US and China. If the focus shifts to the G2 to make decisions, then what happens to democracy? The west has a moral dilemma.”
On the fourth issue, Mr. Chan wrote, “Over time some countries will keep more renminbi, making it more like a reserve currency.” Some how I’m not so hot on this one. Unless “over time” means “over decades.” Still, I don’t believe it – probably because the economists teaching my econ classes at Columbia don’t believe it.
But more on the event.
The reason why I say that Mr. Chan is bold is that he is very pragmatic in my view. Use the EU for example – “People argued for days about restructuring the EU… but I said, the rest of the world doesn’t give a damn.”
I have always thought that perhaps I do not “feel” much for the EU because I do not live there – but I guess I’m wrong. It’s a global phenomenon. People just don’t care. It’s like Canada.
On the topic of Japan, Mr. Chan also stated that in a nation with a decreasing population size (i.e. a decreasing work force), the “economic growth model” becomes an “economic maintenance model” – and a negative growth rate should no longer be seen as a “recession.” But uh… why don’t we just look at per capita growth instead?
This one is also interesting – “The word ‘Chineseness’ and ‘nationalism’ are oxymorons” – the logic within which is too deep for my ESL brain. Perhaps someone else can enlighten me as to what Mr. Chan really meant. But from what I gathered, he is basically saying that the Chinese do not actually understand what “nationalism” means – that it was always triggered by something else. But I wasn’t sure.
Toward the end of the Q&A session, Mr. Chan touched on the Asia Business Conference because a lady in the crowd asked whether or not he was attending as he is one of the founders. Mr. Chan said, “we don’t invite outside people to come and talk as much… we listen and learn from one another.” Indeed a very unconventional idea. Maybe I’ll incorporate part of this for GCC Day.
As prize for winning the Columbia Case Challenge, Team Almost GS was given the opportunity to have lunch with Mr. Becker Chase from Booz & Co.’s New York office. The lunch was great. Sashimi, bento box, shabu shabu – all paid for by the generous Columbia Economics Society (which receives its funding from our student life fee).
“In the world’s fastest-growing economy, the experience of the last ten years will not be the best guide to the next ten years. Business leaders around the world who want to be successful—not just in China, but anywhere—will need a new China strategy.”
Indeed, a lot of this might just seem like an overly not-another-bullish-view-on-China book. But the fact that the Chairman of Booz & Co. Greater China region is thinking in line with GCC should still be taken as an encouragement.
And what do you know? “Indeed, China is now the world’s largest and fastest-growing source of entrepreneurial start-ups.” Spot-on opportunity for GCC members right there. The world’s largest international student network focusing on China – and what business opportunities do our members have, if not in entrepreneurial endeavors? GCC-Vanderbilt is looking at starting a chapter initiative on doing pro bono consulting work in Nashville Tennessee. GCC-Harvard is looking at bringing volunteerism to China.
“Since 1978, China’s economic growth has been phenomenal,” the report goes on, “but also extremely inefficient.”
With regards to the model of business ownership, the chairman writes, “it will evolve toward a nondemocratic but market-driven form of rule that, arguably, has never been seen on the world
stage before.” Included is a fascinating interactive graphic of how these ownership trends are heading toward.
Lastly, Mr. Tse wrote on leadership – “Many Chinese officials have internalized this aspiration. They have taken on responsibilities beyond their job descriptions, acting as the guiding hand in the creation of a world-leading nation. Their interests extend beyond self-enrichment to the creation of national wealth.” This reminds me of the words of Mr. Li at Ping An Insurance during the GCC Winter Delegation, “The most outstanding human capital of China are going into the political system.”
So all of this sounds wonderful and great. How do I get a piece of it? Becker assured me that every year, Booz tries to hire at least one person from Columbia. How very kind of them. I think I am better off working my ass off at Goldman Sachs this summer.
Sitting in a restaurant at the Hong Kong International Airport right now. In front of me is a row of window panes giving access to a panorama view of the runways. Flanking me are the tails of the many Boing 747’s engraved with the brush stroke signature of Cathay Pacific. I feel like I am “back” – but to where? The developed cities give me something that I cannot feel when I am in China – freedom. The ability to think and act freely and to have full access to every single type of resource. Openness – that is what makes this view of the runways so beautiful.
Sitting in a restaurant at the Hong Kong International Airport right now. In front of me is a row of window panes giving access to a panorama view of the runways. Flanking me are the tails of the many Boing 747’s engraved with the brush stroke signature of Cathay Pacific. I feel like I am “back” – but to where? The developed cities give me something that I cannot feel when I am in China – freedom. The ability to think and act freely and to have full access to every single type of resource. Openness – that is what makes this view of the runways so beautiful.It sure feels good to have free access to the internet again. The past month in China has been rather painful without access to some of my primary daily online tools. As such, I was unable to use this blog to track the progress of the delegation at all.The GCC Winter Delegation in Beijing from Jan. 4-15th has been the most educational trip I have ever attended. Beyond a series of tours to corporate offices and headquarters, it got me thinking a lot about the economic growth and development of China, and the ways in which one can position oneself to take advantage of the opportunities that lie within. There is simply too much to talk about, to reflect upon, to remember – least we forget this valuable experience.