Tag Archives: China

China fact of the day, brain drain edition

…Between 1978 and 2007, more than one million Chinese students would go abroad to study, only 30 percent of whom ever returned.

That’s from Bruce Gilley’s chapter “Deng Xiaoping and His Successors (1976 to the Present)” in Politics in China: an Introduction, edited by William A. Joseph (2010).


Great moments in political economy, China salt edition

From Salt and State: An Annotated Translation of the Songshi Salt Monopoly Treatise, by Cecila Lee-fang Chien, p. 3-4:

The Guanzi, one of the first great works on political economy in China, provided an ideological basis for monopoly that persisted for two thousand years, from the Han dynasty to the end of the Qing. This treatise, probably collated by adherents of GuanZhong (?-645 BC) a major figure inthe establishment of Qi as the first hegemon among the Chinese states, asserted that because everyone needed salt, increasing its price even incrementally would reap huge returns.

If you were to announce a head tax on all adults and children, everyone would certainly complain and oppose it. But if you implement a salt tax policy, one hundred times the profits will accrue to you, the ruler, while the people will be unable to escape it. This is what is meant by managing finances.

According to the Guanzi’s logic, thecost of salt to consumers would effectively include a tax, yet spare them a separate payment. By controlling both the production and distribution of salt, the state could prevent disparities between rich and poor, as well as increase state revenues.

While statesmen before the Qin unification (221-206 BC) recognized the fiscal value of sale, the nature of China’s monopoly came to be premeditated on a united empire. In contrast to other powers across Asia and Europe at other periods, where governments had to content themselves with charging transit tolls (France) or merely regulating the sale or some other stage of the industry (Venice), China’s centralized bureaucracy could tightly monitor the sources of salt as well as the stages of production and distribution.

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China line of the day, lil Wayne edition

From the NYT:

“People are coming with entire bags full of cash,” said Raymond Hau, general manager of the Sun Valley Golf Resort, which is building the 220 luxury villas. “I’ve seen this myself. A man had a bag and unzipped it. Boom. ‘Here’s the deposit,’ he said. ‘I want two apartments.’”

Mr. Hau shook his head. “It’s crazy. It can only happen in China.”

The golf resort is popular with the privileged. The president of Kazakhstan shot a hole in one here. And on a recent afternoon, when an attendant opened the passenger door of a black sport-utility vehicle that had just pulled up, a pile of large-denomination Chinese bills fluttered to the ground.

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The Chinese perspective on religion and belief

From Spectacle and Sacrifice: The Ritual Foundations of Village Life in North China, by David Johnson:

…My point is that the foundations of Christianity are complex structures of carefully formulated definitions and tightly argued conclusions created by medieval theologians using tools providedd by Greek logic and metaphysics. The Christian church was virtually created out of centuries-long theological disputes about highly complex an abstract concepts such as Original Sin, the Trinity, the Real Presence, and so on, and the same presumably can be said of Islam and Judaism.

Chinese philosophers, to say nothing of ordinary people, were simply not interested in that sort of thing. But tremendous debates concerning what we call ‘ritual’ took place in every dynasty. How imperial rituals were to be performed, whether certain actions were ritually correct or not–issues such as these were as close to the heart of Chinese religion as theological disputes were to Christianity. The leaders of the Christian churches were intensely concerned with heresy–improper beliefs–and punished heretics mercilessly. By contrast, Chinese thinkers, following Xunzi, usually assumed that if people’s actions conformed to the proper patterns, the beliefs could be left to take care of themselves. And ritual supplied the proper patterns. This was an idea that was shared by virtually all Chinese, of all classes and stations, from chief minister to farmer.

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