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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Chinese Enterprise in Pakistan - Is it Happening in Africa?

The recent deaths at the Red Mosque in Peshwar, Pakistan has a Chinese connection. There are now alegations that among the hostages in the area were Chinese "Health Center" workers who were freed from slavery by the Radicals.

Though it is about Pakistan, not Africa, it presents the Challenges that Chinese Enterprises face.

What is most interesting is this excellent analysis of what happens as Chinese spread around the globe. They appears to be making the same cultural mistakes Americans made 50 years ago.

What follows is an excerpt from the Article by the International Herald Tribune.

-Shimron

After weeks of free rein in the city attacking fellow Pakistanis, the squads of self-appointed enforcers of strict Shariah, consisting of armed male and female students, raised the stakes, and selected a foreign target.

On June 23, the seminarians entered a Chinese-run health care center, which is often a euphemism for sex parlor, and kidnapped seven Chinese people, including five females whom they believed to be prostitutes.

Within Pakistan, and indeed much more widely among people who have followed these events closely, this incident, along with the killing two weeks later of three Chinese people in the western Pakistani city of Peshawar, is believed by many South Asian diplomats to have precipitated the decision by President Pervez Musharraf to lay siege to the mosque, mounting a rare, direct confrontation with the forces of radical Islam in his country.

....Moreover, almost no one in the press has printed, even speculatively, what many Chinese themselves presume to be the truth of this matter, that the women kidnapped and later released in Islamabad were sex workers.

After all, there are important myths to protect: One of them is the essential goodness of the Chinese people, and the other, that China does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs.
Chinese citizens and Chinese interests are fanning out around the globe at a rate that is unequaled in this country's long history.

Wherever they land the Chinese are very often reproducing a Chinese way of life, as Americans did in the postwar era over half a century ago.

As with overseas Americans - the "Ugly American" became a cliché in Asia - among the Chinese, naturally enough, there is good and bad. Along with fresh injections of capital and ingenuity and China's famous entrepreneurial bustle, the Chinese also often bring an insular clannishness, a driven style of management, an unblushing attitude toward corruption, and as the case in Pakistan suggests, an acceptance of things like brothels, which are common in China but in many other societies are seen as undesirable or are illegal.

Beyond the very real issue of the problems such things might cause abroad, there is an issue of growing importance in China itself, one of information and candor and an ability to accept criticism, or more to the point where the events of Pakistan are concerned, to promote and accept self-criticism.


In online discussions of the massage parlor kidnappings, Chinese who mentioned the possibility that the abductees were prostitutes were quickly denounced. Others who had been fed sanitized accounts of the incident demanded military action.

read the rest

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