On managing foreigners
Barbarians foreigners have always been a bit of a mindf*** for China. One minute they’re sharing fries with a homeless grandma, the next they’re trying to corrupt the PLA with Mercedes cars. Back in the day, things were simple: when it came to anything foreign (except Marxism, Leninism, military and industrial technology, the concept of a nation-state, ethnicity, sovereignty, colonialism and rule of law, of course), China just said no. That changed in 1983, when esteemed laowai cultural ambassador David Bowie made an impassioned plea in his song “China Girl” – accompanied by a bizarre music video – and admitted what Beijing already knew: The man was a mess without unfettered access to the country’s fairer sex. We now know that Bowie’s softly swaying hips made promises other laowai could not keep, but at this point China can’t quit the foreigners altogether. What to do? On the one hand, China could open up investment channels for foreign investors so they can save boost the economy, and more or less plead them to invest in cities rocked by political instability promising new markets, and give them security clearances. As for the sandal-wearing commie hippie types, a bit of spring “clean-up” should do the trick. Target the four illegals: illegal entry, illegal residence, illegal employment, and illegal loading in no-loading zones. Phase out pesky auditors. Reward yourself with another Mercedes; you’ve done well.
Life after Bo
Just when you think the Bo Xilai scandal has died, it jerks back to its undead legs. Even legitimate news outfits are trending into tabloid territory in an effort to keep this thing going – what’s next, Gu Kailai as the Octomom? Her love affair with Elliot Spitzer? As long as we’re all reporting unsubstantiated rumors, we’d like to go out on a limb and say we suspect that there are darker forces at work here than a few bored journalists. That’s right: Perhaps this widely cited “unnamed source” is the man himself, sitting back in his bat cave and spinning rumors about his wife. Bo Xilai always liked the spotlight, after all (if we had his rugged good looks, we would too) and shanggui is not the most exciting of engagements.
There are advantages to all of us to staying in the Bo-induced media haze: Namely, the real world is looking a bit depressing. This week brought news of a potential nuclear test in North Korea (which China is trying to waylay by promising to block imports of “special products” – hope they live up to their name). To the north, pesky Mongols are debating blocking Chinese resource buys, while the Philippines is still public enemy number one to the south (despite the banana lobby’s best efforts). Not to mention the US thrashing in a mid-life crisis, and the EU ready to dive into the abyss. Hm … Perhaps we should milk more out of this Bo Xilai story after all.