TCS Daily

Good Morning Vietnam!

By Jacqueline Pham and Ton Long - November 17, 2006 12:00 AM

This week President Bush will be the second US president to visit Vietnam since the war ended over thirty years ago. He will witness the dynamism of the newly reformed Vietnam—booming construction, bustling businesses, youthful population, noisy motor scooters zooming impatiently around the city streets and endless sidewalk stands with everything on sale at a good price.

Fifty percent of the population was born after 1975, many are learning English hoping to find employment with a foreign company and this generation sees Bill Gates as their role model. He had a rock star style reception during an April visit to Hanoi, and in addition to thousands of adoring students, both the president and the prime minister took time out of a critical party congress to be seen with him. This is not your father's Vietnam, this is modern Vietnam--unified and at peace; free from Chinese, Japanese, and French occupations and any armed foreign interventions.

America's former enemy has maintained one of the highest growth rates among even the most promising economies as a result of the 1986 doi moi policy or renovation. The country has made a come back from the brink since 1986 through a series of corrective measures to rectify past bad policies (agricultural collectivization and industrial nationalization). Vietnam appears once again to be riding high in international opinion polls and among experts, notably from international businessmen and investors who are attracted by potential opportunities, and from social scientists who are overwhelmed with Vietnam's success in reducing the poverty rate in a record time from 90 percent in 1980s to below 20 percent today.

Vietnam's new economy is marked with foreign investments from multi-billion dollar multinationals actively courted by the Vietnamese government. One of the largest deals was inked by the US giant computer chip firm Intel with 300 million dollars in a first phase factory development near Ho Chi Minh City in March 2006, a significant move up the technological ladder, from making T-shirts and Nike shoes. Singapore, Inc., anointed the economic performance with the recent visit of Premier Lee Hsien Long to mark the tenth anniversary of the successful Industrial Zone Singapore-Vietnam in the South and the beginning of a second phase of this zone. This is not to say that doing business in Vietnam is not cumbersome. Multinationals have to tolerate bureaucracy, corruption and a weak legal system. But so far, companies that want to expand in Vietnam have not allowed these factors to deter them. That's because Vietnam is one of the very few remaining sources of cheap labor and has a high literacy rate to boot.

Learning Capitalist Ropes

While not officially embracing the tenets of a market economy and still remaining firmly under the iron hand of the Communist Party, Vietnam for all practical purposes strives to integrate its economy into the international community through learning the capitalist ropes. Even the members of the ruling Communist Party are now permitted to engage in profit-marking business for the first time this year.

The economy has been slowly "liberalized" for the past fifteen years -- actually embarking on correcting spectacular mistakes in the management of its economy in the 1980s and dismantling a long heritage of inefficiency and mismanagement. Under the socialist and command system, Vietnam's poverty rate was climbing steadily to the highest level at 90 percent and the economy was disintegrating. The State first gave up dictating agricultural production and then delegated its holds on the industrial sector to the real experts. With the regained rights to decide what, when, and how to produce, the farmers turned Vietnam from a rice-importing country in the 1980s to the second largest rice exporter in the world (only after Thailand) today. Other agricultural commodities also command a respectable trade on the international markets, from cashew nut to coffee, from to pepper to tropical fruits. In the industrial and manufacturing sector, a significant turning point was when the government recognized that the private sector -- rather than SOEs (State Owned Enterprises) -- is the real engines of economic growth and sources of job creation. The state has tried to harness private entrepreneurship and private sector initiatives by legally recognizing them.

Not only does Vietnam export agricultural goods, the list of exports is long on a variety of manufacturing and industrial goods from raw materials to semi-processed and processed products: petroleum, coal, garments and textiles, shoes, computer equipments, etc. Total exports are estimated at US$ 24 billion for 2006, compared with a mere $495 million in 1986. Export earnings grew by 22 percent in 2005.

The performance in the economy is only one side of the Vietnamese coin. The country's regained prosperity translates into a fast declining poverty rate at a rate marveled by poverty specialists who intone that this record is second to none in the contemporary period. To be sure, much of this decline in poverty rate has to do with the correction of past mistakes which then allows the economy to regain its footing and to bloom, creating new jobs and opportunities for every one, starting with the agricultural sector and moving to the industrial sector. With less control from the state, the people catch on to better opportunities faster than any reform measures that bureaucrats and policy makers can churn out.

Despite its success in reducing poverty in the past ten years, Vietnam remains among the poorest in the world with per capita income of only $540 a year -- compared with the rest of Southeast Asia, Vietnam trails behind Indonesia ($1,130); the Philippines ($1,200), Thailand ($2,490), Malaysia ($4,520) and ahead only of Cambodia ($350) and Laos ($400). The new economy has not generated enough jobs to absorb an eager youthful workforce while employment opportunities, mostly low skill and labor intensive, concentrate mostly around urban centers. Vietnamese also have to contend with factors that plague third-world countries: corruption, overcrowded urban slums, landlessness in the country side, crumbling infrastructure and sewer system, pollution, substandard healthcare, AIDS and, more recently, avian flu.

However, armed with a powerful record in poverty reduction, Vietnam commands the attention of multilateral and bilateral aid institutions and helps to loosen their purse strings at the same time. Together, they pledged a total of US$ 3.7 billion to Vietnam for its 2006 development plan in their annual official donor meeting -- the highest amount since these meetings began in 1993. In addition to the generous official development assistance (ODA), foreign direct investment commitments rose to US$ 6.3 billion in 2005 from US$ 4.2 billion in 2004. Disbursements, including domestic borrowing by joint ventures, reached US$ 3.3 billion, or 15 percent increase over 2004.

Emerging from the socialist years of the 1980s and with the recent macroeconomic stability, Vietnam can now afford to look beyond its border in the 21st century. Simultaneously, other countries have started to notice Vietnam as a country to be reckoned with as well. The first country to keep an eye on Vietnam is China, its neighbor and comrade in arms to the North. The US, the country's former enemy thirty years ago, has also warmed up its relations. ASEAN, which was an international organization formed especially to deal with a Communist Vietnam during the height of the Vietnam War, admitted the country as one of its members in 1995. The European countries have considered Vietnam as their important contact and partner in Southeast Asia. The Vietnamese expect to earn its WTO membership after long and protracted negotiations since 1995.

Vietnam and China

Vietnam exists in a neighborhood where China has blossomed into an economic and political power. China and Vietnam may be two close allies among the handful of remaining communist countries in the world, however, the Vietnamese hatred for the Chinese runs long and deep with its occupation of Vietnam for one thousand years. However, China is an economic model for its southern neighbor: The move from a command to a market-based economy; security and prosperity will help mute public criticism of the communist party. China has integrated into Southeast Asia and is Vietnam's number one trading partner last year, bilateral trade between the two nations recorded at $8.2 billion last year, slightly higher than the figure with the US.

As much as Hanoi would like to keep Beijing at arms length, the two are ideological allies and economic success reinforces communist party longevity. The Communist Party of Vietnam intends to keep a close relationship with China, exchanging visits at the highest level: The recently elected General Secretary Nong Duc Manh has made his pilgrimage to Beijing in the summer and the President of China is expected soon at the APEC meeting in Hanoi. The diplomatic balancing act will continue for Vietnam in its dealing with China and other world powers, notably the US.

Vietnam and the US

Vietnam cannot afford to ignore the US and its military preeminence in Asia. The US presence has provided stability and security since the end of World War II and now plays a prominent role in Vietnam's international diplomacy and its dealing with China. Vietnam quickly normalized relations in 1994 with the US under President Bill Clinton which made his visit to Hanoi the high point of this process. The potential for a deeper relationship with the US remains wide open and will be explored actively both formally and behind the scene under the auspices of ASEAN. Trade between the two former enemies reached nearly $8 billion last year and US direct investment was US$66 million and rising. In 2004 a small number of Vietnamese troops were taught English under the US IMET program. In July 2006, two US warships docked on the Saigon River, the fourth time since 2003 that US vessels have made port calls to Vietnam. The two nations agree to expand military ties during Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's visit in June. On the economic front, the relations between the two countries continue to develop positively with the US-Vietnam WTO Agreement signed by President Bush in May 2006. The US Congress is expected to grant the Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status, paving the way for Vietnam's membership in WTO and for further trading opportunities and cooperation between the two countries in the years to come. US relations also focus strongly on restriction of human rights and religious freedom.

The best scenario Vietnam could hope for in this environment is to work with the US and under its umbrella of security. At the same time, with its party-to-party affiliation, Vietnam can placate China which in turn could act as an economic force and a model for the Vietnamese to safely lean on for their own development. This scenario would then allow the Communist Party to continue on the path of economic reform to solidify the gains so far and to concentrate on bringing prosperity to the country through cooperation with ASEAN and other trade partners, especially the European Union. This is not to say that the Communist Party will be home free any time soon for it will need to address the country's growing pains in the road to development, to name a few, creation of employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of new workers entering the labor force each year, the emerging income disparities between urban and rural sectors, overcrowding cities due to urban migration, challenges in the health sector with HIV/AIDS, heroin abuse, and avian flu, emerging regional difference in education quality, and finally the corruption issue. These challenges may cloud all the silver linings in the economy and if these growing pains are not managed properly, Vietnam will find itself falling hard from the high international opinion once more.

Ton Long is an economist at the World Bank. Jacqueline Pham is a producer at Fox News Channel.

Note: The views expressed here are those of the respective authors and not of their affiliated organizations.


this crew is from a different universe then I am
I guess in thier universe THIS naver happend / is STILL not happening:

That was over 25 years ago. In the last 25 yeras both governments have changed in a number of ways. I did not see a date on when that was writen or last updated. That last date on it was 1987, still 20 years in the past. How accurate is this today? 1000+ years of mistrust is hard to clear away in so few years, but if both keep going down the path of modernization they still may learn to work together. Time will tell on this

finally made it
Well those who've formerly critized Bush for never having gone to Vietnam will have to come up with something new.

Vietnam's Future
I am not sure what the purpose is in fighting the war again. Its over Rivenburg.

During the war I used to marvel at the energy and innovativeness of the Vietnamese. It was clear to me that they would bloom if given an opening and that has proved to be so, just as they did after coming here (for about a ten year period it seemed as though every HS valedictorian was Vietnamese). There is a certain inevitability that VN will climb way up the economic ladder in a short time time. The final obstacle will be the Lao Dong (Communist) Party. But just as in China, prosperity will rot out the party core (and thus legitimacy) through two ways. First, it will lure a lot of talented people from government into business leaving the incompetent twits behind. And in time they will become public advocates of the market. And the other way, is that they will bribe so many officials that no one, themselves included, will take them seriously and alternatives will grow.

the facts are that China is still pushing its luck on vietnams border
Just like they do with us in the USA, they smile with one head while plotting our demise with another.

china always tries to have both carrot & stick to manipulate their adversaries. these days the carrot is raw cash.

The facts on the ground as I understand them are this: china tried invading Vietnam not all that long ago as such things run and got their ASS KICKED hard by the VC who had decades of practice, the chinese having NONE.

The viets will NOT trust china in this lifetime, no reason to and every reason not to.

wasnt fighting the USA/vietnam war again
was talking about the China/vietnam war in the light of this article about vietnamese /chinese trust.

It bears relivance today as those poeple are still alive, it was NOT that long ago.

as for the rest, I agree with you completely.

you can see some of this happening in China right now, for the last two years Hu has NOT been in control of the coastal cities NOR his military since they refused to shoot the leaders of Shanghia for the last two years Hu has been trying to get them to.

that is over now & he just had them shot. The top ten leaders of Shanghia are now dead as of about 7 weeks ago.

The massive amounts of raw cash are rotting China's commys right out of office hopefuly. this should play out in Vietnam also as you predict.

Sorry, I took the subsequent post as being correct and didn't open your URL. I have seen enough debate on Vietnam in the last 31 years to last another 31. But the war with China is old news too, and in any case was more about boundaries than ideology. As the article points out, senior commies on both sides are pals now. Yes China shot ten Shanghainese leaders. But there are 1.2 billion folks who would love nothing more than to create wealth and they will simply swamp the old twits in time. And, by the way, when they do China, which is a real imperial empire, will fragment. I suspect even the northern and southern Han Chinese will split.

It Would Definitely be Ironic. . .
. . .if Vietnam ultimately invited the US back in, via basing, as a way to deter China.

The Vietnamese communists did a lot of horrible things, but if they only took ten years of rule to realize "Damn, we suck, we need to try something else," that puts them ahead of, what, every other nation ever taken over by communists?

pals are as pals does
and the Chin are incapable of being honestly ANYONES pals that arent Han chinese. They are one of THE most racist cultures on the planet and this includes racism towards other ethnic Chinese like the Wu who are almost exactly like the Han as far as outsiders are concered.

this is why I agree with the last parts of your post completely, the HAN have run roughshod over the Wu even lately (shanghia IS Wu territory),as is witnessed by the three rivers dam.

The massive archeological distruction wrought by this project will NOT drown any Han grave sites, but WILL almost completely wipe out the Wu ancesteral gravesites that date back 8 thousand years.

A split china is the BEST possible outcome, an imperial china is one dangerous kitty, to big to do anything except fuckup and go to war when the dirth of females comes around to bite their ass.

agreed & agreed
Id LVE to see it & if the chin cannot quit with the stick as well as the carrot, this may well happen. That part of the world has a LONG memory, and china has a long history of foregn brutality. their current behaviour is putting many in SE asia off.

Politics are one thing and economics are another...

You have a political agenda and you are bright. But you seem very angry about something that I don't quite understand yet. I'll keep studying your posts.

Financial capitalism is rapidly putting military imperialism behind us. This is not to say that governments such as the Chinese are ignoring their opportunities for regional hegemony as their conventional military capabilities come up to world-class speed. We have our eyes on them and they know it. It is important to the peace and security of all, including the Americans, that some mutual balance of hegemony among the major sovereign states should be maintained.

This pressure to behave must operate in both directions because even well-meaning politicians such as we enjoy in Washington will be pushed by public opinion to over-reach regarding the internal affairs of weaker sovereign nations.

For example, when it was clear in Viet Nam (already before 1970)that we were fundamentally engaging world-wide Communism (the Soviet Union not so much the Chinese) in Viet Nam through a proxy war we, nevertheless, continued killing hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese (mostly civilians as well as some combatants) with no intention of actually seizing control of the North and bringing an end to battlefield hostilites until we simply walked away in 1975. The argument for stopping the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia morphed into "If we leave the South Vietnamese people before they are able to defend themselves then there will be a bloodbath and we will be held responsible." President Nixon's Vietnamization program had precisely that aim. It did not work.

No matter how many Vietnamese we killed, they kept fighting. When we left, there was indeed a bloody period of internal killing and there was open warfare with both Cambodia and China before 1980.

No amount of US peacekeeping could stop these events from eventually occurring and, in some sense, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died needlessly at our own hands as we tried to stop another people from doing what they were simply going to do anyway. Thirty years later, this terrible business is behind all of us and as much ancient history for most of the people living in Vietnam as World War II is for me (I was born in 1948) and World War I is for my father (he was born in 1926).

Our ability to try to control the Vietnamese and our (Judeo-Christian) moral imperative led us to commit this butchery. We genuinely did mean well.

Note: In spite of superficial similarities the conflict in Vietnam was not analogous to our current situation in Korea. North Vietnam was being used as a proxy by her Communist allies. North Korea seems to have gone completely rogue.

It is important that we have sovereign competitors strong enough to make us mind our own business. It is difficult but necessary for us to stand by and let another nation take care of its internal business even if we feel like what they are doing is wrong (according to our moral standards) and we could easily start killing them to (temporarily) keep them from killing each other.

Of course, we did not intervene in Shanghai this year. We did not have our agents rescue those politicians and spirit them away. We did not invade the city with Marines. This affair was simply none of our business. To get directly involved was unthinkable. The consequences for any such intervention would have been impossible to predict. Did anyone in America call for us to invade China? I did not hear them.

Imagine what would happen if some well-intentioned nation without capital punishment would attack a prison in Texas to rescue the men on death row? Would we go crazy? Yes. I think so.

The regime changes in Afghanistan and Iraq were necessary and well executed. We should keep forces in the region. (A quiet corner of Afghanistan might be made secure if not too comfortable). But we need to disengage now that legitimate governments are in place and let the civilians in those sovereign nations resolve their differences as they see fit. If no one can make us do this then we must make ourselves walk away. If we do not want to see these people take care of their own affairs then we should not watch.

If there is indeed genocide and the UN votes to stop it, then we go back in with blue helmets on. This policy applies to the weakest nation in the world that we could easily dominate just like it applies to our nuclear rivals that we dare not attack preemptively.

We need a new doctrine if anyone is confused about the rules regarding sovereignty. "The United States only goes to war when someone's sovereignty has been violated and otherwise we will not be the one to violate another nation's sovereignty." No matter who they are and no matter how much public opinion faults us for standing by.

(I am not sure what that means regarding our invasion of Panama in 1989. My sense is that we already had bought and paid for Noriega himself and so we got a free pass regarding what was so recently our own possession anyway. Otherwise, very naughty. What do you think?)

We should never have attacked Iraq originally if they had not invaded Kuwait in 1990. We should never have attacked Afghanistan if the Taliban-al Qaeda had not attacked us in 2001. We should not invade the Sudan. We should not invade Iran. And we should not invade North Korea. Unless they make the first wrong move and we should define what that might be. Then, of course, the Powell Doctrine applies.

Considering that the USSR was the North Vietnamese mentor, not China, and the USSR changed drastically in the last 15 years it is not too surprising that Vietnam has changed.

Not quite
Actually the Japanese are the most racist followed closely by the Vietnamese (the previous ruling northerners hate the southerners), although the French are the biggest snobs.

Viet & China
Sure it's good that viet like china is getting more capi talistic; too bad they wasted so many years being stubborn. But re China and them; China is very racist and consider other minor races like viets, thai, korean, etc as inferior peoples. Their history is to try to keep 'tribute' states on their borders, and it's likely to continue as china gets richer and more powerful, better to bully their neighbours. These chinese, who think they are so civilized, have just published a sort of guide-book for all people who are now travelling abroad as tourists, to tell them not shame china by doing things like spitting, picking their toes and noses in public, urinating on sidwalks, insulting wait staff, etc.

You are a smart guy and you have a lot of great things to say. However, when you indulge your racist urges you must know that many of us find this more offensive and ignorant than when someone thoughtlessly picks his nose (which we also don't like to see) or spits (which I do when I am working in the barn or when I am out on the road running). Seems like baseball players spit all the time and scratch their private parts on the television and almost none of them are Chinese. However my first wife and my daughter are Chinese and neither one of them picks her toes in public.

If your racism is so out of control that you cannot stop misbehaving or (worse) if you do not realize that you are misbehaving then your racism is indeed out of control. Don't ever go to South Chicago or North Philadelphia alone at night. You are your own worst enemy. Anything might happen. Most of it bad.

Spitting, littering and pet poo
""We did a social survey about uncivilized manners in Beijing," she says, "listing the most un-welcome behaviour online to get public opinion. The top three bad manners with highest response rate were spitting, throwing rubbish and pet waste on the street," she says.

It's not just officials that are trying to improve manners in Beijing.

Luchin Mischke is a Chinese woman who married an American, lived overseas for a decade, and then returned to China. She was disheartened by the way people treated each other, and themselves - and so set up the "Pride Institute", running free classes on courtesy.

LUCHIN MISCHKE: For too many centuries China was in turmoil or you can also say for a very long period of time China's economy has been declining or stagnating and the majority of people were very poor. So when resources are scarce people tend to care only about themselves or the people they know. So if you're a stranger it's almost like you don't exist."

"BEIJING -- Don't clear your throat loudly in public. Don't spit. Don't squat and smoke. This and other advice is included in guidelines China is preparing for the increasing number of its citizens travelling abroad, lest they damage the nation's image, reports the state-run China Daily.

"The behaviour of some Chinese travellers is not compatible with the nation's economic strength and its growing international status," the paper quoted a government circular as saying.

The golden rules of polite travelling form the basis of a national educational campaign launched by the Communist Party's Spiritual Civilization Steering Committee, according to the paper.

The rules also target frequently observed practices such as littering, yelling into mobile phones, taking off one's shoes on airplanes, queue jumping and eating without washing one's hands first."

not racist
It wasn't me that wanted to make that book, but the chinese govnmt itself, as corroborated below by some other guys. It a big embarassment for them, and they're also really worried about it for those olympic games soon. I just meant that when they brag about being ever so much more civilized than white peope, it's just a load of crap. Also, remember when they used to give the example of how racist the british were when they had signs on parks and some buildings etc. saying, 'no dogs, or chinamen'? Even that was not so much normal racism, as the improper behaviour would gross them out! But anyway, since I'm an old man, and not even american,nor live in the States, I don't have to be PC. That's just for liberals. Acutally I live somewhre in asian with asians of various kinds, and I don't mind, but I'm certainly not under the ilusion that they're more civilized than I am.

Still a pest hole.
Roger on their being from a different planet.
However you should remember that it is Faux "news" and has taken it's place amongst the un-news media outlets.
The "Communism is dead" line does not "float" with the people who still languish in those slave states.
Since Vietnam has blossomed into a bastion of freedom, perhaps we could have our MIA's back, or am I supposed to believe that the missing prisoners just evaporated. Bobby Garwood would surely like to see his friends again.
I am willing to bet that these "authors" believe that the Communist slave is on the left and the Fascist slave state is on the right. If the totalitarian states are at both ends of the spectrum, where is there room for freedom as in Constitutionally limited Republic? I am sure that too has eluded their senses.

good luck getting governments to behave that way
power does as it pleases.
Now, lets address some specifics.
"President Nixon's Vietnamization program had precisely that aim. It did not work."

it did not work because our liberal congress cut funds for supporting the south. Only then did the south fall to the north.

As for the vietnam & korea being different I completely disagree, as I see it they are THE same conflict, even the geography is similar. Both are east pointing peninsulas hanging off the side of Asia and in the sphere of china & russia, both were proxy war sites between western democracies and eastern communists, one directly after the other in smooth transition, this was not accidental by the communists. We walked away in Vietnam, we stayed in Korea, the modern differences stem from that point, not anything else. If we had stayed in Vietnam and fought to win by taking it to the north and to china if nessesary (china was indeed a paper tiger campared to the USA in those days)Vietnam would be today like Korea is today.

As for interviening in chinas internal affairs MILITARLY, this would be stupid to the extreme, however if we DO NOT interfere by supporting the democratic movements inside China we are also stupid to the extreme. A series of free, democratic smaller Chinese states would be preferable to the barbwire nightmare China is today.

as for the rest you obviously favor a bit of isolationism, this is a deafeatest stance. To see the perils of isolationisms one only has to look at China & Japan's isolationest periods and the subsequent problems these decisions created. China was on the verge of discovering and owning the entire world 100 years before Columbus when due to certain weak elements in their government they withdrew completely and became a weak third rate power for the next 600 years.

AS for new rules regarding sovereignty, good luck with that too, governments are run by the most powerful parts of the population, usualy these groups have economic interests that require distinct actions in foriegn lands in order to ensure profit and security of physical plants. This will likely never change as long as commercial trade is the life blood of humanity.

what I think about Panama is: Jimmy carter should have to personaly pay for the lost revinue from giving the canal back 25 years too soon. Also since we are so far removed from the canal now the chinese have taken defacto military control of it by haivng over 30,000 troops at each end of it. They have been there for almost ten years now.

As for the invasions you approve of & not, in any case the USA needs a clearer methodology for both attack and occupation.

If we played to our stengths in Iraq by utilising semi-automated concrete check points with face recognition software this insurgency would be over now.
You dont have to have absolute control over the entire ground if you have absolute control over movement between areas.

instead we use our troops like a russian commander would by brutaly putting them at risk for stupid goals.

Yes I have an agenda, the continued support for my countries health and welfare, this includes suppresing competing governmental models that use military expansion in imperial mode as both russia & china & Islam are want to do. Do not count out russia yet, putin has imperial ambitions if not imperial reach and russia is the only country with the technical know how to arm our adversaries in modern weapons.

You seem to be uncomfortaable with American dominance in the world, that some kind of cold war balence of behemoth governments is healthier. It's NOT, the cold war caused more pollution and misery then any other one thing in human history, Im not talking effing plastic bags, I'm talking MASSIVE simi-permenant nuclear and chemical pollution in asia that you probably are unaware of as are most in the west.

An evenly balanced world split between the USA & china would result in another world war, china has unbridaled ambition to physicaly own the world, the USA has unbridaled ambition to dominate the worlds culture.
The USA must keep china from acheaving military parity or China will go to war. They remember that they threw away world dominance 600 years ago & many in their government & military would undo that.

I'm comfortable with USA dominance, but not chinese dominance.

Using the race card inappropriately just cost you credibility.

You speak like most of those who don’t travel, the assumption of monolithic foreign culture. The Chinese have an upper class that (with the Japanese upper class) taught Europeans to clean themselves, wipe their asses & all those civilized actions. Yet this in no way means the bulk of Chinese or even Japanese are clean themselves.
The Japanese have spread their high class habits to most of the rest of their population, the main land Chinese used genocidal tactics to erase this part of their culture for over 50 years, you cannot ignore this fact on the ground: modern mainland Chinese are often dirty and have some REALLY dirty habits.

I personally have Chinese friends who are from both worlds, one from Hong Kong, very wealthy background, very impressive habits and personality.
Some from Taiwan, both low class dirty Chinese and high class clean.
Here IN the USA I spent a great deal of time in Los Angeles Chinatown, these people are 90% dirty as hell. Mice & cock roaches & dirt in the stores, on the shelves. Chinese store owners trying to sell mice damaged goods. Go ahead, call ME racist for SEEING that.

Chinese are like anyone else, some clean, some not, but in general the mainlanders had their high class part of the culture ripped away from them and they must find it again.
Leaving a billion dirty Chinese hillbilly’s and the 300 million relatively clean modern Chinese that engage in modern commerce and city life.
The communists went far out of their way to destroy traditional Chinese culture in the 1950-70s, almost a hundred million died as a result. Ignoring this and calling people that are aware of it racist brands you as mindless.
If you want to debate here with the worthwhile instead of simply exchanging insults with the drones, stop the mindless use of hackneyed liberal blathering points.
It only takes a little to destroy your credibility and your knee-jerk assumption of cultural equivalence and in turn, unfounded assumption of racial slurs by Dietmar is well on its way to doing just that.

test for my ID (rivenburg)
wonder why my ID doesnt list on some of my posts here?

You must be young...
If it was not for Lady Bird Johnson (our First Lady at a time before you were born) we would still be throwing litter out of our car windows or dropping popsicle wrappers and banana peels as we walked along. Not so long ago, according to me.

A dog on a lease (held by a White Guy smoking a cigar) just took a dump on the sidewalk in front of my fashion boutique here on Santana Row! Joker never slowed down. (It's fine, don't concern yourself, I called Facility Housekeeping and they ran right over with a dustpan and a mop.)

People spit all the time here in California! Have you ever been to Texas?

This is a question of civilization for you? The Chinese were civilized thousands of years ago while we were still living in caves! (OK, that is something of an exaggeration, but you get my point.) What is wrong with you people? Exhausted with ranting about undocumented Mexican immigrants?

I'm just reporting what the Chinese say about themselves.
Although I have never been to China, I have been to Singapore, Korea, Japan and Philippines.

But I have been to many Chinese restaurants in the USA. Some are clean and some not so clean. Same with their food markets. Only recently have I been in an oriental grocery store that would meet a western food store standard. That was a 99 market in Las Vegas.

But to cut them a little slack, I would bet there are tens of millions of Chinese who have never used a flush toilet. (My grandparents in SD did not have one until they moved into town in 1965. And I do remember Lady Bird wanted to put pants on bulls and cows.)

(And why is it that flu viruses always start in China?)

Given that mainland China has been under communist rule for such a long time, it is not surprising they have not been as neat as Singapore or Japan or even ROK.
And a note, Singapore has urine sniffers in apartment elevators and has only achieved its cleanliness by very tough laws. That was the only way to force the cultures to stop spitting, littering and p'ing wherever they wanted.

Yeah, well careful what you say about hicks...
I was born in West Virginia and so were my parents, my grandparents and most of my great grandparents. So I know something about hicks.

Lots of people take off their shoes in airplanes. Your feet tend to swell and your shoes get too tight. That's why on long flights the airlines will give you those little socks with the treads on the bottom that I won't wear but that my wife just loves to save.

Maybe you have never been to Europe but if you ever queue up over there for anything like a movie some heavily built, short, hairy character who has not bathed in way too long, (but wearing a reasonably well-made suit) will absolutely walk up to the line and push his way right in front of you without looking at you and genuinely without any sense that he has done anything wrong or that you should be offended and that he might expect to get smacked up the side of his head with the hair all growing out of his ears (and everything). Not a Chinese guy.

If you want a lesson about reasonable expectations regarding behavior in public just drive a car in Italy once or try to cross a busy street in Brazil. They literally accelerate if they think you might not make it. And the pedestrian is at fault if he gets hit by a car in Brazil.

Visit a subway in NYC if you want to smell urine...
In China when they have a new virus coming they call it the New York flu or the LA flu. Why would they call it the Hong Kong flu? They've already had that one!

Well I live somewhere in Asia too...
And when I am at my home in the Philippines I know that none of us anywhere are any more civilized than any of us anywhere else. Maybe that's why I seem to get along. Race does not mean a thing.

We all have local social routines that constitute reasonable behavior. But as long as we hold onto our own standards of behavior as uniquely principled and correct we miss the opportunity to enjoy other cultures not as novelties but as the men there enjoy their own lives.

Maybe you don't want to call this (perceiving a difference) racism. The actual word probably doesn't matter. But if you feel different then you are not able to appretiate how nice it feels to belong there. Wherever you happen to be.

People everywhere are simply not so very different. Stop thinking that you are different and you will stop thinking that they are different. Stop looking in the mirror. Stop looking at people to see if they are staring at you. Here, have a beer.

Whoever you are...
I was born in West Virginia and we escaped to Cincinnati in 1952. My grandparents on both sides were wealthy and educated by any standard but there was no work in aerospace in Charleston so my father took his first job out of college at Evendale and stayed with General Electric for 45 years. But everywhere we went in America I saw and I still see those of us White People who were part of that diaspora from Appalachia. Fifty years and 2 or 3 generations later we are still the trashiest class of (not even all that poor anymore) people on this Earth. We were not so trashy back in West Virgina, Tennessee and Kentucky. We were indeed poor. There is no excuse for us to live like this in America. Yet we persist. Perhaps you fail to notice the White Trash living in your city because we are not Black and we are not Mexican and we are not Chinese.

We live in trailers or suburban houses with too many stuffed deer heads on the living room walls and a refrigerator (also in the living room) with two or three raw wild boar heads inside with the beer. How come you never visit?

For you to have any comment regarding people living dirty and implying that it has anything at all to do with them being Chinese or any other race is (in a word) racist.

I have spoken with Dietmar about this and Deitmar is a reasonable man. You speak like someone (whoever you are) who should know better. I assume you understand that whenever you make a derogatory reference and you attach a racial identity to it then such a statement is insulting, unnecessary and, by definition, racist. There is no way around it. Don't do it.

And I don't care one little bit about your credibility. Mind your business regarding mine.

Dietmar's meaning
At least for me, I originally meant NOT about I or any other white guy considers chinapeople, but how they themselves, or maybe we say their ELITES consider their own culture. So it was the govnmt up in red china that was publishing that guide bood for themselves, not some white guy criticizing them. I live amongst asian hordes and am OK with that. Indeed, in Jan. I'll probably even go to the PI, yes, you've outted me, I am a sometimes Balibago scum.

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