The Economist in China’s Wonderland

As Brexit and Trump elections discredit the lame Western Capitalism and Imperialism, Western media doubles its effort to discredit the rising Chinese Socialist power.

They have a special way to report about China where everything is negative.

On November 12th 2016 The Economist published a short report from Shenzhen about what seems as a totally boring subject: Chinese courier firms. It comes, as usual, under a patronizing title “China’s express-delivery sector needs consolidation and modernization”. But it contains such a glaring and laughable combination of contradictions that I found it worth bringing here to you.the-economist-on-courier-firms-in-china

We learn from the article that:

  1. The country’s express-delivery sector, accordingly, is doing well. In spite of a cooling economy, revenues rose by 43% year on year in the first eight months of 2016, to 234bn Yuan ($36bn).

Everybody knows that China’s economy is cooling. It is only the actual economic activity that is still red hot.

In fact the delivery sector is not just another branch of the economy. It is an indicator of other economic activities. It also signifies the rise of a more integrated and consumer based economy – just the direction that the Chinese government promised.

  1. Although the state’s grip on China’s economy is tightening, the private sector’s share of this market is actually growing.

Everybody knows that state control is tightening… only that the facts are different.

  1. The breakneck growth of courier companies masks structural problems. For now, the industry is highly fragmented, with some 8,000 domestic competitors, and it is inefficient.

We once thought that the capitalist economists would recommend competition as a driver for better services… But in China even competition between private companies is bad.

  1. Firms therefore find it hard to build up national networks with scale and pricing power. All the competition has led to prices falling by over a third since 2011. The average freight rate for two-day ground delivery between distant cities in America is roughly $15 per kg, whereas in China it is a measly 60 cents

Amazing how inefficient those Chinese are, so much so that delivery prices may be just 4% of what you pay in the most efficient US economy. Or is The Economist really shedding tears for the poor Chinese capitalists lacking the “pricing power” of monopoly?

And, no, wages in China are nothing like 4% of those in the US (unless you speak about wages of the top CEOS). In fact the minimum wage in the US is 7.25 US$, while in China it is between 1.6 and 2.7 US$.

And the troubles don’t stop here:

  1. More ominously, labour costs are rising. There are fewer migrant labourers today who are willing to work for a pittance delivering parcels. This week China Daily, a state-owned newspaper, reported that ahead of Singles’ Day, courier firms were offering salaries on the level of university graduates.

What an awful place China is becoming!

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How technological progress made me like everybody else?

Travelling along the streets of the occupied West Bank in the seventies and the eighties, there was a pastoral view that caught my imagination. Many kids of all ages were walking to school along the narrow roads. Apparently they had to walk like this for many kilometers. The view was even more surrealistic due to the eye-catching unified school dress that painted each section of the road with different colors and unnatural designs. But what really impressed me at the time was that many of the kids, boys and girls, used the opportunity to read, probably rehearsing their studies.Read_Walking

Like so many other things, I tried to learn this virtue from the West Bank kids. It worked for me very well. Mostly I was reading “The Economist” to keep myself updated with world affairs.

Over the last decade I’m using my dinner break at work to go to the sea shore, walking and reading. Sometimes with long white hair blowing with the wind – I made a strange figure.

Once a police patrol stopped near me and I heard one of them saying: I know this man, he ran away from Tira. Tira, originally Tirat Al-Louz a Palestinian town to the south of Haifa, ethnically cleansed and renamed to Tirat Ha-Carmel, a poor Jewish suburb, is the location of the main local hospital for the mentally ill. I succeeded to make myself calm and normal enough to pass this encounter and go on walking my way.

Read walking became such a central feature of my life that I even wrote a short story about it.

The problems started as the economist’s distribution network in the area stopped functioning. I would make the extra tour from the road to the beach to the books’ shop only to find that the last issue didn’t arrive yet. Try tomorrow, they would say, day after day. Finally I made a subscription to get the magazine by mail. But it didn’t really work either. After an initial grace period the issues were arriving four at a time, three weeks late by average.

Being deprived of my drug, I started reading the paper from my smartphone. It worked wonders. For the first time I could read the paper before readers in London…

Walking and reading my phone completely transformed my public image. As I was walk-reading along the beach, some guy looked at me, saying: Well, these new phones are really indulging… He smiled at me, sharing understandable human weakness.

Finally I became like everybody else.

 

Why “The Economist” didn’t report my political detention?

Detention_in_HK_The_Economist

I don’t have many addictions. Reading “The Economist” for the past 40 years makes it my top. One page that I must read every week is “The world this week” – a short summary of events, with 40-60 words for each.

A small paragraph in the January 24, 2015 edition caught my attention… It tells the story of some Hon Kong “pro-democracy” activists that were summoned to the police. Two of them were detained on their arrival, interrogated and later released.

No big news.

What made it significant for me was that during the very same week, exactly the same happened with me. I was summoned to the Haifa police; formally detained and put in chains; interrogated over my participation in a quiet vigil which was held more than half a year ago in solidarity with the Palestinian administrative detainees; held for some more hours and finally released.

How did “The Economist” miss this important peace of news about the detention of a democracy campaigner in Haifa?

Of course, there is no chance at all that “the Economist”, or any other major Western Media apparatus, will report political harassments by Israel as they report the plight of dissidents in China, Venezuela or Cuba.

In fact, this is one good thing about reading “The Economist” – it is the organ of class struggle – just from the other side. As such, it adopts the role of “prisoners’ solidarity committee” for everyone that they consider to serve the interests of Big Capital.

I probably should be proud not to deserve their solidarity.