Tom Doctoroff

Not too fast, warns China-watcher Tom Doctoroff in The Huffington Post when the 21th century is baptized the ‘China Century”. China is not really that eager or able to play a leading role in the world, even when other powers fade away.

Tom Doctoroff:

Despite fascination with the world, the Chinese do not assimilate easily. China tries hard to be open — road signs are bilingual, English is a passion, trade links are robust, macroeconomic policies during financial crises were constructive — but, emotionally, the nation stands apart. Information is controlled. Defensive instincts militate against free and easy exchange of ideas. Until trust is established, foreigners are treated with polite suspicion. Manufacturers that acquire Western companies have difficulty integrating domestic and international management teams. The global footprint of China’s state-controlled English-language news outlets is growing, but broadcasts are so dull international viewers tune out. The opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, impressive in scale and moving in ambition, lapsed into mawkish cliché when gears shifted from celebrating China’s glory to preaching “One World, One Dream.”

China’s ability to leverage the assets of other cultures is peerless. Its superhighways are modeled after America’s and major web portals are copycats of Western sites, tweaked for local users. The Party has also integrated itself into the fabric of the global trading system as a check against domestic weaknesses (for example, poor corporate governance, pliable standards of financial transparency). But, unless deemed “safe,” foreigners are still confronted with awkward silences and robotic smiles. Bonding at the national level is a long ways off.

More in The Huffington Post.

More links for Tom Doctoroff in Storify.

Tom Doctoroff is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

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