How not to make friends

Part of living here so long is one knows(sometimes in jest, and sometimes not) how to push the buttons of the locals.

One example is hotpot.  I hate hotpot.  I don’t get the logic of hotpot.  Yet I’m quite often forced to endure hotpot.  So I can’t help myself sometimes, and I find myself falling into the role of laowai jerk.

We’ll be at the table and I’ll just blurt out:

“Hotpot.  Veggies and hot water.  This is what China culture after 5000 years has come to.”

There will be silence.  The friends around the table that know I’m really not the jerk I just set out to be will simply punish me by ordering the extra spicy version of hot pot. 

So I ask China…..what the hell were you thinking with your response to the Filipino Typhoon?  Seriously…did you think you’d really get away with such a miserly response for help from a neighbor?

PR 101…..Things get out. 

Oh, wait I forgot this is PR “with Chinese characteristics”.

Now let me summarize Geography 101…you can’t choose who your neighbors are.
China….welcome to the world of the Free Press(again).  Believe it or not, there are peoples and institutions beyond your borders that are not within the control of your awe inspiring tentacles.  (You probably forgot that…I wouldn’t blame you if you had)

And so the West continues to learn a bit more about China.  Drip, by incredulous drip, people that will never within a lifetime of their own dreams consider looking at China with either a curious or even a negative glance now have China on their mind.  Within the context of your relationship with the Philippines(PI), you could’ve taken the highminded, neighborly approach and acted humanely.  It’s not the PI’s fault that it was in the path of a bad ass typhoon.

However, it so annoyed you that a country maybe 5% of your size and population(somebody else can fact check) wouldn’t roll over for you as regards some silly reefs out in the middle of nowhere, that the first opportunity you had to express your disapproval you decided to punish with your pocketbook.  I guess we now see the edgier side of your “checkbook diplomacy”. You know you have a trillion dollars in the bank, right?  Or….(like me with the hotpot)you just feel like pushing buttons for the response?

You really don’t like it when you don’t get your way, do you?  You realize the PI is a country, not a province, right?   Most revealing.  I guess someone forgot to tell you the PI isn’t one of your subjects…(yet).

We all want to extract our pound of flesh.  We all have perceived slights.  Some of us even have anger management issues.  Bad enough in a human, it's scarier to see in a country.  One's true character rises to the surface.  (It will take years of smiles and handshakes from a lot of foreign language speaking  Chinese diplomats to eradicate this mess.)

This is what happens when you create a domestic environment void of criticism.   An outbreak of “tonedeafitis” develops.  The problem now is that everyone beyond the reach of your tentacles will be able to see the “true you”(congratulations!).  Further, the bad side is that a lot of people(and nations) will think the Chinese People are that way, too.

(well, maybe…a lot of them are….84% of them in a survey agreed with the govt’s decision) 

They won’t understand that this was yet another decision made by that mysterious, unaccountable class of workers we call the The Chinese Bureaucracy. 

We can’t pin everything on poor Mr. Xi.  We can’t.  The guy is busy enough.  He is.  Would you pin every decision on Obama?  (Well, if you do, you are an uncool jerk.)  Even if that is the nature of the job.  You think Benghazi was really Obama’s fault? (again…some people unbelievably will think just that)

If this had happened in the States the NYT or some other news agency would be all over themselves in the race to get the decision making bureaucrats name and profile.  (wait, that did actually happen as regards Benghazi, and the idiot was fired)  Not in the Heavenly Kingdom.  We need to trust the Party, thank you very much.  And that’s that.  The Party is the Guiding Light of the People and that’s all you need to know.

 (quick note….those dumbass PI nationalist politicians that kicked the US Navy out some decades ago are probably cowing somewhere in the closet right now.  Methinks none of this would have ever become an issue if a Battle Group was still stationed there.  Having said that, I think the USN is relieved it got kicked out, and doesn’t have to deal with the stress of confronting the Chinese everyday over some stupid rock)


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