Posts Tagged ‘American Perceptions’

Your Letters: CTP Readers Respond

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

One of the biggest challenges that confronts any media professional is getting honest feedback on the content s/he produces.  TV journalists at the biggest networks in the world share the same complaint as the lone blogger — constructive criticism of one’s work is extremely hard to come by.  So when we received a pair of thoughtful, well-written feedback emails from a reader in Scandinavia and another in the United States, it was immensely appreciated.  Although the critiques (below) do sting a bit, their suggestions are valued and, in some cases, have already been incorporated into how we produce content on China Talking Points.   We thought it would be great to share their comments as a way to invite other readers to contribute feedback as well.  The comments below have been reprinted with the authors’ permission however both individuals did requested anonymity. (more…)

Three Steps to Improve Chinese Soft Power

Friday, June 25th, 2010

The rejection of Southern Media and Chengdu’s B-Ray Media’s offer to purchase the ailing U.S. magazine Newsweek is just the latest setback the Chinese have encountered in their desire for acceptance by the international media.  Chinese political and corporate leaders have regularly complained that “their story” is just not getting out, and as such, China is often misunderstood by the outside world.    So, Beijing (and in this case Guangzhou and Chengdu) are more determined than ever to expand China’s media influence beyond its borders through acquisition and the launch of new english language television networks to portray China accurately and fairly.  In addition to feeling both misunderstood and occasionally victimized by the Western media, the Chinese are also eager to expand their cultural influence abroad to complement their increased economic, political and military power. (more…)

CTP Video: Can Chinese Companies Build Brand in the USA?

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Made in China FlagQuick quiz: name a single mainland Chinese company that has successfully built brand equity in the U.S. market sans acquisition?  Lenovo doesn’t count as most of its brand value derives from the purchase of IBM’s mobile computing group.  Haier?  No, they don’t make the grade either.  Haier sells a lot of product in the US but mostly as a low-cost generic white label manufacturer for big-box stores like Wal Mart and Target.  The only people who know the brand Haier are those who have lived in China.  Americans, on the other hand, just see a $50 refrigerator or $10 toaster without paying any attention to the manufacturer.  And why should they?  Haier does not advertise widely in the US market or make any noticeable effort to establish itself beyond its generic, low-cost origins.   That will change.  It has to.  Many Chinese companies like Baidu, Geely and BYD recognize that their home markets will eventually become saturated and if they want to grow, they will have to seek new markets overseas.  It won’t be easy though, as they will no longer have the benefit of protection and support from the central government in Beijing.  Instead, these Chinese companies will be forced to compete in manner that remains largely unfamiliar to most Chinese executives.

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Why the Chinese Currency is a Global Problem

Monday, April 5th, 2010

small RMBFor too many Chinese the current dispute over the country’s currency valuation is yet another chapter in a well-worn narrative of the United States trying to “contain” China.  Such nationalistic responses are now predictable yet regrettable as they too often blind the Chinese public to a far more nuanced understanding of complex international events.  While Washington is by far the most vocal critic of Beijing’s currency policies, it is by no means a lone voice.   In many corners of the developing South, there is growing unease over the steady rise of low-cost Chinese textiles,  apparel and furniture among other products that compete directly with manufacturers from Africa, South America and elsewhere in Asia.   The efficiencies of China’s well-oiled export machine that can easily overwhelm almost any domestic market in the world combined with a currency that prices those exports at a 20%-40% discount are just too powerful for struggling competitors in poor countries. (more…)

What Americans Don’t Understand About China’s Rise in Africa

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Most Chinese people do not fully understand the extent to which Americans disregard events beyond their own borders.  It’s completely understandable that Chinese observers get confused on this front because from their vantage point the United States is usa_china_oila far more open and globalized country than China is today.  So how can it be that major geopolitical shifts go completely unseen by the American people?  Well, they do.  And none more significant than what is currently underway across the African continent where the United States is on the verge of being displaced by China as the continent’s largest investor, according to several reliable estimates.   “OK, so what?” the skeptic might say.  Investment patterns change with time and sometimes the United States will be on top and sometimes it won’t.  Fair point.  However, I invite you to consider the consequences of one very important development in Africa: oil.

  • Across Africa, from Algeria in the North to Angola in the South, China’s state-owned oil majors are investing tens of billions of dollars in exploration and extraction.
  • In Equatorial Guinea, one of Africa’s smallest countries yet one of the continent’s largest oil states, Chinese oil companies are displacing American majors as the country’s preferred foreign oil partners.

“Interesting, but not earth shattering,” you might counter.  What’s the catch?

  • Unlike American and international oil companies, according to journalist Richard Behar, Chinese oil companies are not extracting oil to put it on the international market.  Instead, the Chinese are locking up the oil just for themselves, taking it off the market entirely.  This has two important consequences for Americans to consider:
    1. The United States is constantly seeking ways to minimize its dependence on both Middle Eastern and Venezuelan sources of crude.  With China locking up exclusive oil contracts in Africa, the challenge of finding new, non-confrontational sources of oil becomes much more difficult.
    2. China’s decision to move that oil directly into own system and not into the international market has the potential to reduce overall supply and introduce new pricing pressures on already rising crude prices.

The United States has made remarkably little progress in overhauling its energy policy and reducing its dependence on imported oil.  Given the current domestic political realities where it will be difficult to impose radical changes on an economically beleaguered American electorate, it would be foolish to expect any radical adjustments in either energy policy or energy taxes.  So with China’s aggressive moves in Africa, Americans may soon wake up one day to learn that the days of enjoying cheap energy have finally come to an end.

Understanding America: “Sticking it to the Man!”

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

There is a current within the recent debate over Google and China that many Chinese observers are overlooking.  Both Michael and I feel agree that the reaction to Google’s opposition to Chinese censorship rules and the company’s threat to withdraw entirely from the China market are misunderstood.  It is easy to take this one dispute and examine it in a vacuum.  By itself, this controversy can be seen as a human rights issue/information imperialism/a Google business failure/control over the internet and the list goes on and on.  While those are all valid filters to explore this issue, none of them adequately explain the overwhelming public support that Google is receiving in the United States for its decision to challenge the central government.  Americans are rallying behind Google in this dispute because we, as a culture, as a people love to challenge authority: (more…)

China’s Enters its own “Bush-Cheney Phase”

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

bush cheneyAtlantic Monthly correspondent James Fallows has coined a wonderful expression to summarize a series of controversial Chinese decisions over the past year: the new “Bush-Cheney Phase.” The stunning news that Google and China are about to embark on a high-stakes face-off coming on the heels of Beijing’s more assertive stance at the U.N. climate conference along with the December sentencing of dissident Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison all prompt new questions as to whether we are entering a phase where the Chinese are far less concerned about how their decisions are perceived internationally.

The “Bush-Cheney” era in American politics was characterized by pure “Realpolitk” where needs of American national security interests were paramount.  When Fallows talks of China entering its own “Bush-Cheney” phase he is referring to a policy making (more…)

Glenn Beck’s America: If you aren’t familiar with it, you should be

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Too many people focus on the same 15-20 China analysts for their insights on Sino-U.S. relations.  Elizabeth Economy, Nicholas Lardy, Jonathan Spence and Orville Schell among others are all extremely learned and no doubt represent the backbone of American Sinology.  For Chinese observers, though, it is critically important to expand their horizons beyond the academic and intellectual elites to more populist personalities who can often have far more influence over the debate in Washington.   (more…)