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American Entrepreneurs Who Flocked to China Are Heading Home, Disillusioned (wsj.com)
311 points by sbuttgereit 40 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 292 comments

Aside from the general anti-China slant that is fairly common in the journal, I have yet to see a 'manage the market' to achieve results desired by the state to ever succeed, anywhere. Markets just don't work that way in my experience, they evolve, they change, and if you box them in they die.

So the fundamental question is, "What did these people expect?" (and were thus disillusioned when they didn't get their expectation). Did they expect that they would be able to build large foreigner controlled businesses? Did they expect that their success would not be impeded by a desire on the part of political entities to craft a narrative? Did they expect to secure more wealth for themselves before they were shut down?

I am always surprised by people who think they can do what they do in their home country in any other country and get the same results. But it is particularly true of people in the US it seems. If you don't really internalize how the laws, politics, and policies of a country shape what is, and what is not possible, you are setting yourself up to be disappointed.

Some of them had probably expected that the laissez-faire attitude of the Chinese authorities that was noticeable up to the mid-2000s would continue indefinitely, but that turned out to be a bad bet. Once the Chinese authorities started to become more serious about things like environmental regulations or higher salaries (both these things mentioned in the article like something bad ?!) then many “napkin” business-plans turned to nothing. I really cannot feel any empathy for this type of investors.

"both these things mentioned in the article like something bad ?!"

It is the Wall Street journal.

>s like environmental regulations or higher salaries

They didn't become more serious about these things. They passed rules to kill off businesses arbitrarily to maintain power under the guise of "environment". The salad preparation rules have nothing to do with the environment.

Didn't realize requiring a separate 8 square meter space to prepare salad was for saving the environment.

Aside from the general anti-China slant that is fairly common in the journal

To be fair, the perceived anti-China slant wasn't always that way. It used to be one of the most pro-China publications in the early days of the Chinese economic ramp-up. But as things have changed in China, so has the tone of the Journal.

It's a reaction to what's happening there. An over-reaction, probably. But a reaction, nonetheless.

It could be a reaction to what's happening in China. But it could also be a reaction to what's happening at the WSJ. Rupert Murdoch, who among many media properties created and owns Fox News, bought the WSJ in 2007. That led to changes both obvious and subtle: http://www.journalism.org/2011/07/20/wall-street-journal-und...

For what it's worth, I attended an event where Murdoch spoke a couple years ago [0][1]. Despite the interviewer's best efforts, he actually seemed a bit extreme to the other direction in refusing to say a negative thing about China. To paraphrase what I remember, "I've visited plenty of Chinese startups, there is real innovation," and "I don't think China is a military threat."

0: https://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/young-leaders-circl...

1: I have zero affiliation with the above organization -- stumbling into the event was purely right-place-right-time circumstance.

Well, he did marry Wendy Deng. Some have said it was to help break into the Chinese market. If it wasn't for Tony Blair, they'd probably still be married.


Wow I thought you must be joking, but looks like Rupert broke up with Wendy due to reasonable suspicions about Tony, the stuff of reality TV!

> I am always surprised by people who think they can do what they do in their home country in any other country and get the same results. But it is particularly true of people in the US it seems. If you don't really internalize how the laws, politics, and policies of a country shape what is, and what is not, possible you are setting yourself up to be disappointed.

I don't think this is particularly true of the US in comparison with, say, China. There are people who will blame Chinese nationals or immigrants in the US for behaving incorrectly or irrationally. And there are people here who will blame Americans for not accommodating or understanding the Chinese community. (I'm going to make an unfair generalization: and then there are always Europeans who pipe in to comment without really understanding American race relations, American culture, or Chinese culture. America has its own politics of race, identity, and nationality that have significant differences from the way it works in Europe. Just as I'm liable to go to Europe and, say, make a fool out of myself trying to have a conversation about Catalonia, a European is liable to make a fool out of themselves coming to America and talking about Black Lives Matter.)

Coming back to the original article, I do think these people are mostly just bad entrepreneurs trying to cash in on a fad, or being led by exoticism and memories of 19th century trade rather than an understanding of the market and a sound business plan. It's not some kind of testament to US arrogance, even though that makes a good narrative.

>America has its own politics of race, identity, and nationality that have significant differences from the way it works in Europe.

The average European has a much better grasp of those than the average American has of any European situation (assuming they can even pinpoint France on the map, that is).

We read lots of American news, websites and books, follow US music, movies, and so on. With a small exception of UK music, the US can hardly do 1/100th of the European following US culture we do.

Unfortunately this comment is an example of what I am talking about, the kind of behavior that frustrates me.

Pop culture, news, and books give an incredibly limited and skewed perspective of what a country is actually like. Worse yet, if you remove these things from their context and then give them to someone who has a different culture, you end up missing large chunks. American pop culture is also stripped of realism and specificity to make it more broadly accessible to Americans and even abroad.

To draw a comparison which might be more familiar to the HN crowd, consider what happens when you learn programming by reading a bunch of blog posts, articles, and books about programming, but you never actually write a single line of code. You’ll have a very distorted idea of what programming or software engineering is like.

I’ve had similar conversations with both groups of people. A novice programmer might have an arrogant attitude and explain to me why the code base is terrible, or might have the attitude of a learner and ask me questions about the design decisions. A European might have an arrogant attitude and explain to me what the problems are with American race relations, or they could be more humble and ask me questions about what living in America is like.

I don't know man?

I think the Euros have perspectives that are just as valid as anyone else'. I mean, Americans get their ideas from the pop media too, and then we experience life through that lens. Americans are not somehow less susceptible to pop media influence than, say, Europeans, simply by virtue of being Americans. We are just as manipulated as they are. Probably more manipulated, since we consume more of our pop media.

The media changes the perspective of people. The perspective becomes the reality. Doesn't matter who those people are, or where they happened to grow up. The media you consume, shapes your perspective, which becomes reality for you. No one is immune to it. This is deeply ingrained psychological stuff. With several decades worth of study to back it up. (Along with countless billions in profits derived from exploiting that very human proclivity.)

To say that the European perspective is invalid because they didn't grow up here, would be like saying that Americans don't have valid perspectives on life in Europe or China, because we didn't grow up in any of those nations. Well, maybe we didn't, but we can have a perspective that is as valid as anyone else'. Doesn't make our perspective more "right" than anyone else', but I'd hardly say that our perspective on those nations is outright "wrong" just because we didn't grow up in them.

> Americans are not somehow less susceptible to pop media influence than, say, Europeans, simply by virtue of being Americans.

Of course they are! Propaganda is much less effective when you constantly see conflicting evidence with your own lying eyes.

There is a reason why trust in the mainstream media is at an all time low in the US.


Are you implying that Europeans can't see through propaganda? That, somehow, only Americans have this gift?

> Are you implying that Europeans can't see through propaganda? That, somehow, only Americans have this gift?

I’m saying reality is a hell of an antidote to propaganda.

I’m certain French people are far better at recognizing biased and misleading reporting concerning France than I am.

Just because one reads any number of American news outlets doesn’t mean they’re familiar with American race relations in the way the average American on the street would experience them. Most American ‘news’ is entertainment and is written and marketed that way. I read BBC, guardian, observer, independent almost every day to name just a few but I still don’t pretend to ‘know’ a thing about how life works on a day-to-day basis in London. Doing so otherwise seems entirely misguided and arrogant.

Also, there's no typical American. Its a country of 3.8 million square miles, as big as then entire continent of Australia. It has a 5000 mile border with Canada, 2000 mile with Mexico, 12000 miles of coastline. Half a million legal immigrants and half that many estimated illegal folk. Enclaves of culture for just about every region of the planet.

Entirely agreed. Shows the inherent bias in my thinking of culutres and customs as nationally-based when, in a place as diverse as America, there’s far more variation in perspective and manner. (Thank goodness for it)

Again, why can't Americans have a perspective on life in Europe or China? (And vice versa as well frankly.)

Is our perspective any more misguided or arrogant than the perspective of a European, or a Chinese person? Because if it is, then we can all stop complaining about Europe and China right? Because our perspectives are all just misguided arrogance.

Now I'm not saying that our perspective on foreign nations is necessarily "right" and "factual". I'm only saying that our perspective is certainly no more "wrong" than any other perspective. Perspectives are not objective realities, but they do become subjective realities for the people who hold them. (Read, "all of us".)

So here's the thing, whether or not those subjective realities are "misguided" or "arrogant" is not really a function of where the holder of the subjective reality grew up, it's a function of a lot of other factors unrelated to national origin. Everyone will have a perspective any given issue. Everyone may even have different perspectives on different issues, but whether or not one perspective is more valuable than another is usually not a function of things like citizenship. The relative value of different perspectives usually turns more on factors such as power and influence; sometimes on other factors like intelligence, and thoughtfulness. Outside of maybe power, rarely do these factors respect national borders.

In my book anyone is allowed to have any number of perspectives on any number of things and I consider those perspectives valid as human perspectives. Where I consider these perspectives ‘misguided’ or ‘arrogant’ is when the purveyor of these perspectives state their perspectives as fact like the op did in this sub thread. I think having a constructive conversation around a set of varying perspectives is to entertain your own perspective as a possibility (as you might others) without necessarily believing it. This way your perspective is just as valid as everyone else’s and is only held as an opinion after. Why try to advertise ones perspective as anything but a limited cache of experience prone to invalidation based on new information? Please, share the perspectives, have them, nurture them and then tear them down when more accurate information arrives; but don’t disingenuously push them as fact by stating them as unappealable facts.

I guess I just don't get too hung up about what people believe. For instance, if Southerners want to believe the Civil War was about state's rights and preventing Northerners from coming south to turn the family farms into factories, they should be free to have that perspective. (From my perspective it's asinine, but I mean whatever. I'm sure they believe my perspective on slavery to be asinine.) Point is, they aren't obligated to discuss their perspective, or entertain other perspectives if they don't wish to do so. That's what the freedom of thought is about, none of us are obliged to listen to any other of us as a matter of course.

If you want to discuss your perspectives on life with other people that's fine. (Actually I think it's admirable even.) There just shouldn't be the expectation that anyone else has to sit down and discuss their perspectives on life with you.

Other than that though, I think we're in agreement. Different people can have different perspectives that become subjective realities, but are usually not even close to being objective realities. People have the freedom to discuss, or ignore, other perspectives at their sole discretion. Thereby fulfilling the promise, and conveying to us the benefits, of freedom of thought.

As an American, I agree. I think one of the factors is that it's easy for the US to be a world unto itself. With 325m people versus the EU's 505m (soon to be 440m), and with roughly equivalent GDPs, it's really easy for Americans to stay in their bubble. E.g., hear only English, experience only one culture, deal with only one system of law. We can easily move a thousand miles and still be in a place where, well, people measure in miles.

There's some hope, though. As recently as 1994, only 10% of Americans had passports. But now that number is above 40%. [1] Part of that's due to to no longer having passport-free travel to our nearest neighbors since the 9/11-inspired security tightening. But I think part of it's real.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42586638

Hindsight is always 20/20, but as an anecdote I can attest that in 200 (when I started my 9 year stint), optimism about China was much greater than the way it eventually turned out. Back then, China was opening up, most major foreign websites were still unblocked, a lot of foreigners thought they could actually make their futures there, and they were being egged on by the Chinese government and institutions in agreement.

Of course, the reality turned out to be way different, but back then everyone had already sunk their costs. BTW, not everyone in the article is from the US, Blue Frog for one thing is most definitely Australian (who else puts beets on their burgers?).

> [I]n 200 (when I started my 9 year stint), optimism about China was much greater than the way it eventually turned out.

It's because back then Han dynasty was just getting started after the fall of Qin dynasty. You gotta give them some time.

Typo. I meant 2007. I was just a baby during the Han dynasty.

"Back then, China was opening up". I can tell you that in 1990 it was the same, I remember reading a very similar article in a newspaper and a friend who was sent out to head up the office of an industrial power supply company came back in 95 with the very same dissolution.

1990? Maybe 1988, but as soon as May 35th hit, China backed away rapidly from the liberation of the 1980s. The reasons the students marched on the square in the first place was because they thought they could.

Many Americans believe that the meaning of China opening up their economy is that they can go there and dominate all industries they want. This may even be the case in some third-world countries, but China is way past the point that they need to bow to western countries. If you go to any other developed nation like France, Switzerland or Canada, you won't be able to do business as it pleases you, you need to follow the local political rules.

> If you go to any other developed nation like France, Switzerland or Canada, you won't be able to do business as it pleases you, you need to follow the local political rules.

No, you will need to follow actual laws, as both France and Switzerland are very "rule of law" countries. This actually makes doing business there much easier, because the rules are clearly defined and the same for everyone.

In China, the rule book is ambiguous and anyways, enforcement is very selective (they will get you on something if they want to). A textbook example of a "rule by law" country.

And yet, every election cycle there will be candidates complaining that the regulations are too burdensome and killing entrepreneurship.

> because the rules are clearly defined and the same for everyone.

The rules are the same for citizens and non-citizens? There is a reason why the Immigration lawyer AMAs on this site are so popular.

> And yet, every election cycle there will be candidates complaining that the regulations are too burdensome and killing entrepreneurship.

So? The rules are still there and applied fairly consistently. Whether or not the rules should be changed is what democracy is all about.

> The rules are the same for citizens and non-citizens? There is a reason why the Immigration lawyer AMAs on this site are so popular.

You mean the rules are different because non citizens need visas and citizens do not? I guess you got me there, but I’m not sure what your point is.

The rules are clearly defined for entrepreneurs and investors: (usually) any foreigner can incorporate a company and that company being a „legal citizen“ is to be treated like all other legal citizens of a country, regardless of its owner’s nationality.

give me the man and i will find the crime

Just drink tea or baijiu with more people. And then, since Xi started the anti-corruption campaign, hope that they don't drink with the wrong people.

Never really worked well for foreigners, especially Americans who are subject to the FCPA.

True but the local political rules in these places are pretty predictable and don’t change drastically on edict. So, yes, follow the rules, but the rules applied to you are the rules applied to all.

Of course, France is an old country with very stablished rules, even more than the USA. It is normal that a new economy, like China, will have new rules more often than the US. This doesn't mean that they have an obligation to create laws to facilitate American business.

Why does everyone just assume all the businesses talked about in the article are American? Obviously some of them were not. It seemed that they were focusing more on foreigners.

China does not have rule of law, full stop. They have a constitution that guarantees freedom of press, religion, and speech, and it is completely meaningless because they do not have rule of law. What this means is that Baidu can make most of its money on medical scams and porn while any foreign company would immediately be prosecuted for any small transgression. Whatever rules China makes up, its just for convenience, if they want to get you, they'll find something.

No one is asking for favoritism, only level playing field. Of course people would also be okay with exceptions, so long they remain exceptions and not the rule.

Why do you deserve level playing field? The rules always favor locals. No foreigner can just come to the US to work or try to make a fortune from scratch. You need to bring something special: capital or knowledge/skills. Why do you expect China to be different? You need to give them what they want if you want to prosper there.

> No foreigner can just come to the US to work or try to make a fortune from scratch.

plenty of politicians love to tell everyone ad nauseam about someone who came to the US and "found the American Dream". America is the freest, most open society in the world. it's what makes us different from other countries. blah blah blah. you hear this kind of idealism all the time. some people would say it's a foundational, fundamental feature of America. (Others would not.)

does anyone say that in China?

> You need to bring something special: capital or knowledge/skills.

Unfortunately that is not really true. But it’s certainly a good idea!

The other thing to note when doing a compare and contrast is that China is a high savings country with no shortage of capital. Maybe in the very beginning of the reform and opening era they did but it hasn't been the case for over two decades. US on the other hand is the largest importer of capital in the world. So it can be expected that China with its thirsts for know-how and market access but not capital will behave very differently from the US, all else being equal. This is generally true for other East Asian countries as well.


Not sure what your anger is aimed at. In the US as a foreigner you can not work without a work visa. Employment opportunities are reserved for US residents first. To start a business you need a business visa https://business-law.freeadvice.com/business-law/starting_a_... requiring you to have substantial resources in the first place. I believe these all to be reasonable and it is great that US treat those who are allowed to legally work and invest here mostly equitably. But it does not mean any foreigner in the US can just demand a level playing field, say one who comes on a tourist visa or a student visa or who doesn't have legal status at all. Not to mention those who want to come but are blocked at the border. In general it is much harder for someone from China to get a visa to the US in the first place than the other way around. It is also not unreasonable: traditionally the immigration is one way from China to the US and to gain a non-immigration visa one needs to first convince the consular officer of no intention to immigrate.

I am not complaining about any of this just pointing out that foreigners always need to play by the hosts' rules if they want to be welcome.

Even an unlevel playing field would be fine — if it were stable and not subject to the arbitrary whims of the CCP. Predictability and consistency are paramount.

You only get to the level playing field when you join the Old Boys’ Network.

On the other hand, if you have a light complexion, you can easily get a well paying English tutoring job. It often pays higher than what an engineering grad would make!

Markets just don't work that way in my experience, they evolve, they change, and if you box them in they die.

But with enough money and power, you can convince yourself it's working on a temporary basis, until the market distortions make things suck enough, something has to break or change.

If you don't really internalize how the laws, politics, and policies of a country shape what is, and what is not possible, you are setting yourself up to be disappointed.

Don't forget culture.

The US is largely a country of immigrants, who in effect are risk takers. Even in times of war and famine, typically only a small percentage (approx 10%) of the population leave. In the past, our country may have taken the lion's share of immigrants compared to other nations.

The US still takes the lion’s share of immigrants.

interesting table. Japan and Korea appear on it. but i don't see China.

I read an interesting argument over at Foreign Policy highlighting the failures of China's One Belt One Road foreign policy, and attributed those failures (and their continuation) to the increasing authoritarianism of President Xi, and the breakdown of the Party's meritocractic efficiency seen over the last 20 years or so.


That probably deserves its own submission as a link. I can quibble with some of the details but I agree with the general thesis that China's execution of the OBOR initiatives have failed to meet expectation and that the initiative has become more important than the results politically. I keep looking for signs for this effort to collapse and take the RMB with it, but China has more direct control over the levers than most economies would trying to pull off what they are doing.

> 'manage the market' to achieve results desired by the state to ever succeed,

Well, apart from the entire modern history of Chinese export-led growth.

I'd argue that this wasn't "managing the market", it was dropping suicidal economic policies that kept the entire population in serfdom. The state actually gave up a huge amount of control in the process (relative to the status quo circa 1970). It's still much more "managed" than other developed nations, but vastly less so than under Mao.

It is strange that you see a lot of folks who feel that in China they'll be less restricted in some ways, and that might be true, until it isn't and in that case with an authoritarian government, it's just over. No legal options, no heads up.

I went to China after I repeatedly hit the Bamboo ceiling in the US. Luckily my parents forced me to learn Chinese as a kid, so I was able to network with the people there.

Along with my credentials, I am now at a fulfilling C-level position.

I guess we’ll have to see if my luck lasts.

I think an individual is quite less risky than a business that may be far less portable.

I was thinking more as a business.

> Aside from the general anti-China slant that is fairly common in the journal, I have yet to see a 'manage the market' to achieve results desired by the state to ever succeed, anywhere. Markets just don't work that way in my experience, they evolve, they change, and if you box them in they die.

I strongly disagree.

Since the Great Depression, farming is incredibly heavily subsidized in the United States. World-wide, but particularly in the US, agriculture is probably the most government-managed/subsidized/regulated industry you can think of.

And yet, over the past 85 years, despite the many economic ups and downs, changes in global demand for, and global prices of staples, US agriculture remains a resilient pillar of the economy. You can go to any grocery store, country-wide, and buy more cheap food then you can ever eat, despite wars, shipping problems, droughts, natural disasters, crop failures, and other calamities.

Now, all of this comes at a cost. It costs a lot of taxpayer dollars to ensure that cheap food is available for everyone. The alternative, of course, is an unresilient, market system, with fluctuating outputs, shortages, and price spikes.

These sorts of things tend to lead to bread riots, revolutions, and bourgies being strung up on lamp posts.

As a bourgie, I'd rather not risk seeing the price of bread triple.

Agreed, the key is how much you box in versus grants and early pushes to get to a tipping point IMO. is China doing it right? Hell if I no, but there is a ton of good data from what the USA/EU have done right, and what they have screwed up to do better.

> Did they expect that they would be able to build large foreigner controlled businesses? Did they expect that their success would not be impeded by a desire on the part of political entities to craft a narrative? Did they expect to secure more wealth for themselves before they were shut down?

No, I believe most gold-rush Westerners were actually looking to join up with established (or government-blessed) Chinese businesses and help them introduce their businesses back to the West and help there - such as marketing Huawei or Xiaomi to Americans for example, or working with government lobbyists on pro-China PR campaigns.

Funny, I always say the same about foreigners coming to the U.S.

What they can do or what they couldn't do?

Re-posting this sad and yet amusing comment from RalphWise:

This story helped me recall an article I read in the FT about 10 years ago. A Germ an businessman set up shop in China and hired locals to help him run the business. After about six months, he came to work one day only to discover he was fully cleaned out. No cash anywhere, all the books and inventory gone.

His employees had figured out how his business worked, started their own business within his business, siphoned off the cash and profits and took him hook, line and sinker.

When the locals were asked why they did it, they said it was simple..."he was a foreigner, and he deserved it."

Disclaimer: I'm a Chinese.

But I believe there's a mistranslation or misunderstanding about 'he was a foreigner, and he deserved it'. I perfectly understand this kind of things happens a lot in China, but it has nothing related to the concept of 'foreigner'. Chinese people are more likely to do the same to each other.

The word 'deserved' is obviously '该', which means, in this particular context, more like describing 'That is how things work, and he should not be so careless about other people' instead of being a foreigner is negative for local people or he should be punished by being a foreigner.

But which statement is true is that, where there is profit, there would be Chinese people doing it, despite if it's not ethical. There are a bunch of examples like gutter oil, gene edited babies etc.

As for the foreigner part, generally speaking, Chinese people are much, much more xenophile than xenophobia, at least to western people. Anyone has been to China can confirm this. Most Chinese people would more gladly to lend a helping hand to a foreigner rather than other Chinese people because there is far less chance they would be scammed.

He's a foreigner, and that's just how we roll.

this reminds me common sight of foreigner with local Chinese girlfriend/wife and sellers in markets blaming her for helping foreigner

so much for possibility of integration into Chinese society as foreigner, no matter how good it's your Chinese or culture knowledge you will never be accepted

We take America too much for granted. I came as an immigrant child 25 years ago and aside from maybe 4-5 relatively minor incidents, I haven’t faced any major racism. Considering that I have maybe 2 dozen interactions daily and have encountered likely 10,000 people in my life that’s quite extraordinary. A recent survey came out that 60% of millennial believe America is one of the most racist countries in the world.

Have significant immigration to any other country and watch the tribalism rise up. America post 1990s has been the most welcome place for mass immigration in human history.

In regards to China, I think they are great with foreigners. Urban China is quite fantastic. Might get a few dirty stares if with a Chinese woman but all things considered that’s not bad at all. Hopefully soon it’ll get better over the coming decades.

Canada is also quite welcoming of immigrants.

Basically the same country, just more left leaning.

No guns, better healthcare, and legal weed.

Sign me up :-)

Give it 30 years. Including a lot of uncomfortable call outs when someone starts going on about how great the Chinese are genetically.

Not just China, Japan too. No level of language fluency will get you accepted into the Japanese society. If you don’t look Japanese, you’ll always be a foreigner. You can even be born part Japanese and if you look mostly white then you’re still on the outside.

How did Japan came to the discussion in the first place? You wanted to add a random fact you read on the internet?

And to add my own opinion, for the people that know you, you are considered one and the same. Yes people who don't know you will assume you are a foreigner due to your looks, but why do you think this is a Japanese and Chinese thing only? Do you really think an asian man is seen as local in the first glance in Sweden or Ethiopia?

Not everywhere is America.

well it's known fact Japanese are even bigger racists than Chinese, although i would not call it for most of the Chinese really racism, more life ignorance and lack of knowledge or just curiosity, for sure I experienced more racist/xenophobic behavior in few months in Prague than in years in Beijing, so in hindsight Chinese are not really that racists, which still doesn't negate fact that you will be always outsider not accepted and feel uncomfortable after few years

There is probably a lot of that going on everywhere.

There are some studies done to demonstrate that such possible bias exists even in America -- eg, "Xenophobia in American Courts" KA Moore.

I noticed some oddities during the epic Samsung vs Apple trials years back. There were some lopsided procedural rulings against Samsung, a foreign business entity, that crippled their defense; when Samsung prevailed in ITC, Obama reversed Samsung's ITC win against Apple that would have banned import of iPhones (or would have forced Apple to settle with Samsung) on some nebulous "public interest" ground; and, finally, absurd infringements and equally silly huge monetary damage unseen elsewhere by American court jury and judge.

But who cares. Trump, like its predecessor Obama, ought to be able to do whatever necessary to protect successful domestic businesses against foreign competitors. I think we just need to stop thinking it's all about fairness.

China likewise should be able to do whatever it sees necessary to protect and promote their domestic economy.

Are you endorsing the illegal behaviour outlined above?

I'm saying that xenophobia exists everywhere in all shapes or forms (legal or illegal).

I think some people have to be 'pioneers' on that front; in this case, I wouldn't be so offended that someone who is trying to swindle me doesn't accept me. Part of growing as a person is identifying, challenging or accepting your biases, which can be uncomfortable; if a person (Chinese or otherwise) doesn't accept me as a result of not doing that, it's on them, and it's their failure as a person. At most I can advocate that others challenge their beliefs so the next person in my (hypothetical) position doesn't have to suffer such fools.

you will give up after few years if it's majority of society around you, you don't really wanna spend life in society where you are not accepted and always seen as outsider even after decades while you may be bigger Beijinger than most of new Chinese arrivals

the comma signifies a lot tho. they did it because he was a foreigner, period? or because he was a foreigner and a terrible, mean boss?

The fact that the response started with it means that it was a sufficient cause.

> The fact that the response started with it means that it was a sufficient cause.

That's a fairly odd interpretation; if there were multiple causes, none of which were sufficient without the others, one would still need to be mentioned first.

remember the url ?

Another interesting tail, an interview with the first Mr. Softee operator in China: http://arithegreat.com/ari-shaffirs-skeptic-tank-221-mistu-s...

The operator tells stories of how the local workers did everything possible to skim, copy, and swindle; the money quote for me was something like, "If you want real honest-to-god free market capitalism, go to China."

I've got a friend in the packaging business over here. Was a babe in the woods until he found the agencies working with him on sourcing taking an extra cut of $125,000 kickback from the factories (on top of their negotiated fees). No honor among thieves.

I wouldn't consider that theft because it's common dealing with China knowledge that kickbacks are involved especially depending on who you work with. Being paid by both parties are not uncommon for an agent.

Not the one you're looking for, but 'Brits get rich in China' is in a similar vein:


Possibly a better quality copy out there in torrentland...

This read like a joke until the end.

So this is just some random anecdote that has literally zero details in it? I don't know what I'm supposed to take away from this, can someone help?

So this is what HN has come to? Why is this downvoted? I'm interested as well and would like to read more depth in this comment. Where's the source? The two other replies to this comment are not related whatsoever.

China today is somewhere around the 1900s US when it comes to racism. Lynchings and eugenics included.

I mean they had museum exhibits dedicated to comparing black people to animals


And then the whole million muslim concentration camp. Chinese are pretty big on xenophobia. It's basically how the communist party is able to hold every thing together, the century of humiliation and us against the world mentality

The "foreign" business man in this international business fairy tale doesn't sound very smart. He transferred his knowledge and money to strangers and walked away from his business for about six months in China. Did he expect red carpet ceremony and a firm welcome handshake from the president of Bank of China upon return?

Wonder if it's fair to blame the observant locals for what was most likely careless, condescending and delusional in foreigner's poorly thought-out business plan.

Businesspeople might well be overstressing themselves with micro- and macroeconomic reasons behind China’s declining attractiveness to foreign entrepreneurs. Rather, we might simply be dealing with Han racism against westerners. In the beginning, western entrepreneurs were reluctantly “welcomed” when they had things to teach China, investment of almost any form was needed, and China was simply poor. The reluctance was papered over by good manners, and the possibility of unusual profits. Now, China is much richer and more sophisticated, and much of the teaching and raw development is over. Westerners are more clever about hiding trade secrets, and more willing to outsource expensive factors of production in their Chinese operations. In a country of political sophistication that only few Westerners perceive, they are being eased out, having never been considered a perennial fixture in society.

I spent a few weeks doing work in Shenzhen earlier this year and if anything I experienced reverse racism.

You're right. And I'm surprised more Silicon Valleyers have not figured out that China, a country that has concentration camps going right now is racist.

Yes, many people in China hold racist attitudes. No, those attitudes do not usually result in negative views on Westerners.

You're much more likely to hear negative comments about Uyghurs (terrorists), Tibetans (underdeveloped people who'll never make it at a university), South Koreans (obnoxious) and Japanese (the arch-enemy).

On the other hand, Westerners (whether black or white) are seen as exotic and high-status and their presence in China indicates how far the country has made it.

It's probably similar to European authors like Karl May (who'd never been to America) glorifying Native Americans as noble heroes, while Europeans who settled in America did their best to demonize and kill them. Simple tribalism: strangers from a distant land are exotic and no threat, but neighboring tribes that are only slightly different need to be shunned at all costs.

>On the other hand, Westerners (whether black or white) are seen as exotic and high-status and their presence in China indicates how far the country has made it.

This is an oversimplification. Westerners are seen as exotic and high-status as individuals, but (Han, at least) Chinese also see China as a civilization as the "the Middle Kingdom" (between Heaven and the rest of the world) and that the West is currently dominant in global affairs is an unnatural occurrence that China is destined and entitled to rectify.

The two are quite contradictory if you reflect on it at all, but most people in any country (whether China, America, Europe, or elsewhere) really all that reflectful in general so we are where we are.

Sure, but that's nationalism, not racism. Wanting one's own country to be the best (at everything, or at least the most popular sport) is a pretty common view that doesn't necessarily require seeing the other countries' inhabitants as genetically inferior. As a historical example, the Sputnik shock and ensuing space race can be seen as an expression of the American expectation that the Soviet Union's dominance in space exploration was an unnatural occurrence that the US was destined and entitled to rectify.

I think most Chinese haven't forgiven or forgotten about the Opium Wars.

Do you have direct experience with Chinese nationals and Chinese culture that would lead you to know this, or are you perhaps projecting your own feelings about Western imperialism onto them?

It's not impossible, but it does seem a bit unlikely that most Chinese people are holding a grudge about the Opium Wars, or that you would know what most Chinese think. Perhaps you meant to say you believe most Chinese shouldn't forgive or forget about the Opium Wars?

Direct experience, but it's not hard to find public supporting evidence, either.



Same thing with some Indians in Silicon Valley. See eBay and PayPal as prime examples. That said there are enclaves within some companies of teams that are 90% one ethnicity be it Chinese, Indian, Eastern European or Israeli. Sort of the technology version of prisons being segregated ethnically. Really weird.

> That said there are enclaves within some companies of teams that are 90% one ethnicity be it Chinese, Indian, Eastern European or Israeli.

But the most common scenario (90% white US-born male) isn’t as weird?

Considering the US is, you know, the US and a majority white country, it's not weird at all.

Indians and chinese make up something like 5% of the US population so for them to take up 90% of a select group can really only be caused by favoritism. Unless you want to open up the can of worms that certain races are just so far genetically superior in terms of intelligence that they are 20x more represented

Do you think it's normal for tech companies located in India and China to have parts of their company that are 90% white?

It doesn't have to be genetics or favouritism. It's most likely cultural stuff.

verroq 39 days ago [flagged]

Sorry those camps are miserable but they aren’t concentration camps. The word concentration camp has a specific connotation with the extermination camps build to kill Jews and other undesirable under Nazi Germany i.e. genocide. To conflate the two here like many people conflate Japanese internment camps with “concentration camps” is so off the scale it is at least misleading and at worst grossly insensitive.

Would you please stop posting inflammatory, unsubstantive comments? Nitpicking plus Nazis equals particularly pointless.

Edit: you've been posting a lot of flamewar comments lately (e.g. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18620146), and we've already asked you not to. If you keep doing it, we're going to ban your account.

You gotta stop selectively enforcing moderation. The person who said China has concentration camps and is now somehow racist isn’t being inflammatory? A few threads back when the Christian missionary got killed by the natives the entire comment section was a leftist circlejerk. The flamewar was already burning when I got here, and there is no discussion. I guess I shouldn’t start dropping out shitposts but I don’t feel particularly bad when the entire comment section is already beyond saving. I shall refrain in the future and just flag instead.

That isn’t true. The first concentration camps were used against the Boers by the British, for which the term was coined. Definition:

> a place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities, sometimes to provide forced labor or to await mass execution.

The most famous usage was by Germans and is heavily associated with extermination, but the British just wish to deprive the Boer’s of support and to put pressure on them into surrendering. Hence the term “concentration” rather than “extermination”. Many Boers did wind up dying due to inadequate sanitation and food, but the point wasn’t to kill them.

Whether the camps in Xinjiang are concentration camps or not remains to be seen. Definitely some of the awful work camps in China in the 70s met the threshold.

verroq 39 days ago [flagged]

The meaning the words change with context. Much like the way the Swastika is no longer recognised in the western world as a Hindu peace symbol. My point is that the modern usage of concentration camp is the extermination camps of Nazi Germany, which is obviously not what’s happening in China.

They're extrajudicial camps used to punish and re educate people, the semantics aren't as important as the reality of the chinese government rounding up, imprisoning, and torturing an ethnic group of "muslim terrorists"

I don’t think that is modern usage at all. The dictionaries haven’t been updated, at least.

verroq 39 days ago [flagged]


"a guarded prison camp in which nonmilitary prisoners are held, esp one of those in Nazi Germany in which millions were exterminated"

"A place for assembling and confining political prisoners and enemies of a nation. Concentration camps are particularly associated with the rule of the Nazis in Germany, who used them to confine millions of Jews (see also Jews) as a group to be purged from the German nation. Communists, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other persons considered undesirable according to Nazi principles, or who opposed the government, were also placed in concentration camps and eventually executed in large groups. ( See Holocaust.)"

Particularly associated

Yes. Note the “particularly associated” with but lack of extermination as a requirement in the definition. The word in neither definition is limited to those cases, and concentration camp has been used to describe situations post 1945 that are unrelated to genocide.

The debate on the word is also well known, from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment:

> As a result, some[who?] say that today the term "concentration camp" may be conflated with the concept of "extermination camp" and historians debate whether the term "concentration camp" or "internment camp" should be used in order to describe other examples of civilian internment, such as the United States government's internment of Japanese Americans during World War II,[4] the Australian government's immigrant detention facilities,[25][26] and South Korea's detention camps for "undesirables" in the 1970s and 1980s.[27]

> Sorry those camps are miserable but they aren’t concentration camps.

Yes they are.

> The word concentration camp has a specific connotation with the extermination camps build to eliminate (aka kill) Jews and other undesirable under Nazi Germany.

Those are the most well-known concentration camps to many people today, but the term is older, going back to Spanish practice in Cuba in the Ten Years War and popularized for British camps in the Boer War.

Extermination camps are a distinct subcategory of concentration camp, and have a unique name specifically because their nature is not fully captured by “concentration camp” (which in their case was—somewhat amazingly for a title that even before that was typically associated with things that by modern standards would be grave human rights abuses—was actually a consciously used as a deceptive euphemism.)

> To conflate the two here like many people conflate Japanese internment camps with “concentration camps” is so off the scale it borders on misleading.

“internment camp” is a synonym for “concentration camp” and those operated by the US for the Japanese were exactly concentration camps in the usual sense of the word.

verroq 39 days ago [flagged]

Sure but concentration camp does not have the same historic meaning that any more the Swastika has its historic meaning in the Western world. They may be concentration camps by their old definition but the using the word immediately draws to the most well known usage. The Japanese and Ughur camps may be miserable but it isn’t genocide.

I think the meaning of "concentration camp" hasn't changed, actually. How come you seem so certain that it has? Most of the time when concentration camps appear in the news, they are often not of the Holocaust variety.

I think internment camps is a more apt description without invoking some implicit notion of genocide in this case.

Maybe overlaying a specific tiny-slice-of-America worldview to a billion people on the other side of the world is a little bit... lossy. Just food for thought.

Not in this case. China, Japan, Thailand - all countries where no matter how well you speak the language, know the culture or how much you spend creating companies that employ locals, you will always be a foreigner and 'less than' someone born in those countries. On looks alone, you will never truly fit in. Compare and contrast to the USA, Australia etc, where no-one can tell you are not a citizen by simply looking at you.

And yet as a minority in America, I constantly get asked, “where are you really from?”

There is a difference between asking people's or parent's origin, and concentration camps over person's religion / ethnicity.

A lot of black people do live segregated areas in usa. Just listen to serial podcast season3. Cleveland sounds like a concentration camp for black ppl.

I’m not sure if you are joking or not but Cleveland is nothing like a concentration or re-education camp.

> contrast to the USA, Australia etc, where no-one can tell you are not a citizen by simply looking at you.

Yes America, Australia, the UK, etc are all running a great experiment to see if multiculturalism can work.

The rest of the world might follow if multiculturalism ever ends up working.

I'll make that comparison.


And if you think this policy isn't racist, then you haven't heard of the "Mexican Repatriation" in the 30's. And then when after WW2, Mexicans who were promised citizenship were again denied.

Or we can look at this:


Our prison system, man.

And of course, you can say this is whataboutism, but you asked for a contrast and compare. The US is horrid when it comes to race.

That does not make China less racist.

Ok, so we're expanding from stereotyping 1.4B to an even 2B now?

Irony is dead.

Applying American conceptions of racism to Asia is ignorant, full stop.


Black hip-hop artists dominate the charts in America. Does that mean racism is over in the US?

Yup. Got ripped off by a major hardware component manufacturer there. They refused to release the significant safety deposit when they were obliged to. Not a great way to loose USD30000 for a startup[0].

Then we have the almost comical lack of quality assurance, and understanding of what quality means and is.

Most of our significant efforts to set up a production line for computer hardware in Shenzhen failed.

It didn't kill us, maybe some innovation and extra focus on our product and quality came out of it.

It was, however, the fortune 500 client lawyers who saw to it that we met our demise (we were a "2 big clients shop").

[0] http://bergesolutions.com Eulogy: Now defunct. Had massively big clients. Too big for us to handle. Shipped about 5000 units and we filed several patents.

In dealing with clients three orders of magnitude larger than yourself, you need a "hook." Years ago, due to an electronic miskeying, I got to listen in as a company lead purchasing agent, who had a law degree, discussed with other purchasing agents how they were going to push us around, complete with disparaging comments about our size. We had provided a specialized piece of equipment that the company's employees were sometimes too lazy to perform preventive maintenance on, despite training. I never got on a plane unless the service contract check had cleared.

What a pity, those are nice designs, a lot of work went into them. Maybe open-source the IP to at least salvage some of it, and to avoid the vultures living off your work?

Interesting - the lure of "making something" in Shenzen has been a little seed in the back of my head for years... (one of those secret little pipe-dream-fantasies that pops up every once in a while and consumes 'what-if' cycles, but quashed by reasonable-rational-realist-me, but entertained just the same)


That said, one of the adaptations of this little fantasy that I have had, and wonder about how feasible it could be is;

What if there were a group effort with a communal goal of accomplishing X in China...

An informal start-up-market type model where you have agents in some silo categories, but all working together.

Lets assume that the silos are "Design/Eng | Finance | ops | mfr-execution | sales"

So you have local US agents who collab on a design of a thing - you have backers (can overlap), and ops facilitators who focus on where when how it will be sold -- and then you have mfr-execution agents who actually go to shenzen and get the deal done and made... finally a sales org.

Kinda like a communal quirky?

It would be better just to build a Shenzen in the US.

"It would be better just to build a Shenzen in the US"

Probably not.

Imagine if you went to a flea market, but instead of comic books, hot dogs and used sofas ... you found all sorts of cheap, exotic component parts. Anything. Everything. For 10's of cents each.

I'm close with a team making a product, and there are a few 'custom-ish' things they need, like a tiny microcontroller with camera that does some very basic processing as a sub-module. In America - that's a big deal. Hire a team, get some researchers to consult, do some iterations yada yada.

In China some guy in a ratty, dirty, poor little corner shop has it! For like 40 cents in units of ONE!

There's a massive 'secondary industry' of people making 'not rocket science but not trivial' gadgetry very fast, and on the cheap that is not going to be duplicated anywhere.

Add in the tons and tons of cheap labour, with few labour laws.

Add in the 10 hours 7 day crazy work weeks.

No - Shenzen will not be duplicated.

That said - it may be possible to expand the Valley in a more 'automated' 'high end' way.

For example: 3D printers that are more amenable to 'short production runs' instead of just prototypes. Low cost / fast turnaround injection moulding. Quick turn around on smaller components.

This might make it better for American firms doing quality high tech to churn out faster prototypes, first production runs, and later automated large runs.

Doing this would take some champion leaders, maybe Cisco, or Google or a few others setting up shop, proving the way for others to follow.

You'd need to have a way to replace humans with machines and do so both flexibly and at-scale. The big competitive advantage of Shenzhen is people - and not just unskilled labor, but a lot of skilled tradespeople & engineers that can design & build electronic components to spec very quickly. The U.S. just doesn't have the density and skill level for that - the closest you might get is Silicon Valley for software, but even here the population density is < 1/4 of Shenzhen, a relatively small percentage are skilled engineers, and we've somewhat overspecialized on Internet, mobile, & big-data software, making it difficult to innovate in other fields without having an extremely rare combination of skills in one individual.

In theory things like 3D printers, pick & place machines, and better CNC millers all controlled by software could help with that, but interest in hardware hacking in the Bay Area has gone down and a lot of the professional electronics manufacturing moved to China.

You'd need to have a way to replace humans with machines and do so both flexibly and at-scale

Isn't this something that Elon Musk is working on? I think I read somewhere that one of the reasons his car factory was so expensive to build is because the robots have the capability to do more than just one thing.

Hmm, interesting thought: what if the reason Elon Musk is overinvesting in robotics with Tesla is because he believes that the initial Mars colonists will be extremely labor-constrained, and will need robot helpers to survive? Current plans for the BFR and Mars Transporter indicate an initial crew of 12 people, most of whom will likely be highly-trained specialists. If you're building a base around 12 people who are likely biologists, doctors, mechanics, engineers, and rocket scientists, who's gonna clean the toilets and grow the food? Plus robots have the big advantage of not needing food and being able to work outside in the thin, freezing Martian carbon-dioxide atmosphere.

"but a lot of skilled tradespeople & engineers that can design & build electronic components to spec very quickly"

Yes this, is what I failed to mention.

> Imagine if you went to a flea market, but instead of comic books, hot dogs and used sofas ... you found all sorts of cheap, exotic component parts. Anything. Everything. For 10's of cents each.

Sounds like how Silicon Valley used to be...

Yes, when Weird Stuff Warehouse, HSC, and Haltek were still in business. Steve Jobs bought his first oscilloscope at HSC.

> Add in the tons and tons of cheap labour, with few labour laws.

> Add in the 10 hours 7 day crazy work weeks.

These advantages seem like they'll expire as China becomes more competitive economically.

> Imagine if you went to a flea market, but instead of comic books, hot dogs and used sofas ... you found all sorts of cheap, exotic component parts. Anything. Everything. For 10's of cents each.

How many types of sensors / components etc. are even conceivable, no matter how exotic? It seems like someone could replicate that in the US with a warehouse and sourcing. These things are extremely cheap in general; it's not like trying to replicate the VCs of Silicon Valley elsewhere.

> For example: 3D printers that are more amenable to 'short production runs' instead of just prototypes. Low cost / fast turnaround injection moulding. Quick turn around on smaller components. ... Doing this would take some champion leaders, maybe Cisco, or Google

This seems like a great idea; pair some small fabs with a big ol' warehouse stocked with every random component / sensor under the sun, and it seems like it would work out totally fine.

"It seems like someone could replicate that in the US with a warehouse and sourcing. These things are extremely cheap in general;"

There are an infinite number of module combinations. They all vary in cost, quality, precision, speed, size, materials, performance, suitability for manufacture, and subtly in whatever it is they do.

A commenter above mentioned the vast number of professionals with a ton of know-how in this area, making the 'time to tweak' or 'from nothing to module' and also 'optimized for manufacture' very rapid. There's nothing remotely like it anywhere.

For example: 3D printers that are more amenable to 'short production runs' instead of just prototypes. Low cost / fast turnaround injection moulding. Quick turn around on smaller components.

This already exists in the North American market, I.E. Protolabs

Funny you should mention them I was literally speaking to them this week :)

Protolabs is nothing special really.

The tech everyone uses for 3D printing, for quick turnaround injection moulding ... it's mostly the same old stuff.

3D printing is only good for a few units, unless what your making is very small and very expensive.

Custom moulding is still a big leap - and if there are any iterations (and there will be) it's not cheap.

And all of the 'fine' stuff is still done by hand.

So I see 3 roadblocks:

1) Rapid iteration and availability of component parts 2) True cheap way to get from 10 to 20000 units i.e. before true mass production 3) 'programmable robot hands' i.e. a very easy to program robot arm/hands that is nimble enough to fold and cut fabric, assemble arbitrary things, wipe/clean surfaces.

Well, you can make 100+ high-quality plastic parts a week on a $500 SLA printer (if you can fit at least 5 on the bed, vertically), and the price per part for the material could be below $1/part (the goo costs $70 per liter). At least in theory, that's my plan in the next weeks. PCBs are no issue in smaller quantities, although the setup cost for PCB assembly will add to per unit cost if you are doing less than ~500.

Here's an example, although perhaps a little big: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDUn3CoVmuc

Looks quite saleable to me. Maybe sand blasting would improve the finish.

The real plus China having Taobao.. like eBay, but with every imaginable component you could need, and five different Chinese clones of it at 20% of the original component cost, all available at wholesale prices, in quantities of 1 or 100,000. The Shenzhen markets are still active, but shrinking.. you can usually find more variety, faster, cheaper, online. You can hand your BOM over to an agent on Taobao, and he'll get the parts together for you and ship them over.. it might cost 1/4 of the price of Digikey.

Yes, if the parts are small and don't need much finishing ... that just might fly. Good luck with that I hope it works for you.

Off the shelf electronics are good for some things ... not so much for others.

Glad to see someone trying it!

Yes, but in my experience, ProtoLabs is the exact opposite of everything available for <$1 -- they specialize in rapid turnaround, and they want all the money for that kind of rush.

I also found that they aren't all that amenable to finding the most efficient route using stock material. E.g., on one job, I just wanted a stamped or laser-cut hole pattern in stock aluminum, so I specified the stock thickness in that field and commented in the notes what I was seeking. I got back a quote for basically CNC milling the exact part out of billet. Lovely, but completely unnecessary, and it didn't improve chatting with the rep. I would up fabricating the parts out of carbon fiber and CNC cutting the shapes/holes myself (all in-house).

So, yes, I'd say that the Shenzen flea-market mentioned above could be really cool, is definitely not here yet, and is sadly unlikely...

(Edit: typo, dropped words)

Perhaps it could be some kind of shack where radio components could be found...

Really though I think fast shipping will suffice for most people. Once we get delivery down to under an hour, in city, with reasonable component prices, we should be able to source what we need easily enough. I'm imagining something like jimmyjohns meets sparkfun (and now I'm drooling).

I have a theory about what killed the radio-shack star:


Fucking packaging kills "hobby" interests.

Radio shack became "random aisle from fry's electronics" pretty easily. Fry's is complicit in the murder of radio shack -- but the fact that they individually began packaging everything and selling things as expensive individual components in blister/cardboard crap - rather than in a much more organic manner really limited the Hacker energy.

They attempted to bolt themselves to the "charging cable industry" -- (which deserves its own place in tech hell) -- and that failed.

They were then reduced to a charicature of themselves when they were selling 'MAKE::' kits...

I lament for the sould of what Radio Shack once could have been...

Radio Shack had an identity crisis for much of its history and going back to at least the 70s they were as much about selling mostly crappy audio, toys, etc. as they were about selling components. I suspect big box electronic retailers played as big a part in killing them as anything else. But there was also a period, during which Heathkits went away, when it became much more difficult to do interesting stuff as a casual electronics hobbyist at home.

Things like Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, 3D printers, Linux, etc. arguably made a new generation of hardware hacking possible but those came later.

Are you trying to say that the TRS-80 wasn't a top-of-the-line luxury computer?

The TRS-80 at its peak was actually a pretty logical outgrowth of Radio Shack's ham radio and electronic hobbyist business. It outsold the Apple II at one point, but then the entire market basically shifted to Apple and the IBM PC and clones.

I think the core issue is 50’s tech simply had vastly fewer parts. Now days even covering every major type of LED takes significant shelf space.

The way around this IMO was if they had added a in store pickup + some large regional warehouses. Free/Discounted next day shipping to the store of your choice or more to your house, could have really enabled hobbyists without costing the company much. In larger markets they could have even done some same day shipping to stores.

I think this is a little nutty. This business has been subsumed by digikey, findchips.com, mouser, etc. Do you really have the time or inclination to get in a car and rummage through bins? Isn't designing, simulating, or even reading data sheets a better use of your time?

For me, trying to put myself in the mind of an aspiring/learning electronics hacker -- yes. I want to rummage through bins. I want to touch the components. I don't want to stare at a computer screen trying to conjure up the proper search terms to find what I'm looking for.

Later, as I get more advanced, yes, I can see the online vendors making more sense.

The thing you're touching on here I think is also some degree of freedom for iterative and spontaneous revision/change. A searchable catalog is great when you already know what you need. A catalog is also great when you have no idea what you need, but there's a huge delay in the feedback loop with a catalog compared to bins. To empower a discovery process during creation, it helps to have "saturated space" or something akin to untold quantities and varieties of "bins".

I too love rummaging through my bins and wondering what is possible. I think the hacker mind just works like "I wonder if X could be made to do Y..."

I'm surprised nobody countered you on patent law immediately. Shenzhen's biggest advantage for a R&D guy like me is that nobody cares about patents. Just come up with ideas, copy ideas, remix, whatever... it doesn't matter because whoever has the best product for their market will make the money. It can also serve markets better when vendors with patents refuse to give customers what they want. The iPhone clones letting you swap your battery easily are a good example.

Nice documentary on Shenzhen if you want to learn more about its history, culture, and advantages:


In the U.S., you get this instead:





Now THERE’S an idea. What are the major hurdles to overcome in implementing this?

EDIT: Looks like the efficiency comes at a high price.

Relevant (reverse) HN-AMA: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18629299


Welp, about 50 years of cheap, environmentally catastrophic manufacturing (lack of) regulations, a vast army of poor/slave-subsistence-level farmers who can CHEAPLY provide food - no IP laws, a mass ability to gather/import raw materials - hazardous working conditions, cancer, cancer, cancer - slaves, and a gumption of a population with a striving for life that is not nearly as lazy and entitled as anyone else on the planet.

Just a start...

Pollution. Regulation. Investors. Unions.


labor laws, wages, safety, regulation, cost of living

Convince the people with all the money that building a giant manufacturing center would have a favorable ROI.

No, as much as I dislike Trump, a nice tariff could solve a lot of problems long term. Its after all how this country was built. Put in more economic terms, you should be taxing things you want to discourage. Taxing income/work, while providing free trade with locations that have lower tax structures _WILL_ force jobs and industries offshore.

OTOH, a nice fat tariff on things you want to manufacture, and suddenly manufacturing them at home starts to make strong economic sense. Of course as evidence suggests that you also need a large enough market to assure that your not just paying 100x as much to support some inefficient factory.

If tariffs worked on their own, Brazil would be an electronics powerhouse. https://thenextweb.com/la/2012/09/30/from-brazil-cost-brazil...

The NAFTA market is literally 10x the size of Brazil. Its not the same thing.

Worse, tariffs tend to work if your protecting an existing industry from dumping/etc, not so much if your trying to grow one.

You can’t really compare the US/EU/China to individual smaller countries. There’s a scale above which the economics are quite different.

Or you just decide you don't need to manufacture that thing after all. There are a lot of situations where "redesign so it doesn't need that version of the part" is cheaper than "build a US factory, train workers."

OHSA, intellectual property laws...

Wisconsin is trying to do that and it's not going well.


That was a political boondoggle from the start. What Wisconsin was trying to do was to become as corrupt as Illinois, and that's going quite well indeed.

Kenosha-Racine just did not have the number and kind of workers required for the original promises to hold water, and the subsequent revisions only got more ridiculous. For brainy, high-tech work, the only nearby choices are Madison and Chicago. It has always been hyperbole and lies, told to sway votes. The powers behind it didn't expect to lose their statewide offices this quickly, though, so I'm not sure if their plan for the Foxconn site is still viable.


It's not like we have to re-invent the industrial revolution, we just need to spend the money to set up shop.

It's just that the West has decided that allowing cities to grow is a bad thing, and the exact opposite of that is what powers economic growth, in Shenzen and certainly in our own history as well.

In what way has “the west” decided it is a bad thing to let cities grow?

And with all the pollutions?

Not really, we need to figure out how to stop making stuff and contract economically for our grand kids to have a chance

You should read “Poorly made in China”. There are people and companies that do this, but, typically not accessible to small, one off projects.

The issue is, for any idea that you might have for doing business in China, there are tons of Chinese already doing that. And they know the market much better than Americans. Maybe there was a window, a few years after China became an important economy, when your dream was true. But nowadays Chinese people have much more knowledge and access to capital to do these things than American can even dream of.

Entrepreneur in China since 2001 here.

The big shift occurred in 2007 in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics when China said "OK, enough foreigners" and tightened up the visa rules (which were admittedly extremely open). They never relaxed them again. This experienced reality perfectly conincides with the drop-off seen in the graphics in this article.

IMHO there are three parts to the story the article misses: (1) The impact of the 2007 changes has now passed and stats across the board have stabilized or are picking up again. (2) China's first tier cities are now extremely expensive, which is a massive disincentive for small-scale foreign investors. (3) That Blue Frog chain's food is both terrible and expensive.

Also there are have been many major macro changes in this time the article misses, like increased focus on anti-corruption, reforms toward digital tax, banking and governance systems, Belt and Road Initiative, cities now choking on cars, WeChat and mobile payment going from 0-100% penetration, omnipresent food delivery, etc.

China is crazy. Check out the vlogger 'serpentza' and his sidekick 'laowhy86' on YouTube. After spending so many years working and living in the "real" China (different from Shanghai, Bejing etc) they have a unique perspective on China. Interestingly, they recently announced that they may be moving to the US and continuing from there.

I love when he goes to buy the fake rolexes


Why is China crazy for not being able to provide the same quality of life as the country with the reserve currency?

It makes sense that US is one of the easiest place in the world to live in.

The most interesting thing about China in that respect isn't that some parts of China aren't up to par with what you see in the US, UK, Germany, Sweden, or wherever in the developed world. It would be expected to take a long time to accomplish that, assuming it's possible for so many people to hit that standard of living at all.

It's the truly extraordinary imbalance between the top ~100 million and the bottom 1.3 billion.

~200 million people living on $3 per day. And 800+ billionaires at the top. ~500 million people living on $10 per day or less, and two million millionaires at the top.

It's a proclaimed Communist nation with the greatest inequality the world has ever seen. It simultaneously has a large quantity of among the richest people and the poorest people on earth, a very strange arrangement. The surprising thing is that China hasn't been far more aggressive when it comes to welfare redistribution. They could easily implement wealth taxes if they desired.

China is absolutely in no way Communist, in any way. They are full on corrupt capitalism, but still it's capitalism. They can proclaim whatever they want. Personally I think they have been making a slower transition vs Russia where the oligarchs and mafia flat out took over. While there are incredible inequalities in China, Putin is the biggest and wealthiest mafia head in the world.

But it is absolutely not surprising they are not doing wealth redistribution. That would actually make them a Communist nation

I've heard China described as:

It's just like the United States. You've got a few hundred people who are billionaires, a bunch more millionaires, and then the rest of the "normal" upper, middle, and lower classes. Then add in a BILLION people who are living in poverty far below the lowest class.

Anecdotal evidence from a pinball factory in China from Strange Parts.


Leases on buildings have gone up in price. Regulations have been increased. But labor is still very high quality.

After watching this video, I feel that high schools in the US and elsewhere would be better if they taught consumer electronics repair rather than shop class.

There's still a lot of empty space to put electronic factories in the US. There's just not a lot of skilled labor.

> I feel that high schools in the US and elsewhere would be better if they taught consumer electronics repair rather than shop class.

Yikes, I hope you're joking! The cost of manufacturing consumer electronics has gone down so much that it's virtually impossible to have a viable repair business in the US - perhaps high-end laptops, Apple products, and very straightforward, limited repairs like phone screen repair, but that's about it.

As another anecdotal data point, I volunteer in a thrift store, and by far the hardest donation to sell is electronics - most of the time we just trash/recycle it, even if it is in very good condition. People aren't willing to pay very much at all for tech that is even just a couple years old. Thus, if the average age of a piece of electronics needing repair is, say, 2 years, by that point the product will have probably depreciated most of its value. At that point the vast majority of people will just buy the latest and greatest.

On the other hand I recently fixed my home theater receiver with a handful of 20 cent capacitors, saving a multi-hundred dollar repair bill and/or throwing away the whole receiver. Basic electronics knowledge and soldering skill could help anyone at home. Just like being able to do light plumbing and electrical work comes in handy and will save you lots of money.

> Basic electronics knowledge and soldering skill could help anyone at home. Just like being able to do light plumbing and electrical work comes in handy and will save you lots of money.

I'm skeptical of this. When a sink is clogged, the toilet won't flush, or a light switch doesn't work, there are only a handful of potential causes, all of which are well known and can be remedied after watching a Youtube video. When electronics fail, there could be a million reasons why. Most people are better off buying a new device and getting a warranty on it.

> there could be a million reasons why

Yes, but 990,000 of them would be capacitors. Check capacity and ESR, replace bad ones - done.

Just remind me of the story about a consultant that got paid a lot of money just to fix one line of code.

The cost is not on the component, but the knowledge to know which component to fix. That's not something that come cheap.

When electronics fail, it's generally a handful of causes, or one or two well-known design flaws in some particular model of device. I'm not sure I've ever had a device that I haven't repaired at least once, and I haven't had a laptop I haven't repaired at least a half-dozen times before upgrading.

You know what's usually useful? A youtube video of disassembly, digging up a service manual with google's help; pretty much the same as a toilet, but generally far safer than trying to fix a light switch.

> When electronics fail, it's generally a handful of causes, or one or two well-known design flaws in some particular model of device.

Once upon a time in the age before I dedicated my life to all things software repairing color tvs was one my sources of income. I respectfully disagree with your assertion, electronics can fail in very many different ways. All the way from 'rodent electrocuted in HV power supply' to passive component that never fails somehow in fact did fail.

Even something as mundane as a coil-over-a-resistor can fail if the conditions are right. And don't get me started on bad soldering connections, corroded connectors and a million other little details that can affect the functioning of a device to the point where the repairguy gets called.

This was before the days when oscilloscopes were portable, and unfortunately also before the days when I had a driving license. A typical house call would end up with a working TV or VCR and me learning yet another way in which things could fail.

Main tools: a couple of folders of schematics of the most commonly encountered models of TV/VCR (pick the right one before you leave, hope the user read the type plate correctly), a stack of matchboxes with passive components, some of the more common active components with enough spread that you could cover most cases, a soldering iron and a very large collection of parts scavenged from old TVs waiting for the opportunity to recycle them.

But did you consider taking it to a repair shop?

Consumer electronics are very reliable, if the product lives through the warranty period, it's likely to last for years. Which leaves a small window of opportunity to service expensive and relatively new, but out of warranty products, and many repairs will be impossible or prohibitively expensive. It's not like the old days where a few drawers of spare parts could fix most problems, now much of the functionality for most products is embedded in a control board that's not available as a replacement, you have to scavenge it from another product (and hope that the hardware rev is compatible with yours).

So yeah, you can fix some things with discrete components, but you're pretty much limited to expensive products - you likely can't fix a $49 blu-ray player at a price you can make a living from.

Yea, I'm done making calls to repair shops. Like you alluded to, the cost of a pro repair shop's labor is usually more than the cost of throwing the product away and buying new. But the cost to repair is often minuscule + my time which is free (since I wouldn't otherwise be working).

> After watching this video, I feel that high schools in the US and elsewhere would be better if they taught consumer electronics repair rather than shop class

They'll never be able to compete with that one Uighur guy on the top floor of the Dinghao market in Zhongguancun. (this is how I got my Wii modded for 40 RMB, anyways)

Foreign businesses having to follow local rules is nothing new, whether it's in China, England, or Mozambique.

China has, in the past, detained foreign executives accused of breaking local laws. There was this pharma case involving GSK in 2014 (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/02/business/international/ch...) which found the company engaged in fraud in the country. GSK paid up $.5B and had to reform some of its practices as a result.

What is troubling is when those rules are unevenly or unfairly enforced, are designed to give other businesses an unfair advantage, or are subject to additional requirements outside of the standard protocol. There's a good backgrounder on IP theft in China here (https://law.stanford.edu/2018/04/10/intellectual-property-ch...).

If you dig around it's not hard to find all kinds of horror stories involving "joint ventures" or unfair advantages given to domestic companies. I know someone whose relative was involved in a business dispute in China which resulted in that person being detained in a hotel without any charges filed at the behest of some local official. He couldn't leave the PRC until the dispute was settled to the satisfaction of the Chinese business partner.

For as long as I can remember, the sales part of every organization I've worked for has been seduced by the "1 Billion Customers!" idea of China. that plus manufacturing with sweatshop style wages.

And in every single case, after much pain, they realize that it just doesn't work like that.

worst was an org that had their hardware cloned and sold (right down to knock-off pcbs).

another, selling a hw + sw solution to a chinese client with 5000+ sites, initial phase was for 50 sites, with the client doing installation and first tier support. guess what. the project didn't go beyond the initial phase. but part of the requirements of the project was sharing of ip.

That sounds a lot different from what's being discussed in this article. The article was more of a lament from mostly well-to-do Americans about how doing business in China is harder because wages went up in the decade since they landed.

So Tesla went there to open a giant factory? How smart musk is...

They went to China, made tens of millions of dollars in profit, sold their businesses off at a fair margin, and now return to the USA to live what seems entirely likely to be the rest of their lives in all the comfort of whatever their millions of dollars can afford them.

What? I read in the article that some of the companies barely broke even.

OP seems to be describing the hamburger shop owner.

The 1997 movie "Chinese Box" opens with Jeremy Irons character in Hong Kong autographing his book, "How to Make Money in Asia". After signing his name, he crosses out "Make" and writes in the word "Lose".

So this isn't exactly a new trend.

There is no court system in China to handle dispute resolution —- at least not like what exists in the US. I asked a businessman in China about dispute resolution recently, and he said it’s inconsistent and every province does it differently. There is a reason why in China many of the biggest businesses are located near where the government is located.

I remember reading Phil Greenspun’s blog circa 2004 as a new grad and him alluding to people teaching their kids mandarin.

I remember thinking, geesh, this guy is at Harvard and MIT, he must know more than me.

I’m glad I never followed through with that.

During the dotcom crash of the early 2000s, there were similar comments in the vein of "glad I studied finance and not this computer science BS". The world is cyclical; what doesn't make sense today, may be obvious tomorrow.

Condoleeza Rice learned Russian in college because that's what made sense in her time, especially if you pursued foreign service work. As Sec of State in the 2000s, she probably never had to use it in any official capacity. Come 2016, and knowledge of Russia is important once again.

My first question whenever someone pushes forward an idea, regardless of how smart or popular they are, is how much the person benefits personally from the said idea.


What did you think would happen going to a place that is super corrupt, has an authoritarian government, and steals IP blatantly?

Most probably thought that they would be lucky and become a poster child or something.

"Look at this nice American, how he came to us and made big money!"

American entrepreneurs aren't needed in China any more. Enough people in China know how to do that now. More than enough.

There's a double standard. Rich Chinese are buying industries and property around the world, but secretly (or perhaps not so secretly anymore) have a problem with Western entrepreneurs owning things in China.

There are millions of rural Chinese labourers that face daily document checks and discrimination from local authorities while working jobs in the city.

I wonder what they would think if they came across this story and the worst thing that happened in it was that an American had to sell his upscale burger restaurant and complain about how unwelcome he felt in China.

I went to China a few months ago and had similar thoughts:

United States There's a lot more to say, but overall, the trip made me very optimistic about the future of the United States.

China's cost advantage is disappearing. A 1.5-hour boat ride with a bit of transportation on both ends was almost $100 (US), and that was after we'd haggled them down. At those prices, cost advantages aren't a slam-dunk, and the distance (both geographic and cultural) start to weigh more heavily.

Add in the trade difficulties, not just the tariffs but the "local partnership" requirements, ongoing government interference in the market, and lax attitude toward IP protection, and I don't think China is such a great deal anymore. I don't think Trump's dream of a huge US manufacturing industry will come to pass, but for high-skilled stuff, the case for staying in the US is stronger than ever, especially considering our great infrastructure, well-educated populace, and sustainable environmental practices.

In sum, I think China is currently at its best, while the US is at its worst. They're coming off a long cycle of growth, while the US is eating itself alive with budget deficits, partisan conflict, and labor strikes. But as with people, the true test is how something does when at its worst, not when everything is smooth sailing.


Do not worry. US government is helping China, from building democracy to IP protection. They are urging China gov to accept high standard to make China a more powerful competitor.

What I get from the article:

1, foreigners are less worshiped in China than before, giving them less advantage over locals, and in many cases a disadvantage if they have not forged strong connections

2, businesses founded on exploiting cheap labour and laissez-fair regulation are facing a hard time

3, market is maturing and the overall economy is slowing down, there are fewer untapped opportunities and existing businesses are facing increasing competition

Not to say that being a foreigner has no disadvantage, but if a Chinese entrepreneur fall into those categories, he/she will have a hard time succeeding too. In fact, if you ask Chinese entrepreneurs/business people today, chances are he/she will also tell you that it's getting harder to do business.

I recently read a book about a man from the UK who went to China in the 80’s. He partnered with a US company to start investing heavily in China (mostly manufacturing). It is interesting because (aside from the regulation) it reads very much like this article (up to the paywall).

The book is: Mr China by Tim Clissold

I highly doubt any Chinese who could not speak English could succeed in US. Of course, if you think opening a restaurant in Chinatown is a success, I am wrong then.

So if you do not speak fluent Chinese, why are you supposed to be successful in China, especially when you are doing the things anybody could do?

Most of the foreigners in the article spoke fluent Chinese.

As fluent as native Chinese?

There are a lot of foreigners working in US. But I do not think it is because they could speal better English, but because they have skills, especially engineering skills.

Yes. Many foreigners working in China have 大山-level Chinese, enough to do business for sure.

And yes, there are also foreigners working in China with specialized skills, but we don’t typically start companies there (I was one of the latter).

We've had some pretty strong "make tons of money in China" boosters right here on HN. Here's one.


I wonder if their tune has changed.

I am not a huge fan of established religions, grew up catholic, but when a society has no moral compass, endemic instability is a constant. There are reasons for the most violent of boom / busts besides all the actions of the "white devils".

FWIW, the civilization you’re referring to has been a continuous thing for roughly 3,500 years.

Are any/many big companies considering relocating computer manufacturing out of China?

Apple? I'm not finding anything about a solid commitment, but they have been talking of such for a long time.

The ignorant West is responsible for building up the global network of the Chinese autocratic regime. We hand them hard earned technology on a silver platter, we talk about China coming over from the dark side once they taste the other side, and the West bends over to allow China into the WTO for reasons that are still elusive. A communist regime should never be allowed to prosper in the way it has at the expense of Western ideals, rights and future opportunities. The beast exists because we feed it and allow it to prosper.

Eastern European engineers are not.

Strange to make a distinction between foreigner and local. Do you know that even as successful as alibaba chair and be a communist as well, you still have to surrender your wealth if you were told. Totalitarian country is totalitaruan country. The only strange part how they mix some market with ultimate state control of everything’s successful so far.

Yes, and their odds of being kidnapped by the state just went up 1000% this week.

I think you're referring to recent news of the arrest of a Huawei executive on request of US. Huawei is the biggest private company in China. In technology, its market share comes in second to Apple. In addition, the arrested executive (Chief Financial Officer) is the daughter of Huawei's founder. This event just light up a spark on an already tense situation and surely begs for a tit-for-tat decision from China. Meaning: the retaliation from China is expected to be about personal safety. So... more pressure to head out fast in case you're an American entrepreneur.

That is precisely what I was referring to, thanks for taking the time to provide context.

You're acting as if "the general anti-China slant" isn't justified. The only reason China was tolerated so far is purely due to economic reasons, otherwise what China is today as a government shouldn't have been tolerated and, in facts, begs sanctions.

China has done far more egregious transgression to be sanctioned for than Russia, but business/economic interests seem to outweigh that sort of action against China.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18630131.

Clearly China has done some iffy business transgressions (dumping, industrial espionage, etc.) though they've also provided plenty of bargain-priced manufacturing (I type this on a Mac made by Foxconn...). But there isn't any indication they've tampered with elections for example, so I think it's an overstatement to say they're "far more egregious" than Russia.

> But there isn't any indication they've tampered with elections for example.

So, other than Chinagate you mean?


I had forgotten about it, but your link says nothing was proven... so a bit different than more recent events[1]

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_interference_in_the_20...

You mean like this? Note this is not the president saying it, it's national security agencies.


And then of course you over look all the chinese spying that's been going on the last two decades -- both corporate and government sponsored.

Let's be clear, China is not a good actor. And whitewashing history to make them seem otherwise is not being honest.

I'd like to introduce you to 62,979,879 people that don't believe there was any Russian interference in the United States last election.

GP was mocking the belief of ~63M people (and GGP's parallel belief by proxy), not holding it up as evidence.

Exactly. And as many people appear to have turned on Trump online since the election, I've yet to meet someone in person that voted for him that is not a huge fan of him.

That's neither here nor there is it? The 1996 investigations led to no indictments and if anything widespread criticism of how Congressional investigations wasted time. The 2016 investigations are still ongoing with dozens of indictments, several guilty pleas, and jail-time.

There were multiple people arrested and convicted for campaign crimes relating to what prompted the 1996 investigations in fact. With some of it pointing directly back to Beijing on record. To say nothing of the unusual amounts of Chinese money flowing into Hillary's campaign when she was running against Obama [1]. The Chinese foreign money connection to the Clintons goes back a very long ways.

Then conveniently Bill Clinton goes on a blitz to get China into the WTO during his Presidency.

See (2017 article):

“The FBI uncovered evidence about the alleged plan, in part, through electronic intercepts. ... The plan, first discussed in early 1995, called for Chinese officials to channel more than $2 million into U.S. campaigns."

"This isn’t even ancient history. Last week a 17-year-old video surfaced from convicted Clinton fundraiser Johnny Chung in which he confessed to fronting for Chinese intelligence and worried about being bumped off."


[1] http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1679979,0...

But none so far about election tampering. More anout lying about timelines, not registering as foreign agents, etc. It’s like a big version of the Martha Stewart trial —so far anyhow.

Absolutely - and the mass internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang. But the US turns a blind eye to domestic abuses all over the world, so I don't expect much.

> tampered with elections

By that metric the US is most egregious, so is hypocritical to sanction anyone

Yea - ever live in China? If not - then you don’t know squat.

That's whataboutism.

The US being a bad actor doesn't have any bearing on the the bad acting of China, which is being discussed here.

I do not see why people are voting this down. The comment is absolutely correct.

The discussion was on the faults of China vs Russia. Not on the USA. Election tampering was listed as something that China didn't do, so it is not even on the list of things we are trying to criticize China for.

Why, then, are alleged past American misdeeds coming up? We can focus on them in a different discussion about the USA. They neither explain nor excuse the economic and currency manipulations that China has been engaged in.

> China has done far more egregious transgression to be sanctioned for than Russia

That was the initial claim.

Unless it gives China reason to believe that such behavior is acceptable if their position on the world stage is high enough.

The Chinese government are mostly smarter than that, and better long-term thinkers.

The Russian government has a lot of Putin's ego in it, they make big splashy moves that look like 'exerting power' (ukraine, georgia, US elections). Meanwhile their economy is stagnating and regressing to resource extraction.

Why would the Chinese bother stoking tensions in America when we're already so good at it ourselves? "Never interfere with your enemy when he's making a mistake".

It's easy to criticize China's handling of culturally incompatible indigenous peoples when your own are either dead or accepted their place in a depressing reservation. From China's perspective, their heavy handed tactics are the only thing preventing the region from falling into civil war.

No one in the US is forced to live in a reservation, let alone kidnapped and tortured by the government just for being indigenous.

Sarcasm is hard to detect via text, I'd try and be more explicit (add a /s).

If you are in fact being serious, Google 'indian reservations'

Maybe the key word is “forced”.

Are you saying that historically Indians where not forced onto reservations, or that now there are no pressures to keep them there?

The other operative word is "is". No one is trying to defend the history of the united states... slavery was a rather common thing at one point.

There is no threat of punishment keeping them there. They are free to live their lives anywhere in the US the same as any other US citizen. They do, unfortunately, have a higher percentage of poor people than most demographics, but being poor is quite obviously better than being kidnapped and tortured.

If you want to live as a Native American, then yes, you basically have to be on a reservation, and we forced them there to begin with. We'd do so again if they were deemed a large enough national security risk. Our current moral high ground is built on the history of hundreds of years of dirty work. In a hundred years, when Uyghur culture is wiped out, China too, will start claiming their own moral high ground.

If you are comparing not being able to live in their ancestors traditional manner to being tortured, you are trying to compare "live a normal north american life" to "being tortured". I hope it's clear that "forcing" people to do the former by otherwise having them move to land set aside, is a far way away from kidnapping people and torturing them.

No one is trying to defend the history of the united states (there was this whole slavery thing after all), just the current united states. A past wrong does not justify a current one.

That's not my point. You can't judge China's actions towards a situation that you don't face. It doesn't help that the US completely failed in their treatment of Native Americans. It's comfortable to believe that modern day America is more enlightened, but do you really think that's the case? Hundreds of thousands of people were killed during the war in Iraq, in the name of "national security." Technically, we didn't force anyone to do anything after Sadaam was captured, but we basically set up two sides to kill each other and feign suprise when they did. Imagine how we would react to an actual internal threat of national security.

Maybe you think you can do better. Let's say you had a chance to be Andrew Jackson in 1830, and you're facing an American Indian crisis in Georgia. You have two options. The first is to let history repeat itself with the Trail of Tears. The second is to let the settlers and natives duke it out. Ultimately, the settlers will win and Indians are drived out anyways, but thousands more are killed in the process. The two groups are too different to coexist peacefully, and you don't have the authority from stopping people from moving to Georgia. Which option do you choose? Either way, history would remember you as a terrible person.

"You can't judge China's actions towards a situation that you don't face"

So, if one isn't facing a certain ethical situation, they can't make judgements about the response? This seems like quite poor reasoning to me.

Besides, why can't one accept that two different actions committed by different nations are both wrong? I suspect you're assuming that the posters are from the US too, which isn't necessarily true.

To be clear, I think what China is doing in Xinjiang is terrible. My issue is that the American news outlets do everything they can to paint a picture that the Chinese are genocidal maniacs. The media would never treat the actions of a single abusive prison guard as the will the American government, but they do for China. The media never implied that the war on terror was modern day genocide, but they're doing that with China.

China is buying political influence everywhere.

> China has done far more egregious transgression to be sanctioned for than Russia

Do you have any data to support this claim? Having just read Bill Browder's Red Notice I find that to be a questionable statement.

Browder became rich in the era of voucher privatisation, there are all sorts of reasons why he may not exactly be an unbiased witness.

The overreach on southern straits is pretty egregious.

>State Dept. official: China holding 800k Muslim minorities in internment camps

That sounds pretty terrible to me.


By comparison, most of that kind of stuff in Russia died with Stalin.

Censured in the U.S., but relevant:



This is Kremlin paid propaganda from Andrei Nekrasov, a Russian film director who retweets RT and WikiLeaks.

Since Browder's become far too high profile for Putin to murder, the level of effort by Russian trolls to discredit him has been truly remarkable.

What you're saying makes no sense. If China is doing something bad and the USA allows it because of economic reasons, then both countries are in the same boat! Now you're proposing to punish China only because the economics don't seem to favor US anymore, which, if true, in fact means that the US is the rogue one.

People are so exceptionally bad at making arguments. He wasn't saying this at all. He was, in fact, saying the opposite--that the economics shouldn't matter and that China has been deserving of the international community's ire for a long time already.

Under that logic, France and Iran, Iraq and Libya are in the same boat.

Germany and Assad must be in the same boat as well. The EU has a long history of trading with brutal regimes: is the EU now morally equivalent to the worst regimes on Earth? Germany and the UK were selling technology to the belligerents in the Iran-Iraq war, countries that used chemical weapons.

Trade with a country doesn’t imply endorsement of that country’s policies. If the US takes a stand and embargoes a country, much of the rest of the world gets mad and accuses the US of meddling, then when they don’t embargo, the US gets accused of supporting policies of a specific country.

There’s no way to win in the eyes of the world.

He's saying they've been transgressing in ways, like human rights violations (social credit and the Uyghurs in Xinjiang are a couple examples), undermining democracy outside of its own government (undermining Hong Kong's contractual right to independent democratic process, etc.), violating intellectual property, cyberespionage against US companies like Google, etc., which we would have likely already have punished if it weren't economically inconvenient to do so to this particular state, and that that's an unfortunate reason to allow foul play.

They do interfere with other countries, see the news agency they set up in London.


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