When the outside world looks at China, their own perceptions are often more important than the realities in China itself. Paul Denlinger addresses this phenomena for the internet in his weblog Chinavortex. Despite what the outside world might hope for, it is obvious that the Communist Party will set the digital agenda for the country.
This is a very sophisticated Chinese strategy which has the west, including individuals, investors and governments, over the barrel. On the one hand, many in the west hope that China will change and become a more open society. In fact, the party in China also knows that Chinese society must change and become more open, but it wants to set the terms and the agenda. Should investors go to China, which offers better returns than most other parts of the world, including the west? Or should they obey their consciences, and stay out of China? Looking at things now, I would say that most are more interested in their investment portfolios than their consciences.
Better live with this reality, since there is no alternative for the party-rule, says Denlinger.
This lack of a viable substitute is what has prevented change in China. It’s easy to criticize the party on multiple issues; it’s much harder to find a better solution.
So far, I have not found anyone in the west take a clear stand on this crucial issue, except for Google, which moved its search engine operations to Hong Kong earlier this year.
“Exactly what is the attitude of the west with regard to change in China?”
This lack of open, honest dialogue on the key issue of meaningful strategy with China is what prevents many western companies from moving forward with China.
Unless western companies, the public and their governments reach some kind of consensus on what they support, and what their position on change in China is, there will always be misunderstandings and disappointments for the west in China.
Paul Denlinger is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. When you need him at your conference, do get in touch.