China: Making the US defense complex look like a bastion of honesty and logic

From a regular commenter here on MO:

I’ve been working with Chinese (mainland and Taiwanese) for close to 20 years now. I currently have a team of engineers in both mainland China and in Taiwan under my chain of command. I’ve spent months one-on-one with many of them as they have come here to the US for training, and I talk with them almost every day.

One thing I can say is that while they have a gazillion folks with engineering degrees, they have very few decent engineers. Good technicians, for sure. But give them a new problem, and nothing ever happens. I think this is more cultural than genetic, because there are quite a few decent engineers in Taiwan, who come form the same gene pool. They just have 40 more years of experience with capitalism under their belts, and they understand the importance of making a decision.

But the biggest problem with China, IMO, is the massive amounts of corruption. I mean, they make something like the Chicago political machine look like amateurs, and the US defense complex look like a bastion of honesty and logic. It’s horrible, and it permeates every aspect of life. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is easier to take out a Chinese aircraft carrier by dropping a duffle bag of 20 dollar bills on it instead of a 500 lb bomb.

Working with the younger Chinese (25-30 year olds) is pleasant. Some of them certainly “get it”. And once they open up, the first thing they complain about is the corruption, and the second is censorship. Third is pollution.

They will spend hours on the internet here, just reading stuff they can’t get access to over there. And as a general rule, they don’t trust their own military or even their police. Again, too much corruption. And they all know what really happened in Tiananmen square.

And while I am training them to take over my job (no, it’s not really that bad), I also derive great pleasure in exposing them to all sorts of political concepts and reading material. Everything from the Federalist Papers, to Bill Ayers, to Glenn Beck. They eat it all up. And I send them back home with a couple dozen copies of the US Constitution and a $5 bill to get them through customs. Yeah, it took me a couple years to learn that trick….

So all in all, I don’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about what the Chinese military might do to us. Too many of their citizens have already taken a bite from the capitalist apple, and they like the taste.

6 thoughts on “China: Making the US defense complex look like a bastion of honesty and logic”

  1. Despite what jaymaster wrote I still have to hand it to China. Corruption is nothing new and it probably exists everywhere outside of Finland and Switzerland. Yet even in the face of this they have managed to pull off the biggest economic rise in history. If it is as bad as he wrote, then that just makes the last 20 years even more impressive.

  2. I too am impressed with the economic gains, and even the gains in personal freedoms the Chinese have made just in the time I have been working with them. But they have a long way to go, IMO, and I think the corruption is going to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks. And China is certainly not alone. India is almost as bad, and Mexico has major problems too (and probably trending worse).

    The west certainly has problems with corporate and elite capture of government, and it’s a hell of a struggle to root that out and kill it. But that is basically how their entire system works over there.

    As long as the working classes are getting a little slice of the pie, and see improvement in their lives, it’s a lot easier accept it all. But if (when?) the bubble pops, it could get ugly in a hurry over there.

    And it does impact business I could write pages of stories, some of them kind of funny actually. But the bottom line is, during the last down turn, the only place we laid off workers was in China. We went from about 1,200 down to 400 at our factory, and we have no plans to grow it back up over there.

  3. Closely parallels what I been saying about Afghanistan (Iraq to a lesser degree because they’ve already had tremendously much more Western exposure compared to the Afghanis). If we really want to institute a long term change in their culture, and the way they think and operate, we should have been getting them (especially the younger ones who’re generally more receptive of new ideas as they’re not invested in the status quo as much as older individuas)out of their environment and into ours much more than we have (think cultural mentoring). Once they get a slice of the life “outside” their box, many would/will go back and be much more dynamic engines of internal change than all the billions we’ve pumped into their corrupt system, and training we’ve provided (along with our goofy western values………can I have another bag of cash please?)will ever be.

    Great post/article BTW!

  4. Very good post. I spoke a few weeks ago with a very well educated guy who explained to me that, while the US gets pounded in test scores for high school students around the world, we are the undisputed leader in post graduate education (masters and doctorates degrees). Also, he said that the US students in those post graduated programs are better prepared than most non US students. He agreed with the post that most degrees from Asian universities are just not up to US standards.

    1. Those high school test scores are greatly influenced by our changing demographics. If you break down the scores by ethnicity, you will see that the US is at the top of the heap when comparing apples to apples.

      Steve Sailer of got the full list of 65 nations, broke down U.S. reading scores by race, then measured Americans with the countries and continents whence their families originated. What he found was surprising.

      Asian-Americans outperform all Asian students except for Shanghai-Chinese. White Americans outperform students from all 37 predominantly white nations except Finns, and U.S. Hispanics outperformed the students of all eight Latin American countries that participated in the tests.

      African-American kids would have outscored the students of any sub-Saharan African country that took the test (none did) and did outperform the only black country to participate, Trinidad and Tobago, by 25 points.

      America’s public schools, then, are not abject failures.

      They are educating immigrants and their descendants to outperform the kinfolk their parents or ancestors left behind when they came to America. America’s schools are improving the academic performance of all Americans above what it would have been had they not come to America.

  5. What the hell does them adopting capitalism have anything to do with the threat China poses to America?

    If anything, further embracing capitalism will just make them more of a threat because they’ll become richer, and thus much more powerful, and thus much more dangerous.

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