More On China and Values (Or Lack of Them)

An interesting post in The Diplomat today (12 May 2014). That’s not uncommon, btw. The title of the post resonates with something I’ve been thinking about: “Africa and China’s Values Deficit“.

The post is a loose review of a new book, China’s Second Continent (I haven’t read it) by Howard French which describes China’s recent investment activities in Africa and the adjustments they have made after some clumsy efforts in the early years of the century. According to the review, the book describes the “paternal, superior attitude of Chinese business people” at work on the continent and makes this telling observation:

Chinese entrepreneurs and diplomats in Africa can make a powerful case for how their investments and trade are lifting people from poverty and making a difference to people’s lives in some of the poorest places in the world. We have to appreciate and recognize the truth in this. But what sort of lifestyles and values will people have after economic development has made them wealthier? On this topic, the vision becomes blurred. Just like in China itself, the vision of the Chinese Party state of what constitutes a good life, beyond being immersed in material goods, is at best vague, at worst non-existent. This makes one suspect that there might be no real vision.

This gives me some more to think about, resonant with some earlier initial musings. I find it expected that the Chinese avoid the Western indulgence of “showing the way to a better life”, but it’s still a little unnerving.

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