Monday, August 27, 2012

Some interesting articles at The Economist

1) Foreigners in China To flee or not to flee?

Read this with interest. Some interesting points:

IT MAY not count as an exodus. Indeed, it doesn’t even satisfy that hoary old journalistic definition of a trend: three examples.Separately, a pair of expatriates long based in China have written heartfelt accounts of their decisions to leave the country. And though few in number, they have attracted a great deal of heartfelt attention from many other “old China hands”, as foreigners who have chosen to make their lives, careers and homes here sometimes like to call themselves......In one of the recent expatriate accounts, an American film-maker, editor and blogger named Charlie Custer said most of his reasons were personal—and that none of them had to do with ugly threats he’d received since entering into a nasty public feud with a prominent Chinese television personality, Yang Rui. However Mr Custer did acknowledge feeling distress over China’s lack of a free press and rule of law. And he mentioned that his past couple of years had been not only “depressing” and “soul-crushing”, but also “occasionally terrifying”. However he cited as bigger problems air pollution and food safety. These were the most important factors behind his decision to leave Beijing, after a four-year stay. “I like breathing,” and “eating also is fun,” he wrote in pithy summary.
An essay by Mark Kitto, a Briton who first came to China as a student in 1986, ventured into more thought-provoking realms. After living here for the past 16 years as a businessman, Mr Kitto decided he’d had enough. Some of his motivations match those of the wealthy Chinese who choose to leave. He cited concerns that “the air my family breathes and the food we eat is doing us physical harm” but added that the “one overriding reason I must leave China” is the need to give his children a decent education.Other aspects of Mr Kitto’s experience might only make sense to a foreigner, and a disillusioned one at that. “I have fallen out of love, woken from my China Dream,” he wrote.Upon returning to China in the mid-1990s, after a post-graduate period spent away, he noted a widespread difference since the time of his student days. An air of optimism remained, but then he also detected “a distinct whiff of commerce in place of community”. Mr Kitto bemoaned China’s shift from a traditional family culture to a “me” culture, and its rush toward materialism and conspicuous consumption.Mr Kitto also wrote that he wanted, in a certain sense, to “become Chinese.” He acknowledges that this was never possible—but not that he was naive to think it might be. Eventually he came to find that his “desire to be part of a community and no longer be treated as an outsider” was not attainable. 

2) So Mitt? What do you believe? (Economist is against Romney)

All politicians flip-flop from time to time; but Mr Romney could win an Olympic medal in it (see article). And that is a pity, because this newspaper finds much to like in the history of this uncharismatic but dogged man, from his obvious business acumen to the way he worked across the political aisle as governor to get health reform passed and the state budget deficit down. We share many of his views about the excessive growth of regulation and of the state in general in America, and the effect that this has on investment, productivity and growth. After four years of soaring oratory and intermittent reforms, why not bring in a more businesslike figure who might start fixing the problems with America’s finances?
But competence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character. Would that Candidate Romney had indeed presented himself as a solid chief executive who got things done. Instead he has appeared as a fawning PR man, apparently willing to do or say just about anything to get elected. In some areas, notably social policy and foreign affairs, the result is that he is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses that he may not actually believe in but will find hard to drop; in others, especially to do with the economy, the lack of details means that some attractive-sounding headline policies prove meaningless (and possibly dangerous) on closer inspection. Behind all this sits the worrying idea of a man who does not really know his own mind. America won’t vote for that man; nor would this newspaper.

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