China's Greatest Con

(My apologies for my long absence away....travelling, etc, has taken my concentration off this blog for a bit.  As a post requires a certain level of prolonged concentration, I'm often tempted to just wait til I have a breather.....back to the blog)

Quite often when a laowai from abroad visits a Chinese facility, their contact will be female.  Usually a fresh college grad, pretty, with broken to decent English.  Rarely any significant understanding of the production process, or perhaps even of the product itself.  Rather, her role is to make you feel comfortable.  To put the laowai businessman at ease.  She will translate your needs.  She will host you for dinner.  She will smile that shy smile that makes you feel young again.  She is that quintessential “Charming Chinese Girl”.   

However, I’m here to tell you that “Charming Chinese Girl” is a fraud.  A Myth.  Deceptive.  She may or may not be aware of her own company intrigue, legal or otherwise.  She may not be aware of that environmental investigation that is taking place on the 3rd floor meeting room.  But how do you know?

And quite frankly do you care?   Because if you are new to China, and don’t have the ability to discern a well run operation from a poorly run operation, you will be willfully hoodwinked.   And that Charming Lass would have accomplished her mission.   Taking your money from you.  Worse, your TIME.  And while you wait for the product to arrive, or for the quality to turn around, she will continuously ply her charms, smiling, maybe even hinting with the innocence of one “not in the know” that your PO really is too small, could you “make it bigger”? 

Before you know it the “Big Boys” show up.  Your boss.  And His Boss.  And pretty soon everyone in the company, despite the marginal results of your investment, is hypnotized by this charming, innocent lady.  Whose English has gotten a little bit better.  As has her nerve.  And her knowledge of the inner workings of the factory.  (But more dangerously, her knowledge of your company has increased as well. )

She understands now there really is no hope in this relationship with those starry eyed laowai that all came from those Big Corporate Offices in the West.  She’s even now beginning to truly understand just how hopeless her own factory’s situation has become.  And doesn’t care.  Her expression is nothing but a stoic smile, mixed in with a timed giggle.  

“Shall we have tea”?

By this time Big Bad Laowai knows he has made a poor decision, working with this particular factory.   His ignorance of how a “factory” works is his downfall. ( And the guy that chose this particular partner?  Long gone.)   As is his willingness to be so willfully seduced by the charm of his hostess.  Yet he’s put so much time, and money into this relationship, so publicly, that he cannot back out.  He wants to believe her when she says “We will get better!”  or “We will hire a Manager of Continuous Improvement!” His reputation is on the line.  And she knows it!  At the first hint of your eventual “betrayal” of this friendship, she plots to go over your head.  To the CEO!   Wait….the Board of Directors!

The above story is true.  Sort of. 

In the end, we all get what we deserve….probably.  And laying our bets down on a certain factory, all because of the fawning charm of a single individual is closer to the truth than you think.   I can count on both hands and with the toes of both feet the number of times a factory has used one of these ladies to “take me around”. 

I use the word “fraud” and the phrase “full of deceit” though only in the loosest terms possible for the above factory sales ladies.   Not really with any mean intent.  After all, they are only doing their job, ie to hoodwink you into doing business with them.  It’s still up to you the laowai to understand the risks. 

Rather, I save all of my vile for one person only.  She was the greatest salesperson China ever had, and the above diatribe really is only about her.  And the Factory could be America.  You know who 

I’m speaking of:
Madame Song Mei Ling. 

No Coterie of Nations has been so completely and thoroughly deceived and manipulated by one person as the West was by Madame Song during and immediately after WW2.   She was China’s ultimate Salesmen.   Maybe if she had been a Man, China would have been “Saved”.  Who knows?  Such was her talent.    Was she helped by circumstance?  Of course.

She lived during a time when America had a President very much susceptible to the charm of a Lady, and Madame Song fulfilled that role.  Her influence on Roosevelt was so great that she even convinced the President to take America’s best general, Stilwell, away from his planned role of leading Operation Torch(it was instead given to some guy named Eisenhower), and placed him instead in China to serve as America’s liaison( if you will).  Never has a man been so underutilized. 

She lived in a time when America’s greatest magazine was owned by a man born in China. 
( Nevermind his complete and willful ignorance of everything happening there, he owned a magazine and you did not) Henry Luce not only knowingly and skillfully twisted American opinion on China…..he created opinion, on a country nobody knew anything about.  

It was the Perfect Storm for Deceit if you will.   A world leader easily charmed by probably the only Chinese Female he had ever met in his life.  Madame Song Mei Ling was the ultimate “Charming Chinese Girl”.  With the private arm of American Propaganda so readily at her disposal.  Thanks to Time Magazine, she had a country completely and utterly at her beck and call.    

Thanks to her, and her willing sycophants, America knew China like it really was:  a country fighting for its life, everybody united and on the same page, heroically and unselfishly fighting for the survival of its Ancient Culture against both the murderous Japanese and those uncouth, uneducated pathetic looking Communists.  Mao, like CKS, couldn’t even speak decent Chinese!  (one wonders if Mao and CKS needed translators when they actually met…?)

In short, Madame Song’s “China” was fighting for the ideals of George Washington and Abe Lincoln.


Except it wasn’t.

Chiang Kai Shek was nothing but a skinny little fuck who was as murderous and brutal as any Chinese leader before him and after.   (It’s ironic how the wicked are left to lead long lives…) If left to his whims he probably would have killed as many Chinese as his opponents did, indirectly, through both incompetence and sheer lack of ability.  Still, we cannot compare CKS to Mao. 

To the best of my knowledge Mao never ordered anyone shot.  Let alone whole families, with their children.  CKS did.   On the eve of his departure from Chongqing, he infamously cleared his jails by having many taken out and shot.   He even held one person under house arrest for forty years, even transferring him to Taiwan to continue his sentence.  CKS’s Secret Police was unchecked in Taiwan for decades…..and in China during his rule of the Mainland.  Can any reasonable person assume anything would have changed if the KMT actually won the Civil War? 

Neither Mao nor CKS were going to have democracy, but at least Mao didn’t pretend otherwise.  (His party was “Communist” right?)  The only benefit of CKS defeating the Communists is that there would have in effect not been a Vietnamese War with American troops.  Ho Chi Minh, devoid of any supply lines, would have been rather easily neutralized.  He’d be squeezed from both the North and the South.    Beyond that, America would have had an “ally” akin to those that ran Latin America for decades. 

If not for Madame Sales Lady, would America, England or anyone else have even given China the time of day?  Yes, they would have, but if not for the guile of Madame Song, the West would have seen a lot more quickly through the deceit that was China in the 1940’s.   Only the surprising defeat and stunning realization that the China Experts had been right all along prompted any real sense of anger.   Along with the passing of Roosevelt, and the rise of a President from a totally different social class, did the realization of “being duped” set in. 

Did Madame Song believe the KMT would prevail?   I believe she did.   Was she shocked at the total annihilation of the KMT armies by the CCP?  I believe she was.   Thus all the charm this “snake oil salesmen” had at her disposal was in the end for naught.   Truman, a better reader of people than Roosevelt ever was, quickly disposed of her, and was so unhappy with CKS he ordered a complete halt of American aid to Taiwan.    (Korea changed his plans)

The success of Madame Song is reflective of her great PR ability, and to this day of the PR ability of Taiwan.   She purportedly spoke English with a Southern Accent(though I’ve yet to catch it).   Because of her charm, and upbringing in America, and the fact she was almost always the first “Chinese” any American had ever met, her impact on the American public was doubly strong.

She had the soft skills so needed and always overlooked in time of war and desperation.  Ironically, enough, so did China later on in the 50’s and 60’s.  Her name was Wang Guangmei, the wife of the President of China and a fluent English speaker herself, and China would have done well to allow her to defend its regime(though she stopped believing in Mao during the Great Famine aftermath) to any of the Western papers dying for information.   Alas, the great weakness of the China Regime to this day is its inability to master the “soft sell” to the West.

Madame Song had the West eating out of her hand.  Her ability to dissemble and deceive allowed her to manipulate not one, but two branches of American Power, along with the Media.  No leader has so successfully gotten its way with the American political establishment so effectively, before or since.   

For the better part of a decade, her influence in the American government was even greater than that of John Davies or Service.  Even Stilwell, whose actual knowledge of China and of the situation at hand was deemed a threat, was asked to leave.  (Roosevelt obliged)   After all, PR can only be effective if there is no competing message.

She would lead you to believe all China ever wanted was Peace and Democracy.   Her famous utterance, “that which is morally wrong, can never be politically right”, was aimed more towards brainwashing the tens of millions of Americans that only knew China was “fighting” Japan.   It was never meant to be applied towards her own people.  There was nothing ever ‘Morally Right” done towards the Chinese People during her reign as Chinese Queen.   While Madame Song was in the West giving speeches and playing the sympathy card, China was forcibly conscripting millions of men against their will, without either regular pay or food, to prepare for a war America did not anticipate.   People disappeared in the night, and the Chinese were kept in line by both the Triads and Warlords. 

One must wonder, who killed more Chinese, and who was really worse for China:  Chiang Kai Shek or the Japanese Army? 

There is no way Madame Song could not have known that nearly all the American aid coming to China was never going to be used against the Japanese.  In this, she was a willing conspirator with CKS.  Thus the need to get rid of Stilwell.    Their union rivals Bill and Hillary’s as the greatest political marriage of all time.  

Credit must go to Madame Song.   She could have lived in America, on her family estate, and spent the rest of her days giving speeches, espousing for “the return” of China to “her people”.   Perhaps first among equals.  Building up her populist profile.   Serving as a useful counterweight to those who advocated an opening to China.   (The Dalai Lama of her time?) She chose otherwise.   She chose a seat next to the throne of an imbecile, who while dominant in China, was simply out of his league Overseas.

As America had bet its horse on CKS, it was stuck with Madame Song.  Or was it vice versa?   Madame Song kept American opposition at bay with her charm, and ability to mingle and influence Congress.  Especially Congress.  The greatest enemy a Chinese factory has is a customer that knows something about China.  The ability to Flatter…..Fails.  And Congress knew…..nothing about China.  

Thus undermining the slowly growing opposition to the CKS regime within the State Department. 
Only her husband’s glowering incompetence and the tenacity of the CCP guerillas could unravel the vast web of deceit she created over the decades.   It was she, not CKS that kept China together for so long.  Without her, one may argue(right or wrong) there would have been no Unified Resistance against the Japanese, because without American Support Japan would have eventually overrun Chongqing.  And if not, there certainly would have been no Chinese Civil War, because CKS without American weaponry would have been defeated from Day One.  CKS relied on his wife more so than any other leader perhaps ever has.  

Successfully, she had built a House of Cards, and America supplied the deck.  Only the defeat of Japan was able to expose her for what she was:  the greatest Con of the 20th century. 


  1. Cons are the basis of Chinese society. Everything is a fake or copied from somewhere else.

    Chinese are only very successful outside of their society; where there hard work pays off.

  2. Interesting you say that. Chinese often admit an appealing reason for going to Africa, in French's book, is their desire to get away from other Chinese. Is this the reason Chinese dominate SE Asian economies? That is, because there are fewer Chinese? And those that were first to arrive were from the same part of China themselves?

    I think the cultural work ethic of the target society also has something to do with it.


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