The modernization of China has been taking place for over a century, but the majority of Chinese citizens still hold very vague notions about property right. They do not understand western business ethics or the behavior of the multinational and Chinese eilites. They do not respect the business rules of the games in this era of gloobalization. This is not a manifestation of narrow nationalism. Rather, this is a clash of Chinese and western values.
What this results in, according to this article, is a China populated by people who are outraged and take drastic action against corporations who do not donate enough money quickly enough. They're excoriated by a vigilante populace seizing on whatever trendy outrage is SMS'd to them.
This infuriates me. This inability to evaluate more than one side of any issue, this high-speed race to pillory people or companies based on flimsy or non-existent evidence... It's such bullshit!
It certainly hilights the Chinese government's difficult job in bringing these country bumpkins from their mud huts into the modern age. I agree with at least one goal of Chinese censorship: Bring people slowly towards modernity, giving them time to absorb the newness of it all and become responsible global citizens. It's quite clear that, if left to their own devices, most people will run amok. The heights to which China aspires will be best reached with a controlled ascent.
As the article goes on to say,
After the Wenchuan disaster took place, the Confucian concept of emphasizing righteousness over profit was highlighted. The Chinese corporations donated huge sums of money in line with the traditional concepts. By comparison, the multinational companies abided by western business ethics and could not understand what and why their Chinese counterparts were doing. Thus, they did not recognize the strength of those moral forces.
That the foreign companies did not act the same as local ones is understandable, and indeed expected. What I find deplorable is the lack of tolerance displayed by the Chinese.
What's worse is the vigilante mentality. SMS messages were sent out with a list of iron roosters (a great colloquialism which means 'stingy') who did not donate enough. The problem is, the list was inaccurate. Companies were immediately punished for not donating enough, even if they had donated a lot.
The idea that the Chinese are simply misunderstood, that their vigilantism should be excused or allowed because of cultural differences, is ridiculous. It's mob judgement. Ignorance, rapid change, disasters and widespread instant communication is a recipe for serious mayhem, and that's exactly what's happened.
Sadly the Chinese are not alone in acting without thinking: Just as the spread of ridiculous urban legend emails prove, all races are guilty of fucking stupidity now and then. The problem with China is that there are so many people, all suffering a maelstrom of change at the same time. Who's surprised they occasionally freak out like this?
I've come full circle on this. At first I was outraged at the childish behaviour of the Chinese, but the more I thought about it the more I could understand it, and put it in perspective. I guess it's pretty easy to overreact, eh?
I think it's funny that one Chinese company was lambasted by the public for not donating enough. So they donated more, and at least one shareholder is suing them for not acting to the benefit of shareholders.