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29.1.11

Ghost Of Nixon Comes A'Callin'

Over at George Ure's UrbanSurvival site (link on sidebar), there's a couple of reader email from folks down in my old stompin' grounds of Houston, Texas, bemoaning the appearance of The China Daily newspaper on their lawns every morning. They are spooked by this and as a matter of pride, dump the paper in the recycling bin.

Ugh! Americans are so xenophobic and narrow-minded.

Here, these folks are getting a free gift from the Universe: a tool to learn about their greatest economic rival in the world today. What do they do? Treat it like nuclear waste and cry about how the Chinese own the country.

Get over it. Every since Nixon went to China in the 70s, America has been losing the War of Money. Now they just want to roll over and die while complaining that the ammo they need to fight back keeps falling on their grass.

No wonder America is losing...

Little Bammy offspring has the right idea. She's learning Mandarin and practicing with every Chinese Premier she meets. If there's one example that the Obamas have set that is worth following, it's that one. Go down right this minute and enroll in Mandarin class. It will be the best investment in your personal competitiveness toolbox you could possibly make.

You see, after Nixon went to China and 'opened' the doors to commerce, the Chinese embarked on a nationwide (even Asia-wide) campaign to learn English and study western capitalism. There was no whining about how the Americans were so far ahead of the game and owned the bases and ball. There was only the idea of learning everything they could about the adversary and then using it against them.

Classic Sun Tsu, if you ask me, which you didn't, but I told you so anyway. It's all in the Art of War, a fine book that every American should be devouring, along with their Mandarin classes.

They should also be sucking up every resource on Chinese astrology and superstitions. You see, the Chinese have two major weaknesses: they are superstitious as hell, and they love to gamble. Why is that important? Because they always make major business decisions based on the horoscope, and they occasionally bite off a little more risk than is wise because they love the challenge of sheer luck.

When it comes to football, Joe Sixpack can tell you every nuance of the QB's game, what his strengths and weaknesses are, how fast he gets tired, what risks he's likely to take.

But when it comes to the culture that is jacking his job, buying up his food and energy supplies, and taking over his country? All he can tell you is whether or not he likes egg rolls, which aren't even Chinese food.

If you want to beat an adversary, you learn how they think, what they are likely to do in any situation, and how they make decisions. You learn what motivates them and what frightens them. In short, you do to them what they have been doing to you for decades.

Back in the 70s, it was the Japanese who were hijacking our economy. There were 'Buy American' stickers on cars and movies about the Japanese taking over Joe Sixpack's factory (remember 'Take This Job and Shove It'?).

Now people are whining about getting free copies of The China Daily on their porch in the morning. They can't 'Buy American' because they shipped everything overseas, lock, stock and barrel. They willingly handed the adversary everything they needed to kick our butts, and now they are crying in their soup. C'mon.

If you were to face down a Chinese businessman to compete for a contract, don't you think it would be handy to know that he is deathly afraid of the number 4? Wouldn't it be helpful if you knew that he wouldn't make a move until a certain date while he waited for the stars to line up, thus giving you some wiggle room? Wouldn't it be nice to know that he wasn't going to do anything major between the dates of February 3rd and 12th?

And most of all, even if you couldn't speak Mandarin (which I can sympathize with), wouldn't it be helpful if he couldn't talk to his associates in another language and shut you out? What advantage would it give you to be able to understand what they are talking about, especially if they thought you had no idea what they were saying?

Take some of your unemployment money down to the bookstore and pick up a Mandarin textbook. The spoken language is fairly easy, as far as grammar goes. The pronunciation is problematic, but you only need to understand, not speak. Seems to me that would be a tactical advantage for the ambitious entrepreneur.

Studying the culture, one would discover that this New Year (Chun Jie or 春节) is the Year of the Pig/Boar, which denotes fertility and virility. It is an auspicious sign to your adversary, and thus he might be willing to take more risks, feeling lucky and all. Certainly, that would offer opportunties to the aware businessman across the table.

You might also learn about 'angpao' and the colors denoting 'luck' and 'properity.' Knowing this information, you could manipulate your adversary by using the colors red and gold on things which you want them to chose, such as your application or bid. You would also know when your adversary is trying to manipulate you, or at least the Fates.

I could go on and on. Certainly, you don't need to take my advice. You're American and you know everything, right? You are owed properity because of your citizenship, right? The world is required to hand you the bankbook and the reigns of power simply because you were born in North America, right? You have no other responsibility for your success, right?

Hell, if for no other reason, knowing a few key phrases in Mandarin, like, "Do you want more tea, Sir," would at least curry favor with your new boss next year. You might get his attention and rise quickly to be his personal servant in the office, thus gaining you better 'angpao.'

Up to you. But, if the Universe was throwing a free lesson on how my adversary is thinking and what he finds important, on my front doorstep every morning, I sure as hell wouldn't be burning it.

The McCarthy-ist acolyte, Richard M. Nixon, became the ambassador who unlocked what was then a closed and mysterious society in the opposite hemisphere. As Spock famously said in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, "Only Nixon could go to China." Well, those doors swung open and unleashed a behemoth that now owns your job and your wealth.

What are you going to do about it? Whine and complain because the kid down the street bought better bases and balls, and now everyone wants to play with him?

No.

You're gong to beat him at his own game.

Now get off your bleassed assurance and get out there and learn some Mandarin, some Chinese culture (and I'm not talking about the local buffet here), and learn whatever it takes to get the jump on them.

First order of business: buy a copy of Sun Tsu's The Art of War, or just read it online. You can bet that your adversary has.

Khrushchev said that the west would sell Communism the rope by which they would hang us. He was right, only the Chinese figured out how to do it. That's why the Russians are cozying up with them right now.

Oh, the the Chinese custom has the family name first, so when addressing your new boss, be sure to say, "早晨好, 先生," using the first name.

Might want to learn the Mandarin keyboard, while you're at it.

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